Snarky's Cinemachine: The Expendables. Call to Men!

The mildly anticipated action flick The Expendables got some extra special love from a devoted fan who opted to recut the trailer into something a bit more provocative.

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.

by Ange Anderson
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17 Comments Have Been Posted

I made a comment about this

I made a comment about this very thing (lady-hate posed as battle of the sexes) and no one on my friend list even blinked.

Funny thing is? If not for ads like these and fans like those, I probably would've seen "The Expendables" instead of "Eat, Pray, Love" anyway.

Well there is no indication

Well there is no indication Lionsgate sanctioned this version of the trailer, so I'm not inclined to punish a film for the actions of one rogue fan. Moreover, even Lionsgate probably realizes its not good business sense to offend half of the desired audience. This douche fan also seems unable to conceptualize a world where folks might have reasons for avoiding the Julia Roberts film - like its racist, classist cultural tourism framing - other than it's femalecentric and Oprah-approved.

"In real life as in Grand Opera, Arias only make hopeless situations worse." - Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

I'm so relieved

I'm so relieved to learn that wasn't an official trailer. I thought someone at the studio was trying to be "edgy."

Snarky, I betcha $20 this

Snarky, I betcha $20 this guy gets a job in Hollywood from remixing the trailer.


I actually thought the trailer was joke, poking fun at men so insecure that the very thought of the existence of a few films targeting as female audience (and, um, not even particularly progressive female-centric films, might I add) would leave them fearfully clutching at the bruised shell of their flimsy machismo. Something poking fun at the necessity of some men who need machismo at all, and at people who have so little sense of self that going to see a movie becomes a defining point of their identity.

All in all, it reminded me a lot of the opening sequence of Orgazmo ("Now you're a MAN! A MAN MAN MANNY-MAN!")

But then you told me it was serious. And my life became a little bleaker...


Too much top "star" actors on the same production for this to be a good movie.

It's quite ironic that

It's quite ironic that people make the false claim that feminism has a "guys vs girls" attitude/philosophy when it's really the femiphobic hyper-masculine pricks who are the ones holding on to that mentality.

Personally, I wouldn't watch

Personally, I wouldn't watch any Twilight film (besides the first one i already saw after reading the books with some friends- and will never watch again), Sex and the City (superficial girly girls with too much drama), Eat.Pray.Love (read it. Yawn.), OR the Expandables (haha yeah right, all the Big-Name Manly-Men and a lot of shooting and explosions and things that go Boom) I generally don't like movies that lean towards a male-or-female TYPE film. Also, I don't like mainstream hollywood for the most part, with few exceptions. The only films I like that can lead more towards 'girly' are musicals. And i don't mean Hairspray or High School Musical. I mean Rent, Tommy, Sweeny Todd, Little Shop of Horrors, Chicago, etc. A lot of these have such good writing, fantastic plot, action, etc, but because they happen to be musicals- they're written off as feminine.
Other good movies I like, i think, for the most part, are gender-neutral: Persepolis, Coraline, Heathers, Full Metal Jacket, Amelie, and Reds.
Something that annoys me also, is even though I introduced my boyfriend to boy-targeted manga Death Note and the novel Clockwork Orange, as well as some good metal bands; his friends assume that I'm just his girlfriend that only knows about them because HE'S into it. GRRRRR
Cause, like, when I'm NOT with my boyfriend, i like staring at magazine pictures of Robert Pattinson in front of the new episode of Gossip Girl after listening to my Miley Cyrus cd on repeat...

Most of the movies you

Most of the movies you listed are overwhelmingly white. Those of us who aren't white don't have the luxury of being so snotty about the media we consume if we wish to see ourselves even minimally reflected in that media. Mostly when I hear the sentiment displayed by folks who find themselves represented in a host of different pop culture products and haven't stopped to unpack that privilege or begin to think about this in a critical fashion.

"In real life as in Grand Opera, Arias only make hopeless situations worse." - Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Is it really necessary to

Is it really necessary to call the above poster "snotty"? I understand that equal and realistic portrayal of non-white types is something that is sadly lacking in a lot of films, and you're right to point out the problem and the fact that all people must be aware of its existence, but the posting doesn't seem like an affront so much as merely a summary of this person's experiences, as limited as they may be culturally. Maybe you could offer some films that feature non-white characters in a realistic and non-exploitative way, in terms of both ethnicity and sex/gender before calling someone snotty, and broaden someone's horizons rather than simply shooting them down?

Maybe you could offer some

<em>Maybe you could offer some films that feature non-white characters in a realistic and non-exploitative way, in terms of both ethnicity and sex/gender before calling someone snotty, and broaden someone's horizons rather than simply shooting them down?</em>

It's not my job to be anyone's educational opportunity. If their google is broken, they are welcome to use <a href="">mine</a>.

"In real life as in Grand Opera, Arias only make hopeless situations worse." - Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Le sigh. 1: The author has

Le sigh.

1: The author has missed the point of the trailer. It's not attempting to say 'OMG1!! Why go see Julia (an excellent actress, when you can see biceps?!!?' It's making the point that guys have not been driving the movie industry lately, notably by their absense from the movies entirely. (Not their attending 'chick flicks' instead.) (Now, looking at the top ten grossing list of movies, it's clear that Harry Potter fans are, in fact, running Hollywood.)

