I would normally post this kind of thoughts on my movie blog but I feel I can be a little bit more personal here so I’m going for it. As you all know Birdman won the Best Picture Oscar on Sunday and most know I wanted Boyhood to win. Watching the story of a boy growing up to a man and his family and life was one of the most powerful experiences in movies I’ve ever had.
But that’s not actually what makes me sad about the Birdman win or at least it’s not all of it (it’s just a stupid award ceremony anyway). What really bothers me is seemingly everyone, not just the Hollywood left, has a huge blindspot about the movie and its demeaning and clichéd depiction of women and I don’t understand how in 2015 such a thing can be tolerated and even awarded.
I went over in my review of Birdman why I felt the movie was misogynistic and demeaning but I will review the female characters briefly here:
1. Andrea Risenborough as Riggan’s girlfriend who pretends to be pregnant in order to manipulate him in their relationship
2. Naomi Watts plays Lesley a woman who has dreamed of making it on Broadway. Instead of a great experience she is nearly raped on stage by the Edward Norton character and the movie forgets about this far too quickly.
3. Emma Stone plays Riggan’s daughter who is out of rehab and lectures him about he is worthless and doesn’t matter because he won’t embrace twitter. You think she would be glad to see her Dad mount a play on Broadway, no small task but no.
4. Amy Ryan is Riggan’s ex and she has some strong moments but she is still clearly in love with him making her frustrating too.
5. The worst character of all is Tabitha a female theater critic for the New York Times who tells Riggans she has already decided her review and she is going to destroy him. I find that very hard to believe anyone would really do that but if they did they sure wouldn’t tell the star of the show about it. I thought her character was completely ridiculous.
6. There is also a lesbian kiss which is completely nonessential to the plot The 2 aren’t in a relationship. It doesn’t go anywhere and from all I could see it is there only to titillate and excite men.
How can I be the only person in the world who see’s this as a problem? I’ve dug and haven’t found a single critic who has brought this up? Some say ‘but it’s a satire of Hollywood’, which I would say “I guess I don’t find rape, gender stereotypes and shrill obnoxious women funny”. I don’t buy the satire argument anyway. What is satirical about the kiss? I saw no double meaning behind it or reason for it existing.
A great satire on the entertainment industry like All About Eve had dialogue that sparkled and a variety of female and male characters, some manipulative, wounded, sweet, the whole spectrum. It’s a heck of a lot more biting, funny, dramatic and lasting. Actually All About Eve and Birdman are very similar. Both are about aging stars who are confronting younger versions of themselves, trying to stay relevant and maintain a personal life but Eve is so much more interesting, funny and tragic.
Of course Hollywood is going to reward a film that tells them how hard it is to be a star. We’ve seen that a million times, so I get why the establishment likes Birdman and it does look very nice as a movie. But why the rest of America is embracing it I have no idea. It really has made me sad.
The scariest part is this type of misogyny keeps popping up from time to time. Like last year’s ABC offering Mixology which also featured rape, abuse and murder jokes and an extended gag about how women who throw up at bars are needy and ready for the taking. Also evidently a man owning a box of Kleenex tissues is ultra feminine. Who knew? At least with Mixology we had the good sense to get it off the air.
But what’s wrong with our society when that kind of thing even exists? I’m serious. It really bothers me and to see it rewarded and universally unquestioned upsets me. It’s interesting when everyone was all up in arms about 50 Shades of Grey it is Birdman that got under my skin. At least 50 is honest about what it is and doesn’t drape itself in the robe of an arthouse film.
Anyway I just wanted to get it out there. That’s how I feel.
Ok. I’ve said my peace and moving on to films that may actually be remembered. Birdman like other forgettable best picture winners I’m positive will not.
I have a feeling this will invite trolls since it is so well liked so I am disabling comments on this. If you want to discuss it with me try me on twitter or other social media.