Monday, June 7, 2010

Sexist with a capital S.E.X.I.S.T.

I went and paid my money at the box office to go and see Sex and the City 2 - as did $7.8mil worth of Aussies - over it's opening weekend here. I may write a review of it, but also may not because I imagine this is one movie that people already have their minds made up on, but until I decided I wasn't going to say much. I had even successfully avoided going into blog rants about the blatantly sexist stance that many have on this project. If you follow me on Twitter then you will have seen me tweet about the subject more than enough, but I didn't want to blog about it because it probably would have merely dissolved into a screaming match between myself and the invisible people inside my computer.

I, however, couldn't keep quiet any longer after coming across this article at the Australian Yahoo website. It's quite rare to come across something so obviously sexist and ridiculous on such a major website, but there it was for the world to see. I know many men see Sex and the City as some sort of affront to their masculinity and must then be as macho and sexist as possible to get the message across that they really, truly do not like it - omg, how can you watch a movie about FOUR OLD SLUTS? etc - but this is just absurd.

Yes, that's right readers. YahooAU actually got so bloody sick and bloody tired of talk about all things "girly" that is Sex and the City 2 that they went ahead and made an anti-Sex and the List list. A list of movies that "blokes will actually want to see." Because, ya know, the multiplex isn't a go to destination for movies men want to see for 50 out of 52 weeks a year - I figure two female-oriented movies a year is a fairly accurate representation. Last week's local box office had Prince of Persia, Robin Hood, The Kings of Mykonos: Wog Boy 2 and Iron Man 2 in the top four, which - from a marketing point of view - certainly skew masculine. Or, pre-pubescent boyish in Persia's case, but that's neither here nor there.

Just the idea that the writers of this column by The Hype couldn't handle the male-dominated world of cinema to be usurped by something like Sex and the City for one week is bad enough, but that they then had to turn around and make a list of movies as some sort of antidote? It's just plain ol' offensive. I'm sure this writer is the same sort of righteous, upstanding man that calls young female fans of Twilight "stupid" and "retarded" for liking something clearly aimed at them and not him before turning around and waxing lyrical about a movie in which aliens shoot lasers at talking dogs on Mars.

What makes it even worse is their selection of films. Ya know, movies that only a bloke could love. Are they saying that women aren't allowed to watch or like these films? If they do will they cut they be forced to join Dykes on Bikes? If that's the case then the writers are way off base. For starters, Kick-Ass isn't a "bloke's movie" since it is very much a coming-of-age movie about a pre-teen girl. How about the 1-2 Apatow punch of The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up. I've known many women who enjoy these movies greatly. A predominantly male cast doesn't automatically make your movie more masculine. In fact, the reason these movies got praised so highly was because they all have "heart", which sets them apart from the usual frat boy gross out humour that's on display elsewhere.

The inclusion of Superbad seems particularly misguided since that "bromance" - their word, not mine - is about the exact same thing as Sex and the City, which is the bond of friendship. I guess because Superbad is about guys and the male pursuit of sex then it is alright, but the moment women get together and discuss sex these writers probably try to peck each others eyes out with their masculine, manly, heterosexual fingers.

Apparently women must find it unfathomable to somehow - SOMEHOW! - relate to the male characters of Old School who are trying to "recapture the spirit of their college years". Were all women in their rooms studying for every Friday and Saturday night of College? Apparently women must be so miserable, joyless and humourless as to not be able to get any enjoyment out of big screen versions of The A-Team or Starsky & Hutch. Liking those movies - granted, I have only seen the latter - probably has more to do with taste levels than anything related to having a vagina or a penis. Apparently woman must be completely unable to remember as far back as 1986 and must, naturally, have no desire whatsoever to see Hot Tub Time Machine. None. No way a woman would ever want to see that movie, right? The Hangover? Don't even step foot into the theatre, ladies! Sure, I saw it in a sold out cinema where the audience was at least 50% women, but they probably all showed up to the wrong movie and all that laughing they were doing was obviously an attempt to seduce their male partners. "SEE! I HAVE A SENSE OF HUMOUR! I'M NOT REALLY A SNOTTY, BRATTY, WHINGEING BITCH THAT YOU THINK I AM!!!" And so forth.

Speaking of Hot Tub Time Machine - a movie I really, really hated - I suggest reading this article from The Guardian which lays bare the hypocritical polar reactions it got compared to Sex and the City 2 despite both of them being similar juvenile sex comedies. Except one is made "for" men and the "for" women, naturally.

