Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) is a follow-up to 2016's Suicide Squad that focuses on Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn, and this time she's joined by an all-star gang of strong, unapologetic women heroes. Sounds kind of great, right?
Well, there's at least one dude (and probably more) who are upset because they don't perceive the movie as having enough "sex appeal." Now, keep in mind, we've seen trailers, but the movie isn't even out yet. At the time this guy tweeted his distaste, there are still about three weeks until the movie hits theaters, so we have precisely no idea whatsoever if the movie will be successful or not. Reviews aren't even out yet. Still, this guy has thoughts, and he wasn't afraid to share them.
Matthew Kadish describes himself on his YouTube channel as "Author. Evil Genius. Hot Buttered Biscuit with a Side of Sexy Gravy." Just so you get a better picture of the kind of guy we're dealing with here. Matthew believes Birds of Prey will bomb at the box office because filmmakers took away the "sex appeal" of the characters and focused instead on "girl power."
To Matthew, I say, "Boo hoo." First of all, he has no idea if the movie's not going to do well. It doesn't come out for several weeks! Second of all, it just didn't even occur to him that movies are made for all sorts of reasons having nothing to do with appealing to the male gaze. Don't worry; the rest of the internet was there to set him straight.
In a follow-up tweet, he writes, "Like, even women want to see attractive women on screen. Cosplayers want hot characters to emulate. None of the #BirdsofPrey characters have any sex appeal. They even toned down Harley Quinn to make her less sexy, despite that being her biggest draw in #SuicideSquad."
Matthew's really showing his hand here. I can't think of anything more subjective than "sex appeal." The fact that he doesn't find the characters in Birds of Prey sexy says more about him than it does anyone else.
The movie wasn't made for bald, gross Internet dudes whose entire opinion of a movie hinges on whether they get to see boobs. That's true. Margot Robbie fought for her Harley Quinn movie to focus on a badass girl gang. She fought for a woman director and a woman writer.
So yes, this movie might be made more for women who want to spend two hours watching other women looking cool and getting revenge. The "sex appeal" might not be the focus of the whole thing. Sorry not sorry. So many movies throughout history have intentionally only serviced the male gaze; it's time for something new.
That all being said, I'm sure there are plenty of people who will find the characters in Birds of Prey super sexy. And that's good for them. Just because the movie doesn't fit one guy's narrow, solipsistic view of what's sexy doesn't mean it won't be!
Here's the truth: Women between the ages of 15 and 24 go to the movies more than men the same age. When movies have female characters, they bring more women to the theater. Just because men have historically owned everything doesn't mean the math still applies. Frankly, it's good business for your movie to star and center women.
Matthew's complaint about Birds of Prey really points to a larger issue about how men are dealing with the changing tide in pop culture, the workplace, etc. Because men — specifically white men — have been in power for so long, real, actual, 50-50 equality looks unfair to them and makes it seem like they're suddenly at a disadvantage.
But they're just going to have to suck it up. It's 2020. Everything that exists isn't made expressly for people like Matthew anymore. I cannot tell you how much of a good thing that is. It's so good.