Sunday, September 13, 2009

FEMINISM DOES EXIST HORROR FILMS WHETHER YOU SEE IT OR NOT

Thanks to the wonderful world of twitter and the leading ladies over at Pretty-Scary.net, I was brought to an article that I at first had no words for. PoppaScotch over at Horror-Movies.ca apparently believes that Feminist Horror films do not exist and he hates that the only reason Jennifer's Body is getting so much press is because it's a "feminist" film. I am going to respectfully disagree. I stress the word respectfully because I'll admit it's taking every ounce of strength I have not to completely lash out and be a complete bitch about it.

1) Let me first say that he's not a dick, he's just a little bit misinformed. I say that because I don't want my readers thinking I'm going into this arguement under the mindset that "he's just a dick" which is what most people think teenage girls use as ammo in their arguements. Maybe I'm bias on the "feminist horror films" debate because I am a woman and I DO look for these kind things. Because I'm a woman maybe the signs are a little bit more obvious to me. It's the same way that men laugh harder at first at films like Superbad when they make boner jokes, because they are well aware of how they are. It goes the same way for women. When I see a "feminist" action, I can pin-point it, because I am a woman. I see him as just a typical guy thinking he knows what he's talking about but he doesn't. It happens

2) Jennifer's Body is NOT a feminist movie. Heidi Martinuzzi of Pretty-Scary said it best.
Any film with a female protagonist in horror who does NOT use her sexuality to survive or kill is a feminist horror film because it promotes EQUALITY between the female and male characters in the movie and does not create a situation where women must use or abuse their sexuality in order to have any kind of power. This film is the complete and polor opposite of that. The main character is seducing men, and killing them. It's like Species all over again. Jennifer's Body is actually a woman "hating" film. It's a classic example of men not being able to trust women or the vagina. It's a modern adaptation of a succubus or a siren. Since the ancient times, athletes have been told not to mess around with women before any sort of competition because it's going to "take away the edge or take away their strength". This film is a literal example that this woman will literally EAT you alive. This isn't a feminist film or even close to it.

3) Even if Jennifer's Body WAS a feminist film, that's not the reason that the film is getting so much attention. I proudly admit that I use google to find 99.9% of the images I use on my blog, and when I typed "Jennifer's Body" or "Jennifer's Body Megan Fox" almost the first 4 pages of images were of the skinny bitch prancing around half naked on a dock. If that doesn't tell you why the film is getting so much publicity, then you're seriously living under a rock. There's no secret hidden meaning as to why this film is being publicized to all holy hell. It's Megan Fox, half naked, kissing other girls, being seductive, and being a teenager. Do I need to spell it out any more? She may be dumber than a box of rocks and the queen of shittalking, but like her or not, she is THE sex symbol right now. She's young, she's gorgeous, she has a killer body, and every guy wants to bone her. The fact that she's in a movie where she's using her sexuality as a weapon is guaranteed to get a film talked about.

4) Yes PoppaScotch, there ARE feminist horror films that people can identify as feminist horror films. Um, HI. My blog is named Day of the Woman, as in DAY OF THE WOMAN aka I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE. One of, if not THE most identifiable feminist horror film in existence. If that doesn't do it for you, look at films like The Alien Series, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and countless others that I really don't feel like typing out. He makes a comment about how the women use phallic objects to kill "blah blah blah". My question to you is, WHAT ARE THEY SUPPOSED TO USE? Guns, knives, baseball bats, golf clubs, and even an arm with a fist at the end of it are all considered "phallic" objects. I don't know about you, but hitting a guy with a designer bag or a shoe just isn't going to do the job...

5) A commenter also set me off a bit. WIL, commented: “Why can’t women just watch horror films without letting everyone know they have a vagina?” Honestly, because it is an important factor. Not only am I a very young horror blogger with what I would like to think is an immense amount of respect from other bloggers (at least Horrorblips thinks so ;)) but I am also a GIRL. Girls are stereotypically not expected to watch let alone enjoy horror films so you know something, I WILL let you know that I am a woman. I'm damn proud that I spend my evenings watching slasher flicks rather than crying over some Nicholas Spark's film. The same way that men who are proud to wear pink let everyone know how secure in their sexuality they are. It's a double entendre. My main problem with the comment, though, is that I don't watch horror films. I live them. Horror films are a HUGE part of my life and so is the fact that I am a woman (ROAR!) What also needs to be addressed is that women don't just watch horror films, they write, direct, analyze, and adore them. I am not the only female horror blogger, and I'm not the first one either. We're everywhere and we will continue to be everywhere for years to come.

23 comment(s):

Pax Romano said...

Well said! Kick arse, girl!

You've done Ripley, Laurie Strode, Sarah (Day of the Dead), Nancy (Nightmare on Elm Street) and of course, Ginny Field proud.

rxchy said...

Good entry. Day of the Woman is THE feminist horror film in my eyes. And I can definitely identify with you about the last point. :)

Hey! Look Behind You! said...

