Alita – The Antithesis of Toxic Feminism

Summary: Alita is fun and beautifully done, and well worth seeing. Feminists’ reviews were savage. Their attacks reveal much about them and the new puritanism (ideological, not religious) sweeping America. Alita: Battle Angel is a faithful adaption of the manga by the same name. After two decades in limbo on James Cameron’s full plate of ideas, Alita received praise across the board from the the author Yukito Kishiro, fans of the manga, as well as newcomers to the story. The film is a success in the West, and has surged to #1 in the Chinese box office. “Battle Angel Alita Creator Yukito Kishiro Is ‘Super-Honored’ By the Film” by Brandon Zachary at CBR. But something went wrong. One might expect feminists to praise Alita as they did previous film heroines such as Wonder Woman. But they didn’t. Feminist critics almost all condemned the film. Many accused Alita of sexism after watching the trailers {just as those on the Right did to Captain Marvel}. On Rotten Tomatoes, Alita currently scores a just-barely rotten rating of 59%. Why do they reject it? It’s probably more than her abnormally large anime eyes. Examination of the movie and its themes reveals a possible reason. The Setting. 300 years after “The Fall,” Alita’s broken head (with its human brain) is cast from the sky-city Zalem (Zion?) onto the hellish landscape below. Dr. Dyson Ido discovers her, and gives her the name of his deceased daughter and the lovingly-crafted robotic body built for her. The body is pure white, resembling ivory or porcelain – making Alita an idealized caricature of the prepubescent daughter Ido lost. As she grows, Alita meets increasingly difficult challenges in the form of cyborg assassins sent by the overseer of “The Factory,” Vector (later revealed to be a puppet of Nova, a bigger bad guy up in Zalem). Along the way Alita discovers herself, comes to terms with her father figure Ido and her step-mother, and meets her first love. ItI won’t lie, I was holding my breath during this moment The Inspiration. Iron City – the sprawling cyberpunk ghetto below Zalem – is a desperate world in which many humans are enhanced with robotic limbs and other implants. People probably took these enhancements willingly. How could a normal blue-collar person compete in an economy of cyborgs with super-human strength and agility? Alita is inevitably drawn into the “bread and circuses” of Iron City, Motorball, an updated spin on Rollerball. As in Cameron’s previous films, characters and scenery come together beautifully, with insights beyond the source material. Cameron delayed Alita by choosing to direct Avatar. He then passed the reins to Robert Rodriguez – along with a 180 page script (scripts are typically one minute of screen time per page) and 600 pages of notes. Rodriguez whittled it down to a more digestible two hours. Avatar proved to be an important test. CGI characters often fall into the Uncanny Valley – too realistic to be accepted as cartoon characters, but not convincing enough to be accepted by audiences as real people. Avatar proved audiences could empathize with a parahuman CGI character. “Interview with ‘Alita: Battle Angel’ Producer Jon Landau on the Film’s Long Road to the Big Screen” at /Film. Alita’s accelerated and painful growth from a small child to an adult woman can make even a grown man flinch The Girl. Alita awakes as an amnesiac with no memories at all, a naive child who doesn’t know to peel on orange before eating it. During the movie she hits milestones of growth in rapid succession, accelerated by flashes of her memories returning. Alita grows bored and then irritated at being the surrogate for Ido’s daughter and ventures into the world on her own. She meets and falls in love with Hugo, a charming rogue who takes her on adventures across Iron City. Their early relationship is similar to Disney’s Aladdin with Jasmine. Both girls wander away from their fathers and almost immediately get in trouble. Jasmine almost loses her hand to an angry shopkeeper, and Alita is almost run over by a giant security robot. Like Aladdin, Hugo saves her and shows her the world, except on his motorcycle rather than a magic carpet. Finding increasing power in herself, Alita tires of being led around by Hugo. and further frustrated by Ido refusing to take her on his nocturnal hunts for criminals. She drags Hugo along on an ill-conceived adventure of her own, ending in a violent initiation into adulthood. She resembles another hero, Luke Skywalker. If the parallels are deliberate, they were a good idea. Luke is widely liked in the USA and Japan. It’s notoriously difficult to create a story that appeals to both audiences. Alita’s fight with her first nemesis, the cyborg Grewishka, has striking similarities to Luke’s first confrontation with Darth Vader. Alita’s first fight matches Luke’s in tone, taking place in a gloomy environment with cool, depressing colors. Grewishka shatters Alita like a porcelain doll. Ido, Hugo and a helpful cyborg drive Grewishka away before he can kill her. Seeing no other choice, Ido transplants Alita into the super-powerful