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the film criticism aspect of cyber | by maryann johanson

it’s hip to have no hips…

…gay vampires are totally ruining everything for straight guys, help out a gal filmmaker, and more.

Yup, it’s The Week in Women, my regular column over at the Alliance of Women Film Journalists, which is — for those under some mistaken impression otherwise — all about bitching about how Hollywood and the media treat women unfairly (and pointing out more positive news, when I can find it).

Enjoy.



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  • Accounting Ninja

    This is just…wow. Is he for serious??

    It makes me nuts, totally nuts. A guy like that can write a VERY outrageous piece on women and “gay” men and not get called out (except by Week In Women ;)) or challenged for his utterly baffling “logic”, but whenever I (or any woman) make any sort of feminist statement on the internets I am constantly put on the defensive by guys demanding I explain and prove myself. And I see shit like his article All. The. Time. online. Treated as though it’s friggin’ gospel truth. ARGH.

  • Gee

    “… because young straight women want to have sex with gay men. Not all young straight women, of course, but many, if not most, of them.”

    It’s just… there are no words, actually.

  • MaryAnn

    A guy like that can write a VERY outrageous piece on women and “gay” men and not get called out

    Worse: he probably got paid a small fortune for that piece. *Esquire*’s pay rates are still pretty high, as far I’m aware.

  • Alli

    Honestly Marche does make one interesting point in his editorial if you look past his ultimate (and ridiculous) conclusion that we want to date gay men:

    Vampire fiction for young women is the equivalent of lesbian porn for men: Both create an atmosphere of sexual abandon that is nonthreatening. That’s what everybody wants, isn’t it? Sex that’s dangerous and safe at the same time, risky but comfortable, gooey and violent but also traditional and loving. In the bedroom, we want to have one foot in the twenty-first century and another in the nineteenth

    (First of all, I don’t think men like girl-on-girl action because they find it nonthreatening. I think they like the idea of seeing two women perform for them)

    Anyway, he’s not the first to make this argument that teen girls want ways to express their sexual desires without feeling “threatened.” I think a lot of inexperienced teens can relate to a character who has an obsessive crush with someone who doesn’t know they exist. I think they also want to be with someone who ultimately won’t pressure them to have sex. It doesn’t, however, explain why so many adult women like it. Many have told me that they like it for “the romance” and the nostalgia it creates. Yet, if that’s the case, then they openly accept or ultimately ignore so many other negatives about the relationship between Bella and Edward. It’s co-dependent, it’s abusive, and Bella chooses to give up her family and future for it. So what does that really say about being a woman in the 21st century if you LOVE a book series about a girl who gives up school and a career to be with a guy who controls you and never listens to a thing you say?

  • Jester

    All of the Trauma images have been distorted, just in different ways. The helo paramedic’s hand from wrist to fingertip is bigger than his head, and his face from cheekbone to jawline has been stretched. The image with the firefighter is more cleverly done, but the perspective has been foreshortened, probably using the same technique as the RaimiCam. His right knee is smaller than his left elbow.

    As for the Esquire piece, of course it’s offensive. The entire publication is offensive. You’re going after a magazine whose issue every November is centered on their “Sexiest Woman Alive” choice. You might pick a tougher target next time. Like Maxim.

    And you forgot to tag this entry “Hollywood Hates Women”. :-)

  • Jester

    Excellent points, Alli. The whole Twilight craze reminds me of the Titanic craze when that movie came out. You can substitute “Rose and Jack” for “Bella and Edward” in your post, with no other substitutions needed.

  • @jester: “Excellent points, Alli. The whole Twilight craze reminds me of the Titanic craze when that movie came out. You can substitute “Rose and Jack” for “Bella and Edward” in your post, with no other substitutions needed.”

    if you reference to Rose and Jack is to point out that women who watched Titanic did so because the R/J romance had no “threat” in it, i think you’re more than a bit off-base. rose’s romance with jack was *all* risk from her social standing to her giving up her old identity and living a whole, new adventurous life after his death.

    i haven’t seen or read any of Twilight so i cannot make a comparison there. however, the idea of romance or actually, sex, without risk is not exclusive to women. James Bond movies are the same fantasy for men; sex with a beautiful, almost automaton of a woman, then she either dies, gets blown up, revealed as a spy, etc. and Bond moves smoothly on. all movies and/or books that appeal to a certain fantasy element are for having adventures — social, romantic, sexual or otherwise — at a safe distance. it’s just when men enjoy them, it’s not remarked upon; when women or girls do, it’s an occasion for derision and mockery.

