Geena Davis Rises Like a Phoenix from the Ashes After ‘Dying of Politeness’


This September, our silver screens will be graced (or haunted?!) by the revival of a triple-named ghoul with the return of Michael Keaton as Beetlejuice in Beetlejuice Beetlejuice (also known as Beetlejuice 2).

In preparation, not only are we rewatching Beetlejuice for the umpteenth time, but we’re also checking out related materials, like the wonderful Geena Davis’s memoir that came out not too long ago! In case you missed it when it came out, Dying of Politeness details not only her rise to stardom but her shift from exhibiting a “dangerous” level of politeness to absolute “bad@ssery.”

Admittedly being an avid reader of memoirs, it’s fair to say I was looking forward to the arrival of this book, and thank Beetlejuice, it did not disappoint.



Dying of Politeness by Geena DavisPut Your Politeness in Check Here!

Dying of Politeness: A Memoir

Written by Geena Davis

HarperOne (October 11, 2022)

ISBN-13: 978-0063119130


“Academy Award winner Davis makes an engaging literary debut with a candid, appealing memoir recounting her evolution from self-effacing young woman to feisty activist … An entertaining and ebullient memoir.” — Kirkus Reviews



Geena Davis came from truly humble beginnings: parents with respectable jobs, living in a quiet New England town, and practicing an overabundance of politeness. Davis explains early in the book that their prioritization of niceties was not to a fault; it was to the point of literal danger. Once while in the car with her grandparents, Davis looked on while her parents said nothing, despite her elderly grandfather driving the car into oncoming traffic. Later, in her twenties during a self-defense class, a faux-attacker walked right into her because she could not bring herself to tell him to “stop” before he got too close to her.

Though she did not know the root origin of this pressure for politeness, Davis felt herself crippling under the pressure to appear “low-maintenance” instead of ever catering to her needs, personally and professionally. Even when she reached the point of modeling, hoping to eventually find her way to stardom, Davis could not bring herself to put herself up for any roles. It was only through her modeling that she was happened upon by someone who spoke up for her, which led to her role in Thelma & Louise and put her on her path in the film industry!


Un-Celebrity-Like: No Dirty Laundry Here!

True to herself, this book is not steeped in the nitty gritty, private details of a celebrity’s life. Though Davis has been married four times, this is not a memoir overwrought with the dramas and complexities of marriage. Rather, the details of her relationship history and family life remain somewhat glossed over. Her marriage to Jeff Goldblum, which was arguably her most popular pairing in the public eye, is the one we receive the most details about, which she claims to “regret” despite the two of them still being on “good terms.”

But I find this refreshing. To be frank, yes, it’s polite to not reveal all of your secrets and “air out your dirty laundry” to the public where everyone can see; but it’s also the sign of an absolute “badass” to not create more trouble after the drama has already settled. While it might have been interesting to read more details about the most intimate areas of her life, the minimal details are also in keeping with Davis’s growth as a person, and I have the utmost respect for that decision (and I don’t think it hinders the book in any way).


Up Next: Gender in the Media

Amidst her acting career, Geena Davis took up archery and became a world-class competing archer, which she argues has helped to elevate her character and bring her that much closer to her greatest sense of self (and assertion).

Davis also established the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, for which she is the Founder, Chair and tireless advocate for women and girls. Davis proudly presents her foundation at the end of her book while detailing what’s happening in her world now, which is all at once an interesting yet humble life.

After reading this book and thinking about how Geena Davis “embodied her bad@ssery through her characters,” it will be interesting to rewatch some of her films with that in mind — and undoubtedly keep thinking about it in whichever film she appears in next.



Geena DavisTwo-time Academy Award winner GEENA DAVIS is one of Hollywood’s most respected actors, having appeared in several roles that became cultural landmarks, such as Thelma in Thelma & Louise, Dottie Hinson in A League of Their Own, and Mackenzie Allen in Commander in Chief.

She is also a world-class archer and is now recognized for her tireless advocacy of women and girls, as Founder and Chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.

Dying of Politeness is her first book.



BeetlejuiceHave We Said ‘Beetlejuice‘ Too Many Times? …Oh Well.


Starring: Michael Keaton, Geena Davis, Alec Baldwin, Wynona Ryder

Directed By: Tim Burton

1988 (1 hour, 32 minutes)

Watch on Prime Video



The Official Beetlejuice Coloring BookColor While You Scream (Err… Watch)

The Official Beetlejuice Coloring Book

Illustrated by Alan Robert

Insight Editions (September 3, 2024), 64 pages

ISBN-13: 979-8886635744




Brace Yourself: Beetlejuice Beetlejuice Trailer

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Written By McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan (she/her/hers) lives and writes in Europe with her family (originally from the Midwest). In addition to being the Editor-in-Chief of Lit Shark Magazine and the Banned Book Review, she is a novelist, poet, and book reviewer. She received her MFA in Poetry from Western Michigan University and her BA in English/BS in Education from Indiana University South Bend, where she began her work in publishing. Her poems have appeared in Rogue Agent, Whale Road Review, Young Ravens Review, The Birds We Piled Loosely, and Encore Magazine, among others; and her book reviews and essays have appeared in The Rumpus, Green Mountains Review, Memoir Mixtapes, The Life Collective, Her Journal, Motherly, and more. When not writing, she enjoys reading, appreciating nature, and spending time with her husband and three children.




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