Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Why Hit Girl is Not As Shocking As You are Making Her Out to Be

Okay, so two things you should know about me before I get all deep in this shit.

1) I don't watch horror movies. I didn't when I was a kid, my parents never watched them either, and now I refuse to as an adult. If it doesn't have a plot that interests me, I'm not down for sitting through crap just to be scared by some gruesomeness. For instance, I see absolutely no point in ever watching any of the Saw movies. But I saw a poster for Human Centipede the other day, and even though it warned of being horrifying, I'm totally putting that on the list. Because its called Human Centipede. I have never seen any of the Halloweens, or the Friday the 13ths or whatever else there is. I just don't care. I went to go see that remake of the Hills Have Eyes and had nightmares for weeks. I don't need to pay for that experience. My blood must be associated with action.

Zombie movies are the always exception to this. Zombie movies fall in the same category as Human Centipede.

2) My favorite movie of all time is a little film called Battle Royale. If you are not one of the many friends who I have made watch this movie, and subsequently converted/damned to hell, let me sum it up for you. The Japanese government institutes a lottery. One random grade school class every year is sent to an evacuated island, where they are fitted with explosive collars, given "weapons" and then told if they don't kill each other off, they are all dead. Apparently, this is to show school kids they better stay in school and show respect to their elders, though it's a very clear argument for not going on class trips.

So to sum up: I don't like blood only for the sake of blood, and my favorite movie is one about kids killing each other off. The two are not contradictory, promise.

There's been a lot of discussion about the movie Kick Ass, and it's heroine, the aptly named Hit Girl. Apparently, despite it's R rating and the fact it's a comic book movie, parents were not expecting it to be violent. It still hasn't clicked in the mainstream mind that comic book does not always equal clean wholesome Superman, and hasn't for a very long time. Clean and wholesome are the two words I would be least likely to use describing comics. Comics are about twisted fucked up people, either fucked up mentally or fucked up physically. They are about people who never fit in, who survive on a delusion of grandeur, and they are about killing people.

But specifically the controversy has been raging about whether or not Hit Girl, an eleven year old brainwashed by her father to be an efficient killing machine, is appropriate. Isn't it just a little TOO twisted to have a little girl be able to graphically use a grappling hook to kill four guys in a matter of minutes? Isn't it TOO disturbing?

Now I guess this may reflect badly on me, at least to the people lobbing this argument, but the last thing Hit Girl was to me was shocking. There are plenty of movies where children get fucked up, killed by monsters, tortured by adults, and are forced to forage for themselves in situations where they are helpless. The idea of the Brave Resourceful Child who fends for himself is not new. What's also not new is the idea of the psychopathic Child Bully, the evil little villain who tortures animals and geeks. So since we are able to recognize these adult qualities in children, with the lines of good and evil clearly drawn, why are we unable to comprehend a child who is both? One who is neither a hero or a villain, but some gray area in between. We have no problem with adult characters who embody this gray zone. We call that subtle. Why should the children always be screwed?

So lets go ahead and say that Hit Girl is a victim here, a victim of her fathers maniacal quest for revenge. Should she collapse into a helpless ball of tears, like a goodhearted girl? Or should she react as she's been taught her whole life and go kill some bad guys?While the general public might prefer their girls to be soft and rescuable, I prefer mine smart if somewhat sociopathic. Like any male action hero would, she goes into professional kill mode. She's not an entirely sane girl, but she's also not helpless and not evil. She doesn't need to be rescued by a hero. She simply relies upon the set of skills she has.

As much as it's been popular to rewrite fairy tales from a feminist perspective, I think this is the peak of that trend. She's not a princess, she's a professional fixer. And if you're not comfortable with action movies where people die, then don't go see it. Because that's what Kick Ass is, a good action movie where lots of people die in cool flashy ways. Hit Girl is the new Batman.

For the record, I did see Pulp Fiction when I was a child. And it didn't inspire me to go shoot a bunch of people. Children are capable of absorbing lots of violence. As long as it's violence with a purpose, they can usually tell the difference. The simple fairy tale story remains the same - good kills evil. In this way, I think children are actually less impressionable than adults. Children recognize the world as a scary dangerous place. Adults prefer to shield themselves from that truth.

There is a great discussion about the lack of sexualization of Hit Girl here.


  1. I am about to run out the door to see this movie. Of course, "about to" means sometime this weekend when John is done with his project for school. But I'm not going to miss this one.

    I just looked up Hunger Games, and it's on my list now. Thanks!

  2. Nobody ever trained me to use a grappling hook. Boo.

  3. There's always retirement. One must have goals.

  4. People should actually look more into what they are taking their children to before they do it...not whine about it afterwards. This movie is not labeled a children's flick and most graphic novels, comics, and movies made along this genre are now geared for adults. I am looking forward to seeing it. Also, Hungry Games is an excellent book!

  5. Yeah you are! Also I can't believe I'm not on your blog roll. For shame.


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