Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Yet another feminist movie review...

An amusing thing happened the other day: the review I posted at Hathor got "farked."

What does that mean?

That means that an army of concerned readers descended upon my post and were incensed -- incensed! -- that I would dare to post a negative movie review on a movie review site, no less!!! Many of them were kind enough to inform me of the error of my ways by leaving comments telling me how stupid I am, and helpfully informing me that I need to "get a life."

To the good people of Fark -- who are apparently unfamiliar with the whole concept of how movie reviews work -- I'd like to share with you one of the first principles of the mysterious art of film criticism.

It goes like this: "Crappy movie => bad review."

Now, I don't want to be too hard on the Fark people, though, because my stats tell me that in addition to the herd of bleating sheep, the link brought in a lot of people who were thoughtful and open-minded enough to stick around and read a whole bunch of posts here at "Letters from a Broad..." So if you're one of those people -- if you came in from Fark yesterday and you're still here today -- you're welcome to stick around and join in the fun!! :D

For today's post, I'd like to introduce you to the next principle in the art of movie reviewing: "Good movie => good review."

Today I review Kirikou and the Sorceress.



Aerin said...

:) I didn't see the fark thing - but I appreciated both reviews. If you always wrote positive reviews (even for bad movies) I might be suspicious...

C. L. Hanson said...

Hey Aerin!!!

The site admin deleted most of the fark comments. There was a lot of stuff on the order of "U R st0pid" mixed with some comments that had actual points to make. But even the ones that had content mostly were expressed in a hostile tone and repeated points that were addressed earlier in the thread.

Anyone who came in from Fark and has a comment they'd like to have addressed, I'd be happy to answer it -- on the condition that you've read the other comments to see if it's been covered already and you can express yourself in a constructive manner. ;^)

Janet said...

Farkers are pretty awful when you take them all as a group. That said, I only came here because I saw it on Fark :)

I wanted to comment on the original review, but it's closed to comments, with good reason, no doubt.

All I wanted to add is that I've always wondered what that baby ate. Logically, in a pre-agricultural society, the disruption of the breastfeeding relationship by the death of the mother should cause the death of the child. You would think the other mammals taking care of the baby would think of that, and their first instinct would have been to find a female to nurse the baby.

I know it's dumb to look for logic in a kids' movie, but I just think it's symptomatic of how mothers are devalued that the writers didn't even seem to think about the fact that the mother was keeping that baby alive with more than just hugs.

C. L. Hanson said...

Hey Janet!!!

Well, they did a whole sequence on getting the baby a melon to eat. Weirder is how in the first movie and the second, once the tiger Diego is their friend he eats nothing at all from then on, even though it's been established that saber-tooth tigers find mammoths delicions....

Janet said...

If I fed my infant son (who is only slightly younger than the baby in that movie) a diet of a bit of melon every few days, I'd probably be accused of neglect :)

Anonymous said...

I read your review and the comments that have been left standing. I agree that movie reviews should reflect the honest points of view of the reviewers. The old adage, "if you don't have something good to say about it, don't say anything at all," does not apply in the world of product reviews. Tell it as you see it.

I have not seen the movie, so I cannot definitively agree or disagree with your take on that particular film. I agree with your overall point about the absence and banality of female characters in most Hollywood fare, so I suspect that you probably nailed this one pretty well.

The idea that "nothing is ever good enough for you feminists" makes me want to crucify some males by their genitals with rusty nails! Yeah, well, if society would starting getting it right, we'd stop whining! It's reminiscent of the lines that civil rights opponents took: it takes time to make changes like the ones you're proposing...our society isn't ready for this yet...we'll get there eventually...."

And the current hostility toward atheism is much the same. It doesn't matter how politely one phrases one's objections to religion, the fact that the statement is in any way negative renders the atheist hostile, belligerent, militant, fundamentalist, etc.

Forget about the imbecility of the farkers in your midst. Just keep speaking the truth to power.

beatdad said...

Now I want to see Ice Age.....then read your review.

Maybe I will read the review first then see the movie.

I would like to read what you might have to say about "Cars" the Pixar movie. My interest in the Feminist view has been piqued.

beatdad said...

I read your review and ten or so years ago I would not have noticed any of what you pointed out. Now, when I watch movies where women and "minorities" play the stereotypes with little or no character development, I get annoyed.

On another note, watch the Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire movies.
They truly are costars, plus, Ginger is the better dancer. She can dance backward and in heels.

Was Ice Age a Pixar film?

Anonymous said...

