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Robots and Whores

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I am not a movie snob. My favorite movies, in fact, are “Babe”, “Bringing Up Baby”, and “Big Trouble in Little China.” Hmm, all “B” movies, weird. Anyway, I love a great summer popcorn movie as much as anyone else, and my expectations are to have fun and not have to think. But when did aiming towards 14 year old boys =hiring the skankiest stripper girls for female leads?

I’m talking of course, about Transformers. I mean, let’s be honest, if you were at a dinner table with these girls they cast, would you drink after them and not think you risked catching hepatitis? Who’s idea of attractive is this?! And they MADE THEM look like that!
I try to think to myself, whenever I make a catty comment about another actress, if it’s just jealousy or some other personal reason. But, when I heard snickering in the theater when these girls tried to seem intelligent, I felt more justified. And it wasn’t entirely the actor’s fault; this was clearly someone’s VISION of what they though the audience wanted in their female characters: Tons of makeup, whorish clothing, and terrible extensions down to their waist. One scene, it seemed like they had a PA underneath the girl shoving her boobs up so the cleavage would JUST make the bottom of the frame. It was touches like that that really gave me a real eye roll.

I would argue that yes, if you’re aiming for women OR men, attractive is important. But there is a real difference between attractive and “hire me by the hour”. It’s a cartoon look at female reality some Hollywood filmmakers seem to have when all their women characters are either Whores or Mothers. It’s an infantile view, in my opinion. If you look at Buffy, and Alias and Lost, and even the latest Die Hard with the daughter(Not the best example, but my most recent and comparable :), female characters, when conveyed as intelligent and capable, BECOME sexy, not the other way around.  I mean, who really wants to follow those girls into a sequel? If the women had been more relatable, would it have made a difference? Am I being crazy defensive feminist “bah humbug” actress girl?

  • Michael

    Honesty, I don’t for a moment think you’re being catty or bah-humbugish.

    I remember when Spider-Man first came out and the minor controversy caused when it was revealed that Kirsten Dunst’s wet shirt needed a “nipple-wrangler”. Um, yeah. Gotta get the young kids excited, right? ‘Cause they’re the ones with the spendable money the the studios covet so very much. It all went a long way in objectifying the character. In the comics, Mary Jane Watson was not only a smart-ass (the perfect foil for a shy Peter Parker), she was whip-smart, too. Her ‘figure’ wasn’t even a consideration.

    It does seem that a lot of what comes out these days is geared towards the more base side of the human animal. Earlier in the year, when Veronica Mars got canceled, initially, I was very sad. Here was a smartly written show about smartly written characters dealing with some pretty big stuff. In Veronica’s case, aside from being a social outcast, she also had to cope with family alcoholism, the loss of a parent and date rape. She did this all, survived it all, and didn’t once have to flop-out her goodies for all to see. But as time went by, my thinking began to change. Veronica Mars was perfect for UPN, but was an odd fit for The CW, who, via shows and advertising, seemed more interested in telling young women to be thin, beautiful and under-dressed as opposed to being smart, witty and resourceful.

    Another good example is Doctor Who. The Doctor’s Companions are, almost exclusively, female. But none of them are blithering dunderheads. Rather, they’re all smart and quick-witted. In the case of Rose Tyler, even though she was from the wrong side of the tracks and lacked any formal schooling, she was more then a match for the Time Lord. And all this without prancing the TARDIS in a bikini.

    Smart Girls Rule!

  • Josh

    Me boy. Me like big robots. Robots cool.

    Honestly, the “skanky stripper girls” were not the only problem with this flick. Most of the under-used cast were some two dimesional stereotype or (someone’s) ideal image. I had zero interest in anyone, with the exception of Sam (Shia). Really, I think this was because of his own personal character… but I digress.

    I do not think you are totally crazy, though maybe a little harsh ;-). I do, however, completely agree that female characters that are allowed to be “smart” are more attractive to me than the “glamour girls”.

  • I agree, there were many other things about the movie I didn’t like. Honestly, I found it hard to tell the robots apart. Does that make me a robot racist? 😉 Seriously, wasn’t there the Medic robot there? Did he help any robots out? Did I miss where he might have gotten killed, or was that another robot? I agree, Shia is a great actor and filled out a character that was not fleshed out on the page. The supporting characters were cartoony at best.
    I didn’t mean to make it a personal attack on those actors, sorry girls! 🙂 It was more what they were obviously aiming for that kind of insulted me. Dr. Who is a GREAT example of having attractive girls who can actually think their way out of situations believably. But I think if those were cast in America, they would have gone down a different(wrong) path.
    Look at Heroes (My total favorite show). The guy characters are AWESOME, but a lot of the women characters they’ve killed off because (personal theory) they LOOKED pretty but couldn’t carry off anything deeper than that. Think of all the women actresses they’ve killed off on that show, and very few men.
    I’m looking forward to Bionic Woman, see what they did with that. From the looks of the trailer it could be good!

