Enough With The Fake Movie and TV Controversies Already!
I think everyone has that one friend or acquaintance that wherever they walk, drama is sure to follow. You know who I’m talking about right? They react over minor things, start fights, take offense where none is given, they are passive aggressive, they always seem to attract the wrong significant others, they call you at 3am because they can’t get over Brad and Angelina’s breakup, yadda, yadda, yadda, ad infinitum. Essentially, a rabble-rouser, an instigator, someone who can’t leave well enough alone. Or as Blade famously once said:
Hollywood has forever been the font of cinematic controversy, going back to D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation which glorified the KKK. Some of these controversies hold weight, some don’t. For example, the rape controversy that surrounds director Nate Parker’s new film about Nat Turner (also called The Birth of a Nation) possesses some validity. Likewise last year’s #OscarsSoWhite was not without its merits. Again these are perfectly legitimate examples. What concerns-check that-pisses me off, are these ridiculous fake controversies that continue to plague film and television.
These are controversies that initiate some bullshit, agenda ridden, damn fool idealistic crusade. Something that’s nothing more than a “LOOK AT ME!” cry for attention. It’s disingenuous and it’s insulting. Seriously, it’s out of control. You can’t go one goddamn week without someone bitching that The Martian didn’t cast real Martians, or starting an #AndroidLivesMatter movement because of Westworld, or that BvS failed to address the modern existentialism of being a bat in the 21st century. Basically most things you should throw right into your “I don’t give an Arrakis Sandworm shit about” bin.
And it’s getting worse.
In the last year alone I can think of at least five “controversies” we’ve had that don’t deserve a nanosecond’s attention. I thought it might be informative to examine several “controversies” that have reared their heads in recent years, and why they don’t amount to a hill of Dave Bautista’s protein bars.
The Wolf Of Wall Street Glorifies Sex, Drugs, Money, and Crime
I hate using the expression that people don’t “get” movies because people can interpret a film and what it means to them in different ways. However, people who think that Scorsese’s film actually glorifies these things are missing the point. When the movie debuted in 2013 every one came with their knives out saying that the movie made the criminal lifestyle somehow glamorous and encouraged people to pursue Jordan Belfort’s ambitions. What people failed to realize is that Scorsese’s work is actually an INDICTMENT of this kind of lifestyle. It’s an entertaining three-hour slog through depravity, to the point that by the end you’re exhausted by all the excess. And that’s the point. You’re supposed to be exhausted. You’re supposed to see that ultimately the lifestyles of people like Belfort and his cronies are empty and unfulfilling. I challenge you to show me one person who was inspired by this movie and became a Wall Street criminal.
Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ is torture porn
I’m not going to delve into the personal life of Mel Gibson. The man is an alcoholic and he’s said pretty terrible things. That’s not the issue here. What is the issue is this fallacy that somehow Gibson’s film about the final hours of Christ’s life is torture porn. I’m specifically referring to the scenes where Jesus is whipped by the Romans and subsequently crucified. The whipping scene itself lasts ten minutes. There’s no question it’s a brutal, powerful, and disturbing scene. However, to call this film torture porn is ludicrous. This may come as a shock to people, but whippings and crucifixions aren’t rainbows and unicorns. Death by crucifixion can take hours. What did people expect? A gentle slap on the back? Jim Caviezel being duct taped to the cross? Also for those who aren’t linguists the word “passion” in its original form actually means suffering. This isn’t Jesus Christ Goes to Camp starring Jim Varney. If you want to label Hostel torture porn that’s fine but not this film.
X-Men Apocalypse Promotes Violence Against Women
Oy. This one. It all started from an unlikely source. Washed up has-been actress Rose McGowan (Scream, Planet Terror) in a Facebook post to THR said the following:
“There is a major problem when the men and women at 20th Century Fox think casual violence against women is the way to market a film. There is no context in the ad, just a woman getting strangled. The fact that no one flagged this is offensive and frankly, stupid. The geniuses behind this, and I use that term lightly, need to take a long hard look at the mirror and see how they are contributing to society. Imagine if it were a black man being strangled by a white man, or a gay male being strangled by a hetero? The outcry would be enormous. So let’s right this wrong. 20th Century Fox, since you can’t manage to put any women directors on your slate for the next two years, how about you at least replace your ad?”
Jesus where do I even begin with this? First off I’m not sure how you would know from a billboard if a gay male was being strangled by a “hetero” without being visually stereotypical. So that statement makes no sense. Black man being strangled by a white man? Okay I get that…if the movie wasn’t about mutants with special powers. Then there’s the “no context” argument. Not sure what the star of Jawbreaker is driving at here. Why exactly does there need to be a context? Someone should tell her that Apocalypse, if you couldn’t tell by his fearsome appearance, is what the industry calls a “bad guy.” Bad guys tend to do bad shit, like kill people indiscriminately. From that perspective, McGowan’s argument implies that if a male mutant was being choked that’s ok. It’s a false equivalency and frankly hypocritical. McGowan’s first sentence, “There is a major problem when the men and women at 20th Century Fox think casual violence against women is the way to market a film,” is beyond the pale. Yes Rose. I’m sure the first idea that popped into Fox’s market execs when they were promoting this film was, “Hey! I know! We can sell a shit-ton of tickets if we promote violence against women!” In the name of Professor X’s wheelchair, what are you talking about???!!! And of course Fox soon caved and took the billboard down, assuring everyone that they in no way, shape, or form promote violence against women. Anyone with half a brain probably already knew that.
Marvel’s “Luke Cage” is racist
I’m only six episodes into Luke Cage and while it doesn’t measure up to Jessica Jones or Daredevil yet, I’m digging it. However, it didn’t take long for people–err white people–err white males–err white male Internet trolls–to start complaining. Seemingly within hours we got lovely tweets like this:
ʢ ⍤ ᴥ ⍤ ʡ @apronikas
im not racist but why is luke cage so political why do they talk about being black all the time where are the white characters
Iron Fist is an orientalist-white-man-yellow-fever narrative. Asian actor would have helped subvert that offensive trope, and reclaim space.
I remember the Iron Fist ‘controversy’ being a thing. My thoughts on it were that the reason Iron Fist was white was to show how out of place he was in a primarily asian looking enviroment. The not being asian thing is part of his character. Now he didn’t necessarily have to be a white character, but his being asian would have taken something visually away. More diversity is needed, but I don’t think it’s just on screen. There needs to be more behind the scenes diversity as well. But that’s not good click-bait, so we don’t talk about that.