In which I rant about Kickass

Posted: May 16, 2011 in Culture, Uncategorized

Ok, so i read Kickass recently. Admittedly i’d just had my nose broken and was therefore more than usually fragile, but still, I really disliked it. Just found it horrible. I figured no way would I go see the movie. But people whose opinions i’m predisposed to trust have recommended or appreciated it, so i’d be really interested in other people’s responses.

I think what i disliked about the comic, and these things may be very different in the film, was: a) how unsympathetic all the characters (bar Hit Girl, who’s ten and admittedly pretty cool and funny, and The Girl, of whom more later) were. Kick-ass was just..unlikeable, inconsiderate, intolerant, and not even in a funny way. None of the characters seemed to be able to get beyond the fucking chips on their shoulders, or even recognise their existence, and simply projected them outside onto others, whom they then physically hurt. Nothing was ever acknowledged or dealt with, lots of people just died in nasty ways. Which is fine, but not a very significant,meaningful, pleasant or interesting endpoint.

b) all the ‘bad guys’ or victims seemed to be racial ‘others’ and defined by their ‘other’ness, by which i mean – given the racial profile of the WASP-y main characters – to belong to distinctive races and nationalities than mainstream american Christianity. Eg: Italian mafia bad guys, Puerto Rican?! or Hispanic street gangs, big black dudes with dreadlocks who present a visually amusing contrast to a tiny white girl. Funny maybe, if you like that kinda thing, but politically and ideologically a bit shit.

C) all the violence seemed so pointless. Nobody was defending anything meaningful or worth saving; unless racial profiling is taken as the reason, in which case OH MY FUCKING GOD NO. the authors seemed to take pleasure in recreating visceral violence for no significant reason and then encouraging us to dismiss the effectively conveyed human pain and find it situationally funny. I don’t particularly enjoy that.

D) Apparently in the film Kickass got the girl, which makes the whole thing so much worse. In the comic he doesn’t, and yet we’re somehow meant to feel sorry for him, despite the fact that he’s spent the last however long abusing her trust.

E) the main female character with non-romantic agency (Hit Girl) is, whilst a culturally amusing creation and probably the most likeable person around, bar The Girl, brainwashed and directed by someone else (male), and explicitly leaves her agency behind in a search for domestic normalcy.

F) The Girl is actually pretty cool, and she does tell him to fuck right off at the end, which is kinda awesome, and i think we’re positioned so that approving of her is a non-confrontationally alternative reading. She seems ‘nice’ enough, but partly due to the ‘gay men do makeup and girltalk’ stereotype the comic’s also perpetuating, she’s also a cardboard cutout, and not a particularly thoughtful one at that. She’s essentially shallow, and way too stereotypically ‘girly’ to count as a three-dimensional human being. They watch America’s next top model, soaps, go shopping, try on hats. BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT BEING A GIRL OR A GAY MAN IS DEFINED BY, obv. Even her sympathetically portrayed sympathy (heh) for his supposed rentboyness or dilemmas about telling his family is a) insinuating she’s a bit stupid so’s not to get it, and b) not entirely her own, the product of her mother who runs a shelter for ‘women who’ve been abused.’ Her rejection of him (whilst entirely justified, and another aspect of the book’s whole ‘real life ain’t like the movies, you fucker’ schtick…) can also meant be read as a bit ‘awww, shame, poor boy’. all these things annoy me.

G) FFS. ALL GAY MEN ARE NOT STEROTYPICALLY GIRLYGIRLS WITH COCKS. DAMMIT. Gay men are not defined by being the only guys that like to talk to or hang out with girls, while the ‘realmen’ are on the streets hurting people, and people of all different genders can be close in so very many different ways. Sure, some guys and girls *are* like that, but why pick the obvious cliche and not something a bit more interesting/different/godforbid stereotype-challenging? IT’S JUST LAZY. Even if your schick is saying ‘it’s not like the cliches cos he doesn’t get the girl- which he does in the movie? – why not reinforce this point by writing outside them or implicitly questioning their boundaries? Dammit.

Opinions/debate welcomed, that was just off the top of my head. It’s been a long time since i’ve read an author who seemed to punish their characters so much and *enjoy* it.

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