Wed
Aug 13 2014 10:30am

Guardians of the Galaxy, We Need to Talk

Let me make a few things clear before we get into the grumpy bits. I enjoyed the hell out of the Guardians of the Galaxy movie. Not only I was part of that 44% female audience for opening weekend, but I also plan to see it again. It was the first MCU movie I’ve seen opening day or weekend, and only the second one I’ve seen in a theater (the first was Captain America: The Winter Soldier). The soundtrack has been on repeat on my iPod for nearly two weeks, and half my Tumblr is dedicated to Rocket and Groot being adorbs and Sister Assassins being awesome. I’d pay cold, hard cash for a dancing baby Groot toy, and Groot fanart is my desktop wallpaper. I would give just about anything to have a TV prequel of teenage Gamora and Nebula kicking ass. I will even cover the “Rocket Raccoon,” “Legendary Star-Lord,” and “Guardians of the Galaxy” comics in an upcoming Pull List. TL;DR: I love the Guardians of the Galaxy movie. Well, I love about 85% of it, and have serious reservations about a few key issues.

Spoilers abound...

“You said it, bitch.”
Can we please stop calling people bitches? More specifically, stop having male characters call other male characters bitches, as if it were the worst thing one man could call one another. Having a man take a term that represents a certain kind of person - in this case, a headstrong, independent woman who doesn’t take shit from anyone - and turn it into an invective meant to hurt another man as a slight against their masculinity is unnecessary and misogynistic.Such a comment is right up there with calling something “gay.” Surely we’ve moved beyond this as a culture.

Gamora’s costume
Listen up, superhero creators. There are 3 big no's in creating costumes for female characters: no boob plates, no high heels, and no boob or belly windows. There’s no reason for Gamora or Nebula to wear something as impractical as 3 inch wedge heels. And no, Drax and Star-Lord being shirtless doesn’t count as a male objectification. They’re propped up as an admirable, desireable male physique, whereas Nebula and Gamora’s skin-tight, revealing outfits sexualize them. If Star-Lord doesn’t need heels or a costume that defies gravity, then neither do Gamora or Nebula. At least we can thank Hera they didn’t use Gamora’s costume from the comics.

Howard the Duck
No, Marvel, you don’t get to reboot a freaking talking duck movie before you give a movie to someone who isn’t a straight white man. You had the perfect opportunity to tease a Captain Marvel or Black Widow movie and you wasted it. Hell, you could’ve used the tag on what happened to Nebula after she jumped out of the spaceship. Presumably she’s still alive, and it would be so cool to see her piecing herself together out of the wreckage. But instead we end up with Howard the Duck? *groan*

Lack of diversity
It’s been argued that Gamora is the real star of the movie, and I’m inclined to agree. But, of course, it can’t really be Gamora’s movie because that would mean having a woman protagonist instead of a handsome white dudebro. That same line of reasoning is what makes Glenn Close’s Nova Prime so disappointing. You’d think the leader of an entire planet would have more to do than to look fretful and/or stern while taking orders from a lusty space pirate. Marvel should be ashamed for wasting the phenomenal Glenn Close on such an ineffectual role.

Furthermore, in a galaxy with a sentient tree, a talking raccoon, a space dog, and Howard the freaking Duck, you mean to tell me that there’s only one person of color worth hearing speak? And no, it doesn’t count as diversity if all but one person of color is relegated to background scenery. Andrew Wheeler at Comics Alliance pointed out that “if Marvel makes Thor 3 before it makes Black Panther, it will have made ten movies headlined by blond white men named Chris before it makes one movie headlined by someone who isn’t even white [or female, or LGBTQIA].” That is utterly unacceptable in a company that prides itself on its diversity

That “whore” joke
There were two, really. The first was Rocket telling Gamora to use her sexuality to seduce the quarnex battery from the watchtower guards, which still doesn’t make any sense to me. How in the world is that plan even remotely a good idea? They just established that everyone in the prison is either terrified of her or wants to kill her. While she flirts with Peter in the beginning to steal the Infinity Stone from him, the difference is that in the prison it’s treated as a punchline meant to degrade Gamora rather than a desperate plan she forms herself. In the beginning, she makes her own choice; in the prison, the male characters decide what to do with her body. In the former, she has all the agency; in the latter she’s a sexual object.

But the more offensive joke was when Drax the Destroyer calls Gamora a whore. Gamora, warrior, assassin, and all-around BAMF, is apparently nothing more than “this green whore.” Drax can only speak literally. So where does this accusation of whorish behavior come from? It is neither implicitly nor explicitly noted anywhere that she has previously prostituted herself. If we’re going around accusing people of slutty behavior, that joke would’ve been more appropriate directed at Star-Lord. He’s notorious for sleeping around, so much so that Gamora - who never met him before this movie - rejects his infamous “pelvic sorcery.” He has so much sex with so many random women that he forgets he has one of them in his ship when he steals the Infinity Stone. (Bereet should be a clever Easter egg tie-in to the Avengers, but here she’s hardly more than a briefly seen sexual conquest.) Peter Quill may have started out as an homage to Han Solo, but in the Guardians movie he’s closer to the rebooted, over-sexed Captain Kirk.

The males around Gamora have simply decided that she’s a slut, without any evidence supporting it. (Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with prostitution or being a slut in the first place, but the movie clearly uses the term in a derogatory sense.) Slutty Peter gets Drax’s gratitude while not-slutty Gamora is called a whore. And to do so as a punchline is even more inexcusable. At best, it’s an unfunny joke that has no place in a light-hearted PG-13 movie. At worst, it reinforces rape culture by attempting to make it funny that women should be thought of only in terms of a straight male’s sexual appetite. I mean, come on. It’s infuriating.

It’s hard to be a comics fan if you’re not a straight white man, given that most of the representative iterations of diversity end up as one dimensional tokens, expendable sidekicks, or fridge-able sex objects. DC’s done a pretty terrible job in their comics and movies at creating female, PoC, and/or LGBTQIA characters that aren’t cardboard plot devices used to inspire the male protagonist into heroic action. To be fair, DC gets good marks on television with Arrow (and presumably The Flash), but since the shows won’t crossover into the movies, it’s more or less cancelled out in the grand scheme of things. 

Not that Marvel is much better. Comics-wise, Marvel is slowly but surely getting more diverse, but the MCU is a more depressing story. While the MCU has been good at not actively excluding us non straight/white/male fans, they haven’t been very good at including us in the content we’re fanning over. Black Widow, Pepper Potts, Agent Hill, Peggy and Sharon Carter, Rhodey, and Falcon are awesome, but they don’t really get to do anything outside of the white male superhero protagonists. We saw Steve Rogers hang out at a coffee shop while off the clock, but what does Natasha do when she’s not SHIELD-ing? Why only three straight black dudes in the movies (with no romantic interests so as to keep them “non-threatening”)? Why not an Asian, Native American, Middle Eastern, or Hispanic character with a major role? Or a trans person? I like John C. Reilly and Peter Serafinowicz a ton, but why not hire people of color for those roles instead? Why couldn’t Corpsman Dey go home to his husband instead of his wife? Where in the MCU are the rest of us?

Here’s the thing. You can’t give me Gamora then spend the whole movie slut-shaming her and locking her into an unnecessary romance, then expect me to grateful a woman was even allowed a prominent role. You can’t merchandise the hell out of your male (and animal, and plant) characters and skip the female ones altogether. You can’t claim Guardians is the first Marvel movie written by a woman when it was so substantially re-written by a man that everything from the character personalities to the main story arc is entirely different. Marvel as a corporation may be winning the race against DC to be the most socially progressive of the Big Two, but that victory is due less to the increasing insistence on diversity and more to DC eagerly hobbling itself.

I’m not calling for a boycott of Guardians of the Galaxy, or even suggesting it’s a bad movie. As I said earlier, I really enjoyed the overall film experience. But that doesn’t mean I’m not allowed to have grave concerns about it, call it on its BS, and demand improvement. I’ll read the comics and buy the DVD, but I’ll be angry about that “whore” joke until the end of time.


Alex Brown is an archivist, research librarian, writer, geeknerdloserweirdo, and all-around pop culture obsessive who watches entirely too much TV. Keep up with her every move on Twitter, or get lost in the rabbit warren of ships and fandoms on her Tumblr.

140 comments
Batonga
1. Batonga
I liked your review and opinions, thank you.... but.... I do disagree with you when you wrote
"To be fair, DC gets good marks on television with Arrow (and presumably The Flash), but since the shows won’t crossover into the movies, it’s more or less cancelled out in the grand scheme of things."

I dont think it is cancelled out at all, I think it is legitamtely demonstrating a way it can work, and when those shows/ characters and storylines have success, i.e. viewers... studios will respond. Because as you point out, studios are not always worried about the final product as it concerns viewpoints, stereotypes and vocabulary... but they do care about bottom line dollars. When you can show success on the small screen it can drive the economics and decisions of the big screen.
Batonga
2. Michael Simmons
You know, I tend to agree with the assement posted in this blog.
Nicholas Loftis
3. nloftis
This is a great article. I love seeing things like this on Tor. It's easy to gush about how funny and exciting these movies are, but it's good to call them out on their bullshit too.
Batonga
4. Rannin
"Not that there's anything inherently wrong with prostitution or being a slut in the first place..."

Yes, "whore" is a bad term. Objectifying women in general is wrong. But paying for sex is ok...
Batonga
5. EllaLilly
Oh for crying out loud. Give us a break and try to stop complaining - be thankful they even made this awesome film. Black Widow and Black Panther will happen, just give Marvel the chance to breathe between films.

2 weeks of release and already complaining.
Batonga
6. Herb523489
Criticism of the "whore" joke is completely valid. The rest could have been copied and pasted from any number of other Tor posts. The kind of immature, undeveloped whining that the average reader automatically skims over when he or she comes to it. That is not to say that issues of gender, race, etc. are not valid issues that should, nay, must, be discussed. It is to say that you don't have anything interesting or insightful to say about them.
Katharine Duckett
7. Katharine
Moderator here, reminding everyone that even if you disagree with points in this post, please respond respectfully and in line with our moderation policy. Thank you!
shiva orie
8. jadedlemon
There are many definitions of the word bitch. And the fact that your are narrowly interpreting its use in the movie entirely within the context of your own preferred definition might reflect an inability to see the bigger picture.
Batonga
9. Useless
I knew that link under the supposed patriartical breakdown of the word "bitches" would be to Tumblr.
How is "bitch" equivilant to using the word "gay?" What about the word "bastard," which implies a mother had sex with a man she wasn't married with? What about "damn you," which implies some sort of eternal supernatural condemnation and religious connections?
Clearly all swear words must be removed, because they'll offend somebody. And the last thing we want is a cuss word to offend.
"Not that there's anything inherently wrong with prostitution or being a slut in the first place..."
The SJW is strong in this post.
Batonga
10. LinusH
Lacking in diversity?
Vin Diesel, Zoe Saldana and Dave Bautista are all POC and all of them are speaking. They make up for 3/5 of the group. Not really a lack of diversity if you include del Toro. They also seem to have no problem with having people having sex with other aliens, which is basically like having sex with a completelly different species.
If you really want to nitpick, Quill is of mixed heritage.

