Monthly Archives: April 2014

Star Wars: Every Time

The internet is abuzz today with news of the cast selections for the upcoming Star Wars films.  And almost immediately after, the question: where are all the women?

Annalee Newitz has a great, even-handed take on it at io9.com: Hey Star Wars — Where the Hell are the Women?

Of course, the backlash to the backlash is already forming.  Commenters are asking – who cares?  We don’t know the story, we don’t know where they’re taking it.  Maybe there wasn’t “room” for a female character.  The original films only had Leia so why buck the trend.  Blah blah blah.

I have a friend who’s an elementary school teacher.  One day she told me: “I will stand up to racism every time.  It doesn’t matter if it comes from an 8 year old.  Every time.”

I will echo Annalee here: Hollywood knows better.  Everyone knows better.  If Abrams comes out with a whole “oh, I didn’t even think about it, we were focused on the story” rebuttal then I will scream into my pillow.  Joss Whedon’s ubiquitous “Because you’re still asking me that question” quote is from 2006.  2006!

There are two things going on here: one is the very real issue of women being woefully underrepresented in film and media.  The second is the 24 hour internet outrage cycle.  I can understand why the latter is off putting.  In the age of Buzzfeed and Upworthy, we’re all constantly inundated with issues we’re supposed to be aware of and outraged at.  How much energy do I have to keep debating this issue?  What’s the saturation point?  How often should we make this into a topic of discussion?

I say: every time.  Every single time.

So, sorry everyone if you’re tired.  Sorry if you didn’t worry about the number of women stars in Star Wars or other franchises.  Sorry if you don’t think it’s a big deal.  But it is.  And we can’t be quiet or meek in the very conscious and prevalent gender-washing of the media.  It’s 2014 and ignorance is no longer an excuse.  So let’s continue to be outraged.

Can you take the glam out of glamour?

Wolf of Wall Street: sure, Scorsese, you say that you are villainizing.  But how exactly do you go about making the famously rich look miserable?  Sure they are, but aren’t we all?  I’d rather be miserable with a Porsche than miserable in a Tercel.

I’m thinking about Wolf along with Sophia Coppola’s recent Bling Ring.  I enjoyed both, mostly, although Coppola’s had a fresher and more honest take on the subject.  But where they both failed is moralizing or villainizing about the subject matter.  Both pretend to be fascinated but appalled, but it doesn’t really come through.  Why not just own up to it?

Bling Ring was like a fashion magazine brought to life.  The montages of fabulous, expensive things was overwhelming.  It was impossible to not want Orlando Bloom’s box of Rolexes or all of Paris Hilton’s wardrobe.  And it was hard to hate the kids for helping themselves so brazenly to it all.

Same with Wolf.  Sure, really bad, depressing things happen in the movie.  The jail time seems like a subtitle.  But how bad can it be when the climactic scene of Jordan and Donnie, out of their minds of quaaludes, try to have a serious conversation about the FBI, and it’s hilarious.  Seriously the best scene of the film and very funny.  Sure, Donnie almost dies, but that’s hilarious too.

Challenge: find me a movie that’s about the dangers and pitfall of vast wealth and privilege that actually makes you not want to be rich.