Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Because you know what's funny? Gay People. And Asians. Oh, and short people. And, well... everyone but average heighted, straight, white men.

What the eff, Hollywood?

I went to see Transformers the other day (Shut up!), and was treated to the delightful previews. There was a preview for the new Adam Sandler flick, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. See, they're fire fighters, but there's something about them needing to be married to make sure that their families can get the money if they die. Or something. The point is, they pretend to be gay! See, that's funny! The preview includes the brilliant comedy bits you'd expect: When told they can kiss at the wedding, Adam Sandler punches Kevin James instead, and says something about "Yeah, that's how we are in our family." Which, of course, gets a knowing look and an "Ooooooh" from the man officiating the ceremony. Oh, and the hill-are-ee-us scene where Jessica Biel strips to her underware in front of Adam Sandler because, you know, he's gay, right? And she makes him feel her breasts. Because they're real.

Anyway. Yeah, looks like a real flippin' winner, this one. Nothing screams comedy like men pretending to be The Gay.

And if that wasn't enough brain smashing comedy genius, I got to see a preview for Rush Hour 3, as well! See, it's a loud black man, and a martial artist Asian man! And they have wacky hijinks! Woooooaaaaah! Ker-azy!

Yeah. It looks awesome. Especially the part where they're in France, and a Chinese man shouts something in French at Tucker, and Tucker responds "You Asian, man, stop embarrassin' yourself!"

Yeah. Brilliant.

I hate that. I really do. It's not that race or sex or other statuses can't be used to great comedic effect. They can. It's just that the majority of Hollywood writers seem quite content to play it low. They're not looking to poke fun at stereotypes, they're looking to reinforce them. It's possible to poke fun of and subvert stereotypes for comedy, but, far too often, being gay/black/female is the joke. If your whole schtick is "Look, I'm a man pretending to be gay! I loooove fashion." then you're not being clever. Sorry to break the news to you.

And before anyone says it: No, I havne't seem them yet. Maybe I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry will be awesome. Maybe it'll expose some of the very real and very harmful bigotry that homosexuals still face in our society. That'd be awesome. As it stands, though, the preview plays to that very same sort of bigotry. Stereotypes of homosexuality are funny. Har. Har.

Speaking of movies and previews:

Most of us have heard the news about the billboard ads and the lead-in to Captivity. Joss Whedon put up an impressive missive on his site after seeing the ads and watching the trailer. It was, shall we say, a shit storm. The news on the release party- suicide girls, cage fighters, live torture rooms, something "probably not legal" etc...- didn't help. That the party was touted as a "personal little tribute" to "women's groups" didn't, either. The whole thing painted a pretty bleak picture.

And that's the thing that's interesting to me: I know it shouldn't be a surprise, but it is. The whole controversy? All the "it's a movie about kidnapping, torturing, and murdering a woman"? It's all smoke and mirrors.

It's all PR bullshit meant to drum up controversy in support of the movie. From reviews of people who've seen the movie, and from the many posts you can find online, it's pretty clear that the whole thing was manufactured. It's all a scam. All the posters and billboards and the buzz around it being about her getting tortured and murdered? Intentional controversy to get people's interest piqued.

Which, ultimately, brought a question to my mind:

Which is worse? A guy who makes a movie about kidnapping, torturing and murdering a woman because he's an asshat who thinks that is totally awesome, or a guy who makes a movie where the woman escapes, but uses shitty adverts to sell it?


Jaclyn said...

I would say they're both violent misogynist asshats to the nth degree, and to say one is worse is like saying Bush is a bigger asshole than Condoleeza Rice. It hardly matters, they're all a major part of the same evil, evil system.

EG said...

You know, I'm not sure that it matters, re: Captivity. My problem with torture porn flicks is the same regardless of whether she escapes in the end or doesn't. My problem is that this a movie eroticizing the abduction and torture of a woman.

Nique said...

I recently saw a documentary called S&Man, which is about the torture porn industry. Not Hollywood torture porn mind you, that stuff is child's play. It is about fake snuff films. The firlm is very, very disturbing and made me sick.
You should see it just so you can see how psychotic some people really are and how common they are too.