  • kehn

    [i]”There are 3 roles for women in Hollywood: Babe, District Attorney, and ‘Driving Miss Daisy.”

    – The First Wives Club[/i]

    So wait… you’re looking for an enlightened sensitivity and non-objectifaction of women from a Michael Bay popcorn flick? BWAHAHAHAHAH. Transformers (like every other film of its ilk) had all the emotional depth of a puddle and enough product placement to fill up four Madison Avenues. Not that I really cared, I came only to see giant robots beating the crap out of each other and for all the movie’s flaws (and boy did it have those in spades) it delivered. Still, human characters were the last thing on my mind. Hell, I didn’t even remember until now that the girls in it were buxom and skanky and as a hetero guy, I’d like to think that I’d notice that!

    So – yeah, that was my first reaction. It’s solely a function of the lazy screenwriting and characterization that pervades all films of that genre, and Michael Bay is merely one of the more notable perpetrators. But then, I started thinking… why is that? It’s because the movie, like everything else, is pitched toward the all-powerful 18-49 male demographic (14 year old kids be damned, that movie was made for nostalgic thirtysomethings like ME!), and – yes, you are right: everything we ‘know’ about that demographic tells us that fast cars, big explosions and hot chicks sell. So that’s what we get from the screenwriting hacks. And until the public as a whole indicates otherwise over a sustained period of time, there’s no impetus for Hollywood to change its ways.

    (Josh’s point that this makes the rare smart beauty that much more attractive is certainly well taken 🙂 , but the fact that she is a rare breed illustrates the dilemma all too well)

    I guess it’s a chicken-and-egg thing. Is Hollywood telling us what how we want women to ‘look’ in blockbuster films, or are we telling them?

  • kehn, your deconstruction is brilliant. I think the chicken-egg theory is spot on. It’s what Hollywood is based on. Now, they theory is that dramas don’t sell, sequels are in, big broad comedies are in, romantic comedies are out except whoops, Knocked Up was kinda a romantic comedy…LETS MAKE 15 OF THEM! Video game movies don’t sell…wait, what if they made a GOOD ONE?! I’ll never forget that Dungeons and Dragons movie they made with Thora Birch…shudder.

  • kehn

    Hollywood is probably the single greatest affirmation of the old adage “Those who fail to learn history are doomed to repeat it.”

    It’s pretty amazing how big studios manage to repeat their failures time and time again. I’ve heard that the process by which a screenplay is developed compares very unfavorably to how a sausage gets made – though I’m sure that as an actress you’d have a lot more insight into the former than I. 🙂

    You remember that D & D movie – argh, I’m still trying to forget it! The inane plot, total lack of conviction and hammy acting… *shudder* I bet that more thought was put into my friends’ Thurs night RPG sessions than was put into that movie.

    (btw, in Transformers, did you notice Tom Lenk from Buffy as one of the analysts? My girlfriend pointed that out to me and *I’m* the one who actually watched the series! Shame on me. Maybe it’s because he wasn’t dressed skankily, who knows.)

  • Stefan

    Hm.. even though I do like characters (the ones who actually could be human beings), I usually don’t expect them to turn up in an action movies – some things just don’t happen ;). First of all theres the whole time thing – you get ~90 minutes, and if you want stuff to go BOOM 45 of them, theres not so much left.. so maybe too complex characters won’t work. And since the audience usually doesn’t expects them.. it works.
    [Although I have to admit: I didn’t see this movie..]
    It is essentially the same as with logic – in some movies you better not start thinking. I do enjoy watching Starship Troopers once in a while – but without my brain.. I gues using it on such movies will only hurt ;).
    However, there are exceptions to this rule – Serenity comes to my mind.. it really did hurt when died, because you knew and liked the character (or at least I did..).

  • Thad

    Saw Transformers today great film. It’s no Ratatouille. Which my favorite film of the Summer. I like the girls in Transformer. The geek was cool and I agree on you on the heroine she was buxom and had thing for boys with cars. But rest of the film was awsome. No cartoon Rats.

  • I can’t wait to see Ratatouille! I’m glad you recommend it (Although you liking Transformers has me doubting our similarity of taste 😉 )

  • Chiefdrewmanchu

    I can see by the dates, that I am way past this conversation. But I was attracted to the post because you mention: “BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA” that is one of my favorites. I loved it so much, I showed it to two of my high school students at the end of the school year (the seniors graduated and so two junior were all I had in Government that year). The response afterward was, “Why do you like that movie?” I still find myself quoting the movie when with family and friends.

