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Slate feminist distressed that “American Sniper” was about Chris Kyle instead of his wife

February 26, 2015

My latest blog post for the Independent Women’s Forum:

Why doesn’t the movie have her divorce him and run off like Thelma and Louise?

“We’ve seen a flood of supporting roles designed to be played by high-profile actresses in high-profile films, written to suggest that the characters possess depth and a vaguely feminist sense of liberation—qualities that never seem to interfere with the character’s ability to neatly slide into the same old ‘concerned girlfriend/wife/confidante’ role….. But the reactress isn’t engineered as a kind of male fantasy. She’s a Hollywood fantasy: a character designed to fit squarely into the age-old prestige drama formula while giving the impression that she’s somehow new.

There’s an obvious problem with this analysis, of course.

It’s that in real life the two women actually were the “concerned” wives, girlfriends, and confidantes of the larger-than-life men they spent their time with. Both American Sniper and Imitation Game are biopics, which means that they have to stick reasonably close to the actual bios of the men they purport to be about. What—was American Sniper supposed to make Taya divorce Chris when the going got rough and then drive across the country with a feisty gal-pal as in Thelma and Louise

What Moss is really complaining about–and what Columbia professors Sharon Marcus and Anne Skomorowsky were really complaining about with respect to Boyhood—is that all three movies are movies about men. They focus on their male heroes because men and what they do are the center of all three stories. Clarke was helpful, but it was Turing in the end who cracked the Enigma code. It was Chris Kyle, not Taya Kyle, who returned again and again to harm’s way to try to save his fellow servicemen in a brutal war they all scarcely understood. Those are the stories.

Moss essentially wants Hollywood to have made completely different movies that would focus on women and their problems, presumably with a feminist message about strength and independence. Hollywood does make some of those movies, but there’s a snag: men don’t really enjoy watching movies about women and their problems, and Hollywood wants men to buy tickets to its product.

Posted by Charlotte Allen

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2 Comments
  1. Days of Broken Arrows permalink

    Nice, but I think Slate should have taken it a step further. Why were these women even with men? Why did they choose to be hetero normative in their lives? It was this choice, after all, that caused them to play second-fiddle to men. As such, that was a bad choice.

    So maybe women should not be given choices in this matter. Maybe it should be mandatory lesbianism or else. Now there’s a movie.

  2. Lastango permalink

    Moss, Marcus and Skomorowsky can rejoice cuz relief is on the way… DC comics has made Catwoman bisexual!

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