Listen up, bros! Grab your red solo cups, your ex-girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend’s hockey jerseys, and your beer funnels: I’m here to tell you it’s okay to like Magic Mike. It is totally okay to appreciate another bro’s body. As a matter of fact, I do it all the time. In the shower, at the gym, at the gas station bathroom, it is totally okay to be bro-appreciative of another bro’s body. And I think Steven Soderbergh’s Magic Mike celebrates that masc ideal. Read the rest of this entry »
It is becoming slightly more popular, of late, to talk about the idea of the objectification of men. In Out Magazine, Kit Harrington, of Games of Thrones fame, spoke on this, saying, “I found it unfair, really, some of the stuff I read [in response to being labeled a sex symbol],” he says. “I was making a point, which was that I think young men do get objectified, do get sexualized unnecessarily. As a person who is definitely in that category, as a young leading man in this world, I feel I have a unique voice to talk about that. I was making a point to sort of say, ‘It just needs to be highlighted.’ With every photo shoot I ever go to, I’m told to take off my shirt, and I don’t.” Conversely, Chris Pratt, whose transformation from the oafish dude on Parks and Recreation to the charismatic leading man of Guardians of the Galaxy and Jurassic World, argued that, in the name of equality, “it’s important to even things out. Not objectify women less, but objectify men just as often as we objectify women.” But, here’s the thing; I don’t think men can be objectified. By heterosexual audiences at least. Read the rest of this entry »
(Author’s Note: Once upon a time, I made a shitty video essay for my Sex on TV class. And here it is. There are moments where it’s hard to understand what I’m saying because I messed up the sound levels of the music, so below is a complete transcript.)
Cinema is everything. Whether we know it or not, it’s how we filter what we know about the world. And cinema is constantly changing. Not only technologically, but critically and ethically. The thing is, we are not the only ones who view films. Films view us as well. Films can look at something, which we in turn view in a voyeuristic way.
Although Laura Mulvey’s iconic essay “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” posits that any film that anyone saw was inherently from the perspective from a heterosexual male, time has changed since that essay was published in 1975. We are no longer living in a limited world where heterosexual white males are the only audience and the only ones looking.
What we are looking at in the cinema now can be taken from multiple perspectives. The Heterosexual Male Gaze. The Female Gaze. The Queer Gaze. All of these ways of looking at film are relevant. Audiences are more diverse and, what is more important, that diversity is now more visible to the public eye. Read the rest of this entry »
I’m excited for Spring Breakers.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, I would like to expand on why I’m so fascinated with the film and why I’m excited for it.
– I’m familiar with director Harmony Korine’s work more out of reputation than anything else. I haven’t seen his previous work, except for the Larry Clark directed Kids. So, this being a major departure for him intrigues me. It’d be like Lars von Trier doing a mainstream action movie or something.
– I’m a big fan of the “fever dream narrative”; films whose stories float by with loose connection and cohesion and seem to sometimes only make sense via “dream logic”. Yeah, I didn’t use to be (I blame an unfortunate viewing of Bunuel’s The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie), but I’ve become sort of infatuated with that kind of style, which certainly can be found in the works of David Lynch and even Michel Gondry (The Science of Sleep, anyone?)
– I’m excited to see young actresses Ashley Benson (whom, I will admit, I’d never heard of), Vanessa Hudgens, and Selena Gomez prove themselves on the screen to be legitimate actresses. Actresses that can carry a film and provide depth and nuance to their characters. Because, let’s face it (concerning at least two of them) how much merit is there really in some of that Disney stuff.
– Jumping off of that, I’m extremely fascinated as to how these girls will not only prove themselves as good actresses, but how they will thus subvert their candy coated kiddie public image and perception. It’s one thing to transition from Disney star into adult roles, like Anne Hathaway and Brokeback Mountain; it’s something else entirely if you’re transitioning into adult roles by starring in a film by the guy who directed Trash Humpers. But, I think this subversion will add to public discussion regarding how long Disney actors can maintain a certain image and what kind of effect that has when they, in essence, grow up. What will happen to their fan base? How will they be perceived after? (I also like that these actresses are doing it voluntarily and with full knowledge of that as opposed to, like, pole dancing at the Kid’s Choice Awards.) These characters, Korine has said, are as aggressive, if not more so, than men who would be in the same position, so, again, there’s some fascinating gender stereotype stuff going on in this film.
