Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Why Joss Whedon is my master

(Because I'm a geek, but I'm not buying the t-shirt)

Joss Whedon weighs in on the stoning of Dua Khalil and more
I could start a rant about the level to which we have become desensitized to violence, about the evils of the voyeuristic digital world in which everything is shown and everything is game, but honestly, it’s been said. And I certainly have no jingoistic cultural agenda. I like to think that in America this would be considered unbearably appalling, that Kitty Genovese is still remembered, that we are more evolved. But coincidentally, right before I stumbled on this vid I watched the trailer for “Captivity”.

A few of you may know that I took public exception to the billboard campaign for this film, which showed a concise narrative of the kidnapping, torture and murder of a sexy young woman. I wanted to see if the film was perhaps more substantial (especially given the fact that it was directed by “The Killing Fields” Roland Joffe) than the exploitive ad campaign had painted it. The trailer resembles nothing so much as the CNN story on Dua Khalil. Pretty much all you learn is that Elisha Cuthbert is beautiful, then kidnapped, inventively, repeatedly and horrifically tortured, and that the first thing she screams is “I’m sorry”.


How did more than half the people in the world come out incorrectly? I have spent a good part of my life trying to do that math, and I’m no closer to a viable equation. And I have yet to find a culture that doesn’t buy into it. Women’s inferiority – in fact, their malevolence -- is as ingrained in American popular culture as it is anywhere they’re sporting burkhas. I find it in movies, I hear it in the jokes of colleagues, I see it plastered on billboards, and not just the ones for horror movies. Women are weak. Women are manipulative. Women are somehow morally unfinished. (Objectification: another tangential rant avoided.) And the logical extension of this line of thinking is that women are, at the very least, expendable.


Anonymous said...

Hi LC,
Media essentially plys to the market. Market research & pre-screenings all reveal men will not watch a movie where they are put in vulnerable/victimized circumstances. They talk with their feet. They will, though, without even verbalizing it, enjoy and watch a movie in which women are.

Grindhouse is case in point as well.

Maybe it's time for a reminist movie review site a la Rotten Tomatoes? Expose these films for what they are? Feeding the "women must die, or at least suffer a whole bunch, while looking good" movie machine?


lost clown said...

And I think what Joss is saying here, or at least how I'm reading it, is that people need to change their beliefs and additudes. And what the hell is wrong with men to view women as 'less then.'

I try to avoid the torture porn (because it's so close it's not even funny) big movie industry and yet more and more are coming out.

But it's not that men won't watch movies with men being tortured, on the contrary, Hostel was a big seller and it featured 3 men getting brutally tortured. Now Hostel II, which is supposed to be more brutal then the first one, with three women is out (funny that this one is more sadistic then the first).

(Almost) everyone knows how horror movies are supposed to titillate guys, with the climax being the girl/woman dieing. I've even seen interviews with women in the horror industry who say just as much.

Like with pornography, we need people to change how they view women and cut it out.

Reel Fanatic said...

It shouldn't surprise that someone as clever as Joss Whedon would put this so well ... It is indeed the world's fear of powerful women that is the cause of most of our troubles .. and on a less serious, we're definitely in need of a new movie or TV show from Joss!

lost clown said...

Well for a quick Joss fix, he's been writing Astonishing X-Men, Buffy Season 8, and The Runaways. Word is he's working on a new Serenity comic as well.

lala said...

Womb envy? That sounds a little strange. Something about that theory rubs me the wrong way.

lost clown said...

I think it's as good a theory as any. We don't know why patriarchy started, but that one (among the many others that seem plausible) also seems plausible.

Anonymous said...

"Womb envy? That sounds a little strange. Something about that theory rubs me the wrong way. "

It makes sense to me. Men like to believe they are in control of everything, that they are the most important creatures in the universe and that everything depends on them.

So, that a woman can create, sustain and produce new life - and not them - would be a tremendous threat to the male-supremacist fantasy.

Perhaps "womb envy" isn't the right phrase. Perhaps it should be called "birth envy" or something. Because i think that's what it comes down to. Men can destroy life, but they can't create life.

lala said...

"So, that a woman can create, sustain and produce new life - and not them - would be a tremendous threat to the male-supremacist fantasy."

