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Review :: Gender
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo: Alternative Movie Review
by Guary Guy
01 Feb 2012
Predictable lamestream media reviewers had little to say about how The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is rife with current political, sociological, technological and religious implications. The movie is about a 24-year-old, gothic-punk-looking, cyberspace hacker, with an issue with men who have histories or sexual or violent predation. She is on a mission to right the world of a few rapists and killers. This is not a standard movie review. Plenty reviews already exist on the Internet for you to get the gist of the story and its characters. This critique is strictly in regards to the movie and is more about interesting political and social commentary in relation to the movie and some of its reviews.
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo: Alternative Movie Review
By Gary Guy
Predictable mainstream, lamestream media reviewers had little to say about how The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is rife with current political, sociological, technological and religious implications. So naturally they mostly wrote about it as if it were merely some obscure piece of fiction, and the interpreting of Stieg Larsson’s book to film as artistic vision.
But we should note that this fiction—which at least a few reviewers were ready to label “pulp” fiction, and at least one reviewer, not of the mainstream, called a stupid story (see the Devin Faraci’s film review at Bad Ass Digest—we still might be advised to consider the novel writer, Stieg Larsson, was supposedly a leading expert on fascism in Europe. It seems fair then to wonder precisely what Mr. Larsson’s professional role was to espouse as such an expert, and to see if the movie itself ironically promotes any kind of fascism—even while it might be purporting to reveal it.
[Note: This is not a standard movie review. Plenty reviews already exist on the Internet for you to get the gist of the story and its characters. (A. O. Scott’s review Tattooed Heroine Metes Out Slick, Punitive Violence from the New York Times is one place to start—as there is room for commentary in this essay on the NYT.) This critique is strictly in regards to the movie (not the novel) and is more about political and social commentary in relation to the movie and some of its reviews. For example, Scott’s comments:
“Dysfunction would be a step up for the Vanger clan, who live on a secluded island and whose family tree includes Nazis, rapists, alcoholics, murderers and also, just to prevent you from getting the wrong impression, Stellan Skarsgard, the very epitome of Nordic nastiness.”
Sometimes movies and their sources of critique deserve more serious commentary than what mainstream reviews care to explore.]
After reading several online reviews, you learn many things. One, some reviewers questioned whether it was necessary to make another version of this movie since a Swedish version had already been done. Equally the original novel was in Swedish—as was the original setting. But it seems there was too much money to be made to not have had a Hollywood version done since Americans don’t like to read subtitles and pretty much need everything in English (See Marshall Fine at w.hollywoodandfine.com).
The movie is about a 24-year-old, gothic-punk-looking, cyberspace hacker, with an issue with men who have histories or sexual or violent predation. She is on a mission to right the world of a few rapists and killers. Her name is Lisbeth Salander (played by Rooney Mara). A. O. Smith of the NYT writes:
“Tiny as a sparrow, fierce as an eagle, Lisbeth Salander is one of the great Scandinavian avengers of our time, an angry bird catapulting into the fortresses of power and wiping smiles off the faces of smug, predatory pigs.” And “… an outlaw feminist fantasy-heroine, and also an avatar of digital antiauthoritarianism.”
Plus: “ … Her appeal arises from a combination of vulnerability and ruthless competence. Lisbeth can hack any machine, crack any code and, when necessary, mete out righteous punitive violence, but she is also (to an extent fully revealed in subsequent episodes) a lost and abused child.”
So without going into more detail of the movie or what some other writers have said we can be pretty sure this movie is about Lisbeth as a character, and a phenomenon, and as an action figure. And yet this American version, at least according to Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times review, says movie director David Fincher “…betrays a misunderstanding of what's at the heart of the phenomenal international success of the Millennium trilogy books, which clock in at 65 million copies and counting.” He begins Tattoo “…loses what made the books and Swedish films so successful — Lisbeth Salander's humanity.” He goes on to say: “…what's on offer is a bleak and savage story of crime and punishment that features generous portions of sadistic rape, twisted torture and murders that can charitably be called grotesque”
and “…this film's cold, almost robotic conception of Salander as a twitchy, anorexic waif feels more like a stunt than a complete character.”
In fact she reminds you of one of those homeless runaways who beg for money in the city street and when receiving some demonstrates no appreciation such as a Thank You—rather a kind of cold, “you sucker” defiance ensues to burn the hand that feeds. But it is not surprising such a so-called “proletariat”, had she been social organizer, for say, Occupy Wall Street against the bourgeoisie ownership class of the 1%, she might at least been dealing with the kinds of financial industries highly threatening to the world’s economies and populations, rather than the seduction of chasing after criminal psychopaths so often profiled on TV.
