Your Review Is Scarier Than Scream 4

by Kevin Wolf, a longtime Shaker and movie fan.

[Trigger warning for misogyny, eating disorders and body policing, ableist language.]

The masses were clamoring for another Scream sequel (people simply would not stop talking about it!) so Scream 4 was manufactured and hits theaters today. Hence, the posting of reviews across the internets, including this one from Michael O'Sullivan at The Washington Post, which opens:
"Scream 4" has issues.

If it were a person, and not a movie, it would be a 17-year-old bulimic girl, desperate for the attention of 17-year-old boys and alternately bingeing on cheesy slasher-flick cliches, and purging, by pointing out, over and over, just how gag-me-with-a spoon cheesy they are.

On the one hand, it is obsessed with itself, winking and pouting in front of the metaphorical mirror of self-referential scrutiny that the series — directed by Wes Craven and written by Kevin Williamson — is famous for. On the other, it suffers from a case of crushingly low self-esteem, reminding us at every turn just how lame it is. (In a sense, it won't shut up about how fat it looks in these jeans.)
Mr. O'Sullivan is not a teen, bulimic or otherwise. But because this is a movie for and about teens, he evidently felt obliged to wedge something "teenagery" into his review. And because this movie has "issues," he must represent our hypothetical teen as a "girl" who is bulimic, who is desperate for boys to notice her, and who is so "lame" and self-involved she won't shut up about how fat [she] looks in these jeans!!

Now, I'm not the target audience for the movie, nor the target of O'Sullivan's horrific clusterfuck of misogynist, fat-hating, exploitative, condescending bullshit, yet for some reason I've taken offense. Why? Because I hate the assumption made by this critic that it's gonna be just fine with me that he represent this film and its audience in this carelessly stupid, thoughtless, and endlessly privileged way.

I'm going to suggest to O'Sullivan that he take another look at this review and compare that opening with a paragraph further along: "At the heart of the film is a joke: What's happening on screen is just like a bad horror movie. Except that, by acknowledging its own badness, 'Scream 4' hopes to turn itself into a good horror movie. Or at least a hip, funny and self-aware one." Notice, Mr. O'Sullivan, that you have here said essentially the same thing (the movie is agonizingly self-conscious and wants to be hip) without personifying the film as an offensive stereotype and thus demeaning teenage girls with disordered eating in the process. And it was so easy!

Please, Michael O'Sullivan: Stop trying to be hip and clever. For a start, you're about as hip and clever as an Allstate commercial. And your lack of self-awareness and empathy is painful—one guesses especially so for the targets of your "humor."

Shakesville is run as a safe space. First-time commenters: Please read Shakesville's Commenting Policy and Feminism 101 Section before commenting. We also do lots of in-thread moderation, so we ask that everyone read the entirety of any thread before commenting, to ensure compliance with any in-thread moderation. Thank you.

blog comments powered by Disqus