  • MaryAnn

    You can substitute “Rose and Jack” for “Bella and Edward” in your post, with no other substitutions needed.

    Um, Rose and Jack had sex. Literally steamy, literally forbidden sex. To suggest that there was no danger in their relationship is to entirely miss the point of that movie.

    And I, too, have railed against the lack of danger and the pro-abstinence attitudes behind *Twilight.* But that’s one vampire story, and the significance of it is totally antithetical to the history of vampire fiction, which is overtly sexual and overtly dangerous. But Marche did not complain merely about *Twilight* — he complained about all vampire fiction. And for that, he’s not merely an ass, he’s an ignorant ass.

  • Jester

    @bronxbee: You didn’t read Alli’s post, and I suggest you do so. Then you’d know what I was referencing.

  • But Marche did not complain merely about *Twilight* — he complained about all vampire fiction.

    True.

    But to listen to most liberal bloggers–including, alas, MaryAnn–one would think that Twilight was the only vampire novel written by a female author within the last thirty years.

    Which must be very annoying to hear if you’re, say, Anne Rice, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Charlaine Harris, Nancy Collins, Tanya Huff, etc.

  • Jester

    @MAJ: Yes, they had sex. So what? Other than, of course, that it was an incredibly stupid choice on Rose’s part. Hell, the actual sex was the LEAST dangerous part of their relationship.

    The thing that amuses me about Titanic is that Rose is given the choice in the movie between Jack and Cal. Yet BOTH of these men are terrible choices. They BOTH want to tell Rose exactly what to do, and exactly how to live her life. Beyond that, both have other huge negative qualities. It is, in short, a false choice. Either choice is a blatantly bad one for Rose, and yet Jack is presented as Rose’s soul-mate, forever. Give me a break.

    In the huge hidden irony in the flick, the one and only time Rose doesn’t do exactly what Jack tells her to do (“Get on the boat, Rose.”), the net result of that choice is that Jack DIES. Had she stayed on the lifeboat, Jack could have used the floating door, and both of them would have lived and presumably been reunited aboard the Californian. Guess I’m not supposed to have noticed that.

    The point Alli makes is Twilight is hugely celebrated by women of all ages (check out the male/female rankings on IMDB). And it’s celebrated by women despite the fact the female lead makes a laughably bad choice in the man she chooses. I added that Titanic mirrors both of these qualities.

  • JoshB
  • Alli

    I never really would have connected Jack and Rose with Edward and Bella. I can see how that works. Still, I don’t remember Jack ever stalking Rose while she slept without her knowing. If anything, Edward Cullen acts more like Cal who desperately wanted to keep Rose from Jack. I think Edward steals the engine from Bella’s car in one book to keep her from seeing her friend Jacob. But no worries, Jacob later sexually assaults Bella. It’s Stephanie Meyer’s way of reminding her Heroine and her readers that over-protective boys can keep your from getting hurt. This series is so screwed up, I just can’t comprehend how people can look past all of this.

    But Marche did not complain merely about *Twilight* — he complained about all vampire fiction. And for that, he’s not merely an ass, he’s an ignorant ass.

    You’re right. I can’t add much more to that. haha.

    As the Trauma posters, I thought the first one looked pretty similar to how super-wide lenses distort figures when they are close. The second image may have been shot with a larger lens to begin with. The Ralph Lauren images make no sense to me though, especially the second one.

  • Accounting Ninja

    You know, the most offensive thing about this is that, obviously, Edward is NOT “gay”, but he is CALLED “gay” because of the way he looks. So, because of this straight dude’s stereotyping of handsome or “fey” looking men, Edward is gay? And Jack from Titanic was not “non-threatening”, unless you are just hung up on his young blonde, lithe good looks and because he’s not “manly-man” looking, now HE is “gay”. (In fact, try to imagine Leo not playing Jack but someone hairy and more typically masculine. His role would not have seemed so non-threatening.)

