I recently saw Scott Pilgrim Vs The World, or the first hour of it or something.
I immediately despised the main character. An “anti-hero” is how my friend, who had recommended the film, described him. Even this seems too grand a term. He is a lump of semi-pubescent nothing.
He strikes me as a younger, less creative and interesting version of Woody Allen, and I hate Woody Allen.
This adorably ineffectual stick of nothing that looks like he would get a hard on once every three days, is an extreme example of a new breed of male lead increasingly offered up in films, apart, of course, from the action hero cliche that has by now become self referential and tongue in cheek even in its most mainstream incarnations.
The fight-scenes, which are perhaps the best examples of the movies truly innovative visual style, suck any sense of danger or anger out and clearly intend to do so. They are, quite literally, made to look like video games. Consequence free visual dances, whose outcomes are forgone conclusions, a matter of time.
I’m reminded of what Dam Savage said, about extra marital affairs, how in the pre-feminist era, there was an assumption that men would be having affairs outside of the marriage. What happened with the growing levels of egalitarianism inside marriages, he argues is that men lost the freedom to have these liaisons, which had been assumed, rather than women gaining it.
For men it has been easier to enslave themselves than free women.
This dynamic goes far beyond sex, and affects especially men’s diminishing capacity to express violent, hateful, aggressive urges, either through communication or action, even when the alternative – inaction and acquiescence- represents a cowardice, a callousness, that is itself far more vicious and selfish.
They’ve done something like this with the female characters, too, replacing our leading ladies with ten year old boys with tits, or worse.
The leading lady in Scot Pilgrim is worse. The point at which what I didn’t like about the movie crystallized for me was when she dyed her hair and the male lead, Scott Pilgrim, freaked out over it. The T-shirt slogan “Emo: Because homosexual wasn’t gay enough”, jumped to mind at this stage, as in others during the movie.
The girl’s hair is highly evocative of the Harijuku girls of japan, or even the manga and anime cartoons which predate this meat-space incarnation. In the Japanese context the whole thing has overtly pedophilic overtones. Tiny Asian schoolgirls with big cartoonish eyes and an aura of immense vulnerability and innocence. Theirs is a selfish, vampiric empathy that promises to enjoy the dominant sadist male’s own pleasure more than he does himself.
Of course this is not who we get for a female lead, she is a much more stumpy character in terms of both manner and appearance, pushing her shoulders forward crowding out her boobs which could actually be the one interesting feature if she had the gonads (a word referring to the reproductive glands of either a man or a woman) to stick them out a little.
She’s taller than him, and stronger, and more present and accountable and in general has every one of the positive traits associated with masculinity in greater abundance than him. Overall though, she is deeply androgynous. Not in the way of a transvestite, oozing both masculinity and femininity in copiously competing qualities. She is cardboard, just like him. They are two perfectly bland little suburban nothings. We are meant to be captivated. Many of us are.
Her Asian schoolgirl hair seems meant to break this monotony, like bright red roses in a sterile white hospital room, like an icon, referencing a hungry, intense, concentrated sexuality – located elsewhere.
This is made stranger by the fact he leaves the Asian school girl he is seeing at the start of the movie to be with her.
The imitation is better than the real thing.
I am reminded of a photograph I once saw depicting a young Muslim Lebanese girl wearing a headscarf which had sewn into the forehead a patch depicting an unveiled Barbie Doll.
The reference to a desired object elsewhere, evoked through obvious but unacknowledged symbols, is so much more comfortable than the real thing.
We are always experiencing things at as many levels of remove as is necessary to prevent them from rupturing the comforting mundanity of our lives, but still desiring to experience them.
Grow a set. Be here, now, with me, as yourself, fearlessly. Even if it is only for a moment.
Without that we have nothing.