Spy (2015): Sexist Tropes of the Espionage Genre

Spy manages to be an enjoyable comedy that destroys the sexist tropes of the typical spy movie.

The handsome and charming Bradley Fine (Jude Law) is attempting a mission while Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy), a bumbling and socially awkward desk agent, feeds information into his ear.  He is suddenly killed, in what is supposed to be an emotional moment for Susan, who obviously has feelings for him. However, rather than sitting around feeling sad, she decides to take his place in the field to help catch his killer.

The film relies on mostly physical comedy and crude language, but surprisingly, in contrast to McCarthy’s usual comedic performances, she shows she can do more than that. Her quiet performance in the beginning of the film, before she takes Fine’s place, proves that McCarthy can play down her physical comedy and show real emotion.  Later on, she takes a female character that usually blends into the background and forces the world to pay attention to her while illustrating all of the ridiculous sexist female tropes among the espionage genre.

Although Cooper is in love with her fellow agent, and has a couple other potential suitors, she remains solo throughout the entire film. She doesn’t let a guy be the hero, or end up choosing between the male characters. She is the hero.

On top of that, the film’s treatment of female friendship is quite refreshing. There is no competition between Cooper and Nancy (Miranda Hart), an awkward desk agent who serves as Cooper’s desk-agent when she’s out in the field, and their relationship seems to be the most important one in the film. This is quite different than other Hollywood films, where the love interest is viewed as the most important aspect of the movie.

The film’s jokes didn’t entirely revolve around the fact that Cooper is a woman. Most of the jokes surrounding the character were aimed at her personality, clumsy and awkward, personality traits that are seen in both men and women. In the CIA, many of the coworkers shown are women, including Nancy and Cooper’s boss, as well as another field agent.

Spy isn’t a movie about a female spy.

It’s just about a spy.

-B

 

 

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