VIOLENCE AND WOMEN
Today the much-anticipated Quentin Tarantino
killa-thrilla Kill Bill: Volume 1
opens in theaters. I'm looking forward to catching it this weekend; it's been a fairly barren movie season lately, so I'm jumping on the chance to see something that looks as funky as this.
I hope it's good so that I can look forward to Volume 2
I chatted briefly about Kill Bill
this morning with my coworker Janell. She's reluctantly going to see this film because her boyfriend is charge up for it. She doesn't think she'll like it too much because, even though she likes Tarantino's other movies, this one looks like it's going to be too violent, which turns her off (we're both going solely by the previews). I pressed her on it: What makes this movie look more violent than most other action films? She couldn't quite put her finger on it. I asked her if she liked Reservoir Dogs
, Tarantino's debut film; she did. So I pointed out how ultra-violent that one was. She agreed.
At that point, she touched on what it was that made her so uneasy about Kill Bill
: The violence was being committed by women, instead of men. That seemed not-quite-right to her, almost incongruous. Not that women aren't capable of violence, but the kind of in-your-face, extreme stuff didn't seem to her to look right coming from female characters. But she saw no problem with male characters doing that--that was normal. At this point, I made a crack about the Miller Lite catfight commercials
, and to my surprise, Janell did latch onto those as an example of what she was talking about, nearly equating the imagery from Kill Bill
with what she considered to be titillatingly exploitative eye candy. She even described the action in the film as containing "scantilly-clad girls" beating up on each other; I pointed out to her that, as far as the previews go, I haven't seen any evidence of lots of skin, and she admitted that neither had she. That tells me she pretty much assumed, sight unseen, that since there was lots of violence, it followed that there must be the complementary amount of sexual imagery as well.
I was getting a kick out of the rationale, while also considering how much truth there was to it. Is there a big built-in, visual appeal to this movie by virtue of having a bunch of hot chicks kick serious ass? Probably. Even I think so: Consider my brief comments when news of this flick surfaced over the summer
: "A bunch of babes doing kung-fu moves? Punch my ticket."
My early expectations were that this film would combine sex and violence--even though it appears, upon deeper inspection, that it's much heavier on the violence than the sex.
The thing is, I'm sure most of the audience will go in thinking, at least subconciously, that they're in for plenty of skin. Why is that? You don't have that expectation in a typical action flick. Is it just an automatic assumption that if women are engaged in something like this, sex is part of the equation? This opens up plenty of cultural and cross-gender arguments.
In any case, this sounds like a recipe for box office bonanza. I'm sure it'll open at No. 1.
: Yup, it opened at No. 1
. Not that that means as much as it used to; odds are it won't still be in the top spot next week.
I also went to see it this weekend. It delivered what I expected, with some significant curveballs in there, like an extended anime
sequence. Very entertaining stuff. As I expected, it was all violence, no skin and very little mention, even, of sex. Like I said, the incoming perception was very different from what actually wound up onscreen.
I'd take issue with the "ultraviolence" description that's being tossed around regarding this flick. It's getting that tag because of all the blood splattering. Yet to me, it was cartoonish violence. The firehose-like gushing of red every time a limb or head was chopped off inspired more humor in me than revulsion; I'd even venture to guess that that's the intent. There's a big difference between blood and gore, and Kill Bill
does not really display any gory stuff. Or maybe I'm just desensitized to violent imagery; I am a child of the 80s, after all.