Of course, I saw problems with this metaphor – it positions all men as generically evil, and it suggests that a “freeing of the female mind” is enough to make women feel ok about the real violence and oppression they may have experienced (ie. you wouldn’t tell a rape victim to just fantasise about killing the rapist, and then assume her own trauma has been dealt with, or that “rape” as an issue in society has been removed). In any case: whatever misgivings I had about the trailer, I hoped they would dissipate through the course of film. THEY DIDN’T. (In fact, they grew and mutated in huge horrible monsters named Disbelief and Disgust).
|The offending school uniform get up.|
For one, the whole film was a shameless excuse to get hot chicks flashing as much butt-cheek and cleavage as possible. Babydoll (the main character) actually has two levels of escapist fantasy – apart from world of fighting in her mind, she imagines that the mental hospital is crazy burlesque brothel (!!?!) where young (underage?) fake-tanned girls strut around in corsets, fishnet tights and stilettos, each with their own electronic rotating bed. The creepy lobotomy doctor becomes a creepy pimp and the “fantasy world” of fighting that I saw in the trailer can only be accessed by Babydoll when she does a pornographic stripper dance. It is while she mesmerises everyone with her “moaning” and “gyrating” (as the other girls in the film describe) that she can distract the chief doctor (pimp), the psychologist (the madam) and guards so that the other female patients can steal a map, a key and some other objects that will help during their escape. To the film’s credit, we never actually see the notorious dance. However, equating female, imaginative freedom with self-objectification and sexualisation is totally problematic, and suggests girls can only really achieve freedom through showing their bodies (which will only work if their bodies are “good enough” to have power over men). Obviously this is no freedom at all, and I should have realised at this stage that the film probably wasn't intended as a contribution to contemporary gender politics.
In any case, the scenes which depict the gunfights and explosions in Babydoll’s fantasyland feature the girls in revealing school-girl uniforms, encouraging some weird paedophilic voyeurism on the part of the audience. Also, Babydoll meets some random old guy in the fantasyland who gives her instructions about what objects she needs to escape. On the “real” level of the story, one of the female patients does escape, thanks to Babydoll, and when she gets out of the hospital and into the town, the same random old guy is the bus driver, who gives her a knowing wink and lets her ride the bus for free. Babydoll and this woman, then, are actually totally dependent on this guy for having achieved any level of freedom at all. And yet we never find out who the heck this guy is – he’s just another vague male white father figure with the appropriate knowledge on how a women should behave (!!!?!). I’m not saying that men and women shouldn’t work together – of course I think they should. Some might argues that as a Christian (ie follower of Christ) that I am complicit in such a narrative of a masculine archetype - but actually, Jesus’ own history and claims are extremely specific and gender inclusive, as opposed to the film's presentation of some vague cultural idea of manhood which refuses to account for its origin, its influence, or where it gets the omniscience it claims as natural to itself.
Plus, the film made no sense narratively. How did the real girls get into the brothel fantasy? The film nowhere explained what the correspondence was between the real life of the girl and her fantasies – presumably they matched up somehow, but it wasn’t clear. Plus, the fight scenes sucked – talk about boring, and pornographic. As my good friend blogged here, “[Snyder, the director] could have considered the fact that us chicks would definitely not be impressed by seeing the same jump and twirl that conveniently exposes lots of creamy thigh five times in a row (and countless of other times over the course of the movie.) And for the love of all that is holy, where is the gore?”
I’m going to hold it there, even though I could write another thousand words on many other aspects of badness into the film. MORAL OF THE STORY: filmmakers need to get out of the habit of writing films that position men as automatically having negative power and women automatically being on the defensive. How else will we move forward out of this thinking, to an ideology where men and women can work together on equal terms? I know I sound ranty. Soon I will find something I like and write a happy post :) To cheer you up, here is a shot from the hilarious scene in Wayne's World that inspired the name of this post, and exemplifies my feelings towards Suckerpunch. Love yas!