Aumtumn Harvest said...

I'm not sure that I'd call this "smoke and mirrors." I never heard of this movie before, but from your links, it looks like it's a movie about "kidnapping, torturing and almost murdering a woman," rather than one about one about "kidnapping, torturing and murdering a woman." As eg says, there doesn't seem to be much of a difference.

Cara said...

Ugh, anytime I hear anything about Chuck and Larry, I want to vomit. Here are the previews: Oh man, isn't being gay funny! How horrible it must be for a straight man to pretend that he likes guys! How demeaning! Oh, and liking guys is gross, which makes it extra funny! Kind of like fart jokes!

And being made by Hollywood, I can tell you without seeing the movie that it's going to end with: But seriously, though, gay people are people, too. Let's all show a little bit of compassion by allowing them to have civil unions instead of marriage and not beating them up for looking at us.

Roy said...

Exactly, Cara. Even if the movie claims to show us straight folks how difficult nonstraight people have it, it's still being pushed like "Hey, the gays sure are funny! Haha! Oh no! Two straight dudes might have to kiss! That's hilarious!"

On Captivity: What I've read about the movie makes it sound less like torture porn, and more like kidnapping thriller. From what I've read, the "torture" is largely of the "play loud noises and keep the lights on when she's trying to sleep" sort.

I don't know... I feel like there's a difference between a movie about a woman getting kidnapped, tortured, and murdered, and a movie where a woman is kidnapped, tortured, but fights back and wins. Part of it is going to be in how the thing is shot: am I supposed to find the torture scenes "hot" or are they supposed to create tension because I want her to escape? When she's in danger, am I supposed to be concerned for her and hoping she figures out a way to fight back, or am I supposed to be thinking it's sexy?

What I've read sounds like a poorly produced movie about a woman fighting back. What the adverts show is more the torture porn.

I'll have to think on it more, but my general feeling is that a movie that includes violence against a woman, but does so as part of a larger story involving a woman finding a way to fight back and overcome is a very different from a movie that includes violence against women as a way of turning the audience on.

Jaclyn said...

Well, sure, but what turns *you* on is, sadly, not the same as what turns on many, many other guys. It may look positively horrifying to you, and still look sexy to a wide swath of male-kind. And they're going to be predisposed to think it's sexy by the ad campaign which got them in their seats, the association with the suicide girls, the kinky opening party they'll have heard about, etc. The fact that the campaign is selling torture porn significantly increases the odds that many people will consume it in that way, even if it can be read otherwise.

roses said...

What I read about Captivity is that it was originally supposed to be a psychological thriller, but the studio exec behind the horrible market campaign ordered the movie to be reshot as torture porn. And this review: http://www.pajiba.com/captivity.htm at least would indicate that it is very, very much torture porn.

Vervain said...

Chuck & Larry
"Gay men are just soooo amusing, heeheehee!" Margaret Cho had a really brilliant response to that bullshit.
Rush Hour 3.
Ooo, more fun with stereotypes! How about the oh-so-hilarious penis-size joke? Comedy gold, that.
Ugh...I'm too disgusted to even snark about this one.

How was Transformers?
The previews have me worried they've ruined it by turning it into some kind of special-effects/disaster flick (a la the steaming pile that was 1998's "Godzilla")--please tell me they didn't..?

Yes, I'm a big geek.

Roy said...

I have to confess, I hated Transformers.

I'm not sure that I have words to describe my disappointment and irritation at the messy pile of feces that Michael Bay calls "Transformers."

Vervain said...

Oh. My. God.
I feared as much, but...ouch!
I don't even like the more recent computer-animated incarnations, so I guess I was doomed to disappointment anyway. And I saw this coming--it was just too obvious a target for the classic Hollywood treatment: "it'll look so cool, it won't need a plot!" *sigh*
Granted, I'll probably still get it from Netflix out of sheer morbid curiosity, but at least I'll be out less cash.

Dare I hold out hope for the Castlevania movie in the works?