berserker body she found earlier but which he refused to let her have. Alita is reborn. Do real girls like chocolate? The Controversy: feminists object! Alita isn’t Cameron’s first empowered heroine. Previously he has helped bring to life two of the most popular heroines in modern science fiction: Ellen Ripley in in Alien and Sarah Connor in The Terminator. Despite Alita’s heroism and her producer’s track record, feminist viewers panned the movie as sexist. In hindsight, they would probably reject Cameron’s earlier heroines if he released them today, for similar reasons. For example, Alita, Ripley and Sarah all have limitations and failures. Ripley’s superiors don’t believe her story of aliens. Everyone thinks Sarah is insane (including her son in Terminator 2). The other hunter-warriors laugh at Alita when she tries to recruit them to fight Grewishka (which gives her another similarity to Luke in his first movie. His friends often find his inexperience annoying). New feminist heroes have to be perfect, and they have to always win. Wonder Woman and Rey never lose at anything, and the upcoming Captain Marvel probably won’t either. Hugo is, thank God, less useless than in the Manga But Alita’s sins most egregious sins against feminist theory are sexual in nature. Her desires often drive her, although they mature as she does. As a child she wants chocolate instead of dinner. Later she wants Hugo’s attention and then his physical affection. This causes her to often act foolishly. She pulls her heart out of her chest and begs Hugo to sell it to achieve his dream. She joins Hugo in his ill-fated project to acquire the money need to go to Zalem. In a teenage argument with dad, she smashes a table. Alita wants to grow up too fast. Ido doesn’t want her to grow up at all. As Alita matures, she outgrows her first boyfriend and comes to terms with her parental figures. She brings those around her to deeper maturity, as well. Alita provokes a change of heart in Ido’s ex-wife Chiren, who up to that point served as Vector’s accomplice. Ido becomes supportive of Alita’s dreams (in the closing act she calls him “father” for the first time). After Alita loses her child’s body in her fight with Grewishka, she receives her new adult berserker body. This is a focus of feminist rage. The star of Alita, Rosa Salazar, describes the scene. “Alita finds and is given her new Berserker Body, and it’s really interesting because she’s going from 14 to 18. That’s a whole, formative experience for a woman. It’s a very delicate time for a woman’s body. She goes from a child-like [figure], a flatter chest, a more proportionate young teen body, to a woman’s body.” Alita offers her heart to the guy she met like yesterday. A little too realistic for comfort, including for us guys. Many reviewers were horrified. Molly Freedman at Screenrant saw this as a flimsy justification to give her a sexualized body. In the words of Katie Walsh at the Daily Sun … “Co-writer James Cameron has embarrassingly described “Alita: Battle Angel” as a metaphor for female puberty, and the filmmakers execute that symbolism in truly bone-headed fashion with her new fighting body. Like the rest of the film, it’s so insane it has to be seen to be believed.” By Kayleigh Donaldson at Pajia had this to say about the movie’s treatment of Alita: “Why Are Sexist Creeps Pitting Captain Marvel Against Alita: Battle Angel?” “It’s the sort of narrative that thinks any woman who can punch a guy harder than he can punch her is empowerment, even as she literally offers her heart to a man who has been stabbing her in the back for months. It’s familiar to anyone who’s ever seen a movie, and the power dynamic is clear. She may be powerful but she’s never seen the ‘real world’ before. The first guy she bumps into who isn’t her dad can show it to her and leave her enraptured.” Feminist rage at female sexuality may not make sense to others, but it is apparent in their character design. Wonder Woman, Rey and Captain Marvel are de-sexualized in comparison to their predecessors. Wonder Woman has no cleavage like she almost universally did in past adaptations. Rey is heavily bundled up and her chest wrapped to look as flat as possible. Captain Marvel’s uniform is almost shapeless and looks no different than the costumes worn by her male counterparts (but that’s the point isn’t it). The issue isn’t that Cameron’s movies and characters aren’t feminist. Feminist doctrine itself has moved on without him. This is an amazing movie that I watched five times in theaters, and bought the DVD. You should too. Buy or stream the film on Amazon here The Manga is just as incredible; I read the whole first series in under a week The boxed set and individual volumes are available on Amazon My first book is now available in paperback and Kindle All proceeds go to support our nonprofit dedicated to supporting small businesses, IMK Publishing Inc. Available on Amazon here. Sign up for my newsletter for regular updates and offers! Follow me on social media and my other platforms FacebookYouTube Support the Site! 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