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.