The Fan Meta Reader

“Thor 2: How to Understand Your Audience (And the Power of Fandom),” by bemusedlybespectacled

Curator Note: This week we feature meta that addresses fan-producer relationships, particularly between (overwhelmingly) male media producers and female fans. The first looks at the ways that Thor 2 was positioned as a film for female audiences.

So I saw Thor 2 today. While of course I loved the action, the perfectly executed snarking, the running gags (SHOES), the Stan Lee cameo, I have to say that I think the reason I loved it so much (besides its general well-written awesomeness) was that I actually felt that it was a movie that was made for someone like me. Specifically, I feel like this was a movie written explicitly for fans, by someone who had immersed themselves in the fandom and created something to appeal to us especially.

Let me explain what I mean: most films, especially action films, are tailor-made for young, straight, white men, usually high school to college age, because the prevailing Hollywood wisdom is that they constitute the largest demographic of moviegoers.

But like the idea that there are no female gamers, the idea that women don’t go to see movies, or only watch with their boyfriends, or only like chick flicks, is a lie. It is a lie that is made plain if you spend even five minutes on Tumblr.

But Thor: The Dark World, I think, is changing that, riding the same wave that The Avengers started. So let’s talk about why I think the writers and directors of Thor: The Dark World, more than any movie that has come before it, have created a movie made for male-inclined female fans, and why I think that’s awesome.

There are two specific reasons to make me think this movie was written for us, the female fans, rather than men:

  1. The realistic and badass female characters
  2. The gratuitous and wonderful fanservice

Let’s talk about that first one.

First of all, this movie passes the Bechdel test. Jane and Darcy (did I mention Darcy is in this movie? I’ll talk about that) spend a good quarter of the movie doing things on their own, doing science and generally being really good friends. It’s adorable. It’s wonderful. SCIENCE.

We have several badass ladies in this lineup. We have Sif, who unfortunately doesn’t get a lot of screentime but still conveys badassery with every step she takes. Darcy spends three-fourths of the movie doing her own thing, organizing Selvig’s jailbreak and setting up the gravitational spikes. Jane, like Pepper in IM3, gets power inserted into her veins without her knowing it, and it’s her tech and knowledge that helps to save the day.

Frigga gets her own paragraph, because badass mama with a sword holding off several warriors while maintaining a perfect illusion. You want badass, I will show you as many gifs as I can about that fight scene. I have never seen a Viking burial scene for a woman. I can name a ton – Boromir’s in Fellowship of the Ring, Anakin Skywalker and Qui-Gon Jin in Star Wars, that Tully guy from Game of Thrones – but I have never seen a Viking funeral for a woman before, and let me tell you, she deserved it.

But, okay, fanservice. There is zero reason, narration wise, to show us a two minute scene that is nothing but the camera panning up Thor’s magnificence as water drips down his sculpted abs, only to have him turn to the window to let us see his back. There is no reason for Loki to have so many facial closeups. Did we need to have all those men being cute and snarky and beautifully broken? No, we don’t. They change nothing about the plot and are completely irrelevant: hell, they could have been cut for time and the story wouldn’t make a difference.

There is only one explanation: they know we are watching, and they will give us what we ask for.

Which is kind of really awesome. For so long, female fans have driven the fandom. We’re the ones who write the fanfiction, who cosplay at cons, who draw the fanart, who make the gifs and manips and sew little plushies.

If this is the start of a trend – if it starts a trend – I’m hoping that means we’ll get more movies like this. More movies for us. Movies that understand that we’re not here because our boyfriends or our brothers dragged us there, but because there’s something on the screen that we like to see. Thor 2 might, just maybe, be the point that execs in Hollywood (money-hungry assholes that they are) realize that we are the ones who are paying their salaries, and adjust accordingly.

And the more media that’s geared towards fans like us, rather than a demographic that is not only outdated but sexist as hell, is a good thing.

Thor 2: How to Understand Your Audience (And the Power of Fandom)” ©bemusedlybespectacled, originally posted on Nov. 9, 2013


One comment on ““Thor 2: How to Understand Your Audience (And the Power of Fandom),” by bemusedlybespectacled

  1. Pingback: The Fan Meta Reader 2014 Masterpost | The Fan Meta Reader

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This entry was posted on September 11, 2014 by and tagged , , .
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