movies matter | criticism by maryann johanson
Mon Apr 12 2010, 04:35am | 7 comments
…that allows Star Wars fans to be likened to female victims of serial killers, and more…
Yes, it’s The Week in Women, at last, my regular weekly column over at the Alliance of Women Film Journalists. Enjoy.
Re: RedLetterMedia – The Plinkett character used to critique the films is a serial killer character from one of their earlier short films. There’s kind of a “story” of sorts about him from their first Star Trek reviews (featuring the same character) through Star Wars. I take the character as a critique of the TYPE OF PERSON WHO MAKES CRAZY YOUTUBE VIDEOS, not a fan metaphor. (Also, have you watched the Attack of the Clones review yet? * spoiler alert * The terrified woman in the basement we see in the Phantom Menace review ends up tricking Plinkett and escaping! * end spoiler alert * That doesn’t really fit into your thesis…
I see the character as the result of six possible factors:
1) Knowing his audience – You might say he’s underestimating his audience, but looking at the most popular videos on youtube, I don’t think that’s possible.
2) Increased immunity from criticism – By speaking from the position of a pathetic, insane character he blunts the effect of any criticism that will naturally come from defenders of the movies. Speaking seriously as himself would make him more vulnerable.
3) Parody of Trekkies/Star Wars fans/Youtube posters – He’s playing on stereotypes about socially inept, sexually frustrated loners living in their basements who obsess over the finer details of science fiction television and moviess.
4) Misogynistic sense of “humor” – In the tradition of Family Guy, he clearly believes that it is funny (in a black humor sense) to talk about violence against women in an “over the top” way. As the legions of Family Guy fans would say, “It’s called satire stupid.” No doubt, they think gang rape porn is hilariously satirical as well.
5) Subversive Critique of Family Guy Humor – It’s possible that by pushing this type of humor to such an extreme, he is actually trying to force the viewer to separate the valid and insightful observations the character is making from the horrific acts the character is engaged in. This would teach the viewer that it is possible to value the message of a person and acknowledge their intelligence while denouncing other choices they have made or positions they have taken.
6) He is actually a misogynist – Of course it’s possible that he actually has some misogynistic tendencies in his personality; it’s impossible to live here on Earth and not develop a few. This could be an opportunity to release some of these feelings under the protective cloak of humor.
Depending on your personal biases, some of these explanations will seem more important than others, but without getting into his head, I can’t really rank their levels of influence. He does make many excellent observations in the reviews, and it’s unfortunate that he felt the need to sprinkle in the misogyny. But I wonder if the reviews would be as popular if he did them seriously as himself or as a non-misogynistic zany character. I don’t think they would.
The character may be a metaphor for the sorts of people who make Youtube videos, but the women are the metaphor for the fans. I suppose the woman who escapes is the one who stops watching “Star Wars.”
Re: RedLetterMedia – The Plinkett character used to critique the films is a serial killer character from one of their earlier short films. There’s kind of a “story” of sorts about him from their first Star Trek reviews (featuring the same character) through Star Wars. I take the character as a critique of the TYPE OF PERSON WHO MAKES CRAZY YOUTUBE VIDEOS, not a fan metaphor.
This and the Family Guy “look how edgy I am!” bit are correct for the Star Wars review, and the general concept. But the Star Trek (2009) review ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FRNHpX5_Ek8 ) explicitly states this point, without the deniability of the serial killer character.
It’s a shame; the Star Wars reviews pretty accurately skewer the movies and are generally funny. But even if you liked dead baby humor, the serial killer gimmick sections are boring, self-indulgent, and uncreative. They can’t claim intentional irony on that one.
But I wonder if the reviews would be as popular if he did them seriously as himself or as a non-misogynistic zany character. I don’t think they would.
I think it’s a wash.
1) Star Wars (and Trek) fans would have lapped up the reviews if played totally serious.
2) Serial killer characters turn off a portion of the audience by default- there were many people I would’ve sent those links otherwise, and I doubt I’m unique in this.
3) “Respectable” places are going to be gunshy about linking it, so its viral potential is more limited.
The foundation of the gimmick is “Yes I know this is gigantically nerdy, you’re watching an exhaustive Star Wars review.” They could easily have gone with that and had no downside.
what about the straight female action movie star who saves the guy at the end and then kicks him to the curb cos she never needed him? (God I love Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown!)
THANK YOU! I’d seen these some time ago and was delighted that you took them to task.
I mean, there I was, watching, laughing and agreeing with all of his points then WHAM! There’s the uncomfortable misogyny. Yes, definitely the feeling came over me that he didn’t intend any women to watch and relate to his video. There was only ONE audience in mind for him: men.
The thing is, when it first became apparent, I wasn’t even that offended, because I thought it would just be a quick one-off on how messed up obsessive supergeeks can be. But then it kept going. And going. Geez!
What Bourie and Accounting Ninja said. (And if his intended audience was just men: I’m a man, and it made me uncomfortable.) The Star Wars criticism is just dead on, and I really wish the serial-killer parts were left out. I’ve taken to just fast-forwarding through the video when those bits come on.
what about the straight female action movie star who saves the guy at the end and then kicks him to the curb cos she never needed him?
If you have kids, you can start them early on this trope: Read them The Paper Bag Princess.
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