Feminism vs. Batman: The Killing Joke

This past Monday, I had the pleasure of seeing an animated feature length film of one of my favorite Batman graphic novels. Alan Moore’s Batman: The Killing Joke was a turning point in my love for Batman. I started becoming a fan girl of the comic book hero back in the 80s when the Tim Burton film was released but after reading The Killing Joke, I found a different love for the character. The Killing Joke showed Batman in a light that I think many people don’t want to see their favorite hero in.

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“All it takes is one bad day to reduce the sanest man alive to lunacy.”

He became more human, more damaged, more desperate in the story line and all of that is due to Alan Moore’s truly realistic and dark view of the comic book world. We’ve seen this type of sordid view of superheros from Moore in Watchmen or Captain Britain but here we see Batman essentially face himself through the Joker’s depraved acts and increasing insanity. Yes, his back has been broken before, yes his cohorts have died before; but here he is truly having to decide if he is as warped an individual as his all-time greatest nemesis.

I hope what I have just written will allow everyone to understand that I did not hate the animated film despite what is to follow.

The movie was somewhere around 30 minutes in when I sighed and decided that I was going to accept those first 30 minutes as not part of the film itself. My issues with it start with the addition of Paris Franz, an aspiring crime boss added to give Batgirl something to do. The character of Franz is so flat and brought nothing new to the story except flirt with Batgirl and treat her like a terribly toxic boyfriend who, instead of cheating, tries to kill her on several occasions. This character was also a placeholder for Batman to get jealous. Of course, the sexual tension increases, Batgirl and Batman engage in intercourse on a rooftop and, immediately after, Batgirl goes through the typical female crisis: “Why hasn’t he called? Where is this relationship going? What are we? Does he like me? What did I do wrong?” There is even a scene where she screams at him to say “It was just sex, I don’t care, you don’t care, no one cares,” or something to that nature.

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“Does this outfit make me look fat?”

I never really think of myself as a feminist but I was seconds from screaming at the screen in the half full theater. They turned a strong female superhero character like Batgirl, only a few scenes away from becoming a paraplegic, into a sappy, sobbing mess of a girl because she slept with her boss. I get it, she’s young and immature, but not every woman needs to cling to a strong male. I feel as if the screenwriters decided that women cannot be as strong as men, especially if that man is Batman. They decided that no woman can resist him, and even if they are partners, they must have intercourse.

I agree that the entire concocted opening to the film was there to give the audience an idea of how the events that unfold affect Batman in his core. He’s hard to read and allowing us to see him as a vulnerable human being gave us some insight into his personal feelings toward Batgirl. But what if this was Jason Todd? Would he have had to sleep with his Robin before he was murdered to give us some idea of how it affected him?

It is an unfortunate situation for Batgirl that she had to have that vagina. If she were only male, she would have just gotten over the whole Paris Franz thing, the whole “Batman doesn’t respect me as his equal” pouting, and she would probably still be Batgirl (not Oracle) with a fully functioning spinal column. I would’ve expected this treatment from an animated feature before but not in 2016 when a woman was just nominated a U.S. Presidential nominee for the first time in history.

Director Kevin Smith as a Writer’s Role Model

My recent infatuation with the career and life of director and writer Kevin Smith began after I saw the 2014 horror/thriller, Tusk. The film, starring Justin Long and Michael Parks, is more of what I would consider a genre blending comedy horror. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it.

I always wait past the end credits to see any special inclusions directors like to sneak in. The end credits of Tusk included a recording of a SModcast in which the idea for the film was introduced. This started me on a journey into the writing and personality of Kevin Smith.

Prior to my obsession, I had seen most of his movies and never really considered the writing. However, Tusk and SModcast came into my life when I had begun looking at writing as a real career and a real passion for me. Kevin Smith’s films haven’t won Oscars and his writing isn’t as appreciated as it really should be, and he knows it. In fact, he makes fun of himself often on his podcast, SModcast, and the thing I admire the most, is that he never apologizes for his movies or his opinions.

I find people who own their writing, and what they say with it, very impressive. Writing is very personal – I equate it to slicing your wrists open and putting it on paper – and screenwriting is extremely difficult to keep entertaining script after script. Somehow, Smith has been able to do this repeatedly, regardless of the box office returns. This is why I think of him as my writing role model, someone who has inspired me to pursue my dream despite feeling like its “too hard”.

Now, I know a good amount of people think he’s a cool dude, who smokes weed all day and doesn’t really care what you think, but I actually don’t believe that. In fact, I think he does care, a great amount. Anyone who puts that much effort into a script must care for their work and that is what a true writer must do.

The 65th Emmy’s and you

I might be a bit late on the reporting side here but hey, at least I’m still in the same week as the 65th Annual Emmy Awards that aired this past Sunday on CBS.  Funny how a station that rarely has Emmy award winning shows is the one to air the prestigious ceremony.  Regardless, I watched it in its entirety in order to correctly comment on the various moments of the show.  I’m glad I sat through the slew of memorandums and acceptance speeches because this was genuinely the best I’ve seen in terms of winners.  However, that being said, it’s hard to really pick a terrible show now a days especially with HBO, Showtime, and even AMC exploding with season after season of remarkable storylines and characters. Move over USA, characters are welcomed everywhere now.

Though there has been some critique at the fact that many of the Emmy’s went to cable shows, the fact of the matter is original series and miniseries are really becoming in vogue now since the decline of the theater (film, that is). Movies lately have not had the same impact and resonance as shows like Game of Thrones, Girls or Veep have with society today, which really depicts the complete turnaround that television has taken.

I appreciate this fact because that means that the writers of today’s television world have stacked the odds and have solidified in terms of talent against the screenwriters of days old.  Prior to this “Golden Age”, as many at the Emmy’s put it,  Lorne Michaels, Larry David, Rod Serling were a rarity just simply because television was consider the low portion of the totem pole. You start in Theater, move to Film, then have a breakdown. Eventually, after rehab, you wind up in television writing for a rom-com on NBC. But NOW! Geez, you could start in TV and suddenly you’re writing a full length Brad Pitt film.

Yeah, what does this ridiculous, self-congratulatory ceremony actually have to do with me? Well, for me, as a writer, this means that although some people would prefer not to pick up a book, newspaper or anything that has printed words, this development in television means that there are new avenues, new ideas, new creativity being developed and cultivated in a whole other industry that we ignored for more than 50 years.  Popular culture will suddenly become more popular (less educated/prosperous people can join in) and much more intelligent (have you actually taken a moment to consider the script writing in Veep, goodness).

What this means is that we may need writers more than all of you who scoffed at my English degree may actually think.