Being Catherine Tramell (Basic Instinct)

Updated post.
Third chapter of small, soon to be (re-)published book, solely about Basic Instinct and Catherine Tramell.

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2021 10 30 | Lauren Harteveld

I didn’t even have to upload a photo for this post.           
I could pick one from the previous posts because I’ve been writing about Sharon Stone’s woman in white (directly inspired by Hitchcock’s Vertigo) for as long as I can remember.
And it’s like this thing where an insight, a certain knowledge about yourself, just keeps sinking in deeper.        
Ever since 1992.

I saw the movie countless of times in the 90s already, because a few years after its release they started replaying it at a discount theater.
I own the DVD and recently bought a new copy of Basic Instinct 2, because I had lost the first one. That’s how important Catherine Tramell is to me; I need that collection in order.                        
My identification with Catherine Tramell has turned out to be this exponential thing.

In the beginning, it seemed like not much was happening. Like a flat line where I just “hit” the mark, every time I went to see it. But without seeing much development.           
Then I started dressing like her.              
The 90s was the first decade where I bought white, khaki and camel clothing, including turtle necks and over-the-hip woolen coats.

But it wasn’t until the release of Basic Instinct 2 that the graph started taking off.          
Fourteen years after I had been a university student in her early twenties captivated by Catherine Tramell, the thought that there had been more than just the clothing that had kept me glued to the screen, started evolving.             
Something that she did. With men.       
With the world.               
Their fear.          
Her power.

It had been a deception that there were no similarities between us. And they were rooted in feeling vulnerable rather than powerful. 
Because I am an emphatic, loving person.

I can’t pass a beggar without giving money or a starving bee without feeding him. I over-deliver, give immediate refunds and I don’t steal in any way, shape or form. I cannot remember I ever tried to hurt someone by being unkind without (from my point of view) that person starting first and it being self-defense.        
I consider myself an emotional pushover, bound to her inner moral compass. I simply laugh when someone wonders if they can trust me, because my own moral code will exceed any expectations set by society.

My mistake, the reason it took me for over a decade before I understood that the similarities between me and Catherine Tramell were greater than a love for white coats, was that I assumed my own moral compass was something the world could see.          
I still don’t know why they don’t, but very few do.          
And the ones who do are usually very easygoing, friendly people.
Who say: “You’re so sweet, thank you.”
“You’re so social, you really see people.”

They’re the very people who (I think) should have been afraid of me, if there had been anything dangerous or ill-willing about me. They’re the ones who see my goodness.         
And then my heart just breaks open.    
Because no one ever says that.

I feel I’ve been criticized for everything. From the shoes I wear to how I express myself, to the way I handle criticism then conveniently called feedback.
Yet because of the inner-compass I didn’t identify as the strong woman Catherine Tramell, who was mostly only referred to as a serial killer.
Not a saver of Californian bees.
What I failed to see was that to the outside world I was Catherine Tramell.

The hostility, impatience and determination to find something wrong with me has been such a perpetual part of my surroundings, I cannot remember the time I didn’t try to offer some kind of excuse for myself.
I’ll probably be diagnosed as autistic in 2020 which is great but I’m just happy that something will come out of that psychological testing.
If I can hold up a label “autistic” or “borderline” or “narcissism”?
People will feel satisfied that they “felt something was wrong with me” and move on.

I hope I don’t have a high IQ because that will be useless in getting on people’s good or even neutral side.        
If all they find wrong with me is being gifted I really have no other option than taking “the Catherine Tramell route”.   
There is genius in what she does.           
In both of the movies we don’t actually see her (identified by seeing her face) killing people.    
It is implied, but everything could also be explained as being an accident, someone else impersonating her, or otherwise wanting it to look like she did it.             
As much as part 2 (2006) differs from part 1 (1992); That is identical.
You don’t know if she really did it.

And in both movies she plays with people’s fear for her and messes with their minds. Where I have spent my entire life trying to defend myself, to fit in, explaining myself – and getting absolutely nowhere with the whole thing except in a state of not-belonging; 
She just lets them have it.          
She successfully passes lie-detector tests, turns ten-to-one interrogation scenes around, gets her psychiatrist to break all his own rules and drives men into obsessively and compulsively wanting her.
The creators of the movie, never questioned that ultimately she was the one who did it.             
She was evil.

When in reality, 27 years into living in a defensive, non-Catherine Tramell way, I can testify that she didn’t have a real choice.
That even if she wasn’t a serial killer at all, had excused for herself, and for the impact she had on people?        
Even if she had carefully tiptoed around every ego of every psychiatrist or every detective?       
They would have found something wrong with her.       
A way to put it all on her.            

“Washburn thinks that you slit Denise’s throat.

“Me? You’re the one that hated her.
Maybe I’m acting out your unconscious impulses.”

“Stop it!”

“Do you think it’s possible that you want me to be the killer?”

We don’t know if Catherine really did it. And we don’t even know if she might have been saving bees or gave money to the homeless.
All we know is that people saw her as being guilty.        
And she never made an attempt to prove them wrong. 
Saved her 27 years.


An Unexamined Life is Not Worth Living


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