by Kathryn Kalinak
Cut, no. 29, February 1984, pp. 3-5
Cinema bears a unique relation to fantasy. Films offer scenarios as if they were dramas, testing out ready-made fantasies, ostensibly for our approval or disapproval. But because of films’ relation to the dream state, they have a unique power over us. If films are, arguably, the fantasies of the unconscious, they are, as well, the stuff of which dreams are made.
It is this relation that film bears to fantasy that make the recent FLASHDANCE (Adrian Lyne, 1983) such a provocative film, and ultimately a disturbing one, particularly from a feminist perspective. On one level FLASHDANCE presents an exhilarating fantasy of control — of women's control over their own bodies. The flashdancers, though objects of desire, are captured in moments of blissful oblivion of the masculine gaze’s perusal and power. On another level, a deeper level, however, the film frustrates its female viewers. Like so many other recent Hollywood films of the 70s and 80s, FLASHDANCE constructs its most seductive fantasy around the unattainable, effectively restricting the power of female psychic energy.(1)
FLASHDANCE is one of a crop of super hits to arrive in theaters in time for the summer of 1983. It borrows heavily from John Badham's SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER (with an obvious role reversal) and Dorothy Arzner's DANCE, GIRL, DANCE. FLASHDANCE chronicles the trials and tribulations of an 18 year-old welder in a Pittsburgh steel mill as she dances her way from the stage at a local working class bar to the Pittsburgh Ballet. An updating of the Warner's backstage musicals of the 30s, FLASHDANCE acknowledges the exigencies of economic necessity while retaining the genre’s essentially democratic message. In 1983 the show is removed from the expensive lights of a Broadway theater (where orchestra seats now cost $50) to the modest stage in Mawby's, a drinking hangout for steel workers. An economic depression seems to foster most strongly the ideology of upward social mobility. Like the heroines of Warner's musicals Alexandra Owens (Jennifer Beals), uses dancing as the way up and out of her social context.
Flashdancing is a demanding form of solo dance for which the women in the film train rigorously, conscientiously, and persistently. Here are women in superb physical shape. Training like athletes (and performing like them), the flashdancers nightly execute routines that would qualify them for the 1984 Olympics. The flashdancers clearly demonstrate the ecstasy of their performance, which is exhilarating both for the audience seated at Mawby's and the audience in the movie theater. But interestingly enough for the women who perform it, flashdancing constitutes a kind of non-performance. Ignoring the audience, they dance for each other and for themselves. Alex(andra) is embarrassed when her boyfriend, Nick, catches her dancing in an unguarded moment, but the ogling at Mawby's leaves her unfazed:
Echoing the lyrics of the film's title song, "Flashdance: What a Feeling," Alex celebrates the physical liberation of the dance:
Flashdancing does initially appear to be a kind of non-dancing, an abandonment to self-expression. It would be hard to argue that potential viewers for a film expressly about dance believe that the actresses improvise the dance numbers as they go along. But initially it does seem as if the dancers are almost out of control, moving impulsively, disregarding established choreography, and dancing in complete abandon to the music. The speed of the dance (and our ignorance of the basic movements of the dance form) reinforces the impression of spontaneity. In fact, one of the film's many turn-ons is the illusion of the wildly uncontrollable. The result is a subliminal tension generated between the appearance of sexual abandon and audience knowledge of what constitutes an 'R' rating.
The audience within the film experiences the same confusion. Mawby's mostly male patrons see flashdancing as a more titillating version of the bump-and-grind they can get at the strip joint across the street, the Zanzibar. They eagerly await the moment when the dancers go beyond the point of sexual decorum (which, since FLASHDANCE is an "R," they never do). But this possibility rivets their attention, and the reaction shots at Mawby's are strikingly similar to the close ups of the leering customers at the Zanzibar. In a way the failure of the audience at Mawby's to appreciate the flashdance’s sophisticated choreography releases the women who perform it from the approval and/or approbation of their customers. Ultimately, flashdancing is not only solo performance; it is self-performance.
