[While I don’t think what I’m about to say contains major spoilers, if you haven’t seen Monsters vs. Aliens and you’re planning to, you might not want to read further. Do come back when you’ve seen it, though.]
I went to see Monsters vs. Aliens this morning. Understand, I didn’t go in expecting anything more than cheery animated action for 1½ hours, and that’s mostly what I got–in 3D, even. Unfortunately for my peace of mind, my mindless escapism has triggered observations and thoughts.
Now I admit to feeling a bit grumpy as the movie started. I’d just sat through a whole passel of previews. Some were intriguing, some weren’t (no way am I going to Land of the Lost, but Up has potential). One thing they had in common, though, was that they were about men and/or boys. If there was a woman in the movie, she was the love interest or a sidekick. Also, there was just one woman per movie. I’d seen one preview of Monsters vs. Aliens, enough to know that there was going to be one woman and a bunch of guys–and the fact that the woman was fifty feet tall and the guys weren’t human wasn’t really changing the situation. I probably wouldn’t have let this get to me except that I’m reading The Feminine Mystique right now, and I’m sensitized to these things.
But after a while, between the explosions and witty comments and things apparently flying out of the screen onto the audience, it finally sank in that Susan, the fifty-foot-tall woman, was the star of the show. The guys were the sidekicks. It was Susan who saved the day, Susan who figured out her fiancé wasn’t worth the effort, Susan who came to wonderful conclusions about how capable she was. Betty Friedan probably would’ve been ecstatic about this film, even if she wasn’t into sf.
And that’s the problem. The Feminine Mystique was first published in 1963, forty-six years ago. It shouldn’t be this relevant today, damn it. I should be able to take it for granted. I shouldn’t be stunned by seeing its themes in an sf film and marvelling at how rare that is. I’m thrilled that they were there, yes, but Monsters vs. Aliens isn’t likely to be a classic seen through the ages. Will other movies pick up on this? In all genres? When?
Oh, and Susan was the only main female character. Sigh.