Let’s forget for a moment that gallons of digital ink were spilled a year and a half ago when bloggers rushed to try to explain why 40% of all audiences going to see The Avengers — the third highest-grossing film of all time — was female. Let’s also pretend that people didn’t try to argue that this turnout was simply due to the fact that the movie was written and directed by feminist show runner, Joss Whedon. And that, as a result of his feminist credentials, we got Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow and Cobie Smulders’ Marie Hill, women who were not reduced to sex objects and — shockingly — had real, substantial roles to play in the movie that had nothing to do with being saved by, or falling in love with, men. Similarly, we should put aside the idea that the bare muscles and rock-hard asses of the lead male stars was the “real” cause for such a large female box office draw.
The point is simply that women went, and went in large numbers. And maybe it’s because The Avengers was a big, noisy, fun, silly superhero movie that people (which includes women) really enjoyed because it was big and noisy and fun and silly. Maybe we don’t need to sit down and scratch our heads and wonder when all these silly women wandered out of their most recent Kate Hudson or Katherine Heigl films and realized that other movies do, in fact, exist.
Sadly nobody gave that memo to Jimmy Kimmel, who ran the above video this weekend, jokingly implying that women would only want to see Thor: The Dark World (a sequel to both the first Thor and — gosh, look at that — The Avengers) if it was a romantic comedy.
Let’s be clear: I understand the joke. And I understand that there’s a bit of a “tee, hee sexism” angle here, so calling it sexist does play into Kimmel’s hands. So if I’m going to get pedantic, I suppose what I find most amusing is Kimmel’s assumption that the shit-ton of ladies who will be attending Thor 2 are going for Chris Hemsworth’s rippling muscles or Natalie Portman’s demure damsel.
What I — and the aforementioned shit-ton of women — loved about the first one wasn’t the traditionally handsome blonde demi-god, but rather his eminently more interesting, tragic and multi-layered brother, Loki. Played by the eminently more interesting and talented actor, Tom Hiddleston, who has over the last couple of years taken Ryan Gosling’s title as “Most Universally Beloved Human Man.” Did you know he speaks Greek? Because he does. And he dances. And he says things like this:
“This generation has lost the true meaning of romance. There are so many songs that disrespect women. You can’t treat the woman you love as a piece of meat. You should treat your love like a princess. Give her love songs, something with real meaning. Maybe I’m old fashioned but to respect the woman you love should be a priority.”
This fucking guy.
I’m even willing to overlook the slightly problematic language of chivalry which isn’t always the best. But still! This guy! This is the guy!
Add to that the fact that while Jane Foster should’ve been an interesting lead female (she’s a scientist! She remains impressively un-sexualized!), Natalie Portman had clearly checked out before filming began and was giving nothing back despite Chris Hemsworth’s Wall of Charm, leading to some seriously awkward one-sided chemistry in which poor Hemsworth might as well have been romancing a broom wearing a brown wig.
But still — there were plenty of women to like. Who doesn’t love Kat Dennings playing Kat Dennings? Or Jaimie Alexander’s fierce and fun Sif? Or the three seconds we got of Rene Russo as Frigga?
Either way, the point here is a simple one, but it’s one worth repeating:
Women — we’re not all the same.
And we don’t need romance to go see comic book movies.
I know, I know. It’s a joke, right? But… it’s not funny. And guess what? Movie trailers re-cut to look like different genres has been around since 2006. 2006, dude. Even your tired misogyny is packaged in a tired and uninspired way.
Like men, women can like a variety of things without needing to be “tricked” into believing that they cater specifically to our stereotypical needs. And it’s shit attitudes and beliefs like these that keep better movies from being made, quite frankly.
So Jimmy, please fuck off — for the good of the film industry.