Feminist Film Smackdown: Zombieland

By Ashley

[Note: this article is written under the assumption that those who read it have already seen it. Spoilers.]

On a whim, Andreas and I decided to watch Ruben Fleischer’s Zombieland; we love zombies, we love parody, so it seems logical. After coming to the sobering conclusion that zombies have been so parodied and so ingrained into our pop culture that there’s no way they can be scary again (barring some intense, 28 Days Later-esque film coming out and completely rejuvenating the genre) we hunkered down for what we thought would be a relatively good, funny zombie parody. Overall it delivered on the funny (and the blaahhhh when it wasn’t funny) but it also delivered on a few other things: plot holes, sexism, and gender stereotypes.

Hit the jump to see me unload the snark…

Two words: Jesse Eisenberg. I have some major problems with him; I’m currently working on a piece about the casual misogyny and disregard for that misogyny in The Social Network and how Eisenberg’s witty, obsessive, asshole nerd-god performance lends not just to the misogyny in the movie but also invites active audience participation in that misogyny. This is the second film I’ve seen Eisenberg in and I found him to be much more pleasant than when he’s playing Mark Zuckerberg but still a clingy, obsessive, sexist nerd type—a Zuckerberg-lite, if you will.

It’s understandable that Eisenberg would get typecast in this kind of role: he’s a white, skinny, awkward dude who just happens to be a damn good actor (if he and Michael Cera ever starred in a movie together it would probably collapse under the weight of it’s skinny, white, awkward underdogness). These nerdy types get cast in these kinds of flicks because it speaks to the rather large population of nerdy sexists who want to have their cynical opinions about women and life in general validated on screen (it’s not a new thing; Woody Allen’s been casting himself in these roles since the ’70s). And when I talk about this kind of sexism, I’m not talking about a character saying that women belong in the kitchen or something overt like that. What I’m referring to is the constant objectification of women: looking at them not as people but as something to be either intimidated/rejected by, or sexually conquered.

Even the “sweet” stuff like how all he’s ever wanted was to brush a girl’s hair over her ear is kinda seriously icky in context. When 406, his hot, terrified floor mate, comes banging on his door because she was just harassed and bitten by what they think was a crazy homeless person, the first thing Columbus (Eisenberg’s character) thinks of is oh, wow, hot girl near me. Because what’s more romantic than a hot, terrified (emotionally vulnerable) girl making you feel like a hero when she lays her scared little head on your shoulder?

As Columbus is reminiscing about 406’s inevitable zombification and the following show down, his inner monologue goes like this:

You see, you just can’t trust anyone. The first time I let a girl into my life, she tries to eat me.

And I know, you’re gonna whip out the ol’ “humorless feminist doesn’t understand the funny!” argument. But I understand why this monologue is funny. It’s taking typical teenage angst and placing it in an absurd situation; it’s funny because his life is in danger and he’s talking about it the same way you would talk about relationships! I get it, okay. That still doesn’t change the fact that it’s sexist and raises the even bigger question of why we continually find the objectification of women so darn hilarious. So, okay, Eisenberg’s character is your typical sexist nerd. It’s one character, right? Well, then we get into how the film treats it’s two female characters. And man, does it fuck up royally.

After 24 painfully Emma Stone-less minutes, she finally graces the screen. Of course, Columbus’s immediate thoughts are OMG, HOT GIRL, WANNA BRUSH HAIR OVER EAR, DOESN’T MATTER THAT SHE LOOKS DISTRESSED AND OH YEAH, DESOLATE, ZOMBIE-FILLED WASTE-LAND. And his thoughts later, after it turns out that Stone’s character Wichita and her younger sister Little Rock (played delightfully by Abigail Breslin) are some badass con artists his thought process is the same as with the zombie chick:

Of course, the first hot chick in a thousand miles shows up, makes me feel like an idiot and steals my double-barrel, and then says that I’m the one who can’t be trusted.

