May 26, 2011 / Filmwell
Kenji Koiso has his summer vacation all planned out: he and his friend Sakuma have …
August 12, 2010
Here comes Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.
I’ve been curious about it, but then a critic put into words the very problem that has made me suspicious.
That critic is MaryAnn Johanson.
I know, I know: It’s all supposed to be “funny” and “cute” and “lighthearted.” But for as long as “women as trophies, as prizes for men who do heroic deeds” has been an unfortunate trope of Hollywood, a movie has never been this blatant, this outrageous, this nonchalant about it. And while there’s lots that is indeed funny and cute and lighthearted … there is no sense of satire in the unmetaphoric winning of Ramona. All the style is nothing but a would-be “sweet” metaphor for men treating women as property… and woman acquiescing to being treated that way.
If this is true, Scott Pilgrim is really going to bother me.
In this season of “Team Edward” versus “Team Jacob,” one of the oldest and most revolting conventions of storytelling is going strong: The idea that the search for love is a battlefield where warriors must best one another in the contest for a mate. This reduces the realm of relationships to a nature documentary, insulting the intelligence of women by making them spectators, or worse, trophies. And it does young men a disservice by making them equate manhood with aggression and physical strength.
From the get-go, the trailers and book summaries for Scott Pilgrim have bothered me. If any girl had ever said to me, “I like you, but you’ll have to fight my ex-boyfriends and suitors to get me,” I’d have walked away at once. Relationships aren’t a competition or a game.
I tried to make it seem … like an unreliable narrator. In film, I like this idea that [Scott Pilgrim is] the hero of the movie inside his own head. A life of gaming brought him up to be somebody — he’s not selfish, but he’s definitely kind of thoughtless. He’s the hero of his own story, and he’s quite single-minded. In the film, he doesn’t think about the feelings of the characters around him, or the consequences of some of his actions. He sort of views Ramona like she’s a shiny object in a game. I like the fact that the movie is about, to some extent, him getting his comic comeuppance.
So, I’m eager to see the movie.
Does it reinforce the idea that women are trophies that men must do battle to win? Or does it expose the folly of that perspective?
Will the film encourage mature relationships between the sexes, or affirm the unhealthy conventions that men should compete for a chance to own and exploit beautiful damsels in distress?
Jeffrey Overstreet watches far too many movies, writes film reviews and two weekly columns for ChristianityTodayMovies.com, maintains the Web site LookingCloser.org, contributes to Paste Magazine, and is at work on a series of novels. He works at Seattle Pacific University.