I find this reasoning to be circular because the idea that "creating life" is something female is a sexist idea that can only exist in a society that is already a patriarchy. If the idea exists that parenthood is a female activity, then you already have a sexist society, so this idea cannot create one.

We know perfectly well where patriarchy comes from, or at least anyone who knows their anthropology does. It comes, in short, from the fact that birth control or at least family planning are very recent innovations in history. Throughout pretty much all of history up until the last 75 years or so, a woman would be pregnant her entire life from puberty to the grave. Therefore, she would not be in a position to go out hunting, trading, exploring, politcking, collecting resources, claiming spoils, etc. A woman who does partake in any of these activities before the invention of birth control will have to be kept under strict supervision and oppression to ensure that she remains a virgin and doesn't suddenly get morning sickness or have her water break at a crucial moment in hunting, fighting, or travelling.

The "womb envy" thing may be a reinforcer of sexist ideals, but it is a far cry from the source of them.

R said...

"We know perfectly well where patriarchy comes from, or at least anyone who knows their anthropology does....Throughout pretty much all of history up until the last 75 years or so, a woman would be pregnant her entire life from puberty to the grave."

There were matriarchal tribes throughout history, as well as civilations, pre-birth control, which were "goddess" and feminine ruled,particularly in the Mediterranean & Pre-Roman Empire Europe. Modern medicine & pharmacology derived from female discoveries, some of those were to prevent, or terminate, pregnancies based on herbal mixes-teas-actions. Painful, messy, but effective for their times, and also done without a mans knowledge or consent. This was systematically banned, deemed "witchy" and essentially eliminated, which is why reproductive choice is the first line of attack of any society seeking to dominate their women,they succeeded, then women were kinda stuck for awhile. So patriarchy has probably existed since Adam and Eve first argued over who had to clean up the monkey poop from the lair. Women just kind of let it happen.

We all know women can be more aggressive, brutal, and downright unstoppable when called for, and when a man was not available to pick up the hunting slack, women often participated (hurt in last hunt, too old, just plain damn lazy) When you have kids to feed, mom will go all out to get the job done. Men often stayed behind with the kids. Wouldn't know it from the so called "anthropological classes" given in today's colleges. I've yet to hear of a single professor who acknowledges tribes do this.

I took one from a professor who relished in making sure we all knew how one tribe, the Tiwi in Australia, liked to describe a women's age by holding their hands up to their chest to mimic if her tits hung low (old) or high (young). Of course all of the guys in the class chuckled. Won't name him, but I hope his balls are now by his knees. That's how I like to describe him anyhow. Professor "balls to his knees now"

Patriarchy also colored much of the scientific literature in anthropological studies-this in turn colored much of what these "professors" came back to our colleges to teach us. They ignored the matriarchal tribes in class, womens contributions, and played up mens dominant roles, which is how women's studies were spawned... makes one think huh?


r said...

Check this out-

"The Amazons (in Greek, Αμαζόνες) were an ancient nation of female warriors or a society dominated by women, at the edges of Scythia in Sarmatia (Herodotus). The histories and legends in Greek mythology appear to have a factual basis in warrior women among the Sarmatians."

"In the Mohawk nation, women alone had the authority to nominate the chief, after counseling with all the people of the clan, in the Iroquois, she could be chief herself"

" In a nomadic society each member of the society was critical to the survival of the group. Many women who actually took part in battle were mentioned in Mongol, Chinese, and Persian chronicles. Mongol women had rights and privileges that were not accorded to most East Asian women. The Western world still trembles at the sound of two words — Genghis Khan — and his powerful Mongol hordes. While the male successors of Genghis Khan have received extensive attention, it is unknown to many that women dominated the world’s largest empire for considerable periods of time."

I blame that not knowing on every stupid anthropology professor who ran with the patriarchal bullshit he taught knowing it was incomplete & biased. Ladies, we ruled all over. Time we knew that.


Layla said...

Yes, exactly like I said. Plenty of cultures where women were warriors, traders, leaders, explorers etc.

But they were still oppressed because they were forced to be kept under supervision to retain their virginity. Without birth control or at least family planning, an egalitarian society is sadly not possible. Just because women get to do some of the jobs that only men get in other cultures doesn't mean that oppression is erased.

Unsane said...

My reaction to finding out that I am expendable in this culture is to say, "well fuck you , too. I'll take what I have to from you, but I owe you nothing, either."