Sucker Punch: Deeply Problematic.
Zack Snyder the erstwhile director of ‘Sucker Punch’ and ‘300’ has not been a director I particularly like, while I am a huge fan of ‘exploitation’ cinema, if only because it is so wonderfully flawed ‘Sucker Punch’ has left me cold.
Where do I begin, with the outfits? Maybe, alas I believe that would be to simple a place to start as accusing a male director of turning women into cheesecake is hardly a task.
No, this movie has deeper problems than that.
Sucker Punch opens with a scene of violence and possible sexual abuse by a step father against his two daughters, he kills one of them and the other gets sent to a mental institution.
This young woman, a blonde haired girl named ‘Baby Doll’ from here goes through a series of adventures leading to her escape, she does this by convincing her fellow inmates all other women, to rebel against the guards, the lead therapist (another woman) and the head of the asylum a man named ‘Blue’.
Now, here is where things get murky because as if things were not bad enough, suddenly the mental asylum is for reasons I can’t really explain is imagined as a ‘brothel’ or ‘strip club’ by our protagonist.
Here is where the problem is, ‘Baby Doll’ has been beaten and abused, sent to an asylum for wayward girls and suddenly her mental escape, her imaginary way to create her own freedom is to imagine she is in a ‘brothel’ in particular, one where women are routinely abused, beaten and killed.
Kept only as slaves.
In this scenario ‘Blue’ is the ruthless owner of the brothel and the therapist is a dance teacher, who tells them that ‘they have all the weapons they need’ which are implied to be their bodies.
She gives a message of strength, while at the same time telling them that to be able to be strong they have to take advantage of the ‘male gaze’.
So she concocts the plan to escape, which involves dancing.
Yes Dancing. They distracted the men with what are implied to be overly sexual dances.
These dances are imagined by the girls as epic battles and adventures, fights against dragons in planes, killing zombies with machine guns in First World War trenches and attacking robots from helicopters over a train in the future. All the while dressed in burlesque and overly sexualised attire.
Is this the kind of imagination one escapes too when frightened and being abused?, running off idealized male video game fantasy of women in school girl outfits (with lots of crotch shots) fighting monsters.
Oh and on all these imaginary missions (which are actually dances to distract guards and others) who is the person giving them orders and support? A man.
Zack Snyder has claimed this is his vision of female empowerment, and yes while it is good in its message, all it does is point out that the only weapons women have are our bodies.
I won’t really reveal the ending, but I will say this, even has one of our heroes escapes at the end, she gets on the bus only to be stopped by police, suddenly the bus driver intervenes. He is the man who has been giving them orders and briefing them on each of their ‘missions’ in their dance/dream sequences.
It’s a tragic trope; women can’t have their own freedom without help from men.
So sucker punch, for all its hopes and possibilities, just comes off as a deeply problematic cheesecakey romp through male fantasies of what female empowerment might look like.
This movie could have been really fun and interesting; it had promise and an interesting concept.
Instead it’s just more of the same.
Come on Hollywood, it’s time to grow up.
RIOT GRRRL MANIFESTO
By Kathleen Hannah (lead singer of Bikini Kill and feminist activist)
BECAUSE us girls crave records and books and fanzines that speak to US that WE feel included in and can understand in our own ways.
BECAUSE we wanna make it easier for girls to see/hear each other’s work so that we can share strategies and criticize-applaud each other.
BECAUSE we must take over the means of production in order to create our own moanings.
BECAUSE viewing our work as being connected to our girlfriends-politics-real lives is essential if we are gonna figure out how we are doing impacts, reflects, perpetuates, or DISRUPTS the status quo.
BECAUSE we recognize fantasies of Instant Macho Gun Revolution as impractical lies meant to keep us simply dreaming instead of becoming our dreams AND THUS seek to create revolution in our own lives every single day by envisioning and creating alternatives to the bullshit christian capitalist way of doing things.
BECAUSE we want and need to encourage and be encouraged in the face of all our own insecurities, in the face of beergutboyrock that tells us we can’t play our instruments, in the face of “authorities” who say our bands/zines/etc are the worst in the US and
BECAUSE we don’t wanna assimilate to someone else’s (boy) standards of what is or isn’t.
BECAUSE we are unwilling to falter under claims that we are reactionary “reverse sexists” AND NOT THE TRUEPUNKROCKSOULCRUSADERS THAT WE KNOW we really are.
BECAUSE we know that life is much more than physical survival and are patently aware that the punk rock “you can do anything” idea is crucial to the coming angry grrrl rock revolution which seeks to save the psychic and cultural lives of girls and women everywhere, according to their own terms, not ours.
BECAUSE we are interested in creating non-heirarchical ways of being AND making music, friends, and scenes based on communication + understanding, instead of competition + good/bad categorizations.