Regarding one person's body being admirable, but another being objectified, I just don't see that. An objectified body is an objectified body, no matter if it's male or female. At least if one believes in equality between genders.

As for Howard the Duck... I think that the chances of him getting a movie of his own is about as big as the chances for that beast in the end credits of Thor 2 getting a movie of his own.

However, I do agree with the use of whore, even though I don't believe that bitch has to be connected to the female gender anymore, just as I don't connect nurse to the female gender.
Batonga
11. MsSisyphus
The movie, while awesome, did have some diversity issues. However? Some of the ones you've raised don't really track with me.

Nebula took over a Ravager ship after her fall. You should maybe have watched a bit closer. No tag scene necessary to show up she's still alive for the sequel.

And should maybe do your research or just plain don't jump to conclusions. Howard the Duck isn't getting a reboot. It. Was. A. Joke. To people of James Gunn's generation who share his sense of humour, it was a clever, sly little tongue in cheek poke at Marvel's less than glorious earlier forays into filmmaking. Nothing more.

As to Drax calling Gamora a "whore," she IS pimped out by Thanos. Her services are bought and paid for with little regard for her own agency. "Whore" is not necessarily slut shaming in this context. Furthermore, you seem to forget that Gamora herself shuts Drax down. She asserts her own worth, owns her pride, and demands to be treated with dignity. And not 3 minutes later, Drax refuses to allow another to make derogatory comments about his "friend."
Batonga
12. andrewrm
Had major problems with the third to last paragraph. You cannot spend an entire post calling out MCU on how there are no non straight white male characters who get to be the lead or title character, and marginalize the roles of the Pepper Potts (who certainly gained some agency in the last Iron Man) or Nick Fury, and then turn around and demand to see people of color or non-straight white male (NSWM) orientation in roles like that of John C Reilly. You complained about Nova Prime's role, and then demanded Corpsman Dey be given to a non-white male, despite it being substantially the same role!

So yes, I agree, it would be nice to see a lead female character, or at least one that is a legitimate co-lead with control of her own story, but maybe you should focus on that and not let your attention wander. It just sounds petty and not particularly well thought out when you contradict yourself by simultaneously refusing to give MCU credit for increasing the presence of NSWM in supporting roles but also demanding that more of those roles be assigned to NSWMs, as if that would address the very evident imbalance in casting.
Christopher Bennett
13. ChristopherLBennett
A lot of good points, but two clarifications:

1) It's been confirmed that the Howard the Duck scene was not a teaser for a future movie, just a random joke.

2) On Drax's "whore" comment, he doesn't just speak literally, he takes everyone else's speech literally. My interpretation -- though I wouldn't swear to it -- was that earlier in the film he'd heard someone mistakenly or insultingly allege that Gamora was a prostitute, and he just assumed it was true because he's so literal. Not saying it's funny or appropriate, just that I think that was the intent.
Batonga
14. LJ Cohen
When I came home from seing G0tG for the first time, the first thing I did was write about the 'whore' line. It was utterly out of left field and out of character for both Drax and the tone/tenor of the movie.

It galled me the second time even more. And yes, I loved the movie. It had heart. I just wish someone had thought for three nanoseconds about why the need to insult the one female main character with a word meant to demean and control her through the lens of rape culture and objectification.
Deana Whitney
15. Braid_Tug
Good point about Dax.
Why didn't he call her a "Green Killer"? Lazy writing? It's not like they had months to change the line pre and post production.

Star Lord is much more the whore slut here.

@4: Paying for sex between two consenting adults is fine. If that is what they need for sex, whatever. The USA should be more like the Dutch about the whole thing. Regulate and tax it. But punish anyone who acts as a pimp.

Calling someone a whore just because they are female and have an attitude is wrong.
Batonga
16. FedUpWithYourIssues
I wish the Tor writers would review a movie based on the execution of things that make a good story, like how much the plot holds your interest, characters being interesting with depth, how unique and intriguing the setting is, etc., instead of how much attention the movie paid to their personal favorite social issues. I am SO SICK of hearing about gender equality from you guys. Every single issue you had with the story was gender-equality based. No concerns about the two dimensional villain of Ronan with cliche dialog?
There is so much more to a good story than that. Please, STOP.
Batonga
17. inkivaari
Great article with lots of valid points! I loved the movie. It made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me whoop with excitement, but it did have it's issues. This is how I would've loved to see the movie go:

In the opening sequence, they could've shown how Gamora was abducted by Thanos and how he killed her parents and threatened to destroy her home planet if she doesn't call him Dad. Show her growing up with violent, scary "siblings"and do those things that earned her her reputation. Then they could've jumped to Peter dancing in the cave and trying to steal the Infinity Stone and instead of that grey hornhead (sorry, not good with names) they could've had Gamora pop in and try to blast a hole in our Star Lord.

I would have loved to see Peter being the traditional love interest that brings the real Gamora back and makes her trust people (and raccoons and trees) again. This could have been a movie that shows how a tortured and lonely ass-kicking woman is healed trough real friendship. But no, it was just an entertaining space opera. Maybe next time?
Batonga
18. Internet Person
I believe the prisoners shout out "Whore" at Gamora during an earlier scene, so it's possible that Drax simply believed what the other prisoners were saying. That still leaves the other issues you mention though.
Batonga
19. noblehunter
@15, I think it was lazy/thoughtless writing. It's the same brainlessness that Thor's "he's adopted" line in The Avengers shows.
Fredrik Coulter
20. fcoulter
@15: Please get your insults straight.

Star Lord is a slut, not a whore. There is no evidence that his services are worthy of payment.

;)
Batonga
21. Raymond Rugg
Good, thought-provoking article.
Batonga
22. Eleggua
Yeah, that whore thing made me recoil and totally took me out of the movie. Good call on the "Drax can only speak literally" point. That line was off not only for Gamora but from Drax!

I can't really complain about the diversity on this film as we got three characters with last names like mine (Del Toro, Bautista, Saldana), which is more than I can say about most movies.

Totally agree with the Howard the Duck thing. This was the first end of credits scene where I was pissed I stayed. I really wanted a Captain Marvel tease (but was expecting Ant-Man) but anything would've been better than this gag.
Alex Brown
23. AlexBrown
@Batonga: Arrow has a minor impact on DC's bottom line, when compared to its comics and movies. DC has also claimed little direct influence over the shows (except to say who they can't use). If DC is going to take any major steps forward, it has to be in the movies or comics, preferably both.

@Michael Simmons, nloftis, inkivaari, Raymond Rugg: Thanks!

@LinusH: Yes, those actors are people of color, but if you'll recall, none of them functioned as racial representatives. Benicio, Dave, and Zoe were dolled up in so much makeup and prosthetics that their races were fully obscured, and Vin didn't physically appear at all. The only person of color to both appear as a person of color AND have actual lines/be a character with something to do that affects the plot was Djimon Hounsou (Korath).

@FedUpWithYourIssues: Just to clarify, I never claimed this was a review. This is a discussion of the film. If you'd like a review, let me direct you to Thom Dunn's great post here.

@MsSisyphus: Thanks for the reminder of Nebula, but I still don't see why the tag could've been focused on her...or any other non straight white male character. I remember Howard the Duck, and yes, the joke was funny. But that doesn't invalidate my issues. And they've been steadily baiting Howard the Duck for years, so it's not a concern out of left field.
Batonga
24. Eleggua
Correction: Meant to say three actors with last names like mine, not characters.
Batonga
25. Justin Jordan
"Why only three straight black dudes in the movies (with no romantic interests so as to keep them “non-threatening”)?"

Well, first, there are at least four black dudes in significant supporting roles in the movies: Fury, Sam Wilson, Rhodey, and Heimdall.

Second, there's not actually any in text evidence that any of them except Rhodey are actually straight.

Third, the only non main characters to have a romantic interest in the movies are Coulson and Darcy, and Darcy not until the second Thor.
You know who also doesn't have a romantic interest? Hawkeye. Natasha. Maria Hill. Happy Hogan. Erik Selvig.

It might be true that none of the black dudes in the movies have romantic interests to keep them non threatening, but you know, you'd need to explain why very few of the other secondary characters are.
Batonga
26. Rannin
@15: Trading in sexual gratification through the use of living people is the worst kind of body objectification. Human beings are not meat hanging in a market to be taken home for the night and then thrown away tomorrow. And consent? I could consent to being murdered, but that wouldn't make it right either. But this argument has really nothing to do with the movie. Just asserting my opinion here.

Also, is "whore" only offensive when it's inacurate?
IMO, it's offensive all the time.
Batonga
27. Gary Pageau
I think you tried too hard to find things to politicize in this movie. It's okay to objectify men parading around without their shirts, but not have Drax repeat a description of Gamora? A description that she, in turn, shut him down for?
Batonga
28. Joseph Zandy
Perhaps you could provide a checklist of all the various ethnicities / minorities that need to be represented in every movie?

But of course the problem is that once you get down in the weeds, this would prove more difficult than you think. For instance, I'm a Christian of Lebanese persuasion. How many of those ever get represented in a major movie? I can think of exactly none. Hollywood seems to think that the only people of Middle Eastern descent are Muslims, and that the vast majority of those are terrorists.

Plus, 'Asian'? Does that cover Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Pakistani, Russian? Do any one of those ethnicities cover the entire continent?

I'm not demanding that "my kind" be represented in every movie. I'm not keeping score. I do agree that diversity is important. But I don't believe in quotas, because once you establish quotas, suddenly there's a pecking order, and you end up assigning priority to various aggrieved parties, or you're basing it on percentages. Both are bad. There are far better ways to approach the issue.
Jessica Trevino
29. Ciella
Great article!!! I'm looking forward to the day where movies and other media are inclusive as part of the norm and not as an aberration. People talking about it, like you are, is the way to that future :)
Thomas Thatcher
30. StrongDreams
I kind of disagree with most of the article, but totally agree that Drax's "Whore" line was inappropriate and very jarring. He could have legitimately called her an insane killer, a murderess, a psychpathic planet killer. I guess I can see Gunn's thinking, that calling her a whore, and having her lash out in anger, makes him blasting Nebula slightly more satisfying, but I don't agree. And no, I don't buy the argument that Drax was referring to Gamora being hired out to Ronan by Thanos. I wish that line were changed or dropped.
Batonga
31. puck
So, considering the director/writer James Gunn is also the author of this lovely article "The 50 Superheroes You Most Want to Have Sex With" I'm gonna say he's not going to be the best representitive for female or LGBTQIA equality.

http://web.archive.org/web/20120228033644/http://www.jamesgunn.com/2011/02/17/the-50-superheroes-you-most-want-to-have-sex-with-2nd-annual-poll-results

To be fair, I don't have a problem with people expressing sexual interest in fantasy characters in most cases (Please, no pedos). However, some of the crap he says on there ("Stephanie Brown--Being a teen mom and all, you know she's easy. Go for it.") should give you an idea why Gamora has a boob window and why calling her a "whore" is apparently funny to him.

