A Response to the Movie and Comic Book Kick Ass (Trigger Warning Based on Material)

Dear readers, this post and the aforementioned movie and comic book should all come with a trigger warning. I felt I should post this down here because I am going to try and write this with as few triggers as I can but Mark Millar seems to be one hell of an abusive person and therefore there is plenty of abuse to talk about.

I am an avid comic book reader. I like pretty much any comic you hand me. I’ve even managed to enjoy Archie comics. I did not enjoy Kick Ass. I read it because of the hype. I also borrowed it because of the hype. Hype usually means patriarchy. In this case it was formulaic patriarchy with racism, tons of homophobia, and of course as much child abuse as possible. That’s pretty much all Kick Ass is.

You see the writer, and I use that term loosely, creates (again a term used loosely) a world where superheroes kill everything as violently as they can. Wait what? It gets better. Super heroes kill everything that moves, and a father shoots his daughter repeatedly so she knows how it feels. Yes she has Kevlar. Does that make it any less triggering? NO. Does that make the training that Hit Girl endures to become someone that can kill with a smile less child abuse? No, it actually adds to it.

You see in reality I have had enough training that I could ostensibly have pulled off running around and killing people ala Hit Girl. Except that I didn’t want to kill people. Except that anyone that can kill with a smile has some serious psychological issues. Except that yeah my body sucks now and a huge component of that disabling pain comes from those same abuses. A child’s body will not handle the effects of being beaten in the same way as an adults. The damage is longer lasting.

So, right off in both the comic book and the film I was triggered. The film was in some ways less homophobic, and in many was more racist and anti woman. I realized as I watched Hit girl slaughtering a bunch of black men that Hit Girl is designed to reenforce the patriarchy. You see, if a woman has the power to kill you she will do it with a smile. She will lose her innocence (a lot of the blood shed metaphores of yore work out for this movie. Hit girl is rarely touched by males and is cold. Hard.) A woman that is capable of violence is instantly a killer. There are also elements of the madonna whore in a school girl outfit given. There were attempts made by Hitgirl to flirt. Yes, an eight year old or whatever she is was trying to flirt her way around.

Healthy imagery. In fact everything in this series is a carefully selected trope of what makes a man a man, what makes a woman great, and all of these are cliches. One of the worse changes between the comics and the movies was the reason that the big evil black man dies introducing Kick Ass to Hit Girl. In the comic book Kick Ass is going to save a stranger from domestic violence. (More triggers, and tons of racism). In the comic book the woman is black, the man is black. There is a part of this that is rare, as usually the black man is the predator after the young white girl. Of course there is also tons of racism since the man is a thug for the mafia and is apparently deserving of a katana through the chest…

Cue the movie. Any gaping void that was there in the isms was filled in. In the movie the high school girl that is with Kickass as his friend because he is supposedly a gay prostitute (she likes to save those poor people who aren’t with in the patriarchial boundaries you see) is now the victim. This is ahuge change of reason for both the characters. Kick Ass loses an element of heroism because he is just taking care of the girl he wants to have sex with. The black villain cliche o’ racism loses an element of being semi-original but still super duper racist because of course Hollywood cannot sell us something that isn’t made to reenforce the patriarchy so fully that I end up almost puking before the end of the film.

Mark Millar fans that see this as an attack, go ahead. It is. I am attacking his racism. I am attacking his homophobia. I am also attacking his comic book writing credentials. I can do better. Know how I know? I have WRITTEN COMIC BOOKS. If the villains kill less people than the heroes how are people supposed to identify with them? My issues with this film were so high I had to talk it out with a friend, and he had a great quote.

“the fight scenes which kind of sound cool…really bored me…there was no emotional reason behind the last hour of the film…yes her father was killed…but it almost didn’t feel like his death was truly acknowledged and rather it just went into super vengeance mode which no superhero should do. Where the hell was morality in all of this?”

You see, what makes a super hero heroic, as the movie Hancock tried to tell us between it’s cliches and tropes o racism and bad acting was that a hero will not be accepted by the world if they act with baseless violence. You may think so Mark Millar but you aren’t the world. I understand a great many people think this movie is great. Those people aren’t looking at this film and aren’t identifying which origins and characters you plagerised. Spiderman without powers, the Punisher, Batman/owlman/bluebeetle, oh and even your movie didn’t have a consistent soundtrack because the soundtrack was a mishmash of all previous heroing movie sound tracks. Could you BE more obvious with your movie,comic.videogame baiting cycle?

No. The answer is no.

