It’s been a banner month for misogyny at the movies! First there was Avengers: Age of Ultron, which has had feminists of all stripes tearing writer/director Joss Whedon a new one over a scene involving female assassin Black Widow having a vulnerable moment. Second, we have Mad Max: Fury Road, which has Male Rights Activists seething over the inclusion of a female warrior in a manly man’s movie. And then there’s Jurassic World, accused of sexism by… Age of Ultron director Joss Whedon! The plot thickens…
Three genre movies. Three gender-based complaints. Do any of them have any merit?
The feminists do seem to have the more valid complaint regarding Ultron, in that theirs isn’t based entirely on bullshit. The scene in question has Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) talking to Bruce Banner (not Edward Norton) about her past, which she’d been forced to confront during an altercation with Scarlett Witch (Elizabeth Olson). Bruce (Mark Ruffalo) feels a relationship between the two of them would be pointless, given his tendency to turn into a huge green rage monster (Hulk). Widow tells him the people who made her into an assassin sterilized her, so that nothing in her life would ever be more important than her missions. She ends her story with the line, “You think you’re the only monster on the team?”
Apparently, many audience members took this to mean that in Black Widow’s mind (and therefore in writer Joss’s mind), sterilization = monster. If she can’t be a mother, critics think that Joss was thinking, then her purpose in being a woman is negligible and she’s little more than a hulking rage beast. Therefore, the man who created Buffy the Vampire Slayer and other strong female characters is really a woman-hating bastard using a single scene in a mega-budgeted franchise movie to reveal his true colours and bring down feminism as we know it!
I said this complaint wasn’t entirely based on bullshit, but it is hardly free of bovine skidmarks. Personally, I thought that Black Widow felt she was a monster because she was made into an assassin. I think it’s worth noting that none of the other Avengers (or even the villains) treat her any differently for being a woman, sterile or otherwise. Even Tony Stark, womanizer of the group, treats her as an equal member of the team. But what do I know? I’ve got a dick.
And I’m ashamed of that dick, since it means I share something in common with those who are pissed at the new Mad Max movie. Mad Max: Fury Road opens tomorrow, with Tom Hardy taking over from Mel Gibson in the role of Max and Charlize Theron as the shaved-head, robotic armed warrior named Furiosa. The apparent leader of this charge is Aaron Clarey from the blog Return of Kings, who had this to say: “Because if [men] sheepishly attend and Fury Road is a blockbuster, then you, me, and all the other men (and real women) in the world will never be able to see a real action movie ever again that doesn’t contain some damn political lecture or moray about feminism, SJW-ing, and socialism.” Wow. What an asshole. Clarey, who has not yet seen the film, fears that manly men will be tricked “into seeing what is guaranteed to be nothing more than feminist propaganda, while at the same time being insulted AND tricked into viewing a piece of American culture ruined and rewritten right in front of their very eyes.”
David Futrelle of the blog We Hunted The Mammoth does a splendid job of tearing this dude a new one, most hilariously by pointing out that Mad Max isn’t a piece of American culture at all (that would be Australia, dumbass!). I don’t think I need to say anything else here. Honestly, there’s more scientific evidence for Creationism than there is logic or even sanity in the fury over Furiosa!
Finally, Jurassic World. I can’t wait for this one, because people being eaten by dinosaurs is what Hollywood popcorn entertainment is all about! Nevertheless, a gender issue was raised when a scene from this upcoming movie was released last month. Pop culture blog The Mary Sue had this to say on Twitter regarding the clip: “We’re too busy fanning ourselves to talk more about Chris Pratt in this #JurassicWorld clip.” In response, Joss Whedon tweeted this: “… and I’m too busy wishing this clip wasn’t 70’s era sexist. She’s a stiff, he’s a life-force – really? Still?” Whedon later said he felt his comments were in “bad form,” and that “as a quasi-celebrity it’s uncouth of me to attack somebody else’s material.” The Mary Sue, in turn, did not hold his comments against him when they reviewed Avengers: Age of Ultron. Did Whedon have a point, though? Is the clip sexist? Or just two characters interacting in a humorous, sexual tension-charged way?
I don’t know. I had no problem with it. Other people did. At least these issues are being talked about. And, more importantly, these issues of sexism in movies are not being dismissed.
But if anyone wants to dismiss Aaron Clarey’s comments, go right ahead!