Ron Rosenbaum is going to upset some people. In fact, he already has. The bulk of Sean’s reply to Rosenbaum focuses on Rosenbaum’s perceived anti-white-male prejudice, and Jon Hastings has already pointed out the flaws in Sean’s invocation of race. And Sean has acknowledged the flaws and further claimed that his argument is really mostly against Rosenbaum’s “anti-male, anti-fanboy” prejudice. Which, first of all, being anti-fanboy isn’t the same thing at all as being anti-male, so let’s not obfuscate things. And as for being anti-fanboy—Rosenbaum is that, indeed. Is Rosenbaum talking crazy talk?
Now, most of you reading this blog probably have had some exposure to geek subculture; I’m sure you know what a fanboy is. And you know that there are—um, girl fanboys too, which is a problem for the gender-specificity of the term. Or is it? In the egalitarian twenty-first century, we can all be nerdy ????ber-fans, but who dominates? From where I’m looking, it’s guys, guys, guys. Sean specifically cites Elizabeth Avellan as a producer of Sin City—one of eight, and producers don’t really have creative input in modern filmmaking anyway. He also cites Uma Thurman’s collaboration with Quentin Tarantino on Kill Bill, which I don’t know much about. But that some women have creative roles in these movies doesn’t have a lot of weight against Rosenbaum’s argument, especially because, N.B., how many women direct these fanboy movies? (By the way, Jon makes the good point that Sin City is not referential in the same way Kill Bill is, but I think that’s only a minor flaw in Rosenbaum’s argument. Rosenbaum also mentions Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, and I’m inclined to think these movies use different means to reach similar ends.) I don’t know of any. Are there any? But even if there are, let’s face it, the dominant creative source, and the dominant audience destination, of fanboy movies is guys. They’re called fanboys for a reason, after all—it’s silly to claim women aren’t involved in this stuff (not that Rosenbaum actually claimed any such thing, that I see), but it’s equally silly to claim that the stereotypical association of fanboy stuff—manly violence, phallic symbols (swords!), pseudo-feminist “tough-guy women” characters, &c.—with guys is entirely false.
I haven’t seen Sin City and I’m not sure I will, so I don’t really know about that. But Kill Bill is, in its every aspect, fanboyism turned into an aesthetic. Deep morality? Oh ho. Maybe more on this later, or maybe you all have figured out what I think of Kill Bill by now, since I’ve written about it so much. For now, I might as well link back to “Remix Aesthetic in Moulin Rouge and Kill Bill.” Also, consider: a movie which portentously bleeps out the main character’s name, solely to set up two of the dumbest name-based puns in history, is the very definition of deliberately pretentiously stupid.