Friday, August 04, 2017

Fantasia 2017: Tragedy Girls

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I don't know about you but I think dumb thoughts sometimes. So sometimes, in my deep dark deplorable places, I'll read a piece decrying "Social Justice Warriors" and the tendency to be politically outraged about every little thing and I can feel a dumb thrum inside of me nodding - oh don't cry for me, the white man, and my difficulty with being one hundred percent open-minded all the time, I beg of you. (As if.) But the part of me that wallows in John Waters and revels in Paul Verhoeven (again with the white men) sometimes worries we might be losing something by scurrying away from every goofy offense.

And then a movie like Tragedy Girls comes along and reminds me what we're gaining. Because like the saying goes - we're not losing a daughter, we're gaining a son, and in this case the "son" is the ability for everybody of every sex, color, and creed, to be foul-mouthed and bad-tempered and nasty pigs in on the joke, and that's a celebration. A joy! Comedy, not tragedy!

Tragedy Girls, the whipsmart and funny and hilariously gory new flick from director Tyler MacIntyre that just played the Fantasia Festival, quickly subverts our expectations of the Slasher formula, which in itself isn't so unique - we've been expecting that ever since Drew Barrymore fondled that butcher knife while nonchalant chit-chatting about Jason Voorhees with her soon-to-be murderer. But Slasher Films (and much of Horror itself, for that matter) came about as a way for Men to experience and expatiate the terror that we make Women exist in on a day to day basis. Slashers are the dark cloud of male guilt in movie form - we sit down and feel what it's like for women to be hounded, terrorized, sexualized, exploited and brutalized, and come out on the other side Wiser, Harder, all weakness expunged by trial of fire.

Basically the Final Girl trope lets us off the hook at the end. (Sometimes literally, depending on the killer's tool!) I'm sure Women have a similar experience with these movies - they do make up the majority of the audience for them, after all. But Tragedy Girls (which was written and directed by men, it should be noted) seems to exist in the next level of male-female inter-personality - what comes next? Well Women Are Doing It For Themselves, of course, and Women Can Have It All, Too - they can be Killer and Victim and every goddamn girly thing in between too of they want to, and we'll all happily ride along.

I'm throwing some Very Serious Ideas at a Very Unserious Movie, but I think Tragedy Girls can handle it. Sadie & McKayla (played by the effervescent tag-team of Brianna Hildebrand and Alexandra Shipp, both alums of the extended X-Men Universe) can handle anything. Serial Killers, Instagram Likes, Prom Dates, Prom Massacres - hell the slashing isn't even the problem. What matters is the bond between these two women - can it withstand the societal pressures that we pile on young women? And can they get all of those guts cleaned up before shop class reconvenes?


4 comments:

Anonymous said...

"...oh don't cry for me, the white man, and my difficulty with being one hundred percent open-minded all the time, I beg of you. (As if.)"

...

"But the part of me that wallows in John Waters and revels in Paul Verhoeven (again with the white men) sometimes worries we might be losing something by scurrying away from every goofy offense."

...

"But Tragedy Girls (which was written and directed by men, it should be noted) seems to exist in the next level of male-female inter-personality - what comes next? Well Women Are Doing It For Themselves, of course, and Women Can Have It All, Too - they can be Killer and Victim and every goddamn girly thing in between too of they want to, and we'll all happily ride along."

It must be exhausting to have this much self-loathing over being an Evil White Cis Man.

Maybe take a breather and recognize that you neither the cause of, nor the solution to, the world's problems.

Maybe reflect and consider that if you are constantly dwelling on your status as Evil White Cis Man, you are merely perpetuating the problem you claim to loathe.

Maybe reflect on how much of your outrage over social justice is merely an expression of your own feelings of personal helplessness and does nothing - zero, zilch, nada - to help the people you claim to want to help.

We get it. We see it, and we don't need white cis men to condescend to us by beginning every single goddamn sentence talking about how they are a white cis man. We know. And the answer to oppression *we* face is not to talk about how awful you are, or how awful white dudes are (because you're not, at least not for being a white dude), it's to give *us* a chance to talk.




JA said...

Anon - I don't disagree with anything you say (esp not with the giving y'all a chance to talk part) but I do think you took my tone a little seriouser than I intended - I was making fun of myself and poking holes in My Own Worst Instincts. I am fully aware of these as weaknesses - this review was just intended as a big WELCOME sign to other people's points of views, but since I am me and I can only be me, strained through my neuroses. I think we end up at the same place - somebody shut me and my ilk up and let the other people talk for a change!

Anonymous said...

That was a lot of talk, some of it interesting, and some of it boring. Would have loved less about you and a real overview of what sounds like an interesting movie, ie a little of the story and some acting notes, and why you think we should see it. I don't always but generally love the movies you love, but sometimes the verbage gets to me and in the way of what should be an intelligent review.

JA said...

I was having trouble focusing this week to write reviews (that happens sometimes, since my brain is a malfunctioning thing) and I couldn't figure out an "in" for this movie specifically so I went and read a couple of other reviews for inspiration (always a bad idea) and they were all the same thing - "it's Clueless / Heathers meets Scream!" I did not want to do that. Sometimes it's harder than others. This week was an off one so the two (I think?) reviews I actually forced myself to write were kind of weird and scattered. It happens. I am aware when it is happening, but sometimes it's better than not writing anything. You just have to keep forcing yourself to write, write, write, or else you might just die. My flailing just happens to happen mostly in public.