    Sheesh.

  • AJP

    (First of all, I don’t think men like girl-on-girl action because they find it nonthreatening. I think they like the idea of seeing two women perform for them)

    Its generally not even that deep. Twice as many vaginas and twice as many breasts. Most men are really not very complicated.

    Think Jeffrey from Coupling.

  • Accounting Ninja

    I dunno…I’ve seen “lesbian” porn. The women are always staring at the camera (presumably at the implied man watching). It’s creepy, pretty much every “lesbian” scene in porn has the women more interested in “performing” and watching their watchers than actually having sex with the other woman (which a real lesbian would be doing).

    It’s always implied, to me anyway, that “yeah we’re totally lesbians, but we REALLY want you to join in, man!”

  • AJP

    Of course they are looking at the camera. Its porn. The actresses always look at the camera in porn, no matter who they are performing with.

  • MaryAnn

    But to listen to most liberal bloggers–including, alas, MaryAnn–one would think that Twilight was the only vampire novel written by a female author within the last thirty years.

    I don’t tend to write about books here unless they’re connected to a movie, so how do you come to this conclusion?

    Josh: That link that supposedly explains the *Trauma* images? I don’t get it at all.

  • I don’t tend to write about books here unless they’re connected to a movie, so how do you come to this conclusion?

    Perhaps because I’m one of those annoying people who read, to quote a blogger you may be familiar with?

    Seriously, it seems like no one ever discusses a vampire book on the Net nowadays that isn’t Twilight and while I admire the brazenness of the hypocrisy at work (when conservatives don’t like something, they’re told to shut up and ignore it; when liberals don’t like something, it’s considered an offense against the primal forces of Nature and people just can’t stop talking about it), I can’t help but wonder whether this is one of those “better to light a candle than curse the darkness” scenarios.

    In other words, the more you talk about how awful Twilight is, the more publicity you give it and the less time you have to devote to alternatives that are far better.

    If you rather not talk about alternatives, well, then that’s your business. After all, it’s your blog.

    But to give so much publicity to a book you obviously hate seems ironic.

  • JoshB

    Josh: That link that supposedly explains the *Trauma* images? I don’t get it at all.

    All of the Trauma pictures (except maybe the helicopter one, I can’t tell) are using a wide angle lens to give non-human-eye perspective distortion. It’s an artistic technique to make things seem far away, probably in order to simulate the brain scrambling effects of major bodily injury.

    Now I can’t prove this since I wasn’t there, and of course Photoshop can be used to jack up a photo any way you want, but that seems an awful lot of trouble to go to when a different camera lens will do the trick.

    Here, this may illustrate my point a little better.

    The woman’s head in the first picture appears bigger because she’s leaning over the patient and the perspective distortion is making her body appear smaller than the human eye would expect. This is not an intentional manipulation, and it’s not sexism.

  • Alli

    Tonio, not sure if you’re still talking about Maj here or not, but I don’t think she’s the one who brought up Twilight, I did. If “your blog” was a generic “your”, then I apologize. But yes, I do bitch to much about Twilight, mostly because it creeps me out. Still I don’t think anything that any blogger can do or say can have the same impact on Twilight’s popularity like Robert Pattison’s hair can.

  • MaryAnn

    But to give so much publicity to a book you obviously hate seems ironic.

    This is a site devoted to movies, not to books. When someone makes a movie out of another vampire book, maybe I’ll write about it.

    But I don’t feel obligated to point out books people should be reading. Geez, I can’t even keep up with all the movies, never mind the books.

  • MaryAnn

    This is not an intentional manipulation, and it’s not sexism.

    Then it’s a *really* unfortunate coincidence that the *Trauma* ads came along just as we’re talking about the unrealistic manipulation of women’s bodies in photographs.

