Wednesday, June 17, 2015

A Mediocre Day for Women and Their Allies

Three events occurred yesterday that do not advance the cause of women at least in the short run:
  • Donald Trump announced his presidential campaign
  • Chief of Defence Staff Tom Lawson said that the sex assault problem in the Canadian Forces was due in part to biology
  • I saw Jurassic World.
Spoilers (of the movie, not of Trump, who comes pre-spoiled) below:

I include Trump mostly because lists of two make little sense, but a list of three is good for most things.

CDS Lawson covered himself in (what is the opposite of glory?) when he blamed the hardwiring of biology for the sexual assault problem. He then had to dip, dodge and duck: "“My reference to biological attraction being a factor in sexual misconduct was by no means intended to excuse anyone from responsibility from their actions,” he said."

Because the report that led to his media appearance made it pretty clear that much of the problem was due to the leadership in the CF--that it was Lawson's fault ultimately [yes, an enduring problem is not just the fault of the current CDS but of the previous ones as well].  Does not the buck stop at the top?  Nope, it stops with biology.  One could say that we are piling on an unfortunate quote taken out of context except Lawson's stances always seemed to be reluctant and hedging when it comes to the sexual assault issue.  It did not smell/sound/feel/taste/look like leadership on this issue.  As always, if one wants to see leadership on this issue, this is the go-to video:

Lawson is in his last months of a very disappointing term as CDS.  The response to the report on sexual assault in the CF was met with resistance--that the CF agreed in principal but then hesitated to embrace much of the report.  Lovely.   We have no idea if General Jon Vance will do any better, but he is unlikely to do worse.  It would be nice if Lawson could be shuffled off sooner to send a message that he is not the leader the CF need now, but that is highly unlikely as this government does not like to admit mistakes.

Ok, on to the sillier stuff: how does Jurassic World depict women?  Not well.  We have two primary women in the movie--the mother of the two boys who are dinosaur bait and her sister who happens to run the park.  The sister, played by Bryce Dallas Howard, is depicted as a woman so focused on business that she hasn't seen her nephews in seven years, does not remember their ages (oh no!), and pawns them off on a subordinate.  She has no sense of humor and apparently has a miserable off-screen date with our hero, Starlord, in part because she is OCD about planning out the date.  Her responses to the crisis are initially quite lame, but then she insists on going along with Starlord to search for her nephews/dinosaur bait.  And, yes, she wears high heels throughout.  Her idea of getting ready is rolling up her sleeves.  Oy.

Yes, this character gets a bit more heroic late in the movie, saving Starlord from a flying dinosaur (um, why have hundreds of flying dinosaurs for display?  The park only needed a few since the dinosaurs are not butterflies).  Her big moment of unleashing the T Rex to fight the GMO-saur is undermined a bit as she has to spend much of the next scene lying on the ground with her legs/skirt all sexy-like.

Max Max Fury Road this movie is not.  It could have been worse, but it could have been better.  We needed Ellie (Laura Dern) of JP 1 or Julianne Moore's character in the second movie.  Instead, we got some significant regression. 

The movie, otherwise, was entertaining even if its primary plot engine was "stupid people."  As in:
  • designing a dinosaur that combined all kinds of features especially self-camoflauge and raptor;
  • defence contractors investing in dinosaurs as controllable UAV's;
  • the dude who opened up the paddock to save himself as the expense of the park;
  • the CEO who was lousy both at flying his helo and at overseeing his company (holy principal-agent problem);
  • not sending people indoors at the moment the fragile birdcage was broken, if not before;
  • a ride at a dinosaur park where the teens can direct the globes;
  • etc.

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