According to the Guardian’s early review of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, it’s the first time Black Widow has got to be an “actual character” rather than a “voluptuous female mascot.” Unfortunately, chief Guardian critic Peter Bradshaw’s follow-up was a little less sure of this, with Black Widow then being described as a “leather-clad… ass-kicking ex-Soviet adventuress whose auburn hairstyle is matched by her distinctive fake tan-type maquillage and restrained ochre lipstick.”
I’m glad he told us about her makeup routine, because otherwise that description would teach us next to nothing about her character.
In the Independent, Black Widow is a “sultry femme fatale,” although the Telegraph gives her the inaccurate but far more positive rating of “the most (the first?) complex female role in the Avengers franchise to date.” Apparently he failed to notice Pepper Potts (40-year-old tech company CEO), the four central female characters of the Thor movies, Peggy Carter (World War II intelligence agent), Maria Hill (deputy director of an international spy agency), and half the main cast of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
This is just a casual look at some of the newspaper reviews in the UK, where Captain America: The Winter Soldier has already been out for a week. When the movie is released in the U.S. on April 4, you can expect more of the same from American reviewers. The general consensus so far is that Black Widow, a character who receives almost as much screentime as Captain America himself, is only worth describing in terms of her appearance, and then only for about one sentence in a multi-paragraph review.
Just for kicks, I took a look at the top reviews for The Avengers, to see what America’s most acclaimed and respected cinema critics thought of Black Widow back in 2012. Bear in mind that most of these quotes are the only description of Scarlett Johansson’s performance in the entire review.[….]
The Chicago Tribune’s Michael Phillips went for that old favorite, “leather-clad,” while Salon’s Andrew O’Hehir didn’t even bother to beat around the bush, describing, “Scarlett Johansson in a catsuit… cocking her head just so as if to acknowledge that she’s the idealized fetish object of the 11-year-old boy within every so-called adult male.” Idealized fetish object.
Time Out didn’t even bother referring to Black Widow by name, joking that Johansson’s superhero persona was “Distracting Catsuit.” By comparison, the comments from the Hollywood Reporter (“a sultry, scarlet-haired assassin”) and Village Voice (“ass-kicking all-purpose Girl Friday”) seem positively feminist.
If you feel like playing film critic misogyny bingo when America’s first round of Winter Soldier reviews are published this week, I recommend looking out for the phrases “leather-clad” and “ass-kicker.” These are an easy way to weed out any reviewers who weren’t paying attention to the movie, because neither phrase describes Black Widow’s actual role.[…..]
Spider-Man’s spandex costume is probably more salacious, but I’m pretty sure he doesn’t wind up being described as an homme fatale by anyone with a Pulitzer.
[….] Apparently the mere concept of Scarlett Johansson in a tight outfit is so dazzlingly erotic that it bypasses some male reviewers’ conscious minds and causes them to ignore everything she says and does for the rest of the movie. The result is a series of reviews from highly respected film critics who, given the opportunity to describe each Avenger in a single sentence, replace Black Widow’s summary with the announcement, “I AM A HETEROSEXUAL MAN AND SCARLETT JOHANSSON’S BOOBS ARE AWESOME.”
Captain America, Thor, and the Winter Soldier have all filmed shirtless scenes (in Thor’s case, purely for eye candy purposes on both occasions), and Cap’s everyday outfit of choice is a white T-shirt several sizes too small for his bulging torso. Yet oddly enough, reviewers somehow manage to discuss those characters on their own terms, rather than reducing them to their component body parts and costumes.[….]
Sadly, there’s very little sign of this character in the most easily accessible reviews of both The Avengers and Winter Soldier. Judging by the Guardian, WSJ, or New Yorker, Black Widow is more like a blow-up doll with a black belt. By their logic, if she’s wearing a tight outfit, then she must be a sexy ass-kicker, meaning that she must be the token female character, and therefore is little more than eye candy.
