4 Bizarre Ways Movies Tried To Comment On Real World Issues
Ah, the movies, where we go to see humans in costumes kick and punch and even say a few words sometimes. It’s awesome. What’s even cooler is when the talkies manage to hit us with one of those magical whips of knowledge, leaving us pondering some great universal question. Like, why don’t people listen when scientists tell them to look up? Or, could it be possible to create a dinosaur that could swim, fly, and swing from tree to tree like a monkey? All equally important questions that touch on some real world stuff.
Sometimes, however, a movie so desperately wants to connect with the world as we know it and say something possibly profound — only, it doesn’t, and it leaves us scratching our heads as to what its reasoning was to begin with.
Note: This article discusses rape and sexual assault.
The Riddler In The Batman Doesn’t Make Sense
Yes, we know, at this point, Matt Reeves’ Riddler is a bit different from the traditional Riddler as we know him, and so continues the real mystery of the movie: Who is The Riddler, anyway? There’s a lot going on with Paul Dano’s character that baffles us, and we're not just talking about his apparent appreciation for coffee art.
In The Batman, we see a Riddler — who grew up in an orphanage bankrolled by the Waynes family — who’s been radicalized like a 4chan chump as he uses the internet to spread his violent propaganda and subsequently acquire his own band of merry terrorists to take down the powerful Corrupt. So far, so very alt-right. Only, Riddler is also some kind of Zodiac whistleblower, doing his whole thing not because he thinks those with progressive ideologies eat babies or whatever. He’s doing it because he wants to see actual corrupt officials held accountable for not taking care of the poor and the downtrodden. He wants to see actual positive societal change … all while using alt-right tactics. What the what?
More alarming is that Batman and Co. would never have started investigating the movie's Gotham smut show if Riddler didn’t invent his wacky puzzle game to expose said smut show — that he figured out — in the first place. Yeah, it turns out The Riddler is the best detective of them all. The film ultimately implies that Batman and Gotham needed a guy like Riddler to expose their own bullcrap, but with The Batman evoking so much of what has been happening in the United States —especially that whole insurrection thing — a message like this feels as confusing and convoluted as having to believe none of Batman’s crew knows any Spanish.
Oh, and Riddler Boy goes after crooked cops, too. It’s one hell of a shift to imagine this famous Gotham villain sitting in his crummy apartment writing love letters to Batman while pumping N.W.A.’s “F*ck tha Police.” Honestly, that sounds more like Joker's style.
Maleficent Had Some Awful Views On Rape And Sexual Assault
Disney’s animated classic Sleeping Beauty introduced the world to Maleficent back in 1959, and the evil fairy has since been one of the all-time greatest Disney villains who gave many a child nightmares and many more a fear of needles. When the live-action movie came along in 2014, starring our main Mal as the lead, it seemed we would finally learn what made her turn evil in the first place. Turns out, it was rape.
Now, before you go, “Oh, Cracked, it’s just like you to read too much into a Disney scene,” Angelina Jolie herself admitted that it was a deliberate metaphor for rape: "The question was asked: 'What could make a woman become so dark and lose all sense of her maternity, her womanhood, and her softness?' Something would have to be so violent and aggressive, and so, of course, for us, we were very conscious, the writer and I, that it was a metaphor for rape. And that this would be the thing that would make her lose sight of that.”
Yeah, there’s a lot of problems with that, Ange. For one, there’s the obviously terrible idea that “rape made her evil,” then turning Maleficent’s story into some kind of rape-revenge fantasy. There’s also the implied notion that the only reason a woman would not have a deep maternal instinct is that something bad and violent happened to her, which sounds like an idea best left back in 1959.
Jolie and the filmmakers wanted to make Maleficent about a woman “reclaiming her power” after having to endure abuse at the hands of the man she loved. It ends up being a story about a woman breaking bad after being raped, only to be saved by the child of her rapist. Very Disney.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre Took On Too Many Issues At Once
Hey, remember the new Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie that Netflix funded instead of the second season of I Am Not Okay with This? No, you probably don’t remember any of it because the world turns fast, and we simply cannot remember every dumb decision every person ever makes. Here, we’ll jog your memories by showing you the scene that has caused so many eye rolls it should probably get an award for it:
The 2022 Texas Chainsaw Massacre bus scene is so gratuitously stupid — their idea of subversion is to go for “owning the libs” because they seemingly don’t know how else to relate to a modern audience. The film also makes the mistake of thinking that the youth of today consists solely of influencers and that all young people who use social media to somehow make money (in a world where every second guy wants to sell you crypto) are useless and won’t be able to deal with any real-world problems. Like a guy with a chainsaw on a bus.
Only, these are the kids who grew up with school shootings — an actual plot point in the movie — but please, go off about the myth that is cancel culture while having literally all of these characters (that we don’t even get to know during the movie) succumb to freezing up from trauma shock and getting sliced by the white guy with a power tool. You know, for the LOLs or whatever.
In fairness, the movie did rightly anticipate people cheering on the murderous Texan Leatherface Man who just wants these darn kids to get off his lawn. So, there’s an accurate and way more depressing representation of that, we guess.
The Hunt Wants To Have It Both Ways
The Hunt was basically Damon Lindelof going: What if some wild political conspiracy theory became fact? What if a rumor about corporate liberals hunting and killing conservative “deplorables” for sport actually turned out to be true? And — try and keep up here — what if it turned out to be true because this band of elite liberals got fed up with the false rumors about them and decided to make it real themselves? It’s a high-concept satire featuring the always incredible Betty Gilpin that gives you whiplash the deeper you go into it.
This movie wants to paint everyone as sociopaths — from the left, who, in the movie, seeks revenge for online trolls ruining their careers by misinterpreting their dumb jokes, to right-wing characters being racist, progressive-hating nimrods. It’s basically political nihilism, which is never a good look and only reinforces bad ideas about each other. The movie literally caused an upheaval over its premise months before people actually saw it.
The bottom line is that the movie’s supposed message that we should all just be “nicer” to each other feels ridiculous when, in the real world, there are way too many people who want nothing more than to cause political division in the first place. The movie wants to praise apoliticism in the form of its protagonist when in reality, the world will continue fighting each other over political beliefs while a few choose to abstain because they somehow think it makes them virtuous.
But you know, whatever. Let's just watch women fight each other to the death in a kitchen.
Thumbnail: Warner Bros. Pictures, Netflix