09 August 2013

Friday is the (Inspirational) Movie Night: Girl Superheroines


Again and again, a disclaimer first. Yes, superhero movies are mostly already problematic. Lots of violence, lots of sexism. But being part of the popular culture, some inspiration can be drawn from the genre. Assuming you'd be obliged to look for superheroine movies, here is our take on those.

First of all, the stereotypical. Say hello to Kick-Ass (2010) and Kick-Ass 2 (2013). Apart from the extremely tough character of Mindy Macready / Hit-Girl there's not much going on for these movies. Flat, explicitly violent (rated R both of them) and quite boring. Gender-based jokes are less than tasteful and the whole genre could be classified as traditional superheroes meet mean girls.
Anyways, you may want to bear through those just to realize how bad the superhero thing is when it comes to heroines*.

And this is the place where the invitation to go back to our childhood goes. Powerpuff Girls (1998-2005) as a somewhat healthy alternative. In order to convince you, the laborious people of buzzfeed.com have compiled a whole list of the reasons why "The Powerpuff Girls Could Have Replaced Your Gender Studies Class". Some of the reasons include, obviously, the fact they do not fit the "sugar, spice and blah-blah stereotype", had a male primary caregiver, did (together with many other characters) drag and dress-up, etc. And they fought patriarchy -in their cutesy and drawn baby-girl way - as they fought villains.

* Yes, Hunger Games are on and will be featured eventually. No, Catwoman or other female characters from different Batman movies do not count. The saddest of recent takes on women and superpowers ever was probably Watchmen (2009).

02 August 2013

Friday is the (Inspirational) Movie Night: Girls (2012-)


This goes in the same way as Sex and the City (1998-2004). While you would like to hate it and tell everybody how shallow and untrue it is, you find yourself glued to the monitor. And being thankful that each episode is just about 20 min.

Again, this is mostly a story of how not to. And how we all do stupid things. And we all are somewhat anxious at times. While Girls (2012-) caused various storms in the US media bla-bla (well, see here where the series is compared with a 1925 hipster essay on emancipation and cliche formation, here, and here; and that's just one magazine that prides itself on going deep into pop phenomena), take it for what it is.
A story on being structurally privileged - go, google the whole thing about Girls lack of racial diversity, like this - and still very insecure. On being confused and very weird. Very weird.

Again and again, and it's impossible to repeat it too much, this is not role-model show. There are no such, btw. Watch it as an anthropological study on some girls in some place. I doesn't have to be representative. It doesn't have to be healthy. But it may take some stigma off from being weird, having mental health issues, dealing with your own body, being entangled in relationships that you know are no good, etc. The usual stuff.

The obvious bonus is that the creator of the series is a girl (Lena Dunham was born in 1986), so we can just relax and listen to her stuff. As an anthropology piece, we said.
Just to realize that the problem is not only the perfection, the girls that Courtney Martin describes as
"We are the girls with anxiety disorders, filled appointment books, five-year plans. We take ourselves very, very seriously. We are the peacemakers, the do-gooders, the givers, the savers. We are on time, overly prepared, well read, and witty, intellectually curious, always moving… We pride ourselves on getting as little sleep as possible and thrive on self-deprivation. We drink coffee, a lot of it. We are on birth control, Prozac, and multivitamins… We are relentless, judgmental with ourselves, and forgiving to others. We never want to be as passive-aggressive as our mothers, never want to marry men as uninspired as our fathers… We are the daughters of the feminists who said, “You can be anything,” and we heard, “You have to be everything." (from this book)
We also have the other end of the messiness and anxiety spectrum. Plus all the shades in between.