Tuesday, May 31, 2011

"The Hangover Part II:" The joke's on patriarchy

Crystal at "The Hangover II" premiere
Warning:  This film might be offensive to humans and other primates.

$105.8 million. 

That's how much money "The Hangover Part II" took in over the Memorial Day weekend, according to studio estimates. 

Kristin Meinzer,  host of the Movie Date Podcast for "The Takeaway" (heard on WDET 109.1 FM in Detroit) blasted the film last week calling it offensive to Asians, humans and women.

But there's more.

According to Entertainment Weekly magazine, the film does not carry the familiar, "No animals were harmed ..." disclaimer.  The original film, however, did.

The American Humane Association's Los Angeles-based Film & TV Unit is the film and television industry’s only officially-sanctioned animal monitoring program.  It issues the trademarked disclaimer.

The association's website says, "With established filmmaking guidelines, detailed production reviews, certified safety reps and more, we help keep the cameras rolling and the animals safe."

American Humane offered to visit the "Hangover II" set in Thailand, but was turned down.  Also, the association was not granted a screening of the film.

At the center of the controversy is Crystal, A Capuchin monkey who appears in the film.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals were particularly concerned about scenes with sexual humor.

"A joke is a joke," said PETA president  Ingrid Newkirk, "but leave the animals out of it."

Crystal is also shown smoking in the film, but actually she never held a lit cigarette.  The smoke was added digitally.

As an animal advocate and a feminist, my take on "The Hangover II" is this:  The movie -- like its predecessor -- shows patriarchy at its stupidest. 

If we re-frame all the offensive material,  we see it as an example of everything that is true about the destructive patterns of patriarchy:  perpetuation of stereotypes and gross disrespect for women and animals among other things.  Patriarchy is also hurtful to marginalized and feminized men.

And the public eats it up without a second thought. 

Still, I say the joke's on patriarchy, so go ahead and laugh -- for the right reasons.

P.S.:  I have no objection to Crystal's dress -- I think she looks beautiful.

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