First off, I want to make it clear that I don’t want to tell any fans to shut up or stop complaining about the sexism they perceive in this or any movie because I recognize that it is just as important to discuss the subtle instances of sexism in media as it is to call out the more glaring ones….
While we’re here, I also want to address some of the complaints about Gamora’s character, namely that she was only there as a romantic interest for Peter Quill and that her character arc only had to do with her feelings for him. These assertions are simply untrue; the most important step in Gamora’s character development—her decision to go against Thanos and pursue her freedom—was made before she even met Peter and had nothing to do with him.
Their relationship never actually advanced beyond flirting in the movie so the argument that she was there for Peter to ‘get the girl’ in the end doesn’t even hold because he doesn’t. In addition, it isn’t until Peter starts treating her with trust and respect that she warms up to him at all. Just saying.
My complaints about Drax’s line are not that they are offensive: they are that they are the wrong form of offense based on the characterization and limitations the writers placed upon themselves previously in the script.
I’m 100% a supporter of the reality of sexism being shoved in people’s faces. But I’m not a supporter of writers using lazy shorthand to get there in cases when they should be much more creative about it, because it shows that they’re not thinking about the implications of their writing.
Part of what makes the “quim” line in Avengers so potent is that it is genuinely a thing Loki would say, that uses a word that we don’t hear on the street so often. We’re not expecting it, and it is exactly the right phrase for Loki, who is trying to debase Natasha.
Insults and swears should be in character, and when they are in character for people who don’t necessarily utilize language like your average joe on the street, we end up with some perfectly marvelous pieces of language: one of my earliest, favorite insults was “penis breath,” from E.T.— and better yet, in one of he “sequel” novelizations based on the movie, the narrator chose to call Elliot’s brother “Penis Breath” throughout the third person narration, since it was limited to E.T.’s POV. You get phrases like nerf-herder and goshdiddlydarnit. And there are times when characters *would* gravitate to strings of more typical swears, and then you get things like the scene in In Bruges that must use the word “cunt” twenty times and is absolutely on point, or Glengarry Glen Ross which is one of the few movies that uses the word “fuck” in it more times than I do in a day.
I have zero complaints about Peter Quill’s use of the word “bitch,” and I’m actually confused that I’ve seen complaints about it, because it’s perfectly in-character, we’ve seen how he was raised and that he’s not exactly someone who is going to be super sensitive to a gendered swear. It’s in-character and feels natural. That’s the kind of dude he is.
But you’ve got Drax, who is this absolute gift of a character, for whom you’ve set up rules about his dialogue to the point that he gets infuriated by the word “princess,” not because it’s insulting, but because it’s inaccurate (or insulting because it is inaccurate). I think, given he fact hat his female family members were murdered, he’d be less likely to go for a gendered term and more likely to go for something related to murder, but if the writers had given him a gendered insult that literally described Gamora, I wouldn’t have had a complaint about it. If it had been something precise and brutal and still literal, it could have been an exceptionally brilliant line.
In the end, it seems too out of character for me to even see it as a reflection of the character, and because it’s a very typical gendered swear, it reflects a desensitization to gendered insults that implies that the writers didn’t consider that it wasn’t actually literal enough for Drax. And thinking, as writers, about that desensitization, is important, because making ourselves aware of the language we choose to put in a character’s mouth, and why, is what makes us better writers. Sometimes that means writing things that we personally find offensive or abhorrent. Sometimes it means questioning whether the insults we find typical would be typical in someone else’s mouth.
I’ll also say that Drax was my favorite character in the film by far, which I A+ 100% was not expecting when I saw the film. It was literally my first response to darrylayo when we walked out of the theater. My friends had all been squeeing over Groot, and I found Drax to be far, far more interesting, and perhaps the best commentary on he futility of a revenge quest I’ve seen since Inigo Montoya (if you want me to talk about how GotG, to me, resembled The Princess Bride in space a lot more than I felt it compared to other space operas, I’ll be happy to, because it very much did). It’s one glaring error to me in an otherwise really excellently realized character, and the main reason I wrote about it in the first place was because I actually questioned a friend’s objection to the use of the term in the movie before I saw it— I am generally the first person to say that a piece of offensive language can often round out a character if it’s used well. But then I saw it and really couldn’t buy it— not because of the sexism, but because they just totally blew their chance to come up with an absolutely brilliant insult that fit in with the characteristic that was otherwise Drax’s trademark. And that’s a wasted opportunity that is not only wasted, but making some of your audiencegoers uncomfortable— and the ones it’s making uncomfortable *aren’t* the ones you want to make uncomfortable when you choose to employ language like that.
I’ve not been part of any of these other conversations, and while I would have liked to get a bit more of Gamora’s backstory, I didn’t feel like she was especially reduced to a love interest. For the most part her choices and character made sense to me, and left me largely interested in knowing more, especially more about her and Nebula. Most of my character complaints (which you can read about in another post) are about Ronan.
YES! Behold! (above) teaberryblue makes a very good point here: that if GOTG’s inclusion of the word ‘whore’ is insulting to or misrepresentative of any character, it is Drax. In fact, much as I enjoyed the movie, that part did strike me as out of character and perhaps not the best choice of words. My only issue is with the people asserting that the inclusion of this comment is degrading to Gamora as a character, thereby making this a sexist movie. If the writing in this scene was poor, it was certainly—as you insightfully pointed out above—at the expense of Drax’s character, not Gamora’s.
Thank you for your well-thought-out response, teaberryblue. This is an angle of criticism I haven’t seen before among all the ravings about the movie’s alleged sexism, and an important one, as I found Drax to be a genuine and singularly delightful addition to the franchise and we shouldn’t overlook writers’ treatment of male characters in our scramble to condemn or applaud them for their portrayals of the female ones.
I would also like to take this moment to point out that Drax’s use of the word whore was a DIRECT set-up to the following joke, which is “no one talks about my friends like that.”
The whore line was never meant to add character development to anyone, it was not supposed to reflect on Drax, nor was it supposed to direct on Gamora. It was literally part of a punchline, which is why it’s so completely out of place, and 100% unnecessary. Any line that is useless to the plot or characters is useless to a script, and bad writing imo.
Pretty much no complaints about the rest of the film but yeah, the whore line didn’t need to be there.
"Armin Arlert is probably gonna go down as one of the most overrated characters in SNK."
how completely wrong can one sentence be
when are they gonna give it a rest with armin
he’s getting kind of old tbh
and I’m getting real tired of seeing him slapped onto all the merch
Darn that Armin taking over the whole freakin fanbase
Most overrated character in history amirite
okay but when you have holocaust survivors and people who were activists during the civil rights movement supporting mike brown and then KKK members and neo nazi’s supporting the officer you should be able to figure out which side is the right one.
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