The Bedazzled Theory
(originally published in 2009)
So, I was watching the remake of Bedazzled tonight. I must confess; I didn’t really like this movie to start with. I am an enormous fan of the original, and I truly felt like Ramos missed the original concept too greatly in his adaptation. Plus, Liz Hurley seemed a poor substitute for Peter Cook. However, I’ve become more and more fond of it on repeat viewings. And honestly, I’m starting to get a real feeling that Ramos did get the idea of the original, he just found a new and interesting way about it.
In the original movie, Stanley Moone (played by the marvelous Dudley Moore) is a lonely, sad little man, working in a restaurant. The modern day move that Ramos makes is to place Elliott Richards as a tech support guy, in a little sea of cubicles. Anyone who’s worked both fast food and tech support (and there are more of us than you’d think) knows that these two environments aren’t all that dissimilar, both in terms of who you have to deal with, and the frustration and stagnation of those jobs.
Peter Cook plays, obviously, the Devil. His name, for what reason I never understood, is George Spiggott. I should say, I never understood it before, but with Ramos version of Satan herself, I think I’m getting the idea. Giving the devil a real name, in the original film, allows Stanley to connect to him more readily. George comes off as just another beleaguered civil servant, doing the dirty job that God sends him on, until the day he gets to retire. This allows Stanley to feel George understands his own pain and frustration.
In Ramos’ version, we take a different angle, and it has remarkable inferences. By making the devil a woman, we allow for playful flirting and the realism of the devil providing her connection to Elliott, by showing him a romantic notion of evil. She touches on his heart, and proves she knows it by revealing a deep truth to him; she knows he goes home at night and cries over his loneliness.
On the surface, this is a simple new way of interfacing these two characters in a different way, by performing a little gender bending. But if you dig deeper, this is actually an incredibly cool concept. Think of it this way. Let’s assume that the bible — even the Old Testament — is fairly accurate historically speaking. Based on standard Christian mythos, let’s assume a couple of other things. Firstly that God is a male of his species, and his attitudes and expectations are as described in the bible. He demands constant attention, adoration, unquestioning loyalty without the promise of the same, to have his ego stroked regularly, and that every one beneath him dedicates their life to following his rules. Okay, that sounds harsh, and man bashing. But honestly, tell me you all don’t know one or two men like that?
Now, let’s take a slight off the wall leap here, but I promise, I’ve got reasoning behind it. Let’s also assume that the devil is, in fact, a woman. Now, how did the devil come to be well, the devil? As the story loosely goes, “when God created the angels, he commanded them to pay worship to no one but himself; but then, creating man, he commanded them to bow in reverence to this most noble of his works, and Lucifer (the angelic name of the devil) refused — because, we are told, of his pride.”
Or, as George tells it, in the original film:
George: It was pride that got me into this. I used to be an angel, you know, up in heaven.
Stanley: Oh yeah, you used to be god’s favorite didn’t you?
George: That’s right. I love Lucifer it was, in those days.
Stanley: What was it like in Heaven?
George: Very nice really. We used to sit around all day and adore him. Believe me, he was adorable. Just about the most adorable thing you ever did see.
Stanley: Well, what went wrong then?
George: I’ll show you. Here we are, give me a leg up would you. Now then, I’m god. This is my throne, see. All around me are the Cherubim, Seraphim, continually crying, “Holy, holy, holy.” The angels, arch-angels, that sort of thing. Now, you be me, Lucifer, the loveliest angel of them all.
Stanley: What do I do?
George: Well, sort of dancing around praising me mainly.
Stanley: What sort of things do I say?
George: Anything, that comes into your head, that’s nice. How beautiful I am, how wise I am, how handsome, that sort of thing. Come on, start dancing.
Stanley: You’re wise, you’re beautiful, you’re handsome.
George: Thank you very much.
Stanley: The universe, what a wonderful idea; take my hat off to you.
George: Thank you.
Stanley: Trees, terrific. Water; another good one.
George: That was a good one.
Stanley: Yes. Sex, top marks.
George: Now make it more personal, a bit more fulsome please. Come on.
Stanley: You’re immortal, invisible. You’re handsome, you’re, you’re glorious. You’re the most beautiful person in the world. Here, I’m getting a bit bored with this, can’t we change places.
George: That’s exactly how I felt. I only wanted to be like him, and have a few angels adoring me. He didn’t see it like that. Pride he called it. Sin of pride. Flew into a monumental rage. Chucked me out of heaven, gave me this miserable job. Just cause I wanted to be loved.
Lucifer, by the way, means “Light-Bringer” in Latin, and is the name of the Morning Star. The Morning Star, also known as Venus. See where I’m going with this people? Forget DaVinci Code, I’ve got a scorching new theory here. So, if Lucifer was actually a woman, and she was the fallen angel who challenged god over her pride, wouldn’t that actually make brilliant sense?! In Dogma, Serendipity says, of the bible, “Women are painted as bigger antagonists than the Egyptians and Romans combined. It stinks.”
So you’ve got God up there, crooning for more attention, expecting to be adored (which gets annoying no matter how adorable you are). And Lucifer, the angel he loves the most (wink, wink), stops suddenly. She says, “Hang on a second, what about my needs?! I need some love and adoration too.” And God flips out, and starts whining to his friends, his “divine writers”, about how selfish and arrogant women are. Of course, God’s not going to clue in that his girls is acting like a biatch, and expecting a little of his love and attention. He might come off badly. So instead he vents by telling this story of his great angel who he kicked out for being a proud little prick.
There you have it ladies and gentlemen. As inspired by Harold Ramos, the true reason behind the fate of women in the Christian age. Of course, that all assumes you believe in God. Maybe the real guys getting grief from their women, and venting in their prose, were those damned “divine writers.” :)
Incidentally, Bedazzled has some other great messages to put forward. The development of Elliott, into a far more strong, sensitive, confident and remarkable man. The devil does improve him, and most definitely for the better; though we are given to believe, at the epilogue, that she might truly have been working on the side of right to begin with. She shows him he has to stop wishing for a better life and a better him, and make the most of what he has.
The entire concept of the ending was pretty great. With the appearance of Nikki, Allison becomes truly irrelevant. We realize she was just a place holder for Elliott’s fantasies. True, he doesn’t get what he thought he wanted, but ultimately gets what he really needed.
His other relationships benefit as well. His ‘friends’ were jerks, though in fairness partly due to Elliott. But he was just a poor schmuck who was so insecure he was over the top. If one of them had ever really taken the time to talk to him for real, things might have been very different for him. They are taken down a notch as they try to mock a changed Elliott.
I love the tags on the end too. Elliott drinks from the carton, and Nikki hogs the covers. No one is perfect, we all have faults, but we can still find happiness with ourselves and with someone else. I highly recommend watching both versions of Bedazzled, though not back to back. They truly are independent from each other, in comic style.