Tuesday, March 29, 2011

MPAA vs. Sucker Punch: MPAA Is Probably Right

OK, one entry during my off-week, which you can think of as a prelude to the geekery-filled "Month of Heroes" entries I'm starting Friday: People on HuffingtonPost and elsewhere are denouncing the MPAA on feminist grounds due to actress Emily Browning saying that the MPAA would have given the film Sucker Punch a harsher rating if she'd appeared to enjoy herself in a sex scene with Jon Hamm than if he appeared to be taking advantage of her.

Since I don't get the impression that most of the people weighing in have seen Sucker Punch, and I was stupid enough to do so, the duty falls to me to point out that Hamm's character is a notoriously-frightening user of young sex slaves, such as Browning's character.  Browning the actress (who might be an idiot, it's worth remembering) may well think it's fun to do a sex scene with Jon Hamm, but that doesn't mean her imprisoned character enjoying an assault -- indeed, the impending, feared, talked-about assault that inspires most of the characters in their bid for escape -- would be more feminist or empowering (or less disturbing) than her character continuing (as throughout the rest of the film) to regard the Hamm character as an exploitative threat to be escaped.

Indeed, the Hamm character is supposed to have purchased the opportunity to forcibly de-virginize the Browning character.  Is that supposed to be feminist nowadays?  I've been lambasted before about not getting the nuances of modern feminism, so maybe the problem is me.

And the weight of increasing evidence suggests that if director Zack Snyder was on her side, it's likely just because he thought his preferred version of the scene looked fetishy and cool.  (None of us have seen the scene in question, since it was cut, but, again, at least I suffered through the rest of the film and so can provide the context few other online commenters have bothered to offer.)  Indeed, I now fear that Snyder is so shallow when it comes to anything beyond visuals that his Superman: The Man of Steel next year could be an even bigger disaster than the Bryan Singer Superman movie.

OK, I will resume on Friday with zombies.


Eric Hanneken said...

Since we're talking about Zack Snyder and visuals, one of the problems I had with his adaptation of Watchmen was that he prettified the characters. I understand that Dr. Manhattan and Ozymandias should be buff, but Nite Owl II? And what happened to the Comedian's hideous scar? I couldn't even make it out in the long shots. Watchmen (the comic) was a reaction against the tropes of the superhero genre. By making the movie characters all shiny and muscular, Zack Snyder seems to have missed that point.

Eric Hanneken said...

Oh, and I also saw Sucker Punch. I agree that that was a mistake, although I did enjoy most of the soundtrack.

Todd Seavey said...

Yeah, and though I loved _Watchmen_, I think the flaws you note are ones that will recur in Snyder's work. His faithfulness to the plot of the _Watchmen_ comic helped obscure the problem, in retrospect, but it's real.

(I am reminded of the story that his fellow auteur Michael Bay kept being chastised in film school for turning in beautiful but shallow works such as an extended shot of a yellow car _driving really fast_. Now he rules the world -- Bumblebee, I mean.)

Your complaint is also very similar to one leveled by Alan Moore at another film adaptation of his comics: _From Hell_, which eroticized Jack the Ripper's violence in exactly the way the comic was meant to avoid. Of course, Moore has myriad other perversions of his own.

Meredith said...

I could care less about Sucker Punch, but it sounds like whats-her-face is echoing one of the themes from "This Film is Not Yet Rated" - a great documentary style film that looks critically at the MPAA. Highly recommended.

Tracy said...