Downtown Los Angeles, circa 1983

Downtown Los Angeles, circa 1983
STMcC in downtown Los Angeles, circa 1983

Saturday, September 9, 2017

“F” Stands For: FANTASTICALLY FAR-FETCHED FEMINIST FANTASY FLICK

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[*This review was originally published at Amazon.com 
on Thurs. Jan. 18th, 2007*]
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GIRLFIGHT
directed by Karyn Kusama
released: 2000
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Karyn Kusama’s GIRLFIGHT is nothing more than a strident misandrist pleasuring herself on film!
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Ordinarily, I would never consider wasting my valuable time watching this type of movie, much less bothering to write anything about it, but because I recently wrote a series of reviews for some mostly older anti-Feminism books, it was suggested to me that I should also “weigh in” on GIRLFIGHT, which I had previously never even heard of.
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Written and directed by then-newcomer Kusama, the title, GIRLFIGHT, is simply a rather pedestrian substitution for “Woman’s Struggle”, that is, “Feminism.” Her title displays the same sort of “heavy-handed” touch that she exhibits throughout the movie. As a filmmaker, Kusama has all the subtlety of a Great White Shark in a feeding frenzy. The movie consists of one “ham-fisted” symbol after another, decrying all of the usual exaggerated and simplistic contentions regarding men that radical Feminists have been screeching about for over forty years; illustrating the feminist anthems; and portraying resolutions dreamed up in their wishful fantasies.
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It should come as no surprise to any educated person that GIRLFIGHT won a couple of awards at Robert “Red” Redford’s Sundance Film Festival in 2000; the incestuous relationship between Marxism and Feminism has long been established, and GIRLFIGHT was bound to be enthusiastically embraced at Sundance, and promoted as another vehicle for further conditioning the masses -- particularly young women -- toward the Socialistic goals of hard-core feminism. (If you want to turn off your TV one day and read a nonfiction book, The Gender Agenda by Dale O’Leary, or The Privilege Of Being A Woman by Alice von Hildebrand, would be a smashing place to begin.) It was, after all, no less a Communist than Vladimir Lenin himself who stated in 1920, “We must create a powerful international women’s movement.” (Was keeping the spectators seated and talking during the singing of The Star-Spangled Banner before GIRLFIGHT’s climactic bout a Marxist “jab” at America?)
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* Although I will not be discussing anything that the majority of the previous reviewers have not already revealed, be advised that this review will examine the major plot points and the ending of GIRLFIGHT. If you don’t want to know how this movie ends, you should discontinue reading this review.
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Ostensibly, the story is about a high school girl, Diana Guzman (Michelle Rodriguez), who, prone to violent outbursts, redirects her aggression by taking up boxing and ultimately confronts her emotionally abusive dad, and then later, her boyfriend in the ring. The entire movie is simply a kaleidoscope of embarrassingly overt visual metaphors meant to convey the concept of Patriarchy getting pummeled to a pulp by Womanhood, and the castration of perceived masculine power. (Diana or Artemis, the goddess of the hunt, is portrayed in mythology as having killed various men and male gods.)
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Early on, we get a barely veiled glimpse of Diana’s (writer/director Kusama’s mouthpiece) disdain for the traditional role of women in society when she stares out of her 11th story bedroom window at a mother pushing a baby carriage with a crying toddler in tow. That she’s “looking down on Motherhood” couldn’t have been more obvious.
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There are three “types” of one-dimensional men (or malignancies) in this movie. (The “father”, the “son”, and the “emasculated ghost”?)...
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#1) The domineering, emotionally and physically abusive male determined to “keep women in their place.” This type of man is represented by Diana’s drunken dad, and in a typical exhibition of Kusama’s over-the-top symbolism, he is knocked around and nearly strangled to death by Diana in the family’s kitchen (after she has received some boxing training). Get it? A woman’s place is in the kitchen, but only if that’s the location she chooses for bloodying the Patriarchy! “You belong to me now! ... All these years you just looked right through me”, Diana says to her beaten dad on behalf of women everywhere.
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#2) The unfaithful romancer who refuses to accept women on equal terms in every single facet of social endeavor. He is represented by Diana’s love interest, Adrian, who dreams of “winning” his way out of the projects with a successful boxing career. Giving him the name of Rocky Balboa’s wife was an obvious slap at the character and at men in general who express their manhood through a fascination with sports and sports movies. That slap becomes a punch, however, when 18-year-old Diana, with perhaps two months worth of training, defeats 19-year-old Adrian in the ring -- despite the fact that he’s been training for nearly a year, and supposedly has true professional boxing potential. (In a sorry display of how far Kusama was willing to go to get the most “punch for the buck”, she wants us to believe that these two characters would be fighting in the same weight class. Never mind that Adrian is obviously 6” taller than Diana and appears to outweigh her by about 40 pounds. It simply wouldn’t do to have the Feminist hero defeat a man merely her own size!)
