Female Body Image in Ghostbusters (2016)

There has been a lot of conversation on Twitter and Facebook about the new Ghostbusters. Some good, some bad, some in between. The one thing that I have seen being praised is the way the women in this movie are represented.

Hint: they don’t talk about their body image.

How many times have you seen an “overweight” woman in a film have her weight referenced in a joke? My guess is too many to count. However, in Ghostbusters, there is zero mention of weight. Leslie Jones and Melissa McCarthy are both considered to be big for American woman (although that standard is ridiculous to begin with, don’t even get me started). The two women are made fun of and teased for other things, such as their attitude or behavior, but not one time is their size teased. There was not a single fat joke used in the film.

These women are seen eating food, but not in a way that draws attention to their diet or eating habits. They are simply shown as people who require food. None of them spoke about maintaining their figure, or being afraid of gaining weight.

There were also no jokes at the skinnier characters about not eating, or being too thin. Kristen Wiig and Kate McKinnon were on the same level as Leslie Jones and Melissa McCarthy. One was not treated “sexier” than the other, or more appealing than the other. There were no snarky comments made about body weight, at all. The only things mocked slightly were fashion choices, such as the bow tie Wiig was wearing.

It was amazing to see a movie that refused to body shame women, regardless of their figure. A little girl can watch this film and feel good about herself, no matter what she looks like. A Ghostbuster can be anyone, no matter their sex or size.

Let it sink in that this is how low expectations are for women in film. I’m getting excited because no woman was called fat, and they were shown eating food. This proves that representation is an issue, and it matters.

Women love seeing women presented as normal human beings.

Who would have thought?

-B

Review: The Man From U.N.C.L.E.(2015)

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Spy movies are nothing new. The tropes are all recognizable: the car chases, gadgets, cheesy one-liners, and ambiguous love interest. It’s hard to find anything really new and unusual in the genre. However, the film The Man From U.N.C.L.E. presents more slick and stylish cinematography than others (although it could use a bit more narrative substance).

This film was not the most spectacular one to watch, but the images were intriguing and stick in my mind. I honestly fell in love with the characters, regardless of whether or not they were cliché, loving Armie Hammer’s performance in particular. His character struggles with mental illness and emotional unavailability, and he played it believably. Henry Cavill played the more cliché character, a charismatic, playboy of a spy. It was hard not to roll my eyes with some of his cheesy, over-masculine one-liners. I was disappointed by the character, expecting more from Cavill. As far as the treatment of women, Gaby (Alicia Vikander) was smart and a great mechanic, but still a damsel in distress in the end. She’s often objectified. It’s as if the writers wrote a strong female character on paper, but failed to give her any believable heroism on screen. She ticks off the boxes that avoid being a complete damsel in distress, and they figured it was okay. In the end, she essentially is there to serve as a love interest and provide conflict. Although I didn’t want to admit it, I rooted for her to end up with Illya. Yes, I know, the spy always gets the girl. But this couple got to me. I think they had an undeniable chemistry (even though Ilya was fairly misogynistic). It was something about the subtle vulnerability in Hammer’s mannerisms. The way all three of these characters play off of each other with their different personalities was a bit overdone, but worked well enough.

The editing in the film is unique, showing techniques that I had never seen before. For example, the subtitles when characters were speaking in a different language weren’t always strictly across the bottom. The lines that are meant to stand out and have the most meaning to the plot were bolded, bigger, or placed in an interesting way on screen. One of my favorite examples of editing is when Gaby is in the car having a conversation. The camera is placed outside the glass, a shot that has been done before. However, when the camera is outside the glass, the audience cannot hear the conversation. It’s as if we are actually outside the car, wanting to hear the words but not able to. Instead, we hear the words through a crackling radio, a result of a bug in the car. It’s only when Gaby rolls the window down that we are finally a part of the conversation.