It is interesting and perhaps more than coincidental that Alex wears a walkman in a number of scenes, specifically those in which she is riding her bicycle. In particular, in one scene her walkman momentarily protects her from a pass by her boss. Portable and affordable playback devices for both cassette and radio listening are fast becoming a symbol if not symptom of urban life. The walkman allows its owner to tune out unpleasantness, substituting music (or other organized sound) for disruptive noise, providing an escape into a world of one's own making, a seamless movie soundtrack for the images of real life. Alex relies upon her walkman when she is most at the mercy of her environment, when she is riding her bicycle for instance, or when she is vulnerable to intrusions by men (during her lunch break at the factory, for example). The walkman's infusion of music is a substitute for and continuation of the state of mind she achieves while dancing. Both musically induced states suggest the rejection of the world, and a retreat from the environment it thrusts upon her.
The cinematic representation of women's bodies in FLASHDANCE is an issue that is likely to engender heated controversy. In many ways FLASHDANCE bears a striking resemblance to another recent film about athletic performance, PERSONAL BEST. Whether or not the "purposeful" display of women's bodies constitutes something fundamentally different from, or even coexistent with, sexual objectification for male pleasure is a question that will undoubtedly be raised in conjunction with FLASHDANCE as it was with PERSONAL BEST. Linda Williams, writing in JUMP CUT on PERSONAL BEST, argues that the fragmentation of the female body as a method of expression (as opposed to exploitation) is no longer possible
Williams concludes with the inevitable question:
The depiction of women's bodies in FLASHDANCE offers no easy resolution to this question. But it does offer an insight into the ways in which generic expectations structure the representation of the female body. FLASHDANCE is, one must remember, a musical (albeit a modern one). As such, it falls heir to a tradition of a certain kind of cinematic representation for its female stars. A talent for singing and dancing earned a woman a prominent position within the frame. Nonetheless, in spite of, or perhaps because of the charisma they generated, women relinquished the authority of their talent to the camera. Tap dancing, high kicks, spins, and leaps, were executed by legs, hips, and arms in close up, performed as if autonomously. Bodies in their entirety were integrated only briefly to establish perspective.
But many musical stars, particularly dancers, achieved a kind of power through their very objectification because of the control they exerted in movement into, out of, and through the frame. Recall Cyd Charisse's initial appearance as the dragon lady in the dream sequence of SINGIN' IN THE RAIN. The camera slowly pans her long leg in close up. But as the camera moves, so does Charisse, her leg moving through the space of the frame, disturbing, if not actually disrupting, the static iconography of the mise-en-scene.
On the other hand, Busby Berkeley built a musical empire based on the frighteningly near-perfect objectification of women by restricting their movement. Their faces are severed from their bodies, their individuality reduced to the conformity of body parts. Berkeley fragmented, abstracted, and fetishized his chorines. They moved into and out of the frame, not by their own volition, but by the huge moving turntables which propelled them. When the camera was positioned overhead (and it frequently was), it denied even that movement to them. Robbed of their very humanity, they became part of an ever-changing geometric design.
The dehumanization in Busby Berkeley's musicals was certainly not restricted to women. But we remember the female chorine from a Berkeley film, because of Berkeley's fascination with women. He masked men in top hats and white tails or in similar constrictive uniforms. Women exemplified their own sexuality through Berkeley's obsessive concentration on costume, lighting, editing, and camera positioning on the sexually charged parts of their bodies.
Musicals, as a genre, hardly have offered an unproblematic system of representation for women. But musicals do contain the possibility of resistance through the generic importance of physical movement. Movement allowed women a certain degree of freedom from the constraints of the camera, challenging the iconographic grid which locked their images into rigidly defined patterns of representation.
Women, as they have been represented traditionally in cinema, have been at the mercy of those who have the power to place the female within a certain cinematic context through control of cinematic apparatus. In musicals, however, generic expectations have an impact on that control. The constrictive system of representation can be loosened momentarily to show the physical movement involved in the dance.
This is what happens in FLASHDANCE: the camera consistently captures the dancers as they move. Because the shots are relatively long in duration at the beginning of the numbers, the dancers are able to define the space they occupy, delineating the space initially controlled by the camera. Opening their numbers center stage, the dancers move from one side of the stage to the other, and up and down the runway in front of them. The camera watches the paths of the dancers in long shots, or follows them in tracking shots, fragmenting their bodies in close up only after the dancers have first defined the physical dimensions of their performance.
