Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Calling Jodie Foster Out Over Sin City Slam

For the past few days, there have been little snippet stories appearing all over the entertainment news wires about Jodie Foster criticizing Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller's joint work on Sin City, and I decided to look into this issue a little deeper because I sensed that something wasn't exactly right with how it was being presented.

I sought out the original USA Today article so that I wouldn't misquote her or take what she said out of context. And the context is so very important in this case.

Here is the quote in question: "[Sin City] was so painfully cartoonish I was offended. I don't know how you enjoy or laugh about a child abduction and molestation. What part of that sentence is funny? I can't get beyond that. I don't know if everyone understands the impact of a movie's message."

OK, I have to say it. We all know that Sin City was based on a graphic novel and the book was basically storyboards for the movie... which means that yes, it would be as Ms. Foster so eloquently put it "cartoonish". Utterly shocking, isn't it?

But here is my objection to that statement. She didn't finish watching the movie, and that segment in particular, and because of that it seems like we watched two different movies.

At no point did I laugh about child abduction. I mean, really, does Jodie Foster think the "That Yellow Bastard" chapter of the movie was supposed to be a comedy? I don't know how she got that idea. In fact, within a few minutes of being introduced to the characters involved in that storyline, the hero castrates a child rapist/murderer with his bare hands! Does that sound like the kind of story that is in anyway supporting or condoning the action of child molesters or abductors? To me, it certainly doesn't. That segment of the movie/story was about the bravery of an honest cop in a corrupt system who devoted his life and gave up everything to protect a single child from harm. Is that not noble? Is that not a good message, a positive message?

I certainly think so. To me, that segment is the complete antithesis of what Foster says it is.

Now the interesting point of all this is the context for that above statement. It was an interview about Jodie Foster's exploration of the dark side of humanity through her work and her fascination with crime; in the sidebar of which, there was a list of the selected movies from her filmography related to the subject. The list included her playing a child prostitute (Taxi Driver), a rape victim (The Accused), and an FBI agent hunting down a brutal serial killer with the help of another serial killer (Silence of the Lambs)... while also discussing her new movie, The Brave One, in which she plays a vigilante killer. And about that movie she states that "It's a sophisticated film, and I know that not everyone who is going to see it is going to be sophisticated."

So let me get this straight. When you make a movie like that, Jodie, it is OK because it is an artistic decision on your part, but somehow when another artist does that, it is not OK. Right.

I'm not saying that she has to like Sin City... but come on, at least be consistent. If I said that I didn't like or finish Taxi Driver, and I don't see how anyone else could enjoy it because it glorifies child prostitution, we'll, I wouldn't be too sophisticated, now would I? And would I not be missing "the message" of the movie if I took that premise at face value, because that seems to be exactly what she has done with Sin City.


SamuraiFrog said...

I'm right there with you on Jodie Foster and on Sin City. And personally, I've always felt that the graphic aspects of The Accused were more exploitative than gritty. I've never respected her work, and especially not when she talks about her movies as somehow being better/more exploratory/more important than anyone else's.

The Brave One is sophisticated? Thanks, I've seen Death Wish before. It was somewhat original the first time; Jodie's career these days is made for Lifetime. She thinks she's making statements, when she's really exploiting the woman-in-peril routine, which I think preys a lot on fear.

I Sort Glass said...

She's rather ignorant.

MC said...

I Sort Glass: I thought she was a little condescending myself.

SF: I think the interview casts her in a very bad light. I don't fault her acting or some of the film choices she makes, however, I think she should perhaps approach the work of her contemporaries with a little more respect.

SamuraiFrog said...

You know what just occurred to me, too? She was one of the people who was out there defending homophobic anti-Semite Mel Gibson. Well done, sugar tits.

MC said...

I wonder if afterwards she thought that decision was lamentable?

Dalif said...

Why are these cases always blown out of proportions.

I dunno what the hell Foster is on, but this comment illustrates how there mere mention of child molestation is enough to throw some people into a hissy fit. I had always considered Foster a pretty intelligent person. She seems like one. So now I'm wondering why she decided to close her mind off. And don't give me that crap about "you don't understand because you're not a parent". That's getting older by the second, people.

rutland said...

She is wrong about Sin City, but she was right about supporting Mel Gibson as a colleague. It is a matter of degrees. A lot of people slip into hysteria which some people fell into over the Gibson mess, and a lot suffer from geek ennui which the original post reeks of on the Foster quote. On Sin City, Jodie is just a movie-goer. Had Brave One been made Sin City style it might not itself turn so many people off with its rooting interest.

Anonymous said...

