action movie freak    

 

SUCKER PUNCH

(25 March 2011)   110 min.

Director: Zack Snyder | Written by Zack Snyder and Steve Shibuya 

Such an important movie (for the issues it raises) on the road to true female empowerment.  Where it said it was trying to go, and why it didn't get there. 
So close, and yet so far! 

The figurative sucker punch was making you think it was about female empowerment.  What power did the women have?  To use their sexuality to 'fight' for freedom, but their only escape is to be lobotomized, or dead. The same thing, here—except lobotomized means still alive and still looking cute so you can be raped, but in your head, you're 'free'.  POW!  One hell of a punch. I am not alone in this sentiment:  Here is @indymogul's BEYOND THE TRAILER with @GraceRandolph's Sucker Punch review:

INDY MOGUL SUCKER PUNCH

They could have called it CHEAP SHOTS but it looked so damned expensive. Yes, crazy great special effects and I'm-speechless CGI artwork, costumes, the whole kitchen sink: it reminded me of (Kill Bill of course, and) G. I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra, which also threw huge quantities of amazingly detailed stuff at you at dizzying speeds.1  No argument the look of it was ultra impressive. However, like Avatar, visually dazzling does not equal great movie. 

So let me say it:  This is NOT a female empowerment movie in case the typical character photo I chose of Sweet Pea above, lips parted, low-cut leather lace up, bra showing, didn't convince you. It's someone's twisted fantasy of a female 'empowerment' movie. And YES, I can explain why. It's simply that men have come to believe that what men want is also what women want. Wrong! 

Happily, it inadvertently showcased all the issues that are stumbling blocks to true female empowerment, and like a pothole stuck while speeding to a sleepy driver, it's a huge wake-up call for women 'asleep at the wheel'. In case you missed the most obvious reason this is not a female empowerment movie, it's what the movie's all about, plus they tell you twice, and make it the last line of the movie: "You have all the weapons you need, now fight."


Cheap Shot #1
THE PREMISE "You have all the WEAPONS you need, now fight."
—>To be crystal:  A woman's sexuality, or good looks
(relative to your attraction to her),  are NOT "weapons" despite your fantasy that she will use them on you. And a lobotomy should not be a weapon against guilt and sadness.

DOUBLE OPENING
The movie opens with
studio logos placed on the curtains of a stage that is recognizable later as the Theater in the Club. Two sets of curtains open (like we are going through two levels to a third).  Having the curtains open on the Club stage, and then switch to Baby Doll's story in the Asylum (which for the rest of the movie appears to be the real world) is confusing, and after you get the tour of the Asylum and end up in their "theater" you begin to wonder, when you see Sweet Pea on stage in the bedroom set with the open closet door that looks like Baby Doll's room, what's the reality and what's the fantasy, because both are just awful!  At first it appears to be a set in a play, and then it becomes 'real'. This is a clear indicator to me that Sweet Pea is telling Dr. Gorski the story of her life through the character of Baby Doll. 

'LIGHTS OUT'  (prison term)
The opening scene where Baby Doll accidentally kills her little sister (she literally and figuratively shoots her light out) while trying to protect her is surprisingly tastefully done considering the subject matter. I was afraid it would be stylized abuse and exploitive, but, besides the heavy eye makeup Baby Doll was wearing, there was no skimpy clothing (although the pants on her pajamas were form fitting—not what she is wearing in this photo), she seemed to be wearing underwear and a bra (and by that I mean that they didn't have her jiggling all over the place), they didn't rip her shirt open as an excuse to show her breasts, and they didn't use the rain as an excuse to play wet T-shirt.  I wondered if they kept her wardrobe more demure to play up her innocence and therefore increase your sympathy for her.  If so, that just goes to reinforce that dressing a certain way is equated with loose morals / 'experience', and that WARDROBE is one of the biggest stumbling blocks to female empowerment in this movie, in real life, and in portraying women in Action Movies in general.



Cheap Shot #2
"THE THEATER"
The parallel world to the all-girl Asylum is a Club where the Warden is "Blue Jones", the pimp / manager. The inmates are showgirls / hookers with objectifying names that sound like strippers or avatars: Rocket. Amber. Blondie. Sweet Pea.  Baby Doll is brought to the theater, but she is already there, on stage, she's Sweet Pea—it's like a circle or a mirror. 