With that thought process in mind, it must make perfect sense to relegate Black Widow to a single sniggering comment about her catsuit, because obviously Scarlett Johansson is just there for decoration. And if you’ve read in the New York Times that Black Widow is a token female character, then chances are you’ll have internalized that opinion before you even buy a ticket. The feedback loop of misogynist preconceptions continues on, and in the end, we all lose out.
Marvel has spent several years teasing fans with the possibility of a Black Widow solo movie, which Scarlett Johansson has already said she’d be very happy to do. Luckily, she’s already well prepared for the inevitable influx of reviews that will expend a paragraph describing her body and “leather” catsuit before moving onto the substance of the film.
In an interview with Esquire magazine in 2006, Johansson was already grimly amused by being awarded the dubious honor of being Sexiest Woman Alive. “You work hard making independent films for fourteen years and you get voted Best Breasts,” she said. “What about my brain? What about my heart? What about my kidneys and my gallbladder?”
The interviewer, apparently unaware of the irony, followed this up by writing, “There is, no doubt, a fetish Website devoted to Scarlett’s gallbladder — which, by the way, fellas, is all natural.”
You just can’t win."
what to wear when…in an indian fairy tale.
[some indian fairy tales] show that one’s destiny may be fulfilled in surprising ways…these tales contest the deterministic world view supported by karma ideology by rejecting ascribed identities and advocating the use of wit, courage, and, significantly, trade to transform a miserable fate into a good one…the oldest instance of the outwitting fate tale type is in somadeva’s kathāsaritsāgara, which was probably composed in the eleventh century in northwest india.
the karma ideology shifts responsibility for misfortune squarely onto the sufferer: one always gets the fate one deserves. and yet, one of the remarkable things about the outwitting fate tale type is its message that through audacity, daring, and wit a person can alter the mechanistic and unforgiving force of karma or fate…each protagonist in outwitting fate tales - whether a hunter, a poor farmer, a grass seller, or a prostitute - parlays his or her meager means into something bigger and better through entering into the world of exchange.
such a narrative reflects the ambitions of upwardly mobile artisan and agricultural castes who use trade as a means of social and economic advancement. the traders who produced the text were likely jains [and] the trading communities that transmitted these tales with the most relish would be non-brahman and non-jain…besides being stories about escaping one’s fate, they are also stories about how a spirit of largesse can allow one to overcome adversity…recommended instead is a spirit of open-handed, unstinting generosity that counts on the world to reciprocate…the outwitting fate tales take on a distinctive meaning when viewed in the context of traditional indian economic patterns…these narratives work within the dominant ideology without overturning it altogether.
post 712 of an infinity-part series
Imagine if schools of criminal justice allowed you to major in sexual assault prevention and prosecution. Imagine these programs were incredibly well run, so you’d learn both how to shoot a gun and run a sting, and how to get survivors the services they need. I’m sure more women would sign up. Imagine that all kinds of female officers with degrees in this, and excellent physical training, were embedded in military units, hanging out at bars, talking their way into fraternity parties, and jogging alone.
Imagine an officer, dressed in a sparkly top, gets onto a car with a real nice guy. Sometimes, this will go just fine. The FTA hasn’t wasted its time when its agents ride on a plane and no terrorists strike. That’s fine! That’s a day’s work well done.
But sometimes, something will happen. And of course the officer is wearing a wire, so we’ll have it on tape when she expresses a clear lack of consent and some guy makes his move. And maybe she’s packing a gun, or maybe she sends a signal that brings in backup. Cops swarm the car and the guy is all like, “This was a setup!” And society is like, “Yes! A setup for catching rapists before they strike!”
The value of stings is also, of course, their deterrent effect. Imagine a world in which a potential rapist first has to worry about whether you might be a cop. Rapists would be constantly looking over their shoulders. Because they’re the ones who should be."
Law enforcement should set up Stings to catch rapists the way they do for other crimes(via ladiesfeels)