When I sit down to watch a movie, especially one directed by Jess Franco, who is known for such sleazy, Eurotrash classics as Vampyros Lesbos and Marquis de Sade’s Justine, the VERY first thing I ask myself is, “DOES THIS PASS THE BECHDEL TEST??!!”
I have to sadly conclude that there is absolutely no way I can find a feminist justification for watching either of these movies, or practically any film I watch. Unless you count The Captive Female, where the sassy, red-headed hooker uses her feminine wiles to escape from the demented Matthew and his claw hand.
Similarly, when a couple of my buddies and I got out the popcorn and sat down to watch our Saturday night marathon of Birth of a Nation, Triumph of the Will and Jud Suss, I had to admit that it was damn near impossible to find a single egalitarian messages in any of these films. Don’t get me wrong; D.W. Griffith’s film is a masterpiece in early film making, while the feminist side of me wants to revere Leni Riefenstahl —
Okay, if you’re a modestly cultured person, you got what I was doing; I was trying to apply modern day, Social Justice Warrior critiques to movies that are completely devoid of any value we would find acceptable in our modern, politically correct world. OBVIOUSLY you wouldn’t look for egalitarian messages in Birth of a Nation – that’s the 1915 film where the KKK are the good guys and lynch a black man, who is played by a white man, after he attempts to rape Lillian Gish – or in Triumph of the Will, which is Riefenstahl’s filmed account of the Nuremberg rally or Jud Suss, a nasty anti-Jew propaganda film from Veit Harlan, who, after the fall of the Reich, went on to direct the anti-gay film, The Third Sex. Nor would you attempt to see if anything by that Spanish pervert Jess Franco passes the Bechdel Test. I was using hyperbole to make what should be a pretty obvious point.
And what point is that you ask?
Hold your horses, and this will all make sense. I just watched Davis Aurini’s brilliant documentary Immersed in Subversion: Control the Culture, Control the Man, in which Aurini discusses video game “critic” Anita Sarkeesian and her narcissistic attempt to censor speech and control the culture. In the film, Aurini points out several inconsistencies in Sarkeesian’s attacks on video games. I am not a gamer; my knowledge of video games stops in the early-mid 90s with Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo, so I haven’t played, nor care to play any of the games he’s talking about.
But, in the video, he debunks her claim that video games are sexist by pointing out that the part where you get to beat the strippers to death and drag their bodies around is only one of many possibilities, or the fact that games that feature wicked hot women in stripper costumes and have double D knockers and perfectly sculpted asses aren’t sexist because the women have parity with men who are sculpted like Greek gods. I say, “who gives a shit one way or another?”
I don’t care if EVERY video game involves some guy saving some girl from some from of peril. It’s a goddamn video game for crying out loud! If people get bored of Big Guns McGillicuddy going around blasting people and saving some “damsel in distress”, then some enterprising developer will come up with some other game that has a different story. Just the fact that he’s trying to explain why these games are “evenly balanced” is such a futile waste of time in my opinion.
That would be like me trying to explain how the 70s hard rock that I love so much isn’t sexist because, even though the Sweet song “Someone Else Will” has the lyric “if you don’t go down on us, someone else will”, it’s only speaking to a specific person and not to the whole female gender. I could then use Alice Cooper’s “Only Women Bleed” as an example of a song which shows sympathy for women, but what would be the point? Who am I trying to convince and for what purpose?
The whole argument reminds of me of some of the fantasy books I read; in Robert E. Howard’s Conan stories, the Shemites all have hooked noses and are only trustworthy when they’ve got something to gain from other races, while the dark skin races are all primitive. Conan also has the predilection for ravishing/raping women. H.P. Lovecraft repeatedly talked about his hatred for anyone who wasn’t white. Edgar Rice Burrough’s John Carter character shoots “savages” at the beginning of A Princess of Mars before being sent to Barsoom and attempting to interact with barbaric, non-white races. What about Sax Rohmer’s “yellow peril”, Fu Manchu? Shouldn’t the band Fu Manchu be yelled at for naming themselves after a character who most people would find to be an offensive stereotype of Asians?
I remember even thinking this ten years ago when I sat down with my buddy Nate and asked him why black people in his film class get so damn uptight about Birth of a Nation. He looked at me like I was being the most insensitive jerk in the world and said, “because some of them are black?” And I thought, “but they do realize the film was made a century ago and that’s the way people thought back then, right?” Many soldiers who fought during the Civil War were probably still alive when that film came out, and to them, a lot of what is in that movie holds true. Surely they can’t be that sensitive where they can’t put the film in its proper context? Geez, I wonder how they’d feel about the sympathetic treatment of the Confederate side in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly! Trigger warning!
And it got me thinking about how, in 2016, universities are a joke and how it’s impossible to look at a piece of art, literature or music objectively anymore. Somehow the piece has to be explained through a “minority” or “female” perpsective, or someone has to be criticized for having a view that isn’t in complete accordance with what is politically acceptable today. We have to watch modern films and make sure they pass the Bechdel test, or we have to bitch about how too many women are being stuffed into refrigerators.
Art is not social justice. If you’re sick of women being stuffed into refrigerators, then make a story where the women are stuffed into microwaves. If you’re sick of the “male dominated” comic book, video game or film cultures, then make your own games with your own stories.
One thing I AM grateful for is that 99.9999999% of white power bands suck ding dongs, so I don’t have to pretend to feel guilty listening to them. Well, except for this one. Objectively speaking, Hail the New Dawn by Skrewdriver really blows. Seriously, listen to it! He sounds like he has a frog in his throat, the production is total shit and the guitars aren’t loud enough! Hmm, on second thought, it’s actually kinda catchy…
I do enjoy a good Wagner score though, and I like early Disney films, and I enjoy the F.W. Murnau film The Last Laugh, which stars Emil Jannings, who became a Nazi.
So, I say go ahead, put on I Spit on Your Grave, The Bad Bunch or S.S. Hell Camp, watch women get beaten and raped, hear honkies and niggers yelling racial slurs while swinging chains at each or watch some big-bossommed Brunhilda conduct grizzly experiments on hapless victims in a Nazi torture camp, because, of all the things I look for in a movie, social responsibility just isn’t one of them.
Also, to a man, I still have no fuckin’ idea what a “trope” is. Though I do enjoy troping women when I’m at the bar.