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cultural vandal | by maryann johanson

why does the Sicario Region 1 DVD cover art make it look like Benicio Del Toro is the star of the film?

Here we go again.

Here’s the Region 1 DVD of Sicario:

sicarioregion1

If you knew nothing at all about the film and were to guess solely by this art, whom would you presume is the star of the film? Benicio Del Toro, no? He is fantastic in this movie, but he is not, by any stretch of the imagination, the protagonist of this film. Nor is he the character with the most screen time or the one with the most significant arc.

The protagonist is Emily Blunt’s character. There is no question about this. The Region 2 DVD cover art is more honest about this:

sicarioregion2

This could be even better, but at least she is in the foreground and her image is larger than those of her male costars. Her supporting characters.

This isn’t quite as bad as the dick-washing that female-led The Sapphires was subjected to a couple of years ago. But it’s still infuriating as hell. It’s an especial slap in the face to the filmmakers (including Blunt), who fought specifically for a female lead — the studio wanted a man. It’s also a slap in the face to the little bit of gains women have made onscreen this year.

So why did this art happen? The first person who says, “But Benicio Del Toro is just better known than Emily Blunt” will get slapped with not only with a pile of Ms magazines but also with a pile of Varietys. Blunt’s box office is generally much better than Del Toro’s: You’d have to go back to 2000’s Traffic to find a film in which Del Toro figures even moderately prominently that has done better at the box office than Blunt’s Edge of Tomorrow, from last year. (And that’s not counting Into the Woods, in which Blunt’s character, as part of an ensemble, is probably about as prominent as Del Toro’s role in the ensemble of Traffic.) Over the past decade, Blunt has been significantly more present in mainstream films that have done well at the box office than Del Toro has… and you cannot even argue that they were all rom-coms or “women’s films” and that she’s unknown to all the presumably manly men who are the supposed target audience of a film such as Sicario, because: Edge of Tomorrow. I am certainly not suggesting that box office is any sort of measure of quality work or of talent — though both Blunt and Del Toro are very talented and have lots of onscreen charisma, and I love them both. I mention all this merely to deflect the inevitable “argument” that this design choice was all about “business.” Such an argument would clearly be bullshit.

In a year when badass women are obviously doing very well for Hollywood’s business, this is no explanation for this beyond unthinking, reflexive sexism. There simply isn’t.

So tired of this crap.


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