Friday, May 5, 2017

Atomic Blonde: My Jaw Drops But I Have Questions

Charlize Theron is a fucking badass, and her character is clearly bisexual, so my first impression is, what's not to like?

On the other hand, though, I'm scared of some things. After the scene in the trailer with the women making out, the first cut is to men reacting. There is nothing that turns me off faster than that. In my personal life, I've worked so hard to get free of that shit, to be able to love the women I love without experiencing Men Reacting in my head, to be out with a date at a bar without tensing up at the possibility of Men Reacting. Sure, Men Reacting can be a little bit fun when they're going to get ignored (see: Carol, and the wonderful line, delivered by Therese, "I haven't thought about him all day."). However, I don't quite trust that this is what's going on in Atomic Blonde.

A bisexual woman does not have to end up with a woman to be queer, but I do think her relationships with women need to be treated with equal respect as her relationships with men. So, I'm scared that James McAvoy's character will Matter, but hot French woman will in the end Not Matter. This fear is compounded by the way the movie is billed—Charlize Theron and James McAvoy get the starring spots.

Does it not look a bit like hot French woman is about to be strangled, or that the trailer is foreshadowing her death? Color me paranoid, but this is a sore spot for me (ahem, way too many television shows).

I picked option 2 out of the 2 red band trailers, even though I think option 1 has more makeouts? However, option 2 had a mix of Personal Jesus and BLKKK SKKKN HEAD and I am here for that. However, can we talk about the music for a minute?

So, I love both those songs, and they sound and look super cool in the trailer. But I DO feel weird about a song that is so racially charged playing while a white woman kills people. I mean, Kanye even sort of addresses that in his lyrics:

"They see a black man with a white woman at the top floor they gone come to kill King Kong," he says.

It's also super weird to see her punching people to the line, "If I knew what I knew in the past, I would have been blacked out on your ass." She is not "blacked out."

This stuff with the song makes me feel a little weird about the movie, too. These people obviously know how to make something look cool. But the way they're using BLKKK SKKKN HEAD feels clumsy and oblivious. If they're clumsy and oblivious about racial stuff, I'm guessing they're likely to be clumsy and oblivious about queer stuff, too.

So I'm torn, because I like the idea of female-led action movies, and I am probably going to watch this. But I worry I will also be really irritated by it.

People on Autostraddle are struggling with similar questions, especially in the comments.

[And an aside about the song itself: I love it because to me it sounds like what Trent Reznor wishes he could do. It's the driving lyrical force of rap, combined with what made my teenage heart love Nine Inch Nails so very, very much. HOWEVER, it does contain a few lines that really annoy me. Kanye West is a genius, but does he have no editor? "I keep it 300, like the Romans. 300 bitches, where the Trojans?" Aaaargh. Maybe I am a nerd, but every time I hear that, I want to be like, Kanye, my friend, 300 is a reference to the Spartans, who were NOT Romans. Please keep your ancient cultures consistent. Anyway, that was neither here nor there, but I can never hear that line without wanting to rant about it, so...]

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