The Lilac Pilgrim – Yet Another Blog

Archive for May 2010

Yesterday I went out to see Kick-Ass with my younger sister. Today I found the Daily Mail’s review of the film. The first thing that comes to mind for me when I see a film is usually “OMGIMUSTREVIEWIT” and onto the internet a review eventually goes. Upon seeing this review by the Daily Mail I figured I would kill two birds with one stone (not literally of course, Daily Mail) and pick apart the Daily Mail’s review while also pointing out why it is wrong and giving my own thoughts on the film.

Okay, you know a review is going to be extremely promising when the reviewer gives the film one star and the verdict is “evil”, and later the reviewer also says that the one star they gave the film was “overgenerous”.

It begins:

“Millions are being spent to persuade you that Kick-Ass is harmless, comic-book entertainment suitable for 15-year-olds. “
Um… no, millions are being spent to persuade people who may be interested in the film to go see it. This is calledadvertising and is a common consequence of the aftermath of making a movie. Anyone who takes their 15-year-old to see it or lets them go has not done their research and is very irresponsible. (That said, while I was still bad with movie gore at fifteen my younger sister was most certainly not.)

“It deliberately sells a perniciously sexualised view of children and glorifies violence, especially knife and gun crime, in a way that makes it one of the most deeply cynical, shamelessly irresponsible films ever.”
Emphasis mine, by the way. At no point during the film did I feel that the character of Mindy/Hit Girl was sexualised, as this reporter claims. She was a small girl completely covered from head to toe in a clunky, protective outfit. She shows no other skin than her face in her costume. What part of this is sexual? It also does not glorify violence. Knife crime in the film is harshly punished (anyone who is seen using a knife is obviously a bad guy – Kick-Ass uses batons) and at least one “good” character we see who could be seen to be advocating guns is clearly batshit crazy. Okay, the truly evil guys are brought to “justice” using violence, but there is no point within the film where I would think ‘Yeah, that looks like a good idea – dressing up like a superhero and getting the shit kicked out of me or killed for trying to beat up some really dangerous people.’

The next part I’ll skip because it just goes on to say that the main character is Dave Lizewski who has no superpowers, no money but later acquires by unfortunate accident nerve damage (lessens pain received) and metal plates through him. Very unfortunate accident.

“The plot is an unimaginative clone of Spider-Man 2”
What? If this is the case, you will need to complain to the comic-book writers.

Blah blah blah, rip off of other movies, blah. I wonder if the Mail know this is a British film?

It then goes on to say that it turns the real world into a foolish, smug kind of comic strip. Huh. I think this speaks for itself really. It also goes on to comment that the hero learns nothing “extreme violence against criminals is cool, which is something he thought in the first place”. So… he learned nothing then? Seriously though, he did learn something. Something of a spoiler if you haven’t seen it, but he does learn that he isn’t a hero, he cannot continue trying to be something he’s not (something Spider-Man said, before going back to crime-fighting) and he stops. It might be after Hit-Girl’s mission is done but life goes on after that. Sorry Daily Mail, but if you don’t like that life can go on you have issues.

“The reason the movie is sick, as well as thick, is that it breaks one of the last cinematic taboos by making the most violent, foul-mouthed and sexually aggressive character, Hit-Girl, an 11-year-old.”
AHAHA, as well as thick, oh that’s a good one. Wait, no it isn’t. Anyway, Mindy is aggressive, but not sexually. It’s all too obvious that a man wrote this article. Are women not allowed to be violent? I know she’s a little girl, but she has essentially been brainwashed by her obviously mentally ill father, that is one of the key plot points. Also, no kid of 11 is an angel. I could swear at 11. My first words included a swear word.

“Played with enormous confidence by Chloe Moretz, she’s the most charismatic character in the movie. She may not realise it, but she has been systematically abused by her father, brainwashed and turned into a pint-sized…”
…Pint-sized what? Also yes, Moretz deserves every award under the sun for that performance. And oh, so you dounderstand that she was conditioned by her vengeful father. Odd then that you don’t understand the rest of the film or why it is important to the plot.

