In a defense of Kick-Ass and a jab at critics who’ve expressed distaste at the homicidal violence practiced by Chloe Moretz‘s Hit Girl, MCN’s Kim Voynar uses the old “what are ya squawkin’ about, this is just a movie” argument, which is a bullshit ploy.
Kick-Ass “isn’t real life [and] the people who ‘die’ in the film aren’t really dead, anymore than they are when Batman or Spider-Man take a bad guy down,” she says. “[And] Moretz doesn’t kill anyone any more than Jodie Foster really had sex with the adult men who wanted to have sex with a child prostitute in Taxi Driver or Brooke Shields really had her virginity auctioned off in Pretty Baby.
“Kick-Ass is a comic book movie and a satire,” Voynar writes, “and the scenes with Hit-Girl, more than any other aspect of the film, make that clearly apparent.”
Maybe, but there’s a huge difference between a movie that is a satire and one that announces that it’s a satire in relentlessly broad terms, over and over and over. Satire that walks the walk is far better than one that mostly puts on airs and talks the talk.
Kick-Ass is of the second category, of course, and part of the thinking that goes along with “announced” satire, apparently, is that you don’t have to portray anything in the film as even remotely relatable to reality. You can make up your own dumb rules and do anything you want because you’re doing “satire,” which is presumed (in the minds of the filmmakers, I mean) to be a phony-baloney bullshit cartoon.
It’s apparently never occured to Kick-Ass director Matthew Vaughn and his ilk that a movie can be a satire and yet not feel compelled to tap moviegoers on the shoulder every other minute and say “you guys understand that we’re just kidding around in order to make a point, right?” That a satire, in other words, can actually invest itself in a semblance of reality, at least to the extent that it’s a little easier for audience members to roll with the elements (plot, characters, action) so it can sink in on some level.
Most moviegoers, I suspect, are kinda looking for most movies that are supposed to be “about” something to keep at least one foot on the ground — to not go completely off the rails. As Dr. Strangelove or The Hospital did, for instance.
This is why people are taking Moretz’s Hit Girl half seriously. Because it’s hard if not impossible to feel anything for a young girl who’s intended to be a complete jape, and so they’re stepping in and making her “real” in their heads at least. And because films that insist on a total disconnect from even a semblance of reality tend to be shitty to start with. “It’s just a satire” is a mediocre rationale, an easy way out.
Oh, and in my head? Jodie Foster was a little prostitute in Martin Scorsese‘s Taxi Driver — as far as I was able to suspend my disbelief, I mean — and so was Brooke Shields in Louis Malle‘s Pretty Baby.