It would be difficult to ignore the pornographic aspects of the photography as well as the sadomasochism implicit in the films choice of subject matter (the leather and chains dance sequence, the attack on Alex by the television set) and camera positioning. But in spite of this, the film exhilarates its female spectators.
The subject of pornography and its ramifications for the female spectator is a complex, important area of study that deserves far greater attention than this paper is able to afford it. Central to the issue is the relation between spectatorship and identification. But another important concern in the study of pornography, and one which FLASHDANCE illustrates to a large degree, is the effect of movement. The visual pleasure attached to the spectatorship of the erotic object in a static configuration is disrupted, if only momentarily, by the movement of that object. This is certainly not to deny the implicit pornography of FLASHDANCE. It is to suggest that stasis (the visual basis of pornography) and movement exist on opposite ends of a visual continuum and, in this film, gently tug at one another. (This may be one reason why the pornography in FLASHDANCE is not as offensive as it might be.)
There are a number of other “hooks” for the female spectator in the film besides the sexual hook of pornography. Women performed a majority of the songs used in the film, and studio and record company executives who promoted the soundtrack album on the basis of its appeal to women did not overlook that fact. The costuming promoted a rejection of high fashion ideals based on wealth, and substituted a radical chic based on personal style (advocated, however, with the vehemence of Women's Wear Daily). And the film explores the positive aspects of relations between women through the importance the narrative placed on the camaraderie of the flashdancers.
If there is one thing that characterizes the dancers in FLASHDANCE it is their movement. The "exotic' dancers (strippers) across the street at the Zanzibar offer their bodies in erotic poses or mobile displays (Alex's best friend, Jeannie, sits as if transfixed on the stage, moving her legs in slow circles for the clientele directly in front of her). But the flashdancers at Mawby's propel their bodies through the frame, taking ownership of the space at their disposal. In the Zanzibar, the mise-en-scène includes both the dancers and their audience. In the opening shot, a stripper walks down the runway amid catcalls and leering glances, her space limited by the presence and gaze of the audience. In Mawby's the camera rarely shows the audience in the same shot as the dancer. There are cuts from one to the other instead, as if the dancers left no space in the frame for the audience to occupy.
The flashdancers not only control their bodies physically, but they also exert a force over the cinematic space which affects their representation. There are two workout sequences in the film. In the first, Alex goes through a routine at a ballet bar in her apartment. Although close ups of her body constitute a large portion of the sequence, Alex continually moves in those close ups, whether it is stretching into and out of the frame, or whether it is the simple running in place which accompanies the shots of her legs.
One of the most electrifying sequences in FLASHDANCE is the weight room session where the flashdancers work out. With the help of weight machines they pull themselves up into a previously empty frame, then disappear beneath it. Legs, arms, and torsos charge into the frame from all directions while the camera is poised in motionless readiness for its subject to reappear.
The music which accompanies the scene, "I Love Rock 'n Roll," literalizes the obsession of the film and the characters in it with rock music. In FLASHDANCE rock music becomes a symbol for the constant exhilaration and endless energy of the chic, young, urban lifestyle. Many of the big production numbers, particularly "Flashdance," "Maniac," and "Man Hunt," build around dramatic shifts in musical structure (dynamic level, tempo, instrumentation) and driving rhythms with heavy percussion. Part of the reason for the ecstasy of the flashdance may well be the exhilaration/exhaustion of being pushed to the physical limit by the music. Certainly a number like "Maniac" (Alex's workout music) demands a total surrender to its driving rhythms. (Alex is exhausted by the time the song is over.) If the walkman provides Alex with access to her own private space, then rock music creates that personal space by encapsulating her manic drive.
There is, of course, more than one fantasy at work in FLASHDANCE. The exhilarating fantasy of control rests within a larger framework, the rags-to riches story of one of the flashdancers, Alex Owens. The Paramount press release describes the film in just these terms:
It's a seductive fantasy. The control that Alex has over her body is projected onto the control she seemingly has over her life. It's also an insidious fantasy. FLASHDANCE goes to great lengths to establish its credibility, employing several traditional conventions of filmic realism to do so: location shooting, the use of unknown actors and actresses, anti-literary dialogue, the use of working class life as subject matter, and an emphasis on backstage life. Within this artificially heightened construction of reality, the film offers a fantasy, one that initially appears to conform to the realistic ethic which permeates the film. This fantasy projects the illusion of attainability and offers itself up as a possible dream. But the film is either unwilling or unable to sustain the female quest. Going from Mawby's bar to the bar at the Pittsburgh Ballet does not have to be an unachievable goal. But in FLASHDANCE, a film that flaunts its realism like a badge, the protagonist's quest, and our fantasy in sharing it with her, turn out to be absurd economically, socially, artistically, and physically.
