Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Lego Batman Movie and Masculinity

The Lego Batman Movie presents a much more progressive version of gender roles, where men don’t have to be strong and stone cold and women don’t have to be passive and can hold high ranking positions.

Batman is shown to be old fashioned and behind the times. We see this when Barbara Gordon, the new police commissioner, points out that Batman is ineffective with any permanent solution to the amount of crime in Gotham City. He insists on solving everything on his own. Batman is living out the expectations most men have for themselves. He bottles up his emotions and pushes everyone away to deal with every problem on his own. All of this proves to be ineffective and out-of date.

Image result for lego batman movieBarbara Gordon/ Batgirl is a well rounded character not based around stereotypes. Barbara is the police commissioner, the voice of reason in the movie, a capable negotiator, and eventually becomes Batgirl. When we are first introduced to Barbara Gordon, it seems like she will be a generic, uninteresting love interest for Batman that by the end of the movie Batman will serve as a reward for whatever character development he accomplishes. But, we immediately see that is not the case when she doesn’t take Batman seriously as he tries to outdo her. At one point, Batman tries to pull one over on her instead of working with her, since he thinks he knows better. She arrests him.

Image result for lego batman movieThe film’s message is about dealing with emotion in a mature way and treating others with respect in a way that would seem unmanly 10 years ago. Batman is a jerk during the entire movie, constantly taking advantage of the people in his life and not allowing himself to express how he really feels. All the other superheros don’t like Batman, and don’t want to be around him. Batman clearly doesn’t like any of them either, especially Superman, because they are able to healthily deal with their tragedies and form positive relationships with one another. As most people know, Batman is the way he is because his parents died. This film explores how the cultural expectations and Batman’s own expectations for how a man should act have made that tragedy in his life turn him into a terrible person. Batman only redeems himself after learning to healthily express his sadness and let other people into his life.

Image result for lego batman movie bat girlI have seen that recently more and more works of culture, like the Marvel movies, Mad Max Fury Road, the Harry Potter series, and even this film’s predecessor, The Lego Movie, have promoted more positive gender roles where men are allowed to have emotions other than anger, and that women are more than rewards’ for the title character.  Ironically, some of the only movies I haven’t seen any signs of this trend are DC’s mainstream live action movies. These have shown almost all  male characters as angry muscle men. All their female characters are set dressing, defined by their relation to whatever action hero they fall in love with.

I have found, in recent years, as I have started to lose people, that there isn’t an easy way to deal with loss.  I have found myself often questioning my own priorities when this happens. Every once and awhile, I have found a dying animal and tried to help it but it would always die, sometimes within hours of me finding it. I find myself getting emotional afterwards, and I always feel weak or think something is wrong with me.  It would just be an animal that I only knew for a short time. While what I feel is nowhere close to what someone losing their parents feels, I am familiar with that feeling of not wanting to get emotionally invested in other people.

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