When Christina Crawford's harrowing chronicle of child abuse was first published in 1978, it brought global attention to the previously closeted subject. It also shed light on the guarded world of Hollywood and stripped away the façade of Christina's relentless, alcoholic abuser: her adoptive mother, movie star Joan Crawford.
Christina was a young girl shown off to the world as a fortunate little princess. But at home, her lonely, controlling, even ruthless mother made her life a nightmare. A fierce battle of wills, their relationship could be characterized as an ultimately successful, for Christina, struggle for independence. She endured and survived, becoming the voice of so many other victims who suffered in silence, and giving them the courage to forge a productive life out of chaos.
The Sexy Nerd's Review
Quite a few weekends ago, I decided I was in the mood for some dark drama, and I popped my Mommie Dearest DVD into the Blu-ray, sat back, had my popcorn in lap accompanied by a glass of ginger ale sitting in the couch console and I was ready for the show to begin. Ever since the movie was placed on DVD, when I get in those kinds of moods, for some reason Mommie Dearest satisfies that craving. For many years I often wondered what was the book like? How much of what I saw in the movie was real and in chronological order? For some people, those thoughts may never enter your mind, but being an avid reader, my mind immediately begins to whirl.
It was at that time I wondered why hadn’t I read the book? I love memoirs and autobiographies and it really threw me for a loop that I couldn’t believe I never read the book. When I saw the page count, I immediately knew why I didn’t. It is well over 400 pages. So, imagine my surprise when Kindle Unlimited offered a special edition of Mommie Dearest and with this edition came an additional 200 pages of cut chapters from the original publication. Well, hell, what’s an avid reader to do? I downloaded the e-book immediately and began my journey into Christina Crawford’s descent into hell and back.
Wow! My goodness where in the world do I begin? Ok, I’ll just say the movie was lame and so mild compared to what Christina went through. And what truly boggled my mind is it was absolutely nothing like the movie whatsoever. The movie took tiny, and I do mean extremely small bits and pieces, of Christina’s life to throw that movie together. There were so many levels to Christina and Joan’s relationship and definitely not in a good way. I think Hollywood did the best they could with Christina’s life because a great deal of the book centered around letters Joan wrote to her. In fact, I found that to be extremely odd. What mother writes letters to her daughter to provide direction and guidance, especially if they live down the street from you? Why would any mother send her driver or limousine service down the street with notes to advise her daughter of her thoughts? There were phones then, but Joan never could pick up a phone, seriously?
After having read Christina’s words, I wonder the same thing she did and still does. Why did Joan Crawford adopt her and her siblings only to abuse them on levels that no human should ever have to endure? It became apparently obvious why God never gave children to the famous actress. The problem with alcoholics (there are many), but in Joan’s case, that her money was able to afford her things that the average person could not. She used her celebrity status to get her what she wanted. There wasn’t anyone that would tell Joan Crawford no, especially not her eldest daughter, Tina. When the movie came out, I thought, what kind of daughter would wait until her mother passed to air out their dirty laundry? After having read this book, I one hundred percent get it. Christina deserved to have the last word and present her mother to the world in her true and natural state. Joan Crawford was a figment of many fans’ imaginations. She was a goddess on the silver screen and for that, she was all the things many wannabe actresses aspired to be. But underneath all the glitz and glam lie a very bitter, evil, venomous woman who took out her personal struggles on her children wherein Christina was the target of the brunt of it. The things that woman did to her were just downright cruel and despicable. As I read, I was drawn into Christina’s world. I could feel her pain releasing through each page and with each page I got angrier than the last. She had me so mesmerized I was speaking to my Kindle and not caring who was around to hear my outbursts. I wanted to reach in those pages and shake the mess out of Joan Crawford. I just couldn’t believe any mother would do the horrific things she did. Although there were physical beatings, the worst were the mental scars because you never quite “heal” from those. Oooh, you learn to deal with it, but the abuse lingers in the back of your mind. It’s never too far away.
At the end of the day, I’m so glad I finally read Christina Crawford’s book. I now know that the movie was nothing like her book, but as I stated before, Hollywood took what they could to make it viewable for its moviegoers. Besides, if they were to add all the things Joan Crawford did to her, I’m not sure what rating the movie would have received? An “R” rating wouldn’t have sufficed. 🙄
The Sexy Nerd gives Mommie Dearest five additional wire hangers for Joan Crawford’s closets. That would serve her justice to see them since she detested them so much. In fact, I don’t think there was much Joan Crawford liked. My takeaway from this book, is Joan Crawford didn’t like nor love herself, so she had nothing else to give to the people who mattered in her life. She hid behind acting so she could pretend, but when she took that mask off, look out! This was an incredible story and I have so much respect for Christina Crawford. I take back my initial thoughts of her and her book. I judged her unfairly. (Side Note: The parts that were cut out of the original publication were character statements and witness letters that were given to the publisher on behalf of Christina. Many of them corroborated her accounts of what Joan Crawford did to her.) I mention that for those naysayers that thought she made all of this up. Well, I’m here to tell you, I believe every word she wrote! She made a believer out of me! If you have a few weeks to spare and want to delve into the nitty and gritty of it, I highly recommend you read Mommie Dearest. The movie doesn’t even begin to cover what really happened.
Until next time, Nerds, you know how we do!