My name is Emma. This is my feminism.

28 Days Later

on April 18, 2012

Okay, besides the fact that a list of the “Top 50 Scary Movies of All Time” totally lied about how scary 28 Days Later is, here is what I thought of the movie:

It starts out pretty good.  He’s scared, confused and uncertain, and she’s badass, in control and unemotional.  (Not that I think women have to be unemotional to be strong.  I actually think that seeing emotion as weakness and encouraging women to distance themselves from emotions is misogynistic in nature.  But she did happen to be unemotional, which helped to subvert the gender roles played out in this part of the movie).

She is definitely a strong female character though (at least at first).  But I think it’s worth commenting that she is also black.  Maybe I’m reading too much into this, or I’m just way off, but I feel like black characters – men and women – are often automatically seen as tougher.  Or at least, they’re often put in tougher roles.  Our culture certainly sees black people as more threatening, as we see with the murder of Trayvon Martin.  A young, black boy can be murdered for dressing ‘thuggish,’ but white boys dressing the same way are often criticized – “You’re not black.  What are you doing?”  Because obviously a white person is not scary.

So anyway, I think it’s certainly notable that they chose to put a black woman in such a strong, almost masculine role.  She is actually quite animalistic (although, it is an apocalypse…) at first, which I know black women tend to be portrayed as in media.  But, I guess it’s also good that she was a major character in the movie who was useful to the group because she was smart and strong, not because she was sexy.

At least, not until they get to the military base, where the male soldiers needed women to rape.  Unfortunately, I think this is probably pretty realistic of what would happen in an apocalypse (since it already happens daily in this pre-apocalyptic world…).   The interesting things about post-apocalyptic stories is that they (attempt to) comment on a more basic, animalistic humanity.  In this setting, rape serves a very real function – repopulation.  It is not about power, control, terrorizing women, or even sex.  At least, it’s not only about those things.  It was interesting to look at rape from this perspective, because you can empathize more with the would-be rapists because it almost makes sense. 

It’s still not okay though.  So, men, if an apocalypse happens, it’s still not okay to rape!  If anything, this kind of shows that even at the end of the world we will need feminism. 

Also at the military base is a black man with a collar and chain being held in the yard like a (poorly treated) dog.  They wanted to capture ‘an infected’ to study.  I guess of all the white soldiers in the base who were attacked and infected, the only one they could capture just happened to be black??  Seems unlikely.  Seriously, there was only like one other black soldier, the rest were white.  The chances of capturing a white infected would have been way higher.  But they decided to make the man on the chain black instead?  Does that really seem like the best idea?

Alright, so we’ve got a strong black woman leading the way, a nervous white man, and a black man on a chain.  Somehow we get from that, to having a shaky, scared woman in a dress being rescued by a strong, shirtless, hyper-masculine man.  (Oh, and I guess the black man on the chain died, but he was infected so who cares – he wasn’t even really a person.  Wait a minute… racial metaphor??)

Basically, the soldiers wanted their rape to be classy, so they asked the ‘women’ (the main female character and a girl they met and brought to the military base) to put on fancy dresses.  I find it quite interesting that as changed into more gender appropriate clothes, she also changed into gender appropriate behaviour.  That is, she was scared and helpless until a man saved her.

The man that she had led in the beginning of the movie now escaped from the soldiers that were trying to kill him, lost his shirt to some barbed wire, gouged a man’s eyes out, and swooped in to save the damsel in distress.  Because let’s be honest… women can’t actually save themselves.  Even if we act strong, we all actually need a man to save us and fall in love with us.  Lest we live horrible lives as sex slaves and die lonely and scared.

What do you think?

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