Boner Killer

I’m a proud feminist, but I’m no Sady.  I don’t quite get cisgender versus transgender.  I took film theory in college, not gender studies.  Even so, when Katherine Bigelow used the term scopophilia in an interview I had to look it up to remember all the layers of meaning it has.  I remember talking to my film theory prof after a class on Silence of the Lambs and the backlash from gay rights groups about Buffalo Bill and how it angered me that women didn’t band together and complain about negative portrayals of us in the media.  That was more than 10 years ago, and we still aren’t complaining and the image of women in the media hasn’t gotten any better.  In places, it’s gotten worse (like The Bachelor, where women fight over a man like hungry jackals over a carcass).

I’ve caught a few episodes of Buffy recently, and was again annoyed by the fact that Buffy always needed to have a boyfriend.  She may have been The Slayer, with the power to take out vamps and demons all on her own, but she would have rather been a popular cheerleader dating the quarterback.  I prefer Veronica Mars, who was usually dating someone, but because she wanted to, not because she felt incomplete without a man.  Veronica was awesome, whip smart and snarky, creative in her vengeance.  Of course she barely made it three seasons.

I was reading Entertainment Weekly’s Summer Movie Preview issue, and was about halfway through the article on the Angelina Jolie movie Salt when I wanted to throw the magazine across the room and scream.  See, originally the main character in the script was a man, but Angelina had been looking for a “female James Bond-style franchise,” so Sony changed the character from Edwin Salt to Evelyn.  But they couldn’t just change the gender, because in the original, Salt saves his wife from danger, and having a woman save her husband “seemed to castrate his character a little.”  And that sentence was when I started screaming.  Because, really?  Having Angelina fucking Jolie save a guy emasculates him?  I could see a man feeling a little wussy if he had to be saved by Paris Hilton or an Olson twin, but Angelina?  She’s hot, and the fact that she can kick most guys’ asses is part of her attraction.  She famously enjoys doing her own stunts.  And in real life, she flies the family plane, and Brad carries the luggage and herds the kids.  I guess that means he can hit those high notes now, if the studio suits are right.

While the studio suits are worrying about women in film and TV getting too strong, the men are devolving into eternal adolescents.  Fucking Judd Apatow.  I liked The 40 Year Old Virgin, but I think that was mostly because of Steve Carell.  His character was the most mature of the bunch, and I kept waiting for him to point out to his friends that their ideas about going for “drunk bitches” are tantamount to saying, “Date rape is a great way to get girls in bed!”  But he never did.  Superbad would have been an episode of SVU if it had been about jocks trying to get girls drunk enough to have sex, but since it was geeks, it was a comedy!  The women in these films are thinly written and serve mostly to keep the boys from having any fun.  Katherine Heigl got mean flack for speaking up and saying that her character in Knocked Up was shrill, and everyone wondered why she didn’t complain during the film.  Seeing as Apatow cast his own wife as a boner killing shrew so uptight her husband has to lie to hang out with his friends, I doubt he would have listened to her ideas on character development.  It’s a boys’ club, and they’ll pull up the ladder if a girl wants in to the treehouse.

The worst insult for these guys is to be compared to a girl.  In Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Mila Kunis tells Jason Segel that she can see his vagina when he’s hesitating to jump off a cliff into the ocean.  An act that she, a tiny vagina bearing woman, has already done.  He makes a similar joke in I Love You Man when Paul Rudd can’t let loose and scream like a man.  This is our new style romantic comedy leading man?  His tits are bigger than Kate Hudson’s.  If an actress wrote and starred in a film based on how she’d been dumped by someone years before she’d be seen as neurotic for dwelling on it.  Segel does it and now he’s writing the new Muppet movie.

I have seen one movie that goes against all these trends.  Of course it’s not American.  I finally saw the Swedish version of Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and loved it almost as much as the book.  Lisbeth Salander has been misunderstood and mistreated by the system her whole life but she refuses to be a victim.  She’s brilliant, prickly, and anti-social.  Noomi Rapace does an amazing job with a character who doesn’t speak much and who hides most of her emotions.  The original Swedish title of the book and film was Men Who Hate Women, which should give you an idea of how brutal it can be in places.  I’m careful about recommending the book since it gave one friend nightmares.  Hollywood is doing a version, and I’m sure they’ll ruin it with changes.  First they’ll have to get rid of the scene when tiny Salander rescues her big, strong man of a partner Blomkvist from the killer.  Because that could seem to castrate his character a little.

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April 21, 2010. Tags: , , . Movies, TV Shows.

One Comment

  1. laura replied:

    Great post! I just saw a trailer for Salt, yeah I’m not dying to see it and that sucks they had to change that because she was a woman. I think Steve Carell was totally the reason 40 Year Old Virgin is different – having him as co-writer made a world of improvement on the female characters. Great joke about Jason’s knockers 🙂

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