A continuation of my earlier Riddick review, although from a different perspective.
Riddick in a nutshell: Fierceness, bravado, and profanities. While Riddick embodies the kind of hyper-masculinity that our patriarchal society idealizes, and without question delivers entertaining action and emotional thrill–this “man culture” is essentially problematic because it idealizes both violence and sexual domination.
If you’ve read my previous review–“Riddick (2013): Women are for fucking”, then you know that I gave an epic feminist rant on negative female stereotypes and rape culture. What makes me want to write a follow-up post is that I feel compelled to address multiple perspectives and go beyond my blatant gynocentrism. Yes, there are more issues present in this movie than women being raped.
I know many men become offended at this accusation: “men are all rapists”. It is an extreme statement that implicates the fact that women are frequently objectified and presented as sexual objects in the media and in real life, while men are easily typecasted as the aggressor or the “villain”. The case with Riddick is that it is a film that worships macho, when “macho” delineates violence, excessive cussing, and well, more or less, rape (or sexual domination over an sexualized body, which usually happens to be women since our society is still defined by heteronormativity). Which is really nobody’s fault–the media gives people what they want. If anything, these films are merely mirrors that reflect the gender-problematic society we have today.
Of course, nobody is saying “rape is good”, but the implications of our “rape culture” label sexual prowess as an indication for masculinity, and it’s entirely positive to say that “we raped that team” to express victory and triumph. And that is only one part of our “macho” or “manly” culture. It is “manly” to be daring, capable of violence and damage, and to have the ability to talk shit (momentously) to one another. No wonder seeing a douchebag like Santana getting owned gives so much satisfaction.
It’s not just a man thing, either. Women are completely and utterly subject to this, too. I admit I am also subject to this kind of culture, thus I seek to be aware and ultimately, to be free of it. In my previous review, I wrote about Dahl (a bad-ass tough-chick in the film) obtaining some form of agency (as a character and as woman) because she beats up Santana and gets a few touch lines. “I don’t fuck guys, but occasionally, I fuck ‘em up.” That’s what she said in the movie. And in my heart, I cheered! And then I realized, damn, I’m already too deep into the trap.
Why do the qualities I deem to augment female agency consist of the exact same things–fierceness, bravado, and profanities!? Furthermore, this interpretation of female agency basically suggests that for a female to have any agency at all–she must act like a man.
Is this what it comes down to? The way we define and perceive strength and respect–it’s all about beating somebody up, talking and acting tough?
What about other positive qualities that command strength and respect as a human person, a human being? Qualities such as honesty, fairness, modesty, compassion? Qualities that are actually virtues?
Well, I suppose we don’t get much thrill out of that if a hero, embodying all of those traits, starred in a swashbuckler film.