Nadia Khomami wrote: “… the new adaptation of the first book of Stieg Larsson’s popular trilogy, was not what American movie-goers chose to watch at the cinema over the Christmas weekend.” “…The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which cost approximately $90 million to make, came in fourth behind Mission: Impossible, Sherlock Holmes…” “…It is thought that a combination of the Christmas release date and adult content, including an extremely graphic depiction of rape, could have been a factor in the film's underwhelming box office showing.” You mean sensational crime pays?
Plenty of reviewers liked the movie and thought it better than the Swedish version or at least comparable. Overall the movie is described as worthy and exciting (I personally agree it worthy and exciting as I write this social commentary).
Nevertheless there is a fairly wide array of opinions on the particulars.
But there are some things “not” being said by reviewers that perhaps should be said.
There first thing that should be mentioned is that not only is Ms. Salander an “outlaw feminist fantasy-heroine” she is also blatantly criminal in the fact that she recognizes no rules of privacy—everything is hackable if she feels justified. She makes Murdock’s’ newspaper staffs in England seem like amateurs as they hack into various people’s cell phones. (Hardly any movie reviewer made this an issue—why?) Why is it OK for her as a private eye to defy the law? (Later in the movie she will initiate a sexual affair with her boss because she has found out things on him and her “privileged” information gave her the supposed right to exploit such an opportunity—even while in the same movie we see a state bureaucrat abuse her because he assumes the privilege of private information on her (buy hey no sexist double standard here)).
Actually the answer to why reviewers did not challenge her actions of breaking into private databases is not at all that hard to figure out if you think about it. After all we are dealing with terrorists. In this case the terrorists are men as criminals, Nazi sympathizers, sexual predators and serial killers? So why would anyone even dare question putting any kind of restraints on the idea of a young “feminist” (as some have called her) on a mission against such obvious evil? It is not like fascist states would ever consider having such constraints—would they—that is when they want to spy on individuals?
Doesn’t the Executive Branch of Government need more and more freedom to do more and more behind the scenes of transparency, and spy on more and more people, and now have the right to torture and lock up people indefinitely in military prisons? Doesn’t ultimate evil of such ever expanding terror require unfettered freedom to do however it takes—that is for those who where the “white” hats of pure goodness. And isn’t almost always the case that whatever women and feminist victimology complain it is obviously true they need more power to deal against the odds?
Don’t we just know that men in general, on the mere fact that they are male, require suspicion, and that most are really not worth knowing as human beings—but rather readily to be considered pigs and unworthy of sympathy women should have to associate? It is no wonder that Ms. Anti-social “Lizard-Breathe” didn’t get too much criticized on her snob-jerk-attitudes such as not “deigning” to returns social exchanges. (After all if she just as soon violate anyone’s right of privacy she obviously has little respect for people—and likely not a great deal of true respect for self.)
And it is no wonder that the mainstream media didn’t have much to say about her general “misandry” (hatred and fear of men). We all know the word “misogyny” but few people ever hear the other side of the coin? But now it is fashionable to be a man-hater. Some people say just be pragmatic—you just never know—so better not trust too much—better to stay distant.
We live in a society, here in the United States, that currently has the highest prisoner populations in the world (by far mostly male). We have newspaper people who make their livelihoods out of capitalizing on the fear of crime and criminals (not to mention police and federal agencies wanting more tax money and resources to fight more crime) all claiming to not have enough to deter the terrorism of crime. In the news business what bleeds leads more and more on the front pages of yellow journalist Murdock papers.
Plus we have more and more television shows that are about crime, investigation, prosecution, and criminal profiling. This too is one form of fascism—the very idea that it is necessary to constantly worry about crime, and that one should not trust strangers, and one should especially not trust men, whereas one can trust formal authority figures and private investigators—who may in fact may be part of the problem.
The fact is that this movie, based on a novel, exists in a social context. In the last decades people have been conditioned to too often think of women as victims and men as victimizers. This is sociological fact. The idea it is perfectly fine a private security company who hires Ms. Lizard Breathe Salamander can hack into anyone’s privacy is nothing but a reflection that women especially, as well as employers, are actively encouraged to have “background” checks on all men that they are to be involved. It is part of an ever growing corporatist state of private companies getting tax revenue dollars to spy on Americans and to read people’s emails, etc.