What a bitch, right? All self-reliant and cutthroat and trying to do what she has to to survive and shit. Total bitch. And again, the objectification: she’s not just a person trying to fucking survive in a post-apocalyptic landscape, nooo, she’s a “hot chick” who dented Columbus’s pride and hurt his little fee-fees. But okay, lemme jump off Eisenberg’s dick(ery) for a minute because honestly, his character’s bullshit attitude towards women is just a concentrated version of the movie’s attitude overall. Because any time we have awesome, strong, smart, self-reliant women, we just gotta fucking knock them down a few dozen pegs.

Wichita and Little Rock are some kick-ass female characters for the first half of the movie. I love female characters who know how to take care of themselves, and these girls are young, fierce, street-smart survivalists who have made their way cross-country by conning the fuck out of people. They con Columbus and Tallahassee (the hilarious hard-ass butch to Eisenberg’s anxious nerd, played by Woody Harrelson) not once but twice and Tallahassee even wonders at one point if he and Columbus are smart enough to pull off a scheme that clever. After the second con, the two groups reach a hesitant truce and decide to make their way cross-country together.

See now, at this point, I have to point out a fundamental flaw with a lot of mainstream blockbusters that explains some of the problems with this movie. American mainstream film is obsessed with two things: morals and love stories. We always want some overly simplistic lesson that ties everything neatly together and we always want to watch motherfuckers fall in love (especially when they’re young and hot). Each of the characters in Zombieland has the defining characteristic of not wanting to fuck around with other people, which makes sense when you’re trying to survive a zombie takeover—less emotional attachment to others, less loved ones you gotta give the double tap in the skull when they go all zombie on you.

But this just doesn’t jive with mainstream demands; we want people in movies to recognize that they just need other people. And we want Emma Stone to stop being so darned focused on the survival thing so she can see how adorable Eisenberg is and that she wants to make sweet nerd love to him. So, to make this happen, the writers spent a great deal time creating a slow development within Columbus and Wichita’s relationship and made it really believable that she would bring her walls down to let someone else in. LOL, j/k, they just threw all previous character development out the fucking window and sent the girls to go play in a carnival.

So…okay. I can’t…it’s hard for me to even explain the events that lead up to this because they don’t make any sense. Earlier in the film, the ladies mention that they’re heading for this amusement park because it’s supposedly zombie-free. Awesome! Makes sense! After Columbus makes the moves on Wichita, she’s unnerved by her feelings for him so she snatches up her sister and hightails it outta the relative security of Bill Murray’s mansion (yes, Bill Murray’s mansion). This is pretty much keeping with her characterization so far. But they go from the safety of the mansion to the amusement park. And turn on all the rides. And the lights. And the music.

What.

This makes sense on no fucking level. First of all, why is the fucking amusement park even a supposed safe haven? Maybe if it was an amusement park in a fucking military base, I could buy that. But this place obviously has no fucking reinforcement of any kind and is not the kind of place you would want to be making a lot of obvious noise during a zombie apocalypse. Why would Wichita and Little Rock go here and do this? Is there any fucking thing in the first hour or so of the movie that would suggest these two, who have swindled, conned, schemed and hell, probably even shot and killed to ensure their safety, would EVER fucking do something this dangerously insensible? No. There isn’t. And what do you do when you’re two main females are peskily self-reliant in your first two acts and don’t lend themselves easily to being damsels in distress by the third act? Fuck it, do it anyway. Then everyone wins!

Except for the growth of female characters and destruction of gender boundaries in film. But who wants that! Look how cute they are when they kiss!

So, Zombieland, while a pretty successful genre parody, is ultimately not as good as Shaun of the Dead (which just needed to be said at some point) and perpetuates some very tired gender stereotypes. Even in a world where it’s literally survival of the fittest and most cunning, and the women seem to be as ruthless as they need to, that can all be set aside when your story needs a pointless, nonsensical climax. Note to all Hollywood filmmakers: if you stop building the climaxes of your films around women needing to be saved, we won’t fucking have this problem anymore.

17 Comments

Filed under Cinema, Feminism

17 responses to “Feminist Film Smackdown: Zombieland

  1. Yeah. Of all of the idiot children of Night of the Living Dead, this one strays the farthest from the source. I mean, zombie movies used to tear down civilization and its institutions and sow salt in the soil. This one wants desperately to rebuild and reinforce those institutions (including retrograde gender politics–NOTLD’s racial politics are suspiciously absent). It’s a reactionary film. The first time I saw it, I was able to forgive some of this because it made me laugh. The second time, I was a lot less tolerant. At least it’s short, though.

