Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Movie Review: Willie Dynamite: A Feminist Blaxploitation Pimp Movie?

So I fucking love From Dusk Till Dawn, both the show and the movie . And I would be lying to both myself and my audience if I didn't say that part of that was  their indulgence in the male gaze. I am human and both Salma Hayek and Eiza Gonz├ílez are a beautiful ladies.

That having been said I stupidly made a Google alert for Gamergate and am still getting "notifications" about the stupid. Why do I do this to myself?

Anyway my love of b. movie shlock makes me question how and why I said everything I vocalized during my twitter flame ups.

In a nutshell I can make it gel because of how I view the media landscape and the marketplace of ideas.

I view each piece of media as a way for it's creators to either do or say something meaningful to themselves even if what thier saying or doing is just commenting on something else somebody else said or did as in the case of most of the Tarantino ouvre. And in my view that big wibbly wobbly ball of stuff is "the way things should be dig it."

Most of my more interesting ideas come from studying the intertextuality of media, how does one piece work within the context of everything said and done around it, and my overall problem with Gamergate, among other things is that it refused to acknowledge that that intertextuality exists and should be studied, rather than sealing off each game as it's own little bubble.

Media is a lot more fun and interesting when it exists as a millue, an on going debate about the ideas the media presents and media itself.

And thus I present to you Willie Dynamite.

At first glance Willie Dynamite looks like the million and one disposable Superfly knock offs when it slowly becomes clear it's an anti-Superfly movie.

The movie exists to point out exactly why Superfly is a jackass and make him as miserable and pathetic as possible.

While yes it does have something to say about literal sexworkers it uses Willie D and the pimp archetype he represents as a metaphor for the male patriarchy. The only unambigously good character walks into Willies' place tells the prostitutes that Willie is worthless scum and is using them for his own ends, and that they should unionize because, "We're doing it for ourselves"

What makes the movie interesting is how long the movie can juggle being both a shameless blaxplotation movie and a vicious condemnation of the same. And that's both it's strength and weakness.

It juxaposes the junky shlocky tropes of say Dolimite with the composition, and themes of The Wire, never letting the audience get quite in the mental groove it takes to enjoy one of these types of movies.

The epitome  of this are the jail scenes where shots of cinematic Joyce Walker are intercut with women who look a bit harder which mostly means without a bunch of make up but hey film is a visual media.

You know at first I was set to hate this movie because Willie is one of the most dispicable characters I've seen on film and but pretty soon it becomes clear that's on purpose as the film wants the audience to enjoy taking him and by extension both the pimp genre and the male patriarchy he represents down a few pegs.

The third act is basiccally realizing that his talk in the first half of the movie was just that, talk as the movie proceeds to strip him of all his "pimptasticness".

In a normal Hollywood lesson this would be about Willie learning some sort of lesson about the price of gold or some such.

This is not that movie. Well it is but ...

Okay Willie D. does the obligatory last shoot out every crime movie has to do.

But rather than being funny, or spectacular, in this movie it's just kind of pathetic as it's slowly ripped all the "movieness" away from Willie. He's just a broken pathetic asshole with a gun. And the movie is about both him and the audience realizing that.

Not unlike Fujiko Mine the movie has the quasi guilt about ripping itself up. "Willie please don't hate me for what I've done." Both admit that yeah there is a place for that stuff but this one. This one has to do it's own thing and if that thing means killing your darlings to make a point so be it. And that's the point of the ending. The movie looking at the audience and going. "I'm sorry you had to see that but it needed to be done."

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