Screenwriter Jane Goldman on Kick-Ass
The Guardian has posted a slightly schizophrenic interview with Jane Goldman, who co-wrote the script for the upcoming KICK-ASS with director Matthew Vaughn, based on the comic book by Mark Millar. I say “schizophrenic” because, under fairly pointed questioning by Elizabeth Day, Goldman says some rather contradictory things while trying to defend the film. At issue is the presumed controversy over a film depicting the eleven-year-old character Hit-Girl as a foul-mouthed female assassin. Goldman leap frogs from claiming that KICK-ASS is a feminist statement that treats violence in a serious way, with emotional consequences, to arguing that that the film is a light, comic book romp that does not raise difficult emotional issues.
First the serious side:
“She [Hit-Girl] is genuinely dangerous, she’s genuinely mad. It’s not her fault: she’s been raised in this environment where she doesn’t know anything different. She’s unwittingly part of a folie a deux.”
“You very much see the consequences of violence in the film. I think that films that could be said to glamorise violence are ones where there isn’t a physical or emotional consequence, where you have people fire off rounds and everyone is dying off cleanly and it doesn’t matter, whereas here, people are bereaved, people are hospitalised, it’s kind of unpleasant.
Sounds like heavy duty stuff, right? So Day asks about the consequences of casting thirteen-year-old actress Chloe Moretz in the role, and Goldman changes gears:
“The fact that she’s actually enacting the violence is in many ways probably less traumatic for a child actor than a lot of films where the children are victims of violence – serious films where they’re the victims of violence at the hands of family members. I think actually, emotionally, that’s a lot more disturbing for a child actor whereas this is comic book; it’s light. I don’t think it raises any difficult emotional issues for a child to process.”
Really? So the unpleasant consequences of violence, including grief and hospitalization, are not difficult emotional issues; it’s all just good, clean fun?
I don’t see much to get up in arms over the KICK-ASS controversy. Does KICK-ASS glamorize vigilante violence? Well, isn’t that the whole point of the caped-crimefighter genre? I doubt the film will be harmful; the question is whether it will be good or bad (advance word suggests good). But clearly, the filmmakers were deliberately courting controversy, and they got what they wanted. So it’s a bit odd to hear Goldman talking out of both sides of her mouth while trying to explain the controversy away.