    Anyway, looking at this thread there is sooooo much I could comment on, but oh so little time. Pick and choose: here I try and not attempting to sound too disconnected as I go. Transformers, didn’t see it, but based on the recommendation of my brother he said there were only two things to see from that movie, Shia (cause he rocks, definitely doing well ever since Even Stevens which I found myself enjoying after some student recommend it.) and Megan Fox (for the reasons that you mentioned probably, she’s hot I think was the more accurate quote). Eye candy does help pass the time sometimes through some bad pictures. Kiera helped me get through Pirates 3, I must admit (ask a ninja pegged it in his review). Oh and Stefan, I was upset when Wash, Book, and Mr. Universe died in Serenity, “I am a leaf on the wind.”

    Young girls need to see strong, intelligent women on the big and small screen. I am a firm believer that women truly rule the world, perhaps it is just that the men have been trying to convince them otherwise since the Middle Ages. One of my History classes in college I recall seeing a piece of ancient potery from (I don’t recall and it would make my argument stronger)?. The picture was a father giving away is daughter in marriage to a young man. Behind the father sat the mother with her arms extended out in giving her support of the union. How you interpret that is up to you: “behind every man is a good woman”, (insert another comment here). My professor commented that it was the mother that made the final approval for the marriage, not the father. I used some Buffy episodes in my sociology class to teach certain lessons (abuse: boyfriend beating up girlfriend; sex in a relationship: two part “Betrayed” episode from season 2 Angel goes bad.) Fantasy often illustrates real life problems in entertaining ways. I have also vowed to never coach boys basketball versus girls basketball. I find the maturity in girls to allow them to be more attentive. Now, as boys grow older they do mature and can be as attentive by Junior and senior year I believe. There are always exceptions to every rule.

    And because this has gotten long enough for no one to enjoy reading. The D&D movie, yes terrible, I recall when watching the opening credits and the title appears on screen, “What makes it Dungeons and Dragons as opposed to just another attempt at a fantasy movie?” D&D is minds of the fans, they make it their own.

    Great movie: The Power of One, my favorite and I showed it when I taught World History, Sociology, and Social Justice. I still have friends and former students showing that to others they meet. Now if only I could get residual payments for my efforts…until next time…

  • Ah, don’t worry, Chief, I’m with you on the starting crap up way too late. 🙂

    I liked Transformers, frankly. Why did I like it? Because I went to see giant robots from one of my favorite childhood cartoons brought to life and beating the ever loving crap out of each other, and that’s exactly what I got. Someone said something about shutting off your brain, and that’s exactly what you have to do. You can’t go into a summmer action blockbuster expecting plot and story. I just wanted to see things blow up. 🙂

    As a former army guy, the portrayal of the military guys kinda irked me a little. Army Rangers just don’t do those one squad covert missions anymore, it irritated me.

    As for the girls, I agree that they were all skanky hotness, but I thought they did well for what they were given to work with.

  • Yeah, but my favorite, absolute favorite part about Meg Fox’s character? She gets her character development at the 80 minute mark of the film. Three lines of it. “My dad stole cars” “you’re a criminal now?” “clean her record”

    … wait, her arc wasn’t even hers. It came in for ten seconds more than halfway through the film and it wasn’t even hers.

    It’s all hilarious.

  • I couldn’t understand some parts of this article s and Whores – The Flog, but I guess I just need to check some more resources regarding this, because it sounds interesting.

  • ChrisPUT

    The title of this reminded me of a joke I made during sex last night.
    My wife was telling me she saw something about how hormones affect moods and I said, “Hormones? Aren’t they the sounds that prostitutes make when they want you to think you’re doing a good job?”
    She said it wasn’t funny… But she laughed… and I still got sex. 😉

    But regarding Transformers and movies in general… I agree with Jason, I went to see giant robots and got chills when the first robot started to transform. However, Jason, if you were referring to the Ranger squad in the desert, then I think you missed the part where the giant freakin’ robot blew up the entire base where they were stationed and they barely made it out alive!!
    Felicia, I, like you, am also a fan of Big Trouble in Little China (and most John Carpenter movies/music) and Babe. (Don’t think i’ve seen Bringing up baby.) I also list The 5th Element as a favorite (I love Luc Besson’s sense of timing.)
    And as you can see, I’m also a fan of the comma and resurrecting old threads that have been dead for over a year.
    (oh, and redheads (married one, have three redhead boys)… and Dr. Horrible… and The Guild… and Nathan Fillion… … … and the elipse.)

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