Tuesday, July 3

Geek Feminist Buzzkill

It is not easy being a lady geek. There are a lot of times when you will engage in a movie or book and have to stop engaging several times to check if this is real life. Often times writers are so ham-fisted and unaware of their audience (or too aware and therefor too presumptuous; men like smart, well-rounded female characters too!) that they create such hideously sexist, damaging work that it leaves you feeling like you've done something wrong simply by being born with female organs. What's even worse than that is when you tell your female friends/intelligent, critical-thinking male friends that a particular book or movie left you feeling that way and they don't/can't understand why.
These are four movies that will forever be the bane of my nerd existence because I will forever be explaining to other people why they suck. Why is there such a cult following for crap?! There are spoilers.

This whole movie was terrible and I'd probably have a lot more to say if I sat down and watched it again, but I'd rather not. What did stick in my mind was the werewolf scene. There was a sexual undertone in this segment; something about young women taking control of their bodies and using them in a way that wasn't particularly 'good' or 'the way young ladies behaved', which is an interesting take on lychanthropy and something I thought was really cool. What sucked was seeing these remarkably attractive women picking up the gnarliest, sickest dudes. They're beautiful girls, why wouldn't they attract beautiful men? And, I mean, if you're going to eat something, don't you want it to look nice? If you've ever seen an episode of Top Chef you know that plating is important. It's like the filmmakers knew the only people who would like this movie would be a bunch of plain ass geeks with neck hair and New Balance sneakers who would really get off on the idea that maybe someday a busty werewolf in a Halloween costume might want to nibble on them. Not gonna happen, dudes.

Was there a woman in this movie that didn't work in the sex industry? And don't say Jessica Alba's character (who grew into a hot babe from a little girl who was to be raped and tortured...let's all think about that the next time we salivate over this scene) because...did you watch the video?
I've talked about this movie before and had my feelings about the women in it dismissed because many of them seem strong and powerful. There's a particular storyline where the prostitutes save the day and are all super badasses, which is entertaining, but at the end of the day they're all prostitutes and any claim to power that they have in Sin City is bought, not earned.
I have no problem with prostitution in a institutionally regulated, industrialized world kind of way and think the sex industry is fine work if you're an empowered, intelligent, thoughtful person who is privileged enough to have chosen the field rather than being forced into it. However, that's also in the context of reality, and alongside all the great sex worker ladies like Stoya and Nina Hartley, in reality we also have really fantastic female politicians, doctors, philosophers, mothers, artists, etc. You get to decide what kind of lady you want to be and what kind of ladies you want to look up to.
Sin City creates a world where there is no place for other kinds of women. You're a lady, you're a sex worker. Because we don't get to see any woman in any other position, the role of the powerful, strong sex worker is diminished. It's an illusion to think that any woman in this movie is a bad ass because in the end they're all just comic book pin up, male fantasy fap folder crap. Big tits, little or no backstory/character development and a big gun.

Jennifer's Body is often described as an empowering feminist horror movie with a deep subtext on female relationships, sort of Mean Girls with a Satanic twist. It does sort of start out that way. Jennifer and Anita clearly have a strong bond and while it's clear that Jennifer is the alpha girl, with Anita acting on Jennifer's every whim (including blowing off Anita's boyfriend), there is still the idea there that the friendship is important to both girls. This relationship is at the forefront of the movie until demon Jennifer kills Anita's boyfriend toward the end of the movie. This is after Anita has completely alienated him with her obsession with Jennifer and her possession.
Anita spends 80% of the movie trying to find out what's wrong with her friend and how to fix it, and even when Jennifer kills some of Anita's close friends she's still in the same mind frame, but the second her boyfriend dies, everything changes. Her plan is now to kill Jennifer rather than save her. You'd think this turn of events would be because Anita finally realizes she can't save her friend, that the demon is all that's left inside Jennifer's body, but as she wrestles with the monster she says, "You killed my boyfriend!" Not, "You killed my best friend!" Who cares about your grubby, wheedling high school boyfriend? Jennifer clearly meant more to Anita at the beginning of the movie, so why would that change when nothing else has?
As the credits roll (hope you didn't leave the theater, folks) we see Anita escape from prison and hunt down the people that sacrificed Jennifer in the first place. As she murders them "Violet" by Hole plays which will always boggle my mind; why not "Jennifer's Body"? Anyway it's great that Anita avenges her friend and all, but it's such an important scene to the supposed theme and they spliced it in with the credits?

The movie starts out when a pro-abstinence Christian teenage virgin gets raped by a boy she really likes and believes to be a nice Christian guy. He ends up dying because Surprise! the girl has vagina dentata. In her journey to better understand her unique physiology she is repeatedly victimized and sexually assaulted by pretty much every man she trusts including her gynecologist, a friend and her stepbrother. In the end she runs away from home because she's lopped off about 10 penises and has to start a new life somewhere where she can safely wield her vagina. In the last scene an old man who gave her a ride locks the door, implying that he also plans to assault her. Instead of looking scared, she looks smug. This is the last scene and viewers are left imagining her allowing this gross old man to enter her vagina where she will bite off whatever part of him he sticks in there and she will escape into the world, letting gross pieces of crap put their gross piece of crap body parts into her vagina so she can get whatever it is she wants from them.
Sorry, what part of that was supposed to make me feel empowered? What part of that was supposed to make me feel not utterly repulsed?

1 comment:

Otter said...

I agree with every single one of these. I felt sort of ill at the end of Teeth, like was there really no other way she could defend herself? It just made me feel really creepy