This post is a part of my summer blockbuster series. I'll be tagging the whole thing as 2013 blockbusters.
[Content note: rape, victim blaming]
I had heard that Kick Ass 2 kinda sucked, but I still gave it a shot. And by "gave it a shot" I mean that Ronald wanted to see it, so I went because we see a bazillion movies. That reminds me. I've seen 3 movies I never wrote about that contained nothing remarkable...so I'm going to just write a paragraph about them each and conclude this series soon. Summer IS almost over.
Anyhoo, back to Kick Ass 2. Thing is, I really liked the original. I know it wasn't perfect and there were problematic elements, but Hit Girl was just so damn endearing to me. A foul mouthed 12 year old girl beating up evil grown men? Yes please!
Unfortunately Kick Ass 2 has too much awfulness to ignore.
I don't feel like getting bogged down in plot details, so I'm just going to highlight a few things. Let me start with the couple of things I think I liked...the cast was diverse. There are a lot of various villains and heroes on the respective crews and many different types of people were represented. (However the villain leader keeps naming his crew members of color racist names, so yeah.)
Hit Girl is still also a bad ass when it comes to fighting and taking charge. In the end, she fights another bad ass lady villain (Mother Russia who is paid far more than any other villain and is "worth it.") They are both clearly the best fighters on their respective teams and that was awesome.
Now on to my two big issues...
1) Hit Girl and the case of the missing female friendships: Let me just start with what went wrong with Hit Girl/Mindy Macready (Chloe Grace Moretz) in this film. If you recall from the end of Kick Ass, she is left orphaned and in the care of her dad's friend, Detective Marcus Williams (Morris Chestnut.) Instead of going to school like a normal 15 year old girl, Mindy has been skipping and secretly training, but has rigged the school's attendance system to count her as present. She initially teams up to help Kick Ass/Dave Lizewski (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) to help him actually learn how to fight. But then she is caught and Marcus makes her promise to give it up and try to be normal.
Side note: I like Marcus' character overall and I know that he is trying to determine what's best for her and keep her safe, but the speech they give him at that point is so condescending and full of "you're too young to know what you want" nonsense. Hasn't Hit Girl proven herself a little more worldly than the average teen?
Anyhoo, Mindy agrees and gives being a normal teen girl the old college try. She ends up getting mixed in with the popular crowd. (I wonder if this subplot comes from the attempts to make Hit Girl more "less masculine...?" BTW, huh?)
Some of Mindy's initial interactions with the three popular girls are kinda funny...like when we see her discovering her budding sexuality when they show her a creepily accurate One Direction parody music video. However, any of that funniness was truly killed for me by the patronizing and insulting way that the writers view teen girl culture. I think that society frequently shits on teen girls (think about how, "What? Are you a 13 year old girl?" is a legitimate insult to most people.) The writers seem to believe that teen girls suck. They have the three girls that Mindy initially befriends fill every stereotype...they speak in highly exaggerated jargon, they're overly obsessed with their looks, they're highly sexualized but are also supposed to be underage, and they ultimately humiliate and back stab Mindy. The queen bee among them sees Mindy as a threat and so they just ruthlessly take her down, right as Mindy is beginning to enjoy the high school experience.
It was kind of like a mini Mean Girls in the middle of the film--and that's a subplot that I could have gotten behind. But instead of examining the Mean Girls culture in any kind of nuanced way, Kick Ass 2 uses it as a device to show how special and different Mindy is (and other girls suck, by extension. Special Snowflake-ism, basically.) I'm not saying that we needed a full Mean Girls inside of Kick Ass 2, but if they were going to go down that path at all they could have done it justice? I mean, does Mindy have to really be devoid of ANY positive female relationships? And why are there NO female characters in the film who are show to have positive, healthy relationships with one another?
That's what ultimately pisses me off about it. Mindy is supposed to be so special and awesome and she has no meaningful connections to any other women. NONE. And just when it looks like she might have one, they turn on her and she's the lone female, reared and surrounded by men, again. Why couldn't Mindy have found a less popular, more authentic female friend in school after the mean girls dropped her?
It's infuriating! Dave gets to have his two nerdy dude friends who are there for him, but all Mindy has are girls stabbing her in the back.
Basically, Hit Girl's lack of positive connection to other female characters is all around disturbing to me. Too often we are peddled the fatalistic message that "girls are just mean" instead of the truth that we are socialized to view each other as competition. To me, truly feminist characters are those who break down this stereotype, not reinforce it. I mean, they even have Hit Girl insult one of the other female hero characters, who she hadn't met at that point, calling her "Night Whore." Speaking of her...
2) Night Bitch and the case of the victim blamed: So one of the new characters to Kick Ass 2 is Night Bitch (Lindy Booth) who is part of the hero crew that Kick Ass joins. Unfortunately, Night Bitch is everything in a female hero that Hit Girl is not...she's a whole lot of eye candy dolled up in totally impractical combat gear (a bikini top and high heels.) I understand that women can express their sexuality however they'd like, but I just gets my goat when female super heroes are wearing THE least logical fighting gear, ever. (Have you ever tried to run in 6 inch stiletto boots?) And let us not forget that Night Bitch isn't an autonomous person who chose that outfit on her own...she's a fictional character created into existence by male writers.