    Also, someone really needs to send Emma Stone and Anna Farris on a buddy road trip a la The Great Texas Dynamite Chase. That would rock.

    • Ashley

      I agree so hard with that last sentiment. And seriously; I enjoyed Zombieland for what it was but it pisses me off so much when films build up awesome female characters just to throw them under the bus when it becomes too difficult to come up with something more interesting to do with them than put them in a dangerous situation. It’s insulting not just to the characters themselves but also to the audience; they really expect us to swallow that these two characters would act this way even though nothing suggests that they should? Sorry, I ain’t buying it.

  2. I would’ve liked it so much more if it ended with just them leaving, and Tallahassee and Columbus were all now-whating over the credits.

  3. Ah I found this movie pretty fun but totally agree that the whole ending sequence had no precedence! Wichita and Little Rock were super badass and clever, I have no idea why they would open up a really loud, glowing amusement park. And I hated that suddenly it became damsels in distress. Why couldn’t they all just continue to work together to kill all the zombies? Or why didn’t Jesse Eisenberg ever need saving?

    Have you seen Night of the Comet? It’s sort of like an 80’s version of Zombieland but with the badass sisters as the main characters. It’s a fun film. Plus it’s got Mary Woronov!

  4. Sten

    I’m a guy, and I hated this film because of the stupid amusement park ending, but I don’t get why the author of this article thinks that this type of female is “strong” and “independant”. Witchita was a selfish, vapid moron throughout the entire movie, and the fact that the author of this article thinks she is “awesome” is disappointing.

    The movie shows the girls, specifically Witchita, taking advantage of awkward guys using her sexuality… Strong independant woman, right? No. Far from it. If the girls survive by conning and stealing from well meaning people, this makes them amoral parasites, not “awesome” and “strong”. What would she have done if she wasn’t stunningly beautiful? Oh, I guess she would have had to rely on ACTUAL resourcefulness and intelligence, instead of finding the most socially awkward guy in the area and using his amazement that she is even acknowledging his existence to steal from him. What annoys me most is that this isn’t seen as “awesome” when a guy does it – an incredibly handsome man taking advantage of an awkward woman isn’t seen as empowering, it’s just creepy and disgusting. I question any feminist who claims to like strong female characters in film, yet can’t make an equivalence comparison such as the one I just made. I think I am more of a feminist than most supposed feminists, and I’m not even female.

    I’m sick of female characters that rely on their looks and sexuality to flesh out the character. Most women are not like that and the fact that there are only two cardboard cutouts in hollywood movies – the “bitch” and the “damsel” – says a lot about our culture. I love Sigorney Weaver’s character of Ripley because she’s not a bitch and she isn’t glamorous or overtly sexual. She could be anyone’s wife or sister or mother. She’s not a typical action hero, but she is resourceful and courageous, and when it’s time to risk her life for a child, she jumps into a nest full of aliens without a second thought. It’s tragic that Ripley is the exception rather than the rule – if only more screenwriters were intelligent enough to realize that there are more women like Ripley than there are “bitches” who constantly undermine other people, or “damsels” who do nothing but scream and look sexy.

    Unfortunately people like you are doing nothing to change this. How sad that you people help to perpetuate these harmful stereotypes instead of encouraging hollywood to be more realistic.

    • Ashley

      Wow. Where to even start with this. First of all, no. Witchita does not use sexuality to take advantage of the awkward hero: when we first see her she looks distraught and afraid. Columbus projected sexuality onto immediately because he’s an asshole who sees women as sexual objects and nothing more. She plays up the “damsel in distress” stereotype, NOT her sexuality. And the fact that she uses a stereotype such as “girl in trouble” as a survival tool is subversive. You call Wichita a bitch because she does what she has to survive and that that makes her an amoral parasite and that’s fucking bullshit because we never question men who do cutthroat things to survive. I pointed out very clearly that within the context of a zombie apocalypse Wichita and her sister doing what they have to survive–which includes stealing and conning people–IS awesome and I stand by it. Am I saying that people who steal and con in daily life are awesome. No, I’m not. You’re completely misconstruing what I wrote and setting it outside of the context it exists in.

