On Catwoman (Julie Newmar)

The fascination for this character is extraordinary and produced one of the worst movies (Catwoman, Halle Barry, 2004) ever–horrible is generous way of describing that incarnation of the myth. The highly camp television version of the Batman story was both horrible and edgy at once, and the few episodes done by Julie Newmar in the Catwoman role are a tour-de-force in a no-holds-barred examination of blind materialism, greed, and ego. By contrast, Newmar played the role as a strong, take charge, get-it-done woman, but her character is unwilling or unable to take an ethical stand as a law-abiding citizen, which is the great tragedy of the character. Unwilling to share her loot with even a single henchman, she drugs the last one in order to keep her ill-gotten booty for herself. Appearing in thirteen episode during the show’s run, she is finally “killed off” when she falls into a bottomless chasm, unwilling to let go of a bag of silver and gold. Granted, she is supposed to be the ultimate femme fetale, curvy, beautiful, and very sexy, but she is fatal for all around her, unable to demonstrate even the slightest ounce of empathy for either friends or foes. Even though the show was rather cartoonish and production values were low by today’s standards, the script, if you could see past the silliness of it all, was really a kind of morality play populated by characters that were unambiguously either good or evil. Catwoman, though beautiful, was evil, egocentric, and sadistic. As a metaphor, Catwoman is a medieval misogynistic representation of the feminine, which is portrayed as uncontrolled animalistic emotion. Catwoman is the dark side of human behavior, uncontrolled, chaotic, and anarchic. Catwoman isn’t capable, though, of even saving herself, dying while trying to steal a bag of pirate loot. Even though the show was high camp and extremely exaggerated, the comedy only thinly veiled its criticism of poor behavior and bad choices.