Well said!

Michelle said...

B. ~

I do like your post, and think your commentary sharp and accurate on many levels. I do however want to site a point of contention. Albeit an over exposed sense of power and often women are limited to their objectification. I mean American society is to a gross point even fixated upon it, and where I think Megan Fox on more than one occassion has been an absolute ninny about Hollywood and their sex objects. It is important to note that it is still indeed a feminine power, and just because attraction is being used to lure prey she is thus a woman indentified woman. You are perhaps still taking a second wave feminist approach to this topic. In the second wave of the feminist movement the atributes of males were placed upon a pedistal as the ideas by which women were to measure their success. However if you set the bar with the opposite genders status you have thus already established their superiority. As we have crested into the thrid wave of the feminist movement things have transitioned into what qualites are uniquely feminine and thus powerful in that women are powerful creatures who are equally fearfully and wonderfully made. Our sexuality and our capacity to entice is VERY powerful, and should not be disregarded. Frank MIller built the entier Sin City franchise around this very concept.
At any rate Ripple still fought the mother Alien in her panties. I also know that Diablo Cody's ideal for the film was to capitolize on how aggression between high school women. She said she would much rather face Jason or Freddy than any vandictive high school fem fatal. She was aming at a diffrent measure of horror. Relational horror. Which is pretty dam frightening actually. Enourmous shutter. The film has yet to air. It would be worth viewing before deciding its fem-horror value. I think.

Gore-Gore Girl said...

I was going to say some similar things to the last commenter, but with a slightly different angle. First of all, I agree with much of what you say, Miss. B., and certainly the plethora of nudie women in these roles can be trying. Also, that comment by "WIL" made me furious - it harks back to the whole idea that men are the norm, and women are Other (did somebody say 1960s...?).

Anyway, I agree that Day of the Woman is arguably a feminist film, but my interest in that film stems from how Jennifer (coincidence??) uses her sexuality to take revenge on the men that used their sexuality on her. One of the biggest problems students have had with Day of the Woman is that Jennifer has sex with the men, and exploits her body, so soon after being raped. It makes them uncomfortable. My response to that would be that she is doing to them what they did to her.

Alien/s, like the last commenter said, is packed full of sexual imagery, and the monster is the highly sexual alien - the bad feminine sexuality in opposition to Ripley's good sexuality (this is just one reading).

Finally, I love the Alien series, I love Day of the Woman, and I see a stark difference between these films and Jennifer's Body, but ultimately I don't think a feminist film has to be one that removes any use of female sexuality, as revenge, survival, or weapon.

BJ-C said...

@Michele & Gore-Gore Girl:
I understand completely with where you're coming from and I do agree with you. The purpose of this entry was to keep my head on the same level with how this dude was thinking :).

TheHorrorPress said...

Well said this is the first time I come across your blog. Well glad to
see their are other female horror bloggers out there. Completely agree
with your post. I'm a female and I'm the main person that runs
wwww.thehorrorpress.com I have to admit I'm both a softy and a
hardcore horror fanatic. I cried in the notebook and still able to
keep my composure in horror films. Let us know if you'd like to be a
guest blogger sometime, we'd love to showcase your voice. There's another gal over at thehorrorcrypt that wrote a similar article, that one is about how there's not many female horror bloggers out there and
how for every horror movie most females sell sexuality opposed to horror.
Once again great article.

Staci said...

Wonderful post. I think Jennifer's Body looks like a piece of horseshit and is in no way a feminist film. Any film that features girls making out with other girls for the pleasure of men is not feminist (also, can we please stop glamorizing bisexuality and treating it as either a fetish or a phase?). Of course, I also think Diablo Cody can't write worth a shit, so I'm a bit biased.

B-Sol said...

Excellent, excellent post. This article at Horror-Movies.ca did frustrate me quite a bit, since I do see Jennifer's Body as the absolute OPPOSITE of a feminist movie, and find it mind-boggling that someone could view it as feminist. You're right, "misinformed" is the operative word here.

The Divemistress said...

It might go without saying, but I'm going to say it: Put a woman in a lead role and you've got yourself a "feminist" horror film--it makes no difference what she's doing, people will identify a powerful woman and draw their own conclusions.

I'm a woman, and though I don't identify myself as being a feminist, I do take issue with overly-sexualized women in film. Megan Fox is a perfect example. I talked about it on TheAvod, the nearly pornographic nature of her character's presence in Transformers 2. Now we have another film in which she is sexualized to the point of lunacy, and I find it interesting that Jennifer's Body was made by a woman. What does that say about the nature of the "feminist" qualities of Jennifer's Body? Is a man even capable of identifying feminism, or is it the purview of women only?

B-Movie Becky said...

While I do agree with many of your points and some of the comments, I don't think PoppaScotch's article really warranted this response. He never really calls Jennifer's Body a feminist film and he doesn't say that's the only reason it's been getting publicity. Nor does he say certain films are not feminist, "Never In my critical life have I thought about horror movies being feminist or misogynist. I’m not saying of course that certain films from both camps don’t exist."

