Monday, January 8

Children of Men



Children of Men has got my interest piqued, I have to admit. I saw the title tossed around during Slate's latest Movie Club (which was superb fun to read) and then Phil talked about wanting to see it. He showed me the trailer and I was all, "That is completely fucked-up bullshit, dude!" A movie about women not being able to have babies as the catalyst for the apocalypse and the meltdown of human society is pretty strange and slightly unnerving, especially since every day you can, if you pay attention, find a story or two about the alarming rate at which Western (particularly parts of European) society is neglecting to breed, breed, breed.

Take that alarmism about fertility and birth rates and the perpetuation of the species (and, at least here in Real Life, the perpetuation of certain races and ethnicities) and place it neatly under the umbrella of a title that removes women from the equation or marginalizes them with ambiguous language that could not have been chosen haphazardly* — Children of Men — and you've quite possibly got a formula for a preachy movie about how Special women are for what their bellies can do and how they need to be saved so that the children of men can continue to be born and flourish and create a new world and, most important of all, hope.

It's probably not the worst message ever (babies are special and women are special for shouldering the childbirth responsibility), but it's still pretty icky.

And then the more I thought about it, the more I decided that I should just go see the movie because A) I love me some Alfonso Cuarón and B) Trailers for complicated political/philosophical films often twist the narrative arc to fit the trailer format, and there's just no good way to tell much about the film from the trailer, beyond, "Hey, why did the pregnant woman have to get totally naked to show Clive Owen she was preggers?"

I've been looking around on the interweb for some takes on this film, and I found out that the author of the original novel, P.D. James, is a conservative Anglican Briton, so that sort of throws the film into an even more complicated light.

I've seen the movie called both feminist and post-feminist, but not anti-feminist. It's been endorsed by self-identified feminists and at least one MRA site (the "save the males" one) is telling its readers to save their money and skip it. That's encouraging.

Basically, what I'm looking for is a movie with some fucking feminism it. Not the limp, "love yourself and do what you want!" feminism of Diane Keaton movies. Not the "be self-reliant and quirky and the dudes will flock to you" "feminism" of Bridget Jones.

I want a visceral, futuristic, realistic, sci-fi thriller with a complicated but cohesive message and perspective that, despite the gloominess of the subject matter, gives hope but not in that superficial, condescending "women are the saviors of the world!" way that is not unlike when people argue, as a rebuttal to the complaint that there are not enough women in power in the world, that "women let men think they run the world" or "my wife runs my life, hyuk!" I want something subversive, I want something that gives the dominant patriarchal order the finger and refuses to reinforce it for old time's sake or for the comfort of the audience.

Granted, I'm not sure how much of that can be done in a movie based on a book by a conservative writer — regardless of her gender — but I'm willing to pay $8 to find out.

* I know that good writers never choose words without thinking about them, so I'm positive there is some significance to the "men" in the title. I'm just hoping for some poignance because if it's just a generic stand-in for "humankind," I'm going to be disappointed.

5 Comments:

Blogger ml said...

I saw it and it's not a feminist movie. I'm confused about what the intended message is supposed to be, but i think it's worth the $8.

Tue Jan 09, 04:03:00 PM  
Blogger theogeo said...

Aw, crap. Figures. It was wishful thinking anyway.

Oh well, I'll still go see it.

Wed Jan 10, 01:27:00 AM  
Blogger TVonthefritz said...

I loved 'Something's Gotta Give.' It made me feel squishy inside.

Wed Jan 10, 03:18:00 PM  
Blogger fearlessvk said...

for some truly feminist filmmaking, check out Born in Flames - it's feminist in the die-hard uncompromising way that only early 80s avant-garde new york filmmaking can be. it's about a full-on feminist revolution - for real.

Wed Jan 10, 09:43:00 PM  
Blogger theogeo said...

I'm adding it to my queue.

And yes, I am a total tool for writing that just now.

Thu Jan 11, 12:46:00 AM  

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