Cheap Shot #2 is when the Warden explains why they call the theater "The Theater".  The character of The Warden is a font of misogynist gems. There is a definitely a B-movie-Women-in-Prison feel to the idea of watching the girls  fight as entertainment, and lay around on cots, but it seems they threw in everything else they could think of.  I imagine they started by taking the 'women in prison' concept to the next level to make it more attractive to young male audiences (cause we all know women in prison can't wear makeup, and who wants to look at that?). They cast starlets and put them in skimpy clothes. Kick that up another notch:  pretend they're in a theater, then they can do all the ass-out, fishnet stockings, leotards-in-heels outfits, heavy stage makeup with false eyelashes, and have the girls sit around their dressing tables. (That must be high up on the male fantasy list—watching women change backstage—because the whole showgirls thing is so done it's tiring.) Another notch: make them video-game-type warriors so they can add leather and weapons and crazier outfits.   Z z z z . . .  All stuff exclusively for men. This is not what un-brainwashed women want to see. HOWEVER, the Club Theater is a sadly accurate representation of the status quo of the objectification of women today in the real world.

Which brings me to . . .



Cheap Shot #3
THE SCHOOLGIRL FANTASY
 
WOW! Yes, beautiful women, and not too voluptuous, more a younger look.  A small part of me thinks their outfits really weren't all that bad, but I think that's because they downplayed their sexuality and stuck to actresses who seem very young and innocent (dumb almost). They aren't 'dirty' girls or curvaceous enough to come off as bimbos, and they seem out of their element [which I hoped was intentional (going for innocence) and not that they 'want' women who look too young, cause then it comes off more like they were 'shooting' for jailbait, which is creepy (like the artwork on the left—the camera angle is a lot like Baby Doll dancing on the butcher block table) and which, I think, like the opening scene, made the audience a little uncomfortable.



Cheap Shot #4
THE WARDROBE
 (or lack thereof!)
The costumes in the movie are jaw-dropping. The styles, the fabrics, the details! All of the fantasy ones, not just the sexy ones. The most obvious place this movie falls down as female empowerment is that they carry the male-fantasy wardrobe over into Baby Doll's warrior fantasy. It is not only wrong to imagine that a woman would be okay with going to war dressed this way, it even diminishes the degradation factor that she's wearing the same thing in her torture as in her fantasy.  In her warrior fantasy world, Baby Doll is heavily made up, wears a super short skirt, midriff, thigh-high stockings, and heels. And, as if the skirt wasn't short enough, it's split to the waistband.  HERE'S THE PROBLEM:  No woman who is being forced to wear trashy clothes and heavy stage makeup to dance for customers she's expected to prostitute herself to, is going to keep that look in a war / escape fantasy. 

In her version, she will be dressed in full fatigues buttoned up to the chin, wearing shitkicker boots. She would overcompensate for feeling vulnerable, because she was victimized, with a very 'male', very military coverup, even armor, if she could get it.  The more she had on, the more protected she would feel, and she would not want to be "attractive" and call attention to herself.  If she is fighting, she is not going to suck on a lollipop, not care if her gun has charms on it, not paint a pink bunny rabbit on her tank, not keep her heels on, not push her tits up, and not show any skin.  If women were to make a video game with fighting geared for women, they would wear the same thing as the men. Sensible things. Shoes that offer protection, long pants, long sleeves, armor, helmets, etc. In Halo, for example, the Spartans are male and female with the same MJOLNIR armor. Women in real-life combat don't run around in their underwear with heavy makeup on and in heels.  That said, when Baby Doll comes out of the temple after the "empowerment" ceremony where she gets her "weapons" and she holsters her gun, what did the movie makers expect women to think?  "Like, Oh My God! it's sooo cute! I just love her whole sailor girl outfit, and the charms hanging off the gun butt (giggling)" . . .  (SLAP!)  Snap out of it! You know this was all made for men. It's their mistake that women would go for this.


TABLES TURNED

I have to laugh at a converse idea. If women made a movie like this objectifying men:  Imagine macho straight men (not metrosexuals), scantily dressed in shorts with their ass out and midriff cut-off shirts showing cleavage, not looking the least bit like they mind dressing this way, their hair long or perfect or whatever turns you on, with heavy makeup, while the women, fully clothed and covered up, tell them if they don't dance, they're worthless. Men would never let themselves be forced to dress that way, let alone do anything willingly, they'd fight, really fight! (I couldn't find a single photo like that on Google.)