I'm also loving how the Tor OP posts saying, "Hey guys I really loved this movie, but it would be awesome if we could progress further with showing more than just Straight White Dudes Named Chris having all the fun. Plus maybe don't belittle the few non-SWDNC that we do have!" and gets this righteous indignation from some. Hey dudes, if a lot of non-SWD are saying shit is wrong, maybe listen a bit instead of outline the nitpicky ways you think they're wrong? Maybe they see something you don't because they're more attuned to seeing it. YOU aren't because YOU have all these awesome Chris-Dudes to root for. We just want the same. A movie can still be enjoyable AND have issues like these. Don't get defensive b/c you think someone took a dump on your fav film. No one said you were sexist for liking it. I like it too!
Alex Brown
32. AlexBrown
@Justin Jordan: You're right, I totally forgot about Heimdall. In my defense, the Thor movies bore the heck outta me, and I devote very little mental real estate to them outside of my love for Darcy and Jane. That being said, shame on me for over looking Idris Elba. This calls for a Luther rewatch!
Batonga
33. Dalran
Howard the Duck - This was a joke, Guardians came out on the same day as Howard the Duck did in 1986.
Simon Southey-Davis
34. Glyph
Thank you, Alex. Every one of the things on your list was something that irked me too (including being taken out by wondering where ultra-literal Drax got the 'whore' thing from), and I enjoyed the film enough to rewatch it with my 8-year-old - though not without some content discussions before and after. Agree 100% with nloftis @3 on being willing to call your darlings on their bullshit.

I can clear one thing up with Nebula though: she landed on a Ravager ship, threw the pilot out and flew off Darth Vader-style. (oh... MsSisyphus already got there. Sorry!)
Batonga
35. J Town
Quite a bit of agreement with some of the points, when I stop to think about it. Good idea to point this stuff out.

I can understand the frustration with the bitch thing. Not only is it potentially offensive, but it's been so overdone that it's just not funny anymore. So lose, lose on that one. Also, the gravitas of that moment was kind of ruined by such an immature line. It would have been much better to have left out the wisecrack altogether.

Howard the Duck was a joke, confirmed by James Gunn, not a teaser for another movie. It's not a thing. Not happening. If if were, however, I would agree with you. I would much rather watch a Black Widow or Captain Marvel movie than a reboot of Howard the Duck. Blergh.

Gamora's costume. I didn't notice it, but I can see why that would be aggravating. Plus unnecessary. I would actually have liked to see her less sexualized than she was. I mean, she's the most dangerous woman in the galaxy. That lady will mess you up. Maybe not so much with the flirty stuff. And having those guys get the drop on her in the jail was BS. Gamora would have torn them up.

Lack of diversity. I can see your point here. I don't particularly notice that during the actual film, but I can see how some things could have been tweaked to potentially improve that aspect of things. Food for thought.

The whore thing. Ok, that whole sequence was FUNNY. I don't like throwing that word about, I'll agree with you, but I'm not sure what other thing Drax could have said to Gamora that would have worked there (of course, I'm not a writer). More accurate things? Absolutely. But not necessarily funnier. And Gamora totally shutting him down afterward was the best part, so it had to be an insulting term in order to get that reaction. So I agree in principle, since I don't agree with calling people whore all the time, but it's hard to change such a funny scene unless you can come up with something better. So I guess I see both sides. It's not an accurate term for Gamora, no doubt. But that actually adds to the funny in this case. And I actually think other people DID call her that earlier in the movie, which would have led Drax to interpret it literally. But I could be mistaken. Need to see the movie again.

Good movie. Not perfect, by any means, but I greatly enjoyed it. Just a few things I wish they would have changed.
Batonga
36. DaveL
I think people are missing perhaps the double meaning of the word "whore". Yes, it means to sell one's body, but it also means to sell oneself. Drax is not calling her a "whore" in a sexual way. He is literally saying she is something sold out to the highest bidder by her father Thanos, which she is, just like her sister. You are just assuming that the services of a "whore" must be sexual

Also in terms of Gomora's outfit, you have to keep in mind that she was raised by a mad Titan who ripped her from her parents and shaped her to his will. So yes, her initial outfit may have some objectification issues with it as she probably didn't have much of a choice, but as soon as she get's to change her outfit and completely cut ties with Thanos, surprise (not surprise) goodbye boob window.
Andy Holman
37. AndyHolman
Thanks for this post, I think a lot of the points are great. Regarding the word "bitch," though, I tend to come down on sort of the opposite opinion: I don't really agree with the premise that "bitch" is an acceptable term for a driven, opinionated woman. So I don't tend to consider it extra demeaning when leveled at a man, because I think of it as an insult regardless of to whom it's directed.

-Andy
Batonga
38. RobertX
Have you even seen what Gamora wears in the comics? I think not! Maybe you should google images about her. The GotG costume was tame by comparison.
Alex Brown
39. AlexBrown
@DaveL: As far as I know, "whore" is another word for prostitute/prostitution. This other definition where it relates to her selling her assassin skills is new to me. And if that's what we're going with, then a better phrase for Drax would've been "this green mercenary."

@AndyHolman: I don't think bitch is acceptable in general. What bothers me isn't so much what kind of woman a bitch is supposed to be but how the term is applied as derogatory. And how men use it to emasculate each other, as if being a stubborn woman is somehow a horrible thing. Like how some people still call some people or things "gay" as an insult. Both are inappropriate. The kind of women often called bitches by men are women I generally respect for their personal power and intelligence, so using that term as an insult between men is unacceptable.
Thomas Thatcher
40. StrongDreams
I also think it is worth acknowledging that Gamora was not swayed to the side of good by Quill's manly charms (a la James Bond) but had decided on her own before she even met him.

I also think there is an interesting domestic violence/child of abuse thing going on with Gamora and Nebula, that I haven't seen commented on elsewhere. They are both horribly abused by their "father"; one is trying to break free, while the other decides to switch sides to the new biggest abuser around. Tragic, and not terribly unrealistic. I hope Nebula comes back and this gets explored in the sequel.
S Cooper
41. SPC
The "whore" comment threw me too, but for a slightly different reason. It felt like setup for one of the other characters to respond to. Basically a "WTF, Drax?" and address something he knew or a misunderstanding he had or something, but then there was no response. It seemed unfounded, off balance, and out of place, and made the insult seem more significant than it should have been.
Nathan Martin
42. lerris
Yes, Marvel has made great strides in diversity. They are pushing the Hollywood envelope. But they're not there yet.
Positive change happens over generations. We won't get where we want to be in our lifetimes, but we can get closer for future generations, provided we have people willing to say "this is good, but it's not nearly far enough." Which is exactly what Alex has done here.

@36 -You're arguing that Drax is using the word "whore" in a non-literal sense. I don't buy it.
Batonga
43. ThePlaidMan
There is a way Drax could have called Gamora "Whore" and meant it in the literal sense. One possibility is that everyone in the prison had been hurling tons of insults at Gamora for being an admitted murderer of many worlds. It's likely that he could have simply accepted "whore" as another descriptor for Gamora.

The other reason is that Drax holds Gamora personally responsible for killing his family, so he could actually feel she is that and would want to insult her himself. Given that everything said about Gamora in the prison up until this point was an insult, Drax just used what he'd heard, which is a completely literal-minded thing to do.

Also, as evidenced by the "Metaphor" line Drax had later in the film, Drax is capable of TRYING to be non-literal. His attempts, however, always come off as awkard and insincere, in the same respect that this instance does.

Of course, neither of these concepts actually provide a good explanation as to why the writers of this would use "whore" as opposed to. you know, "murderer." Drax is trying to say something intentionally hurtful, and decides above all things to insult her gender. An alternative should totally have been used, but the question then becomes: In a heteronormative society, what words have we used to insult women that had NOTHING to do at all with gender?
Kalvin Kingsley
44. KalvinKingsley
I feel like you have to choose whether you're wanting more diversity in the actors or more diversity in the characters, and either way, you seem to be looking for something to complain about.

If you're speaking about the actors, the point has already been made about the diversity there. You seemed to sidestep that person's point by saying you meant the characters.

There is precisely one male anglo character in the entire movie, and that is the grandfather at the beginning. Otherwise, you have a bunch of non-terrans (and one half-terran).

Yondu is blue-skinned. Drax is grey-skinned. Gamora is green-skinned. Rocket is furred. Groot is...barked. Star-Lord looks like an anglo male, so let's just go ahead and count him as one, despite the fact that it ends up being revealed that he is bi-racial.

I'd have an easier time buying a complaint that somehow all of these characters spoke English.
Thomas Thatcher
45. StrongDreams
There is another side to consider, too. If skin color is important, the movie has "white" (caucasian), pink, red, blue, green, and whatever else I missed. And yes, many of those are portrayed by caucasian actors. But on the other side, I can imagine equal if not greater howls of protest for putting African of Asian-descent actors into "pinkface".

And for that matter, Rohman Dey may have had a wife and not a husband, but she (and their daughter) were a different skin color than he. Or does that not count for some reason?

And as long as I'm (probably) irritating a bunch of people anyway, I just saw an episode of "Botched" (a TV show about bad plastic surgery) in which a woman with enormous breast implants comes to the doctors' seeking even larger ones. She is apparently some kind of Twitter/Instagram celebrity, likes to be seen and photographed in provocative outfits, and boasted that her breasts had earned at least a million dollars. Isn't that called "empowerment"? How do we know that Gamora didn't deliberately choose her boob-window outfit to accentuate the fact that she is a sexy woman who can also kill you?

Oh, and one final thing. Very interesting that half the posts on Tor brag about how GotG was written by a woman and that Gunn's rewrite is just the way things are done (every director does it), while this post argues exactly the opposite.

More diversity = good. More diversity by bean-counting = not so much.
Deana Whitney
46. Braid_Tug
@45: I believe it was said somewhere on Tor.com that in Hollywood the first person to write a script gets credit, even if the the final script has 0% content from the first writer.

I don't know the full history of this movie, so I have no clue how much of the original script was left in the end.

@36: Yes, the boob window outfit was gone. But they did put her in a Star Trek style short skirt for the end. Another cliché.
I saw that right away and my first thought was “Of course they put her in an Lt. Uhura skirt!”
Batonga
47. jvdnguyen
I agree with the idea of the article but it just went too over the top.

I don't get the outcry over "bitch," unless you also have a problem with the use of "dick" in the movie too. They use a lot of insults in the movie: a-holes, dick, bitch is just another one.

The Howard the Duck complaint is also way too much. It's a joke, not a teaser for a movie. What, are you pissed that The Avengers ended in a shwarma scene that didn't tease anything? Last I checked, the movie didn't end on a straight white male: it ended on Benicio Del Toro (a Puerto Rican) and a talking duck.

3/5 of the Guardians of the Galaxy (hint, the movie's called GotG, not Star-Lord) are not straight white dudes. Is Pratt their "leader?" Sure, but just because Groot or Gamora or Drax aren't the leaders doesn't mean they're relegated to background scenery: they're crucial to the story AND they have a lot of screen time AND they're part of the eponymous group. And them being in makeup or being alien is irrelevant: I'm betting if straight white males/females did every part and they were the ones under the makeup and costume and CGI there'd be complaints that none of the Guardians were diverse. I didn't realize that diversity meant that you had to see the color of their skin for it to count.

Were there some problematic scenes regarding Gamora? Sure, I totally agree that "whore" was out of place and shouldn't have been used by Drax. But to say the whole movie was spent "locking her into a romance" or "slut-shaming her?" That's hyperbolic, categorically false, and reducing her role down just to make a (false) point.