      All I hear when I read this is the very outrage I wrote about–Wichita is SUCH A BITCH because she had the audacity to con the fuck out of the awkward hero. All you see when you look at Wichita is a hot chick who is just oh-so mean to the doods, which is exactly what Columbus does and you spend this whole damn post telling me how she uses her sexuality against Columbus. Which is overwhelmingly untrue. I spend a huge amount of my time examining gender in film, especially horror films, so I really don’t appreciate you condescending to me as if I have no idea about these stereotypes and tropes. And yeah, okay, I’m perpetuating a harmful stereotype by saying that resourceful women who get turned into damsels in distress for no reason is a trend that needs to stop. You’re totally a feminist when you come mansplain all over a post and then say I’m NOT feminist because you don’t agree with me. Cool story, bro. Tell me another.

      • Sten

        You are forgetting that Witchita and the annoying ten year old were conning guys before the zombie apocalypse even started. She wasn’t doing it to survive, she was doing it because it’s the easiest way to make money – finding some shill and showing some cleavage to make him cough up money. She IS doing it in her daily life, which makes her an amoral parasite. As I said before, it wouldn’t have worked so well if she wasn’t stunningly beautiful, in that case she would have had to rely on real ingenuity and resourcefulness, and hard work. But god forbid a beautiful woman do something in a movie that doesn’t rely on men, because they’re such wilting delicate flowers and they might break a nail, right?. Far better to jiggle your boobs in some guys face and then take his hard earned money instead. How utterly insulting to your gender, and how disturbing that you don’t recognize this as an offensive stereotype.

        And yes, Witchita is a bitch to con the awkward “hero”. He may be an idiot, but the fact is that he didn’t mean her any harm and was fully prepared to help her, and this did not rely on how beautiful she was, he would have still helped her if she was ugly. She WAS using her sexuality against him when they first met, by acting like a damsel she played on his biological instinct to “protect the woman” and act like a hero. Reversing the roles, if a handsome man had used his sexuality as a strong protector to con an awkward woman out of money/supplies/guns and left her to be eaten by zombies, it would have seemed creepy and not at all “awesome”. What you said about not questioning men was bullshit, a man using such cutthroat tactics against a woman would turn the audience against him and cause him to become the bad guy. In what universe would the audience sympathise for a man who pretended he needed help from a woman and then used her trust to steal all her shit? How many movies have you even seen?

        • 1) How many movies have you even seen? Have you ever seen one that had an anti-hero or anti-heroine—a morally repugnant character with whom the audience sympathized anyway? We’ve written about plenty such movies at Pussy Goes Grrr, movies wherein anti-heroic characters, male and female, act like “amoral parasites,” but are awesome and charming and lovable nonetheless.

          Hell, just the other day, Ashley wrote about Uncle Charlie from Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt. He’s the very definition of amoral parasite, smugly using his good looks and charm to con/murder old women he hates. And yet we love him! That’s the miracle of good acting and good writing. They can twist us around in morally uncomfortable ways. When you watch a movie, you can identify with and cheer for a character you might not love in real life, like Emma Stone’s AWESOME femme fatale big sister Wichita.

          2) Wichita and Little Rock are fucking con artists. I mean seriously, how many movies have you even seen? The Lady Eve? The Grifters? Those, so you know, are two movies where very sympathetic female characters use their sexuality to con men. And incidentally, what makes you think the Zombieland sisters lack “real ingenuity and resourcefulness”? They seem way more on the ball than Eisenberg. In this dog-eat-dog zombie world, they’re sharp enough to detect his “Nice Guy” sexist beliefs and use them against him; if you ask me, it’s one of the film’s few glimmers of true wit. She doesn’t have to do anything but coast along on his stupid assumptions about women. This is why it’s so disappointing that they become vapid, unironic damsels in distress later on. (In case you forgot, that’s the point of the original post.)

