Captain America Hits Most of the Right Notes

New York Captain America Set

For the comic book fans out there, I’ll include the disclaimer that I’ve never read a Captain America comic, so I’m not qualified to comment on breaks from canon or character. I’d love to hear your thoughts about these things in the comments below!

It’s been a pretty good year for retro superhero movies. After mostly enjoying X-Men: First Class earlier this summer I thought I’d try Captain America this past weekend.

If you haven’t seen the movie or are a comic story noob like me, it focuses on the story of Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), a scrawny young man who’s obsessed with standing up to the bullies that have tormented him his whole life, pummeling him in a variety of Brooklyn alleys. He tries repeatedly to enlist in the army to fight in WWII but keeps being refused for health reasons. His big break comes when Army scientist Dr. Erskine (Stanley Tucci, because it’s not a movie if Stanley Tucci’s not in it these days) decides his goodness and honour make him the ideal candidate for an experimental serum that will make him bigger, stronger, faster, and just…more of everything he already is, character-wise.

*Spoiler alerts from here on in*

Unfortunately, Roger’s stated need to fight for a cause and stand up to bullies also seems to be about proving his masculinity. While it praises Rogers for his good character, it doesn’t do that much to challenge the idea that without physical strength, you’re going to get left out.

The arch-nemesis is Dr. Johann Schmidt, who received an earlier version of the serum treatment and is also pretty powerful. Schmidt (who becomes Red Skull) is leader of the German scientific team HYDRA, a group that starts to be too evil and extreme even for the Nazis. Unfortunately he’s played pretty poorly by Hugo Weaving, who puts on one of the most inconsistent German accents I’ve ever heard and just doesn’t have the evil arch-nemesis je ne sais quoi that I was looking for. Comparing to X-Men, I think Kevin Bacon as Sebastian Shaw wins this summer’s arch-nemesis portrayal war.

I have no complaints about Evans’ and Tucci’s performances, but the bright lights of the film are really Tommy Lee Jones as a grumpy Army General who doubts Rogers, and Hayley Atwell as British Agent Peggy Carter. I really enjoyed Atwell’s acting in Pillars of the Earth and she didn’t disappoint in Captain America. Part of this is due to the writers, who were able to make the character fairly dynamic.

Zoe at The Mary Sue took issue with Atwell’s first scene in the  movie, in which she punches out an Army recruit who insults her authority, because it seems like a bit of a stale idea. But I think it was necessary in order to not totally ignore the sexism of the time. The only other acknowledgement of it was a brief comment Carter makes to Captain America about how she knows what it’s like to fight to get where you want to go. These two incidents show that sexism existed, Carter knew it, but she could stand toe-to-toe with any man. Unfortunately it does not make it clear why in the battle at Red Skull’s compound near the end of the movie, she’s the only one who runs into battle without anything protecting her head. Presumably her hair was too awesome to mess up.

And the scene where she catches him being kissed by an Army staffer (played by Natalie Dormer) is pretty great. Instead of running off and crying she gets angry and gets through it.

Overall, I was pretty surprised I liked a movie even called Captain America, but there was enough satire in it (the time Rogers spends working for the Senator selling war bonds) to cut through some of the mindless patriotism. Instead of almost glorifying the sexism of its period as X-Men: First Class did with Moira and Emma Frost, Captain America acknowledged it yet let the women characters have agency.

-Jarrah

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The Round-Up: Aug. 16, 2011

-Jarrah
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FFFF: Planned Parenthood, Bollywood-Style

Planned Parenthood celebrates the removal of co-pays from birth control as part of health reform in the US with this Bollywood song and dance.

-Jarrah

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The Round-Up: August 9, 2011

-Jarrah
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STD Notification by E-Card Starts in BC

The BC Centre for Disease Control is partnering with the US company inSPOT to give British Columbians the option of notifying sexual partners about potential STI transmission via e-card. A similar service already operates in Toronto and Ottawa.

From the Vancouver Sun:

Dr. Mark Gilbert, a physician epidemiologist at the Centre for Disease Control, said the service is meant to reduce the number of STIs in British Columbia by encouraging people to seek treatment if they have contracted an infection from someone. It’s another tool that people can use to notify their partners, providing they know their email addresses. If they don’t have that information, newly diagnosed people can always contact their sexual partners directly or they can enlist the help of public health nurses and family doctors in the notification process.

