Jane Eyre, Sucker Punch, and Feminism
First, a confession--I think I'm one of the few who saw "Sucker Punch", and thought it was a pretty good movie. Most seem to think it was rather bad.
Here's what the Sojo writer had to say about it.
The other feminist film of the moment Sucker Punch suffers from a similar response. The film itself is a brilliant exploration of the history of the struggle against patriarchy. It portrays young girls who have been betrayed by imposed fathers (stepfathers and priests) being shut away and taken advantage of because they are women. Their attempt to escape this imprisonment is depicted through dream sequences that use Jungian symbolism to show them entering worlds typically controlled by men — church, battlefields, fortresses, and technology — and conquering them in order to escape them. They had to play by the rules of these worlds and demonstrate that they could dominate in these realms in order to move past them. In the end, it is a deconstruction of these realms that leads to a better world for the girls.
Yet the film itself follows the same format. It accepts the genre of fan-boy action films and subverts it. The girls look like the typical mindless sex toy — with the costumes, lollipops, and choreographed moves expected in that genre — but don’t embody these roles. Instead, they are portrayed this way in order to enter an oppressive realm and expose it for what it is. But of course, the average movie-goer can’t get past the trappings and understand the commentary. They want it to be a straight fan-boy film full of babes with guns that they can ogle at, and therefore criticize Sucker Punch for not meeting their expectations. The message is lost on them for they came expecting the very thing the film serves to deconstruct. Who can hear the feminist message when they are upset that they weren’t titillated enough by the eye-candy?
While I'm rather please that someone else seemed to like it, too, some of her statements make me go "Huh?"
For example, "The film itself is a brilliant exploration of the history of the struggle against patriarchy. It portrays young girls who have been betrayed by imposed fathers (stepfathers and priests) being shut away and taken advantage of because they are women." The main heroine of the movie does have an abusive step-father, but he is one of the obvious villains because he is abusive. And to use him as a stand-in for patriarchy seems rather outlandish.
Also, there is a priest in only one part of the movie, in one of the imagined sequences which mirror what is happening in real life. The priest in this part stands in for the girl's step-father, so as you can imagine, he isn't a good guy. He's pretty much handing the girl over to the owner of a go-go club, again mirror the step-father handing her over to the mental institution and paying to have her labotomized so as to keep her from giving testimony to an incident that led to the shooting death of her sister.
Concerning her claim that it all leads to "a better world for the girls", of the five of them, by the end of the movie, three are dead, and one is a mental vegetable. And one is left to wonder if even the supposed happy ending for one of the girls was little more than a continuation of the dreams. While one may say that justice was being served, that the bad guys were being found out and would eventually pay for what they'd done, there is little doubt that the cost was high and could not be refunded.
Perhaps her critique of the critics is warranted, but then, considering how the movie advertised itself in the cinemas, with large posters and standing displays, if her criticism is valid, one could also say that the viewers were subjected to a bait-and-switch. For my own part, when I saw the displays and posters, my thought was that it would be only typical fluff, perhaps some good FX but not very deep, and it wasn't until I saw a trailer for it that I thought there might be much more to it.
So, while not putting it past Hollywood to push feminism, I'm not sold on the notion that this movie is some kind of feminist rant, at least to the extent that she portrays it to be. If one took a movie with a rather similar plot, like "The A-Team" from last year (falsely accused prisoners, escape attempts), would she be so ready to say that it was some kind of polemic about "masculinism", or the military?