Still, I agree with the idea behind the article. It's insane that the MCU still has no female-led film, or a POC-led film. Some people are gloating "haha Marvel made a good movie about a talking raccoon and tree and DC says Wonder Woman is too hard to make," but they seem to be forgetting that Marvel's the studio that made a movie about a talking raccoon and a tree before they themselves made a movie led by a female or a POC. The fact that Gamora's not on shirts or doesn't really have an action figure is ludicrous, since it's clear that in this day and age comics aren't just for boys anymore. I just think the article went a little too far and nitpicky in tackling the issue.
Batonga
48. J Town
I somehow missed it before, but I cannot believe that Gamora doesn't have an action figure. That's just ridiculous. Why not??
Nick Hlavacek
49. Nick31
Another factor to consider - money. Actually that's probably the biggest factor. The number of people who are LGBTQIA (and however many other letters get added as time goes on) probably isn't more than 5% of the population. Or even if it's 10% (the exact number isn't relevant here), that still means 90% or more of the population isn't LGBTQIA. For this we'll use 5%. Now let's say that a nice round 100,000,000 people will see a popular movie. (Again, exact numbers don't really matter, other than to say it's a lot of people.) Finally, let's assume the proportions of LGBTQIA to not-LGBTQIA is the same in the movie watching population as the population at large. Now let's say we cater to the LGBTQIA audience and have Corpsman Dey go home to a husband. How much will that affect the numbers? If it increases the number of LGBTQIA watchers by 20% but decreases the non-LGBTQIA audience by 2%, that's an increase of 1 million in one group but a decrease of 1.9 million in the other. Not a favorable rate of exchange for the studio. Whether they should or shouldn't increase this diversity for other reasons is debatable, but the bottom line financially says it's probably not worth it.
Batonga
50. atskooc
So, MCU hasn't had a female-led film. Could it be becasue a female Marvel character has led a film that didn't perform well at all at the box office? Are we all forgetting Elektra and how it only made $13 million profit worldwide (it was a box office flop in the States, earning barely half of the film's budget). That movie did not go over well at all (in fact, in terms of Marvel movies, it has made more money than only Punisher: War Zone and the aforementioned Howard the Duck (taking in inflation, it performed worse than Howard at the box office). I realize it might not have been the current MCU who produced it, but they had their name on it and have the rights to the character in film. Is MCU gunshy to try it again becasue it wasn't a success the first time?
Batonga
51. atskooc
There's no Gamora action figure? Since when?

http://www.amazon.com/Marvel-Guardians-Galaxy-Gamora-Figure/dp/B00IJZPZLW
Rafael
53. Ryamano
@ 50

The three Blade movies did well at the box office at the time. Some say they revived the comic book movie after it had been buried by Batman and Robin. Still, we don't see many comic book adaptations with black (male or female) leads. Marvel wouldn't have been able to launch a Blade movie before 2008 (when the rights reverted to them), but now they can. I doubt they're interested in reviving Blade though, since they are so cuaght up with their shared universe. My guess would be that some time in the far, very far future, we will see a Black Panther movie, since he's a part of the Avengers. But I don't know if the world will still like comic book movies at that time.
Batonga
55. Shot In the Dark
Poor Howard...

What's with this irrational predjuice against Straight White Mallards?
Batonga
56. eugenio santi espejo
A lot of bored arguments with not much sense...
Thomas Thatcher
57. StrongDreams
But seing as Pratt is the only visible human, your argument still pretty much stands.

Sorry, this is why ideologically-driven bean-counting is absurd. All the white people in pink and green and blue makeup count as white, but the persons of color who are in pink or green or blue makeup (Saldana, Diesel, Bautista, del Toro, Djimin Hounsou) don't count as persons of color. Basically, you've moved the goal posts. The complaint used to be that persons of color were not represented in Hollywood, and colored roles went to white actors in "brown face" (from Charlie Chan to the terrible Airbender movie). But now that persons of color are being cast, they don't count unless they are visibly colored. A white person in "green face" counts as white but a black person in green face does not count as black.

If this is the best argument you can come up with, no wonder Marvel isn't acting on it.
Batonga
59. GuruJ
@8, @9: I agree that "bitches" isn't intended to be a literal insult. But its complicated.

It seems pretty clear that "bitches" is the current trendy macho insult, replacing "faggot". Louis CK and Eminem have both talked about how they used it without directly referencing gay people. Are you equally comfortable with this use?

My basic position is that people who use words like this aren't bigoted, just more interested in their "in-group" interactions than any broader repercussions. Selfish and immature perhaps, but not malicious.
Batonga
60. Elionardo Feliciano
I agree with your last point (whore joke), but the rest of it is not justified and just comes off as over-dramatic ranting. I could explain, but your probably wont even see this. If youre genuinely curious, I'll explain.
Batonga
61. MoonpieNobot
Hey Useless. RE: Bitch. The point was calling a man a woman as an insult.
Batonga
62. Max Gardner
Yeah, Drax's "whore" joke kind of made me turn my head. I mean, it's fairly obvious what they were going for. 1. Drax calls Gamora something insensitive. 2. Someone else insults/attacks Gamora. 3. Drax responds with lethal force and says nobody gets to do that to his friends. It's a big part of the theme of the movie: "We hated each other. Now that we've been through all this stuff together, we're still jerks to each other, but we're the only ones allowed to be jerks to each other." I doubt they thought much of it, which they probably should have.

The Howard the Duck thing, though? That was a joke, not a teaser for another movie! It was a joke, because everyone who grew up reading comics and watching movies in the eighties, which Guardians references all the time, knows that the Howard the Duck movie was bad. A lot of us even forgot it was a Marvel movie in the first place. It made me laugh. It was up there with the Avengers eating shawarma.
Batonga
63. Capac Amaru
“You said it, bitch.”

I'm sorry, but I don't remember 'bitch' meaning headstrong, independent woman who doesn’t take shit from anyone in the '80s. Maybe we have moved beyond that as a culture, but a kid who was abducted in 1988? I'd say it fits in just as much as the Alf stickers and the Troll Doll.

Gamora’s costume

Drax and Star Lord aren't sexualized, but Gamora and Nebula are? I guess you didn't hear all the women sighing in the theatre at Bautista and Pratt shirtless then. Gamora and Nebula a. wear relatively conservative outfits re: suerheroines b. are more competent warriors than any of the male characters bar Ronan c. have less need for armour thanks to their cybernetic enhancements and d. get less 'fan service' shots than the male characters.

Howard the Duck

Ducks are treated a lot worse by our society than other genders, races, choices, religions, etc.

Lack of diversity

All the colours of the rainbow. Unisex prison. A woman as leader of a whole planet. Two female characters being the best fighters (aside from the main villains). InterSPECIAL families.

That “whore” joke

Rocket was being ironic. Suggesting that the one everyone wants to kill seduce something out of somebody is irony.

Drax, maybe it doesn't work so well, I guess maybe its a comment on her switching allegiances? But its hardly "reinforcing rape culture". How about the scenes showing women don't have to fall into bed at the mere suggestion of the 'hero'?

Summary

I honestly don't understand what people who go on rants like this actually want. A movie that revises modern PC into what is effectively an '80s period piece, with women all wearing bulky power armour while men wear loinclothes (because why not its only men that leer). No ducks until every other minority has had its time in the spotlight (anthropomorphised animals can't stand in for social issues, right George Orwell?). The movie should be less focused on a group of oddballs saving the galaxy and more focused on Rhomann Dhey's alien husband and their adopted child, the difficulties for Glenn Close's character being a woman in power, and everyone speaking nicely and respectfully to each other.

And Ronan should just be evil instead of on a religious crusade because its 'disrespectful'.

Maybe just strip out conflict and interpersonal relationships entirely.
Bill Stusser
64. billiam
I'm not sure if this will help shed some light on a couple of the issues discussed here but here goes.

Where I'm from a whore is somebody who does something, not necissarily sex, for money. For example, where I work anyone who always signs up for overtime on Friday nights is 'an overtime whore'. And yes, I am a known overtime whore on the weekends I don't have my daughter.

Also, bitch has moved away from just a headstrong, independant women and means pretty much the same as toadie, ie someone who does everything for/with another person. As in 'you're my bitch' or 'who's my bitch'.

Anyways, as always, your mileage may vary.
Stefan Raets
66. Stefan
Comment 65 unpublished by moderator. Please refer to our moderation policy for further information.
Batonga
67. Taliesin
Regarding the (lack of) racial diversity comment: this is very much an ensemble film. Sure, Peter Quill is the focus in the beginning—as an Earthling, he's used to bridge the audience from Earth to the bizarro galaxy in which the story takes place. But apart the beginning, the story is very much balanced between each of the 5. And out of those 5, only 2 of the actors are white men. Three of the five: Zoe Saldana (black/latina), Dave Bautista (filipino, greek), and Vin Diesel (ambiguous), are all persons of colour. Given that racial balance and strong ensemble nature of the story, I'd say Guardians does very well on the diversity front.

I agree with your other points though, especially re: the sexualisation of the female characters.
Batonga
70. ScottG
Since I'm here...

Whore: A person considered as having compromised principles for personal gain.

Did everyone forget she worked as an assassin in the service of Thanos and Ronan? That she was trying to steal the orb to sell to the collector to fuel her lust for revenge?

Before her turn, and certainly for the majority of the time Drax had known her (you know, as that salaried assassin that aided in the slaughter of everyone he ever loved), she certainly fit a common definition of the term.
Gregg Anderson
71. digrifter
#1 Your definition of "bitch" is inaccurate. It actually means a spiteful or unpleasant woman.

#2 If a muscular male walking around shirtless isn't being objectified by women, perhaps you didn't find him attractive enough.

#3a There isn't going to be a Howard the Duck movie. However, I was expecting something more substantial as well.

#3b They showed Nebula escaping already.

#4 How much more diverse could the cast have been?

#5 People responded to this already.
Remy Verhoeve
75. R.J.
Great article, and agreed. I felt the "green whore" comment to be jarring and not worthy at all. Now, if they had turned it around and had Drax call Peter Quill a "star whore" (instead of star-lord) I might have appreciated it a little as that would be "funny because it's true".
Batonga
76. Pacce
I will agree to this in points.

Gamora really needed just a bit more presence and she would have been a full on co-star, and that'd have been nice.

It IS tiring that the go-to insult for any male is to imply that another male is feminine and thus less. Shit's even older than "gay".

It is unfortunate that the leader of the damn Nova corps as portrayed by goddamn Glenn Close didn't get to do shit.

And yeah, I totes think Marvel needs to do a not straight, white, guy starring movie.

However, I have to disagree on several points.

They show that Gamora chooses to dress like that. Yeah, she's a fictional character, but if a character chooses to dress sexy, isn't that a woman making a choice and should she be shamed for her body and such? Gamora was not a love interest. There is no implications that she and Quill are gonna ever hook up except in the trailer.

Drax calling Gamora a whore, in my feeling, is more to do with her history as an assassin who is, in fact, whore'd out to whoever to use her skills. She's a murder whore and Thanos is her murder pimp. And also Drax and Gamora didn't trust Quill due to his history of being a slut, so yeah.