          (And as we’ve also discussed extensively on this blog, the femme fatale is a complex archetype with a troubled history that’s produced layered, fascinating female characters but also frequently been employed in the service of raw misogyny. It’s a thorny, dense topic I won’t get into here, though I will recommend the E. Ann Kaplan-edited anthology Women in Film Noir.)

          3) Just a quick note: I find it hilarious that you say “I think I am more of a feminist than most supposed feminists” and follow that up with “Far better to jiggle your boobs in some guys face and then take his hard earned money instead.” Methinks the dudebro doth protest too much.

        • Ashley

          Also, just a btw: you’re basically implying that Emma Stone’s character is using her sexuality against him just by virtue of being attractive. This is what we call objectification. You’re basically saying that, if a woman is attractive, she is always using her body as a sex object. No. Fucking no. You are turning women who meet a standard of hotness into objects and then saying they’re morally inferior. What the fuck is that shit?

        • Ashley

          And ALSO: “…god forbid a beautiful woman do something in a movie that doesn’t rely on men, because they’re such wilting delicate flowers…” YEAH, conning someone and stealing they’re shit is TOTALLY being dependent and reliant on them.

          And what are you implying? That if Emma Stone were ugly this behavior would be okay? Or is it that if she were ugly she wouldn’t able to do this because her entire personality and ability lies in her being attractive? You make no goddamn sense. How dare you imply that you are trying to dismantle stereotypes when you spew this bullshit all over my post. Take your mansplaination elsewhere, bro.

  5. Sten

    Don’t be ridiculous. I am implying that Witchita would not be able to con guys while relying on their amazement that a stunningly beautiful woman is acknowledging their existence, if she wasn’t stunningly beautiful. I didn’t say that she was amoral for being beautiful, that’s a silly assumption you made because you’re being overemotional – it is possible to be beautiful without using beauty as an easy way to steal cash, and without using sexuality in an aggressive, gratuitous manner. Hollywood doesn’t appear to realize this, however.

    Witchita knowingly manipulates their instinctive desire to help a damsel and then takes their shit and leaves them for dead – not because this is the best thing to do, but because it’s what she’s used to doing. Her character is selfish and mean. If she were unnattractive, she would have to rely on good old hard work and cooperation – Columbus probably wouldn’t want to have sex with her, but he’d still help her out because his character is not a scumbag.
    Yes, of course conning and stealing exclusively from awkward men is being dependent on them. If there were no awkward men around, she’d have to find a different way of making money, wouldn’t she? And what about objectification? She objectifies HERSELF by wearing clothes that are specifically designed to get a sexual reaction from men. If she was wearing something like overalls and a truckers hat, the reaction she would recieve would be totally different. You act like the objectification is purely the fault of the men, when really it is a two-way street – and that’s not even touching on the fact that she objectifies men by treating them like insentient cash machines, whose hard earned money exists for her to help herself to. Apparently you don’t see anything wrong with that type of objectification. How predictable.

    You went from specifically claiming that people who steal and con in daily life are NOT awesome, to backpedaling and claiming that it was ok (and still awesome) in the context of the film for her to be an amoral parasite because it was an established convention. Make your mind up please. Either this is something that is ok for every character to do anytime, or it is something that is not ok for any character to do ever. You are creating a double standard by using phrases like “femme fatale” because there is no equivalent for men. “Femme fatale” tends to just be a fancy way of saying “bitch”.

    Also, you’ll notice that Tallahassee and Columbus have gotten along fine without lying, cheating, murdering, or stealing, so what I get from this is either that you’re implying that females need to be duplicitous and parasitic in order to survive, or that there are a seperate set of moral rules for men and women. If she is awesome because she lies, cheats, murders, and steals in order to survive, does that make the two guys more awesome by default for not needing to do any of these things?

    The point that you are continually skimming over is that this behaviour would not be acceptable from a male character in this context – there are plenty of similar examples of females acting like selfish bitches in films, but this is somehow seen as ok and they are able to retain their standing as a “goodie” – even becoming the protagonist’s love interest and having a happy ending, Conversely, the same behaviour from a man would turn him into an anti-hero or antagonist, and would probably result in his eventual death. As I remember, Uncle Charlie gets turned into dogfood by a train, a detail you conveniently neglected to mention.

