Monday, April 19, 2010

Violence Comes In Many Forms

Last night, after waiting and waiting for what seemed like a year, I got to see the new movie Kick-Ass which just opened in theatres here in Canada on April 16th.
For those of you that don’t know much about this movie, watch the trailer:

Basically, Kick-Ass is about a group of vigilantes masquerading as ‘real’ super heroes in New York City.
The story centres on Dan, a horny, nerdy high school student with a fond love for Kleenex and comic books—his two best friends are pretty much the same.
Sick and tired of getting mugged by two neighbourhood thugs on a daily basis, he wonders why the millions and millions of comic book fans have never attempted to be real super heroes so he decides to be the first. 
Or so he thought.

Long story short, he bites off more than he can chew when he meets Hit Girl, the 11-year-old super hero with a potty mouth, heavy artillery and a Dad out for revenge. (really, her name should be Kick-Ass because that’s basically what she does throughout the entire film)

I won’t lie; this film is violent but it’s no more violent than any other action film. Perhaps people think it’s more violent than it really is because the story focuses on a young girl and a group of na├»ve teenagers. Or maybe I’ve watched so much violence on TV/movies in my life that I'm immune to it.
This a strong possibility.

A lot of critics, including Roger Ebert who gave the film only one star, have panned this movie because of this type of violence:
“Shall I have feelings, or should I pretend to be cool? Will I seem hopelessly square if I find “Kick-Ass” morally reprehensible and will I appear to have missed the point? Let's say you're a big fan of the original comic book, and you think the movie does it justice. You know what? You inhabit a world I am so very not interested in. A movie camera makes a record of whatever is placed in front of it, and in this case, it shows deadly carnage dished out by an 11-year-old girl, after which an adult man brutally hammers her to within an inch of her life. Blood everywhere. Now tell me all about the context.”  Roger Ebert

I’ll admit, that scene that Ebert mentioned, the adult man fighting Hit Girl, was kind of difficult to watch but it was hardly a blood bath.  Or 'blood everywhere' as Ebert says.
I wonder if Roger Ebert would feel the same if the 11-year-old girl were an 11-year-old boy?  After all, girls are supposed to be ‘sugar and spice and everything nice’, right?

Which brings me to something interesting that I witnessed a couple of weeks ago.

I attended the lovely wedding of a good friend of mine who had a typical Italian wedding in which the reception took place at a lavish banquet hall.
After dinner, the DJ played (very loudly) some hot new pop/dance songs to get people up and onto the dance floor.
The first brave souls to enter the empty dance floor were the nieces and nephews of the Bride & Groom, ranging in ages of about six to twelve—most were girls.
Everyone watched and clapped along as the kids danced and sang to one of Kesha’s songs (a 23-year-old American pop star with a very large tween/teen following) which include lyrics about brushing her teeth with a bottle of Jack Daniels and boys trying to touch her ‘junk’.  The young girls knew every, single word.
Now, did they know what these words meant? Who knows? 
Perhaps only the proud, clapping parents know the answer to that.

Later on in the night, the DJ played Lady GaGa’s song called ‘Love Game’ which includes lyrics about asking a potential lover if she can take a ride on his disco stick and confirming that she’s been “educated in sex”.
All the little girls knew this song word-for-word as well.

Maybe I’m too sensitive (and a little too feminist, if there is such a thing) but I find this appalling. I also find it appalling that parents of these young girls see absolutely nothing wrong with this but think that cursing and ‘violence’ on TV & movies is wrong.
Excuse me but I think our over sexed society, as it pertains to young girls is far more damaging.  I find this to be the real violence in our culture.  It's a violence against innocence and morality.

These parents are probably the same people that think shows like The Bachelor, Toddlers & Tiaras, The Real Housewives of Orange County, etc. etc. etc. are good old-fashioned family television shows, thus confirming to their young daughters that looks and sex appeal are more important than any other quality she will ever have—including brains.

So, what’s worse?  An outrageous 11-year-old girl who likes to go after the bad guys and uses the word ‘cunt' now and then or an 11-year-old girl who thinks it’s cute to be drunk, stupid and promiscuous?

Hell, if I had an 11-year-old daughter and I had to choose, I would rather hear the sporadic ‘fuck’ or ‘shit’ from her any day (I can probably live without the Uzis, Hit Girl) over a child singing along to lyrics like “don’t be a little bitch with your chit chat, just show me where your dick’s at”, “ain’t got a care in the world but got plenty of beer” and “I wanna take a ride on your disco stick”.

But, that’s just me.


Jai Joshi said...

I absolutely agree. Most of the pop music these days is awful and I can't stand listening to it myself letting alone letting kids listen to it.


Anonymous said...

I agree too. Unfortunately, it's not as simple as banning it at home. I don't let my girl to listen to this crap but she still manages to memorize the lyrics off school mates and sings about brushing her teeth with a bottle of jack when she thinks I'm not listening. She's 9!

The dilemma is if you go down too hard, it is bound to inspire backlash. But you can't just stand aside and allow it to happen. So we talk.

Ann Marie Gamble said...

I think you ought to find out, though, whether the Kesha-allowing adults do turn a blind eye to violence--Ebert the movie critic I think does a pretty good job generally about critiquing the failure to let kids be kids on all topics (advertisements dressed as movies for kids being another example).

I agree that it's not as simple as what they listen to. It's showing a kid that adults have got their backs--they don't need to don the superhero suit, because their grownups are there for them and will take care of them.

The Uneasy Writer said...

All I can say is God bless all you Mom's out there. You have your work cut out for you.