Also, Rocket telling her to seduce folks, that's Rocket being an efficient asshole. That is kinda his thing.

And seriously, Howard the Duck wasn't a reboot tease, it was a joke.

But yeah, Nebula did pretty much take off with no closure.
Batonga
77. Buttman
Lack of diversity? There were green and blue people everywhere. Not to mention, a pink girl. This is racist to ogres.
Church Tucker
79. Church
Drax's "whore" line was jarring, but I think it's an artifact of editing. The trailer showed a sexier look at Gamora than we got in the final cut, so presumeably there was opportunity there for someone (guessing Rocket) to refer to her as such and Drax to file it away.

It's a pity they didn't think to re-record that line, but I like that we didn't get the predictable hookup.

@77 Green and blue people don't count towards diversity unless they show up IRL.
Bridget McGovern
80. BMcGovern
A general note on behalf of myself and the other moderators: as many of the comments above have proven, it is possible to disagree with the points made in the original post and in the comment section without being rude or abusive. As per our Moderation Policy, comments that do not treat your fellow commenters with respect will be unpublished, and users who resort to overly aggressive or hateful language, insults, name-calling, and personal attacks will be banned from posting. Please be civil if you want to engage in this discussion. Thank you.
Batonga
82. fincalian
Thank you for posting a discussion that both praises the movie, and criticizes it for things you think were wrong. I might not agree with all of your points of contention, but too often now, I think people are too quick to ignore any good points a movie had. And thank you for writing constructive criticism. Both praise and constructive criticism are important if we want to see change happen.
Alex Brown
83. AlexBrown
@fincalian: Thanks for the kind words. What you've pointed out often gets lost in these conversations. I'm not insisting that I'm 100% right, but that doesn't make my concerns 100% wrong, either. Clearly, these issues are subjective, and your mileage my vary as to how problematic they are. There are some issues others have had that I didn't find problematic, and so didn't include them here. Discussions on diversity, representation, and equality are nuanced and complex. We may not all agree or disagree on the same things, but the conversation is what's key. If we don't talk about it, nothing changes, as you said.
Chris Nelly
84. Aeryl
@50&51,

Yes, one superheroine movie did poorly. So do tons of male super hero movies, yet no one ever gave up on those.

And there are no Gamora action figures at Target, Walmart, or the Disney Store. Gamara has been excluded from much of the team merchandise, like shirts with the other four team members. Yes, if you are an adult into collectables, there are Gamora figures if you are willing to pay for them. But not in the children's sets.
Chris Nelly
85. Aeryl
@57, Representation matters. When the ONLY roles you have for POC, makes them invisible under makeup, that's a problem.
Batonga
87. Sherrie
@Church

We share the same theory about the artifact of editing leading to such a jarring use of "whore". I still think it's unacceptable as it is.

Some people seem to miss that it's okay to like or even love something and still criticize its flaws. Hell, I've seen this movie four times now. I won't forgive them for the badly-done "whore" bit, and some other things make me side-eye the writers and director, but I appreciate a lot of things about the movie and it's now one of my favorite movies of all time.
Batonga
88. monkat
I've only seen the movie once (so far!), but a couple of questions come to mind:

Were any of the Ravagers female?

Seems like a lot of the PoC were the ones stuck wearing full body make up to be yellow, green, etc., so that the crowd scenes were white skin and crayola skn, but almost no brown skin.

Drax's "whore" faux pas bugged the hell out of me, but my brain appears to have glossed over the boob window, etc., from that being the way it is far more often than not.

Why are the responses to this article so negative? Not that people shouldn't disagree, but it feels more backlash-y than a difference of opinions. Is it the call for more diversity? What is really at risk by spreading the love (and space piracy) around?
Alex Brown
89. AlexBrown
@Aeryl: Seconded. On both counts.

It bothers me when people point to Catwoman and Elektra as evidence that female-led superhero movies aren't good. Remember how awful X-Men: Last Stand was? Because it was pretty freaking terrible. But since then we've had X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009), X-Men: First Class (2011), The Wolverine (2013), X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014), plus the upcoming X-Men: Apocalypse (2016) and a proposed Wolverine sequel (2017).

They've ONLY made 2 female-led superhero movies, neither of which were well-written or taken very seriously by anyone involved. We're in a different filmic culture now when it comes to comic book movies than we were in 2004/2005. And with Black Widow so heavily tied into the Avengers brand through the MCU, there's absolutely no excuse not to make a vehicle for her. She's not even my top pic (I'd rather have a Captain Marvel/Spider Woman buddy cop movie, personally), but she'd be a great entry point.

That being said, I dread the day Zack Synder gets his grubby mitts on a Wonder Woman movie.
Chris Nelly
90. Aeryl
@88, You are spot on that is a backlash response, not a reasoned one. Very few comments addressed what the author wrote, instead just reiterating that it shouldn't bother her.

@89, I dread that too, and I liked Sucker Punch.
Nathan Martin
91. lerris
@64 So does an overtime whore sell her body for more than 8 hours a day?

The point is, Drax is so literal that despite whatever common idiomatic usage of the term we have (attention whore, overtime whore etc., ) the only meaning Drax would understand is the selling of sexual services, and it would be the only thing he's referring to when using it.


@89 - there is one excuse, and that is that Scarlett Johanssen is a busy girl. Any Black Widow movie would require her to be on board for it, though Winter Soldier certainly set it up.
Bridget McGovern
97. BMcGovern
Comments 92-96 unpublished. As I posted above:

A general note on behalf of myself and the other moderators: as many of the comments above have proven, it is possible to disagree with the points made in the original post and in the comment section without being rude or abusive. As per our Moderation Policy, comments that do not treat your fellow commenters with respect will be unpublished, and users who resort to overly aggressive or hateful language, insults, name-calling, and personal attacks will be banned from posting. Please be civil if you want to engage in this discussion. Thank you.

TL; DR: If you want to leave a comment, don't be rude, dismissive, or insulting.
Batonga
98. marrog
I have prepared a helpful factsheet on the word 'bitch' since it seems to be causing some confusion for some folk.

http://www.manfeels-park.com/oddments/bitchy-fact-sheet/
Thomas Thatcher
99. StrongDreams
@Aeryl 85,
You're entitled to that opinion, but you should at least acknowledge you are indeed moving the goalposts.
Batonga
100. Gum
I don't know, the word "bitch" is said in real life. Are you advocating censorship? Bad guys or morally questionable characters might say bad words or morally questionable words.
Batonga
101. Atow
Not here to talk about the bitch comment, but I loved this film.
About the ending, yeah Howard the Duck was a bit wierd but Cosmo the space dog? (Dog licking the collectors face) if you liked rocket raccoon and groot you are going to be in for a treat in the next installment. Also when you look at the overall tone of the entire film, the end teaser is quite fitting, what exactly did you expect?

Anyway, totally gonna see this again tonight, in 3D!
Santiago Casares
102. Santiago
Great post. When I saw the movie I didn't see this, but reading your words had me nodding all the way through the article.

Thank you for writing it, I hope it opens more eyes (like mine).
Chris Nelly
103. Aeryl
@99, No it's not, I didn't set any goal posts, and if I did, they've always been that having POC only play aliens isn't true representation, it's better employment. Which is a start. But read Gwen Christie were she talks about how debilitating it was to only ever be cast as an alien, because people couldn't see her a person who could act, just a freakishly tall women to costume.

@100, If that language was only ever used by bad guys or morally questionable characters. This is a case of our HEROES saying it, which is a problem.
Alex Brown
104. AlexBrown
@lerris: Yep. All other varients of "whore" are metaphorical or idiomatic, both of which violate Drax's linguistic rule. And, as I said earlier, even if he's using the word to refer to her being hired out as an assassin, "mercenary" would be a vastly more accurate term, and one he'd be more familiar with.

@Gum: Definitely not advocating censorship. Acknowledging something is inappropriate, reductive, and insulting isn't censorship. What I'm saying is that there's no reason to use phrases/terms/whathaveyou that are degrading. Ronan wants to go on a racist tirade before getting his ass handed to him? That's a different matter. Drax isn't set up to be the bad guy, he's set up to be one of the heroes. As is Star-Lord.
Batonga
105. alreadymadwithdrax
I think the "green whore" thing was Drax' attempt to wrestle(pun intended) with metaphors. Before that he called Groot the dumb tree. He probably tried to copy somebody else's habit of assigning nick names and failed.
Church Tucker
106. Church
@87 Sherrie

I think we're on the same page. Understanding what happened doesn't mean they can't do better.

And yeah, critiquing the things you love is like Nerd 101. Kneejerkers are always suspect in my book.
Batonga
107. Anna Morphic
Lot of good points, here. Lot of shoulder chips making an appearance as well.

The joke with Rocket and Gamora using sex in the prison isn't a joke at Gamora's expense...the joke is on Rocket himself. It shows several negative aspects of his character, and Gamora's reaction shows positive aspects of hers, much like when she shuts down Drax.

What really got me about Gamora is they have a kickass concept played someone who usually steals every scene she's in, and in this film she's one of the least interesting characters to watch.
Jennifer
108. Grinfish
And what about the recurring jokes at the expense of handicapped people? Those were extremely insensitive, especially when they had no plot relevance whatsoever, and were purely to make one of the main characters seem "mischevous." It felt like a slap in face both times they made the same exact terrible joke!
Alex Brown
109. AlexBrown
@Anna Morphic: I think some of that is Saldana herself. I've never found her a particularly impactful actor, though she is a good one. It's also not easy to play a character like Gamora, who should be both projecting emotionlessness while also being emotional. But the director also take a lot of that responsibility, since ultimately Gunn was the one to decide how Gamora should behave and which cuts to use (and, as the re-writer, also which lines and parentheticals she gets in the first place). I don't think Gamora was exciting as she should've been, either...at least until she went up against Nebula. I cannot wait for more Sister Assassins fanfic to proliferate.

@Grinfish: Ah, glad you brought that up! I was hoping people would add in things they found problematic and the reasons why.

I hadn't thought of the abelism, but now that you mention it, I totally agree. We all have blindspots in our sensitivity, and it behooves us as a society to learn from them and grow. From now on, I'll add those areas of concern and be sure in my own writing to pay attention.
Batonga
111. Josh Luz
"Furthermore, in a galaxy with a sentient tree, a talking raccoon, a space dog, and Howard the freaking Duck, you mean to tell me that there’s only one person of color worth hearing speak?"

No, two of the three live action actors in the titular group are portrayed by POCs, Zoe Saldana and Dave Bautista. Groot is voiced by one, though I don't mind not counting him since he himself isn't on screen and much of the appeal of the character is due to the actions as much if not more than inflections on a single line. Oh, and also Benicio del Toro. It's not perfect, but it's still one of the more diverse Marvel films.

"

And don't tell me Chris Pratt's shirtless scene isn't meant to be a objectifying. The guy got in good shape and not the somewhat exaggerated musculature of Bautista or post-op Steve Rogers or the typical drawn comic book superhero. Now, if you want to argue that it only lasted a few seconds, that Gamora or Nebula were shown more, making it uneven, that I could understand. Or heck, there's an argument that even if a female and male character were evenly objectified in a work, it's not really the same thing given their relative place in our society. But don't tell me that scene wasn't there for a little eye candy. Which is completely fine. Lovers of man candy deserve a little, so I say objectify us to your heart's content!