Think about how different the movie would have been if Baby Doll & Co. wore fatigues into battle. THEN, it would have been a real fight, not a male-fantasy fight.  Fighting that turns the tables like that, from exploitation to true empowerment, women would cheer and come to see in droves. So close and yet so far . . . But there are many other blessedly good reasons people didn't like this movie.

"ANGEL WARS"
There's an opening voiceover monologue about angels watching over us and taking different forms. I found it both simple and confusing . . .

"Everyone has an Angel. A Guardian who watches over us. We can't know what form they'll take. One day, old man, next day, little girl. But don't let appearances fool you, they can be as fierce as any dragon, yet they're not here to fight our battles, but to whisper from our hearts. Reminding that it's us, it's every one of us who holds power over the world we create."

"You can deny angels exist, convince ourselves they can't be real, but they show up anyway, at strange places, and at strange times. They can speak through any character we can imagine. They'll shout through demons if they have to. Daring us, challenging us, to fight."

What? I never thought angels would want us to be violent or to dress like showgirls and whores. (If you don't think they're dressed like whores, you're only proving my point that movies like this glorify objectification and spread acceptance.) An alternate title to the movie is "Angel Wars"!?! Sounds like someone said "Let's cross video game vixens with Victoria's Secret models".  (I can hear the men saying: "What's wrong with that?"  Nothing, for you.)

DRESSING  FOR A MAN
Seems like we're headed to some point in the future where women will be expected to walk around all the time in lingerie.  It's ridiculous that any women want to dress this way for men. I believe a woman should be able to dress any way she pleases, but the fact is there is a double standard, and if you dress this way, men will think you are 'asking for it'. (Just try to imagine if men did this. Isn't that what you would think?)  Sexy clothes have their place. Women do want to feel attractive (as do men) but there is a time and a place for looking / dressing in a sexy way. Thankfully, most women still would never wear that much makeup or these outfits. Some do every day, every where they think they can get away with it.  I think the more you look like the picture in the bottom half below, the more you can expect to be treated like an object.



Cheap Shot #5
ACCEPTANCE
 vs. FIGHTING
So many times (too many), men who write women's roles write things that women would never do.  Here is where this movie almost got it so right. Women are way too accepting in real life as it is, and almost never fight back.  Women should fight back. YES, FIGHT! Just because a girl fights back will that alone make her a person? YES!!! To men who abuse women, it would. It would change you from a thing into a person who is being wronged. But better yet, it restores your decimated self esteem. Empower yourself and FIGHT BACK. If more women fought back, they might finally get the respect they deserve, because violence is all violence understands.  As a child, did you doubt that a bully would stop bullying you until you hit back?   "Fighting" is a word they throw around in this movie and misuse in a criminal way. 

Dancing to please men is not fighting. 

Seducing a man is not fighting.

Giving in to what they want to 'survive' is not fighting.

Only fighting is fighting.

The whole premise of Baby Doll giving in to what they want her to do as "fighting" is ridiculous! We want you to dance so we can pimp you out, but you can think of what we are making you do as fighting.  Only a man would come up with this.  If a woman is going to risk her life to fight a man, she is not going to buy into the degradation of getting all dolled up to please him in order to do it.

 

The 5TH Element
Faced with a deadline of five days until the lobotomy / High Roller comes,
Baby Doll puts together all the elements of her "escape" fantasy with what she saw on the way in. She is supposed to get 5 things:  (1) a map, (2) fire, (3) a knife, (4) a key, and (5) a mystery, or, the reason / the goal that involves  "A deep sacrifice and a perfect victory. Only you can find it, and if you do, it will set you free."  

When Baby Doll and Sweet Pea exchange a look in the theater of the Asylum, I believe THAT is the fifth thing.  That's where it clicks for Sweet Pea as Baby Doll.  Let me explain:  SWEET PEA exists. Baby Doll does not.

Baby Doll is the character Sweet Pea is playing in the play set on the Club stage that appears as reality when they open the movie, but Baby Doll is also the real life things that happened to Sweet Pea: The things she is telling Dr. Gorski on stage when Baby Doll walks in. 

