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Tuesday, October 08, 2019 

Birds of Prey movie looks like a social justice disaster in the making

It's not clear what the exact story in the upcoming Birds of Prey movie is supposed to be, other than how, for now, they seem to have gone by the anti-sex route, cast a villainess in the lead (Harley Quinn), and race-swapped Black Canary. And that's just the beginning of what looks like an alarming case of a film being shamelessly exploited by its studio for the sake of leftist feminism and attacking "man-splaining". In this quote Heroic Hollywood got from the French edition of Premiere (via One Angry Gamer), Ewan McGregor, set to play a homosexual take on Black Mask, says:
“What interested me with Birds of Prey is that it’s a feminist film. It is very finely written, it is in the script a true look on the misogyny. And I think we (the men) need that, we need to be more aware of how we behave with the opposite sex. We need to be taught to change. The misogynists in the movies are often extreme: they are raping, they beat women… And it’s legitimate to represent people like that, because they exist and they are obviously the worst. But in the dialogues of Birds of Prey, there is always an allusion to everyday misogyny, to those things that we say as a man we do not even realize, to mansplaining… All this is in the script in a very subtle way. I found that brilliant.”
It's not clear what he means, and he sounds like he's alluding to a most offensive feminist doctrine, "all men are rapists". I sadly doubt, as a result, that he's alluding to notorious acts of gender bigotry like Identity Crisis from 2004, which warrant far more valid criticism. Whatever McGregor's getting at here, it sounds alarmingly disgusting, and could easily be an attack on past actors like Fred Astaire, who did star in romantic movies in their time.

Let's be clear. Anti-female misogyny is as valid an issue today as in any era. But if distinctions aren't made between what counts or doesn't, then McGregor's hugely exaggerating and blanket smearing the entire male sex. It reminds me of writer Chris Roberson, who said something similar over 5 years ago about white men, following the Isla Vista shootings. And all this while, what's ignored is how Me Too's devolved into a vengeance-through-framing movement that's damaged the reputations/careers of potentially innocent men over allegations that, unlike the Weinstein case, haven't been proven in a court of law or any legal category, and even led to suicides.

Then, in related news, Harley Quinn actress Margot Robbie told Vogue that sex appeal's been deliberately removed:
Harley Quinn, Suicide Squad’s baby-voiced psycho schoolgirl on roller skates, is not exactly a mascot for the emancipation of women in Hollywood. But when we drop by the wardrobe trailer so that Robbie can try on a costume intended for the next day’s shoot—a sequined blazer, sports bra, and orange track shorts—I notice that this Harley seems more Sporty Spice than male fantasy. “That’s what happens when you have a female producer, director, writer,” says the film’s costume designer, Erin Benach, who previously worked on A Star Is Born.

“Yeah, it’s definitely less male gaze–y,” Robbie says.
I guess they don't want a male audience any more than a female audience. On which note, did it occur to them they've made it less lesbian-gazey, as a result? All that aside, I couldn't help notice this paragraph at the top:
MARGOT ROBBIE ALWAYS thought that once she was a good enough actor, she would write Quentin Tarantino a letter. Just to get on his radar. Or at least to let him know how much his movies meant to her. She was sure people must tell him that all the time. But still. “I’ve always been a huge—huge—Tarantino fan,” she tells me one afternoon in Los Angeles. “I love his movies. Love them.” After Robbie watched the first cut of I, Tonya, the 2017 biopic about figure skater Tonya Harding, which Robbie produced and starred in, she decided she was finally good enough. (The performance would earn her an Oscar nomination.) “So I wrote him and said, ‘I adore your films, and I would love to work with you in some capacity. Or any capacity.’”
Wow, is she still a huge fan of Tarantino, the man who denigrated Samantha Geimer, most notable victim of Roman Polanski, who's also mentioned in the interview? If she is, that suggests huge double-standards at work here.

On which note, you can take out all the sex from a movie's screenplay, but it won't change what goes on behind the scenes, and even today, 2 years after the Harvey Weinstein scandal, there's every possibility sexual abuse and harassment still goes on in Hollywood and other entertainment mediums that the Me Too movement doesn't even see fit to protest, which just demonstrates how phony it is, and has actually hurt women more than helped. So what's Robbie's point?

Why, in fact, one has to wonder, again, why a villainess gets top billing in the film, while the Black Canary, race-swapped or not, gets only 2nd or 3rd billing? Do I get the vibe the producers of what looks to be a dumpster fire aren't particularly fond of Robert Kanigher's 1947 creation? The way casting's been handled is beginning to remind me of the opportunities missed with the Captain Marvel movie.

Chuck Dixon, who developed the original comics series in 1996, recently noted that editor Jordan Gorfinkel won't get credit for his role in producing the co-starring vehicle for Black Canary and former Batgirl Barbara Gordon, in her 2nd role of Oracle. But with the way this film's screenplay is turning out, that's why they'd do better to disown and distance themselves from the proceedings altogether. It makes little difference who created the characters, or the precise series starring them. What matters is that their material's been exploited for the sake of a political agenda, and the more I read about the film, the more I'm beginning to dislike what's spoken of, and the more unappealing it looks and sounds. If anything, it proves Harley Quinn's become overused, and now in a movie with such a baffling plot and story that doesn't live up to anything the original comics by Dixon were about. One has to wonder: how do the producers of BoP's movie feel about adapting a comic written by a guy who's a conservative? Chances are, they're as ungrateful as can be, one more reason it'd be better for Dixon to avoid promoting such an embarrassment.

The Daily Wire notes:
“Birds of Prey” will be released on February 7, 2020. If the social messages that McGregor speaks of are indeed prevalent throughout the film, that may not bode well for its box office potential, given that audiences have increasingly grown tired of sitting through movies that feel like political lectures instead of stories that utilize those social concepts to generate compelling themes rich with complex characters. No film put that on display better than this summer’s action comedy “Stuber,” which tanked at the box office after the cast explicitly stated the movie would be a “constant” exploration of toxic masculinity.
All this also proves that, the Wonder Woman movie notwithstanding, artistically successful action movies starring women are still a long way off. Heavy-handed political agendas won't ensure a successful film.

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Would you prefer an economical or governmental agenda instead?

I'd prefer no agenda at all.

Artistically successful action movies seems like a contradiction in terms. But if you are looking for good action movies starting women, they are not a long way off. Try Zorro's Black Whip, Coffy, Kill Bill, Tomb Raider, THe Hunger Games, La Femme Nikita, Foxy Brown....

"I'd prefer no agenda at all."

Tell that to every last two-bit writer and artist in the world today.

"Whatever McGregor's getting at here, it sounds alarmingly disgusting, and could easily be an attack on past actors like Fred Astaire, who did star in romantic movies in their time."

I suppose if you have no idea what he is getting at he could be saying anything. It could easily be an attack on Charles Schultz for that matter, so all Peanuts fans should immediately write letters of protest and boycott the movie.

Reasons why Harley gets first billing over Dinah:
1) Margot Robbie
2) Harley has had several long-lasting and popular comic book series while Black Canary has never been able to sustain her own title for long;
3) Margot Robbie
4) Harley has more name recognition among a general audience because of the Suicide Squad movie and the Batman cartoons;
5) did I mention Margot Robbie?

I would love to see this funky Birds Of Prey Harley Quinn Blue Jacket, it has adorable colors of the collection, looks so charismatic and lovely.

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I appreciate the insight into Ewan McGregor's perspective on the film's feminist themes, but I can understand why some might find his comments concerning. It's crucial to address issues like misogyny in media, but it's equally important to avoid generalizations that could alienate certain audiences.

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