Saturday, September 25, 2010

Kick -Ass

So, I'm a little late on this one, but I just watched Kick-Ass. And I have to say, it was kick-ass.

I'm a big fan of superhero movies, and it's kind of unfortunate that there aren't a ton of female superheroes or movies about them. At best, there are sometimes minor female superheroes who are there to enhance plot and stuff, or are actually badazz gurrls, but take 2nd star to the male superheroes. Kick-Ass does not really break any of these tropes. It doesn't pass the Bechdel test. However, what it does have is Hit Girl.

I remember when this movie came out there was a sort of to-do about Chole Moretz's age (12), the language (I'm going to estimate that she swears more than any other character), and the violence (she initiates a lot of it). I wasn't all that sure if I was going to like the movie, but when in Ecuador, and bootleg DVDs are only $1.50, I figured I'd watch it.

Hit Girl's character I liked a lot. In an entertainment world filled with crime shows featuring women as helpless victims (or dead) [*side note: there are lots of crime shows that feature some kickass female characters, The Closer, Bones, and Law & Order SVU come to mind, but the fact is that the kinds of stories that these shows feature usually involve the use of women and girls who have been exploited, raped, murdered.... etc.], I always find it refreshing when there are truly strong female characters tackling the problems instead of reporting them. Hit Girl is one such character. At 12, she has the cool professionalism of a vigilante/superhero that Kick-Ass, a bumbling high school student with a good heart, lacks. His incompetence and inexperience is highlighted as Hit Girl takes on multiple bad guys, and literally destroys them. No, really, there's a lot of violence in this movie.

I don't think the solution to the problem of women in the media being constantly portrayed as victims and potential victims is to empower all middle schoolers into being killing machines. But I do appreciate this little nub of diversity in the ass-kicking business that is superheroism. And while Kick-Ass is definitely not a movie for girls Chloe's age, I like that there is this empowerment of young girls in the media. I mean, there are not many people more stereotypically vulnerable than young girls. I watched a lot of TV as a child (part of the reason I'm such a pop culture buff now) and remember that there were not a lot of options for female superheroes, especially young ones, while there were an abundance of shows aimed at "general audiences" (boy-helmed shows that TV networks knew girls would watch as well) with only or majority boy/male superheroes. In any case, I'm hoping that having this depiction of a strong, intelligent, young girl will usher in new era of portrayals of girls. If studios can recognize the popularity of Hit Girl, there's going to be a trickle down of more characters like her for wider audiences. (Know how Twilight started this vampire craze? Yeah, it all trickled down and you can't flip a channel without seeing something about sentimental vampires. Hollywood is not a place of originality. When something original comes along, it gets copied until no one likes it anymore.)

In response to criticism towards Hit-Girl's character, Chloe Moretz stated in an interview, "If I ever uttered one word that I said in Kick-Ass, I would be grounded for years! I'd be stuck in my room until I was 20! I would never in a million years say that. I'm an average, everyday girl." Moretz has said that while filming, she could not bring herself to say the film's title out loud in interviews, instead calling it "the film" in public and "Kick-Butt" at home.

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