When Baby Doll is admitted to the Asylum, they take this level (Asylum) right up to the moment she is to have the lobotomy, they even show the hammer in motion, and then she turns into Sweet Pea in the play. That's the clearest indication to me that even though they both appear together for most of the movie, Sweet Pea is Baby Doll is Sweet Pea. Baby Doll even says at the end "This was never my story, it's yours." Everything that happens between this moment (the hammer not yet striking and the scene changing to Sweet Pea playing a character that looks like Baby Doll with a blonde wig) and the moment near the end that Baby Doll is punched / the lobotomy hammer hits home /  the bullet ricochets, NEVER HAPPENED. It's what Sweet Pea as Baby Doll dreams up after they lobotomize her.  The ending reinforces this because Sweet Pea really isn't 'free'. She's in another fantasy world like the one they fought in, it's just a different fucked-up fantasy of "freedom".  Plus, the reason Baby Doll doesn't have a mark on her face after the lobotomy cause is because she is a fantasy character. 



Cheap Shot #6
MISERABLE MIND TRIP

When Baby Doll sees Sweet Pea on stage and hears the explanation from the Warden, and the words from Dr. Gorski, she gets the idea that she can use acting to escape.  Something clicks with these words she hears Dr. Gorski say . . .  

"
You control this world. Let the pain go. Let the hurt go. Let the guilt go. The world you control can be as real as any pain."  

Imagine that everything that happened to Baby Doll was really Sweet Pea and when she saw a girl on stage, she got the idea to escape into her mind and accept the lobotomy because she feels guilty about the death of "Rocket" / her little sister in the closet.  I thought they were going to show you Sweet Pea's face with Baby Doll's hair in the final scene where they kept hiding her face before the Warden has her placed in the chair.  I think they chickened out. Showing Sweet Pea with blood dripping down her face from the hole in her head, or bruising and a giant bandage would have been a real downer, don'tcha think?  This would have made the whole movie clearer, but, if they did that, it would ruin "the fantasy" because if we knew for sure Baby Doll was Sweet Pea then wouldn't this whole Magical Mystery Tour be just the Miserable Mind Trip of an unfortunate young girl's lobotomized brain? That's too depressing. Leave them in the fantasy, leave audiences wondering. Were you wondering?  Because that's all it is—A miserable mind trip.  Does it click into place for you yet?  If they had shown Sweet Pea with a lobotomy scar, how would you feel about the movie then?  Certainly not like this girl  . . .

It scares me that this is the type of girl this movie was made for / about. Her reaction to the idea that Baby Doll is Sweet Pea's guardian angel is so wrong. No girl should have to invent an alter ego who is okay with being lobotomized so the real girl can escape into a fantasy world, and no real-life girl should react in any way but to think this is horrible.  But stay dumb, and scantily clad, 'cause that's how men like you.

SWEET PEA is  BABY DOLL is SWEET PEA
When the girls are talking while sitting on the cots, Sweet Pea says her dance is about who she is, but Baby Doll explains hers is about getting out of there. Baby Doll is Sweet Pea's fantasy warrior, she is the fighting version of Sweet Pea.  Just before Baby Doll dances the first time, Dr. Gorski stops Sweet Pea from dancing to have Baby Doll dance. I think this is another sign that Baby Doll is just the inner Sweet Pea.  Sweet Pea can't dance well enough, so Baby Doll takes over.  Baby Doll saves Rocket from The Cook in the closet, which is like Sweet Pea's fantasy that she could have protected her little sister from her stepfather.  Rocket even tells Sweet Pea Baby Doll saved her. In the fighting fantasy world, Sweet Pea is able to save Rocket from the Nazi Zombie soldiers. The second time in the kitchen, 'real life' comes crashing through as Sweet Pea and Baby Doll are unable to save Rocket from the Cook and Baby Doll retreats into dancing. The reality creeping in is that the little sister is dead, and like Baby Doll with her little sister, Sweet Pea is unable to save Rocket in the fantasy fighting world by getting her out of the train. There is also the mirror trick.   What mirror trick?

"MIRROR, MIRROR ON THE WALL . . . "
This mirror trick:  The camera angle on the dressing room tables when the girls are talking about the escape plan.  We think we are behind them looking into the mirrors, but as the camera comes around the end of the line of tables, we don't see more (other) dancers. We see the same girls are again in reverse on the other side, and we see that the table is not two-sided but against the wall (like we first thought it was), and the reality becomes the reflection.  Now we are inside the mirror. And just then, Baby Doll ("the fairest of them all" yes, yes, I know mixed Disney Princess movies—this is from Snow White) appears in the reflection behind Sweet Pea (Sleeping Beauty), which lets you know that Baby Doll is not real, we are in the mirror world now, and Baby Doll begins to talk about the escape plan Sweet Pea was too afraid to try. 

