At this weekend’s WonderCon in San Francisco Joe Wright (Pride and Prejudice, Atonement) was there to present his latest offering Hanna, a film about a young female assassin (Saoirse Ronan). Whilst discussing the project with Movieline ,Wright made his feelings more than clear when discussing ideas of female empowerment in the new Zack Snyder’s new film Sucker Punch:
“For me, one of the main issues in terms of womens’ place in society and feminism is the sexual objectification of women. That’s something that feminists in the ’70s tried to fight against but has been totally lost in the 21st century consumer-celebrity world. So for me, when I look at the poster for Sucker Punch it seems actually incredibly sexist, because it is sexually objectifying women regardless of if they can shoot you or not.”
I too have felt something of an issue with the marketing of the film but my reactions to this also have much to do with the 12A/PG-13 certificate that this film has been given, when it is essentially about women in a mental asylum who have been abused in various ways; sounds like fun for the entire family. I don’t want to pass too much judgment on the film before I’ve even seen it, but from the marketing alone Wright makes a point that I can agree with. He does take it further when discussing this over sexualised nature and throws in a rather 90s reference by comparing it to the phenomenon that came with the Spice Girls:
“I have a kind of immediate, knee-jerk reaction to such iconography. I remember when the Spice Girls came out in the mid-’90s and it was all about girl power, but one of them was dressed as a baby doll, do you know what I mean? That isn’t girl power, that isn’t feminism. That’s marketing bullshit. And I find it very, very alarming.”
Of course this discussion of marketing and the portrayal of what is considered to be empowering is one that can swing back and forth, and it brings to mind the book Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture by Ariel Levy that looks at the new culture of women and porn style behaviour that is wrapped in empowerment. It shows that there is a struggle between the portrayals of female empowerment in the 21st century and how imagery like this shows that there is still a far way to go.
In regards to Joe Wright’s new film Hanna the marketing has indeed not shown any semblance of similarity to that of Sucker Punch, though it does not completely shy away from potential moments of sexuality in the trailer; there is a rather chaste scene with a female friend under some bed clothes that hints at a certain kind of intimacy but it doesn’t have the impression of being too sexual and has an air of innocence to it. The look of the film is not about selling sex and all seems rather innocent in this respect, there isn’t a school girl costume or cleavage in sight. The subject matter is far from innocent considering that she is an assassin and even breaks someone’s neck in the trailer; however there doesn’t appear to be the mix of sex and violence which often share the screen.
So what do you think about Joe Wright’s assessment of all things Sucker Punch and Spice Girls? Have you seen Sucker Punch?
Watch the trailer here