"The first was Rocket telling Gamora to use her sexuality to seduce the quarnex battery from the watchtower guards, which still doesn’t make any sense to me. How in the world is that plan even remotely a good idea? They justestablished that everyone in the prison is either terrified of her or wants to kill her. While she flirts with Peter in the beginning to steal the Infinity Stone from him, the difference is that in the prison it’s treated as a punchline meant to degrade Gamora rather than a desperate plan she forms herself. In the beginning, she makes her own choice; in the prison, the male characters decide what to do with her body. In the former, she has all the agency; in the latter she’s a sexual object."

A couple things here. First, it's established that the prisoners hate or fear her. The guards at best seem indifferent. Second, Rocket doesn't "decide" anything for her. Her reaction indicates that she has very little intention of following that suggestion, but given that Rocket is an ass, it's not out of character for him to think of it. It's more of a commentary on the type of person Rocket is than how the story perceives Gamora.

"Here’s the thing. You can’t give me Gamora then spend the whole movie slut-shaming her and locking her into an unnecessary romance, then expect me to grateful a woman was even allowed a prominent role."

I don't agree that the plot "spend[s] the whole movie slut-shaming" Gamora. Drax hates her for most of the movie, so calling her an insult there when he's finally warmed up can be a good joke. I'll grant that "whore" was unnecessary, but I don't see how that means the rest of the movie was suggesting that of her throughout. Because Rocket points out that some people might find her attractive? How is that shaming? I was actually happy that the movie downplays her attractiveness for the most part, that she and Peter don't actually hook up in the end. I think you have a number of great points, but I also think you're seeing some things that aren't there and ignoring others that are.
Batonga
112. c4st3r
In defense of Drax:
Literal meanings only:
It is possible this has already been mentioned. I don't think Drax truly understands the connotation of the word whore. He only understands the literal meaning of the word. So when he called her a whore, especially in the context given, I honestly believe he meant it as simply a discriptor, not a derogitory remark, much like referring to Groot as a dumb tree. This brings me to point two.

Discriptions previously given:
Previously in Drax's presence Groot is called a dumb tree 'm pretty sure. Previously, at the prison, Gamora was called a whore. To Drax it is simply a discription he has been given of her, and has no reason to see it as anything else. Why would some one call some else something they are not?

In fact, I think that is the point of the whole conversation, to show that Drax really doesn't understand he is actually insulting his friends. That is why Gamora just yells at him to stop.
Batonga
113. Andrew8
You make a lot of good points, but I'm not sure I I'm fully on board with the "whore" and "bitch" gripes. I'd have to revisit them to give a full analysis so I'll just speak generally:

Obviously, our society's obsession with both words is an example of the systematic marginalization of women, but the fact of the matter is that we do use them all the time. That doesn't make it okay, but movies, even fantasy ones like this, are reflections of our society, and they reflect the many mysoginistic aspects as well. That doesn't mean they support these aspects. In fact,

While you can argue that careless usage of these phrases by the movies reinforces this and that when used in certain contexts suggests aquiescence from the filmmakers (and I wouldn't disagree), merely having characters who use them should not be taken, alone, as evidence of tacit approval on the parts of the filmmakers. I mean, we showcase racism, homophobia, sexism in the movies all the time because those are the realities we deal with.
Batonga
114. Yezen
I've gotta say, as someone who is normally totally on board with breakdowns of sexism, objectification, and misogyny in media and blockbusters, the outbreak of people calling out guardians of the galaxy on it is the first time in recent memory I feel that people are really just trying to nitpick a movie because it's popular.

Comic books in general objectify women. That is a fact. But Guardians does a pretty good job compared to other Marvel movies in this regard, with female heroes and villains who are capable, indepentent, and developed around the plot rather than a male character. Most of these criticisms really feel like reaching. Where was this criticism towards the likes of Jane Foster, Pepper Pots, Black Widow, and Peggy whats her face?

It just feels a little off to me that we start criticizing Marvel movies for their treatment of women when they hit a high point both in that regard, and with regards to actual quality.
Batonga
115. Josh Luz
One more addendum to my @111 post:

I mentioned three main or major supporting roles portrayed by live action POCs (including the MCU's first major WOC): Gamora, Drax, and The Collector. I also forgot Korath which, while not a complex role at all, is still notable as it's Djimon Hounsou, who is notable whenever he shows up in a film. You could throw in Sharif Atkins in the very minor role of one of the Nova pilots with multiple lines. I'm not saying it's a film of perfect equality, but it's far more than claiming "there’s only one person of color worth hearing speak".

And, again, that's not counting Vin Diesel, who you would not be though foolish for not knowing he's even in it.
Ryan Jackson
117. KakitaOCU
Little extra amusement piece. Not only did we have Djimon Hounsou as Korath the Pursuer. But we had him in a way that specifically altered the comic lore for him to stay black. Kree only come in Blue and White normally. So that looks like a case of "We cast the right actor, who cares about race." similar to the choice for Heimdal in the Thor films.
Alan Brown
118. AlanBrown
I am not sure why folks are getting spun up about this article. It is not a movie review, it is just a deeper look at a few peripheral points, constructive criticism from someone who makes it clear that they loved the movie. Yet a number of folks have referred to it as a "rant." And I think I saw a couple of posts earlier that were even more harsh (which have probably since been deleted). I myself welcome articles like this. Alex made me think about a few things that I otherwise might not have considered. Our society has come a long way in inclusiveness and valuing diversity in recent years, but we still have room for more progress.
My own thoughts on a couple of issues:
- I thought that Drax was supposed to be honest even to the point of being insulting. But the use of "whore" wasn't really an honest descriptor of Gamora, so in retrospect, even though I laughed at what he said at first, I am not sure why he used that particular insulting descriptor.
- I think Rocket told Gamora to use her feminine wiles to help them escape for the same reason he told Star Lord to gather a useless artificial limb--he knew that wasn't a reasonable suggestion--he just wanted to mess with her.
- I thought Gamora's costume was rather demure, compared to some others I have seen. But then again, the link to the comic book costume that Alex gave us in the article was to one of Gamora's less revealing costumes. For a long time in the comics, all Gamora wore were high boots, and some straps that barely covered what an exotic dancer's pasties and g-string would have covered. If the movie costume followed that example, it could have been a LOT worse! The heels are what get me--what self respecting assassin or warrior would clip-clop around on high heels?
- And I can attest to the fact that female characters are underrepresented in the toy aisles. Marvel movie merchandise appears in the boy aisles, and the offerings reflect that. For some reason, at this point in history, while so much progress is being made in so many areas, toys are rigidly divided into 'male' and 'female' and play to preconceived notions about what each gender should be playing with. When shopping for my granddaughter, I try to cut across aisles to give her some diversity in her toys.
- While the romance angle with Star Lord was playing to an old trope (girl on team pairing up with team leader), it ended up standing that trope on its head in a way that was very empowering. Star Lord ended up looking pretty silly when Gamora saw right through him, and totally reject the BS he was trying to use on her (it seems it is not only his taste in music, but also his attitudes toward women that reflect the 1980's).
In general, though, I think the movie reflects continuing progress on many of the issues Alex raises. It is not perfect, but it is a a lot better than many moves that preceded it. And thoughtful discussion of these issues lays the groundwork for even more progress in the future.
Batonga
120. lynxminx
1.In principle I'm with you, since feminization is still considered the greatest insult a male can endure....but the word 'bitch' has been desexualized, and I love that.

2. The womens' costumes in this film are practically dowdy.

3. You've never seen the Blade trilogy, I take it.
Chris Nelly
121. Aeryl
@114, You obviously don't spend a lot of time here, or at other sites that focus on representation, like The Mary Sue.

People have done this with all the Marvel movies. And yes it's because it's popular. Imagine that, people who do critical dissections of popular culture, tend to focus on the most popular.

Where was this criticism towards the likes of Jane Foster, Pepper Pots, Black Widow, and Peggy whats her face?

It's around, they have this thing called Google... But you completely missed the point. This isn't a criticism of the character it's a criticism of the plotting. We love Gamora. We hate the role she was put in. There is a distinct difference.

And Peggy "what's her face" Carter is getting her own show, do some research, geez.

It just feels a little off to me that we start criticizing Marvel movies

No one just started criticizing Marvel movies. People have been critiquing Marvel movies since they came out, like Pepper's misogynistic "take out the trash" comment WAY BACK in Iron Man. You just never noticed the critique, but that's not on those doing the criticizing.
Chris Nelly
122. Aeryl
@115, & 117, I love Hinsou, but he's in the movie for all of fifteen minutes. That is not a great representation feat, though yes it is nice they allowed him to keep his natural skin tone.

@120, The Blade trilogy doesn't count as part of the MCU.
Batonga
123. Eric Saveau
The reactions to this essay are something else, aren't they? A number of people getting rather bent out of shape for someone pointing out that of diversity representation issues can be and are present in something that she otherwise enjoys tremendously. As though there is someting somehow bad about doing so.

Personally, I think that Alex overstates the case a bit, and doesn't give the movie enough credit for setting up a few tropes only to knock them down. But I can offer that quibble - and it is just a quibble - without sneering about the fact that she wrote this essay at all.

The thing is, whether she got everything exacly right or whether she could have approached the subject in a different way isn't as important as the fact that there are legitimate reasons why an essay like this gets written in the first place. Just this week have had yet another unarmed person of color gunned down by police. And then a militarized reaction against people who quite rightly demanded answers and accountability. There's an entire political party that routinely fields candidates who downplay the objectification and rape of women and even blame them for it, and a movement closely tied to that party that depicts gay people as The Enemy That Will Destroy America.

That's why essays like this get written. Because we have a climate in which the issues it raises need to be pushed back against. And because the people who like those issues just the way they are refiuse to stop mocking and deriding those who think things ought to be a little better.
Chris Nelly
124. Aeryl
The thing is, whether she got everything exacly right or whether she
could have approached the subject in a different way isn't as important as the fact that there are legitimate reasons why an essay like this gets written in the first place. Just this week have had yet another unarmed person of color gunned down by police. And then a militarized reaction against people who quite rightly demanded answers and accountability. There's an entire political party that routinely fields candidates who downplay the objectification and rape of women and even blame them for it, and a movement closely tied to that party that depicts gay people as The Enemy That Will Destroy America.

That's why essays like this get written. Because we have a climate in
which the issues it raises need to be pushed back against. And because
the people who like those issues just the way they are refiuse to stop
mocking and deriding those who think things ought to be a little better.

Repeated for truth, thanks Eric.
Batonga
125. beastofman
I have to agree the "Whore" line was tonally off. That joke would have worked with the work "Psychopath" as well.

If they want to have a diverse show, they should do adventures of the Howling Commandos - post Cap. I would watch the heck out of that
Chris Nelly
126. Aeryl
@125, I hope some of those characters will transition to the Agent Carter show. I really want to know who Tripp's grandfather is.
Batonga
127. alreadymadwithstarlord
Oddly enough my nitpick about the Guardians wasn't the freely hurled language, or under (or falsely) represented genders/minorities. Let's face it, there weren't a lot of women in major roles in the movie. Does that make it unrepresentative of real life? I point out that at least the Novas have a female leader, as (some say) underused as the character was, it's still way ahead of the real US of A. The oppressed underling who went postal? Happens in real life. Two female assassins? Happy to have never seen real life examples. It's a work of fiction, and its representation of real life is hit/miss in several areas. Get over it.