"IN CASE OF FIRE, DOORS WILL OPEN."  
That phrase alone has a double meaning. The literal, and the figurative. In the movie, if you dance with heat, you can be 'free'; doors will open for you with the Warden. There is a lot more to this movie than what's on the surface. But just because there is all this plot 'stuff', doesn't make it more cohesive or better. It's surprisingly hard to follow for something that seems so shallow.   All that stuff (CGI / kitchen sink) also doesn't distract from the fact that here is his baby faced girl (20) who has been through hell and has no way out. The unfairness of it all is horrible, and to Emily Browning's credit, you feel kind of sick and miserable the whole time as you watch what happened to these two innocent young girls who were left unprotected.  Really cool look / CGI be dammed, you know, in the back of your mind, this won't end well.  It's not fun. I believe we want the happy ending, even when we think a bad ending is better. [Like in To Live and Die in L.A.
when we see there's no undoing a shotgun to the face. They made a stupid alternate ending cause audiences just want things to work out (thank God they didn't use it).]  I thought for sure Baby Doll would be killed, but imagine my surprise that living was worse.

This movie is one of a number of recent movies (mainly Grindhouse) that worry me because the level of acceptance of the idea of treating women as objects is growing among men, and way worse, seemingly among young women, as more and more of them are okay with acting and dressing like male-fantasy objects. It's just this kind of selling-you-bullshit movie that glamorizes what it should be condemning. Talking out of both sides of its mouth and professing female empowerment while getting it oh so wrong. 

OPENING THE WRONG DOORS
Sometime around the debut of the "Girls Next Door" TV show, some kind of 'challenge' mentality arose with regard to sex appeal among women.  I think magazines, videos, porn, etc., all the visual arts, have made women feel they have to go to ridiculous lengths not only to feel or be thought of as attractive, but that somehow the more ridiculous the lengths they go to to show off their attractiveness, the hotter this makes them. Like only the hottest girls are entitled to walk around this way, like they've won this somehow (like it's a privilege!). These men-pleasing sexed-up images of young women are so commonplace they're becoming expected by men and accepted by the girls and women who dress for men.  It's really awful that magazines like Maxim rank women by attractiveness (The Hot 100). Looks are so subjective. This is stupid, promotes the packaging of women like things /  products, and creates insecurity in young women like they are competing for a score.  Taking your clothes off for a video, a movie, or posing nude for magazines like Playboy does not empower women. It opens all the wrong doors.  Once Hollywood has seen your tits, no matter how spectacular, they're on to the next pair.  Think how many actresses were barely heard from again (pun intended) after being naked in films.  There are a few whose talent and/or the material transcends the trashy aspect of appearing nude, but the mystery is gone. If how beautiful you look naked is so important, why aren't men doing it more? They almost never show themselves naked in films. They don't want their penises laughed at, but lusting after and laughing at boobs is the masculine preoccupation.

LOSING THE WAR
Women who buy into dressing or undressing for men have already lost by giving it all away.
The men don't need to 'work' to see them looking sexy or naked. They don't even have to get to know them. Any man in the world can see Kim Kardashian naked by picking up W magazine.  It cheapens the experience of intimacy with her don't you think? So why date her?  Where's the challenge? (We know men are all about the challenge.) There's no mystery to wondering what her boobs look like and whether she has big or small nipples.  Her nudity is not special to someone she is in a relationship with.  If I loved a man who had posed naked, I would feel terrible every time he was recognized, that strangers had such intimate knowledge of him. (If your reaction is that you would be proud, you're well into buying into this crap, and need a wake-up call. Hope it doesn't come in the form of your daughter getting raped, or abducted, tortured, mutilated, and dumped, naked, like so many women and girls  in the news being found every day.)

EMPOWERMENT
The SICK! SICK! SICK! message in Sucker Punch is that being brain dead will not only get you by, it's an oh-so-sweet-I-have-to-cry-over-it storybook ending. Accept being objectified and prostituted, and you will be free. I am not wrong about this:  The blimp in the fantasy fighting world is named "Friedland" (freed land), they refer to a lobotomy as "Paradise", and Sweet Pea passes a billboard for the "Paradise Diner" on her way to see her mother. (I used SICK! SICK! SICK! to parallel a joke that strip club signs say GIRLS! GIRLS! GIRLS! because men don't listen.)

