Not to long ago I saw Kick-Ass. It was a good movie, as you should soon learn from our resident movie reviewer. The movie is massively entertaining, but it isn’t for everyone. I don’t mind if you have objections to things, and trust me, there are plenty things in this movie for you to object to. No, the thing that confuses me about the reaction people are having to this film is the part they find most objectionable. I’m going to be talking specifics here, so if you’ve already seen Kick-Ass, read on. If you haven’t seen it, go see it, then read on.
Two people separately approached me when they found out I’d seen it, and both had roughly the same discussion with me.
Them: Hey, you saw Kick-Ass, right?
Them: Is it true a little girl uses the C-word in it?
Them: That’s awful.
Shortly after, I explain that the same little girl murders a few dozen people, not just remorselessly, but playfully. This they don’t mind. I then explain that a man beats the crap out of this girl. No problem there. There is masturbation, topless aboriginal women, bi-curious high schoolers, and a man being burst in an industrial microwave. A shrug of the shoulders. But a little girl that says the C-word brings clucks of tongues and shaking of heads. When, exactly, did potty mouth trump mass murder on the no-no scale? I don’t know for sure, and I’m not in any way qualified to speculate, but… well, here goes.
Did you ever notice that on the early episodes of Family Guy, Stewie only used ray guns and other sci-fi weaponry? Do you know why that is? Because the censors wouldn’t let a baby hold a gun. Did you ever notice that on the old G.I. Joe cartoon the guns all shot lasers, even the ones that looked exactly like assault rifles? Because the censors didn’t want kids watching people shooting other people with real guns. Note that in neither case was the problem that people were getting shot at, or even killed. The problem was doing it in a real way.
Why is it okay for that little girl to kill all of those people? Because she didn’t really do it, that’s why. That was special effects. It was choreography. Everything was over the top, absurd. After the director said cut, those people got up, dusted themselves off, and got some jello at the craft services table. (You always eat jello after a death scene. Industry tradition. Very few people know that.) Why is it not okay for her to utter the ol’ “see you next Tuesday?” Because when she cursed, she really cursed. Sure, the little girl in the costume holding the guns said that word, but so did the little girl standing in the studio. The director said, “Hello little girl, I want you to say number four on George Carlin’s list.” And she said, “What?” because she’s thirteen and her parents wouldn’t let her listen to Carlin. Eventually he was able to communicate it to her in what is probably the most awkward moment in cinematic history, and she said, “Okie dokie.” And then she said it. And the world gasped.
Like I said before, Kick-Ass is hilariously awesome. It defies expectation at every turn, and at times it even defies explanation. These are reasons enough to like it. But as a person who takes great joy in how screwed up “normal” tends to be, this movie ended up having something else to offer. It pointed out that the average movie critic will watch a man on the big screen slowly burn to death and nod appreciatively, but can’t listen to a young girl utter a certain four letter combination without recoiling in disgust. And yet this guy is the one qualified to tell me what is and is not worth watching. Now that’s just weird.