Hollywood Hates Feminists: A Scandinavian Tragedy

In little over a month change has been rampant afoot.

On a personal level, I passed through the hall of humiliation towards the stadium of blessed surprise as I attained the job of which I dared not dream.

Palestine is once more firmly on the agenda, for the right and wrong reasons, while issues of human rights and censorship have passed with a vague wave as I honor sage advice to avoid blogging and Tweeting until the new-job-dust settles.

On the Tweeting front, it has been futile – if anything, I’ve gone into overdrive; the snappy swiftness of news bytes becoming my drug of choice.

Which makes it all the more peculiar that I should rise from my self-imposed exile over a movie.

A movie poster to be exact.

My love for Scandi Lit birthed from Stieg Larsson‘s Millenium trilogy and bloomed through Camilla Läckberg and Jo Nesbø (the latter of whom labors under the cover-sticker yoke of being ‘The Next Stieg Larsson’ – he is infinitely better, however).

The allure of Larsson’s trilogy resides in its powerful female characters – a theme that endures in contemporary Scandi Lit.

Through Larsson, Lisbeth Salander and Erika Berger are in the foreground: the androgynous, bi-sexual anarachist and the tough, sexually liberated career woman.

Even in the background, Larsson’s female characters lack no courage.

By turns scheming, tough, fighters – physical and emotional – they match the men punch for punch, and then some.

Läckberg’s works fuse the cosiness of cinnamon buns from the oven with brutal serial killings, and not to the detriment of her female characters: the investigative journalist/author/mother/wife Erika Falck full of pluck and wit, while her sister Anna, struggles through extreme domestic abuse.

Similarly, Nesbø’s women are flawed, grounded, robust and vociferous: from Harry Hole’s Sis, to the female sidekicks who invariably save his life at least once per novel.

Which makes it all the more galling that Hollywood would reduce the most iconic of Scandi Lit characters, Lisbeth Salander, to a topless floozy snuggling under the arm of Mikael Blomkvist.

To wit, I present the Swedish poster for The Girl With a Dragon Tattoo (2009):

Salander: demonic, fighter, individual, covered, foreground, isolated, determined; Blomkvist: background, seated, observing.

In contrast, the English-language remake (2011):

Salander: protected, victim, naked, vulnerable; Blomkvist: possessive, decisive, protector, hero.

Remakes are a pain at the best of times, but once it strips away all that renders a novel – and original movie – powerful, it becomes an insult to the reader, the authors and, in this instance, womankind.

It cries that the world is not ready for a truly strong woman: she must be feminized, controlled by a man in order to ensure that the male demographic is not fazed by her independence.

Look! She may be vicious, but here are her boobs to distract from the potential individuality that she may possess!

It is a poke in the eye for the feminist nuances that are carefully woven by Norwegian and Swedish authors into the novels that render them joyful, empowering reading.

Noomi Rapace excelled as Salander; seldom has a character comprised such a variety of complexes and strengths.

In the name of Hollywood, this has been stripped away; as in the case of His Dark Materials, the crucial message is sacrificed at the alter of the male ego.

More pity for that.

4 comments on “Hollywood Hates Feminists: A Scandinavian Tragedy

  1. Laura
    September 23, 2011

    I’m glad I read this. I will make a point to watch the Swedish movie first, if I decide to see the American version. I would like to note the differences. Thank you.

  2. Layla
    September 24, 2011

    Thanks, Laura – I highly recommend the Swedish version 🙂

  3. nobody
    September 24, 2011

    More feminist claptrap.

    Both posters could be read in a completely different way than the one you described. Quick example:

    The first poster has Lizbeth stooping submissively at Blomkvist’s feet while he enjoys the show…. The second poster has Blomkvist hanging on for dear life to the brave, shirtless warrior Lizbeth…

    People see what they want to see especially when they are attempting to justify a political/religious opinion. I’m sure you get the idea…

    I’m also sure you won’t hear the message.

    • Layla
      September 24, 2011

      I wouldn’t be so sure about your parting shot; it’s all about interpretation and I’m all for variety. So thank you for your input – it brought a new perspective 🙂

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This entry was posted on September 23, 2011 by in Culture, Pop culture and tagged , , , , , , , , .
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