Judging Magic: Can You See the Sleight of Hand?
Framed: Women in Law and Film. By Orit Kamir. Durham: Duke University Press. 2006. Pp. xi, 283. $23.95.
Cultural critic bell hooks says, “Movies make magic. They change things. They take the real and make it into something else right before our very eyes.” Movies do not, of course, have an exclusive hold on this ability to change one thing into something else. Law, too, possesses this power. Certainly, one must acknowledge some significant differences in the “magic” of filmic and legal texts. For the most part, as willing consumers of cultural products, we “choose” to subject ourselves to the magic of film. We sit in a darkened theater and let ourselves be taken away to a different place. Or, we sit in the darkness resisting the film’s attempts at enchantment or provocation. Law, on the other hand, works its magic notwithstanding the resistance of its objectors. Through judicial and legislative pronouncements, law changes “the real,” and declares that something once named thus shall henceforth be named otherwise. With the flick of a pen, transformation occurs before our eyes: the hiring of a white woman by an Asian man is a punishable offense; a First Nations woman marries a white man and is “an Indian” no more; women are “persons” capable of sitting in the Canadian senate; marriage is no longer an exclusively heterosexual institution.