THE DEATH OF MODESTY
I think that modesty died when Marilyn Monroe stood on the subway grate and enjoyed the breeze, or maybe it was when Cher showed way too much in this outfit, or when Demi Moore posed pregnant and nude on the cover of Vanity Fair, or when women started wearing thongs, or when a woman came up with Spanx and stores stopped selling slips, or maybe it was any of a number of mortifying immodest over-exposed milestones in between.

Women pop stars like these

  • Cher (that outfit—eew!),

  • Beyonce (a bathing suit with wings is not an evening gown),

  • Rihanna (who went from being so uncomfortable wearing just a jacket with nothing underneath at the MTV Video Awards she kept tugging it closed, to this Cher-inspired outfit and pose above: Really, Rihanna, really?)

  • Christina Aguilera (who went from innocent in overalls to "Dirty" despite a truly amazing voice that does not need the sell out of objectification),

  • Britney Spears, (definition of a "hot mess" and bad mother poster child), and

  • Madonna before them.  There are plenty of others I could name . . .

  • Lil Kim comes to mind (with her in-your-face bad girl lyrics and one-boob-out-sticker outfit)

are pushing the boundaries of the sexual double standard (men who have a lot of sex are players, women are sluts) and I'm all for that kind of empowerment but why objectify yourself!?  Objectify men in your videos and stayed clothed. Make them dress skimpy for you not the other way around which is what they want and then say you feel 'empowered'.  This has to stop because the price of real-life violence against women because of the resulting objectification is too high.

Here Baby Doll clearly sacrifices her self esteem and, rightly, feels shame to be dressed like this in front of men in order to prove her 'worth' (survive) and to please a man who will only use her for sex. Dressed in the wardrobe of many of the women in pop music today, I noticed that, unlike Baby Doll, none of the other dancers in the Club seem to have any modesty. Like the actresses playing them never even had the thought that they should feel overexposed or cheapened when dressed this way. How much of this was acting and how much was just their natural acceptance, even expectance of being showcased like this creeping in from real life, I'm not sure. The movie keeps is pretty tame, considering. If you replace these waif-ish girls with more voluptuous girls, the picture gets instantly trashy.  The Director kept crotch shots to a minimum, considering the subject matter, and the girls seemed to be wearing normal underwear (not thongs), there was very little cleavage, and only a few ass-hanging-out shots, but I laughed when they said "The dance should be more than titillation";  like real life, the whole movie is titillation. They walk a razor-thin edge on innocence versus trashiness, and that was the movie's saving grace and downfall because they knew it was wrong and Thank God! it still makes the audience uncomfortable. I'm so grateful the movie did not become the hit they hoped it would with male or female audiences, which gives me hope that women will wake up to realize that  the price that is being paid for equality through sexuality is 'innocence' and violence against innocents.

 

Cheap Shot #7
THE WORST LINES, EVER.
This movie also walks a fine line with showing vs. not showing degradation and violence. 

  • "When you take your weapons you begin your journey—your journey to freedom."  Baby Doll is looking for "a way out." This is what the "Wise Man" (O Rly? That's the characters name?) tells her. WTF does that mean?! It makes no sense. When you play their game and dance you win because you are in control? 

  • "If you do not dance, you have no purpose,"  Dr. Gorski tells her.  Are they saying that if women don't put out they have no purpose?  Oh, I think they are.

  • "Your fight for survival starts right now."  No, I think her fight for survival started when her mother died and left her with a vicious stepfather she had to physically defend herself and her little sister from.  So, Sweet Pea / Baby Doll is "fighting" to escape the "High Roller" (doctor performing the lobotomy) but she has already been lobotomized and is living in her head / fantasy. So glad they didn't show her dancing!  I liked it that at least Baby Doll looked really uncomfortable and degraded by the idea that she had to dance.  Showing it would have been wrong and ultra gratuitous. This earned the movie big points in my eyes.  Showing the dancing would have been doing to the character what the Club and the Warden was doing.  The movie seems to stay just on the right side of the line of showing violence. When the warden shoots two of the girls, I was so glad they didn't show that. There are far too many dead and bloody half-dressed women on TV now.  Crimes shows have taken gratuitous gore of scantily clad women into the realm of insanity. The only thing left to show is a fashion show of women as murdered corpses in lingerie, or, to present necrophilia of scantily clad attractive women in a positive light.  I AM NOT JOKING. (yes I know the feminist/lightbulb joke)

  • "If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything."  The Wise Man tells Baby Doll this. This is SO inappropriate.  She was the victim who tried to stand up for herself and fight back.  She knows right from wrong. So glib. So insulting. So already used.

