Hey everyone, welcome to a new section. Just a thought posts will be my own personal opinion about trends and idea's rather than my critiques and opinions about particular works. I encourage everyone to challenge me on these thoughts and if you have any suggestions for academic research on them, please comment. I'd love to read it.
Hero's weakness and gender, what exactly do I mean?
While working on some of my own novels and reading a few others I noticed a number of trends about what weakness audiences will and won't accept from their hero's, and that these fell along gender lines. Male hero's are allowed to have certain weakness, and female's their own, often regardless of the character of those individuals regardless of gender.
Males are allowed to be sexually tempted by the villains, give into anger, and pride. Females are allowed to be afraid, be too weak to handle things on their own, and to be hampered by love.
When they are laid out like that... it's more than a little troubling the implied gender expectations that are suggested by this. Males are allowed no emotions but anger and controlled by their penis. While women are weak timid bound by their emotions.
It is so ingrained in the population that when a gender defies the typical weaknesses or characteristics they are called 'coded' in the opposite gender.
In the Hunger Games, Katniss is often talked about as being 'coded' male, exhibiting male traits while Peets is 'coded' feminine.
Coding refers to how to audience interprets the traits, it's usually more clear when referring to sexuality as homosexuality for a long time wasn't allowed to be displayed at all and therefore a number of tricks and troops were created to bring across the idea of homosexuality.
So if you were to have a male who exhibited the feminine 'weakness' of fear, what would you expect? One of 2 things happen, either they are a physically imposing man who shouldn't be scared and pretends not to be till the perfect comedic moment. Or they are physically weak and the fear is genuine and always there for them to overcome. So they are either physically more feminine or the fact that they aren't fitting into their 'male' role is played for laughs.
How deep this coding runs is problematic to discuss as there doesn't appear to be a clear solution, and it can easily be argued that the discussion in itself is causing the problems.
If Katniss having male traits is a problem because it says that females have to adopt male traits in order to be taken seriously as an action lead, than couldn't it be said it is unfair to judge her as a representation and not just as a character. After all there are people who biologically are female but whose personality is "male". However Katniss isn't a person, she is a character and thus the way she is presented to the audience is reflective of society.
Katniss isn't the problem though, we need Katnisss in films/books/games and all types of media. But we also need more than her. We need hero's who are taken seriously representing all kinds of people.
We are a long way away as a society from not thinking in terms of gender coding at both a conscious and subconscious level. Thus in the meantime...
We need more Buffys, more Shaggys, and more Frodos. Characters that mix and blend gender expectations within them.
We need our Arwens, our Peetas and our Mrs Brisby. Characters who coded female.
We also need our Batmen, our Wolverines and our Katnisss. Characters who are coded male with their strengths and weaknesses regardless of their biological gender.
As we slowly work to see more variation in our characters we need to keep the discussion going, we need to make sure that those who are coded female don't just play the role of support to those coded male. I see this as the real danger, that the display of any feminine traits means a character is automatically relegated to sidekick, comedic relief or love interest.
Thor 2, I'm pretty sure I saw it... I remember all these fantastic scenes with Loki... and some form of floaty evil thing that took over Natalie Portman....
Thor 2 is not very memorable is the point I'm trying to make.
It is both plodding and rushed, shallow and for the most part unemotional. There are some really great scenes but they appear far between and are not enough to save the rest of the movie, but let's look at why, because this movie was enjoyable at the time.
I really loved Thor, I considered the first movie to really be a stand out for the Marvel movies. Formulaic yes but also with it's own very unique charm and humour. The lighting was bright and the humour was cute, it trusted the audience to get the jokes without explaining them, the characters were respected by the story. All of that is lost in the new one. Thor 2: the Dark World is unsurprisingly visually a much darker movie, but not only in the dark world. Even the gold of Asgard feels dulled, the bright desert is replaced with a dower looking London so the dark world doesn't appear darker in comparison. It's more Thor 2: The Dark everything.
The humour... ohhh the humour. Do you remember Eric Selvig? The intelligent mentor to Natalie Portman who was off beat but clearly much more aware of what went on in the world, he had had dealings with SHIELD in the past? Well now he's naked... and crazy, and wearing no pants because it helps him think. All with the weak explanation that he had a God in his head... oh well... I guess we can expect Hawk-eye to run into battle in the next Avengers movie is baggy y-fronts as well? No? You just wanted to take your humour tips from the parents in Transformers 2? Well when you do that... amazingly, it ends up not being funny. The only genuine moments of humour come from Loki but I will get to him later when I discuss what actually did work in this movie.
The characters in the first movie were all well defined, deep? Not really, but well defined yes. Why then is Odin, who sent his eldest son to Earth to get him to understand that being king sometimes means not going to war rather than fighting for the sake of fighting and that all life is important not just Asgardian life being such a war hungry a**hole. Odin continues to ignore Thor's plea to listen to alternatives to war even though it will destroy Asgard and refers to Natalie Portman as a goat at the dinning table. What really frustrates me is that this would not have been hard to fix... all Odin had to do was listen to Thor's plan properly and then after consideration say no. Because Thor's plan was fucking stupid. 'I know this guys defeated hundreds of Asgardian warriors and I wasn't even able to stop him breaking into our palace and killing my mother but if I take the one thing he needs to destroy the universe, and fight him alone with only the help of treasonous brother... I'm sure we can win'. Guess what... he doesn't win.
The movie is also so dark I could confuse it for the washed out colours of a DC movie. Now one would assume that Thor: The Dark World would of course be more visually dark to match the content, but everything is dark. London is dark, Asgard is dark, almost every location is darker than the first one so the actual 'dark world' has no visual impact at all. It ends up being Thor: The Dark Universe... with one world that is a lot more sandy. Part of the charm of the first movie was the visual brightness, there is no better way to describe it but Thor felt like it was directed by Gilderory Lockheart. Thor 2... does not.
Enough beating the movie for a moment though, lets look at what did work. I'm not sure if the plan was always to focus on the emotional journey of Loki or if his popularity after the Avengers pushed the film makers to have the entire movie orbit around him. Regardless, Tom Hiddleston's performance is really what saves this movie. Loki's character and his relationships with his mother and brother are the emotional heart of Thor 2. His mother, the warrior Queen Frigga also has one of the best scenes sacrificing herself but going out with an epic one on one battle. This is undermined somewhat as you discover that Natalie Portman was just hiding in the next room... thank Christ the dark elf never looked around the fucking door. I had thought he was able to sense the Ether at all times, but my mistake.
I know, I know... I said I would stop beating on this movie so let me wrap up my final point. I don't think this movie is bad, I wouldn't even go as far as saying it isn't an enjoyable movie. But it is, in my opinion, the weakest of the current Marvel Universe films (those in cannon with Avengers that is). I complain because I love the Marvel movies, and I don't want to see them starting to slip into weaker patterns to push out more movies faster.
Worth seeing, but understandable if you wait till the DVD.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.