Is It Just Me?

Everyone in the house is asleep but me, which means, if you could tune out the noise of the TV, you’d hear the soft snores of man and beast. There’s something very happy in having a pile of sleeping beings on the couch.

Still, the dog is lucky there are other folks trying to sleep, or I’d be standing right next to her yelling, “Hey, hey! What’s that noise? Is that the sun? Shouldn’t you get up right now?” because not everyone in the world likes to be woken up at 6:30 on a Sunday morning and damn it, I want revenge.

We went to the first showing of the new Batman movie, which is just as good as you’ve already heard, so I’ll spare you yet another amateur review.

Still, there’s something going on with the women in these superhero movies that I just don’t like and I don’t quite know how to talk about it because there’s not just one thing that I point to and use it to show you what the problem is. It’s just that I came out of this movie with the same thought nagging me that I had when I walked out of the Spidermans: I hate… that might be too strong a word… I strongly dislike the lead female characters.

When we were talking about the Batman movie, I asked the Butcher, is it just me or is Katie Holmes’s character kind of a bitch? And he said it was just me, that I was being distracted by her real-world craziness.

But no, I don’t think so.

Okay, in part, what bugs me is that the women in these movies are so sure that they know the whole truth about the main character that they feel free to criticize actions they don’t fully understand. In other words, they think they’re providing the voice of reason, the moral check-point the main character really needs, when we know that they don’t have enough information, especially the crucial information, to make those judgments. And then, when it becomes obvious to them that the main character can’t be the person the female character constructed in her head and has been goading the male character to be, she withdraws.

It’s not just that she pulls away because he’s not the person she thought he was; she pulls away because he can’t be the person she thought he was without endangering the rest of the city. In other words, she seems to kind of punish him for choosing the city over her, even though there’s no indication that that’s the choice he has to make.

And it bothers me that she’s made to seem inadvertently bitchy and non-understanding. And you know me, it’s not like I think that women have some obligation to be overly understanding, but my god, you’d think these superhero movie women would consider for a second that they don’t know everything there is to know.

So, I’m bothered that they’re characterized as bossy and slightly sanctimonious and that, of course, their sanctimony is utterly misguided. I mean, why is it always “of course.” Why are the women always misguided? Is this a kind of object lesson in not worrying our pretty little heads because we don’t know as much as the big strong man?

Hmm. I don’t know if that’s quite it. But there’s something going on that I’m sure in twenty or thirty years we’ll look at all these superhero movies and feminist theorists will be able to say really smart things about what’s going on with the portrayal of women, but for now, I don’t even quite know how to articulate what bothers me, just that there’s something hinkey.

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