Also one is admonished information found on the Internet is not safe, and that the originators could be criminal, and especially men who are trying to hook up with women for one reason or another. You can’t trust those “lurking” behind the anonymity of of a computer screen. Notice how much TV news “always” focuses on crime and violation—even if the actual number of criminals that they focus is a miniscule number statistically. Still by the very fact you are subject to such reports every day tends to exaggerate in the impressionable mentality the amount of fear you are expected to have. Don’t trust strangers, especially means don’t trust male strangers.
Or at least don’t trust male strangers that don’t measure up to your female needs. That is to say that if a male makes enough money, you know drives a nice car and wines and dines at expensive joints well then you can drop your guard a little bit—but just remember after reviewing all the “profiling” by detectives on Law and Order you just know there are “many” cases out there—so you can never take men at face value—you can pretty much suspect there are defects of character and skeletons in the closet if the suspicious mind works long and hard enough. Eventually their secrets will come out. Just keep looking for clues—and don’t get too friendly—you know like if someone you don’t know says “Hi” don’t say anything back.
So Ms. Computer Whiz researcher (Hollywood Reporter) gets pretty much a free ride on her supposed right to spy on men. And spy agency, sociologically, is exactly what Salander really represents. Tap into what someone is doing on their computer? No problem. The technology exists. Did up the dirt on all aspects of someone—just business as usual. Need to fight and protect the self—she’s a vicious animal. Need a fake passport cobbled together with a spiffy, new, Barbydoll look—well she has the professional style. Need to launder some money from the big boys in the banking industry—why she has the brains, experience, and talent. Hell yah. She can look at information once and memorize it. She can find the necessary information in a big corporate library in a mere few hours. She is a one person Spy Central and it’s all good—because she is after the bad guys—you know those torturing bastards that kill their victims.
Going back A.O. Scott of the New York Times: “She is a marvelous pop-culture character, stranger and more complex than the average superhero and more intriguing than the usual boy wizards and vampire brides.” Referring to both Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) her partner crime fighter:
“… swim in a sea of rottenness. They are not quite the only decent people in the country, but their enemies are so numerous, so powerful and so deeply entrenched that the odds of defeating them seem overwhelming.”
And here is Scott’s kicker as ironic as it so very much is:
“The Vangers are monstrous, with a few exceptions, but far from anomalous. The gruesome pattern of criminality that Lisbeth and Mikael uncover is a manifestation of general evil that spreads throughout the upper echelons of the nation’s economy and government.”
[Note that the Vangers are more or less a blonde, Swedish wealthy family who supposedly created an industrial empire during and after world war two and it has Nazi sympathizers. Or as one review in the Observer by Philip French put it:
“And of course Larsson's novels, which are partly inspired by the rich, secretive Swedish dynasties that made a suave accommodation with the Social Democrats and the trade unions, exploited the nation's neutrality during the second world war and have cupboards stacked with skeletons. This is essential to the film's dramatic fibre and political tensions and is embodied in Blomkvist and Salander.”
So in essence this is another example of movies about Nazis somehow insinuating “Nordic nastiness” is behind all this evil of like that of Hitler (Scott’s phrase). This is way we have “another” film industry example of depicting “blonde” people, especially blonde men, as somehow more subject to espouse fascist and anti-Semitic politics.
Nevertheless when a recent release of the documentary “Nuremberg: It’s Lessons for Today” by Sonia Schulberg came out recently, and if you were paying attention almost “all” the top Nazis in the trial were brunette and yet anti-Nazi propaganda—especially here in the United States is still trying to especially blame blonde Nordics as especially racist people—including the movie industry.
This kind of red herring psychology takes the picture off the idea of a more general fascist psychology is possible in “all” races of people—including Americans and Israelis.
And naturally while the film industry continues to make films about the atrocities of Nazis it can continue to bolster the psychological blackmail regarding politics in the Middle East today. Because how dare anyone suggest that either U.S. or Israeli politics be in anyway racist, or criminal, or fascist—or involved directly or indirectly in torture? The game of making more and more movies about Nazis today, especially of insinuating Northern European or Christianity guilt creates an atmosphere which creates guilt-trip so most Anglo-Saxons don’t dare challenge Neocon criminals in power in the Washington D.C. or AIPAC’s stranglehold of power over our political system and our politicians.
It’s not like there was no negation of our own political freedoms via terrorist tactics of exaggerating threat like they did in Germany with Reichstag building put to fire (false flag operation) in order to get rid of representational government? The point is we are not invited to see any connections between Germany’s Third Reich and the United States today.
