‘Watchmen’ offers lesson in equal (ass kicking) rights
By Gina Carbone
“Watchmen” was written in the 1980s but it just hit the silver screen on March 6, 2009.
And when I say “hit,” I mean it. Punches, kicks to the gut. Men on women. Women on men. Equal opportunity smackdowns.
Sounds like progress to me.
Time was –- actually, time still mostly is -– a man couldn’t hit a woman without being the lowest of the low. Verboten. You never hit a woman! It’s shorthand for “real bastard.”
But why? Is it a size thing? If so, then it should be verboten to hit little Rorschach. He’s just a slip of a thing, but he’s also a masked superhero and the main “Watchmen” badass who breaks the hands of a man least three times his size.
Is it a caveman thing? Men traditionally hunt, women gather. They are tough and strong, women are nurturing and need protection.
Like “Taken.” “Taken” plays into that 100 percent. The kick ass father who must find his helpless virginal teenage daughter, who has been abducted into the foreign slave trade. Hits every “oh no they DI’INT” button.
There seems to be another one coming out. “The Last House on the Left,” a remake of the 1972 film which was itself a remake of “The Virgin Spring,” is about two female friends who are kidnapped and raped by a prison escapee and his crew. One of the girls finds her way back to her parents, but her attackers also take shelter there. At least in this one, the daughter may be attacked, but I think the mom gets to fight for her too.
We love watching the underdog, the little guy, fight back. And we certainly have enough “girl power” films out there like “Charlie’s Angels” or “Kill Bill” where gorgeous ladies get tough.
But you don’t often see a fair, realistic man-on-woman fight. It’s usually played up in one side’s favor -- the bastard beating a helpless, innocent woman; the tough chick knocking out a whole slew of bad men who never saw it comin’.
In “Watchmen” a female superhero punches a man -- a big strapping man -- so hard he falls over. Since he’s trying to put a move on her, we cheer. But then he gets up. And hits her, punches her, knocks her over and bends her over for an attempted rape. It’s brutal and pretty shocking. (Especially since the two apparently, uh, make up later.) We don’t often see a man hit a woman like he’d hit another man. Of course, we also don’t often see a man try to rape another man when he’s done hitting -- except maybe in prison.
Later, the woman’s daughter is shown fighting off a dozen guys, alongside a fellow (male) superhero. Sure, she’s a hot chick wearing a stupid skimpy outfit, but her partner is also hot and wearing an equally stupid outfit -- it just happens to cover more flesh. (We do see his ass later.) Toward the end of the film, she gets a solid kick to the gut from a former (male) friend.
No one is holding back. And it’s OK. Doesn’t make it fun to watch, but if two consenting adults want to kick the crap out of each other, who are we to deny them their joy?
As long as it’s a fair fight. I’ve read about guys who’ve silently suffered as their girlfriends/wives hit them. Some women are really strong. And crazy. And know how to throw things hard. That doesn’t mean they should get away with it.
But some men are too embarrassed or ashamed to speak out when they’ve been abused by a woman. Makes them seem weak. Their friends would look down on them. But what’s the alternative? Hit back? That’s verboten!
On film, it’s turned into comedy. Angry wife throws plate at bewildered husband. Hits his head. He says “oww!” We laugh.
In my world, the man either picks up another plate and throws it back or calls the cops on her. Probably the latter is the best move but not as satisfying. Then again, “The War of the Roses” is my favorite romantic comedy.
Gina Carbone may be twisted, but she’s willing to open the door for anyone and doesn’t get huffy when men want to be chivalrous. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.