why ‘Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’ is hurting woman: a response.

The following is a response I wrote to Karen Swallow Prior’s piece titled “Why ‘Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” Is Hurting Woman“.  It is not an exhaustive review of the books (which I have read) or the American version of the movie (which I have not seen).  Please read her original article to gain context in my post.  If you respond to this post, please do so respectfully and please distinguish between commenting on the books or movies (either Swedish or American versions). 

Karen,

After reading your article I’m confused.  In the same sentence you disclaim “This isn’t a film review and…I offer analysis based only on the film.”  From that, I can’t really discern what you’re driving at so I’ll try to figure it in this response.

Character study has rightly informed the way we see ourselves for as long as characters have been created.  It’s part of the beauty of literature, film and all media.  In your case, being introduced to a character through a Facebook status is a rather recent phenomenon however.  Facebook and Twitter have afforded us the privilege to form quick uninformed opinions about things for which we previously were forced to seriously chew on and investigate.  This is true in your owns words, “My immediate reaction, though I knew nothing at that point about the book or the character, was ‘uh oh'”.

My main critique of your article isn’t whether Lisbeth Salander should or shouldn’t be regarded as a heroine.  For the rest of the world that doesn’t read first-world evangelical posts like these, Lisbeth Salander is and will be regarded as a hero for better or for worse and in some cases should be.  While your (and mine) hero, the one “placed upon…a mere plank and crossbeam” is the greatest character study of all, his story has yet to be discovered by many a victim of sexual injustice and Salander will have to suffice for standing up against said injustice.

Don’t take me wrong, I’m not nihilistic or cynical enough to say if Stieg Larsson is all you’ve got, that’s all you’ll get.  However, I’m realistic enough to know that my definition of sexual injustice or my fight against gender prejudice can’t be informed by someone’s facebook status, clothing line or even David Fincher‘s Hollwood star-crossed vision of Larsson’s book.

You say that Lisbeth Salander is hurting women yet you don’t provide any statistical or even anecdotal evidence of such.  Your credibility to make such claims stems from “watch[ing] [a] friend undergo self-injury, sexual victimization, sexual deviancy, drug addiction, institutionalization, and the occasional come-to-Jesus moment”?   I hate to break it to you but I have those friends too.  They are guys, fully masculine and fully devoted to a spiritual struggle that extends well past the publication of a swedish mystery novel.

Going back to my initial confusion at what you were driving at with this article…are you trying to rescue women from stereotypical chains that Hollywood places on them?  If so, I would contend that you are using this platform to perpetuate chains that are placed on men as well.  You write, “She has the smarts and independence men increasingly expect in a post-feminist world, makes a great work partner, stitches up a bullet hole with vodka and dental floss, rides a motorcycle, initiates sex (and does girls, too), makes breakfast the morning after, brings herself to orgasm while her partner lies back and thinks about work—all the while staying (largely) emotionally unattached. She’s essentially a breasted boy.”

So…that means all boys are just great work partners, stitch bullet holes with vodka and dental floss, ride motorcycles and initiate sex?  All boys bring ourselves to orgasm while staying emotionally unattached?  Karen, are you married, do you have a boyfriend or have a son?  Do you assign these stereotypical cliche’s to them as well?  Hopefully, the other men who are reading this post and sincerely following Christ the best way they know how won’t be offended by the same unjust prejudices that you herein propagate.  I’ll clue you in…not all men get off on these movies, their imagery and feel the need to beat their chest when movies like these are made.

I get it.  You went and watched a movie that has some seriously disturbing themes and you had an emotional response.  Did you apply the same Facebook-litmus test to last years sordid tale of female sexual deviancy, Black Swan?  Darn it, Hollywood why do you continue to define my view of all women as sexually repressed, catty, snobby, closet-ballerinas, jealous with low self-esteem.  Geez, those male directors and their need to compensate.