Anyway, Kick Ass and Night Bitch end up hooking up a lot while they're starting this new group of super heroes. So when the new super villain Mother Fucker (Christopher Mintz-Plasse...Red Mist in the original film) is trying to destroy Kick Ass' life, he decides to pay Night Bitch a visit at home. Mother Fucker and his thugs trap Night Bitch and do the whole, "Give Kick Ass a message for me!" deal..and how does Mother Fucker (that name is a WHOLE other issue) plan to send Kick Ass a message? BY RAPING NIGHT BITCH, OF COURSE!
SIGH SIGH SIGH I mean why *wouldn't* a guy use a woman's body, as if she is just a pawn in their war and not an autonomous being, to wreak havoc on another guy's life, right? /sarcasm
In the film, Mother Fucker ultimately can't do it, so they just beat Night Bitch senseless (but according to my sources, he does rape her in the comic book.) Flash forward to Night Bitch recovering in the hospital and Dave goes to visit her out of his Kick Ass mask in front of her for the first time. He apologizes to her for what happened, and what does she say?
"IT WAS MY OWN FAULT."
What the hellllllll? Seriously? She couldn't just say, "It's not your fault." She has to say it was her own? Excuse me but fuck that shit. I mean, in a way earlier scene the super hero team's leader, Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey) goes off on a speech about how they all stand for good and he says something to the effect of, "A drunk woman has a right to make it home safely at night." So for a second I thought that this movie might have some at least somewhat safe-ish messages about sexual violence, but then Night Bitch goes and takes blame for her own assault and attempted rape.
Why was that line necessary?!
Listen, I don't even know what else to say beyond that. And I'm kinda done writing about this garbage. My advice is to skip this flick, even if you really liked the first one.
Please see the commenting policy before replying to this post.
Saturday, August 17, 2013
Kick Ass 2 (EWW)
Labels: 2013 blockbusters, movies, rape, violence
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Do you even actually know if the writers are men? Or were you assuming?...even if they are men, and you did know, put their names so i can trust you and not just take your word for it.also when she said it was her fault, she probably said it because she started being a super hero, which btw is very dangerous, so it was her fault because she knew the consequences;and could have backed out at anytime.also i blame mindy for justice forever getting the shit kicked out of them.ReplyDelete
Ugh, seriously? Of course I knew...I looked it up on IMDB, which is exactly what you can do. I am utterly unconcerned if you "trust" me. I have a feeling that stomping in here w/ these comments you were predisposed to not "trust" me all along.Delete
Okay dont be a bitch about it, i just wanted to be sureDelete
Aaaaaaand there it is. Knew I shoulda ignored your thinly veiled misogynistic ass from the start. If you "just wanted to be sure" you woulda used Google to access that very easy to find info instead of demanding it from me. Go away, troll.Delete
Thank you so much for this heads-up. From what had been bouncing around online I'd presumed that the rape-scene wasn't there at all. Except it apparently is in every sense aside from penetration. Which... Just... /eternal sighing.ReplyDelete
I think you've misread a bit there. In the film there is no rape scene, it had been replaced with a joke about 'MotherFucker' aka Chris D'amico not being able to 'get it up' when he tries to, which I suppose is a compromise that they had to make to get it past licensing boards. In the comics there is no actual rape scene either but it is mentioned in a later page that the rape did actually happened unlike in the movie. The main reason why it is used in the comics is to show how far Chris D'amico has truely fallen and how much of a pyscho he is. It wasn't even Night-bitch that gets raped in the comic, its just some girl, that Dave Lizewski had a crush on(theres alot more to that but its a complicated back story). Anyway my point is that Dave wasn't even involved with her, but that didn't matter to the 'Motherfucker' as he just wanted to destroy anything to do with Dave.ReplyDelete
Tbh there are a bunch of problems with Kick-ass 2, but you do bring up some interesting points. For a start in the comic, there isn't much of the 'Mean Girls'stuff going on and instead it focuses more on the relationship between Mindy and her new foster family. This brought depth to the character as she struggled with the promise she made to both her dad and her new foster dad. They did touch on this in the film, but diluted it so much with the 'Mean Girls' subplot. Honestly I was a little disappointed that the director would think that Mindy would even care, she's Hit-Girl for fucks sake, why would she care what some High-school girls think when shes done so much bigger and better things. Mindy's character is portrayed sooo much better in comics and I don't really understand why they had to add this in at all. Also wtf is up with the kiss at the end, that wasn't needed or wanted and was just a bit creepy. There was no need to sexualise such a young/badass character.
I'd still recommend watching it though as it does do somethings well, don't right it off completely just because you heard that it potentially had a rape scene in it. Make up your own mind about it.
