|Jules (sohotrightnow) wrote,|
@ 2011-03-26 11:21 am UTC
|Current music:||you're all right, there's nothing wrong, self sufficience please and get to work|
|Entry tags:||i am crazy:what is your childhood trauma, movie:sucker punch|
And as silly as this sounds and embarrassed of myself I am for saying this, I am not actually sure I can deal with a lot of criticism of this movie right now. Partly because a lot of the things I have seen complained about hit a couple of very deep-seated issue-related buttons for me, such that I end up taking criticism really really personally. To the point where, kind of hilariously, I have even been considering taking a few days away from LJ/DW until whatever initial discussion there may be has died down. Yes that is how ridiculous I am, w/e w/e I do what I want.
That said, inlovewithnight tells me that there has already been some stuff surrounding this movie in fandom that will enrage me, much of it from people who haven't even seen the movie! And, okay, first of all, leaving aside the deeper issues I have, this is not going to be to everyone's tastes, simply because it's very much a straight-up action movie (baked_goldfish and I agreed after last night's viewing that leaving aside the politics of it, this was quite simply one of the best action movies we'd seen in ages) and again, that's a genre that not everyone's into! So if you're not into action movies you probably will not be super into this. And as for the ~issues~, I will absolutely acknowledge that plenty of people have trauma that will manifest in ways that make this movie unviewable for them! But I would like to state clearly the other side of that coin, that it's possible for people's trauma to manifest in ways that mean this will be an extremely satisfying and, hell, therapeutic movie for them. Brains are complex! No two traumas are the same! We all deal with it in different ways and respond to it in different ways!
...oh god that was only supposed to be a few sentences of defensiveness. /o\ Long story short, I totally understand being critical of this movie, from a pure cinematic POV and from a feminist one, but I am not sure I am capable of dealing with that because of the ways that it resonates with me (I love action movies and also LOL ISSUES). I realize it is silly but that is part of the fun of being crazy. I hear people be like "but the costumes are gross" and I have to fight really hard not to yell YOUR FACE IS GROSS, SHUT UP, THIS IS FUCKING ART, I AM GETTING DEFENSIVE SO HARD I'M ABOUT TO BREAK MY MACBOOK FUCKING AIR!!!!!!! Yes, again, I completely realize this is irrational and hypocritical, but guess what, that is how the crazybrain works! W/E W/E I DO WHAT I WANT, at least I am working to confine this to my own journal! :D? :D?
OKAY HAVING GOTTEN ALL OF THAT OUT OF THE WAY.
More on the beginning. I'd noticed yesterday that Babydoll doesn't speak through the entire opening; in fact, the first of the girls to speak is Sweetpea, and she does so when she is acting out Babydoll's lobotomy onstage. (AND that is to say stop it, get that thing away from me, undo these straps and get me out of here, and then to talk about how she doesn't understand this, that it's not hot at all, it's creepy and gross to think that anyone would be turned on by it.) But going back even further -- the movie opens on Babydoll on a stage that looks like her bedroom, and then pans around and turns it from a stage into her actual bedroom. She doesn't speak for the entire opening, and even before the acting-out-the-lobotomy happens, when Babydoll first goes into the theater, what's happening onstage? It's a bedroom, with a blonde girl sitting on a bed. In the background, it's explained that the stage is used as a set for therapy, so the girls can recreate what happened to them, at which point, Babydoll locks eyes with the girl sitting in the bedroom set, and it's Sweetpea.
ALSO something about Blondie and Amber's deaths was bothering me after my first viewing, and first I was like "okay, something's off here, because this was all in Sweetpea's head, but when Blue kills them, Sweetpea is locked in the closet, so how does she know about it?" BUT! When Babydoll first says she plans to escape, in the dormitory, someone -- I want to say Blondie -- says something to the effect of "the last time anyone tried, three girls died". I don't remember the exact wording, but the key here is that three girls died. At which point it all fell into place: not only does she hold herself responsible for her sister's death, but she also blames herself for the other girls' deaths as well.
Sidebar: WHY THE FUCK have both the theaters I have been in found Blondie's death entertaining? At the midnight showing people freaking cheered, and last night people were laughing. LIKE WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK PEOPLE, UGH. quelle_surprise was like "yes, she ratted them out, but DID YOU NOT NOTICE THE CIRCUMSTANCES?" It was horrifying and such a statement on powerlessness in the patriarchy, on how you're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't, and even if you "play by the rules" (which, um, it was kind of forced out of her, first of all; it's not like she voluntarily went to them, so even that is a really powerful statement about how you're not really playing by the rules because you have any choice in the matter to begin with) you're fucked. Which...hm. That reminds me so much of this post that I am really going "huh" to this.
More on the costuming! Like, we were discussing them, and inlovewithnight said "they were just dancing the line of exploitation so furiously that I think they finally just obliterated it entirely". To which baked_goldfish responded "yes, the costumes were skimpy -- but also, they were tearing shit up," which is also key, I think. Like, sex as means of enforcing power is such a central theme in this movie that it seemed obvious, to me, that reclaiming sexuality would be a part of kicking ass and reclaiming agency. Plus, also, like, part of why I love Buffy so much is that she is allowed to be traditionally feminine and still be a hero. Like, Ripley is great, but she never really resonated with me the way Buffy and Sailor Moon did, because I had the same problem with her I had with a lot of the heroines of books I read, where I felt like the message was that in order to be a female hero who kicks ass, you had to eschew femininity.