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#3) Diana’s brother, Tiny, is the way men ought to be in Kusama’s warped world. He is artistic, sensitive, effeminate, satisfactorily de-masculinized already. He is tolerable because he is pathetic, as he can do nothing but stand back, wring his hands, and plead for his dad’s life, while the “new” man (Diana GuzMAN -- get it?) strangles the “old” man in the kitchen and usurps his authority (i.e., transforms the Patriarchal family unit into a Matriarchy). 
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But in an ironic twist, Kusama also reveals her revulsion at the feminine man as well, by naming him TINY. Diana’s brother is neither excessively large or small for his age, so we must assume that the name hints at something else: His unmanly “endowments” literally or figuratively; his diminished social status in the imagined new Matriarchy; or simply Kusama’s personal view of such effete men?
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GIRLFIGHT begins with one of the silliest opening shots ever conceived. (Diana Guzman looks up and glares directly at the camera, i.e., at “you”, the viewer. Why? Uh, well, because Kusama told her to.) And it ends with one of the most improbable scenes ever filmed: After losing to her in the ring -- bringing his dream of a boxing career to an end -- Adrian practically begs Diana not to break up with him. This shows just how out-of-touch with reality and Male Psychology these extreme Feminists really are. If such a scenario as presented in this movie were even truly possible, does Kusama and her Feminist horde actually believe that a “man” in this situation would REALLY want to retain his romantic relationship with his female conqueror? That he would be willing to take a licking and keep on kissing?) GIRLFIGHT is indeed a Feminist fantasy from the opening bell to the final round.
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It does, however, contain a few positive ingredients: Technically, the screenplay is competently constructed and well-paced, and some of the cinematography is imaginative. The score nicely compliments the images and adds an exotic tone. Herb Lovelle as Cal is good in a very small part, and Jaime Tirelli in the role of Diana’s trainer, Hector, delivers a fine, multi-layered performance. However, having read the script, no self-respecting “man” would have consented to appear in this propaganda piece. (But divesting men of their self-respect has been a goal for Feminists for over forty years now, and they’ve been largely successful.) Otherwise, the acting was uneven across-the-board. This was Rodriguez’s first role, and it sometimes showed.
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I could excoriate the artificial dialogue, the nonstop profanity, and the sloppy editing in GIRLFIGHT, but that would be like criticizing a dead dog for being lazy. Instead, let me give you one small dose of reality: Men generally possess nearly 50% more muscle mass than women, and testosterone (a steroid hormone which studies have linked to enhanced aggressiveness and increased muscle formation) is approximately thirty times more prevalent in the adult male body than it is in the adult female. (That’s 30 times, not 30%!) In other words, there are genuine physiological reasons why women trained in boxing are never going to be serious competition for men trained in boxing -- Karyn Kusama’s fantasy notwithstanding. (Don’t blame me; blame God. But your arms are too short to box with Him.) 
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Lucia Rijker is universally regarded as the best fighter in the history of female boxing; she has had 54 fights with women and won them all -- most by knockout. In earnest competition, she stepped into a ring only once with a man: In 1995, she fought Muay Thai boxer Somchai Jaidee, who was far from being a world elite fighter in the men’s competition. Rijker managed to survive the first round but in the second round, she was laid out on the canvas, unconscious for several minutes. (If she didn’t have a clue about Women Vs. Men in Boxing when she climbed into that ring, I’m sure she had one when she woke up in it!)
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What disturbs me is not that a misandrist would put her neurosis on film (wrong, Cyndi -- these days, “Girls Just Want To Be Boys”), but that anyone would tout this fiction as some kind of inspiring movie to be shown to youngsters -- THAT'S what bothers me! As if Diana Guzman represents some viable means to conflict resolution in the real world. My heart goes out to any child of a rigor mortis-brained parent who believes that “fighting” -- even in a square “ring” -- is the best way to channel aggressive behavior. 
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When my Brother (nicknamed “Napoleon”) was only about 12 years old, a professional trainer recognized that he possessed a chip on his shoulder the size of Mount Rushmore and an almost freakish, innate aptitude for fighting. This man offered to prepare my Brother for a professional boxing career. Being an Irish-American fighting in sub-Middleweight divisions, and being as proficient in physical destruction as he is, Napoleon would have made many millions of dollars as a successful boxer. But even at that young an age, he was intelligent enough to recognize the senselessness of making a living knocking other guys senseless, and so he turned down the trainer’s offer. Instead, he was able to sublimate his anger without needing to unleash it on others in any harmful form. With his fiery energy redirected into more constructive activities, he eventually grew into a very good and caring man (who could still decapitate any one of us with either fist, though he would never do so).
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That anyone would show GIRLFIGHT to a young person as motivation for anything, and would hold up this fictional character as a role model for young women to emulate in any way, is deplorable and irresponsible! GIRLFIGHT is not just a Feminist cartoon fantasy masquerading as a gritty, urban tale -- it’s a bad cartoon with bad language and a bad agenda, and that’s a bad “combination.” This crappy movie is out for the count!
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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