I really enjoyed the movie Sucker Punch. The action scenes were visually stunning and beautifully crafted, the production quality and performances were exemplary all round and the message was heartfelt and uplifting.
Sadly, I’m almost alone in my enjoyment. Globally the movie has made about a $10m profit which is nothing when you consider the cost.
But what can you do? It’s all a matter of taste.
But what disturbed me was the number of critics who claimed that the movie was deeply sexist, nay, was actually a glorification of misogyny; sexual violence against women!
Let’s be clear here. This is a movie in which female warriors rise up and annihilate armies of male adversaries in a parable of liberation from male sexual control. The ‘men’ who they are fighting are obvious male, action stereotypes: samurai, soldiers, knights, cyborgs. These women in turn adopt complementary male roles: ninja, special forces, fighter pilot, space hero. And they proceed to beat the men at their own game, all without losing their own femininity.
It is an empowerment tale for women.
How the hell anyone could say that Sucker Punch is the exact opposite of this and that it glorifies sexual violence against women completely escaped me for quite some time.
But I think I’ve worked it out at last.
You see, there are two kinds of violence in the movie. The hyperbolic violence that occurs in the fantasy sequences and the realistic violence that occurs in the ‘real world’.
When I first started hearing that people thought Sucker Punch “revelled” in misogyny I assumed that they were talking about the’ real-world’ violence against the women in the story. This really didn’t fit for me, because the scenes of abuse that the movie contains (which are indeed brutal and disturbing) are shown in such an unambiguously negative light that, I assure you, “revelry” is the last thing on one’s mind.
Wondering how anyone could say that these harrowing portrayals of gender-based maltreatment could possibly serve as an endorsement was something that I even lost sleep over. It just didn’t make sense to me.
But then I thought of something.
There is a kind of violence in the movie that definitely is glamourised: the fantasy violence in those scenes I mentioned above, where the female protagonists travel through a series of dream-like landscapes and engage in brutal combat with the specifically male opponents.
The violence in these fantasy scenes is meticulously crafted and glorified to an almost fetishistic degree, and yes, the film revels in them. That is without question.
But is this misogyny?
The superficial definition of misogyny is that it is violence against, and hatred for, women. So in that sense these critics are correct: Sucker Punch glorifies violence against women.
But while that may be the letter of the law when it comes to misogyny it is most definitely not the spirit.
The whole reason why misogyny is a bad thing is because it is about women being victimised. It has nothing to do with women being engaged in violence and everything to do with women being disempowered and taken advantage of.
So, the only way one can call the action scenes in Sucker Punch “misogyny” is if you view the women doing battle as victims.
It’s hard to see how that could be the case given that the women kick relentless ass in glorious HD from start to finish. Unlike the scenes that occur in the ‘real world’ the action scenes do not contain women who are being victimised. They contain women fighting male archetypes on their own terms and beating them like drums.
No. The only way you can regard Sucker Punch as misogynistic is you regard any example of women engaging in violence as misogynistic.
And you can only do that if you regard any woman who engages in violence with a man as a victim.
In other words you have to believe that whenever a woman fights a man she is automatically a victim. You have to assume that it is not only impossible for a woman to be responsible for initiating violence, you have to believe, in your heart-of-hearts, that a woman is incapable of beating a man.
So by claiming that Sucker Punch‘s action scenes are misogynistic these critics are unknowingly displaying their own deep-seated biases against women. These so-called intellectuals have so completely bought into the idea that women can’t stand up to men that they don’t even see the irony in them equating this movie (that genuinely tries to show women being the equals of men) with sexism.
I can understand people disliking the movie. I can even understand people saying that the empowerment message the movie contains seems trite and unconvincing (I completely disagree, but I can see where they are coming from).
But what I cannot tolerate is a group of people who are so identified with the idea that a woman fighting a man is always a case of a helpless victim being beaten by a victorious brute that they cannot even entertain the notion that a group of female action stars can give as good as they get.
Sucker Punch is awesome. Furthermore, the movie is an empowerment parable, for women, and is neither sexist nor misogynist.
You people suck, and you need to fix yourselves.
[Standard Disclaimer: this post was entirely my own opinion and was not paid for in any way, directly or otherwise, by anyone or anything that stands to gain in any way from the ideas expressed herein.]