There are people who like this film. The majority of people that like this film are stuck in the patriarchy unaware by choice of how baselessly ridiculous this film is. They have to work at it. You see, there isn’t anything original about Kickass. We’ve had better gore from Saw, we’ve had the same origin stories over and over. Except that the difference between Robin and Hit Girl lies in how they were trained. Yes Frank Miller tried to make Batman a violent abuser, but the public panned that and this was undone. Robin was trained carefully, so that he would know how to fight without killing. Hit Girl was trained to be an assassin without morals.

Kickass doesn’t. If anything the fight scenes are full of so many stupid choreographic moves that would get the characters killed, the set physics of that world are destroyed, and wait a rocket pack? Anyone that actually saw the film is probably wondering what Kickass coated his suit in so his butt didn’t catch on fire. This movie is not worth my share of the almighty dollar, the comic book s aren’t. In general, I don’t read or pay for anything with Mark Millar as the writer or creator. This will only continue until he learns how to write past a formulary, past the patriarchy, and with in the boundaries of what makes a Superhero SUPER.

Oh and if you have seizures, they use a strobe light in the film to try and make the fight scenes look cooler after they go video game baiting in one of the “climactic” scenes that felt so anticlimactic for those people I know.

So to recap, Movie bad. Mark Millarr is a hack. He hasn’t written anything I can think of that didn’t scream, “Hollywood, make me a movie because I am a pile of Cliche! Steaming RIGHT HERE!” This is just my opinion of course. An opinion I will back with my money and my mouth. Millar, if you want to ever have a write off let me know. Here’s your Corkscrew of Justice, you know where to shove it.

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5 Comments

  1. Yeah! Yeah for fathers who though we should know how to correctly use a garrote to kill sentries at the age of four. Yeah for fathers who taught us to walk into restuarants and size up the possible exit routes. Yeah for fathers who called our loved ones stupid whores.

    Oh…wait. Yeah means boo. Sorry Kat. I didn’t see the movie, but abuse sucked for me too.

  2. Yeah, indeed. I read it as you jeering them like “Oh yeah (censored) well (censor) you!”

    Don’t see the movie, it will definitely trigger you. That was pretty much the point of this post and to rant out the rage that I felt. Though I am very serious about the write off against Millar. I doubt he could keep up.

  3. I have to disagree with you on this review although I do completely understand where you’re coming from. Both the comic and the movie for me basically contained the following message:

    Question: “Wouldn’t it be COOL if…” (“I were a Superhero”, “A 10 year-old girl was a kick-ass assassin”, “A kid could take down a bunch of evil men”).

    Answer: “Actually no, it would SUCK because…” (“I would get my ass kicked”, “It would leave on totally screwed up 10 year old girl”, “The evil men would almost certainly kill the kid”).

    I came away from both mediums feeling they were a dialogue about why we DON’T have a bunch of costumed crime-fighters on the street rather than glorifying in the idea. The only character of any self-worth or respect is that of Hit-Girl because she has had these terrible things happen to her and is yet still standing, still fighting and more powerful than any of the pathetic men (good and bad) who surround her.

    My girlfriend put it much better than I ever could when she said that “If ‘hit-girl’ was ‘hit-boy’ no-one would bat an eyelid, it’s not the idea of kid being so powerful and ruthless that has caused the backlash against the film, it’s because it’s a girl.” I know that’s not the position you are coming from in terms of a critique but it’s certainly where the majority of negative reviewers have struck, they hate the idea of the films main protagonist being a 10-year old girl who can hold her own and indeed defeat a bunch of men three to four times her age.

    In terms of the racism you describe with that particular scene, yes, there is no excuse and it is problematic. I feel in the comic it’s better as you say due to the motivation but in the film it’s not clear why he’s even going there or why hit-girl and big-daddy turn up. I think there may have been some edits! It’s a shame really as I think it detracts from the rest of the film and the comic.

    Mark Millar is an extremist in terms of what he writes, I don’t think it always works and Kick-Ass is certainly not without it’s flaws but I don’t necessarily think that a story about heroes who are just a violent as the villains they hunt means it’s not a successful Superhero story. I’m a pacifist in real life, I’ve never so much as hit someone and I don’t believe in violence at any resort or the death-penalty or torture… however, I do appreciate stories where characters that I sympathise with take it to the extreme. “The Dark Knight Returns” presents a ruthless, killer Batman who will stop at nothing to win the day (unlike his younger self) but he is still a hero when compared to the atrocities committed by the Joker, Two-Face and the President of the USA.

    I will always have a soft-spot for a film where a 10 year old girl takes on twenty men and kills the lot of them, I’ll have that any day over something like Twilight where 18-year old Bella moons over the various men around her while never challenging them or their authority.

