Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Shoot 'Em Up

The title of this article alone annoyed me:

"Loud and Proud: Why women (secretly) love action movies."

Seriously? Seriously?

Who is this writer? Did she grow up Amish? Was she born in a 1950s sorority house? Does she also hide the fact that she'll have a beer every so often?

Let's dive in:

"Don't get me wrong -- I adore cinematic masterpieces and I appreciate a chick flick as much as the next gal, but I know I'm not alone in saying that many women love action movies -- and it no longer needs to be a secret."
Why in the world would loving an action movie need to be a secret? In fact, I think more women would admit to loving Die Hard than Made of Honor. (Of course, this also takes into account the quality of said action movie vs. said chick flick. For the sake of argument, let's pretend Made of Honor is an okay movie.) If you like an action movie, it makes you kind of badass and awesome. If you like a really sappy romantic comedy, it makes you flighty or vapid. I'm not saying that's how it should be--hell, I love a good lame romantic comedy--but I think that's how more people would view the choice. And if you like good action movies, it means you have good taste. The Kill Bill movies are insanely awesome. Why would you have to keep that to yourself? Hell, even movies that make fun of action movies--ahem, Hot Fuzz, anyone?--are awesome. Again, this isn't saying that all action movies are awesome, but there is certainly no reason to hide the fact that you may enjoy a good shoot-out every so often.

Moving on. Writer Sarah Haas gives some 'excuses' for watching action movies. Because sometimes kicking ass just isn't enough.

#1 Action Movies Are Like Exercise ... Without the Sweat

"For the most part, men seem to like physical activity. Women, for the most part, don't. What we like are the results. And the adrenaline kick!..So, although exercise can be a big pain in the backside -- sometimes, literally -- action movies are our way of getting the same intensely racing pulse, only we can scarf popcorn at the same time."

Oh, yeah. The guys I know love going to the gym. Ha! I go to the gym fairly regularly, and I would rather never need to work out, but once I get into I feel better and I like the post-workout endorphins. But I also know girls who are super sporty and love that kind of thing. Whereas most of my guy friends aren't in love with working out. We're not "pick up football game in the park on weekends" kind of people. So great way to generalize, Sarah.

#2 GI Jane Is a Better Role Model Than Barbie Dolls

"Whether playing brawn (Jodie Foster in The Brave One), brains (Diane Kruger in the National Treasure series) or both (Carrie-Anne Moss in The Matrix), in a cinematic world that mostly portrays women as straight love interests and ingénues, action heroines prove that women can be a powerful presence. And as Angelina Jolie so amply demonstrated in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, women don't have to deny their feminine virtues to break a sweat. We value our femininity, but we also respect someone who respects herself."
All right, she's got a point here. This is one of the reasons I love Buffy so much. Girls need to kick some ass, too. And even when the main characters aren't female, you can still appreciate anyone who kicks ass. (I really liked the recent Casino Royale.)

#3 They Provide an Escape

"For women, actions movies are the rare find that let them put their brains in standby mode....You'd think women could decompress with an old-fashioned rom-com, but the truth is, those often make us stress about different things (our romantic status, our looming age, etc.)...Action movies allow for vicarious living through attractive people with exciting lives."
Escapism, yes. But I totally disagree that romantic comedies still make women "stress about different things." After I watch The Notebook, I'm not stressed. Love, Actually makes me happy, not freaked out that I might not marry Colin Firth. (In fact, after watching 28 Days Later, I was a little stressed that zombies are going to attack and probably shouldn't have driven home.) In general, I would argue any kind of "mindless" movie--from action films to romantic comedies to normal comedies--are escapism. If a movie unnecessarily stresses me out afterwards, it's not a movie I want to watch again, no matter what the genre. From something a little mindless, I want simple entertainment.

#4 Power Is Sexy

"...recklessness and heroics combined with charming faces and intense butt-kicking make for engaging cinema. Women like bad boys; they also like pretty boys. In an action movie, they get both. The muscles don't hurt, either."

I think most leading actors/actresses in movies are meant to be sexy. And while I admit, the muscles don't hurt, not everyone likes the bad boys. Most of the time, I actually like the funny sidekick more. Also, and perhaps more importantly, this is not necessarily a reason to watch any movie. Hot, shirtless guys are great, but I also want a story that can entertain me for a couple of hours. But, of course, I'm just a girl and will drool for a few hours over a muscled action star.

#5 Bonding Over Stallone

"Like any good social anthropologist (which is, by nature, most women), we want to be up-close-and-personal with our subject of interest. Action movies allow us to bond with the male species in their natural environment. It's our way of taking an interest in the men we care about. Plus, it gives us a great bargaining chip to get our man to come along the next time we want to see a chick flick."

Why pretend to like action movies and waste a few hours of your life just to "play anthropologist" with your boyfriend? If you don't want to watch a movie, don't watch it. If you want to watch it, do it because you want to watch it. And that can be Bad Boys II or Gone with the Wind. Of course, you should be open to other genres, but you don't have to sit through something lame just to join the "boys' club" for a night.

(Also, don't drag your boyfriend to a chick flick if he really doesn't want to see it. How about you agree on a movie you both want to see?)

In short: Don't watch action movies for any lame reason listed here. Watch them because you want to. And don't be ashamed of any genre you like. If someone doesn't understand your love for Bad Boys II, who cares? You can love all kinds of movies/books/tv shows/music and not necessarily have to hide it.

Not that I want people to scan through my iPod...