But better to be sidetracked into investigation of “juicy” evil supposedly resides for a leading industrial family in Sweden, and as A.O. Scott of NYT put it:
“Dysfunction … whose family tree includes Nazis, rapists, alcoholics, murderers and … Stellan Skarsgard, the very epitome of Nordic nastiness.”
Surely a New Yorker like Scott would imagine all the corporate and financial corruption on Wall Street equal to the supposed deliberate and highly calculating kind of evil we are too find in this movie? Funny he didn’t mention devil worshiping included? But then when we review the definition of anti-Semitism we find such ideas as Jews as debased moral character having innate character of degeneracy. (But hey no reverse racism here to find so much moral degeneracy in one Swedish dynasty—at least not when there were so many “loose” decisions made on Wall Street about lending practices and highly leveraged operations.)
It seems one method of creating a fear-based community is to highlight the amount of violent crime there is (such as plastering gory murder stories on the front pages of newspapers—especially when the victims are vulnerable women or children and especially when from nice, suburban, bourgeois neighborhoods to arouse neighborly fear, so as to reinforce policies of keeping prisoners in prison indefinitely, and to be tough on crime for politicians, and to honor our police and investigation services, and to be proud of military personnel. Seldom is there much outrage mustered for white-collar criminals who are merely writing bad mortgages, or creating worthless financial investments no one really understands (not as much emotional juice there—even if it can be just as devastating?).
If some woman, parents, and community leaders had their way “all” men would have public files on them with every allegation ever made against them. Nothing would be erased: nothing forgotten or forgiven.
So instead of appealing to a young woman with investigative skills, computer skills, and reading skills, etc., to solve difficult crime like the way the mainstream media and the major political parties and their many subsidiary beneficiaries, such as just one example, they are stealing the Republican nomination from Ron Paul in primaries like Iowa and South Carolina (of course it’s just a conspiracy theory! and the less-than-curious don’t really do their own research on everything conveniently labeled a conspiracy theory for fear they might realize things they would rather not) they use the common fear tactic of rape and murder to arouse indignation against the evil scapegoats newspapers more likely print to sell their product.
It’s not like alienated punk-star couldn’t be using some personal time reading the likes of Nouriel Roubini’s “Crisis Economics: A Crash Course in the Future of Finance—that is if she really does having something like an idetic memory. (By the way Ms. Hot Shot researcher you need to look up strange words if you really want to be on the top of your game. Most trained corporate librarians could not just go into a corporation’s library or file department and ferret out precise and obscure information in a matter of a few hours).
Another refrain often used to explain anti-Semitism is the idea that Jews killed Jesus Christ and therefore Christians hold this resentment against Jews and Judaism. This may be true. There has been some good documentation and theory that even shows such anti-Semitism in the New Testament. So we can accept the idea of differences between Jews and Christians as causing friction and anti-Semitism, which seems plausible and is historically true. (Even if it is equally true that there is little scripture that suggests that Jesus was much concerned with the Roman Occupation and fomenting rebellion which is a theory of why Romans killed him—that is if you believe in his forced death.)
But maybe there is a deeper issue than who supposedly killed Jesus (and of course there is plenty of controversy about whether he actually lived or was crucified). Maybe the real issue is one of the terrorism built in the Bible itself? Maybe people just didn’t like the idea of a supposed just God holding this idea of Hell of Eternal Torture over their soul? Maybe they didn’t like the idea of a supposed just God expecting them to be saints and condemning their sexuality and animality? Maybe many Christians didn’t like the idea of some terrorist Satan evil spirit messing with their eternal destinies? Maybe it was too much terrorism to deal without expecting negative outcomes of sorts?
Maybe it is time for a closer look at the psychology of religion and especially the psychology of the authoritarian personalities that seemingly helped create the Old and New Testament? Funny how scant attention was given to the Biblical versus in this Girl Tattoo movie?? Why?
Here we had Jewish woman with Jewish names murdered in ways one would think evil. Certainly this merits some kind of consideration? Why the Security State-like redactions? What are we hiding by not seeing certain Scriptural versus found in a book—a book claimed to be holy? Maybe it is time to reread John Shelby Spong’s The Sins of Scripture: Exposing the Bible’s Texts of Hate to Reveal the God of Love?
