What is the Monday Morning Moan? Just a compilation of the week’s most groan-worthy moments. Have you had your cup of coffee yet? You’re going to need it. This week we need to stop talking about Kim Kardashian (after this post of course). We also need to figure out if females are being represented for the right reason or the wrong ones. Especially involving action films and comic book-based films.
What Makes Kim Kardashian’s Stunt As(s)inine?
I’d like to say I was shocked by this, but let’s be honest, nobody was. Well, I take that back, apparently the media had a field day with Kim K showing us her assets, yet again. Didn’t she just have a baby? I hope their child never learns how to use the internet because nobody wants to see their mom full frontal naked, no matter how much photoshop is involved. That in itself is the stuff of nightmares.
What I find odd is why people are freaking out over seeing her completely naked. We’ve seen it all before, and in greater/rougher detail in her sex tape with Ray J, which is really what launched her career. You can call it her debut performance, taking a page out of her friend Paris Hilton’s furry, pink book. Kim K taking pictures with her big ass is nothing new. She’s been taking pictures with Kanye for years!
What upsets me is that people are still talking about this and different variations of it. So much has happened since then, in the world. In the US. Hell, even in the entertainment industry. We lost a legend recently. He was one of only a dozen or so people to EGOT. EGOT meaning that he’s won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and a Tony. He has, of course, won many other awards, but it is one of the most difficult things to have a person cross so many different platforms with enough skill to noticeably excel in each of them. This is true artistic talent, and the industry as a whole has suffered a tremendous loss. Meanwhile, most of you don’t know who Mike Nichols is, but now you have no excuse. Look up his work and you’ll see why his absence will not go unnoticed.
Unfortunately, back to Kim. I can understand nudity as a form of artistic expression. There is beauty in various human forms, but that was nowhere near the intent here. “Break the Internet Kim Kardashian” is a blatant cry for attention, and Kim got it, but for all the wrong reasons. There is nothing artistic with these photographs. If anything, they play off of old stereotypes and the objectification/fetishization of women.
It’s one thing to do all of this for attention, but quite another one to pay homage to a racist depiction of the African-American female form. Kim Kardashian didn’t break the internet, but she helped an already broken system of exploitation. I’ve watched some of an episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, and I thought maybe everyone was just pretending to be stupid in order to get more people to view the show, but this latest stunt proved me wrong.
The Superhero Second Class
Women make up at least half of the world’s population. This is a fact. I am well aware of my male privilege. It’s blatant and it stares me straight in the face every time I see an action film or something involving superheroes, and see that really only my sex is represented. In fact, many of those recent films would never pass the Bechdel Test. What is the Bechdel Test, you ask? Simple. It has quickly become the standard in judging gender bias.
The criteria are simple:
1) Are there at least two [named] female characters? The named aspect is kind of important because that differentiates them from just background characters. Naming them means thought was put into their creation and placement in the film.
2) Do they have a conversation? The conversation must be between two or more women. No men involved in it.
3) Are they talking about something other than the men? So two women getting together to talk about Joe Schmoe doesn’t count. It can be about the most banal things like shoes or shopping, but as long as it doesn’t involve the other sex in any way, then it counts.
If they meet all of the criteria, then they pass the test. It may not sound like a hard thing to accomplish in a film, but just check the website and you’d be surprised how many films fail this seemingly simple task. Let’s take the recent bout of Marvel films for example. The Avengers was nowhere near the epitome of diversity, especially among females. It failed the test. Little by little (emphasis on the ‘little’), they improve. Slowly shifting a little more spotlight on to their female character. It is a sad realization when you figure out that this year, the only female superhero lead (or closest thing to one) falls on the leathered/spandexed shoulders of Black Widow. Yikes.
Thanks to the financial success of the last few Marvel film phases, we’re finally going to get some diversity in the film universe. Meaning, that now that all the white males have made money, they can take some risks and introduce diversity, because doing so much earlier was obviously not their original intent. We’ll still have to wait a couple more years before we see that, but anything can happen between then and now.
With that bit of info, now let’s play: Empowerment or Pandering?
The rules are simple. We’ll examine recent film decisions and decide whether it is a move to empower females, or a ploy to try to target a greater financial market by pandering for all the wrong reasons.
In a recent interview with Lego Movie writers and directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, they recently said that they didn’t expect the film to be a success at all. Since it was, they were going to try to incorporate “more female characters and more female stuff” for the sequel. Maybe they realized that their female characters consisted of a male dependent Wyldstyle and a female-voiced unicorn/kitten hybrid called Unikitty. I hope they don’t just include more “female stuff”, but also well-developed characters that have more than just a throw away like or two like their lego Wonder Woman. Empowerment or Pandering? I think this one goes to Pandering.
Marvel recently announced a Captain Marvel film. DC/Warner Bros. will be releasing a Wonder Woman film. Sony, in what looks like an attempt to keep up, will be releasing a yet unnamed female lead, Amazing Spider-Man spinoff the same year the Wonder Woman film comes out. Coincidence? I doubt it. So far it looks like an arms race to get an untapped and under-represented gender to see their film. For now, I’ll call Sony’s attempt Pandering. Marvel’s attempt is Unknown, for now. Depends on how sexualized they turn Captain Marvel. As for Wonder Women, I think it is Neither. I think this is just DC/Warner Bros. desperate attempt to try and rush the synergy that took Marvel years to create in it’s films. Hopefully they end up doing justice to her iconic character, and also to the Justice League.
Our final question involves the all-female reboot for Ghostbusters. Progress takes many shapes, so replacing women with men may seem like a minor change to us, but doing it to such an iconic film franchise like Ghostbusters could be monumental. No more damsels in distress like we had in the first two films. Let’s bust some ghosts, save some helpless men, and shatter some glass ceilings while we’re at it. Is this empowerment or pandering? For me, the decision was simple when I saw who was set to direct it. Paul Feig has shown us that he is skilled at giving us great female-focused comedy while maintaining respect for the sex, like he did in Bridesmaids (and to a lesser extent The Heat). I have faith that he would only do this film for all the right reasons. So Ernie Hudson, but people do want this, and probably need it. Empowerment.