I would hardly call Sin City a work of art. What meaning can possibly be gleaned from such a boring, trite, and pornographically violent movie. Taxi Driver is a work of art. Sin City panders to younger audiences insatiable need for chic violence and pointless mayhem. Taxi Driver explores urban alienation, racism, fascism, mental ilness, and the lone assassin character that is so uniquely American. The makers of Sin City want audiences to enjoy watching a man's testicles being ripped from his body and then pulverized further. Taxi Driver explores and comments on people's fascination with and need to commit violent acts. Sin City uses violence to get people off. There is no satiric or insightful commentary in Sin City. We are just supposed to like how it looks and cheer the characters on when they maim and kill each other. Sin City is a movie tailor-made for sadomasochistic douchbags.

Jeroen said...

I agree with the poster...

But the last comment before me labelling sin city as 'a movie tailor-made for sadomasochistic douchbags', and hardly a work of art, I have to disagree with. SC is visually stunning and can also be seen as a satire on the kind of social spheres. Don't forget, movies like taxi driver and OUATITW were in their days also regarded as pointless and violent, now they're called classics (which of course they are).

Anonymous said...

Sin City was a bad movie anyway, whateves..

ChrisW said...

She's not "ignorant", it's merely her opinion and she's entitled to it, no matter how much you may disagree with her.

She's just refelecting the hypocritical Hollywood culture she was raised in. Some examples, she wants to be able allowed to play strong killer woman types in a format that is artistic in her view since her view is more correct than that of a graphic novel adaptation.

Another example of her exercise in hypocrisy, taken from her interviews, apparently she doesn't want anyone to own a gun...except her bodyguards, of course.

Don't get your panties in an uproar over what Jodie says, it's just her opinion. Just because her opinion was published in some rag makes it no more or less valid than anyone elses.

Anonymous said...

man i agree with this entire article, like i know it is her opinion and all that, and despite what one thinks of sin city as a film or whatever, but did she watch the movie? she really missed the point with this comment.

Anonymous said...

The castration isn't at the beginning.
Though you're close. He shoots his hand, then his nuts (blam, blam!).
It's in the final act of the film where the hands-on technique is employed.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you, when I first read what Jodie said I thought "what sick person can even think that the child molestation in that movie was supposed to be funny"

Steffen said...

Hi ChrisW,

Yes, she's entitled to her opinion (eventhough it's stupid) but you really can't blame anyone for critizising her demonstrable ignorance in this case.

Why didn't she simply state I don't like movies that look cartoonish? Examine the quote and you will find that she insinunates that the filmmakers have such poor skills that the movie came out looking cartoonish by mistake. Do you see what I mean?

And as for the message of the movie... in most if not all cases there is room for interpretation but her interpretation is the polar opposite of 99,9% of the audience (that have actually seen the entire movie). The moral indignation is simply misplaced. As a fellow poster on this page it is the mere word, "Child-abduction", that sends her spiralling into a selfinduced frenzy.

Tim said...

Yeah, that may be her opinion, but she definitely didn't defend it well. As stated before she was in just as many explicit movies with effed up stuff like that. We all know that Sin City wasn't supposed to be funny, well, at least in that molestation part. I wonder what she thinks of Running Scared then!

Jesse said...

Bravo! I felt the same way when I read that interview. My only thought is that maybe she thinks cartoons are supposed to be funny, there for since Sin City was "cartoonish" it was supposed to be be funny. It don't think it was funny, and I don't think the directors had any intent to portray child abduction or molestation in a positive or humorus light.

Also, Foster was in Flightplan, which if I remember correctly was about child abduction. And it was totally predictable from the preview.

Anonymous said...

"Cartoonish" here applies not only to the look of the film (which is obviously cartoonish), but also to the relationship of the images to reality. Her point is not that the film is bad because it looks like a cartoon (that's a pretty stupid point) but that the film is filled with cliches, stereotypes, exagerations and unrealistic portrayals - it is cartoonish. Combined with the sadism that infects the entire film - both the "good guys" and the "bad guys" are sadistic and cruel - the cartoonishness makes it impossible for the film to make a valid moral point. Because it is not realistic, it cannot talk about he world.

Now Jodie Foster obviously believes that films should be about Morality, and from that perspective, she is undoubtably right that Sin City is either immoral, or perhaps just ammoral. Either way, the cartoonishnees of the film prevents it from making any valid points about reality, morality or the world at large. In terms of commentary on the world, Sin City is a very weak film. In terms of being cool, nihilistic and visually stunning, it profoundly successful.

Anonymous said...

not only do i completely disagree with everything that jodie foster said, i also find it absurd that shes commenting on a movie that came out at least two years ago...she kind of reminds me of that kid who also talks about a conversation that took place more than five minutes ago. and finally, flightplan?

David said...