  • "Try and work together.";  EXCUSE ME? Why, because everyone knows women can't work together? So, why does it all go wrong? Why does Blondie tell on them? Why don't they all get free if it's a fantasy and everyone can do impossible things? Why does Baby Doll  imagine all this only to have it fail? [Because all along, Sweet Pea wanted to punish herself, she wanted to be lobotomized.  If the Club stuff never really happened, no fire, no stabbing, no shootings, then all it is is Sweet Pea arriving at the Asylum and accepting being lobotomized. And that is all it is because that's all they wrote it as.]

  • "Don't write a check with your mouth you can't cash with your ass." The Wise Man again. Whose side is he on?! He doesn't mean don't overstate your fighting abilities if you're not willing to pay for with your life, or if can't physically back it up, because anything's physically possible in the fantasy fighting world, so what's left? The idea that women should shut up or put out if they are wrong?  This movie wrote a check with its mouth they couldn't cash with the asses of the women in it.  They pushed the boundaries of exploitation and showed their ass while giving lip service to empowerment, but it all looked fantastic, by the way . . .

  • "You look fantastic, by the way.." Blue, the nightclub owner throws this at Dr. Gorski after being the dick from hell, and exercising his power over her. It's completely dismissive and reduces her existence to just her looks (which is all women are to him: what they look like). This is where the real-world plight of women is our society is now, perched at the edge of a precipice.  If women don't stop prostituting themselves with a wardrobe that diminishes their value as people, they will fall into a valueless objectified abyss we may never recover from.)

  • "Don't feel bad about killing them, they're already dead." Wow! Which seems to be what objectification of women is shooting for:  have sex with her then kill her, she's already brain dead.  Although this line was spoken about the Nazi clockwork soldiers in the movie, this could be a modern-day message about women. The level of acceptance of the idea of women as objects brings with it the idea that we're cheap / dispensable / disposable.  Fuck us, use us, throw us away, kill us, we're too dumb to know the difference. Next time you get dressed, think about what your outfit is saying. Cause that is what men are hearing:

  • "She looked like she wanted me to do it." How perfect was it that the lobotomist was John Hamm from Mad Men? Bringing that '50s sexist role vibe to this line.  Yeah, she was 'asking for it'. She was asking for a lobotomy. How sick is that?  See why people didn't love this movie?!

  • "For those who fight for it, life has a flavor the sheltered will never know."  The sheltered? You mean the virgins. Fight here means give in an prostitute yourself by dancing to please so you can be fucked later and prove your worth. Yes, stupid ass movie, give women the empowering message that sex (giving in being lobotomized so the Warden can rape you without you actually fighting him off) gives life flavor.

"ACTION PORN"
When Rocket said
"We're already dead." They were. Again, figuratively as well as literally. The signs are everywhere in the dialog (and even in things like the Doris Day movie poster "My Dream Is Yours"), but I think the visuals (including the girls) are so distracting, men don't hear or care about the words.  So, this picture should have been a huge success, right? Wrong, because men are less than half the population2 and some of them (clearing throat) are intelligent enough to hate it for all the right reasons.

This quote came from (male) movie blogger Alex Katz on Flixist.com:

"Basically, someone took the sum total of every doodle from the back of a fourteen year old boy's notebook and put it in a blender."  (It's hard to tell his age from his cropped photo but he could be 14-29?) He also writes:  "It’s two hours of jailbait torture / action-porn masquerading itself as neo-feminist."

I LOVE HIM!  He goes on . . .

"I would be able to rate this higher if it was just dumb fun for the sake of dumb fun. Dumb fun is fine. There’s a place for it in cinema. Sometimes, entertainment can just be entertainment. However, Sucker Punch tries so, so hard to have a message that is only self-destructed by the weight of itself. There are coherent ideas here; they’re just odious and, frankly, deeply offensive. I honestly have to question whether or not Zack Snyder, who also co-wrote the film, has some serious issues with women."

