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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

If Women Make Movies, is it Automatically Feminist?

A red band trailer for the movie "Jennifer's Body" was recently released and a lot of people are talking. This movie is written by Diablo Cody (yes, Juno fans, Diablo Cody), directed by Karyn Kusama, and the two leads are played by Megan Fox and Amanda Seyfried (that's right, two female leads).

I have to admit, I can't stop watching this trailer. I'm really intrigued by it. Mainly because I can't decide how women are being portrayed. But also because in all stages of making the movie, amazing women were involved.

Now, I have some problems with Megan Fox and the characters she plays...and I'm not the only one. Her character in "Jennifer's Body" has some interesting implications. Basically, Jennifer (Fox) is high school cheerleader who is possessed by a demon and starts killing the guys in her high school, by what seems like sexually provoking them. This is an interesting concept to me. I can't decide if her killing of these guys is a commentary on the patriarchal view of female sexuality or if the movie is just going to play into the normal sexist horror movie format.

Sady at Tiger Beatdown comments that...

THE SUBVERSIVE CRITIQUE OF PATRIARCHAL SEXUALITY starts, in this trailer, right around the point when Naked Megan Fox, Professional Hot Lady, extends her mouth to about five times its natural size and eats a dude with it. Because: female sexual desirability is simultaneously prized and demonized. Female appetites, sexual or otherwise, are unilaterally feared and shamed.
I'm right there with you. This movie very well could be commentary on the fear of female sexual empowerment in our society. But I'm still kind of weary. Honestly, mainly because it's Megan Fox and she's hyper-sexualized...again. Is this just another excuse to see her in skimpy clothes and even...gasp...naked? Or is she using her sexuality to prove a point about patriarchal society? (note: yes, I realize it is not actually Megan Fox making these decisions, it's the writer and's just easier in the terms of this post to place the agency on the character Megan Fox plays.)

Bitch magazine, like me, is still a little torn, but it seems like they are leaning toward the anti-feminist side. In their anti-feminist column, they have:
- Appears to be a vehicle to allow Megan Fox to flash her bod and be ogled by horndogs
- Makes women look like either femme fatale crazy killers (Fox) or uber-nerds (sorry Amanda Seyfried, you are really great but the beanie and glasses indicate that your character is supposed to be a dork)
- According to the plot synopsis, looks like this might be another attempt by Hollywood to punish women for liking sex by turning them into demons, putting them in insane asylums, and murdering them
Also some good points.

I think that it's hard to determine exactly how this movie is going to turn out from one trailer. And it can be interpreted many ways by different people. As we can see, Tiger Beatdown and Bitch used Jennifer's killing of men by sexually provoking them as both a positive (commentary on fear of sexuality) and a negative (punishment for sex).

I love that Amanda Seyfried is playing the protagonist. Not only is it a woman protagonist in a horror movie (not unheard of, but pretty uncommon), but I can't wait to see her kick Megan Fox's ass (I'm just hoping this happens).

And can we just pause on the "I go both ways" comment at the end of the trailer for a moment? Seriously? I don't even know how to respond. I feel like this comment falls in the anti-feminist category. It's pretty much there to appeal to some men's lesbian fantasies. And it pokes fun at bi-sexualtiy and lesbianism. Not cool.

So what do you think? This movie is made by and stars great (eh, Megan Fox, maybe) women, but is that all it needs to be feminist? The jury seems to be out on how to interpret it. I guess we'll just have to wait for more trailers and until the movie comes out. I'm sure there will be more great commentary as we get closer to its release date.

And a couple of side notes that don't really pertain to this specific conversation:
-LOVE the music in the trailer!
-I'm really happy Adam Brody is in this movie. I love him and have missed his acting.
-I also really like how the poster for "Jennifer's Body" (see above) is eerily similar to the posters for "True Blood"
-The first time I watched the trailer I laughed out load at the "I'm killing boys" comment. Haven't decided how it fits into the feminism argument, but it was funny.


Jaime said...

I might go see it, I didn't fancy Juno but I like horror so I'll give it a go.

Is it feminist though? Maybe not. I don't think a film made by a woman is automatically feminist but there is a part of me that wants to go see that film to support the women making them.

Emily said...

Found your blog through She Writes.... This is the first I've seen or heard about this movie, but after watching the trailer, I'm right there with you: a bit confused as to whether it is feminist or anti-feminist. And I do agree with the comment above that "I don't think a film made by a woman is automatically feminist but there is a part of me that wants to go see that film to support the women making them."

Laura said...

I definitely believe in supporting women who make movies even if their movies are not feminist. I know that I definitely support movies made by men that aren't feminist, so why not women's movies who aren't feminist.

Another movie coming out soon made by women that actually looks feminist is Whip It. I write about it here:

JessMess said...

Just because a movie is made by a woman or by women does *not* make it feminist.
I dislike Megan Fox so seeing her as yet again another object for boys to drool over is nothing new, and it makes me dislike her even more.
The fact that she's "killing boys" doesn't make it feminist, either.
I see nothing feminist in this film, it's just another wannabe bisexual wankfest for the straight masses.

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