BECAUSE doing/reading/seeing/hearing cool things that validate and challenge us can help us gain the strength and sense of community that we need in order to figure out how bullshit like racism, able-bodieism, ageism, speciesism, classism, thinism, sexism, anti-semitism and heterosexism figures in our own lives.
BECAUSE we see fostering and supporting girl scenes and girl artists of all kinds as integral to this process.
BECAUSE we hate capitalism in all its forms and see our main goal as sharing information and staying alive, instead of making profits of being cool according to traditional standards.
BECAUSE we are angry at a society that tells us Girl = Dumb, Girl = Bad, Girl = Weak.
BECAUSE we are unwilling to let our real and valid anger be diffused and/or turned against us via the internalization of sexism as witnessed in girl/girl jealousism and self defeating girltype behaviors.
BECAUSE I believe with my wholeheartmindbody that girls constitute a revolutionary soul force that can, and will change the world for real.
Airports are strange places, but it took me a little bit of thinking to realise why.
I mean aside from the fact they are manufactured environments.
They are manufactured environments whos sole purpose is to bring people into a country and to help people get acquainted and out into their exciting holiday destinations.
It’s no small irony that every possible square meter of space is leased out to brand name labels.
Hilfiger, McDonalds, FCUK and GAP seem to attack me from every square foot of wall.
They almost upstage the place I’m visiting, becoming the reason you travel as apposed to just another outlet.
It says ‘Look we’re here, The brand that you love, no matter how far you go here we are. Comfort!’
Once you look past the lights and the bustle, it’s really oppressive and designed not so much to get you to buy here but to make you aware that those shops you love exist here as well.
Globalization is eating the world one public space at a time.
http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/07/digital-drugs/ June Just Got Real.
Corporate Hegemony and The Rise of Corporate Personhood.
The rise of corporate hegemony is in my firm belief responsible for many of the ills of society at the present time.
What exactly do I mean by this you ask? (while hopefully nodding your head in agreement)
To explain this you must first understand that in todays society there exists a new kind of person, that of the corporation. Gradually over time society and governments have been granting corporations the same rights and freedoms as individuals.
This is a very dangerous idea and one that must be fully explored before it can be allowed to continue.
Although at face value it may seem a reasonable proposition to give corporations the same rights as individuals , it leaves us open to increased risk of Americanisation and Mcdonaldization due to the sheer amount of power and wealth attached to large organisations.
How the spread of corporate culture that has exploded at an alarming rate across the globe has been explored many times by authors such of Chomsky (See ‘Hegemony or Survival’) and of course Naomi Klein’s ground breaking book “No Logo”, as such it isn’t really necessary for me to go into the factors of how corporate hegemony.
Although I will touch on it in the next couple of paragraphs, but if you’re are interested in this I highly recommend you pick up the afore mentioned books, and read up on ‘Fordism’ and how corporate efficiency can be implemented to integrate corporations into society.
What worries me is not corporations themselves but the social viewpoints that they maintain, particularly in the ‘Old Media’ such as the Packer Empire or more appropriately News Corporation. Is it okay for a corporation being able to put forward one viewpoint without shining light on another, for instance Fox News has had many talking heads who are often anti-choice and highly conservative. (Glenn Beck, Anne Coulter to name two)
This is where the beginnings of a problem form, when you give freedom of speech to corporations you run the risk of of the mis-use of corporate power.
In a world where corporations hold the same rights as individuals, everything could change. Imagine if the IWC had no oversight at all on international whaling for example.
When an individual is given certain rights then they are in general allowed to chose the way they live their lives, obviously within certain social structures supported by the status quo.
In this Author’s opinion , to prevent the spread of corporate ideals, a change in the way we think and view corporations is necessary.
Organisations should not exist as entities serving the public for a profit while serving the greater good of said corporation.
Instead they should serve the public good by the will of the people.
At our suffrage, if you will.
If a corporation exists to use the people as a means of profit it can create a situation where the corporation makes a profit at the EXPENSE of the people as apposed to service the people.
At the end of the day this is all about perception, not only from the point of view of the corporations but from ours as well.
So how do we change how we perceive corporations?
The first step is of course through education, awareness and affirmative action to help erode the idea that corporations are vast entities with the power to do as the please. Unfortunately this is where lies the greater issue.
Everyday under our noses corporations work to make themselves appear more human. They do this by presenting an image of who they want to be.
Through the use of sociological data , corporations build up an idea of who their target audience is, what demographics they lie in and what ideals they might hold.
Through this they can use the process of branding to present an image of that company to the public based on what they believe the public would best react to.
So we know that corporations put on happy face to ease public perception, they want to be our friends, our neighbours and our trusted advisors.
