A love letter from Norman Bates…

“A boy’s best friend is his mother…” – Norman Bates  

"Anthony Perkins" playing the role of Norman Bates in Hitchcock's "Psycho", (1960).

As screwed up as Sigmund Freud’s ‘Oedipal’ theory may seem, he was definitely onto something…  

A mother is seen to be this idealised figure to which every woman in her son’s life has to live up to. The same can be said with the relationship between fathers and daughters, but for some reason there is this massive stigma associated with boys desiring their mothers sexually. Goodness knows Hitchcock didn’t help with his creation of Mr. Norman Bates…  

"Poor Norman..." - Perkins playing the role of Norman Bates in Hitchcock's "Psycho", (1960).

Now that’s called motherly control…  

It’s similar to “Footfalls” by Samuel Beckett. The sound of May’s footsteps, the inferred haunting of her mother, and May’s self-imposed imprisonment is so interesting because it really enforces an idea about the mother figure’s subconscious control over us all and how it can become an entire reason for living. Ironically, it is just so – we exist because of our mothers. Nevertheless, if one is lucky enough to be given life one should make it their own, of course. Cut the umbilical cord already and find yourself – experience life for what it is.  

Beckett's 'muse' for twenty-five years - Billie Whitelaw playing the role of "May" in "Footfalls", (1976).

When it comes to the relationship of mothers and daughters there is this image relatedness to it or this kind of need to relate in order to understand oneself. A mother can be this figure to look up to, a figure to become in some way or other. You can see the strain in the relationship between some famous mothers and daughters in Hollywood, just take a look at what Liza Minnelli and Isabella Rossellini had to look up to. Judy Garland and Ingrid Bergman – these astoundingly huge figures of romance, glamour and success were their mothers. Who could live up to that?  

Paradoxically, both women tried to disassociate themselves from their motherly ties in order to prove their capability as actresses. It’s like this never-ending source of fuel for their careers – almost a vicious cycle of endless comparative judgement that never ceases to exist. In any case, they are both fabulous and dynamic in their own right.   

Then again…   

How successful would they have been without their colossal maternal images of super-stardom? That’s the real question…  

"Liza Minnelli" performing alongside her mother "Judy Garland", (1965).

As mentioned earlier with Hitchcock’s “Psycho“, Freud’s ‘Oedipal’ theory has been a key creative device for many television series such as the modern comedy “Weeds“. A big congratulations to the writers of this show – they truly pushed the limits of the mother-son relationship. Who can blame poor Shane Botwin? With a mother as attractive as that any young boy would be confused…   

Oedipal confusion: "Mary-Louise Parker" and "Alexander Gould" acting in the TV series "Weeds".

Freud alluded to the idea that in order to understand ourselves and our place in the world completely we have to understand our unconscious minds and repressed desires. Sure, you can say that he was an incestuous pervert as a kid, but his theories and practices are pretty popular and he certainly revolutionised psychiatry by founding the psychoanalytical school. On the other hand, perhaps he just pushed us all into over-thinking everything and thus worrying so much more than is necessary. 

Who knows what’s right for us but us, right?… 

"Sigmund Freud"...that fascinating German.


– C



Filed under Daily opinions, Film, Theatre, TV series

2 responses to “A love letter from Norman Bates…

  1. Shane

    “Who knows what’s right for us but us, right?…”

    I agree.

    We can not live our lives through other’s experiences or through our desire to please the ‘standard’ set before us by others. The need to detached ourselves from parents to some extent is a necessary step to discover who we are as an individual.

    Love your thought provoking pieces. Keep up the great work Cat.

  2. Pingback: 2010 in review… | collective rambling…

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