Interestingly enough, I am getting the impression that Ms Foster is clinging to the old cliche, that if its a cartoon it has to be funny, or family friendly. When you read the article from that point of view her comments make sense and she doesnt come across as contradictive to her own career. However, even so, this makes me even more irritated. If she actually sees "cartoons" in that fashion, then she is giving a non informed blanket statement on a medium she doesnt show interest in. Even worse, Sin City is not a "cartoon". Its something unique in its own vision.

Andrew said...

I agree with the writer of this article. Foster is being self-important, judgemental and, yes ChrisW, very ignorant. Saying a movie makes child molestation into a joke without actually watching the movie is very ignorant. Sin City is a movie that has humor in it and child molestation in it, but the humor was never derrived from harm inflicted on a child. The whole pint of Bruce Willis's character is that he went to jail for 9 years to prevent a child molester from finding an innocent victim. There was no humor in that, his character was beaten brutally and imprisoned unjustly to save little Nancy.

Similarly, Taxi Driver is a movie that has humor and child prostitution but nobody argues that they made a comedy about the child sex trade. Why is Jodie arguing this now?

Anonymous said...

i think the point she was trying to make is that a scene about child molestation strains the concept of "entertainment". the idea of any hypocricy on her part in light of her past roles is merely splitting hairs. she made a statement about her personal choices in the things she wants to watch. regardless of the arc of the particular story in sin city, depictions of child molestation make some people uncomfortable. i am one of them. same with violence toward women. i don't like to watch it and as a result i avoid movies like "the accused". some people find it a cathartic experience, i understand that. but i don't really need to see someone act like they're getting raped. i can imagine for myself. but it seems that the main point of this article is that if jodie had stuck around for the end of that story in sin city, she would have seen that child molestation wasn't glorified and the evil peopl in the story got what was coming to them. but that's beside the point. her point, i believe, is that child molestation as a subject in film isn't entertaining to her. who is anyone to fault another for their preferences? i don't think she called for censorship or made a decision for anyone else.

KR said...

I don't think anyone is faulting her for her preferences. Certainly she's entitled to them, but she's really not entitled to condemn the filmmakers of Sin City when she didn't even finish the movie. The quote is just weird to be honest. When I was reading the interview, everything up to that point made sense and then that quote brought it all to a crashing halt. It made me think she was having drinks or something and all of a sudden her martini kicked in.

Anonymous said...

I was baffled by this quote when I first read it too. She said she was OFFENDED that it was cartoonish. So a filmaker can tell this same story, make the same points, but don't you dare be stylized.

And she said, and I quote "I don't know how you enjoy or laugh about a child abduction and molestation. What part of that sentence is funny?" I don't know about you, but, to me, it is as clear as day; she isn't saying that she thinks child molestation or abduction shouldn't be used as plot devices in a movie, she SPECIFICALLY believes that this movie, in particular, was trying to make light of that subject, which it clearly was not. I honestly don't understand how she even got that from the movie.

She was clearly turned off by the style, and thats fine, to each their own, but to openly critizised the movie's intentions, when she got those intentions so boneheadedly wrong makes her look ignorant, period.

Anonymous said...

To the IDIOT who compared Sin City unfavorable to Taxi Driver, you DO realize that everything is relative right? You have an impressive vocabulary and are very articulate but one wonders about your reasoning capacity! Taxi Driver is likely less complex than Hamlet but does that make it trash?

next time, use that thing knocking around in the space b/w your ears!

Anonymous said...

MC said...

Dalif: I think she did decide to make a snap judgment about a movie she didn't finish and that's what I thought was wrong.

Rutland: I respect your opinion about the Foster/Gibson thing, though I do take some umbrage at being accused of being filled with geek ennui. I also disagree that her opinion was meant to be taken as that of a mere movie goer given the way the article was presented. Her personality as an artist was a big part of the piece, and that's what lent her opinion a different spin than it otherwise would have had.

Anonymous: Just because you can't see the meaning, doesn't mean it isn't there.

Jeroen: You make a very good point about having some perspective before judging the legacy of a movie, and I know that the work of Sergio Leone was originally not held in the highest regard like he is now.

Chrisw: Again, it is the fact that she is being framed in a way that is meant to convey that her opinion is authoritative that led to my response.

MC said...

Anonymous 3-5: Thank you. And #4, thanks for the correction... it has been a while since I saw the movie, and upon watching it again, I see my error.

Steffan: Yes, you got exactly what my problem was with her statements. I know she is entitled to her opinions, but when she states that she didn't finish the work that she is criticizing, it makes her look really bad.

Tim: Her body of work does indeed open Foster up to criticism when she takes the position she is.

