Don't look at the movie the way it is. You can hate it for whatever reasons you like but this movie isn't just stupid, soulless and pointless sexual fantasy. There is more thought put into it than you could ever imagine. Too bad critics panned the movie for the things that couldn't comprehend and the audience went with it.
The whole thing is a big fantasy that does not exist or happening in the real world. The movie is actually about Sweet Pea(Abbie Cornish). She is the star of the show. Snyder made that very clear from the start. Babydoll(Emily Browning) is a figment of Sweet Pea's imagination. She is the physical embodiment of Sweet Pea. She is the 5th thing. She is the guardian angel that Sweet Pea created to deal with her trash life. The entire film is a reflection of the internal struggle of Sweet Pea. That's why she is the one who's narrating the film. The stuff that we've seen with Babydoll during the first act, that's all Sweet Pea acting out her past trauma in her mind, just as she was taught to do in the mental institution. That's why the movie opens on a stage that direct parallel to how Sweet Pea is acting out that same trauma on a stage when Babydoll first arrives in the mental institution aka the theater. After that, the lobotomy comes, the key to everything that happens in the movie. Reimagined through Babydoll perspective, Sweet Pea disassociates from reality when the needle plunges into her brain, retreating into her mind in the same way she's taught to by Dr. Gorski. She's not in the real world anymore. This is also what happened in Sweet Pea's real life. And the effect of that lobotomy is the goddamned movie. Yes, this movie is the result of a lobotomy. Just one big subconscious coping mechanism for Sweet Pea to find peace. And this girl is able to interrupt the lobotomy, intruding on her own story. She's even able to repurpose the accidental killing of her sister into a deliberate and necessary sacrifice on her sister's part to save her. In this second layer of fantasy, Sweet Pea imagines herself and the rest of the girls working in a brothel, objectified and lusted after by an audience. This mirrors us tuning in to see these girls perform for us in various outfits. This connection is made clear from the opening of the film, which lets us know that we're the audience watching all this unfold on stage. By choosing to watch the movie, we are complicit in everything that's happening. Of course, this doesn't mean to condemn you for wanting to see nubile girls kicking ass. What this movie is really about is the difference between empowerment and exploitation. This is represented through three layers of fantasy, first was the mental institution, second is the brothel, third is the fantasy-action scenes, each exploring a different set of social values, each aligning with different phases of the feminist movement. First up is a grim incarnation of the '60s -the mental institution- set during the second wave of the feminist movement, when gender inequality was much more widespread. That gender inequality is amplified in the second world -the brothel- which takes us back even further, to a time when women were literally treated like property. And finally we have the pop culture world -the world of today, action scenes- which imagines Babydoll's dancing through various aspects of modern geek culture, dressing the girls up in all the typical fetishistic attire we've come to expect video games, TV, movies, etc... Sweet Pea is aware of how sick this is and rejects that Baby Doll's dancing could possibly be empowering. It's only through seeing its effect on men does she start to see how much power they really have, as the girls start taking back the control they've lost by using men's objectification of them to their advantage. By embracing their sexuality instead of fearing it, they learn that their inherent femininity can be better used as a means of holding men under their sway. Suddenly, it's the men who become helpless instead of them. Point being, men may be in a position to physically overpower women, but women have the power to psychologically overpower men, thus inverting history's long-standing power dynamic between men and women. This is then mirrored to very much the same effect in the action fantasy scenarios - a symbolic gesture on Snyder's part to show women taking back geek culture, which men have been dominating with their boy club mentality and pervasive misogyny for far too long. This is demonstrated further once we cut back to Babydoll's lobotomy after Sweet Pea has found peace. While Sweet Pea busy imagining that she's taking the magic school bus to a better world, Blue has plans of his own. But its no use, she's already escaped, even if it's only mentally. Sweet Pea sacrifices her body -Babydoll- and retreats into the comfort of her own mind, a paradise over which nobody has control of but her. Blue may have control over her body, but without her mind, he has nothing. The importance of this is also apparent during Babydoll's encounter with the High Roller, who recognizes that the choice to truly be with someone lies with you and you alone. As the scene with the High Roller reaffirms, the distinction between exploitation and empowerment all comes down to personal choice. And that is just half of the point this movie trying to make. Women deserve just as much control over their bodies as they have over their minds. You can interpret this movie so many ways, it's beyond belief. It gives you so many options to think. It's really funny that the one who made this kind of a movie and the one who is trying to defend it is a male. But it is what it is. If this movie made by someone like Stanley Kubrick, probably everyone would have tried to decipher the depth of it and wouldn't have even minded the bad reviews.
It's really sad that people turn off their brains and see everything literal, and never uses their brain to read the images that appear on the screen when they see a Snyder film.
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