    You might be interested to know that the script for the Kick-Ass movie was written by Jane Goldman, not Mark Miller and she was also responsible for writing the script to “Stardust”. She talks at length in various interviews about her desire to have a strong female protagonist who happens to be a 10 year-old child and how at no point did she want to suggest her Father’s methods of training where anything other than extreme abuse.

    As with all things, each to their own and I totally appreciate this film is not perfect and does contain problems, I just don’t believe that hit-girl is one of them. If I had a daughter I’d rather she had hit-girl as a role model than some manufactured pop-singer… or one of the Bratz… or (shudder) Bella!

    Just some random thoughts before I finish work…

  4. Chris-

    I put a lot of thought into how I wanted to state my response. First and foremost I will ask that you check out the bulk of my writing here because your response indicates you are not aware of the issues I am addressing at all. This is not just a review but is a response, which is a bit different. This is also my way of warning other people who have been trained to be 10 year old little girl assassins and would just love to know you have a soft spot in your heart for our abuse.

    That is what you said, no matter your intentions. You hold a soft spot in your heart for the abuse itself because it makes us “awesome”.

    This is not a what if story, and honestly gary sue fan boy stories like you present are things I dislike too, but it is a story with it’s own world. The questions of wouldn’t I get my ass kicked are answered with some logic. Like this: Ask your father to pay for karate and get some training. You want to use baton? Take Escrima.

    Mark Millar’s writing has in general proven he wants no dialogue on sociopolitical issues, and your belief that this is so (since you know, being a racist, homophobe is really what people advocate and fight against) is an element of your privilege. Feel free to google white male privilege, because again on this website this is a basic topic of discussion and is considered a 101 issue with most advocates.

    This same idea that you will read about can be transfered to ability, the concept that all childhoods are either super good OR super bad, race, gender, and pretty much anything that makes a minority. I do believe you will read my response and will google, because frankly my explanations of privilege aren’t always the best.

    You also make some good points and see some of my points, but I want to disagree on a few things.

    1. I don’t think a female writer on the script makes much difference for a few reasons. The first is the source material is already full of oppression and isms. The second is something that Hollywood itself plays into, just because she is a woman does not mean that she has not internalized the oppression and is not actually feeding into it in a cycle, this is way too common and even us advocates fall prey.

    2. I do agree and disagree with parts of your statement about Hit-girl’s gender. I think the backlash wouldn’t make it past people like me, but people like me will still have anger at the glorification of child abuse, always. No matter the gender. This is actually a large part of why I struggle with comic book side kicks in general. The idea that young boys and girls should fight along side the adults is disturbing. I think you were in the Pendant Chat when we discussed this aspect of the Teen Titans.

    3. I think Millar is a bigot, based on his writing and the way he interacts with fans. Calling something extreme has often been used as a tactic to make it okay to oppress or use “edgy” things. An example outside of this conversation is the singer who makes an album and pretends she is conjoined twins, writes really horrid things about the twins life, glorifies their abusers (sexual especially), and then lashes out at people for telling her that she is oppressing people and is using media to further the stereotype that people with disabilities aren’t people. Millar’s use of extreme is to me the same way. I don’t know how to phrase this bit clearly, so if you don’t get it ask and I can try again.

    I think Millar is playing into the glorification culture of violence that implies all men must be violent. Everything mustb e full of gore. If you watch the interactions between Kickass and his friends there is no element of actual friendship but further violence. They hit him, tease him, question his sexuality and push him into social situations that are detrimental. In the movie this is most clear when they hit him in the back of the head with a tray. This can be deadly, and with friends like that does he really need to fight crime to get beat up? (hmm parody idea…)

    Twilight also is on my list of things people shouldn’t watch but that’s mostly because the writing makes my eyes bleed, and oh yes the racism there (savage beast wolves are just native americans?!)and the sexism and the lack of menstration… but I would still rather just avoid idealising violence which is what Kickass itself is all about.

    As far as his Batman writing goes… those stories are NOT my favorites by any stretch of the imagination. The same reason Frank Millar stories tend to make me cringe (the batman ones, the rest make me want to puke on him) is the sexism,racism, and violence combo. I know I have to someday write about DC comics and Batman’s racism. Won’t do Superman since I try to only write about things I like while pointing out the issues and such, for the simple reason that I would like to see change. I also disagree with you on batman remaining a hero but I think a hero can fall, and though it does not undo good it precludes the term hero from remaining on the person. This happens in reality too.

    The protagonist of Kickass is NOT Hit girl by the way, she is a side character. The protagonist is the boy that narrates. I can;’t remember his name right now. If she were the protagonist I suspect she would’ve done more than flirting and we would also be dealing with a virgin whore allegory cliche/ism a thon. IE I do know that this can be WORSE. Yet, she would never be the protagonist as in comics and other media like movies female leads must always BE as you said like Bella to further the ideas of what a woman should be.