Who are you talking to? I clearly saw it and did note the rape doesn't happen but if you're referring to Elle up there, then she can make the decision to pass on the film if she hears that there's an everything-but rape scene. You have no idea what might trigger her or what she would just want to avoid. People don't *have* to see this movie...Delete
Yeh sorry I was referring to elle's comment, she said "Except it apparently is in every sense aside from penetration". Which is not the case at all. Also I did at no point say that she *had* to see the movie, so dont jump down my throat for merely suggesting that she gives it a chance.Delete
I just think it sounds like Elle's heard enough to decide the movie's not for her. That IS "making your own mind up about it." And even if the rape doesn't happen it's a scene which could trigger some.Delete
Thats a fair point, tbh that part is such a un-needed part of the story I don't know why they didn't just cut it out completely. I was surprised that they left it in at all and cut out a lot of other more important bits. Matthew Vaughn did such a better job on the first film, than Jeff Wadlow did with this.Delete
I read much of the article above. Quite frankly Kick ass 2 was an insult to every one. This director was one big idiot.Delete
I want to say from my perspective That the reason i so loved the first film was that i am so sick of the stereotypical action hero. I was so impressed how a young 12 year old female actress could do just as good if not better then lets say a Bruce Lee or the other typical action figures. It was so refreshing to watch the first film.
The first film was really mostly about Mindy. The second was a complete abomination. For my reasons and your reasons and every one else's reasons.
I was expecting Mindy to team up with the kick ass character since that is kind of the way the first film left off. Instead they held Mindy back in some kind of twisted soup opera. I kept waiting in vain while the rest of the film was so stupid and insulting to every one who saw it.
I feel deeply sorry for Moretz because of her great potential which was not at all l used.
Interesting analysis, but why do you think everything in the movie is endorsed? You talk about the rape scene like the writers were implying it's a good thing, they weren't. It's heavily implied that the writers condemn the act because it's being perpetrated by the villain, same with the motherfucker giving racist names to his henchman. I for one prefer that writers don't treat us like children and acknowledge that bad shit happens in the real world and condemn it with mockery. You took the 'victim blaming' out of context, she wasn't saying 'it's my fault I almost got raped because I dressed in a slutty outfit' she was referring to accepting responsibility for becoming a super hero. I can see why you'd find her costume offensive, but really, the motherfucker is wearing a latex bondage suit. Admittedly though he's not supposed to be sexy whereas night bitch is, so you may have a point there.ReplyDelete
I respect your points but I think you need to realise that offensive topics can and should be addressed, movies shouldn't be shamed for merely mentioning rape or racism, especially when the context condemns it. I understand about triggers, but perhaps if someone is especially sensitive to certain topics they should research what they watch, rather than everyone else being censored.
I don't agree w/ your take on the victim blaming line and I hardly think you can say you are right about it as a blanket statement. Like all works of fiction it's open to interpretation and my interpretation is to chuck that goddamn awful line. Does the movie suffer w/o it? I'd wager no one NEEDS that line in there so why not remove it, especially if it would remove any potential victim blaming ambiguity with it?Delete
I get that bad stuff like rape actually happens...I write about the real world side on almost a daily basis. But there is honestly depicting the world and then there's exploiting a topic what looks like a shot at someone's manhood because he can't rape a chick and I think that scene falls into the latter. Are we, as the audience really so dense that we can't tell the Motherfucker is evil w/o an attempted rape?! That's insulting.
This offensive topic wasn't "addressed", AT ALL. It was thrown in for no substantive reason.
And I'm not saying things need to be censored...I'm saying writers could have a modicum of sensitivity when they take on this shit. And part of writing is knowing that critique/criticism will happen, so I'm not wrong to point out the problematic aspects of this movie. Typically people who denounce censorship and decry free speech forget that free speech doesn't mean you can say (and in this case write) what you want without consequence.
I think you're looking at that scene from the wrong angle. It was very clear what she was a saying, she's simply taking responsibility for the consequences that come from being a "super hero". It was her choice to become Night Bitch. I did not get "victim blaming" from her at all... actually, quite the opposite. I'm sorry you were offended by that scene, but I think you're taking it way out of context.ReplyDelete
Let us also take into account that Night Bitch is actually wearing boots - not high inch heels! (I'm costuming as her, and have taken every respect of her costume into order).ReplyDelete
I get the whole anti-chick thing - they don't show much of it (but really, they're just working with the comics here and Night Bitch's costume was a hell of a lot skimpier in the comics - and a lot bloodier too!!!) there's two additional tough girls in the group (even if you don't honestly consider Night Bitch one of them). Mother Russia is one tough as guts woman! A definite match for Mindy (and I get Night Bitch was in there for the sexual/man fantasy side - but given my guy already costumes as Kick Ass, it seems a fitting outfit for us - better than him hitting on a teen :P lol)
As for the victim blaming statement - I don't see it! I wasn't offended in any way (and I've been a victim of rape and sexual abuse - absolutely did not see what you're seeing in this - and honestly, if she chose to use that as an excuse to be a hero, then I'm all for it - we need more women who are willing to stand up for the real victims!)ReplyDelete