Saturday, February 16, 2008

Batman Begins... Again... or "Why I see movies the way I do"

I don't know why I bother trying to state my opinion sometimes. I'm awake way too late tonight because of a quick review I posted on my new Flixter on Facebook page, a review I didn't know would be public although I'm sure I should have figured it out.

If you've been reading my blog for a long long time, you probably remember my rampage on Superhero movies back that started with Batman Begins on June 22, 2005 (that is a hint of where to go in my archives if you're interested). I am still very interested in the ideas I mentioned there about what movies are truly empowering to women as women and when are the women just enacting male roles in order to fit into the mainstream (see Jacob's comment for more questions on that).

So anyways, I decided to cut and paste the comments from the movie review (a sentence or two I might add was all I wrote) so you can see how I can completely overreact to silly, half thought out comments. I deserved since I had only half thought out my review.

Since the review has now been modified, I'll just tell you the gist of what I first wrote was "this is a sexist movie blah blah blah why can't we have a strong superpowered woman or at least a strong female sidekick" That is when the comments began. As you can see, I was getting frustrated responding so now only my friends can make comments on my reviews, as they are the only people I was thinking of in the first place. Read on:

Comment from Random Guy #1

"'s called Bat MAN for a reason."

I commented

"That doesn't mean there can't be any strong female characters involved in the plot. The women that are lucky enough to make it in the movie could be a lot stronger and less like silly damsels in distress

So the name is BatMAN. Does that mean all men are sexist pigs? I don't think so. I just think this movie did not do justice to how good men can be, including to their female counterparts."
Random Guy #2 commented
"Then you want to watch "Girl Power!: Femine Powers Activate". This was about Batman, about Bruce Wayne. How was he a sexist pig? Because he was more influenced by the male figures in his life than the women?

To call "Batman Begins" sexist is downright puzzling. You may think it didn't have a strong female character (what did you think of Rachel Dawes, an assistant district attorney in a rough, corrupted many female DA's are there in movies again?) but that doesn't make it sexist."

I commented

"I'm sorry, I meant misogynistic, which I doubt will make any more sense to you. I'll change my review accordingly. I was under the impression my friends would be the ones reading my short review and they mostly know they can read more detailed analysis on my blog, where I am able to expand in more analytical and intellectual terms. The characters are not sexist. The movie is misogynistic because it reinforces fundamental patriarchall ideas instead of daring to make women strong and influential."

Then I went and modified my review and commented

at 11:14pm

"Please notice my above changed review. I hope this appeases some the frustration or puzzlement for the two of you."

Before I post the modified review, I feel the need to address a few things said above. I probably wasn't too clear on my responses or at least I used too many sophisticated literary devices like RHETORICAL QUESTIONS! When I asked if the commenter was saying BatMAN meant that it means that all men are sexist pigs, I was trying to make a point that just because a movie is about a MAN, it does not have to be sexist. Then I was attacked for saying the character of Batman was a sexist pig. I don't think I ever said that. I never said his character was anything - I said the movie was sexist. Oh well! So in case more morons read my review, I wrote a slightly longer response that changed the "sexist" parts to "misogynoistic" because that probably is more accurate to what I was saying and really stupid people won't be able to understand what it means anyways so I don't have to worry about them thinking I'm saying Bruce Wayne is sexist.

I'm a little worked up about this, can you tell? This is why I don't think I would be a very good film critic because the majority of the world out there does not watch movies like I do most of the time. I can't turn off the way I watch movies (and read books and watch TV for that matter) and still be true to who I am. I believe that movies, TV, and books have a powerful means of influencing us through subliminal positioning of certain ideals and I would feel weird putting a lot of effort into ignoring what power these mediums can hold. I'm not saying anyone else is stupid for not caring about the subliminal stuff either. It does not make anyone better or worse, smarter or stupider. It just means that I, being who I am, growing up as I did, and studying what I did in college, must be able to have these subtle readings of how books, movies, etc can influence others because it is a part of who I am and what I want to do with my life. All the subtle things add up to much bigger issues, in particular for young women. I want my cousins and nieces and maybe daughters to get reaffirming messages about being a woman without having it hit over their head. I also want the next generation of men to have more men with balanced ideas (like most of the important men in my life - my brothers, my father, my best friend) so that these misogynistic undertones don't accidentally happen anymore in a way that will slowly eat away at self-esteem and self-worth of women. All of what I am saying can be applied to other issues such as socioeconomic differences and race although they are less likely to be subliminal references in movies. I don't know how exactly I can influence this change but I know I'll figure it out. If I could find a paper or website that wanted to hear a feminist academic take on movies, I'd be happy to write for them. But for now I'm starting with my blog, where I can write anything I want and people can comment in a much more intelligent way than the two idiots... I mean people.... on Facebook.

To close, here is what my new review says:

"My previous review was vastly misunderstood. I thought this movie looked good and was entertaining. However, I think the overall story and portrayal of all the characters combined made a very misogynistic movie that hurts efforts to actively change...(read more) society's subconscious sexism in many situations. When I say I want a strong female character, I recognize that the protagonist is a male. However, despite the nominal power of the Katie Holmes character as an Assistant DA, she is still helpless and reliant completely on the men. There are also issues of the way the movie was filmed artistically that affect my view on this movie as misogynistic which I wrote out in detail in a blog post when the movie came back. My friends know me and know I have some backing to my outrageous claims, whether or not they agree with me. Next time you watch this movie, just try to look past the entertainment aspect (which was great) and see a little more of the underlying tones. The subliminal, subtle fabric of the film has more effect on the psyche than one might expect in an action adventure film.

I did not have similar problems with the first two X-Men movies, you may notice, because Bryan Singer did an excellent job of equalizing the forces of masculine and feminine by creating interesting characters who were portrayed in a very different light and shot in a different style from Batman Begins. Of course this all changed in X-Men 3 but that is another blog post. If you're not on my friend list and not able to see my blog, sorry. I am more interested in rating movies and writing reviews for the people who know me somewhat and can take what I say with a grain of salt by knowing my background and where I'm coming from. I have added another star since the 1 star was harsh when I was entertained initially."

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