Saturday night, the hubs and I were excited to take in a movie. Women in Horror Month had just wrapped up, and I was looking for a way to unwind after a month of intense blogging, events, promotions, and what have you. Without having seen any previews and only hearing the recommendations of friends, we decided to see Kingsman: The Secret Service. Cool premise, it seemed. A spy school designed to fill a “round table” of special agents named after knights in King Arthur’s court? Hat-tips to James Bond? Directed by the same man behind KICKASS, one of my fave movies? I’m in!
I will now tell you why this movie had me spitting nails and rampaging like Bitchzilla.
And, yeah, there’ll be spoilers. Fucking deal with it.
This movie was mostly Dicks, hardly any Janes. Until about halfway through the movie, there are only TWO women: one is a mom who gets smacked around by her boyfriend (VICTIM!), the other is bad-ass, but she’s the arch-villain’s assistant, has barely any lines, is basically a sexy prop (as pointed out by a male friend of mine, J.) and… she has no feet. These women are not whole!
FINALLY, about halfway through the film, we are finally blessed with more women. Two are candidates for Kingsmen (yay!) but it’s still more guys than women, and they fall into proscribed gender roles pretty quickly–all the boys except the protagonist are dick frat-boy types, the girls play mom to the protagonist and are really conscientious. The first kid to be offed is a girl, who is displayed boobs toward camera. In fairness, the other boys are eliminated as well, and though the only kid to become a Kingsman is female, she’s always portrayed as unconfident, constantly needing the protagonist’s reassurance (except for when she shoots her dog to prove her loyalty to Kingsmen). LAME.
The only other women in the film are a princess who needs to be saved (the single biggest fucking cliché of all time) and the bad guy’s other assistant, who also has barely any lines. Finally the protagonist saves the world, saves the princess…and the princess tells our Kingsman hero he can fuck her up the ass because he saved her.
WHAT THE FUCK.
OK—I get that this ass-fuck comment was a reference to some old Bond films, but…
WHAT THE FUCK.
I don’t care if the director intended to tip his hat to something old and “classic”, because if it’s old and classic, it’s more than likely also SEXIST. We are well into the 2000s, motherfuckers!
Where this movie went wrong was forgetting that chicks want to watch too, and we’re So Effing Tired of seeing ourselves as moms, victims, props, or lesser versions of successful men—why can’t we be confident, even cocky, secret agents? Huh? Because if I was going out for my secret agent exam, I’d be the cockiest motherfucker in the damn building. Ironically, this film passes the Bechdel test (hat tip to my gal L. for finding this) but it seems that the Bechdel test has its limitations. If there are very few women in a film, it doesn’t matter that they talk to each other about something other than a man.
One of the few successful casting decisions in this movie, to quote my friend D, is that it “wasn’t as ethnically narrow as its gender choices.” (Thank you, D! You hit the nail on the head!)
It’s really too bad that this film was unwatchable for me. I wanted to like it so, so badly. But I left feeling so angry that I wanted to Hulk out and flip tables. And I can’t stand by and let my friends watch this movie without letting them know why it’s incredibly problematic. Hurtful, even.
So that’s my story. And I’m sticking to it.