April 12, 2005

Sin City

I saw Sin City this last weekend and it's great. Drew just reviewed it, but most of the bad things he says about it are wrong, so don't be too worried about that. For some contrast, here's a positive review by by Roger Ebert. Actually, I'd love for a discussion to erupt in this thread about the movie because I think there is lot of work to be done there with gender roles but I can't quite coalesce my thoughts.


Noumena said...

We ( = me + the roommates) went to see it last weekend. I enjoyed it, but I was too trashed to care about character development (the theater sold beer). In retrospect, the film was probably too limited to really develop the characters the way the comic books do, so I'd agree with Drew on that regard. Get just drunk enough to still move about safely (bring a designated driver if you're in the suburbs, naturally) and enjoy the violence.

There's no work to be done with gender roles in this film. Despite some feminist-sounding words that come out of the mouths of a few of the female characters, every single woman in the movie is there as some combination of sex object, plot device, and prop.

The Joy said...

With the recent press Martha Nussbaum, some re-reading I must do about Wollstoncroft's (spelling? I'm at work, gimme a break here, this has to be quick) "Vindication of the Rights of Women," I'm not fully prepared to launch into a tirade on the merits of T&A as art, exploitation, or empowerment. WARNING, POSSIBLE SPOILER:
I don't know if this constitutes a spoiler but who cares, don't want to ruin it for anyone who hasn't sen it. The women controlled Old Town but how did Old Town come to be? It was a place so frightening, even the cops wouldn't go there. It was a place so dirty, hard, violent, nasty, that reputable people wouldn't be seen there. And it was run by the ladies. So what does that mean? I'm hesitant to take the cynical angle that Old Town is like legislation about women's reproductive choice. It's scary, it's dangerous, and nobody's willing to go there. I'm even more hesitant to take the leap that says women's bodies have been deemed so scary, so dangerous that nobody's willing to discuss. Exhibit A: Planned Parenthood Washington DC. You can see their site here with coverage of when they were picketed during the anniversary of Roe v. Wade.
For my reproductive health, I walk in and talk to a person behind a bulletproof glass window, have my bag searched, I walk through a metal detector and through a door that must be unlocked by the person behind that first glass window. I walk into a waiting room that might as well be a holding cell despite attempts to make things comfortable. More bulletproof glass as I check in AGAIN, doors that must be opened with punch-codes and that's my access to affordable safe reproductive health; that's the standard, really, planned parenthood has the best services available at the best cost. For men, where does this exist? Barring free clinics (where you may find similar security measures), men's reproductive health is typically included at an affordable cost in most family practices. You walk into the office, check in with a person who could be sitting at a desk instead of behind glass, you sit down, doors close but don't require locks, etc. The point of this piece of evidence is really do illustrate that ours is a society afraid of female sexuality. Am I prepared to defend this further? Not without a great deal of further research. POINT BEING: possible gender reading of Sin City would be that the place where women rule is that associated with the worst in society.
POINT TWO: Aside from women only ruling in places associated with the worst in society, women rule through sex. From what little I've read and studied (including an excellent book entitled "Sex, time, and power" whose thesis is "the history of the human race could be written on the fact that men have spent the last 150,000 years trying to re-gain the power they so emphatically lost to women when we differentiated away from homo-erectus" and another by Jean Kilbourn entitled, "Can't Buy my Love"), we used to be ruled by women. Babylonian societies, worship of the female form, the earth as a goddess, sex as mysterious, powerful, and sacred, etc. Helen's was the face that launched a thousand ships. Jackie O was the woman who made America "classy" again. Monica nearly took down a president, and on and on and on. The question then is can women rule outside sexuality or can women be viewed absent sexuality without being deemed deviant? Can we have a politician or a law enforcement officer or a firefighter or a soldier without having a lady politician, a policeman, a fireman, and an in-field nurse?
POINT THREE: The Sin City women work Old Town through the good ol' system of costs and benefits. Cost: I'm wearing fishnets and impossibly large earrings. Benefit: All the honies who makin' money, throw ya hands up at me. Question: Is it exploitation or empowerment? Are women clad in leather, metal, crop-weilding, gun-toting broads just being objectified or are they taking advantage of the societal norms? Lengthy discussions have been had, I'm sure, on exactly this point. There's a story on some news program about a mother of three who strips for a living. *GASP!* how COULD she?! Well, maybe she's not some helpless victim of circumstance, woe is her, forced to strip because she lacks anything better. Maybe she's taking advantage of the fact that men will pay lots and lots of money to watch a woman take off her clothes. Maybe she was mommy-tracked out of a great position and she's earning more money taking advantage of the fact that she's got a bangin' bod and our society values that more than paying a woman for her brains.
CONCLUSION: It's a comic book, a fantasy, not a sociological study. Is it worth tearing apart an analyzing or should we just let the pretty pictures flicker on?