And we are all pretty much familiar with the recent murders by Anders Behring Breivik 76 people and his war against Islamization and multiculturalism. Probably there are neo-fascist and neo-Nazi cults in Europe and here in the United States. One can easily find small samples statistically to insinuate a large prejudice such as Scott’s statement:
“… They are not quite the only decent people in the country, but their enemies are so numerous”, which insinuates most Swedish people are less than decent? But of course that Nordic nastiness doesn’t really refer to Uma Thurman’s role as Poison Ivy in her campy, over-the-top, sex-lioness in the Batman and Robin movie.
Liberals informed us that Anders Breivik was “informed” by fascist websites stationed here in the United States. But the truth is highly regarded news papers like the New York Times had people like Thomas Friedman immediately after 9-11 labeling Muslims as evil enemies of the United States and calling for a 100 years war against the evil empire of Islamism. Equally their David Sanger is feeding us misinformation about Iran’s weapons of mass destruction, just as was Judith Miller and Company about Saddam’s nuclear weapons.
So now the AIPAC/ Neocon coalition has a new war for our American economy—Iran. But of course none of this disinformation has anything to do with fascism here in the United States.
Israel continues its psychological game of war terrorism with the people of the United States and the world by threatening war with Iran we must keep in mind three things that likely give the like of Netanyahu the jitters:
1. Jonathan Kirsch wrote a book called Moses: A Life that clearly showed the Moses story and the Exodus out of Egypt was a fable. More importantly it showed Judaism is based on a less than ethical set of principles—namely war, scapegoating, and propaganda of creating a religion of spiritual principles out of war psychology.
2. Shlomo Sand recently wrote The Invention of the Jewish People. This book shows us that most people who are of Jewish ancestry today are “not” related to the Hebrew people of the Old Testament, and more importantly he argues that Zionism is based on a belief in the religion of the ancient Hebrews—that is to say the idea of atheist Zionist is a contradiction in terms. Either you believe in religion being the leadership of the State or you don’t—you can’t have it both ways.
3. John Shelby Spong, even if in self-delusion honors this religious basis itself, questions the morality of the Bible in his book The Sins of Scripture —while still is willing to retain the garments of Judeo-Christianity, still questions the very moral values of the Bible—which he rightly should question.
These books place the legitimacy of authoritarian religions and authoritarian governments on less thread. It is not that Israel has a real existential threat—rather it is Zionism that does—the fact of trying to be a Theocracy in an age of history that is trying to move on.
Dear Miss Dragon Tattoo:
Hollywood, like history, plays with vulnerable people.
Androgynous people are often more interesting.
I’m sorry if you have been victimized—seriously. But it doesn’t give you a blank check to violate the law. To be born is to be victimized somewhere along the line. In fact they ought to make a law that it is a crime to bring children into this hellhole of the Insanity of Humanity.
Monsters will always exist. But too often people cower from being ordinary heroes like raising issues of concern and not being so willing to conform to authority.
It’s too bad you didn’t find a good therapist—often you have to become your own. I don’t know if they have books on Ethics for Investigators but they do for journalists—maybe you might read one—so that you can investigation the mainstream media.
By the way Ms. Rooney you do have a nice ass. But if a male boss ever just decided to get naked with a female employee he could easily be hit with a billion dollar lawsuit. You know that “sexism” label. It’s not like middle-aged men, including white men, can just get uninhibited—excuses of Aspersers autism aren’t going to fly too far. After all what could be more evil, as far as male humanity having a sexual fantasy and even have culmination?
You are still young. But be afraid of people who dress like normal people—because there is a difference between fashion and fact. Some rebels have to work within.
The dragon as symbol is one of power and should not be handled lightly—irrespective of who so claims its omen.
This work is in the public domain
Way off the mark.
(No verified email address)
05 Feb 2012
Really, I don't agree with your review. The author witnessed a rape when he was younger and felt a great deal of guilt about not stopping it. This was the force that propelled him to write the series. Lizabeth is based on Pippi Longstockings. Larson modeled Lizabeth on what he thought Pippi Longstockings would be like as an adult.
The American film is no where as good as the Swedish film. The American film filled in some parts with information we find out only later in the second and third books (in order to simplify it for American minds). Also, in the book, Lizabeth has an opportunity to save the murderer when his end comes and decides to let him die. You don't see that in the American film.
As for the issue of the law, if you read the book you will see that it is clear that Lizabeth has been f*cked over by the law her whole life. She rejects the law. She is, in reality, an anarchist. Of course, as an anarchist, she will not follow the law when it gets in her way.
It is also clear that Lizabeth has Aspergers. That defines much of personality and it is why she seems unable to empathize with others.
Your review missed all of this.