Sound editing continues to present itself as unique throughout the film. Most spy movies have an action sequence, presented as a montage. This film definitely uses that, but in a more nonconventional way. The screen is split in three or four places, showing multiple actions happening at the same time. Yes, this has been done before. But I found it interesting that there was not sound or dialogue. Just music. There weren’t even gunshots heard.

This film relies a lot on music to provoke emotional reactions from the audience. The music used when Solo is in the truck eating as Illya drives a boat fighting off explosions adds to the comical element of the scene. The song played does not match the action outside of the vehicle. This mitch-match of music and action is an element repeated in the movie.

The camera angles also proved to be very interesting. When Solo first meets Gaby, she is on her back working under a car. The audience gets a perspective shot of Napoleon, as if we are on the floor looking up. At another point in the film, Solo is drugged, and the image of the woman he sees is distorted (as well as her voice). The film enjoys putting audiences in the perspective of others, keeping the viewer’s attention and impressing film bloggers such as myself.

The film seems to set up a sequel, and unlike most films, I wouldn’t be opposed to one. I felt the movie ended with audiences wanting more. Overall, this film is a great one to watch if you’re into espionage films or period pieces. It plays off all of the cliché spy tropes we’ve all seen, but it also brought some new techniques to the table, and the cast meshed well. Not the most remarkable I have seen substance wise, but as far as spy movies go, I liked it.

Better than the most recent Bond film, in my opinion.

-B

The Male-Tear Inducing Gender Reversal in Ghostbusters

The new Ghostbusters film seems to get a lot of hate for a movie that is surprisingly good. Not only is it funny, it also commentates on the gender roles of American society. It’s hard to find the right words to discuss it, because there is so much packed into an hour and forty-seven minutes. You’ve probably heard men crying that this film is “anti-men” and “sexist”.

I decided to dedicate a blog post to that.

In reality, it’s doing to men exactly what comedic films always do to women- stereotyping them. This film completely reverses gender stereotypes, and it is fantastic. The women in this film are intelligent, aggressive scientists who end up saving the city, while Chris Hemsworth plays a dimwitted, extremely attractive secretary with little to no character development. He is a completely two-dimensional character, there to look good and act stupid. As a woman who has had to sit through countless films with one or two female characters that are treated as complete and utter bimbos, I thought it was hilarious.

The objectification of Chris Hemsworth in this film was not meant to represent the idea that women are better than men or hate men; it’s saying that women are tired of men acting in a condescending way towards women and need to acknowledge that the movie industry is sexist towards females. The way some men are reacting to this film, you’d think they’ve been underrepresented for decades. Calling Hemsworth’s character Kevin the “token male character” and “a dumb hot guy stereotype”, they clearly miss the entire point of the writers writing Kevin that way (those are actual comments I read, guys). The writers are aware he’s a hot guy stereotype. They’re aware he’s the token male character in this film.

Kevin is meant to point a finger at every film that has used the “sexy secretary” trope. He is written to say that women portrayed as beautiful but unintelligent used singularly for the purpose of objectification is absolutely not okay. What makes this even better is the fact that Hemsworth normally takes on completely different roles, such as Thor. Thor is traditionally masculine; aggressive, dominant, muscular, and powerful. Ghostbusters shows him as the exact opposite. Rather than Thor saving the day, it’s four women of different sizes and diversities. Kevin acts as a damsel in distress and they save his life. Hemsworth seemingly embraced this new character completely, willing to defy the gender norms of American cinema.

Imagine if the new Ghostbusters featured a male cast and, say, Megan Fox was playing a character like Kevin. Do you think the men would have a problem with a “token female character” or “a dumb hot girl stereotype”? That is what this film is trying to draw attention to. Kevin is meant to represent the idea that WE HAVE A PROBLEM WITH SEXISM IN THE FILM INDUSTRY. The reverse tropes send an extremely important message, and rather than listen to it, people jump on the internet to complain. It’s almost as if men finally know what it feels like to be a female viewer of the comedy genre.

Huh. Weird. It’s almost like that was the point of Hemsworth’s character in the first place…

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-B