There's still a massive, and massively stupid discussion on display in the fark forum itself. I actually enjoy fark most of the time, but this one was a cheap shot. And I wouldn't call yours exactly a movie review. A movie review assesses how well a movie works from a general standpoint. Yours was a very particular analysis: how does popular culture (in this case, once particular instance) handle gender matters? It's the larger pattern that matters, of course, as an indicator of mindsets, which is the point that almost all the fark commenters obviously missed. Anyway, congrats on the notoriety!

Jane Know said...

"I'd like to share with you one of the first principles of the mysterious art of film criticism.

It goes like this: "Crappy movie => bad review."

ha ha ha *snort*

Anonymous said...

Witty sarcasm, good stuff I liked the carefully crafted jabs but they really didn't seem like jabs. The signs of an outstanding author.

C. L. Hanson said...

Hey Chaplain!!!

Yeah, that was the most irritating point about all the commenters who were telling me not to get so worked up over a little movie. I'm like: Hello??? It's a review. Sometimes reviews are positive, sometimes negative, sometimes mixed.

It seems like many were shocked at the idea that anyone would critique an innocent little movie on feminist grounds. But really if you think about it for two seconds, it's obvious that it's reasonable for me to be watching the films my kids watch and thinking about the messages they're getting. If that comes as news or a shock to some people, then I'm glad to be raising awareness.

Hey Beat Dad!!!

I covered Cars here and a little bit here. The short version is that among the computer-animated blockbusters, Cars is one of the better choices both in overall quality and from a feminist perspective. It's probably my kids' all-time favorite film.

Hey Robert!!!

It is a type of review, and if you look closely, you'll see that I did talk about the overall film quality in addition to just the feminist points.

As for the notoriety, it's true it's flattering to get noticed by such a popular site. To be honest, though, I was a bit more flattered when Wikipedia cited one of my blog entries as a reference for an article. I won't tell you what the Wikipedians felt I was an expert on -- trade secret ;^) -- but even though it is a fairly obscure subject, the link brings in a few hits a day...

Thanks Jane and AZ Awakening!!! :D

Unknown said...

I like that your reviews are from a feminist perspective. It makes it a different and much more interesting review than general reviews.

I don't have kids and I don't watch many kids movies often, but I do have friends that do and I do want to learn to see movies in the same perspective if just to see how they influence kids.

I started to read the comments after reading your review yesterday, but after about 2 or 3 I gave up. I'm sorry they gave you such a hard time.

MattMan said...

Yay, so I'm NOT crazy! I thought I was crazy and alone in wondering why a 5-ish ton mammoth couldn't pull a measly 120-ish pound mother out of the water with its trunk. Definitely a WTF?! moment.

C. L. Hanson said...

Hey Ordinary Girl!!!

It's definitely interesting to analyze movies this way once you get the idea to do it.

I don't even know how many comments that post has generated so far -- they've turned comments on again after having turned them off when the site was initially swamped beyond capacity. But the interesting thing is how many commenters we're getting over there who have apparently never thought about looking at a film this way. So the discussion has kind of shifted from just talking about this movie to talking about why it matters how women and girls are portrayed in the media, and what kinds of problems there are.

Ultimately I feel like this farking has been a very positive thing -- the other authors over on Hathor are fielding the questions quite well, and it's clear that a lot of people are being introduced to some new ideas.

Hey MattMan!!!

I know exactly how you feel. The writers went with this standard plot device "mom sacrifices herself, the movie's protagonist takes it from there" and it's like it didn't even occur to them to wonder whether the mom's life might have been worth saving in the scene they wrote. And the audience is familiar enough with the formula that their minds fill in the blanks and unquestioningly accept her death as well.

But if you take this sequence out of its context (and eliminate the "she had to die, otherwise there'd be no movie" -- which some commenters argued), and think of it from the perspective of the mother, it's clear that it makes no sense whatsoever: She goes to heroic lengths to save her baby, struggles to bring him to shore, then just stops struggling and lets the water carry her away to drown as soon as she's handed her baby to a woolly mammoth (whom she has no reason to think might be willing or able to care for her child).

C. L. Hanson said...

p.s. I just posted my generic/overall impressions of Ice Age (not just the feminist analysis) as a comment here.

TheLongestWar said...

Your movie commentary is great, ex-Mormon atheist mom from America living in Switzerland, your erudition very well taken --- you may get a hoot or two out of seeing images about what the misogyny-meisters are up to at the American movieplex this weekend: http://thelongestwar.wordpress.com/.

C. L. Hanson said...

Hey Longest War!!!

Thanks, it looks like you've got some interesting film commentary there yourself!