Here is the dream: a young woman, a talented dancer, works during the day at a strenuous and draining job. Its only compensation is the financial reward, large enough to enable her to create her own destiny through training in classical dance. Her boss falls in love with her, introducing her to a style of life she longs for and which she can acquire through her unique talent. In the end, she passes her audition for a ballet company and leaps into the arms of her boyfriend in her newly acquired status as ballerina. The story has the power of a dream, but enough "resistance" towards the fantasy remains in the film to undermine that power.
Consider Alex's job. How could an 18 year-old woman land a skilled labor job as a welder in the unionized steel industry of an economically depressed union town? How could anyone? If an audience were somehow blissfully unaware of the realities of economic existence in post-Reagan United States, then the film’s context would provide this information for them. Not only are any other women missing in the factory, so are employees, male or female, under 30. (The steel mill scenes were shot on location in Pittsburgh. One wonders whether director Lyne's camera revealed a deeper economic truth than he had intended.)
Particularly disturbing is the lunch scene played out against the background of an overweight black woman who runs the lunch wagon. In a gross caricature of black stereotypes, she executes a wide-eyed double take as punctuation for the lovers' quarrel between Alex and Nick. (There is a black flashdancer, by the way, but she never gets to dance on screen.) It's a telling scene. Even while we are being offered a model of female economic liberation, we note the traditional entrapment of women (particularly minority women) in the ghetto of unskilled labor employment.
Hollywood films frequently ask us to believe in outrageous social pairings, heiresses with newspaper reporters, and shop girls with millionaire playboys. FLASHDANCE is no exception. Nick pursues and captures Alex. He owns the steel mill yet falls instantly for her charms. They have only their working class origins in common (besides sex). FLASHDANCE is not the only film to rely upon romantic implausibility. But it does so an insidious way, undermining Alex's finale at the end of the film. Nick calls a few friends at the Pittsburgh Ballet and gets Alex an audition. When she is understandably upset, the film wants us to side with Nick. In an explosive tantrum, Alex leaps from a moving Porsche in the middle of a tunnel to shriek at the top of her lungs and generally humiliate herself. Her need to achieve her own status in a world which has previously denied it to her would seem a reasonable if not necessary part of her struggle. But in FLASHDANCE her independence seems over-dramatized, exaggerated to the point of ridicule.
Artistically, Alex's fantasy is highly problematic. At age 18 she is probably too old to begin serious ballet training, a point made by Ballet Magazine.(4) But she believes that she will one day be a solo performer. The film reinforces Alex's naiveté about artistic performance. Her best friend, Jeannie (Sunny Johnson), has a parallel dream: to skate professionally. When Jeannie blows her audition, a demoralized Alex tells Nick, "She practiced for two years." Is that how long she thinks it will take her to become a ballerina? Even STAYING ALIVE, the new John Travolta vehicle, admits that the road to success is rocky. The film opens six years after Tony Manero (Travolta) has come to Manhattan. He teaches dance classes and waits tables while living in a scummy men's hotel, endlessly hoping for that one big break.
Ultimately, however, the most destructive part of the fantasy in FLASHDANCE is the physical impossibility upon which it is based. Almost concurrently with the film's nationwide release came the information that Jennifer Beals did not do her own dancing. The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, Time, People, and the syndicated television entertainment news show ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT (among others) reported the disclosure of Marine Jahan as Beals' dance double. Beals herself candidly admitted that Jahan helped her with the dancing, but when she saw the film, she admitted that Jahan did all the dancing:
So could others. Even before the disclosure surfaced, viewers and reviewers of the film suspected that the woman who played Alex and the woman who performed the dance sequences were not one and the same. (There was even a third dancer, as yet uncredited, who performed the more gymnastic feats for Jahan.) The most telling signal was body shape. Beals is slightly built. In the dance sequences Jahan is muscular, with wide shoulders. The camera's insistence on fragmented body parts and the consistent use of long shots and intercut close ups confirmed what many viewers perceived viscerally.