    Finally, robbing people you don’t know at gunpoint is a pretty good way to get into a firefight. The film establishes that neither of the girls are experienced firearm users and they had no way of knowing the two guys were alone, so eventually they were going to stick up the wrong person, the bullets would start flying, and as a result one of them would probably be injured or killed. Not a particularly smart or effective survival plan.

    Ball’s in your court. Hopefully you can get over your spluttering outrage that someone is disagreeing with you, long enough to formulate a sensible reply this time. ;-)

    • Ashley

      Man, you love to derail, don’t you? I’m overemotional and I’m being hostile. Are you fucking kidding me right now? Wichita dresses “in ways that are specifically designed to get a sexual reaction from men”? She wears a t-shirt, jeans, and a jacket. That is what we see her in the first time she’s on screen. What do you want her to wear, what would meet your standard of non-sexually threatening to poor wittle Columbus? A burlap sack, perhaps? If Wichita’s clothes are sexually provocative then…seriously, I don’t know what to tell you because you obviously have a distorted view of women.
      Watch out, her outfit is just TOO HOT TO HANDLE

      You cannot see past the fact that she is “stunningly beautiful” and are attributing every single thing she does to her objectifying herself because you see her as an object and are projecting that onto her. What the fuck, bro? Also, there is a male equivalent term for femme fatale: the bluebeard. So uh, yeah, you’re just wrong on that count. As for femme fatales getting away with their crimes, you’re wrong again: under the production code, the time when femme fatales in film were at their peak, no one got away with crimes. Especially women. If you committed a crime, you were either dead or jailed by the end of the movie. But most likely dead.

      Me not be ridiculous? Dude, I’m only going on what you say. You say that if she were unattractive she wouldn’t be able to be a con artist because she is using her sexuality against Columbus. So, therefore–since as I stated Wichita never amped up her sexuality against Columbus (you say that by using the damsel in distress trope, she’s using her sexuality but that’s just completely untrue. Please understand tropes)– just by virtue of being attractive she is using her sexuality. You. Are. Objectifying.

      Also, please fucking stop with the accusation that I’m trying to set up a different set of morals for men and women. Because you want to know the honest fucking truth: if Wichita and her sister were replaced with two men who were con artists, we wouldn’t be sitting here having this argument. Because it wouldn’t be out of the norm because being a con-artist, using force, using weapons, these are all things that are coded masculine. And yes, IT IS AWESOME when a movie subverts gendered tropes and has female characters doing things that are coded masculine. You are trying to suggest that I think people in the real world should do the things that people do in movies. Do you not understand how film works? Do you not understand that we as the audience have the capacity to sympathize with characters who have fucked up morality? Or the ability to dislike characters who are morally good? Are you trying to tell me that all of the characters you ever like in any movie ever are only good, morally-upright, pure characters?

      How the hell can you claim that “either ALL characters can do bad things or NONE of them can!” in movies? That’s….just not how movies work. You say that Columbus and Tallahassee don’t do things like rob and con people but the implication is that they would if they could but they’re just too stupid to pull it off (which I pointed out). You’re all hung up on the idea that OMG THESE WOMEN ARE CRIMINALS HOW CAN YOU THINK THEY’RE AWESOME AREN’T YOU SUPPOSED TO BE A FEMINIST?! and completely ignoring how things like crime and the morality behind crime functions in movies. And the ONLY reason you seem to be hung up on it is because it’s an attractive woman. Again, If it were two dudes who conned Columbus and Tallahassee you wouldn’t think twice about it but because it’s an attractive woman it’s a huge fucking deal. You keep saying over and over that WELL IF IT WERE A GUY IT WOULD BE DIFFERENT even though we’ve given you examples of how that’s not true.

