Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Bad Ad, Rad Ad?

Today was my day off from work.  Work, for the record, is terrible.  It's what people like me do when they're saving up for a $40,000 a year education (FAFSA, though you did suck out my soul, I owe you a thumbs up for acknowledging the discounts my broke ass deserves).  It's zombie slave-wage work like handling cattle-esque customers at a video store.  With any luck, Netflix will go right ahead, sell out my already sell-out-y corporate video store, and thousands more people will be laid off with video stores world wide closing down.  Thanks, Netflix.  It's not like anyone wants to pay off student loans with a job they kick ass at.  This isn't the point of my rant.  

What I'm trying to say is that there is a difference between work and a job.  Work for me= crappy pay at a video store.  My job, as far as I'm concerned= watching movies (for free!), writing, not sleeping, with no pay.  So a day off from work really just means a day to get back to my job.

So what did I do on my day off?  I went to my video store and stared down the horror section, licking my lips, stalking my prey.  Something hit me, while this showdown took place:

While I intend on focusing predominantly on American horror cinema for my horror section, I would like to make it clear that I want to see Inside, and Frontier(s), and Tokyo Gore Police.  Because... they look fun.  My insistence upon remaining American isn't some oh-so-subtle subliminal shout-out that U-S-A is the only W-A-Y to go.  In fact, it was Australia's Wolf Creek that scared the hell out of me months back.  My boyfriend made it official during Haute Tension--or as it's called in the UK, Switchblade Romance (my favorite title, and I don't care if you disagree), or here in the states, High Tension--from France.  The original--and quite frankly, the all around better--Prom Night came from Canada.  And Mexican Guillermo Del Toro has certainly done his part in ushering scary movies into the "legit" Hollywood scene (or is it the other way around?).   

What it comes down to is this: entire books have been written solely on things like gender in modern horror.  Books have been written on the topic of directors (take, for instance, Maitland McDonagh's study on Dario Argento).  While it would be fascinating, covering the topic of HORROR, everything from ever, would be ridiculous.  I am a feminist.  I like horror.  I am a female.  What the hell?  That, right there, is my angle.  A thorough book to cover all-that-is-scary would be just short of all-that-is-suicidal.  For a more extensive list of topics, do please read the post just below this one.  And besides, I'm too spastic to settle for one direction.  My magazine-formatted book gives me the freedom to explore fractions of these issues; I am, of course, getting off topic.

And here is my topic: whoever decides which pretty pictures are going to represent their gross-out horror movies might need to castrate themselves to think Outside the Sexist Box.  But that's just my gut reaction.  

Grindhouse's Planet Terror was, all misogyny considered, a very cool movie.  Rosario Dawson and Rose McGowan are obviously both drop-dead, killer gorgeous.  But the PR team behind the Grindhouse movies may want to consider showcasing badass beauties in slightly less obvious (though eye-catching, I must give credit where it's due) light:
The, for many, long-since forgotten Captivity caused a stir of its own, way back when.
Of course, 2-D hype can only get you so far when the feature presentation is doomed to be mediocre. That's what Rent-A-Suicide-Girl is for!  With the main event of your pre-movie party looking like camera-conscious zombies--whose initial response to joining the legions of the undead is to tear off their clothing and dye their hair--pre-paid sexuality is clearly a top priority in your marketing scheme.

I get that for many women (and I, the skeptic, will gladly hop back in the boat once these waves of doubt have washed away... oh, that's lame) the world that horror films have established allows them to express their sexuality in an exciting fashion.  This is a world, after all, where women are allowed "female agency," and have the option of deploying violence.  This is a world that is just taboo and wild enough to mock the mainstream one we've all grown accustomed to.  This is a world where, the flashier and 
more captivating your performance is, the more tickets are sold.  This world is fun!  But why, I can't help but wonder, does sex appeal look the same as it does in that boring, non-bloody world?  

There are, my dears, a few notable exceptions to this law.  Scary-classy Shannon Lark, pictured here as Fangoria's Spooksmodel, burned the image of
 a blood-soaked, (red)-dress-sporting, chainsaw-wielding woman into our brains.  Or here:        , an image from the surprising P2, where our heroine, after tolerating her fair share of abuse from the anachronistic, Elvis-wanna-be security guard, snaps and becomes frighteningly resourceful.  Never mind the cleavage, despite being doused with water in her white dress/plunging neckline, she bypassed what could have easily been a sexed-up role, by traditional standards, in favor of simply kicking ass.

What I'm trying to get at, I suppose, is that it really is difficult to find women in the horror movie genre who don't make me cringe a little to be a woman watching a horror movie.  The ones who do exist, thank you.  And everyone else in marketing and screenwriting, honestly, think with your Big brain, and come up with more female-friendly imagery.  Please.

P.S. All this is coming from drowsy little me, at 4 in the morning.  Let's see if this post makes it past noon tomorrow.  *Today.  

1 comment:

Made In The J.L.A. said...

Wow, very interesting. I agree with your opinion on horror movies and women, like drag me to hell for instance. Alison Lohman was the lead and they put all kinds of gross things in her mouth like every 15 minutes and when she drops the envelope with the button in it, it was so typical and insulting.(Don't want to give too many spoilers in case you haven't seen it) I am looking forward to and hoping that Jennifer's Body will be different, I'm sure megan fox will be naked through most of it but she kills all the teenage boys(instead of it being the other way around) and Diablo Cody wrote it so hopefully the boys can cringe while the girls get to laugh!