But I digress. My real nitpick is.... Starlord seems to remember an aweful lot of stuff from the 80's, for someone who left it in his primary school days. I mean, how many of us remember stuff from when we were six? Movie plotlines? Dance moves? Gender roles(a really unfair accusation I saw in an earlier post)? That's what strained my suspension of disbelief. But hey, it was a fun romp, so I'll deal with it.
Batonga
129. ScottG
If I'm not allowed to feel that StarLord and Drax were being sexualized by their partial nudity, can I at least feel bad that I feel they were sexualized but my feelings are clearly invalidated by the staff of a website whose opinion I respect?

I think one of the points you're trying to make is that one gender (male Hollywood) shouldn't be sexualizing women and then blithely dismissing the objections of women.

If a group of men watch GotG and feel that Drax, or at the very least StarLord, are hypersexualized and unrealistic portrayals of a healthy male, do you think it's appropriate to casually dismiss them in one sentence?
Luis Milan
130. LuisMilan
@127 Maybe Footloose was his favorite movie. I have a six year old kid and believe me, when a kid watches the same movie over and over and over again for months at a time, that kid can memorize every scene, line of dialogue, or dance move, from that movie.

... on the other hand, that wouldn't explain how a six year old would know about Jackson Pollock's art.
Alex Brown
131. AlexBrown
@lynxminx: Dowdy, sure, in comparison to their comics costumes. But a mesh tanktop (albeit under an open vest) and high heels aren't exactly on the same playing field as Star-Lord costume. If a talking raccoon can have a fullbody suit, why can't Gamora?

@Eric Saveau: Thanks for this. I don't mind if people don't agree fully with me; this wouldn't be a discussion if they did. But the conversation needs to happen nonetheless. And so far, as you said, much (though not all) of the push back seems to be nitpicking or invalidating my complaints (as if they are true or false answers) rather than the fact that there are things many, many, many fans are upset about and why. GotG isn't the focal point of my social justice, but it fits into the larger picture that we're still struggling to move past.

@ScottG: Both my argument and your counter are very old ones. Needless to say, it's the intent that matters. Men on display aren't really for straight female or gay male objectification. They're there as the male "ideal." Whether or not you find them attractive despite that, or whether or not you agree that it's ideal, the intent is still the same. For women, the intent is their hypersexualization. I urge you to read some of the pieces written by people upset with the new Starfire, then do some research on why people hate Rob Liefeld's art so much.
Alan Brown
132. AlanBrown
If I had been kidnapped by space aliens at a young age, I think I would cling even harder than ever to my memories of my past life. Every tie to the happy times of the past, like that one tape of songs, would be treasured.
Luis Milan
133. LuisMilan
@131 Why people hate freaking Rob Liefeld: his impossible images of men with chests nearly as wide as they are tall, or women with spines that bend in impossible angles, a gazillion pouches in every superhero's costume, his inability to draw feet to save his life... it's a long list.
Chris Nelly
134. Aeryl
@ScottG

If I'm not allowed to feel that StarLord and Drax were being sexualized
by their partial nudity, can I at least feel bad that I feel they were
sexualized but my feelings are clearly invalidated by the staff of a
website whose opinion I respect?

It's a matter of proportion and execution. Male eye candy for the female gaze is still a relatively new thing. When men have been posed provacatively, it's been to satisfy male power fantasies, instead of women's sexual fantasies. A great example of this dichotomy is Hugh Jackman. Prior to the release of The Wolverine, he did some magazine spreads. One, for Men's Health, he is posed, flexing and full of veiny Logan rage. The other, for Good Housekeeping, he is dressed in a sky blue sweater, smiling charmingly while holding a plate of food. The pose for men is a power pose, the pose for women is instead about the "female fantasy", good looking charming men WITH FOOD.

The second is of execution. While Drax and Quill are presented sexually, they are not objectified. They remain people, with engaging stories and attitudes. The story WANTS you to care about them as people, their struggles and their pain. When women are sexualized(and yes this is getting better) it has typically done in a way to erase her personhood. She is just there as eye candy. Many times, she's headless in shots, because who cares about the face, she's here to be leered at. She doesn't get a backstory, and if she does, it mainly ties into the hero's story, she doesn't get her own motivations aside from the heroes. It's the origin of the term "objectified" that the woman in question ceases to be a person and instead becomes an object.

So, no it's not that you aren't "allowed to feel that StarLord and Drax were being sexualized", it's that, a) sexualization isn't harmful, objectification IS and b) women characters are always sexualized. This is a more recent trend for men characters, and they are still given opportunities to exist separate from being sexualized.
Alex Brown
135. AlexBrown
@alreadymadwithstarlod, LuisMilan: Since we're talking realism, as an archivist who deals with a lot of historical AV materials, I was annoyed by the cassette tapes. Cassette tapes have a lifespan of 10-20 years with moderate use, maybe 30 if untouched. With the frequency at which he was playing the tape, the constant pressure and climate changes, etc., there's absolutely no way that tape would've made it to his teen years. Heck, I have oral histories on cassette that were recorded in 1971 that are virtually unplayable.

@LuisMilan: Whenever people ask me about Rob Liefeld, I point them here. Sweet zombie Jesus, he's awful.
Chris Nelly
136. Aeryl
I liked the one with the REALLY TERRIBAD Captain America, where someone superimposed the bone structure necessary for that pose on it.

HILARIOUS
Batonga
138. alreadymadwithculture
LuisMilan @130
See, now you're getting what I mean.

AlanBrown @132
It's not just the tape. It's all the pop culture that would have taken more than six years to accumulate. That dirty finger wise crack on the trailer, for one.

AlexBrown @133
Yeah.. that was one too.. Why he didn't just convert it to digital storage at one point... Surely aliens must have some sort of audio capture technology.
Chris Nelly
139. Aeryl
I cannot quibble over Starlord's tape.

This is a universe where a man in a metal suit can fall from thousands of feet and survive.
Batonga
140. elvensnow
I disagree with most of the points in the article, for most of the reasons clearly stated in other people's posts. This article comes across as just a SJW looking for something to grandstand about. When you start arguing over whether a person of color playing an alien race really counts as a person of color, you should realize you're not actually arguing for any social moral, you're just arguing.

Don't want to really add any more fire to the clearly inflamed response though, so I'll leave it at that.
Batonga
141. alreadymadwithtape
LuisMilan @130
See, now you're getting what I mean.

AlanBrown @132
It's not just the tape. It's all the pop culture that would have taken more than six years to accumulate. That dirty finger wise crack on the trailer, for one.

AlexBrown @133
Yeah.. that was one too.. Why he didn't just convert it to digital storage at one point... Surely aliens must have some sort of audio capture technology.
Alex Brown
143. AlexBrown
@elvensnow and others: I think you (and several other commenters) have misunderstood the racial diversity issue. There's a difference between an ACTOR of color and a CHARACTER of color, and that has to be coupled with whether or not they get lines, and whether or not they have any impact on the plot. Hounsou is the only person who is the quadruple: he's an actor of color playing a character of color with multiple lines that affect the plot. Saldana, Diesel, Bautista, and Del Toro are actors of color with multiple lines that affect the plot...but they are not characters of color. Their races are so heavily disguised (or, in the case of Groot, not physically present), that any character representation is erased. Whereas there are a ton of white actors who are white characters with multiple lines that affect the plot.

Representation and diversity aren't either/or scenarios. They are complex and multi-faceted. Am I thrilled about the racially diverse cast? Totally! But I'm also concerned that their racial representation is virtually erased through their characters. Having actors of color in a major motion picture in 2014 is no longer a statement of diversity. It is not "enough," and hasn't been for a very long time. While I'd never argue that erasing racial diversity was intentional by GotG, it still happened. Further, the representation for LGBTQIA is literally non-existent, which is even more troubling.

As for calling me a Social Justice Warrior, I understand it's pejorative, but I honestly don't see the villainy in championing diversity and equality. As a WoC, I have every right to be bothered by the issues I broached in this post and to publicly speak about them. I am directly impacted by diversity, representation, and gender equality, so why shouldn't I speak up? As I've said, we don't have to agree on my specific grievances or even the manner in which I chose to discuss them, but disagreement doesn't discredit the bigger issues at hand. I urge you to read comments and articles posted by those you disagree with, to listen to our concerns, and to try to understand where those concerns come from, rather than simply dismissing us outright. You may not agree, but you might learn something.
Management Services
144. ManagementServices
Given the apparent contentiousness of this topic and the need for rigorous moderation, we are temporarily closing the comment section. Comments will resume on Monday morning when the moderation team can continue to give this thread our full attention.

UPDATE: Comments are now open. Please remember that our goal is to keep this conversation civil and constructive; rude, dismissive, or insulting comments will be unpublished. Thank you.
Kalvin Kingsley
145. KalvinKingsley
@Aeryl I find it interesting that both you and Alex are perfectly fine with making assumptions on what men find objectionable in terms of sexualization and objectification. It may not be your intent to convey that you are doing so, but it reads that way to me.

When a man is portrayed as "eye candy," you state on behalf of men that "it's different than when it happens to women because it's part of the male power fantasy."

Believe it or not, no, it really isn't part of some male power fantasy, at least for me. GotG seemed to be making a specific point during the prison sequence - we see a "clad-only-in-underwear" male lead getting hosed down with orange mud-like-substance (not just in the movie itself but in multiple trailers) and get to see how ab-riffic he is. Ten (five! two, depending on the filmmakers!) years ago, that particular shot/scene would have been a shot of Gamora (or at least both of them together).

Note that shortly after that scene is a scene of Star-Lord being accosted (by Captain Mal!) in a relatively sexual manner, while Gamora is accosted in definitively non-sexual ways (death threats as compared to being "slathered").

Plenty of other sites out there have identified the reverse sexualization. Here's a quote from the Nerdist:
Here is where we are treated to some Star-Lord sexy time (trademarked?) as he is hosed down in a Tang looking substance. Happily, the sexualization of the prison inmates is limited to our fearless leader.
TL;DR I'm fine with you telling me that you didn't find it sexy, or that you didn't feel it was objectifying a man, but you have no right to say "It wasn't objectification." as if it were some universal truth.

Imagine how you'd feel if you visited a website whose writers (who were men) proudly proclaimed that Alice Eve's infamous scene in Star Trek Into Darkness was not at all objectification of women.
Dave Thompson
146. DKT
I'm coming in late, but I'm pretty much onboard with everything you said, Alex - except that I think Drax and Star-Lord got objectified too. I really enjoyed the movie and was happy I went to see in theaters, but yeah - there were some issues with the movie, and with the greater Marvel Movie Universe in general.
Chris Nelly
147. Aeryl
@145, You are equating sexualization and objectification, and those are two totally different things.

Objectification is about taking away their humanity, about rendering them an object. You bring up Alice Eve, so let's compare those two scenes, the shirtless Pratt scene, and hers.