– James Franco saying “y’all” and wearing cornrows. ‘Nuff said.
– It’s a look into something I will never participate in. (I’m a prude.)
– The dissection of the American dream, privilege, and desire for immediacy in contemporary culture. I’m a sucker for social commentary.
– All that neon.
– The audience reaction.
- Let me explain. I think this film might have a Magic Mike effect. By that, I mean that the film will completely subvert its marketing campaign. Its ads will show one thing and the film will be something else entirely. And while it will make a lot of money (this is undoubtedly Korine’s biggest film to date), I imagine will garner very, very polarizing reactions from the audience it is being aimed at: teens like those featured in the film (I fall into that demo). I’m not saying that the reaction will be bad, exactly, but I know I will hear peers complain about it. I heard them complain about Magic Mike, that it didn’t have enough guys in it and that it was boring. You may think I am underestimating this age group, but if they can remake Project X and call it 21 and Over, there’s something of an indicator there (it’s not really a remake, I’m just being snarky). Despite the fact that the demographic is pretty easily entertained, they like what they’re comfortable with. They don’t like the unexpected, unless it somehow panders to something they’re familiar with.
- For example, Christopher Nolan has two films that work with this: His Dark Knight Trilogy (let’s talk about the second one) and Inception. The Dark Knight isn’t your average superhero film or your action film because it’s reliant on story and the sociopolitical subtext and the gritty realism and character analysis. But, it still contains some fantastic action set pieces. Inception on the other hand is, while very thrilling and exciting, narratively unorthodox. Throwing that curveball in terms of the way the story is told and the amount of attention that needs to be paid thus was polarizing for some. Confusing, heady, etc. Even the last film of his Dark Knight Trilogy garnered complaints because a) too much talking/slow pace and b) not enough Batman. So, even the most successful films and directors can encounter kind of arbitrary criticism because it’s something that the audience isn’t as familiar with.
- The same could be said of Nicolas Winding Refn’s DRIVE. The contemplative and almost dialogue free thriller starring Ryan Gosling encountered some pretty odd press when a woman in Michigan sued over the film’s misleading trailer. And this is an adult.
- The film, Korine has said, is like “a violent pop song” or an “internet video” with “very little dialogue”. With its loose story and structure and claims of little dialogue, what will fans think of the film? It’s garnered a lot of praise at TIFF and SXSW. But will audiences accept this filmmaker and this film? Selena Gomez says in an EPK, “There’s the movie that we’re making and there’s the movie that the media thinks we’re making.” Damn straight.
- My friends have mistaken me: I’ve talked about this film a lot since the first production still appeared ages ago (was it last year?). I’ve talked about how the guy who did this also did a film called Gummo. I’ve talked about the fact that, while it’s a departure from style, it’s still the same guy. That’s been perceived as me determined that they dislike this film and/or do not go see it. On the contrary, they can go see it. I encourage my friends to see new things. But, like the warning label on a container with arsenic or cyanide, I’m at least trying to prepare them. Granted, I suppose the best tactic isn’t saying “you’re going to hate this film”, but I think I actually started off by saying, “This film isn’t what it appears to be, so don’t go in expecting what’s advertised”. No. I’d rather have them go in knowing what they’re going to see and dislike it, or maybe even like it, than go in just going by the trailers and coming out pissed. It hurts my soul when my friends slam my favorite films. I love when my friends expand their cinematic horizons, open their minds, and see something radically different from what they normally see. But, I don’t love it when their reactions are the stuff of knee jerk immediacy. My point being: Give it a chance, but know what you’re getting into.
- That said, I have to hand it to Korine and his producers for one of the smartest marketing schemes since… Magic Mike. But it might be even smarter because it isn’t only the stars of the film that have mass appeal, but the subject matter (even though I personally find that a tad concerning). It claims to be as bawdy and raunchy as some of the elemental stuff in Animal House, Project X (groans), Road Trip, and a long line of films about irresponsible teens. But what this film has is a weird look at the repercussions (or not) of that irresponsibility; what these kinds of people will do for pleasure and paradise; and forgetting it all once it’s over.
So, that took a long time. I’m pretty psyched for the film. I’ll have to go back to investigate more of Korine’s work beforehand, but “this is what life is all about, y’all!”
Cinema forever, y’all!