von_geisterhand: Monika küsst Jörg. Sie liebt ihn. (kiss)
[personal profile] von_geisterhand
Okay, there are is a spoiler of sorts in this text. It is, however, not related to the end joke. You will more or less know the controversial joke at the end of "Kingsman", if you've seen the trailer and/or have a reasonable knowledge of classic Bond-films.

I am loath to call "Kingsman: The secret service" a sexist film, although I do understand if other people women feel differently about this. "Kingsman" IMHO is a film riffing on tropes from films that were unashamedly by men about men for men, which unsurprisingly turned out to be a "Boy's Film" as well. There is little to no space in this film for women. Of the six named female characters in this film, two are merely incentives/things to protect for the protagonist (namely his mother and baby sister). They love Eggsy and they're being threatened and or beaten up. That's all they are there for.
Then there is Gazelle, Valentine's henchwoman/"Dragon"-trope: Admittedly, she does kick ass and she is very cool. The problem I have with her is that I feel she has no character beyond those blade-legs and being acrobatic. "Goldfinger's" Odd Job had no lines, and did nothing but threaten, intimidate and kill people but you cannot say that he wasn't still given ample space to be a memorable character while he performed his random tasks or that casting somebody else in that role would not have made a difference. Gazelle kills people with her legs, she serves food, she fights the hero and then she dies. Replace Sofia Boutella with any other young and attractive actress or change Gazelle back to the man she was in the comic and it would not make the slightest bit of difference. She has one party trick which she performs during her first on-screen appearance and after that she is given nowhere to go but repeat it and die. Much could have been made of the fact that she appears neither dangerous or imposing at first glance but the film just goes "Fuck it! She has blades for legs! That's good enough." No.
Then you have fellow recruit Amelia who only exists for the audience (and the other recruits) to realise that their training is actually dangerous.*
And you have Roxy. Here things will be getting difficult/totally subjective. In theory, I could imagine a "Kingsman"-organisation that is entirely staffed by men. It would fit the "Old Boys' Club"-vibe the organisation has and also be totally in line with Arthur's resistance against letting common boys be put forward as candidates. Also, the Kinsman we see in the film is already nearly totally a male affair. Besides Roxy, the only women apparently employed be the organisation are Amelia, who is mentioned as normally working at the Berlin office, and the lady who answers the phone when Eggsy calls the emergency number. The tailor's has no female employees and Arthur does not have a Moneypenny-like secretary. There also are no Kingsladies during the mourning conference call at the beginning or on any of the portraits in Arthur's office. So it would only be a minor step to go the whole way and make the whole of Kingsman male-only.
(Tangent: Although I really would have loved it, if during the seduction test it hadn't been the waiter who tells the agents-to-be about the drugs (and conducts the subsequent interrogation) but the supposed blonde mark. But that's just me.Tangent over)
On the one hand, I want to applaud the film for having a female co-applicant who is in every way equal or even superior to the main protagonist (depending on your view on the final test). On the other hand, this makes it hurt far more when Roxy is shafted into a purely supporting and quickly sidelined mission soon after. Yes, she heroically makes the shot and lives to tell the tale but who really remembers that when it has to compete with Eggsy saving the world hands on? For all the attention the film lavishes on her accomplishment, she might as well have made the shot and then perished in the explosion.
So "Kingsman" is a "boy's film" and while I think it is a shame and a missed opportunity that it is, particularly in the light of Jane Goldman's involvement, it IMHO does not make it any worse. I very much enjoyed it, even though there were a few moments where I just thought that the filmmakers were trying just that little bit too hard. Nothing against the totally OTT "Land of Hope and Glory"-sequence but we already had the totally OTT church-sequence a little earlier, so you might want to look up the phrase "Overegging the pudding" once in a while. I also didn't think too much of Samuel L. Jackson's Valentine. To me he was just too deliberately quirky/gimmicky and lacked any sense of real menace/conviction, global genocide or not. Other opinions are available.
So, finally onto the last female character of the film, Princess Tilde and her very special joke. Having now pondered the whole issue for a few days, I have come to the conclusion that I really like her and what they've done with her. Princess Tilde starts as a way of showing just how despicable and evil her Prime Minister is, continues by being a way of showing that not all celebrities were willing to go along with Valentine's plan and ends up as the set-up for the final joke. Interestingly, while she looks like a damsel in distress at this point, she comes across as very strong/stubborn, self-determined and emancipated. In this light I also liked the reaction she gives to (is given for by the writers) "If I free you, will you give me a kiss?"
"Mate, fuck you. This is no fairy tale and we are adults. If you let me out of her, I'll fuck you senseless, now shut the fuck up and GET KILLING!" Yes, of course, it is still part of the Boy's-Own-Phantasy but as a character, it works and in my eyes makes her stronger. So that works and the nod to the Bond-films works and you know, even that POV-shot closing in on her arse could work in my book. The door opens, Eggsy and the viewer go "It's sex time!", Merlin watches Eggsy approach Tilde's rear, realisation dawns and he closes the monitor. In my book, that is pretty much the slightly cheekier, slightly raunchier, everything-turned-to-11 take on Bond that Matthew Vaughn talked about in some of the interviews.
What really, really, really (Ziggazig-Ah!) doesn't work and sticks out like sore thumb (That thing is you *thumb*, right?) is that godawful line: "If you save the world, we can do it in the asshole." Ladies and gentlemen, here have have in one small step taken the plunge from postmodern-referencing-of-male-oriented-films to the sort of joke you make in the changing rooms while extremely pubescent and are terribly ashamed about when somebody brings it up at your wedding.

Manners maketh man, boyo. Remember that. Nobody here is under any illusion that you will shag your way through entire countries in the line of duty. God knows I have. But even while you do things that your elders may find disagreeable, you have to stay classy, if you're to be a Kingsman. That line isn't misogynist but it has no class whatsoever. Stay classy and I won't have to slap you again.
Look, I've gone all Jack Carter now.

*Okay, and maybe for the odd person in the audience to go "Oh, can we have another shot of that cleavage, please? Man, I'm totally freeze-framing this on DVD!"


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