From Lynch to Tarantino, there’s a long tradition of straight white cis male film directors whose daring and morally ambiguous work rouses debate among its otherwise politically aligned apologists and detractors. Well, get ready to welcome one more to the party: We just found out about another white man director who’s Canadian or Danish or something and whose work casually contains a lot of sexual violence, but also there is this one middle-aged female character in one who’s pretty cool. So is this controversial auteur’s oeuvre deeply misogynistic or covertly queer and feminist? You have to pick one or the other.
A lot of men you know idolize this director in a way that makes you instantly distrustful of him, but is that reason enough to write off his work? The men you know don’t have a good track record of understanding the art they consume; their reading is barely scratching the surface. You on the other hand have the ability to go deeper and see the queer undertones of that confrontation between the sex worker and the protagonist’s wife in his sophomore feature. Or are you just doing mental gymnastics to defend a movie that you think is cool? There’s no time to interrogate these doubts. You need to lock in your decision within the dichotomy we’ve presented you, then stick with it forever only doubling down when presented with thoughtful, challenging points.
Worst thing to ever happen to women or feminist icon, which is he?! These are the only options.
The important thing is that you settle deep into a stance then let confirmation bias do the rest of the work. So a lot of his female characters die horribly, but at least he has female characters. Is this pro-woman or anti-woman? Pick right now. We’re waiting!
You may be thinking that perhaps the answer lies somewhere in the middle: that the impact of his work isn’t shaped exclusively through his direction, that an underwritten or problematically conceived female character may have become nuanced and complex thanks to, say, the skill of the actress who portrayed her, and that we don’t need to reify the director model with this black and white discourse that gives one man all the power to do right or wrong. BUT THAT’S NOT ONE OF THE OPTIONS AND TIME IS RUNNING OUT.
So go ahead and make your choice about whether this director’s work is sickeningly misogynistic or actually full to the brim with radical subversive potential. And if you’re feeling torn, we recommend just picking one at random then starting a vicious argument from that perspective anywhere on social media. Cheers!