In conjunction to this PR and the branding process organisations work on a second front, that of back room deals, court cases, payoffs and political lobbying with one goal in mind.
That goal is simple to realise yet difficult to prove, the goal is one of full corporate personhood.
While marketing may be affective at changing public perception it is less useful when it comes to changing laws.
To that end there is increasing pressure from organisations to decrease government oversight and allow corporate entities to claim the rights and liberties afforded to individual citizens.
An example of this comes from a US supreme court ruling on the 21st of January this year which allows US corporations freedom of speech during election campaigns as well as lifting restrictions on corporate spending during the same time period. (Citizens United -vs- Federal Election Commission)
Another ruling from 2008 in favour of the infamous Blackwater Corporation, stated and I quote “Blackwater is a person and has a right to due process under the law and would suffer significant damage due to not being able to start on its $400 million Navy contract.”
Now this I do not generally have a problem with, I believe that all people have the right to due process, but corporations do not deserve to be labeled as ‘people’ particularly in a courtroom and government setting.
In my view it is cases such as these that not only serve to erode controls designed to stop corporations from controlling governments as well as other corporations by granting them personhood.
Imagine if you will a world where a corporation can come out in direct support of a governmental candidate or funnel money openly into campaign contributions.
Is it such a step from there to consider a corporation running for government?
Thankfully, that world doesn’t exist. But it might, so in the meantime there is a lot you can do to help prevent the spread of corporate hegemony and personhood.
First steps are simple, you can write your local MP or senator, you could join a radical culture jamming group, or donate money to organisations such as ‘Wikileaks’ or ‘Electronic Frontier Foundation’ or most anyone who helps campaign for open standards and corporate oversight.
Other options include doing your own research before making a purchase, so you make sure your money doesn’t go into a company that doesn’t support or share your way of thinking. You could even get directly involved , as many affirmative action groups are desperately in need of volunteers plus you can easily do this in your local community.
On a person level you can use more open source software and products , as they are not only free but they are made by people who support freedom of information and open standards which definitely helping the fight against corporate culture.
This is a long game that wont likely change in our lifetime, but bit of help is sorely needed.
Today I’m talking about ads it’s a new thing, I’m doing Media critiques expect more. I will note of course the usage of heteronormative couples throughout both the ads examined here. But I’m going to be examining anxious masculinity in australian commercials.
First up is an ad for Telstra Next G mobile in this the guy is interested in buying of all things a mounted stuffed hideous fish. He walks around oblivious to his girlfriends obvious sighs.
Talks about buying a stuffed fish on ebay (over his phone) and putting in the lounge.
We also need to examine the behaviour and characteristics on the woman in the ad. She’s feminine and portrayed to be the girlfriend or partner of the man in the commercial.nHowever when the man remarks that he wants to put the fish in the lounge she remarks under hear breath ‘not in my lounge’, later instead of standing up and saying that she doesn’t want the fish in the house she lies to him and says that her phone is not working so the man can’t buy the fish.
She fails to stand up for herself.
Now there have been numerous feminist looks at the behaviour of women in these kind of commercials.
I really don’t want to talk about that right here.
Next we can look at a similar commercial for a company called ‘British Paints!’.
We see the big burly guy so proud that he’s just painted a room bright blue (traditionally masculine colour) and his wife who seems just ecstatic at the job he has done. This is all fair enough. Blue is quite a nice colour. I’ve got nothing against that.
However next the camera pans to a giant stuffed moose’s head on the wall.
The ad cuts back to the man who replies.
“err we had some money left over…’
These ads may not be that serious in tone, and they may even be satirical but I find it very interesting the subject.
The Moose Head. The Stuffed Fish. Taxidermy.
These conjure images of hunting, fetes of ‘strength’ and almost Hemingway-esque ideas about what it is to be masculine.
It’s very interesting to note this because according to the Australian Bureau Statistics survey of Adult Participation in sports and physical recreation 2009 (4156.0 – Sports and Physical Recreation: A Statistical Overview, Australia, 2009) Hunting was not popular enough to even make the census list. (I assume as it is not included in the statistics where-as things like bushwalking are)
So the year is 2010 and we are still being shown these outdated ideas of what it is to be masculine and ‘male’ in todays culture. Is this patriarchy at work subconsciously influencing designers and copywriters to influence masculinity or simply a parody of this kind of masculinity?
Well it certainly is Food for thought none the less.
I’m going to stick my personal opinion as writer in here and put it down to patriarchy clinging to outdated ideas of masculinity.
This is often called ‘Anxious Masculinity’ where the need for showing how manly you are no matter how ridiculous beats out common sense in an effort to hold onto something in a world where the very idea of what it means to be men and women is changing rapidly.