A Piece of the Action

It case it hasn’t been made eminently clear by now, I am and have always been a “geek girl.”

[SIDEBAR] I’m using the irony-quotes because I don’t feel entirely comfortable with the dimunutive-ing effect of describing my 45-year-old self and interests as those of a “girl.” But “geek girl” is the general nomenclature, so there you go. [/SIDEBAR]

Being a female fan of things geeky has always been a source of cognitive dissonance for me, and I really don’t think I’m alone in this. After all, whatever aspirational role models I could find in that world always had at least a teaspoon of misogyny soup in the mix. Black Canary may kick ass, but she’s only allowed to do so in fishnets and a ridiculous leather bustier.* Princess Leia is strong enough to wield a blaster pistol and withstand torture in Star Wars, but by Return of the Jedi, there is she is stuck in the nouveau sci-fi version of the chainmail bikini.

For every mark in the “W” column, there’s another loss. For every Buffy, there’s a Bella.

I am waxing philosophically in this vein because this week is presenting an especially charged one-two punch to illustrate this dichotomy.

In the “Win” column would be the word on the street about Charlize Theron’s portrayal of Furiosa in the to-be-relaesed-tomorrow Mad Max: Fury Road. As of this writing, the film has a 99% “fresh” rating among all the critics compiled into Rotten Tomatoes aggregator, which is pretty damned incredible. And yet, as reported by We Hunted the Mammoth, The Mary Sue, The Daily Dot, and Uproxx, there is much hue and cry among the MRAs against the film. Evidently, they’re calling for American men to boycott the film, as it

is guaranteed to be nothing more than feminist propaganda [. . .] a piece of American culture ruined and rewritten right in front of their very eyes.

There are so many takedowns to line up around this, and We Hunted the Mammoth pretty much hits them all–this “American” classic is actually of Australian provenance, the same guy directed that previous “classic” version and this new “degraded” feminist propaganda piece**, and, by the way, kick-ass women have been a canonical part of the Mad Max franchise since the franchise started.

So all I’ll add is the admission that I wasn’t especially worked up about this film until now. I’m sure I would have caught it on HBO or Netflix along the way, but I wasn’t pencilling it onto my schedule or anything. Now, this film has become appointment television as far as Mr. Mezzo and I are concerned. Like I said over on Facebook:

So I get to watch “the Sistine Chapel of action filmmaking”*** AND strike a symbolic blow against silly silly MRAs?

Win-squared.

Or, to borrow a finishing quote (and a Giphy inspiration) from Uproxx:

If it’s nothing more than feminist propaganda, it’s the most explodey, fire tornado besieged form of feminism, and I’m all for it.

Amen.

black-widow-misandry

Alas, this animated gif is also the perfect segue to the latest “L” on the cultural balance sheet.

Unlike Fury Road, Age of Ultron was set on my mental calendar as appointment television a long long time ago. And, of course, I enjoyed the almost-instantly-iconic moment when Natasha Romanov, aka Black Widow, drops out of a Quinjet on a motorcycle to help Cap as he battles Ultron.

Even the most spoiler-averse have probably seen that shot, since it was featured prominently in the film’s trailers, including here at around the 1:10 mark:

Wicked cool, n’est-ce pas? Yet, however cool that moment may be in the celluloid universe,  no need to think that young boys and girls will want to re-create that piece of the story in their at-home play.

Even though Age of Ultron gave Natasha one of the coolest moments in the film, the toy licensors at both Hasbro and Mattel have opted to completely erase Natasha from their toy versions of the “Quinjet,” the plane from which the bike launches. (Daily Dot)

One toy puts Cap on the bike–which is still insulting, but at least somewhat relevant because he figures in the same action sequence. The other toy uses Iron Man, which, as Heroic Girls observes, is

a character who can fly and has literally zero need for a motorcycle of any sort. I’m fairly certain he is not in the same room as a motorcycle in either Avengers movie. [. . .]

It’s a sad situation when marketers love everything about the Black Widow’s best scene — except Black Widow. While recognizing how awesome Black Widow is in the movie, they have convinced themselves that girls do not want representation in the action figure aisle and that boys can never look up to a female hero — so Black Widow ends up replaced in the very scene that inspired the toys in the first place.

John Marcotte pretty much dropped the mic on the ridiculous misogyny of this, so I will again limit myself to the smallest of small comments.

I’ll be over the corner if you need me. Gnashing my teeth and breaking shit.

wonder-woman-smash-patriarchy

* Yes, her uniform has evolved and grown much more functional over the years, but THIS is the Black Canary I grew up with.

** There is of course a whole other cognitive dissonance here in the fact that even the fun kick-ass women characters usually pop up in works created and driven by male auteurs. (Including my beloved Buffy.) But there are only so many windmills at which I can tilt in any given day.

*** Referencing one of the positive reviews cited by The Daily Dot.

———-

Image credit: Giphy (Black Widow) and Buzzfeed (Wonder Woman).

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This entry was posted in Flagrantly Feminist, Pop Goes the Culture and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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