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Thursday, June 9, 2016

'Cuz We Are Living in a Post-Context World, and I Am A Post-Context Girl

Context is a wonderful thing. Context is what paints a picture around a very small thing and gives it meaning. It's a very important thing; without context, that very small thing is open to being wildly misinterpreted.

These are all obvious things, so why am I bringing them up? 


A couple of weeks ago, the big news going around was that Rose McGowan, well known for playing the least popular sister on Charmed, a less popular series 'inspired' by The Craft (seriously, Piper was best girl on Charmed anyway), posted a scathing invective against the marketing campaign for X-Men: Apocalypse, scolding the studio for portraying 'casual violence against women' and not being able to 'manage to put any women directors on your slate for the next two years' and including a quote from a friend's 9-year-old that said 'Dad, why is that monster man committing violence against a woman?'
The classic Claremont Grip. 
The Casualness Angle
Some minor spoilers for X-Men: Apocalypse here, and some context, as well.

Mystique is very strong, very agile, and a very skilled fighter. She's shown, throughout the six X-Men films she appears in, incapacitating men much larger than her with ease, being generally fearless, and (thanks to her mutant powers) an expert at infiltration and espionage. Mystique is, in short, not one to mess with. She's a major player in the X-films universe, and a persistent villain in the comics.

Apocalypse is two steps shy of being a god. Hulk and Thor would probably have trouble standing up to him, as he completely walks over the X-Men, even overpowering Charles Xavier in his own mind. In short, Apocalypse is the biggest threat the X-Men have ever faced in a movie, so much so that even the MCU's Avengers team couldn't have taken him down either. The fact that he has Mystique in a classic Claremont Grip on the billboard isn't showing 'casual violence against women'; it's showing that an insanely powerful supervillain has the upper hand over one of the main stars of the movie, who is also an extremely capable combatant. It speaks volumes to her combat prowess that she was able to get close enough for Apocalypse to lay hands on her, considering Google searches for "Marvel Apocalypse" and "Marvel Apocalypse choke" turn up very few results for choke-holds.

The one exception being Apocalypse choking The Hulk out. From behind. With tentacles.
Or possibly cables.
But saying "Apocalypse Hulk tentacle asphyxiation"
really ought to help our position in the search rankings. 

The Marketing Angle
There is a meme floating around showing images from Deadpool with Angel Dust choking out defenseless Weasel and very defended Colossus, juxtaposed with Apocalypse strangling Mystique, and Deadpool wondering why two of those images are fine and one isn't.
Dammit, Wade, it's "you're". 
The obvious retort that I've seen has some merit, in that Angel Dust wasn't strangling anyone on the billboards for Deadpool. But if we take that a step further, there were five billboards that I saw for X-Men: Apocalypse: 
one with Magneto hovering menacingly with metal objects;

one with Storm shooting lightning from her hands;

one with Psylocke in a threatening pose;

one with Jean holding Scott's head as he fires his optic blasts;

and one with Apocalypse holding Mystique by the throat.

That's five billboards: four featuring one of the previously well-marketed female characters, one controlling the actions of a male character, two being generally awesome, and one in an inferior position to a god-like being. Deadpool's billboards... had no female representation.

[Nerdvoice] Actually, Salem, the billboard that was a satire of a typical Valentine's Day chick-flick had a picture of Morena Baccarin. [/nerdvoice] -- Erin

The 9-Year-Old Angle
Do 9-year-olds speak like Gender Studies majors, or do Gender Studies majors speak like 9-year-olds? I can never keep track of this stuff anymore. Either way, a 9-year-old didn't say that. Or maybe a 9-year-old had been fed that shit like Sunday School and was parroting it. 

My point here is that context is everything, and Rose McGowan is just another in a very, very long line of people that attack without context, whether they genuinely don't know the context or purposefully ignore it. This is no different than people that were against theBatgirl cover last year, where context (the fact that Barbara was once victimized when she was shot and paralyzed by The Joker, but has since faced him and overcome her fears to beat him) was also ignored, or any one of a number of huge public outcries. 

I'm rapidly losing the ability to give people the benefit of the doubt when it comes to whether or not they're just ignoring context to try and gain attention over something. Rose, you're free to point out stuff you might find 'problematic', but I'm also free to point out that you're willfully ignoring context to make a point. 

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