2: Of course, it also suggests that this is a bad thing. Based on some of the feminization of some long running series (Brosnan's last two Bonds come to mind; Connery-Bond does not get outclassed by the women in the film, but Halle Berry neatly runs rings around Pierce) I think I'd agree.

3: Based on 1 + 2, it then suggests that Men! should get off their asses and go see this 'testosterone-laden thrilll ride' which clearly doesn't take itself all that seriously, either.

A threat to women/a female-bashing spree? Hardly. It pokes just as much fun at men. (Duct-tape, stupid video games, and 40s.) Perhaps if the article's author weren't so focused on finding 'females in a range of films and roles', she might be able to get a laugh out of it.

But no; this must be 'serious business'. Frankly Scarlett, I don't give a damn if men, women, plants, giant space hampers, or a dead parrot are starring in the movie. I care that the acting is solid, and that the movie doesn't spend half of it's time trying to preach to the audience.

On that, then, I'll be enjoying this shameless 'things go boom' moment, with some of the actors best at same. Yes, it will be campy as all hell, and tongue firmly in cheek. (It has a 'Banana Dictatorship', for pete's sake.) Yes, it will have a plot that a three year old could understand. And yes, it will shamelessly deliver exactly what the movie poster implies: Death, Guns, and Special Effects.

And that's exactly what I'd like.

Pointing out sexism is not

Pointing out sexism is not "missing the point". If folks are incapable of being witty without reliance on sexist tropes and reductive stereotypes they are not immune from being called out by feminists.

Maybe you haven't paid attention to the space you're occupying or the fact I'm super excited about this gloriously cheesy action flick. I have no desire to see Eat Pray Love, but I don't need to resort to essentialist gender tropes in order to get that point across.

Also I'd be curious for you to elaborate on how men aren't driving the film industry anymore. Particularly when men have 71% of the speaking roles, make the bulk of the films and run the majority of studios. So what exactly are men <em>not</em> in control of as it relates to Hollywood?

"In real life as in Grand Opera, Arias only make hopeless situations worse." - Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

The 'you should be able to

The 'you should be able to do X without use of Y' arguement is a rather tired trope that should be taken out back and shot.

They didn't have to use reductive stereotypes (male and female) any more than I had to wear shoes today. (No reliance.) However, that was the media chosen for the message. I have this small thing called a 'sense of humor' via which I choose to see this video (and laugh at same), whereas you seem to choose to treat it as 'serous business'. I doubt that this approach serves you well (particularly in the long run), but I could be wrong.

As mentioned, given the top-ten-grossing list, Harry Potter can be said to be running the movie empire these days. Man/Woman/Fish is irrelevant. (I could note that J.K Rowling is female, as an example of an absurdly powerful woman in the modern film industry, but that would be tenuous at best.) Movies are, in fact, intended to make money,

Similarly, the answer to the 71% question can be summed up as 'because it is currently profitable to do so'. If all the viewers wanted to watch/would pay for were angsty vampires, we'd end up with bunches of fang-laden cheesy- oh, wait. (Apologies to the Twilight fans among us. :) )

(Postscript: If there is anything that renders one immune to someone else tossing off their own opinion (feminist or otherwise), I'd like a jar. Make that two.)

'sense of humor'

Hi Nym,

Your 'sense of humor' seems to come at the expense of politeness. Please refrain from attacking the bloggers here, and please refrain from attacking *the very purpose of this blog* which is to treat the media as 'serious business.' If it's too serious for you, there are lots of other blogs out there.

As far as your Harry Potter example goes, that doesn't do much to disprove Snarky's point about Hollywood being run primarily by men. (All eight Harry Potter films have been/will be directed by men.)

I think it might be valuable to take your "because it is currently profitable to do so" argument a few steps further. Why do you think films that favor men in lead roles are more popular? Could it have something to do with sexism?

Kelsey Wallace, Web Editor

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Movies are not made for females???

"Also I'd be curious for you to elaborate on how men aren't driving the film industry anymore. Particularly when men have 71% of the speaking roles, make the bulk of the films and run the majority of studios. So what exactly are men not in control of as it relates to Hollywood?"

Are there any powerful women directors in hollywood that make all the big movies? No.

That doesnt mean that the essential market for movies has not become women. Is not just SATC and eat pray and love, mama mia, twilight etc.

Do you think James Cameron didnt have that in mind when he made Titanic with leonardo dicaprio and then he repeats the romance formula with avatar?. And please dont tell me is guys that want the romance included...

Tetestosterone driven films with the physical action stars of the past have been replaced with sensible films with more "depth" like the bourne films. So there have been a cultural shift(of course some of you would think that is a good thing).

As of the lack of females in movies, thats another issue of which actresses are also to blame for going the easy route.
But in a world where an action script writen for a man is given to angelina jolie, i dont feel there is any barriers for getting parts besides talent and box office power. Just dont blame Harrison ford, Tom Cruise and Will Smith for having both.

PS:one notable exception of the action films of today is Jason Statham, which explains why he got invited.

And the expendables was

And the expendables was awesome, made a lot of money, and proved that 1986 movies are still relevant.

good day.

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