Friday, June 15, 2012

Men In Black 3: MEN, Indeed

This post is part of my series on the gender portrayed in all of the 2012 summer/spring blockbusters. You can check out my other ones here; The Avengersthe Hunger GamesBraveSnow White and the Huntsman, Ted/Abraham Lincoln Vampire HunterMagic Mikeand Prometheus

So, I first saw MIB3 over its opening weekend, at the end of May. When I started this series, I kept thinking, "I should go back and add in MIB3" but I was really, really puzzled about what I could actually write. Because here's my really short analysis of the gender portrayal in this movie: What women?

The main characters are of course, J (Will Smith) and K (Tommy Lee Jones in the present; Josh Brolin in 1969.) Other important characters are the villain Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement--love him) and a helpful clairvoyant alien,  Griffin (Michael Stuhlbarg). Seeing a trend here? Ok, ok...there is one female character, Agent O. She's played in the current day by Emma Thompson and in 1969 by Alice Eve. But other than her, the story is virtually devoid of women, girls, and female influence. I mean, part of me wants to just say that it's fine for there to sometimes be stories which focus on the experience of men and boys, just chalk it up to that, roll my eyes, and move on. BUT I mean, really? How many of those such stories do we need?

As far as a movie goes in general, it's fine...cute even...maybe a little meh, but a nice little walk down memory lane for those of us who were kids when MIB was a big deal. However, because I'm me I couldn't help but be saddened by the fact that the story of MIB3 exists in a world where women are almost nonexistent.

Besides that, how O is dealt with isn't even all the great. Despite the fact that she is clearly in some position of power in the current world, she is totally unimportant to the story--except perhaps to serve as a mysterious love interest for K in 1969. J even has a hard time recognizing O in the past and makes an unfortunate comment similar to "what happened to you?!" when he sees 1969 O vs. current O. It was a pretty strong message about how women loose their hotness the older they get. It's extra stupid because in real life, Emma Thompson would have been 10 in 1969 while Tommy Lee Jones was 23...and not to hate on Jones, but Thompson DOES look significantly younger than him. Because she is. So the throw away comment by J feels all the more sexist and unnecessary.

But again, all in all, I can't spend a lot of energy getting worked up because, well, there's almost no gender material in this film to process. It kind of makes me wonder: which is worse, a film like Prometheus which gets a ton wrong or a film like MIB3 which avoids women all together?

In other news and totally unrelated, this is my 300th blog post! WEEEEEEEEEE!

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