Jesse: I agree that Frank Miller/RR didn't have humor in mind at all during that segment. That isn't to say that Sin City doesn't have a few lighter moments, but Hartigan's tale doesn't really have any.

Anonymous 6: There are a lot of movies which are patently unrealistic, but that doesn't mean that they lack a moral center or have anything to say about the world. You'd have to throw out the entire fantasy and science fiction genres from film with your interpretation, many of which are indeed considered classics both in an artistic and philosophical sense.

MC said...

Anonymous 7: I loved that shot at Flightplan.

David: I think it would have been interesting to hear her opinions on either 300 or one of the many Japanese animated movies for more mature audiences to see if your interpretation is indeed correct, because you may indeed be on to something.

Andrew: Pressure groups make the same kind of statements to school boards to get books removed from libraries and classrooms, and often times they have not read the material in question and her statements sort of reminded me of those kinds of folks.

Anonymous 8: But she didn't just say it wasn't her thing... she said it wasn't for her and she insulted people who did like the movie. That is a different matter entirely. You don't like movies that feature violence against women, but you didn't claim that people who watched movies with that content were bad people. Jodie Foster basically called people who enjoyed Sin City bad people.

KR: Exactly. It is not a consistent position.

Anonymous 9: I didn't pick up on that particular distinction, but I think you are right. She didn't say that she was against that subject matter in a movie... she was against it in this particular kind of movie. I wish I would have thought of this point earlier.

Anonymous 10: You also make a good point. Each work should be indeed evaluated by its own merits.

Anonymous 11: I tried to leave a comment, but I got a few errors. I will try again a little later.

Jonathan said...

I think we can all agree the violence in Sin City was glorified. I enjoyed the movie, but the blood and grotesque violence was romanticized. And she didn't like it. She's allowed to not like it, and it's unfair to call her ignorant for not enjoying the movie.

MC said...

No one is saying that she has to like the movie Jonathan. I am merely saying that she jumped to false conclusions without seeing the narrative to its conclusion.

Kali said...

Jonathan: The point isn't that the violence in Sin City was glorified, it's that the film didn't use molestation or child abduction as a punchline which Foster obviously couldn't pick up on. Which, by defintion, makes her ignorant on the issue.

MC said...

Part of me wonders at what point did she turn the movie off... because there were two stories which were totally unrelated to molestation and abduction between the introduction of Hartigan and Nancy Callahan and the concluding part of their narrative.

Sunmaker said...

Jodie Foster has once again proved herself as the arrogant, nasty, selfish person she so clearly is.
Sin City is a wonderful piece of work and is obviously NOT about presenting child molestation as entertainment. Any intelligent person can understand that for obvious reasons I needn't go into here (perhaps if Ms. Foster had bothered to finish the film she would've discovered this).

Seriously, who would read one-third of a book and think that they were qualified to pass judgment on its moral value?

Only a completely arrogant moron.

This latest ridiculous statement of Fosters recalls her refusal to once more portray Clarice Starling in 'Hannibal.' At the time she stated she could not be party to a film which so utterly 'betrayed the character of Clarice.'

Ego gone insane. Clarice Starling is the creation of one Thomas Harris - not Jodie Foster. To say that the author who created the character has 'betrayed' it is just unbelievably arrogant. Its like Ms Foster is saying she knows what's better for a child than their own parents do. (I honestly wouldn't be surprised to hear her say something like this soon if she hasn't already.)

You're a fine actor Ms. Foster, but for the love of God, keep your arrogant, idiotic mouth firmly shut. You may see yourself as an important self-appointed moral crusader but in reality, you're just embarassing yourself.

james said...

Great point Sunmaker - here here! I also vote for Jodie Foster to shut up. And maybe make a decent film for a change, instead of trying to tear down other decent films.

Anonymous said...

"I don't know how you enjoy or laugh about a child abduction and molestation"

Well I don't know about the molestation part, but I do remember myself and my girlfriend laughing our asses off at the last half hour of "Flight Plan".

I guess we weren't sophisticated enough for it!

A more sophisticated audience would have thought the Muslim guy handing her bag back at the end wasn't total cheese and the shot of her walking out of the smoke with her daughter in her arms was high art.

MC said...

Sunmaker: I thought she didn't do Hannibal because she didn't do sequels period. Interesting factoid.

James: Well, I liked her in Inside Man... of course, she wasn't the star of that movie.

Anonymous: Yeah, I didn't think it was wise for her to discuss the potential audience for her film in such terms.

KirstenDaly said...

Actually Sunmaker is right, Jodie Foster was attached to do Hannibal until she read the script and decided that 'Clarice had been betrayed.'

So I guess she broke her 'no sequels' rule on that one, she and Demme were both attached as well as Hopkins until she got the script and backed out.