      And so, for your convenience, I’ve compiled a very short list of some movies where men are con artist who the audience is supposed to sympathize with (and no, they don’t die):

      Catch Me If You Can (Frank cons millions of dollars out of people: he goes on to be happily married with three children)
      I Love You, Phillip Morris (conned so many goddamn people it’s hard to keep track; escaped from jail multiple times. Is set up in this film as a sympathetic anti-hero)
      Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
      The Music Man

      But beyond these, likeable morally corrupt characters are in ALL GENRES OF MOVIES. Have you seen Psycho? Have you seen The Third Man? What about Freddy Krueger, a child molester and murderer–he is the most popular, charismatic character in the entire franchise and his popularity is what’s made those movies a huge success. Miller’s Crossing? Citizen fucking Kane? All About Eve? All have morally ambiguous characters who either are very likeable or get away with it or both! I could literally go on and on and on.

      Your base claim is that she’s using her sexuality which immediately invalidates her as a strong, female character to which I say: fuck that. She doesn’t use her sexuality, I’ve explained this already but you countered by saying that “damsel in distress=sexuality” because “men have a biological drive to save women” (which is uhm, not true. Science is not your forte). So you’re basically saying all men everywhere only save women because they want to fuck them? That’s the only way the “damsel in distress=sexuality” thing works. And then you turn around and say that Columbus isn’t a scumbag? Because he would have helped her anyway even if she was unattractive. But if men only save women to fuck them, why would he help an unattractive woman? See how your argument makes no sense? Also, see how you’re perpetuating stereotypes: men just can’t stop themselves from wanting to help pretty women, it’s biologically ingrained and she’s SUCH A BITCH for taking advantage of that! Also, I find it really telling that you’re all about decrying Wichita for conning people and setting the men up as poor victims as a opposed to gullible fools who fell for it by assuming she wasn’t a threat because she was a pretty girl: they objectify her and she goes and defies that objectification.

      Everything you say is a gross projection of your own misogyny, from calling Wichita a bitch, from constantly talking about how she uses men “for their hard-earned money” (because yeah, we totally saw all the people she conned working so hard at their jobs. Oh, wait, no we didn’t, you’re just assuming that’s how they got money when the reality is you don’t know), to saying that her clothes–a t-shirt and jeans–are sexually provocative, to being completely outraged at her perceived sexuality. You are the kind of troll who will sit and talk in circles for days because you want me to believe that you’re more of a feminist than me because I like Emma Stone in this movie. And I’m not down with that. I’m down for some critical discourse but this is a shit-show: you make no sense, your arguments are weak and contradictory, and you have a fundamental misunderstanding of how film works. And I’m definitely not down with you appropriating pseudo-feminist terms and ideas to try and validate your horribly sexist bullshit. Bye, bitch.

  6. Sten

    Hey, I didn’t actually use the word “hostile”, but now that you mention it, that is a very good way to describe your responses. Overly hostile. Almost as if you are compensating for a nagging doubt that you are wrong.

    Your memory is terrible, isn’t it? All that overemotional diatribe about non-sexual clothing and objectification, and yet you are forgetting that there is an incredibly misogynistic and cliched scene in which Stone’s character wears skimpy clothing at a gas station, where she uses her beauty and lots of cleavage to assist her to cheat the attendant out of his money. He thinks he’s helping her, when in reality it is a scam that she pulls on pretty much every awkward guy she comes across. The film plays this up as being very clever and streetwise, when in actual fact she’s just being a avaricious scumbag.
    You say she’s smart and strong, but I don’t see that. I see her using a 10 year old child to help her hold two unknown, armed men at gunpoint, I see her driving a vehicle until it runs out of gas leaving her stranded, and I see her switching on a theme park and playing on the slippery dip in the middle of a zombie infested city. She’s stupid the whole way through the movie. But you claim she’s smart and strong. Hmmmmm.

    You compare her to male con artists in other films who are Karma Chameleons, but the difference between them and her is that they never caused anyone to die through a direct result of their sociopathic actions. They are allowed to be KC’s because their actions never actually cause anyone to come to real harm, they are relatively benign. There sometimes is a character, usually male, who “throws people to the zombies” in horror films, but Karma always catches up with him and he dies a grisly death.

    A film only bothers with redeeming such a person if they are a beautiful woman, because the patronizing mentality is that she isn’t really evil, and all it takes is the phallus of the protagonist to soften her up and turn her good. You see it quite a lot in James Bond type films, but Zombieland is a good example too. It only works with women, because a man who causes someone to die through his greed or negligence, is automatically irredeemable and totally evil. The film doesn’t usually even bother to give him a human side.