When I first read the story I didn’t have a positive reaction. First I imagined receiving a card like this from an ex, not even knowing who, since it can be sent anonymously. I imagined I’d be pretty appalled and frightened to know that someone knew I might have received an STI from them but that I’d have no reciprocal knowledge of who’d infected me. Not to mention I’d be pretty upset that whoever it was hadn’t had the courtesy to tell me in person.

All that fear doesn’t make a lot of sense. According to the Sun article, use of the e-cards in San Francisco was seen as a convenient and non-threatening way to encourage notification and testing of recipients, especially with a possible rise in hookup culture due to increased popularity of internet dating and “casual encounters”. Though it might seem odd at first, I’m thinking inSPOT and the BCCDC think the humourous options on a couple of the cards might even help deal with some of the stigma around having STIs. It’s certainly worth a shot.

As scary as it might be to think about getting a card, it’s scarier to think that you might go on not knowing at all. The BCCDC stresses the e-cards shouldn’t be considered an out for those who don’t want to inform sexual partners in person. And the inSPOT site gives tips for talking to a partner about potential transmission. This is kind of a fail-safe in case someone ends up in a hookup with someone they can’t contact again in person but whose email they know, or someone who really wouldn’t tell at all if they had to do it face-to-face.

Overall, if people are really worried about getting a dreaded STI e-card, there’s an easy way around it: be assertive and talk openly with your partner(s), practice safe sex and get regularly tested for STIs.

-Jarrah


Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Can-Con, Feminism, LGBT 1 Comment

Topless Controversy at Toronto Beer Fest

Since 1996 it’s been legal for women to go topless in Ontario, but at this year’s Toronto Festival of Beer a woman was reprimanded by security after attempting to go topless (wearing a black bra underneath).

From Xtra.ca:

As the rain poured down at the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) throughout the afternoon on Aug 7, the soggy and intoxicated crowd grew increasingly boisterous, and many ripped off clothing to dance in the rain.

So when queer activist and photographer R Jeanette Martin was dared by another woman to take off her top, she happily shed a layer, revealing a black bra underneath. (Full disclosure: Martin was at the event with this reporter.) Moments after Martin removed her T-shirt, a female security guard was at Martin’s side, telling her sternly to “put the shirt back on.”

“Why?” Martin asked. The security guard, who refused to provide her name, said, “There are guys here who will take that the wrong way.”  The security guard also told her, “That’s the rules of the festival.”

Martin pointed out that many of the men were topless and many of the women were wearing bikinis, not technically dissimilar from Martin in her bra. The CNE said they spoke to the security guard involved, but argued Martin keeping her shirt on would’ve been prudent for her safety:

Amanda Gray, security supervisor for the beer festival, tells Xtra the security guard who initially asked Martin to put her top back on was “spoken to.” Gray assured it won’t happen again.

But Gray says security people frequently have to diffuse hostile situations that are triggered “when a guy grabs a girl. We’ve had a lot of fights and stuff because guys do grab girls. That’s why I suggested [putting her top on].”

According to tweets from the event, several women then took off their shirts to protest in solidarity with Martin. Many tweeted that Martin’s treatment and that of women who want to go topless in society is hypocritical and a sexist double standard. Saying it’s due to safety also leans toward the victim-blaming side of things, suggesting that if Martin was sexually harassed or assaulted for doing something perfectly legal, it’d be her own fault.

What do you think?

-Jarrah
(photo by Tomasz Sienicki via Wikimedia Commons)

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Can-Con, Feminism, LGBT, Politics 4 Comments

FFFF: Jersey Shore Gone Wilde

Nothing particularly feminist about this, but I have a day off and I’m prioritizing laughs over politics today. It does show the ridonkulousness of Jersey Shore. I’m guessing these quotes wouldn’t have passed Oscar Wilde’s quality test:

Presented by “The Importance of Being Earnest” on Broadway at Roundabout Theatre Company. What if the characters of Broadway’s “The Importance of Being Earnest” traveled through a time warp and woke up on the beach with Snooki, The Situation and the rest of the gang of MTV’s “Jersey Shore”? In
an exclusive video series created for Playbill by “Earnest” stars Santino Fontana and David Furr, the Roundabout Theatre Company cast puts “Jersey” in the mouths of Oscar Wilde’s famed Britons. Think of it as a comedy of bad manners.

And there are three more parts on YouTube if you liked these.

 

-Jarrah

 

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