 

A Time To Fight
Yes, there are coherent ideas here.  Women do want to see women fight, clothed women, women as people first. Literally fighting is the only way we'll get equality—through strength. I believe Action Movies can get us there!  Action Movies are currently a reflection of the current state of sexism and misogyny in the world.  As stated in the movie based on John Grisham's novel about racism in the jury trial of "A Time to Kill":  "Justice will remain a reflection of our own prejudices".  Will Action Movies remain a reflection of our current state of sexism and misogyny?  Not if women will do something about it!
"It's everyone of us who holds power over the world we create."  AMEN! So stop creating a world that objectifies you—start fighting back and start dressing like a person!

REALISTIC FIGHT SCENES
When the women are outnumbered in the first foxhole fight scene in Baby Doll's warrior fantasy world, they hardly even get shot at. The Nazis use bayonets instead of just shooting. This is not what women want to see.  We don't want practiced princesses putting on a show. Give us some big girls and I mean strong, not fat (strong and fat is okay) but nobody believes McGowan could be Red Sonja except men who want to see her that way.  Yadda yadda, we're soooo tired of that, and this movie, which got it so 'right' in the cutesy fighting girl department, is proof of that. I couldn't believe Baby Doll's gun had pretty charms hanging from the handle.  REALLY?  Men  think we want guns but they have to be bejeweled, or the robot tank thing has to have Hello Kitty on it?  Sure, why not. Let's embrace all this and dress to please men, but then enslave them all for our pleasure. We need to do it to them before they do it to us.  Don't think they want to?  Did you think the gun charms were cute? Did you like the girls' outfits?  Is that an accident, or the cumulative effect of al the crap you are visually bombarded with by the male-controlled celebrity-worshipping media?  Wake up. 

EQUAL OPPORTUNITY OFFENDERS
So let me back off the whole feminist agenda and say I really don't care about wardrobe, objectification, nudity, sex . . . As long as it's fair:  Men have to experience the same treatment, like in The Hangover.  I liked it and thought it was funny. Even as anti-female as it was, they did anti-female well within the pretext of the plot, and they were surprisingly tame in showing naked women, opting instead to show the men in worse ways.  I could have done without seeing Ken Jeong and Zack Galifianakis's penises the rest of my life, but if they have to show somebody naked to make fun of them, let it be a man because IT IS SO DONE! DONE! DONE! with gratuitous female nudity.  I KNOW! I KNOW! I KNOW! it's a male world but hear this:  We are sick of boobs.  Only you never tire of them.  Enough!  It's boring to women.  I'm so fed up I could throw something at the screen the next movie I see with gratuitous boobs.  Please let there be enough women writers and directors making movies that this trend becomes reflected in a male-exploitive way.  Let me live to hear men say "Enough!" about the same treatment.

LET THEM EAT BEEFCAKE!
There are no hot men in this movie. The Warden is a bit of a dandy but he abuses his power to epic proportions. The men in are all monsters and fat losers who have to pay for sex. (Some men may argue, but once they cross the line of treating a woman like something that can be bought, they will never have anything real with anyone.)  What women like me, like Grace Randolph, like all heterosexual women wanted to see was HOT MEN, not hot women. Duh! A female empowerment movie will have females in it in a position over hot men, not hot women as victims. 

"SO MUCH FOR MY HAPPY ENDING"
"Let's talk this over, it's not like we're dead" 3 (yet) . . . Within the context of using your sexuality as a weapon and a lobotomy, these are stupid ending words  "Who chains us and who holds the key that sets us free?  You have all the WEAPONS  you need—now fight!" Within the context of female equality, they are fighting words.  Each woman holds the key to how all the rest of us are treated.  Are you going to perpetuate the female stereotypes hated and abused by men?  I heard a female DJ on the radio confessing that women use men to buy them drinks in a bar.  That's not right. Like a million little things that harm all women, stop doing those things that make it difficult for all of us. Be a person first, don't put your life on hold looking to get married. Find out who you are and be self-supporting before trying to have a relationship or be Cinderella and get married.  As this movie shows, things don't end well for Sleeping Beauty, so wake the fuck up!  Women do have all the weapons we need: knowledge and strength, now fight!

_____________________________________

1 When so much great material is rushed by you like this, it has a numbing effect. You can't take it all in, so you don't. You really want to. We want so much to be taken out of our ordinary lives, our known world, and put someplace like Necropolis or Crematoria in The Chronicles of Riddick but if you don't give us at least enough time to see and appreciate the detail, so we feel, even for a few seconds, like we are there, what's the point of it? 

2 From Wikipedia: U.S. Census figures:  "155.6 million females in the United States in 2009. The number of males was 151.4 million."

3 from the Avril Livigne song My Happy Ending



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