“She believes that her vigilante dad (played, simplistically, for laughs by Nicolas Cage) is a hero just as much at the end as she did at the beginning.”
Nicolas Cage really did blow me away; he was fantastic in this role. Also, a tip – he treats her relatively well. Other than all the brainwashing, that is. She idolises him because of that – every little kid loves their parental figure. I still love my mother, even if she does swear and shout and act like a teenager every now and then. Even if now I do know her flaws. When I was a kid, she knew everything and she could do anything. Hit Girl feels the same about her father. I don’t really see the issue. What was she supposed to do? Kick him and run?

“Her attitude towards him doesn’t mature, which makes her pathetic, rather than cool. The fact that many people who see the film are going to think she is cool is one of its most depressing aspects.”
No matter what you would like out of such a film, she isn’t going to become a Conservative or a hippy tree-hugger. I hardly know what to say about calling a child pathetic so soon after calling her sexual.

“The movie’s writers want us to see Hit-Girl not only as cool, but also sexy, like an even younger version of the baby- faced Oriental assassin in Tarantino’s Kill Bill 1. Paedophiles are going to adore her. “
And if she was the sweet little girl you want her to be, paedophiles were still going to love her. Probably more so. Incidentally, I doubt paedophiles will love her, considering paedophilia concerns dominance for the most part and there is no way in hell any paedophile in the world is going to be able to dominate Hit Girl. I don’t know what to say about “Oriental assassin”, but it is unrelated. The writers do not want us to see Hit Girl as sexy. Dangerous, sure. Forced to mature beyond her years, yes. Brainwashed, maybe. Sexy? You must have been looking at her pretty hard to see “sex” in that little girl.

“One of the film’s creepiest aspects is that she’s made to look as seductive as possible”
I am… concerned. Are you trying to say that Mindy was seductive to you? You were seduced by an 11-year-old character? My goodness, man, GET HELP.

“She’s fetishised in precisely the same way as Angelina Jolie in the Lara Croft movies, and Halle Berry in Catwoman”
No she isn’t. Angelina Jolie and Halle Berry wear tight-fitting, thin material outfits showing loads of skin. Hit Girl’s outfit is protective padding that is practical for the activity in the movie.

“As if that isn’t exploitative enough, she’s also shown in a classic schoolgirl pose, in a short plaid-skirt with her hair in bunches, but carrying a big gun.”
Umm… she’s a girl of school age. The outfit was put to good use – making her look like a poor, lost little sweetheart. Up until the point at which she pulls the gun. Then we shouldn’t be focused on the outfit at all.

“And she makes comments unprintable in a family newspaper, that reveal a sexual knowledge hugely inappropriate to her years.”
And yet at eleven or twelve you are usually taught about the basics of sexual intercourse in high school science. I was taught in my classes, though everyone already knew. Kids will find out these things one way or another. Especially young girls who will be going through puberty at that age or even younger.

From here on in, Tookey goes on a very bizarre and pretty offensive tangent. I won’t copy and paste all of it; you can read it at the link above and see for yourself.

“Underage sex isn’t a laugh. Recent government figures revealed that in this country more than 8,000 children under the age of 16 conceive every year.”
Where the hell did you get that statistic? I fact-checked this, and in 2007, according to the Office of National Statistics, the 8,000 figure is correct, but only for that year. Not only that, but I’m confused as to where exactly Hit Girl got pregnant in the film. I don’t remember any pregnancies in the film.

Worldwide child pornography is a multi-billion dollar industry. In and South America, brutalised youngsters who kill and rape are rightly feared as members of feral gangs or child soldiers. “

Once again, where in the film did Hit Girl get raped? Where was she exploited for pornography? And Hit Girl was feared, so I’m not quite sure what Tookey’s point is here.

Do we really want to live, for instance, in a culture when the torture and killing of a James Bulger or Damilola Taylor is re-enacted by child actors for laughs?”