In Eve's scene, she explicitly tells Kirk to not look, and when she catches him, what does she do? Nothing. Her reaction as a human being is elided, for the purposes of the sexy shot(there's lens flare on the fabric for god's sake). Eve's shot is done entirely from Kirk's perpective. You don't get more male gazey than that.

Pratt's scene, at this point he's already been forced to submit to several things he's unhappy with, he's WalkMan's been taken and he was tasered. Now, at this point he looks to be undergoing some kind of prisoner cleansing, a delousing. And the shot is all about his reaction. The grousing as he enters the chamber. His reaction to the robot guards. How the spray is so hard he can't physically withstand it. His fuming anger as the cleaning is done. No matter how sexy he is in that shot, the scene is still entirely about his emotions, his personhood. He is not an object being acted upon, he is a person we are looking at in a state of undress.

you and Alex are perfectly fine with making assumptions on what men find objectionable


Believe it or not, no, it really isn't part of some male power fantasy, at least for me.

Look, you are preaching to the choir here. We didn't determine that these things fulfill a male power fantasy, society did. We didn't pick those Hugh Jackman covers.

I didn't say you couldn't find them objectionable. I am simpling stating why they aren't "objectification". And why they aren't equivalent.

Imagine how you'd feel if you visited a website whose writers (who were men) proudly proclaimed that Alice Eve's infamous scene in Star Trek Into Darkness was not at all objectification of women.

Dearheart, welcome to life as a woman. Women had to listen to the writers of the stupid scene proclaim that scene wasn't objectification.

And again, there is a legitimate argument that Eve was objectified and Pratt was not. He was sexualized yes, which is not the same thing.
Kalvin Kingsley
148. KalvinKingsley
@Aeryl "Welcome to life as a woman." That's kind of my point. Writers like you and Alex (and countless others) have worked (are working) hard to break down things that perpetuate that dismissive tone that my fictional male-dominated website might take.

But then you take the same tone. "Settle down, dearheart, it's ok because it's a guy." This is how your responses read.

Look at this article* and tell me again how Chris Pratt wasn't objectified.

For a mental exercise, switch the scene to be Gamora in her underwear being sprayed with orange goo, then breathing heavily in anger in a way that accentuates her physique while the camera leers hungrily at her - powerless for all her strength and rage against this treatment.

Sound like objectification to you? It does to me. I'd roll my eyes at it, and be slightly embarrassed to be watching it.

*the term article is used loosely here
Alex Brown
149. AlexBrown
@KalvinKingsley and others: I touched on the issue of male objectification/female sexualization briefly with the earlier comment about Rob Liefeld, but here are two more articles that go into the topic better than I could: X, X

Edit: that first link was written in 2008 before the tide had turned as far as a female comics audience, so some of the pessimism has been countered.

Second edit: I don't know if I'd use a Buzzfeed listicle as supporting evidence. It's vile clickbait. However, it still falls into the concepts mentioned already, that Peter is set up as the ideal. Try this article to see what I mean (but ignore the atrocious, clickbait title).
Kalvin Kingsley
150. KalvinKingsley
I don't disagree about clickbait. However, look at the publisher of that Buzzfeed article.

I do disagree with the double-standard, is all. I'm not saying women aren't objectified. I'm saying men can be as well, and the claim that it's different because you're saying "He's the ideal." is as repugnant to me as it would be if the sexes were reversed.

Again I'll ask you to reverse the roles and have Gamora as the one getting the orange-goo-splash. Would I have a valid argument if I said it wasn't objectification because she's being portrayed as the ideal woman?

Of course I wouldn't.
Alex Brown
151. AlexBrown
@KalvinKingsley: If Gamora was in Peter's position in the orange goo scene - defiant, strong, independent, pushing back against authority, in a fighting ready stance - I absolutely would not see it as sexualization of her character. She'd be a strong female character (as opposed to a Strong Female Character) in that case. That scene is about establishing Peter's bona fides as our soon to be hero. Peter isn't presented as a sexual object (a sexy hero, yes) in the same way Gamora (and Carina, and Bereet) is. But really, just read any of those links I just posted (especially the last one from Slate) for a deeper explanation.
Kalvin Kingsley
152. KalvinKingsley
@AlexBrown I did read the links. I disagree with the opinion. The Slate article (and you) are using the same phrasing and excuses that male publishers have used for decades.

"Elvira isn't objectified - she dresses that way on purpose because she's a seductress."

To quote the Slate article - "Even amping up our objectification of male athletes won’t level the playing field between men’s and women’s sports."

The Slate article seems to have the tone of "Objectifying men is fine because it's not nearly as much as women have to put up with." I'm getting that same sense from your post and responses (and @Aeryl's as well.)

I've been reading Tor.com for years now, and read a lot of your posts (and @Aeryl's). I find them generally well-written and insightful.

Your arguments (and those of countless others) against objectification have incredible merit. The point I'm trying to make here, however, is that in my view, you actually hurt your argument by making yourself sound dismissive of male objectification, much as a studio mogul would be dismissive of female objectification in earlier days (and sadly still today, in many cases).

TL;DR Let's be against all objectification, not just female objectification.
Batonga
153. Eric Saveau
KalvinKingsley -
TL;DR Let's be against all objectification, not just female objectification.
The problem with this sentiment is that it elides the long and deeply ingrained history of objectification of women in our culture and all forms of media. There simply is no historical equivalence whatsoever between the depictions of men in women in these ways. Also, Alex and Aeryl both have given very clear and cogent explanations of why the examples you raise in Guardians don't count, i.e.; mere partial nudity is not objectifying in and of itself, it's how the characters are depicted in those circumstances that makes something objectifying or not. That's not subtle or complicated, so it's really difficult to see why you are having a hard time getting this.
Kalvin Kingsley
154. KalvinKingsley
@153 It doesn't elide anything at all. I'm asking for equality when discussing things like this. That's all. I'm not asking anyone to forget the years of the one-sidedness of objectification.

I don't disagree that mere partial nudity is not objectification in and of itself - note I've not brought up Drax at all - it's clear that his shirtlessness is about his character and that character's choices. The scene in question hints at the Prison Rape Scene trope (again, especially given what happens in the immediate following scene). He's been beaten, stripped, humiliated, and is left to stand there flexing, panting, and powerless.

Check out this viewpoint and it might help illustrate the double-standard I'm having a hard time with.
J Bizzle
155. wolfkin
Having a man take a term that represents a certain kind of person - in this case, a headstrong, independent woman who doesn’t take shit from anyone
I think that's a rather presumptious definition of that word. While I'll go ahead and agree with you that usage as a final male insult should probably be toned down.. like a lot. I don't think it's fair to say it's a positive term anymore than slut is.
J Bizzle
156. wolfkin
#10
Vin Diesel, Zoe Saldana and Dave Bautista are all POC and all of them are speaking.
Yeah it counts a lot less when they've covered up their entire skin.
Chris Nelly
157. Aeryl
@148, Again, you are using objectification to mean sexualized, and that's not what it means.

It's not that there is a double standard. It's that sexualization and objectifcation have two different definitions. In the scene you described, no that would not be objectification, because it's not centering Gamora as an object, it's highlighting her personhood.

It's a fine disctinction, and if you don't feel comfortable with sexualization, no one here will argue against that, but it is not equivalent to the systemic objectification of women.

And I meant the term "dearheart" in fond jest, because I don't really disagree with you that much, but I do apologize that you felt I was patronizing you.

@154,
He's been beaten, stripped, humiliated, and is left to stand there flexing, panting, and powerless.

And very much a person we are intended to empathize with, which is the literal opposite of objectifcation.

I also completely agree that it's terrible that Pratt was put under such enormous pressure to conform to body standards, which is a parallel issue to this, but still doesn't make Pratt's scene objectification.
Batonga
158. jshahmiran
You are worrying about gender and race diversity in a movie that has hundreds of diffrent species and races and diffrent genders interacting in harmony wow just wow.
if you want to wine about something try the awful science or better yet just go to this type of movie and watch it for what it is intended escapism.
Alex Brown
160. AlexBrown
@jshahmiran: The race/diversity issue has already been addressed further up in the comments thread. But I'll add that given that all of those species except for the humans (and Rocket, but only kinda) are fictional species, it doesn't count toward diversity.

As has also been noted previously in the comment thread, some of the science is suspect, but that's not really the point of this post. The point is the diversity and gender issues. I did very much enjoy the movie, but it is possible to like something that you also find problematic. That's the joy of being a human being with complex emotions. Escapism and critique are not opposing forces. I never went into GotG expecting it to be an in-depth analysis of contemporary socio-cultural issues, but I don't see what's so wrong with wanting to be represented. Straight white men are represented far more than there are actually straight white men; isn't it time we start representing everyone else?

I and many other commenters have made a real case for why diversity and gender equality matter in film, so perhaps you or others who agree with you could offer your own claims? Why do you think it doesn't matter if people of color, women, or LGBTQIA are represented appropriate in media in the same way straight white men are? (Keep in mind, just saying that the movie is "escapism" isn't an actual reason. I need something a little more solid than that.) I genuinely am interested in your side. This is supposed to be a discussion, so discuss away.
Batonga
162. monolith
Gah, so many comments!
Firstly, great article. Drax's whore remark was so left field, it genuinely shocked me.

On strong female leads, I feel like Marvel is being duplicitous by saying they're into creating them but not planning any movies movie with one.
(I use the term creating loosely, sighing exasperatedly at She-Thor (sic.)).
So Elektra flopped, as did Catwoman (not Marvel, but part of the same precedent from a producer's perspective) but you can safely try again now that comic book movies are becoming firmly entrenched in our culture.
Batonga
163. Momin
I think it's safe to say that Guardians of the Galaxy is a highly engaging film, one that far exceeded expectations. I was skeptical about this one, granted, but after the film credits rolled, I felt that this was one of the most exhilarating films of the year. Brilliantly acted and bursting with awesome effects, this has got to one of entertaining films I've seen since The Avengers. I think that the main reason that the film works so well is that the characters are wonderful, and each actor that portray them are well chosen for the parts they play, and each actor really brings something quite entertaining to their respective characters. I really enjoyed the character of Rocket, he was my favorite of the film, and Bradley Cooper really stood out with the dialogue that made the character so good. Add to that some well executed and engaging action scenes, and it's why this film stands out as one of the best, if not the coolest movie of the year. The mix of humor as well adds so much to the tone of the picture, and director James Gunn has successfully blended both elements into one picture that demands repeated viewings. With 2014 being an incredible year for movies, I think it's getting very hard to pick a favorite, however, Guardians of the Galaxy is up there as one of favorites of the year so far. This is the way an action film should be made, great cast, effective story, good humor and enthralling visuals. This is a well made film that is well worth your time, and if you haven't seen it, by all means go see it, as you'll surely have a blast. The film succeeds on many levels to entertain you, and it's a perfect film, one that is well worth your time, and doesn't have a single boring moment. Guardians of the Galaxy is a prime example of a movie that can exceed expectations, and it's a film that riveting, thrilling and memorable from the first frame onwards
Management Services
170. ManagementServices
Since the discussion of this topic seems to have run its course, we are now closing comments. Thanks to everyone who contributed to the conversation in a thoughtful and respectful manner, and thanks for reading!
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