May 29, 2016

Feminism at the Movies

There's a new Ghostbusters trailer.  It's all women, so of course a bunch of MRAs are screaming about icky girls ruining their (apparently ongoing) childhoods.  But they seem to have picked a much softer target than Mad Max: the trailer gives every indication that we're in for another boring retread by a studio out of ideas and looking to cash in on nostalgia. Am I seriously going to have to go see this to piss them off?  Even from an SJW perspective, I can't have been the only one bothered by the portrayal of the black girl, right?  The white girls got to be "funny", smart, proactive--and the black girl got to be ... the stereotype of a loud black girl.  Yet many SJW types seem excited by it for some reason?  Sigh.  Equal and opposite to the tendency to dislike things just because they don't conform your agenda is the tendency to like things just because they DO--and if you doubt me, google 'Kirk Cameron'.

While we're on the subject of retreads and social themes in movies, I finally saw the new Star Wars.  It wasn't perfect ... but I liked it.  I liked it a lot better than any of the prequels, including Revenge of the Sith (formerly known as 'the good one').  It was an actual goddam Star Wars movie.  True, as someone said, it felt like a cross between a reboot and an homage by someone who wasn't clear on the difference between a reboot and an homage.  But when I saw that stormtrooper refuse to fire on innocent villagers, and then come back to his ship and pull off his helmet an emotional wreck, I cared about what happened to that stormtrooper.  And when we met Rey, and saw her hard scavenging life, and saw her stick up for a droid, I cared about what happened to Rey.  And that right there is far more than can be said for the prequels, where the only caring-for was a carry-over from the original trilogy.

The only thing that really bugged me was Finn.  One, he's black.  Not 'black in a leading role', not 'black in Star Wars', but 'black in the Empire First Order.'  The Empire was species-ist, sexist, and racist--wall-to-wall white dudes oppressing a gender-, color-, and species-diverse Rebellion (by the third movie, anyway).  Changing that fundamental dynamic requires more explanation than "none whatsoever."

Two: Finn is conversant; funny; quick on his feet; lies to impress a girl; convinces a skeptical third party to go along (and how refreshing to see a movie where the guy admits to a lie because it's the right thing to do rather than being found out!); and is generally a fun, charismatic character.  This is a bit odd for someone trained from birth in a program of combat drills and indoctrination so thoroughgoing that he didn't even have a name.  But boom!--he defects, and then he's more or less a normal guy.  Shouldn't he be a bit more ... damaged?  Like, Kurt-Russell-in-Soldier-level damaged?

But ah well.  It was good stuff--compelling characters, beautiful effects--and I'll definitely be seeing it again.

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