This is the most awful and offensive part of the review. First off, in no part of the movie was a child tortured and killed for laughs. In Hit Girl’s big fight scene against a man more than twice the size of her, no-one was laughing. We could all see that she was just a little girl and it was a tense, frightening scene but that’s why it was effective. It’s shocking to watch; she has no ammo now; she’s just a small girl. And yet it made the film no less brilliant. Also, of the people in the film who were killed, maybe one was truly innocent, if the impersonator was even innocent. None of them were Bulgers or Taylors. I feel the entire plot has been misunderstood terribly.

The rest of the review reiterates the erroneous perception that Hit Girl was somehow OMGsexeh and that the film totally glorifies children growing up to be vigilantes and to kill at a young age. It doesn’t. And even if it did suggest to children somehow that they should absolutely imitate the dangerous stunts performed in the movie, these suggestible kids aren’t going to see it, it is rated 15. Responsible parents will not let their kids see it, and for good reason. It is violent, bloody, crude. I wouldn’t let a girl the age of Hit Girl see it. I wouldn’t let my 13-year-old cousin see it. That said, my cousin knows a lot more than the Daily Mail thinks she should, but she is a responsible young girl with responsible parents and she is not as suggestible as this trashy rag thinks she might be. If you are interested in an action-packed, slightly twisted but altogether fun movie and you are over the age of 15, by all means, go see it. It’s been a long time since I’ve been to the cinema to see a film where the entire audience is genuinely enjoying it.

All in all, the film is funny. It is also violent and a bit twisted. It is not, however, sexy. Not in the way the Daily Mail are actively trying to find the evidence for. Even when one of the boys in the film acknowledges an attraction (it’s obviously intended as a joke by the filmmakers, and we laughed) to hit Girl after seeing her literally kick ass, he is immediately criticised by his friends for even thinking it. Not more than a second later the character says that he would wait for her. There is no indication that this character will ever meet Hit Girl or that they will actually have sex, before she reaches legal age or otherwise. One has to wonder what Tookey thought of Charlotte LaBouff in The Princess And The Frog saying she could wait for Prince Naveen’s underaged brother before she married him? Was that cartoon boy sexualised too?

TL;DR: The Daily Mail’s Chris Tookey, who appears to know nothing about movies or at least is unable to separate his ridiculous, ill-informed Conservative beliefs separate from the films he watches and analyses badly said that Kick-Ass is a bad movie because it apparently glorifies childhood violence and sexualises a girl of 11. I argued that it bloody doesn’t and he must have been looking pretty hard to callously claim to be able to link the murders of James Bulger and Damilola Taylor to the violence in this film, and also that he was definitely looking far too much into the padded-for-protection, unrevealing outfit that Hit Girl wears and that his claims of her knowing too much for her age are ridiculous, because she’s bloody ELEVEN, not five. Children can and will swear, children will find out about sex eventually, girls of eleven might already be experiencing puberty and therefore need to know these things early. I was “blooming” at NINE. I agreed that the film was violent, but it definitely does not glorify violence because no-one in their right minds would watch this film and think that they would want to die fighting guys who were tougher and bigger than them.

Heard the news? Dr Andrew Wakefield has finally been kicked off the medical register for serious professional misconduct. About time, too. For those of you not affected by autism or who’ve just been living under rocks, Wakefield performed pretty dodgy studies concerning the MMR vaccine and autism. Shortly after his paper was published linking the MMR vaccine to a condition he claimed to have discovered (named autistic enterocolitis), the UK panicked and the rest of the world followed. Measles and mumps incidences rose.

In February, The Lancet finally retracted his paper. Not soon enough, I’d say; the damage is done. Still, it’s a start.

More on this story:

At the Guardian
At the BBC
At the GMC (pdf)

And if none of the above links are good enough for you, dear reader, you are on the internet. Do a search or something.

    • HoistTheColours: Dear author, I full-heartedly and absolutely agree with your above statements. I just thought I would let you know, since I don't quite understand w
    • richclark: I covered this in my blog too. Found your post on one of Wordpress' random (associated posts). Has Ask really made the impact it needed to from
    • The Lilac Pilgrim: I couldn't go anywhere without someone mentioning it. It was incredibly obvious and yet people were still arguing about it. Absolutely ridiculous.