Monday, July 12, 2010

Monday Movie Miscellany - Soylent Green

I have mixed feelings about this film.

What Soylent Green does well is paint a pretty reasonable portrayal of a dystopic future where the worst-case scenarios of overpopulation and climate change are actualized. I like its modern uptake on Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal, and hopefully it alerts folks to how bad things can get if we continue with how things are. It is definitely a future in which I want no part of whatsoever.

What makes my blood boil about this film though is that I don't know that I've ever seen such blatant chauvinism in a film. I mean, there are a ton of films where women are portrayed as weak and needing a man's help to do anything, but seriously, women as furniture!?! Eff you. There is no acceptable reason for such a portrayal.

And I do mean no acceptable reason. The trend that I've been seeing even within my relatively short lifetime is that women (and all groups who have been traditionally oppressed) have been gaining more rights, and equality in general is on the rise. Should the world come into such a catastrophic state, I do not see said groups just sitting back and saying sure, go ahead and take away everything that I worked so hard to achieve.

I haven't read the book it's based on, Make Room! Make Room! by Harry Harrison, but the Wikipedia summary says that the book didn't have that perspective. In fact, it goes the opposite direction and showed women as being sexually liberated and having freedom in their relationships, even if they conformed to traditional gender roles. This is nothing like the slavery shown in the film.

So that's why the movie makes me so angry - because there is no positive depiction of women in any way at all. If you're trying to make a statement of how bad things could get, you'll take the time to show that how things are isn't how they should be. In this case that would mean having the lead female role contradict that idea that women are to be tossed around and used like furniture. Since this doesn't happen, it's pretty obvious what the screenwriter/director thinks of women and where they best fit in society.

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