Films always demand their audiences' willing suspension of belief in order to preserve the illusion of reality they offer. Early audiences had to learn the structural as well as dramatic and generic conventions of film watching. In a country mesmerized by its own film industry, even the practical concerns of filmmaking became noteworthy. The use of the stunt double to perform in place of the star became part of a shared filmic heritage.
But in recent years, this has begun to change. In the cinema's quest for authenticity, its stars have put themselves through grueling, even torturous, regimes in order to fulfill as many of the film's physical requirements as possible. John Travolta did all his own dancing in both SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER and STAYING ALIVE; Christopher Reeve built up his body for SUPERMAN; Meryl Streep learned Polish for SOPHIE'S CHOICE; and Sylvester Stallone even went into the ring as Rocky.
In the wake of this movement towards authenticity comes the highly publicized use of a dance double in FLASHDANCE.(6) The film bases Alex's success story upon a physical impossibility, a fact not lost upon adolescent audiences. Jennifer Beals could not execute the strenuous athletic performance attributed to her character. The public disclosure of this information not only distracts an audience, but it also cheats them out of a fantasy. The leaked news of Jahan's performance did more than destroy the "magic"(7) of the film. The secretive pairing of actress and dancer unconsciously transmitted the message that beauty and brawn don't mix.
CONTEMPORARY HOLLYWOOD MUSICALS
It is interesting to compare FLASHDANCE to one of its progenitors, SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER, in its manipulation of fantasy. SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER is a film about a Brooklyn teenager, played by John Travolta, who uses a talent for disco dancing to propel himself out of a dead-end life. FLASHDANCE changes the gender of the protagonist, and in doing so, it reveals a striking difference between the creation and fruition of fantasies for males and females in Hollywood films.
Like Alex Owens, Tony Manero (John Travolta) comes from a working class background. Both have found dance as an escape from the stifling effects of their environment. But they part company on the fantasies they live out for their audiences: Alex's fantasy is unattainable; Tony's is within his grasp.
FLASHDANCE expends all its psychic energy on the fantasies that do not count very much. Alex has a job as a welder in a steel mill. A highly skilled worker, Alex presumably earns enough to finance a massive apartment/ballet studio in a converted warehouse, and saves enough money to put herself through ballet school. Tony works in a hardware store. Alex lives completely on her own, free from parental intervention. Tony lives with his family, sacrificing privacy and personal integrity because of ethnic expectations (single children do not move out) and financial considerations (the head of the family is unemployed and it is unlikely that Tony's wages would permit a monthly apartment rent anyway). Alex is accepted into the Pittsburgh Ballet School, her success seemingly assured. Tony is left at end of the SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER poised on the brink of his future, willing to take a chance on changing his life, but unequipped with any specifics on how to do it.
If SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER seems a more restrictive fantasy, it is. But, in fact, because of the limitations placed on it by economic and social reality, it presents a fantasy within the realm of possibility, offering a positive role model for its male viewers. What does Tony accomplish? He wins a (rigged) dance contest and decides he can use his talent to better his life. It is not much, but if offers more to its male viewers than the blind alley down which FLASHDANCE leads its female viewers.
Even the more flamboyant STAYING ALIVE preserves the grittiness of Tony's struggle. STAYING ALIVE picks up his story six years later. Still trying to make it into a Broadway chorus, Tony goes on an endless route of auditions while, ironically, teaching other dancers how to get into a show. Supplementing his income with demoralizing work as a waiter in a bar, he cannot even afford his own apartment. He lives in a room in a men's hotel, waiting in the lobby for the one phone to ring. When it does, it affords him the opportunity for stardom, but not until he goes through an exhaustive round of rehearsals, backstage politics, and emotional trauma.
SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER and STAYING ALIVE inculcate a respect for male artistic aspiration and elevate populist art forms such disco dancing. FLASHDANCE creates a distinction between so-called high art and low art, ironically slighting the populist dance form the protagonist has mastered in favor of the more acceptable, middle class dance form, ballet, at which she is a klutz. (The one time in the film she attempts a ballet move, she spills a diet soda all over herself.)
