Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Do We Need to Fix "Man" Movies and How?

So an ongoing discussion in the video game community is gender politics. Or more specifically how can video games retain some of their classic yet somewhat insensitive tropes while at the same time being more inclusive to women. Or to put it another way. Hey I like Dead or Alive the fighting game. I knew some girls growing up who liked Dead or Alive the fighting game.

Those same girls don't want to have anything to do with it because of Dead or Alive the beach volleyball game.

And yes I am going to be one of those guys who says that D.O.A. did have an innovative fluid hold/counter system and I wasn't just playing it for the jiggle physics. If you knew how to play it was more complex than most of its competition. Not to mention the level design. You could throw a guy off of infinite cliffs, or with a well placed kick break into a new level.

But now the entire series is a joke, known only as a cheap way to get character models in more and more scant thongs.

Anyway as evidenced by my reference materials I am a little out of the loop on video games. I still play them but I'm not the kid with the allowance anymore so dropping 60 bucks on games whenever I want isn't feasible.

But I do watch a heck of a lot of movies.  And every now and again I get a craving for "Man" movies. Specifically The Warriors which is one of my favorites.

Okay if you've never seen the movie and don't have two hours watch D12's and Eminem's "Fight Music" video which is an homage... or as close to a remake as you get in 5 minutes without inter-character dialogue.

I love this movie. I mean it. For a time this was one of my go to Friday features along with Sin City and Fight Club. But I am willing to admit it is mildly masochistic.

The Chicks Are Packed

There is an idea a not compleatly wrong idea that guys get stupid when we think with our second brain. And so when for whatever reason a writer needs a plausible reason for a guy to do something stupid insert hot chick. Unfortunately this carries the connotation that what ever consequences of doing the stupid thing were the woman's fault, and some stories like the above will even carry it further into full on deviousness. Hell this is an old one. Circe baby.

Heck the whole turned into pigs thing is a great scene but if I swapped half a chromosome I might little pissed at the ultimate guile hero's tales of adventure.

Anyway back to the Warriors, what ultimately saves the group is Rembrandt's Chastity. There are a couple of ways to read that. One interesting way to read it is that Rembrandt's gay and that his ability to not get distracted by the prospect of sex with a woman is something much needed he brings to the group more than making up for the fact that physically he's probably the weakest fighter but the more traditional reading is that he's the only guy smart enough to believe that a bunch of hot woman coming out of nowhere offering sex and good times is probably trouble. Beware women for they come from hell.

The while I like the scene with the Lizzies, it's not one of my favorites. It serves the narrative purpose of revealing to the Warriors why everyone is after them, but as a scene on it's own it's an excuse to see women making out on camera. You know what scene I would complain about if they touched it.

The Orphans
Okay let me explain. The plot of the movie is that the eponymous gang, the warriors, have been framed for the murder of the leader of the largest gang and most powerful gang in New York. His lieutenant puts out a hit on the guys, who due to a multi-gang parley set up at the late Cyrus' behest are behind enemy lines. The movie is about them, "bopping their way back to Coney" Island their home turf where in theory they'll be safe.

On the way they meet the gang The Orphans who are so low on the totem pole that none of this news has reached them. The warriors are on their way to convincing the leader of the Orphans to let them walk on through no problem when his girlfriend shows up, demanding that he forces them to remove their vests as a token gesture of sovereignty. It's a tense scene. Which I can't find except as a cut scene from the pretty decent game based on the movie.

As the movie puts it Mercy, is "trouble on two legs" the resulting rumble is a framed as an  avoidable conflict caused by her interference in the deliberations, and that things would have been simpler if Sully, who while antagonizing the heroes is presented as a pretty amiable guy, had just ignored her. Heck part of me wishes they made a movie just following around that guy, a nice guy who has to play tough to be taken seriously even by his friends.

All of that is encapsulated by the conversation with Mercy and changing it changes the character and the scene but in the context of everything else it's not a good look.

The Citizen's Arrest
Again in this movie is seems that women are the source of all these guys problems and nothing is more complicated than how Ajax goes down.

Ajax has been set up for the whole movie as being the thug. Think Jayne Cobb 1.0. He's big and mean which makes him useful, but he's also not to bright which makes him annoying to just about everyone. Dude is a horndog, and has been complaining all night about the lack of tail, and then he comes accross a woman on a park bench who he thinks is easy pickings. He takes things too far tries to rape her and get's what's comin' to him.

It's a complicated scene. On it's own yeah it's not that bad. But in the context of the film remember that Ajax is one of the good guys. Sure he's their token evil teammate but he's still thier teammate and the film wants you to feel bad whenever one of them gets taken out. Heck you even get shots of his friends mournfully watching all this go down and discussing whether they should help him out and risk getting busted themselves.

In a way the WOMAN WHO HE TRIES TO RAPE is framed as just one more bad thing that happened that night. Though the movie does make it clear that Ajax was hoist by his own petard.

The Take
I love this movie absolutely. It's a fun example of late 70's exploitation movies. I am glad it exists. But well it is what it is. I want a world where movies like it can be made, but I also want a world where women could feel comfortable watching these types of movies.

First of of let's make the cast less of a sausage fest.  That doesn't seem all that hard. Most male characters in movies are gender neutral anyway so let's make an effort to give some of those roles to women.  In life half of the people you interact with are going to be the opposite gender just by shear chance, but in movies it seems characters are only written as women when there is a narrative reason for it. That right there can break suspension of disbelief, especially if that reason is stupid like you need a damsel.

Besides that a lot of things could be fixed by how things are framed. To the movie's credit it goes out of it's way to show the audience just how stupid it is that The Warriors are going to put their own personal safety on hold for the sake of getting some. It's not the Lizzies' fault these guys are idiots.

And later in the movie Mercy does get some character development making her a little more sympathetic.

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