Monday, June 6, 2016

X-Men: Apocalypse: Why Triggers Need Representation in Entertainment

By: Selina

Cat was at Geek’d Con this weekend, so we didn’t get to watch a movie for today. However, she did score a very interesting interview with the sweet and talented Helen Slater (The Lying Game, Lassie, Smallville) while she was working the con. On Thursday, she’ll be posting her interview with the original Supergirl (1984).

In the meantime, I feel like there’s something very important to discuss.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that Rose McGowan (Chosen, The Black Dahlia, The Doom Generation) and some bloggers have raised a debate over whether or not the X-Men: Apocalypse (2016) advertisement advocated violence against women.

In case you’re not sure what ad people are talking about, here you go:

X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)
Does the advertisement show a male character choking a female character? Yes, that’s not debatable. Whether or not it is acceptable is what’s being argued.

From the perspective of Trust the Dice: yes, it is acceptable.

If what you see when you look at that poster is a man holding a woman by the throat and not Apocalypse choking Mystique, you are part of the problem. I’m happy to explain why.

Apocalypse is a fucking villain. He’s a villain. He’s not even just your regular Magneto-style villain that could be sympathized with. He’s the kind of villain no one could ever mistake for a hero in any way, shape, or form. It’s not like he’s a regular guy on a poster with his fist in some woman’s face. He’s the bad guy. Are bad guys supposed to be sweet and cuddly with the heroes of the story? How boring would THAT be?

Not only that, but Mystique is bad-ass. She’s not a helpless princess in need of saving. She’s a camouflaging, hand-to-hand combat trained mutant used to fighting a revolution against humans.

Pretty sure that's Wolverine. Can't tell. His face is gone.
That advertisement doesn’t show a man abusing a woman, it shows the villain of the story overpowering someone who isn’t easily overpowered. It’s supposed to be a testament to how strong he is and how difficult he would be to defeat. Instead, people like Rose McGowan aren’t seeing that message, they’re seeing glorified abuse.

What does that say about their perspective?

What does that do for feminism?

I see this outcry of bullshit as a complete betrayal of women in general.

When someone reports a fake rape, it hurts the real victims who become too scared to turn in their rapists for fear they won’t be believed. This is the same idea. Instead of taking up arms in cases that matter, these people are protesting a poster that has nothing to do with misogyny or sexism. It’s a fake claim that trivialized the real issues facing women.

These are the people that make the word ‘feminism’ sound like a bullshit word.

Shame on them. Shame on them all.

Feminism isn’t supposed to be about singling out women. It’s supposed to be about equality. If Apocalypse were in that poster holding up Wolverine by the throat… not one of those idiots would have said anything. Because that would be a man instigating violence against another man. That’s not a big deal right? What if it was She-Hulk pummeling Electro? The same people protesting this ad would be congratulating Fox on their forward-thinking attitude about strong women.

Do you see the double standard? I find it hard not to.

Besides, Paige Matthews got her ass kicked by plenty of male enemies on Charmed (2001-2006). McGowan didn’t seem to have an issue with that. I guess her so-called morals aren’t a factor if she’s making money.

So it's just some violence against some women, not all violence in general.
Another argument I’ve seen about the X-Men: Apocalypse advertisement is that it’s triggering and shouldn’t be exposed so publicly.

I disagree with that, too.

It’s incredibly important that the entertainment industry explores triggers.

My cousin works for various theaters in Manhattan and got me tickets to an amazing Off-Broadway play starring Charlie Cox (Daredevil, The Theory of Everything, Boardwalk Empire), Geneva Carr (Ava’s Possessions, Creative Control, I Shudder), Heather Lind (TURN: Washington’s Spies, Demolition, Boardwalk Empire), and Morgan Spector (Allegiance, Friday Night Tykes, Christine). The play, Incognito (2016), explored various triggers including Alzheimer’s. Even though the work wasn’t designed to raise awareness or open up discussions about memory loss, it still succeeded in doing just that.

Incognito (2016)
Entertainment is powerful. People listen to art when it interests them. When movies or television shows bring up triggers like rape and violence, it forces a discussion and raises awareness of the issue.

Jessica Jones (2015-) is a ridiculously good Netflix series about a female superhero that fell prey to an evil man who mentally controlled and abused her. She wasn’t weak. The show didn’t portray her as weak. What it showed was that strong women could still be affected by severe, life-changing abuse.

For months after Jessica Jones hit television screens, people were talking about the storyline. They were discussing how she broke free from her abuser. They were considering the effect he had on her life. It caused a significant and in depth discussion about abuse and how it’s not always visible.

Speaking as a survivor of abuse, I get it. Several episodes actually triggered me and were very difficult to watch. There’s nothing wrong with not watching something if you can’t deal with the trigger… but that doesn’t mean that trigger shouldn’t be included.

Jessica Jones (2015-)
Netflix didn’t shy away from this particular trigger, and I couldn’t be happier about it. The discussion that came from it was important for people to have. It taught people that abuse doesn’t always come in the form of burns, bruises, and broken bones.

It brought ‘invisible’ abuse into the light and many victims had their lives changed for the better because of it.

Not only that, but without triggers in entertainment you still have the causes… they’re just not as well known or understood.

Humans didn’t start killing and raping each other when the television was invented. Humans have been doing shit like that since before language existed. Entertainment doesn’t cause it, it just makes it more visible. It forces people to talk about it and to find solutions.

In the end, I don’t think Fox had anything to apologize for where the X-Men: Apocalypse advertisement was concerned. It wasn’t sexist, but if it raises a discussion about violence… isn’t that a good thing?

Aren’t we always fighting for awareness anyway?

Violence isn't the answer. Everyone deserves to feel safe.

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