Full text of the opening:
Gentlemen, while you’ve been at home noob tubing total strangers, and duct taping 40s to your hands, you’ve been handing the keys to Hollywood to teenage girls, and G.N.O. Julia Roberts may be the final blow. Eat, Pray, Love. Women adore the book. Oprah swears by it. August 13th is our last chance to take back what is ours.
Blogger Steven Zeitchik of 24 Frames called the trailer’s sexist and gender essentialist framing, “good-natured battle-of-the-sexes” and found the use of shaming tactics (i.e. you’re not a real man if you don’t see the film) “brilliant.” To be fair, Zeitchik was critiquing the elements of the trailer that worked better than the official trailer made by Lionsgate. That said, I’m not convinced there is ever a suitable reason for sexist, offensive rhetoric and I certainly don’t think its use here is “good natured.” In fact, it’s top notch douchebaggery.
The trailer takes a reductive view of women and their relationship to action films—independent of men. Every single actor (save Terry Crews) appearing in the film has also starred in films I saw—wait for it—on my own. No dudebro had to drag my ass to see Die Hard. Oh no. I sashayed my little 14-year-old tutu and denim vest self right into a theater near the Hyatt in Kansas City specifically to see the film. I was barely 11 when I saw The Terminator; the first three installments of the Rocky saga nursed me through a bout of the flu when I was 10! Not only did a man not have to drag me into theater to see the Jet Li vehicle The One, I was in fact the only one in the theater!
The trailer’s tired battle of the sexes framing is baffling, considering there’s probably not going to be much overlap with the audiences for The Expendables and Eat, Pray, Love. Moreover, if Eat, Pray, Love sells out, The Expendables—like every other film opening opposite a hotly anticipated film - will benefit from lots of reluctant, “We already wasted the gas/paid for parking. I guess we’ll see the other new film instead,” business. Twilight, SATC and Eat, Pray, Love are the three big femalecentric releases of the summer. In contrast, I’ve lost count of the number of films designed to capture the male gaze and dollar.
Ladyfilms are not to blame for The Expendables inability to drum up buzz. I don’t need a magic 8-ball to know it’s going to be an awesomely awful film. It is completely out of step with the preferences of current filmgoers and Stallone directed it. If The Expendables is anything like Stallone’s previous directorial attempts I expect my face to be frozen in the cringe position for the duration of the film. Apparently nobody at Lionsgate Films is aware the year is 2010 and not 1986! In Lionsgate’s defense, with both The Karate Kid and The A-Team at the box office, who can be sure? Nevertheless, the official marketing of the film is ridiculous; the initial trailer was boring and the film appears to takes itself way too seriously. If folks are opting to see The Expendables it’s partly because it has the potential to be one of the greatest cinematic train wrecks of recent history. Reportedly 80s action icons Jean Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal passed on it. Wow, how bad does a script have to be for that to happen?
As for this fan trailer, it’s a bit fatuous to cite three femalecentric film releases and then conclude women are taking over Hollywood when there’s countless evidence to the contrary. Perhaps the concept for the trailer was only meant to be a joke, but in a summer devoid of females in a range of films and roles it’s not fucking funny.
After viewing this craptastic trailer the feminist action film fan in me wants to make my own trailer befitting of my action hero boyfriends who finally had the good sense to create a cheesy, one stop shopping experience for me. My trailer for The Expendables wouldn’t rely on sexism and it would also utilize much better music. Maybe White Zombie’s More Human Than Human—a song often used in trailers of mediocre to bad films in order to appear far more entertaining than they ultimately turn out to be.