Making "The Avengers" -- Men Only
Recently, Andrew O'Hehir had this to say concerning The Avengers and its (ostensibly) all-male demographic:
I don't think I'm breaking any news if I tell you that "The Avengers," Joss Whedon's ensemble action-adventure that unites an entire posse of Marvel Comics superhoes, will be far and away this weekend's No. ! film at the box office. [. . .] Or that a large majority of those ticket buyers will be teenage boys and young men. Like most summer "tentpole" productions -- those designed to support franchises, and ensure the financial future of major studioes -- "The Avengers" is aimed squarely at guys under 35, long the demographic, psychological and economic bulwark of the movie industry.
All this is standard operating procedure in 21st-century Hollywood, where the industry is dominated by post-boomer males reared on the comic books, TV shows and blockbuster movies of the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, and the audience is understood in almost Pavlovian terms as a slavering horde of permanent adolescents. Audience familiarity and “pre-awareness” are greatly prized, so nearly all these guy-oriented movies derive from superhero comics or video games or other decades-old pop franchises. (It is, of course, possible to go too far into the pop-culture past. Let’s observe a moment of silence, once again, for“John Carter.”) We can certainly argue about which of these movies create an interesting twist on existing formula and which are cynical crap, but I don’t think we can argue that it makes much difference to the bottom line. “The Avengers” will make a kazillion dollars, and so did “Transformers: Dark of the Moon.” The differences between the two are mostly a matter of fine-grained detail; they’ve both got cartoonish male bonding, a lot of stuff blowing up, and hot-chick eye candy.
If you’re female and you’re interested in any or all of the above pictures, by the way, I apologize for making it sound as if you don’t exist. But in marketing terms, you don’t.
[. . .]
All of this reflects deeply ingrained social and cultural ideas about gender, which are present in people of both sexes. Maybe men’s preference for violent action yarns and women’s preference for sappy love stories — and our tendency to understand one as more “serious” than the other — are hard-wired in some biological way, although that falls a long way short of scientific truth. But despite the torrent of male-centric franchise flicks we’ll see this summer, and next summer, and for all the summers into the foreseeable future, the tide in the Hollywood gender wars has begun to shift, slightly but perceptibly.
I personally wonder if what we will see this year, next year, and further beyond are periodic interruptions by liberals of their basic enjoying of life to float out mouthy j'accuses at still-male-centric society, allowing some smaller bite, to come off themselves. And I wonder if it was time for one such interruption to come from Andrew, and this is what actually explains why it is only in the comment section of this article that we learn why Joss Whedon's Avengers apparently wasn't permeated by Whedon's ostensibly natural female orientation, rather than for the film being in the end, mostly all Marvel.
What I am drawing upon here is not right-wing concerns, but rather that of some leftish occupiers -- Chris Hedges, specifically, as well as some of truthdig. In "Death of the Liberal Class," Hedges challenged readers to imagine liberals as mostly being uninterested in what happens to most Americans, in actually finding them disgusting, and as having since the late '70s spent their time essentially walling themselves from them. He contends they've actually become courtiers, a class distinct from "fellow Americans," and use "boutique" issues of race and gender to justify their privileges and relevancy while keeping the rest of America feeling suspect, probably owed their inferior place. And so thereby life goes along comfortably, even if significant changes to American life -- the kind of stuff Hedges contends liberals once defined themselves by -- are intentionally forestalled, and democratic America comes to be increasingly pyramidic -- in accord with liberal preference. If you're on my end, you might just indicate how much you agree with Andrew, but unless this becomes your one and only comment ever on a comment section, a brief passing by conveying no sense that you live on the web but rather are for the most part out and about on other things, though your heart will be deemed in the right place, the whole otherwise anthropology of you will keep you a jumble more than a bit comically less kept-together than he.
We are told that this essentially is Marvel's picture, not Joss Whedon's. Personally, I wonder how someone supposedly so infused with female respect could ever not effuse his affectional ethos all over a film of his make. If this film does indeed feel all-male, I'd encourage people to look back on his earlier works for signs of significant female discomfort that would lead him -- when such could be excused -- to ultimately seek to sublimate himself into projects where women end up shoved to the side while male concerns predominate. A lot of men who champion women are trying to be good boys, showing their mothers their allegiance to them through their annhilating misbehaving boy-men -- their own bad boy selves. These types always find some way to guilt-free revenge themselves for this ongoing maternal domination, though. For Whedon, it might have been this opportunity to do damage through the excuse of following Marvel heritage. Perhaps if this psychology holds true with Andrew, look for signs of it in the kinds of art movies he can preference which others blanche at -- ones that contain significant examples of female humiliation and torture, for example; for with art films, you could always convince yourself it was the other things that tintilated, or that the manner of the portrayal conveyed unmistakable criticism, or some such.