Sunday, September 24, 2006

T2: Special Sleestak Edition

As annoyed as I am by the hyper-sexualization of female comic book characters, I am also irritated by the myth that the world would be a better place if run by women. This is a fairly recent and erroneous idea in culture because if anyone bothered to study history then they would realize that matriarchal societies are no different in practice than patriarchal. Cleopatra, anyone? Writer Brian K. Vaughn explores that very conceit in his DC Vertigo comic book series Y - The Last Man, the story of the last man on earth in a world of females. Here's a heads-up for anyone who wants to read the series...a female-led world isn't the fanboy's paradise you might think it is.

In commercials for household products men are often portrayed as bumbling clowns who don't know what toilet paper is. This is because those ads are aimed primarily at a woman who is presumed to be a homemaker. There is a reason why catch phrases such as Choosy Mothers Choose Jif or Mother Tested, Kid Approved are mom-centric. Traditionally, the media sees the woman in a household as the wise, responsible decision-maker (at least when it comes to food and cleaning supplies) even though there certainly are men who do all the shopping. Oddly, in a sort of reverse sexism, advertising routinely portrays men that are smart enough to have a career that earns enough cash for a house, a couple of SUV's and lots of nice things, who nonetheless are helpless at home and require a woman to show them how to make their whites bright and clean.

Like in advertising, there is also some sort of a perverse arrogance seen in drama and action films. Often the female character is shown to be a logical mediator and spiritual force of good, someone that has a special connection with the universe because they can bear children and because of it have a unique insight (This not the positive message some may think it is because it portrays women in a way that grants them value only if treated as breeding creches).

When chaos and conflict erupt it is often given to the woman to scold the warring males, shaming them with harsh yet kind words of tough-love as if she were, somehow, transformed in that moment from flawed human being to faultless Saint! I call this the Sarah Connor Syndrome.

A good example of the woman-as-creative-force conceit was in an awkward scene from Terminator 2: Judgement Day. After failing to ambush and murder a scientist in front of his family, paranoid urban-guerrilla Sarah Connor (and the audience) misses the irony and denounces the world of men by shoving her uterus in the faces of everyone present. She decries what men accomplish, sermonizing that all of man's work is nothing in comparison to giving birth.

As much as I enjoyed T2 for it's kickassery and awesome special effects that scene rang hollow and bothered me when I first saw it years ago in the theatre. It still annoys me enough that even now when watching T2 on DVD I use the fast forward button to skip through the offending scene.

So today when I watched T2 for the hundredth time I decided it was time to show the world how the Sarah Connor scene should have actually played out. Originally, Sarah Connor nags everyone and her son asks her to be quiet.

If I had directed T2 instead of James Cameron, it would have played something like this:


"Men like you...built the hydrogen bomb. Men like you...thought it up. You think you're so creative. You don't know what it's like to really create something. To create a life, to feel it growing inside you. All you know how to create is DEATH!"


"What about crack babies?"


"CREATORS OF DEEEAAATHHH....uhm, what?"


"Babies. Born addicted to crack and suffering permanent disabilities because their mothers were abusing drugs while pregnant."


"...."


"Women who supposedly have this unique perspective and empathy about life yet who willfully harms their unborn, developing baby by repeatedly smoking meth doesn't seem very 'creative' to me."


"Er...MENNNNNNNN! MEEEEEEEENNNNNNN! CREATORS OF DEAAAAAAAATH!"


"Damn. That bitch is crazy."

See? Entirely free of any feminazi propaganda the scene is more realistic and even-handed. The movie would have been all the better for my version.

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14 comments:

  1. Man that would've been sweet.

    If I ever make a movie where a robot from the future goes back in time to save the mother of a future leader, I'm gonna call on you for that scene.

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  2. I don't disagree at all with your main point, but that first sentence sets up a false equivalency. That whole "nurturing earth mother" thing isn't some kind of reverse sexism, or a sign of feminism gone haywire...it's just another flavor of old-fashioned garden variety sexism. Just because some women buy into it and promulgate it doesn't make it less sexist and objectifying.

    That very scene in T2 made me wanto to vomit...but then, so does any use of the phrase "feminazi."

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  3. I used the term 'reverse sexism' because like Cameron, I'm applying the concept to it's simplest cliched meaning. Me, Tarzan. You, Jane. Men, bad. Women, good.

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  4. "That very scene in T2 made me wanto to vomit...but then, so does any use of the phrase "feminazi.""

    I completely agree with rab on this point.

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  5. Okay, see I think you are missing the point with T2. Sarah Conner is a paranoid psycho. Just because she happens to be correct doesn't make her sane. Her speech at this point just shows how far she is from her trolley.

    And as for the whole "the world would be a better place if it was ruled by women" idea, you are overgeneralising. What you need to understand is that the world doesn't need to be ruled by women in general, just me.

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  6. Uh... Cleopatra didn't rule a matriarchy. And the whole 'women are so special because they can have baaaaabeeees' thing is part and parcel of the patriarchy, and just another way for men to encourage women to see themselves as mothers and domestic servants. It's called chivalric sexism.

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  7. If I dodn't over-generalize things like the definition of Cleopatra's reign then this post would have been over 50,000 words long.

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  8. The expressions of the entire cast in this last still are perfect.

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  9. Don't worry, Sleestak. We still love ya!

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  10. Don't forget that when Sarah goes on that rant, everybody else in the room (male and female) looks at her like she's taken leave of her senses, and John says, "Uh - Mom? Can we stay on track here...?" (Or a very similar phrase - my T2 DVD is buried in a moving box somewhere in my office....)

    I pretty sure Cameron's intentions in that scene were the same as yours, Sleestak - he just did it tighter so he could get onto the next big action setpiece,

    Best,
    Tim Liebe
    Dreaded Spouse-Creature of Tamora Pierce - and co-author of Marvel's upcoming WHITE TIGER comic!

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  11. I'm not so sure. According to the DVD commentary by James Cameron,

    "Men, by being nothing but wasteful seed dispensers, are inherently inferior to that which is woman. I had Sarah point this out because we, as men, need to be reminded of that every few minutes lest we forget."

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  12. Yeah, men built the atom bomb...but who created the MEN who built the bomb? That's right: God. A woman. So there, crazy lady.

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  13. Having a baby is no more "creative" than taking a dump.

    It's just a chemical reaction, no thought or effort is involved.

    And scientists are good guys ffs..

    I would have rewritten the scene thusly;

    "Men like you...cure diseases. Men like you...think things up. You think you're so creative. You don't know what it's like to really create something. To chow down a greasy burrito and a 6-pack of beer, to feel it growing inside you. All you know is REALITY!"

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