And finally, John Travolta does his own dancing, embodying the very fantasy he enacts.
Although FLASHDANCE borrows from both FAME and ROCKY, as well as SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER, the film bears its closest spiritual kinship to Dorothy Arzner's DANCE, GIRL, DANCE (1940). Their plots are remarkably similar. Burlesque dancer Judy O'Brien (Maureen O'Hara) dreams of becoming a ballerina. Encouraged in her ambitions by an elderly dance teacher, Madame Basilova (complete with foreign accent), she pursues her goal despite her own insecurity and several setbacks (the death of her mentor, for one). Unbeknownst to Judy, the man avidly pursuing her romantically and professionally (Steve Adams, played by Ralph Bellamy) directs the very ballet company she wants to join. When she finally musters up enough courage to audition, she learns his true identity and must no longer prove her talent. The film ends with Judy's laughter.
FLASHDANCE relies upon a set of ideological assumptions similar to those promulgated in DANCE, GIRL, DANCE: the distinction between so-called low art and high art; the decadence of popular dance forms and the integrity of ballet; the necessity of moral support from an older female mentor (and her subsequent death, leaving the heroine to dance on her own two feet); and the crucial role in the protagonist's success played by the male romantic lead.
There even exists an (unwitting?) homage to DANCE, GIRL, DANCE in FLASHDANCE. In DANCE, GIRL, DANCE, Judy and Madame Basilova pause for a moment before entering the building where Judy will audition for the ballet. The camera pans the skyscraper, holding the final extreme low angle momentarily as Madame Basilova proclaims, "This is your destiny." When Alex goes to the Pittsburgh Ballet for the first time, she, too, pauses. The camera pans up the magnificent structure which houses the ballet, ending with an extreme low angle of the imposing edifice.
Like Horatio Alger protagonists, who slave their lives away in righteous degradation only to be snatched from the jaws of poverty by a miraculous coincidence, DANCE, GIRL, DANCE depends upon outside intervention (in the form of a successful male) to help the female protagonist reach her dream. This deus-ex-machina ending foils even the heroine, who collapses into laughter when she learns how her own stubbornness and independence have actually thwarted her ambition. But Judy's hysterical laughter is an uncomfortable reminder of the psychic toll that life has expected from her. It is this legacy that the film leaves to FLASHDANCE: the futility of female aspiration and the rewards of acquiescence in a male world.
If you could be anything in the world you wanted to be, what would you choose? How many times have you been asked this question as children? And how often do our minds continue to formulate answers as adults? Fantasies are an important even crucial component for coming to terms with elemental fears and desires. Ultimately fantasies help to create and, in the process, make familiar, the very possibility to change within our lives, offering us the psychic power of self-determination.
FLASHDANCE is a film about many things, not the least of which is female fantasy. But, unfortunately, it promises more than it delivers. What is so frustrating about the film is the way it embeds electrifying dance sequences within a disappointing fantasy framework. All the exhilaration the film transmits to its audience leads to nothing but a dead-end.
1. I am indebted to Julia Lesage for her ideas on fantasy delivered in a lecture at Rhode Island College in May 1983: "The Politics of Fantasy in Hollywood Film." For an excellent analysis of the concept of fantasy in Hollywood film, see Julia Lesage, "The Hegemonic Female Fantasy," in Film Reader, No. 5 (1982), pp. 83-94.
2. Linda Williams, "Personal Best," in JUMP CUT, No. 27 (July 1982), p. 1.
3. Paramount Publicity Release, April 1983.
4. Review of FLASHDANCE, Ballet Monthly, July 1983.
5. Deborah Caulfield, "OK, Jennifer, Who Did the Dancing?" Los Angeles Times (May 22, 1983), Sec. 6, p. 1.
6. Marine Jahan, in the wake of her newly acquired celebrity status, is now appearing on a promotional tour for 9 West shoes. Billed as "the dancer who created a sensation in FLASHDANCE," she appeared recently in a Macy's advertisement on page three of the New York Times (October 12, 1983), Sec. 1.
7. Marine Jahan, interviewed on Entertainment Tonight, claimed that the producers hid her involvement on FLASHDANCE because "they didn't want to break the magic of the film."
Special thanks also to Sandy Flitterman for her encouragement and insight.