Lucy means light. Specifically, it means celestial light, the light of our brightest “star,” the planet Venus. As the mythological and astronomical “light-bringer,” Venus in both her Morning Star and Evening Star guises is symbolically embodied in the goddess of many names:
Venus, Aphrodite, Isis, Inanna, Libitina, Stella Maris, St. Venere (from veneration), Dea Syria, Mari, Pelagia, Ishtar, Lucetia, St. Lucy, Lucifer, Juno Lucina,
and others to name a few. This incredibly ancient goddess of love, new life, creation, and knowledge has been part of humanity’s history nearly since its inception.
Perhaps this is why one of archaeology’s most amazing finds is also named Lucy. This particular Lucy, (AL 288-1), is a 3.2 million year old female skeleton who carries the acclaim of being first hominid skeleton discovered. Found in Ethiopia, native Ethiopians call her Dinknesh meaning the “wondrous one.”
Their name for her aligns with the many epithets of the goddess and planet Venus. Both deity and star (to our eyes) were regarded as spectacular and the cause of widespread wonder. “Lucy” is also one of humanity’s most ancient ancestresses (well-documented through DNA research). Thus, we aptly named this treasured skeleton. Her discovery brought new light into our human ancestry, new understanding of our genetic commonality, and emerged as a symbol of humanity’s fertile dispersion.
Deliberately named after the famous hominid skeleton, the movie, Lucy,has been meticulously produced to present a “new evolution;” a vision of what could ostensibly lead humanity into an even greater future. However, this particular Lucy “evolution” shows us merely another graphic spectacle depicting how patriarchy and its myth-makers continue to try to mold, or literally reshape, women into patriarchal male heroes.
Granted, the general release of the movie hasn’t happened yet. But it’s clear from the trailers, promotion, and movie production notes that Lucy (as movie and as lead protagonist) is intentionally named and designed to represent the newest and best form of females. The film does so by inferring that Lucy is full of light. Mental light that is. A brain so turned on, so on fire with its unaccustomed prowess that it literally re-conceives an everyday woman into a gorgeous, mighty weapon. Concurrently then, this Lucy extends the patriarchal practice of denigrating the goddess of love, sexuality, compassion, light, and wisdom.
Quoting the movie’s official site , Lucy depicts “a woman accidentally caught in a dark deal who turns the tables on her captors and transforms into a merciless warrior evolved beyond human logic” (my emphasis). The movie site proudly reminds us that director and writer, Luc Besson, “has created some of the most ruthless, toughest female action heroes in modern film.” Beeson states that “There’s a combination of factors that make this possible, involving really bad people and a new kind of drug. Well, actually, it’s not exactly a drug. In fact, it’s a natural substance that pregnant women produce in the sixth week of natal development called CPH4” (an enzyme).
Right. So, Lucy is created from a specific enzyme that a woman generates when she is pregnant; an enzyme, which if I understand correctly, helps bind zinc for placental transfer to a fetus–one of many key developmental processes. Here, even though it’s tempting, I won’t go into a tangent that begs exploration, i.e., the movie also participates in another favorite patriarchal pastime. Patriarchy has been intent (for centuries) to somehow try to wrest birth and creation away from women. I will say that from a mythological perspective it appears that Lucy is created parthenogenetically.
And yet, tragically, Lucy is not reborn into more fully realized human being. Instead, she is Super Hero Logic or Logos, appropriately outfitted as an unconquerable warrior. Because, again, this is another Pygmalion trope where the female is sculpted and brought to life solely from the male gaze, the male perspective, the patriarchal blueprint. Indeed, in the production notes, under the heading of “Earth’s First New Woman: Lucy is Reborn,” Scarlett Johansson remarks that the most challenging part of playing Lucy is that “as the ‘drug’ kicks in, Lucy gradually loses the ability to empathize and to feel pain. [Given those parameters. . . ] it was difficult to avoid making my performance flat and monotonous.”
Thus, despite the capacity to use enhanced capabilities of her brain, Lucy does not become more intuitive, compassionate, loving, playful, warm, wise, or, as one might wish, not even thoroughly enlightened. She is not formed in the likeness of her namesake: Venus/Aphrodite/ Juno Lucina. Unlike pregnant women, who are said to glow, she is not lit from within combining all the wisdom of heart, mind, and soul to their utmost expression. Rather, she is the glaring light of intellect separated from emotion and body wisdom, (another patriarchal leit motif throughout the past few millenia). Lucy appears melded to a very literal and very violent representation of “mind over matter” whether that is physical matter or matters of the heart and soul.
UGH!! I am so tired of this! Aren’t you? I’m so thoroughly tired of patriarchy deciding on or projecting (literally) what women actually are, who women truly are. Instead, the patriarchal myth machine inexorably grinds out yet another carefully crafted version of the story that women must be forcibly shaped into either being a paired “helpmate” of a patriarchal male or nearly identical clone. Please write me and tell me what you think! Thanks, as always, for reading!