Feminist, Fictionista, Foodie, Francophile

Monday, June 4, 2012

I don't mean to be cranky, but....

I saw Snow White and the Huntsman this weekend. It looks gorgeous and had a couple of truly magical moments in it. But it also had a line, a throw-away line, a tossed off moment that got a big laugh and made me cringe.
Snow White and the Huntsman are struggling through a dark enchanted forest chased by the Queen's brother and a miscellaneous assortment of murderous  minions. Realizing that Snow White's long skirt is making it hard for her to run, the Huntsman slashes it off with his knife.
Snow White, who's really been through quite a lot in the last few minutes of screen time, shrinks back, uncertain of the Huntsman's intentions.
"Don't flatter yourself," he snarls and then they move on as the audience chuckles.
"Don't flatter yourself?"

Call me a cranky feminist but I couldn't help but notice that the script was written by three men.

"Don't flatter yourself."

Don't get me wrong. For the most part, Snow White is witten as brave and strong and true and noble. I'm not sure how she learned to sword fight whilst  being locked up in a castle keep for years, or how the Duke managed to procure that snazzy form-fitting armor at short notice, but this is a fairy tale after all.
Did we really need that line?
Am I just being over-sensitive? (One of the disparaging insults hurled at early feminists was that the had no sense of humor when it came to sexist jokes.) After all, I was the only one not laughing.


  1. Hollywood will do anything for a laugh--and this is proof. The line is out of place for the time period, its cruelty, everything. My husband saw it and liked a few scenes and the look of it, but not a lot else.

  2. That's kind of where I was. I wanted to love it. And just couldn't.

  3. Is the line out of character with everything else we learn about him? If so, then it's not good writing; but if not, then that's just the character's personality.

    Doesn't sound like a very good line, in any case. Since Snow White is supposed to be almost preternaturally "fair", it wouldn't be flattering herself to think that she excites desire. Does indeed sound like a half-assed line thrown in to get a laugh.

    Note: Sexism is the belief that one sex is superior to another. It renders the word meaningless if it's applied too loosely.

  4. Perhaps "misogyny" is closer to the mark, although my definition of sexism is somewhat broader than yours. I don't really think the three writers are either sexists or misogynists but I'm really, really tired of this kind of thing. Making light of rape is not as funny when you know people who were raped. And I do. Every time I hear a rape joke I think about my grandmother's best friend naked and bleeding and terrified in a town of only 1100 people. I think of my upstairs neighbor who was the victim of a serial rapist. I think of the two women I know who were victims of date rape.
    It was just a stupid throwaway line but it took me out of the movie and into real life where words have weight. At a time when women's rights are under siege, it just struck me as a particularly insensitive line.

  5. I have no problem with insensitive lines. I usually don't concern myself with whether a line might offend somebody -- if it's the right line for that character at that time. In this case, it just doesn't sound like a good line; but I'll have to judge it in context, when I see the movie. (Might wait for Netflix.)

    Now, if the Huntsman really is a bit of a misogynist (like so many beloved characters), then some version of that line might be just the thing there. But I'd probably change the phrasing; sounds too modern.

    I know what you mean about an ill-considered, ill-fitting line jolting you out of the story; had that problem multiple times with Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" movies.

    Katherine, you'll have to give me your Humpty Dumpty definition of sexism some time!