Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Why I probably won't go see "Girl With A Dragon Tattoo"

I don't like unintentionally ironic movies.

Ever heard of or seen the movie Funny Games?  It's a movie about two psychos who invade a family's vacation home and proceed to torture and murder them.  It's also a "statement" film, which means the filmmakers were trying to teach all us bad viewers about violence in entertainment.  You see, the psychos in Funny Games aren't just torturing a family, they're teaching us lessons!  Ham-fisted lessons!

Unfortunately, aside from the hit-you-over-the-head-obvious technique employed by the filmmakers, they also didn't address the elephant in the beach house: If we're all so awful for watching this violent movie, what adjective do we apply to the people who made and profited from this violent movie?



How about that good old Internet standby: AWKWARD.

And so we come to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, a mildly entertaining book turned into an entertaining movie remade into what I can only assume will be a very entertaining movie, but which everyone will act is if it has Greater Meaning. It's about violence against women! Societal abuse of the underprivileged! Neo-Nazism! Freedom of the press! Hidden dangers of socialism! Financial sector corruption! (Ahh, Greater Meaning. It's such Oscar bait.)

Don't you all know that Lisbeth Salandar is a revolutionary character, a post-feminist icon?* Now watch her get brutally raped on screen to prove it! (Don't worry, in about twenty minutes she's going to do what all of us secretly wish we could do to rapists--rape him back.)

Stieg Larsson's Swedish title of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was Men Who Hate Women, which is an accurate, to-the-point descriptor of the book. Apparently in Sweden, you can't go to the grocery store without tripping over a half-dozen sociopath misogynists. (Lesson: Never visit Sweden.)

But while I can't find any fault with Larsson's goals--elimination of violence against women, children, the underprivileged, improved transparency in government and business--I must say it feels a bit icky to read a book about the condemnation of violence against women when it is chock full of excruciatingly detailed violence against women.**

Does this mean books and movies about BIG ISSUES shouldn't be written or made? Of course not.

But much like the "I know it when I see it" test for pornography,*** sometimes you just know when something has stayed on the right side of grim subject matter discussed respectfully and not crossed into exploitation territory

I suspect The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo will not only cross into exploitation territory, but apply for a business license and open a bed and breakfast there. And I don't imagine I'd like my stay.

* (To reach this conclusion, you must ignore the fact that she's essentially the polar opposite of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl Archetype. Have you done that? Excellent.


** Spoiler alert: The sequel is about sex-trafficking and shopping at IKEA. Because even when it comes to Lisbeth Salandar, women be shopping. You can't stop a woman from shopping. (Name the movie!)

Also, Lisbeth gets a boob job. Feminism.

*** Little-known lawyer fact: the rest of the quote is, "and the motion picture involved in this case is not that."  Fun, eh?


  1. I watched the Euro film version. I won't be watching the American one. I agree with you. Just the fact there's violence against women is disturbing enough. I don't need to see it in graphic detail.

  2. thank you. i heard about it and planned not to see it as well!

    give me sherlock holmes!

  3. I'm really enjoying the book (I know it's not a subtle one, but sometimes you (I) just don't want subtlety.), but keep going back and forth about seeing the movie because of the violence. The book, frankly, is stressing me out enough as it is Re: sexual violence. And uurgh exploitation.

    Also, I like books without lessons and purposes. Like, I wonder if The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo would be better if there was less concerned with the moral of the story even though it is an interesting concept (that is, dealing with the problem of violence against women). This is mostly A Thing that I am concerned with because I'm still not over Uncle Tom's Cabin (in which I was bludgeoned on every single page with the lesson! and moral! and purpose! of the book).

  4. I haven't read the book so if I were to see the movie it would only be to see if Daniel Craig takes his shirt off. Mind you, I know that is totally shallow but having read such mixed reviews about the book--and not actually having a girl with dragon tattoo turn into some beautiful dragon to come and save the day--I lack the desire for both book and movie.

  5. The thing that bugs me about that movie is there's already a Swedish version. Anyone who wanted to see it probably already has.

  6. I actually did see the Swedish version, which I thought was pretty good. But honestly, I was unprepared for those two rape scenes, which is weird since I had read the books. I guess I just thought the filmmakers would make it a little shorter, a little less intense. It's not like anyone would have been confused about what was happening.

  7. I did not read the book, so was utterly unprepared for the graphic rape and torture scenes in the Swedish version. While it was disturbing and hard to watch because of it, in some ways I appreciated that a movie actually showed rape, instead of implying or shooting around it. Having never been a victim of sexual (or any other kind of) violence, I feel like the horror of it hit home for me in a way that it hadn't before*.

    *I want to clarify that it wasn't like I didn't think rape was terrible before watching it, nor did I somehow think I knew what it felt like to be raped after watching it. I don't want my comment to be misconstrued.

  8. The rape scenes in the English version weren't as bad as the ones in the Swedish version, but they were still pretty bad. However, I'm apparently desensitized, and the scenes didn't bother me.

  9. Also, you really inspired me to get my eyelash extensions. Thank you.