WHITNEY SMASH: Bad Satire Edition

by , under entertainment, movies, personal

Today Moviefone published their Girl’s Guide to the Avengers (which they’ve subsequently retitled). A piece which embraces every single stereotype there is about women to explain the movie.

They claim it’s satire, but there is legitimately no reason to create a satirical guide to the Avengers.

I say this as a card carrying geek. I know who the Avengers are, even though I admit that my real comic book knowledge is with the DC Universe. I’m the one who had to explain who the Avengers were to friends and family members.

But back to the piece.

As your boyfriend probably told you, “The Avengers” is hitting theaters this Friday. And you, dutiful girlfriend, are attending. But you hate action movies and you’ve never even read a comic book. (Of course, that’s not a slight against the girls who actually do read comic books — i.e. real fans, actual people with varied interests — but for this, let’s just go with the stock view of ladies, ladies!)

So here’s a particularly painful paragraph. It implies that normal women dislike action movies… a sentiment that bothered me when Dr Pepper tried it for their low calorie drink. It also implies that fans of rom-coms don’t have varied interests.

The piece goes on to introduce everyone, and even to helpfully give the idiotic woman this piece is addressing helpful advice about what not to say.

All this piece did was reinforce age old notions. Frankly, satire would have been creating the Geek Girl Guide to Introducing The Avengers to Guys Who Don’t Read Comic Books. Turn the idea inside out and make a statement that way.

Moviefone changed the title and added the clarification that it was meant to be satire. Honestly, with a wealth of well-written satire out there… this wasn’t satire. It was a piece that was probably intended to be tongue in cheek and missed every single mark. But kudos to joining the wealth of sites that apologize for upsetting people by saying the piece was supposed to be satire.

Reading it made me rage for all the obvious reasons. It’s bad enough that movie industries assume that only men enjoy action movies and comic books. It’s worse when real people write pieces that reinforce every stupid “rule” that the industry believes- that women only enjoy romantic comedies and have to be dragged to action movies to make their significant others happy. That the only take-away from a comic book movie is that the men are hot.

Amy Radcliffe (@amy_geek) wrote this excellent piece. A lot of the wonderful geek gals I follow similarly raged. (Update: GeekGirlDiva wrote a great open letter that points out that this is link bait at its’ finest)

To anyone who cares – pretty much everyone is tired of your insistence that all people fit in molds. That geeks are unwashed socially awkward men. That women only enjoy romantic comedies and believe that men are there to lavish them with gifts. People are different. Stop marketing to the sexes and market to interests..

And to any journalists out there- find out what satire is before using it as a defense.


For what it’s worth, I am not hulking out simply because it’s the Avengers. I have a tendency to do that whenever I get really mad.

  • Moviephone is an AOL company. ’nuff said.

  • True enough!  I’m tired of link baiting, though.  And I’m even more tired of publishers hiding behind “satire” when they publish crap like this.

    This is just a bad idea wrapped in a tired label.

  • I couldn’t agree more. Labeling a piece “satire” as an excuse to say something awful, hurtful, or just plain stupid is at best bad form and at worst devious and manipulative.

    There are way too many sites trying to get traffic using all these different techniques and schemes. Here’s an idea dummies: put out something meaningful, informative, inspiring, or (gasp) entertaining.

  • Constance Chamberlain

    I am insulted. Do they really think women are as stupid and as vapid as that?

    It’s like Jack Thompson’s attempt at satire with the Modest Proposal video game. When he got called on it, he claimed Satire and backed out of it. So Penny-Arcade put up when he shut up.

  • I think it’s more likely that someone thought they’d get a lot of page views if they wrote something that implied that women are that stupid and vapid, without realizing that people would actually call them out on their stupidity.

    It is just like the Jack Thompson case…  But it’s journalists and editors like that who give writers a bad name.  Satire- learn what it is first, and don’t post anything you won’t stand behind.