Matchup of the Day: Sucker Punch vs. Mean Girls
Kim Kardashian, Mean Girls, and Sucker Punch – how are they related? Let’s try to figure it out with today’s matchup.
I came across an article about the recent disagreement between Kim Kardashian and Chloë Moretz regarding the former posting a nude selfie of herself on the internet. After researching a bit more, I discovered that actress Bette Midler and pop star Pink chimed in as well. The three took issue with Kardashian showing off what nature gave her. Moretz and Pink shared the sentiment that women should use their brains and not their bodies, and that posting the selfie might set a bad example. Kardashian, who is 35-years old and just birthed a child, saw nothing wrong with posting the selfie because she was proud of her body. In an essay Kardashian wrote for National Women’s Day she says:
“I am empowered by my body. I am empowered by my sexuality. I am empowered by feeling comfortable in my skin. I am empowered by showing the world my flaws and not being afraid of what anyone is going to say about me. And I hope that through this platform I have been given, I can encourage the same empowerment for girls and women all over the world.”
Some applauded Kardashian’s words, while others were less credulous. The Slate article “Kim Kardashian Is an Empowered Woman. That Doesn’t Make Her a Good Role Model” doesn’t take Kardashian to task for the selfie, but it does assert that the only person she is empowering is herself. Whether that is true or not isn’t the issue, however, according to the Salon article “Stop slut-shaming Kim Kardashian“. The author argues that Kardashian shouldn’t have to explain herself, and that the implication of Moretz’s criticism is that women should suppress their sexuality entirely.
In Mean Girls, Lindsay Lohan plays Cady, a high school student who spent most of her life in Africa with her zoologist parents. Chloë Moretz and Pink would approve of her – Cady has a mind for mathematics and seems incognizant of her prettiness, even though she is complimented on her looks twice within the first ten minutes of the film. Because Cady was home schooled she possess little understanding of high school politics, especially the politics of being a female. When she is invited to join the math team it’s primarily due to her being a girl rather than academic skills. The popular girls, the “Plastics”, notice her only due to her being physically attractive. She attends a Halloween party unaware that the holiday “is the one day a year when a girl can dress up like a total slut and no other girls can say anything else about it”. Instead, Cady shows up as a fully-clothed zombie bride.
Sucker Punch is dismissed by some as a male fantasy film. This is not entirely an unfair assessment. After all, the characters are attractive females dressed provocatively and armed to the teeth. There are males, believe it or not, who enjoy that sort of thing. But other interpretations probe deeper under the surface. One article I read states that “A central idea of the movie is the fine line between exploitation and empowerment. ” Director Zack Snyder has said that Punch is a critique of the segment of fanboy culture that views women only as sex objects. According to the video analysis “You Don’t Understand Sucker Punch,” the film is actually a representation of how women were portrayed during different periods of history. The article Analysis of Sucker Punch – A Feminist Perspective takes more or less takes the same view. The scenes where the female characters are battling monsters while wearing skimpy outfits represents them fighting against fanboy objectification. It’s really a female fantasy film about empowerment.
Cady’s friend Janis hates the “Plastics”. The four girl clique is led by the manipulative and mean-spirited Regina, who Janis particularly has it out for. Knowing that Cady is pretty enough to gain entrance into the “Plastics”, Janis convinces her to infiltrate the group and sabotage their evil empire. Cady has a crush Regina’s ex-boyfriend, Aaron, and accepts the mission partly as a means to get closer to him. While Cady does carry out the mission as planned, she also starts to become more like a “Plastic”. The power, and shallowness, of being one of “hot” girls starts to overcome her. She even pretends to be bad at math in order to get Aaron to like her more. Things really get out of control when the scheme leads to all of Cady’s female classmates breaking into a brawl over rumors spread by Regina to get back at Cady.
Fed up with all the backstabbing and hostility, the principal gathers all the girls in the gymnasium to settle the problem once and for all. The math teacher, played by Tina Fey, tells them ” you all have got to stop calling each other sluts and whores. It just makes it ok for guys to call you sluts and whores.” She then has them all apologize for something mean they did to another girl to encourage solidarity. The film ends with the “Plastics” disbanding, each member finding something more fulfilling to do than acting catty. Cady realizes that everyone is beautiful in their own way. And she goes on to win a math tournament.
The disagreement between Kim Kardashian and Chloë Moretz can be viewed as an exploitation vs. empowerment issue. Kardashian chooses to be famous for her figure, and it is very successful at it. Moretz seems to view Kardashian’s “exploitation” of her own body as, on some level, exploiting all women. Not everyone sees it that way, however, just as not everyone sees Sucker Punch as an empty-headed fanboy flick. There are a couple scenes from Mean Girls that stood out to me, though rather brief. In both cases, Regina’s younger sister is shown mimicking what’s on the television – a sexually suggestive music video and what appears to be a Girls Gone Wild clip – without any supervision. Maybe this is really what people should be concerned about.