Well, hats off to the Stiegster for accomplishing his goals: awareness of sexual deviancy, injustice and *gasp* swedish culture.  It’s too bad he’s not around to chat with Darren Arrenovsky or the execs at MGM and Columbia.  All we have of Larsson are three books from which to derive a character that should and will be studied, admired and hated.  The joy of film is that it can be watched but the lasting beauty of literature is that it can be read, again and again.  From the pages of books we continue to peel back the “layers of our own facade”.  I’m so glad the Lord reveals our facade’s in more than one Book.

With Respect,
Jonathan Simmons

Advertisements

a Penn State of mind.

The Penn State Scandal.

Doesn’t this all feel so episodic?  The media dishes these dirty stories out like an American soap opera – quick & ruthless.  The roving eye of justice has once again settled on the next big celebrity.  As a society we’re not quite so interested in the injustice of young boys being molested as we are in who got fired, how and why.  If America lay dying in a hospital room, her IV would be connected to a poisonous concoction of celebrity blood and Reachemol.

It’s almost as if we are all walking in a haze and occasionally slapped back into reality by our own missteps.  Even then, we were more concerned with the legal or moral aspect of Joe Paterno’s obligations than that he was just plain obligated.

I can’t help but wonder how many other staff of Jerry Sandusky‘s organization or Penn State knew of these heinous acts.  Am I to believe that only 3 men were cognizant of Sandusky’s crimes?  America is in a “soul-searching” mode now.  The basic question is, “How could evil be so institutionalized?”  Why didn’t someone speak up before?

I was sitting at a Caribou Coffee to study recently when, in an unexpected way, my blood began to boil.  I had forgotten to bring my headphones and was at the mercy of the banter surrounding me.  I couldn’t help overhearing the two men sitting right next to me.  As I was sitting down, they touched on Penn State but spent the majority of 20 minutes degrading women with stereotypes and tales of debauchery.

They were older, looking to be in their late 40’s and late 50’s.  I can’t remember another time recently where I felt such righteous indignation toward others.  Perhaps it was a combination of my own story and that I work with children which served to stoke my anger toward two strangers.  They traded rants and raves of sexual misadventures and derogatory assumptions of manhood.  While I never heard them say anything explicitly illegal, I recognized something innate to the human soul.

It was sitting beside these two men that I found the answer to the question, “How can men have turned a blind eye to the rape of young boys?”

It’s because Penn State is more than a state university.  It’s a state of being.  It’s that place where secrets are locked away, quiet whispers are indigenous and furtive glances betray guilt.  If you’ve ever watched the show COPS you have seen someone handcuffed and yelling, “What did I do?”  That’s the state of mind that Penn State represents.  It’s where you’re so drunk or high that you don’t know you’re handcuffed to begin with.  The Penn State mind is institutional because it’s innate in human nature.

I won’t say that these two men at Caribou were guilty of something illegal or that they would be quiet if confronted with the horror’s of Jerry Sandusky.  I will say that they, along with the rest of us, can be far more interested in image management and ‘reputation relief’ than the rescue and redemption of young boys or a lost generation at that.  The Penn State of mind manifest.

Somewhere, a guilty coach is breathing a sigh of relief.  On November 5th, JoePa was sacrificed on the altar of “justice”.  The unknown deviant can stay hidden.  We demand the blood of giants for our sense of justice when the simple fact is, it’s the blood of our sons and daughters that are being sacrificed.  The Penn State of mind persists.  We have been shocked back to reality for a moment but will we slowly roll back into our slumber?

I recently heard the angelic voice of Sandra McCracken singing a hymn titled “Justice Will Roll Down.”  Here are the lyrics to that hymn.  Here is to the truth that justice isn’t institutional but it’s personified in the person of Jesus Christ:

Oh my love, you have grown so cold

To the world outside, to the house next door

She who has been loved much, has so much to give

Mercy is the fragrance, of the broken

Justice will roll down, oh justice will roll down

From high upon those mountains with a mighty river sound

It will roll down

It will roll down

Oh my child, I will be your light

In your secret pain, in the dark of night

No enemy, no conqueror, will steal your life from me

I am your salvation, and your victory.

Soon oh soon, when the trumpet sounds

every knee shall bend, every heart will pound

I have made a new world, where the servant is the King

oppression will be over, and the slave set free