John’s post below prompts me to bring to our attention what may be the most laughably ridiculous example of feminist “critical thinking” ever. Though I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that some deep dish feminist somewhere would mark out the hit film Gravity as yet another expression of—wait for it now—patriarchal oppression.
Writing pseudoymously as “GenderBender” on Talkbacker.com, someone offers this “feminist’s perspective”:
Forget Neil deGrasse Tyson’s paternalistic “Man of Science” condescension. The real issues with GRAVITY stem from its tired and vulgar representation of femininity.
It’s not surprising that, once again, Hollywood–a business run by men and shaped by the male gaze–has slapped together yet another fangeek extravaganza which reduces the feminine to mere birth imagery and motherly yearning. Galling, but not surprising.
What’s truly repulsive, though, is how naive and earnest the movie is as it’s doing it. And yet it’s being celebrated as some great landmark in the history of feminist cinema. “This movie will inspire a generation of girls!” What — to get out of the lab and back into the kitchen? To put down that space helmet and sit back down in the salon chair?
GRAVITY is further proof that we can’t expect Hollywood to embrace feminism in any meaningful way. After all, the most feminist event in Hollywood history came when John Landis decapitated Vic Morrow — thus accidentally emasculating the white male stereotype he was clumsily lampooning and exploiting in the tawdry TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE. Women are commodities in Hollywood–nothing more than artificially enhanced show cattle.
There’s much more, and it is worth taking it all in for the laughs is provides at the pathetic depths of what passes for feminism today. But perhaps you’re thinking—maybe this is satire? Maybe it is, but the problem is, if is satire, how can you tell? There’s so much real feminist literature like this that it is impossible to say. Good satire usually gives it away, either with a knowing wink at some point, or with a palpable outrageousness (think Swift’s “Modest Proposal”) that you know you’re being had. Even if the author steps out from behind the pseudonym and confesses, I can easily imagine that there are lots of feminists out there who think this reading of Gravity is correct.
If you think I jest, try out the “scholarship” on comic books. I’ve lately gotten interested in comic books and comic book culture for a couple of reasons, and started looking for academic analysis. Here’s one abstract I found that isn’t satire, but ought to be:
Superman/superboys/supermen: The comic book hero as socializing agent.
Craig, Steve (Ed), (1992). Men, masculinity, and the media. Research on men and masculinities series, Vol. 1., (pp. 61-77). Thousand Oaks, CA, US: Sage Publications, Inc, xii, 271 pp.
Looks at masculinity in the persona of the comic book superhero; details the part such heroes play in forming the image of masculinity (and femininity) for adolescent boys [particularly between the ages of 10-15]; finds that both Superman and the newer superheroes present a fundamentally patriarchal view of the world, where the good guys are predominantly middle-class white males who seek justice through vigilantism; women and people of color are mostly relegated to either invisibility or traditional roles.
Oh boy, I can’t wait.