    Witchita knowingly and willingly holds people at gunpoint and steals their shit, leaving them to die in the middle of the zombie zone. Despite this, the film does not portray this as amoral behaviour and everything eventually turns out hunky dory for her when she “lowers her defences”, implying that this kind of behaviour is to be expected from beautiful women? That being evil is okay when you’re hot? I don’t know. I don’t really care. All I know is that I would have preferred to see a young Clarice Starling, Sarah Connor, or Ellen Ripley in that film, and what I got was a 2 dimensional stupid selfish bitch archetype, yet again. Not because this is an accurate or even interesting representation of people, but because it is very easy to write a stupid bitch or a dumb bastard. In order to write a smart character, you must first be smart. I think we can both agree that the writers of Zombieland are not particularly smart.

    I made the point that the two idiot male leads could be considered more awesome if they don’t have to rob and kill to survive, and you give me some weak excuse about them being too stupid for that? What garbage. There is no implication that they would do that if they could, and you know this very well because there is no exposition that leads us to this. Columbus is a naive geek and Talahassee is a tough guy with a tragic past. The fact is that they are getting by just fine without stealing from anyone, kinda blows your claim out of the water. Those two characters are not introduced as being opportunistic criminals, but Witchita is. She’s not robbing people and leaving them to die because she NEEDS to, she’s doing it because it’s what she’s used to, it’s what is easiest for her. You act like she is brilliantly written just because she’s a bitch to every guy she lays eyes on, but she’s written by the same screenwriters who then turn her into a damsel. Wow, huh? Guess you forgot about that.

    If they wanted her to be stealing from people specifically for survival, they wouldn’t have included the sexy gas station scene in the movie, and they would have added some exposition with the two girls discussing how they would die if they didn’t get some food, or ammo, or whatever, turning it into a moral dilemma. Possibly they could have had a bad experience with a man who tries to force them into a truck or something. But the movie doesn’t do this, it sets her up as a selfish, smug asshole from the start, and she fulfils that role.

    Here’s the hilarious kicker – You’re so busy getting waving your girl power flag, you don’t realize that she is doing nothing but filling two stereotypical roles in order to fulfill the required pathos and heroicness of the MALE PROTAGONIST. She’s nothing but a two dimensional plot device. There is no concievable reason why they would have suddenly turned her into brightly lit carnival zombie bait, if this wasn’t true. Even the annoying 10 year old has more purpose and personality, and that’s not saying much.

    People like you who think she’s “awesome” for “defying objectification” are just betraying how sexist you are, and how much you actually objectify the opposite sex. Like I said, you didn’t have any problem with objectifying her victims as insentient sources of cash. You think she’s awesome not because she’s well written, or smart, or charismatic, but because she’s hostile to men.

    I can’t believe you can actually think such a character is awesome, when you fully admit that it is a bad film that is badly written. Actually, looking at the stupid sexist language you’ve used to communicate with me, such as the ridiculous word “mansplain”, I CAN believe it. It’s pretty obvious you’ll be awestruck by any female character who intentionally hurts men, no matter how two dimensional her character is. Kick ’em in the balls, amirite? Meanwhile Pvt. Vasquez, Jackie Brown, Ana, and all the other female characters who are ACTUALLY awesome, can’t get a look in much these days. I guess now I know why.

    • Ashley

      I’m done with this conversation. You are a troll. A long-winded, cyclical troll. But beyond that, you are a person who simply cannot be reached. I give reasons for why her actions in the first two acts of the movie are subversive and you just continue to maintain that she’s a horrible, stupid bitch. I give you examples of morally corrupt characters and likeable con artists in other films but you disregard them. You claim I’m too busy being angry to notice that the movie sets her up as a stereotype when that’s the whole point of this post; you’re too caught up in the fact that I actually like her in the first two acts because you project her misogyny on her. But I’m done expending energy on someone who obviously doesn’t WANT to stop being a sexist asshole.

      Also, I don’t give a shit about your dood fee-fees or your mansplaining. Just so you know.

      Please feel free to keep talking but you won’t get a response. I’m not down with feeding misogynist trolls.

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