Monday, August 15, 2016

Sexism, Outrage and Suicide Squad

The Internet has been ablaze with outrage regarding Suicide Squad. Whether or not it was “good” isn’t what I’m writing about in the post. Before I even write a review of it, I wanted to write about how there seems to be an oddly passionate outcry with respect to the sexist representation of Harley Quinn.

If you Google “Suicide Squad Sexism,” the first article that comes up is from the entitled 'Suicide Squad's Harley Quinn is the result of 'sexism by committee' written by Gavia Baker-Whitelaw. Its sentiments are mirrored by several other articles. Now, allow me to be clear. I’m not saying that Suicide Squad was a particularly progressive film. I’m not saying it’s a feminist film. I’m not even saying that it wasn’t a sexist movie. But I am confused by how outraged people are over this movie in particular.

Is the outcry a result of disappointment? When you heard “You Don’t Own Me” introducing Quinn, did you expect to get Rey (from Star Wars The Force Awakens)?

Don’t get me wrong; I applaud the fact that people are calling out a movie for objectifying women. 

But, for the people who are particularly outraged, have you ever seen a movie?

Have you ever seen a superhero movie?
Have you ever seen Harley Quinn?

Part of me wants to point out the fact that Harley Quinn isn’t someone we want to be. I mean if for no other reason than because she’s in an abusive relationship and, oh yeah, she’s a murderous criminal.

Why is this depiction so much worse than somebody like Black Widow? Black Widow, after all, is supposed to be something of a role model.

The thing that bothers me about Suicide Squad is that it does a garbage job of “being progressive”. In the article above, the author notes the scene of Harley dressing, the movie calls out the guys gawking at her. It’s as if the movie gets a free pass because we can laugh at the leering men...all while we gaze at her. Harley may have the power to punish male characters but she can’t punish the audience. There are things the movie could’ve done to implicate the audience too (and that would be so good if it did) but it didn’t.