Eric Robillard can find any movie to match his mood, but what he can’t tolerate is violence against women as a form of entertainment.
For years now I have found solace in films. When the day is done with, I sit each night on the couch with two bottles of sparkling water and sweets, and watch a movie. The house is silent, the kids are tucked away in bed, my wife plays a Facebook game or takes on a few chores as she is a night owl, and I disconnect in front of the television. This is how I unwind.
I watch everything, I don’t discriminate in my entertainment. I have a soft spot for horror and indie movies. I can enjoy mainstream Hollywood like I can any Lars Von Trier fare. It’s quite simple: there’s a movie to match any mood I’m in. What I can’t tolerate anymore is violence against women as a form of entertainment.
Anymore being the keyword. I used to be oblivious to the unsettling stalker approach to wooing in romantic comedies. I knew nothing of the Bechdel test, and I refused to admit androcentricism in film, even though most movies I watched were boy adventures, centered around a male hero and his quest for world domination, love, or sex. Of course, when I indulged in a movie directed by a woman with a female-centric plot, I was watching a chick flick.
Today, when I watch mainstream Hollywood I don’t relax much, no matter what genre I try:
- Comedy: 21 & Over. Two blindfolded sorority sisters are awaiting initiation when two male characters stumble upon them. Instead of revealing their identities, they take advantage of the situation and use a cricket bat to hit the women on their behinds.
- Science-Fiction: Star Trek Into Darkness. The character played by Alice Eve (described on IMDB as being first and foremost very attractive, then as a science officer, and lastly as an advanced weaponry specialist as if it’s an afterthought) gratuitously strips down for no good reason before changing into a space suit in front of Kirk.
- Horror: Pick a movie—women are almost, always, the victim.
When I recently complained to a friend about sexism and objectification of women in blockbuster movies, I was told, “What do you expect, mainstream Hollywood is stupid.” Sexual assault and violence against women isn’t stupid: it’s wrong. Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann smoking weed in This Is 40 and tripping like teenagers is stupid. Ken Jeong calling women “bitches” in The Hangover franchise is wrong. I don’t have a problem with sophomoric humor being used in movies; I have issues with misogyny as “entertainment”.
If I don’t split my sides watching a female character being ridiculed for being naked and vulnerable, it isn’t because I can’t take a joke, or that I am too serious: it’s because demeaning women for a laugh isn’t funny.
The conundrum I’m faced with is this: do I limit or eliminate my exposure to these films? Or do I continue my habit, willfully participating in an endemic problem within the entertainment industry and within our undeniably male dominated culture? Watching critically is still watching, and what lessons does this pass down to my kids? That this mental, physical, emotional violence towards women is acceptable? Or do I lead by example, sacrificing one of my only simple pleasures for the sake of a clear conscience?
This post originally appeared at A Clown On Fire
Photo: Provided by Eric Robillard