And obvs it is not cool to be prescriptive about any kind of gender presentation, and I understand how refreshing the tomboyish heroines and Ripley are to women who don't feel particularly attached to traditional femininity! So I am absolutely not knocking those types of characters as important and valuable, because shit yes they are. But I was surrounded by stories where you either wore pretty dresses and were useless or you hated dresses and were a hero, and it got to a point in my childhood where I felt like, well, if I want to be a worthwhile woman I have to be a tomboy, and that is no more helpful than saying that every female hero has to kick ass in high heels and a push-up bra, so basically the "it's not cool to be prescriptive re: gender presentation" thing works both ways. Or, more eloquently, everything in the "gender: femininity" tag at Sociological Images. Especially, to bring this back to the movie, a quote from this post, about outside photographers' experiences documenting internment camps during WWII:
According to Sue Kunitomi Embrey the chair of the Manzanar Committee, [Ansel] Adams hoped to capture the despair of camp life in order to stir some public sympathy for Japanese Americans but was frustrated by all the primping and posing Japanese Americans did when he was photographing.Emphasis mine, but yeah, basically I point to that and say YES YES THAT, ALL OF THAT.
...I hope that images of smiling and fashion-conscious Japanese American women...adds to and deepens our appreciation of the small acts of feeling, creativity, and resistance that happen everyday in spite of huge limitations. In an act as seemingly trivial and trite as smiling for the camera, these women interrupt and take some control of the historical, political, and visual frames through which they're being viewed.
ALSO, which I noticed this time, in none of the fantasy "mission" sequences are the attacking hordes using sex as a weapon, threatening rape or leering or whatever, and neither do the girls do any kind of honey-pot thing within the missions, using their costumes as ways of distracting people. For that matter, the enemy soldiers are steampunk WWI automaton-zombie things, orcs, and robots. They are never even presented as having any kind of human personality or sexuality. So on the one hand, yeah, why would they even need skimpy clothes, if we're not going to make that an issue? But sex as means of enforcing power is such a central theme that IDK, for me it made perfect sense. Yes, you can be sexy just for you; you are not asking for it when bad things happen to you just because you were wearing fishnets and displaying cleavage; you can be sexy -- you can be sexual -- and do it on your own fucking terms. And again, it is kind of impossible for me to be completely objective about this because LOL PROJECTING but I felt like within the context of the film it was actually perfect.
Which, discussing that before the movie I was explaining how I am having to give a loud and frequent disclaimer, in talking about this movie, that it hits so many of my buttons that possibly everyone should take my reviews with a grain of salt. And I said "yeah, I realized when I was getting defensive in drafting a post that I used the phrase 'maybe I'm giving Zack Snyder too much credit' and that's sort of where I said okay, I have to step back, because I seriously just wondered if I was giving Zack Snyder too much credit". But then we came out of it and baked_goldfish was like "THAT WAS AMAZING", and then said that she couldn't believe she was saying this of any director, let alone Zack Snyder, but clearly he needs to write his own movies all the time. So, you know, me projecting all over it does not exclude the possibility of it being legit good! She said it was one of the best movies she'd seen this year, and we agreed that it was the best action movie either of us had seen in ages, so. Plus redbrickrose pointed out the whole death of the author thing and reminded me that whether he meant it as male-gazey or not didn't really matter if I was getting that strong a reclamation of agency vibe from it.
And of course there's the "you have all the weapons you need, now fight" line, which, if all you see is the trailers, I could see having a problem with that because it seems like it's kind of victim-blamey taken in the context of the rest of what's going on, at least in the trailers? But what isn't clear from the trailers is that that line isn't meant for during -- it's meant for after. It's not about what you do when it happens to you, it's about recovering from the trauma and fighting your way past it. Which is wonderful, because yes, yes it is a fight. inlovewithnight said that for the first fantasy sequence she was kind of :/ and thinking "yeah, this is a pretty shallow empowerment fantasy" and then said she thought about that later and was like "...of course it was a shallow fantasy, that's the point: when you're in a world where you don't have any power, you need a fantasy where you have all the power." So, like, yes, from the trailers alone it's going to look like kind of a shallow Hollywood take on "empowerment", but that is basically the entire point, because that is what you need. In short, this movie is actually very conscious that its fantasy sequences look like shallow fantasy empowerment, and that is exactly what they are supposed to seem like, because this is not a movie about fighting hard enough to prevent them from victimizing you: it is about recovering after they victimize you.
...actually, looking at all of that, and my "the point is you're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't" take on Blondie's death in particular, not only is this movie about the patriarchy and misogyny, it is even more specifically about rape culture. Which, holy shit, not only did a dude make an action movie about rape culture and make it awesome, that dude was Zack fucking Snyder. I am not sure what to do about all of this.
OH MAN I HAVE SO MANY FEELINGS ABOUT THIS MOVIE, I CAN'T EVEN. Okay it is time for lunch. And then possibly I will bake something. IDK. Also, burntcopper pointed me towards a streaming copy of the soundtrack. So if anyone wants to listen to that, just go here and scroll through the carousel until you get to it!
Ughhhh where are all the icons, I need them. ALL OF THEM. Maybe I will even try my hand at writing fic? IDK where to even start with it, though, because there is SO MUCH FIC that needs to exist for this movie.