Edit: There's also the idea that women should, for some reason, only watch movies that "her man" (my quotation marks) would want to see. Are any of the ladies who went to see Sex and the City 2 this past weekend demanding their boyfriend/husband go with them? I doubt the percentage is very high on that front. So who is getting hurt out of all of this? Heaven forbid a woman should go to the cinema and see something she wants to see with her friends rather than sit back like a quiet little mouse and let "her man" steamroll over her and watch Anchorman instead. "Move over", indeed, women. You're of no use to the people who wrote this list. You've had your one weekend of fun, now it's time to get back to explosions, big giant assault rifles and ogling chicks in bikinis.

PS: Maybe the straight guys out there can explain what is appealing about Tropic Thunder? Does the appreciation for that movie really fall to one's gender or is it just, as I suspect, a really bad movie no matter what reproductive organs you have got?

PPS: How awesome does that aliens-shooting-lasers-at-talking-dogs-on-Mars movie sound?


Monsieur Cinema said...

Bravo. I didn't think the movie was great, but neither are most summer movies. The amount of venom male critics have generated for this film is astounding.

P.S. I thought Tropic Thunder wasn't that bad. Not that good, but not hat bad either. That said, I'm not a straight guy.

P.P.S. I would pay to see that movie. Maybe.

Jamie said...

It is interesting to find this list, an inclusion of a threatened patriarchal society as being so see through.

You are absolutely right when you say that the one rare time a female centered film comes along, all of a sudden, the male dominated ring gets so offended, as if the film was being marketed towards them (which, lets face it, it SO is marketed for men to see).

Not only this, but SATC is not purely a female only attended event. I go as far to say that the minority of straight male viewers of SATC that do exist, could only agree with the standpoint of "Don't categorise us", just as the article saying what "Blokes should like" is as erroneous as the idea of the "chick flick".

Glenn Dunks said...

Thanks guys.

Monsieur, I wasn't aware Tropic Thunder was a guys guy movie, but this list is a perfectly accurate representation of straight male men so I figured I'd go with them on it.

I don't think there's anything wrong with admitting that Sex and the City - or any other so-called "chick flick" - is indeed a "chick flick" since, by and large, they are indeed most popular with women (although a woman may disagree, anybody?), but it's when the idea that a woman liking a movie that a man does not is somehow threatening that is the offensive thing. Guys calling their wives and girlfriends horrible things (tellingly, behind their backs on the internet) just because they like Sex and the City. Maybe they feel excluded and insecure. Who knows... I sure as hell don't.

JA said...

You should read this, Glenn. I especially liked this bit:

"Responding to another scene, in which Samantha is arrested for making like Deborah Kerr on a beach, Steve Persall, of The St. Petersburg Times, wrote: “I can’t say I blame the authorities. Sorry, but when in Rome or Abu Dhabi (or Morocco), you do as the locals do, especially in these times.” Gee, it’s a good thing that Stanford and Anthony decided to stay home."

Anonymous said...

While not relate to SATC@. I also noticed the vitriol by male critics on The Stoning of Soraya M while mostly female critics loved it. Tom Ryan gave it a half star while the female reviewers in Filmink, MX and elsewhere called it a masterpiece and gave it 5/5 stars! I saw it and would give it four stars.

Glenn Dunks said...

JA, that's a good piece. Actually dissects the issues with the film without dissolving into hysterical anti-aging women hyperbole. That bit at the end about The Hangover is exactly what I'm getting at. Guys go on a guys trip and indulge in all sorts of sexual and un-PC acts (why was nobody in the mainstream media offended by the use of the word "faggot" and yet, here, the critics are acting as if a line line "lawrence of my labia" is the beginning of the apocalypse - perspective, people!) and it's lauded.

RJ said...

I agree some of the reaction has been sexist but, really, SATC 2 really was pretty bad, and I'm not going to even try to defend it b/c I don't think it deserves it. Frankly, I thought it was LAZY.

jessica said...

Here, here!

I have no interest in seeing the Sex and the City movie, but you're dead on about how many men get so offended when anything ostensibly aimed at women even exists, and if they do accept it, they accept it with derision. When at least 90% of all of pop culture is aimed at men, and yet one little thing pops up that isn't and they act like they're under siege!