I went to see Kick-Ass yesterday, mostly for the same reason a whole lot of people - including Roger Ebert, with whom I agree about 95% of the time - hated it. But I did like it. Here's why.
I thought I might want to blog about it, but I wasn't sure if A) I could articulate just what I liked about it - because I did like it - and B) I wanted to open that can of worms. Now, I've committed to B in my own mind, so we'll see if A comes together as I go along.
One of the main characters, Hit Girl, is a stone cold killer who calls victims cunts and motherfuckers, traits that would be soporifically old hat if not for their belonging, in this case, to an 11-year-old girl. (Also, a lot of people - though Ebert's not one of them - seem a hell of a lot more upset by her language than by watching her eviscerate other human beings or be brutalized herself, which got my "Wow, this culture is fucked up" antennae wiggling.)
I was not disappointed. I loved that character, far more than I expected to, even. But I loved her while also recognizing that her approach to life was essentially sociopathic - and worse, that she was not that way naturally, but had been trained/brainwashed by her father (portrayed here as a basically sympathetic figure, further complicating matters) to kill without a hint of remorse or disgust - so if I thought about it too hard, I'd be torn between crying and vomiting.
Now, regular readers know I am not one to shy away from overthinking things, and I am a big supporter of Moff's Law. (Short version: "If you really think people should just enjoy the movie without thinking about it, then why the fuck did you 1. click on the post in the first place, and 2. bother to leave a comment? If it bugs you so much, GO WATCH A GODDAMN FUNNY CAT VIDEO.") So I am by no means suggesting that one should avoid any deeper analysis of Hit Girl. In fact, I'm about to do just that. But it's a lot more complicated, for me, than simply saying the whole concept of her is beyond fucked-up and therefore represents a failure of art and/or entertainment. Because the fact that she made me feel squirmy and confused and inarticulate is one of the things I liked about the movie.
Before I proceed, I want to make a few things clear.
1) There will be spoilers. Big ones. I'll put the bulk of this post behind a cut, but for dog's sake, if you don't want to be spoiled, go away now.
2) I am not approaching this as a big fan of comics or superhero movies in general, or Mark Millar (whose name I just had to look up again) in particular. In fact, as for Millar, here is what I know about him: 1) His work has been criticized for egregious race and gender fail by people I respect very much. 2) He wrote the comic on which the 2008 movie Wanted was based. I saw Wanted. And I would say Wanted was the most unpleasant, misogynistic, gratuitously violent, pointless piece of shit I've watched in the last five years, except I also saw Crank. So any enthusiasm I had going into this movie was categorically not Millar-related.