    I do think that there is need of a strong female protagonist, a strong children’s movie character that is female (IE the issues with Pixar…) and in general a movie for kids beyond princesses and pink where female characters aren’t incidental.

    I am hoping that by the time you have children if you so desire and choose to do so there are better rolemodels for girls, and that you CAN see where there is a gaping hole means that there is progress. At the very least your daughter also has a few heroes outside of just Bella or Hitgirl extremes if she reads comics! (Oracle, Black Canary (sometimes),) but those are adults.

    I also can see where HitGirl is being sold as an attempt at a baby Huntress in the making but, based on the source material there is no way that any script writer could give the fans of Kick Ass what they wanted without the glorification of abuse. This is another reason that I had to write about them together, and I do hope that Jane Goldman writes and sells a movie with strong women and balanced male characters.

    Perhaps she will manage the ultimate, a strong female character that is not racist and happens to be not straight, perhaps not cisgender, and is NOT WHITE. Perhaps the character will also not be at either the extreme of super fat or super thin but somewhere in between and of attainable body structure. Perhaps this can all be done without the isms that are presented in those.

    You may also want to peak at some of my other reviews, as I did enjoy this conversation. I just had to let the PTSD dust settle so I could talk to you and not conflate feelings from being triggered with your commentary.

    Another thing to keep in mind with my blog and most I link to is also the term trigger warning, as most of my readers have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and it is not combat related (well not from the military). Those tags being added mean that the content is usually upsetting on an extra level for people with certain types of triggers (and some things you would not expect are triggers). They also mean I am usually dealing with flashbacks while writing and that can change the tone of my words. Though not enough that I would ever recant or retract something I publish while in that frame of mental stress.

    Most of my movie reviews won’t have trigger warnings attached as I don’t review things I dislike often and can usually spot the triggers a mile away. In this case I felt it was worth my time and mental distress in order to see how Hollywood handled the isms, because it is important as well to see how much change has occured every so often.

    The simple fact that some of the oppression tactics in the comic were gone and some in the movie are worse shows there is a lot to do but also a lot of change.

    And for some reason I just had an odd team up idea for you Chris. Jade I think she was… the female ninja turtle vs Hitgirl… (but with plushie swords so no one is really hurt)

  5. @Chris.

    You poor sap, your playing for the wrong team and you don’t even know. I bet if I asked you if you supported child abuse you’d resond with a loud “NO!”, yet you are.

    Picture a world wear a very small number of people control all the goods and resources. The life of those people at the top would very difficult, because they would have to work as hard to keep that privelage as those under them worked to provide it for them, unless they can make people believe that the very beliefs which hold them in opression free them.

    You said “…The only character of any self-worth or respect is that of Hit-Girl because she has had these terrible things happen to her and is yet still standing, still fighting and more powerful…” And that’s the biggest most powerful most dangerous lie of all, the one they are all founded on. You just said

    ABUSE MAKES US STRONGER

    Isn’t that a great lie? Isn’t that a brilliant way for the people on top to convince everyone that the suffering they endure is good, because it will make them stronger and better able to fight the opressor. But like I said, it’s a lie.

    We all have capcity to be strong, to fight the good fight for freedom. Abuse robs you of that. Abuse doesn’t make you stronger, it makes you brittle. It doesn’t make you ABLE it makes you less ABLE. Even when abused people truly excell at life, it rarely brings them joy. Often, they aren’t doing it because it makes them happy but to ‘earn’ the love they never got from the abuser. You hear about the 1 ouf of 100 abuse victims who goes on to be a hero and not the 99% who languish away because that makes a stronger lie.

    In fact, the only thing abuse teaches people is how to feel worthless and how to abuse. We abuse victims are self-destructive lot. We eat to much, or none at all. We screw too much or not at all. We develop substance abuse problems, we cut ourselves, some of us try to kill ourselves. Some of us do all those things, and alway for the same reason: we find the pain of being ourselves unbearable. Others turn it around, and inflict the behaviour they were taught on the weak and small around them. And this works out just fine for that rarified group at the top. Those who have the most daming evidence against their opression are marginalized as crazy and/or criminal or given good jobs opressing their peers.

    No, Chris. Abuse does not make us stronger. It makes us weaker, as people and as a society.

    @Kat. You and talk I had with friend inspired me to write a blog today.
    http://rageomatic.wordpress.com/2010/05/31/its-not-abuse-trigger-warning-ya-think/


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