  • Paul

    Some men might like lesbian porn because they don’t really want to look at a man having sex. Other men do, depending upon the needs of their own particular fantasies. For example, a fantasy of male dominance would require a man in the film, but if he just wants naked women to look at, he’s going to prefer lesbian porn. Just a thought.

    @Jester: I’ve been pointing out to people that if Rose had stayed on the lifeboat Jack would have lived for years. I’ve gotten some pretty dirty looks for it.

    I think the reason Jack is supposed to be her soulmate is because Jack is usually telling her what she wants to hear. Thus, they are sympathy with each other. This happens quite often, such as certain religious women I’ve known wanting their husbands to the spiritual head of the household in the way she wants him to be, and somehow those women convinced themselves that this doesn’t make themselves the spiritual head of the house instead. I knew a ROTC girl who applied the same logic to her ROTC boyfriend, complicated by her outranking him. The logical twists and turns in the heads of some conservative women to justify their wants within a conservative framework probably explains why while I think Rush Limbaugh is ignorant and rude, I think Ann Coulter is actually crazy.

  • I read Esquire magazine. I also don’t hate feminism. I am the best of both worlds.

  • LaSargenta

    @ MAJ: About the Trauma ads…I made a point of looking at them on the sides of all those phone booths that seem to only exist to have ads as I rarely see anyone making a call from one…

    They look heavily “cartoonified” (I don’t know the right word) as far as color and detail, but I think I’m with JoshB on the wide angle lens. Maybe even really tiny f-stop on that wide angle.

    Also, I’ve been the person on the ground being helped by EMTs and depending on what happened, if I’ve been on the point of fainting or in shock, there is a weird feeling of tunnel vision and a real experience of extreme fore-shortening. Whatever is closest to my eyes seemed HUGE and everything seemed really far away.

    Of course, what DID stand out was that compared to the two guys in the ads I saw, the blonde woman seems to have proportions of a model. Frankly, all the EMTs I’ve met are pretty square on top from all the upper body strength. They’ve got to be able to roll people over, lift stretchers, etc. Some are lanky, but you can see their muscles if they are. Can’t see any on her.

  • What do EMTs (Emergency Medical Technicians) have to do with photo-shopped anorexia?

  • Paul

    Actresses not looking strong enough to do the jobs they protray is one of the most common movie/TV lesser sins: Tomb Raider, Star Trek, Charlie’s Angels (movie and show), Predator II, Terminator IV . . . I read an article about a martial arts expert who was tired of having to keep her musculature weaker so she could keep her job as a stunt double.

    Movies/TV shows with convincingly strong/tough looking women: Terminator II (top honors), Lethal Weapon III, SG Atlantis, Alien II & IV (that human/alien hybrid was spooky mean looking, but maybe that’s just a tribute to Weaver’s acting).

    Of course, I’m not quite sure how to count women playing aliens, since Vulcans don’t have to be tough looking to be tougher than humans, for example, or Buffy the Vampire Slayer, since she’s magically enhanced.

  • LaSargenta

    @ Paul: …and Xena, don’t forget Xena! She looked (relatively, in the scale of what we get in media-land) like she could actually lift that sword!

  • MaryAnn

    What do EMTs (Emergency Medical Technicians) have to do with photo-shopped anorexia?

    Read the damn link.

  • Paul

    Right, sorry. Xena was on during my TVless decade.

  • LaSargenta

    Me, too, Paul. I’m actually still w/o a TV, but it is astounding the stuff I can absorb by osmosis.

  • Paul

    @LaSargenta: I gave my debate students an essay I wrote titled “Turn off your TV.” The assignment was for each student to take 15 minutes and come up with three questions to defeat my essay. Then we argued for the rest of the class. Wish you’d been there for back up.

  • LaSargenta

    Paul, are you famiilar with this book? http://www.amazon.com/Plug-Drug-Television-Computers-Family/dp/0142001082 I probably won’t be there for back up the next time, either; but this woman’s research might help you. I came across it a few years ago. Reinforced a lot of the opinions I’d gained over the years of having to “defend” myself about not having been raised with a tv.

    Maaaaaan. This thread is totally off-topic now!

    Maybe I should turn into a gay vampire to get things back!

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