Sunday, April 18, 2010

So much Hubub over Hit Girl

{Oh hey, there's gonna be some [SPOILERS!!!] floating around in here, so beware and be aware.}

Ok, I'm a comic book reader and a feminist (not even one in quotes, you guys! And no, I don't castrate people, and I don't hate men. Now that that's out of the way...).

Yes, there's no denying that the film "Kick Ass" is:

a) NOT for children
b) An imperfect film
c) Better than most of the crap that's been released in the last few months, yes, "Clash of the Titans" I'm looking at you.

And as far as Hit Girl is concerned, I love her, she's fantastic.  No, she's not some perfect feminist miracle baby of justice and righteousness. She's just a little girl, with big guns, a lot of moxie, and tactical martial arts training.  I don't care that she uses the word cunt, I don't care that she skewers some chick into a door with short swords, I don't even really care that she was shot and fell out of a window. (Although the whole FPS cam night-vision-goggles-with-tactical-knife-and-pistol scene was pretty awesome)

I like her as a character, and for the people who say that she should be more affected by the killing she does, (un)realistically she's been training for this since she was 5 years old.  Her life is like a childhood fantasy game, and for all intents and purposes she's a female Robin; with the difference being that Batman is her biological father rather than a father figure.  The film is meant to be a showcase displaying "what would happen if superheroes really existed", and aside from being a biological female, she's no different than the Dark Knight's brightly costumed buddy.  Hit Girl's life is clearly a lot more dangerous, but that's because it's happening in the "real" world (yep, both italicized and in quotes).  Let's not forget that these people are trying to kill her and it's not like she doesn't acknowledge the threat or reality of death.  Both when she was almost killed by Razul's doorman, and when her father is essentially burned alive, you see through the superhero into the eyes of a little girl.  She is powerful, but real and occasionally frightened.

The other complaint I've heard is about the fact that Hit Girl, because she was trained by her father, is not so much empowered as a power tool for the patriarchy.  But I disagree, in fact, one thing I'm pleased about with respect to Hit Girl's relationship with her father is that after Big Daddy dies (and she avenges him), she goes back to school and begins to live as an actual child.  It's as if in seeking recompense for her father's death she is effectively severed from his official influence.  She gains her own agency and with all the power he taught her to master, she is free to make her own decisions, to use said power as she sees fit.

But let's turn the tables: if Hit Girl was trained by her mother (Hit Mama/Mommy) people would complain about the use of the femme fatale trope.  Critics would be upset that (what is intended to pass as) an empowered woman is being portrayed seeking insane vengeance at the expense of their child, thus dehumanizing them both.  Now, that doesn't make this films problems ok, but it does mean that this is a movie and sometimes as people who analyze society (myself included) it's very easy to look for the negatives, to see oppression in everything.  It doesn't mean it isn't ever there, but sometimes there's more value to something that hasn't been dissected until it's unrecognizable.  Which I guess is the point I want to make about this film and Hit Girl specifically, give your kids/the rest of society a bit more credit, they can distinguish fantasy from reality and for the most part they have common sense.  And if you're really that concerned about it, that's what discussion is for, friend.

My favorite part about this hullaballoo is that Hit Girl has completely overshadowed the character of Kick Ass, although from what I've heard Millar originally wanted to write the comic about just Hit Girl and her father, but didn't think people would be able to relate to the characters.  I wonder how he feels about all this...


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