I don’t want to give the impression that I had a bad day. Honesty, today was pretty good. Even the subject of this rant had good origins – the film Planet Terror by Robert Rodriguez, which is a rollickin’ good laff. But, ugh, I’m just so sick of cinema’s treatment of its female characters.
Academically-speaking, I have kind of grown weary of feminist film analysis – not that I don’t think it’s important, but I’ve been at it for years and I’m ready for pastures new (sujet du jour – film and theology). To be honest, I’m fed up that the discussion still needs to take place.
My problem is not so much with Planet Terror, as the movie was really meant as a parody of 70s trash cinema, and therefore really necessitated a bit of exploitation. Seriously, if it hadn’t been there, the film would have been a lousy pastiche. It was more the issues raised by the film – namely, why were women ever portrayed like that in the first place and have we really come that far since the seventies?
I haven’t got time for a full-length analysis (I said ‘rant’, not ‘essay’) as it’s 1am and I have to be at church at 9 tomorrow (not to mention I didn’t get to watch the end as I had to get back to Canterbury), but let’s just say that there were times when I definitely felt specifically vulnerable as a female. I don’t have a problem with the ladies in the film experiencing violence or meeting gruesome ends – so do the male characters, obviously. It’s the way in which their gory demises are coupled with their sexualisation, not necessarily at the same time, but it calls to mind sexual violence – which, although affecting men as well, women tend to be more affected by. As an example, in a lot of the scenes in which Fergie’s character is in danger, the camera angles draw attention to her body – yes, she’s in danger, but she’s also specifically in danger as a female.
As I said, I don’t really have a problem with Grindhouse doing this, as it’s meant to be a send-up of/homage to the kind of trash cinema that is choc-a-block with this kind of thing. But, on my way home, I saw this poster:
Have we really moved on all that much since the seventies? Actually, the poster I saw had the eponymous “wolfman” in the background. Exegete that for me. Terrified female with clearly physically strong male in the same shot, and where is our attention drawn? Her cleavage. Do women always have to look sexy when their lives are in danger? Does that not serve up some slightly disturbing connotations?