Although he definitely doesn't fully understand feminism, I think the standpoint he is coming from has some validity. He's reacting to a post-literary criticism environment, where everything is deconstructed to the point where films begin to lose some of their intended value in place of themes projected by others.

I believe there are horror films with feminist themes, as well as horror films with misogynist underpinnings--sometimes they are intentional and sometimes they are not. However, I do agree to some extent it's a waste of time on deciding whether certain films are definitively feminist or not.

As both Poppascotch and Divemistress mentioned, it is frustrating when films are considered feminist by mainstream media audiences solely because of a "strong" female role. A good point is raised that the existence of a female does not create it's own meaning; if it did, then there would suggest that there is a degree of "otherness" to women as GGG said.

Good post though. Certainly has everyone talking. :)

The Great Tyrant said...

In unrelated news - congrats on the #1 slot at Horrorblips!

allthingshorror said...

Great article. The role of women in horror-not only as charachters but also as creators and viewers-is one that comes up from time to time within my own group of friends/movie club buddies. A good friend of mine has sworn off nearly all slasher films because in her view they nearly all boil down to scantily clad women getting offed in gruesome ways-it's her opinion that the films are a stand in for rape porn.

Matt-suzaka said...

All this kind a boggles my inferior male mind and makes me wanna drink a beer and watch Bloodsport for the 900th time in retaliation to having to think too much.

But I totally agree with you on all fronts. Jennifer's Body is getting attention from people that are wanting to see Fox fuck. Simple as that. Well, maybe not that graphic, but you know what I mean...I remember a while back there was news that she (Fox) wouldn't show her boobs and there would be a boobie stunt double for her - and that was a news story, a story that some were bummed about! So that alone kinda proves your point.

All of this is pretty uncharted territory for me...as a cock and ball dragger like myself, I don't really know much about feminism. So this certainly made for an interesting read, and the comments were also interesting, albeit they made my head hurt just a little though.

I did toy with the thought of leaving a "what are you on the rag?" joke, but I got scarred that it wouldn't go over well with all the other commentators!

Great work as always woman of power!

unleashtheflyingmonkeys said...

Sweet! And I totally appreciate all of the commenters for their articulate responses, even those that disagreed with BJ-C. You've all restored my hope that there are at least a few smart horror fans out there. Thank you for sharing!

@Michelle writes, "Our sexuality and our power to entice is VERY powerful, and should not be disregarded." Yes! You really have my wheels turnin' with that comment. I might have to blog about it :)

Ms Harker said...

I need to echo the point about women using their sexuality as being powerful, it is part of our nature and can be used equally to portray feminine power and dominance. The use of sexuality by women should no longer be seen as a feminist failing but as a victory that women are comfortable within their skin. If they happen to chop a few heads of, eat some high school boys and kick alien arse then all the better! Great post BJ-C.

www.musingcontinuum.com

PJ Edwards said...

After suffering through your blog post, I have to ask the question . . .did you even see the film or are you basing your emotional reaction based off of a few tv spots and Google images??

Karen said...

Overall, I liked Jennifer's Body. My biggest issue is with the bedroom kiss scene, the extreme close-up was a bit much. I have a feeling that was intended for guys. Other than that, it was a fun film.

As for Aliens, I don't consider that a horror movie, it's sci-fi. Ripley is an action/sci-fi heroine.

BJ-C said...

@Karen. I agree 100% if a bunch of guys are going to sit through a film that is mostly girl enforced, you gotta throw em a bone. I agree though, it was a fun movie.

BJ-C said...

@PJ this entry isn't supposed to be focused about JB it was a response another article someone had written.

Erich Kuersten said...

Wow, dig all the opinions and thank god you said what needed to be said on the subject.

Diablo Cody is the culprit I think when it comes to the F word... as with the "pro-life sermon in hipster clothing" Juno, she's like a narc, a representative of the big box office status quo gussying herself up as "what the kids all think" sort of like Twilight or anything else. To paraphrase Godard, dress Megan Fox in a busy Shakespeare gown and the world will fawn over themselves for their newfound appreciation of the arts, but never vice versa.

amarlayna said...

Awesome post! As both a woman and a horror fan I wanted to share this with you, I think it’s amazing! Check out FEARnet.com’s women of horror as they discuss their ass-kicking roles and why they want to see more sexy, strong and intelligent female leads! …hit the link below to watch ‘Tea Party Macabre’ on FEARnet.com!

http://www.fearnet.com/videos/b18056_tea_party_macabre_pardon_my_ass_kick.html

Abretokia said...

I almost leapt out of my chair and well YEAH!! with a bellowing caveman voice but that would cause problems on two fronts; 1 - I would be a MAN commenting on an issue of feminism and 2 - My fellow office workers might soil the new carpenting we just got:) Truely, great post! Well delivered arguments. Keep it up.

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