The Big Honking Piece of Plastic that Ruined Jason Bourne
Originally published by TheFoxLetters
I had all intention of writing a story about skincare when I thought about Fox Letters this week. It would have been charming and informative and really just tickle everyone.
Until I saw Jason Bourne in theatres. A friend of mine invited me to see the new Jason Bourne movie; the fifth installment in a series about espionage, shaky camera-work and the clever antics of Matt Damon. I had all hopes of enjoying this cliche’ action film, ignoring the oblivious fallacies about the CIA and overall how to hack into anything. It’s a legacy of high-energy fight scenes and Matt Damon looking confused.
The basic plot of the film was Matt Damon attempting to piece together the fragments of his past, connecting him to the black-ops program “Treadstone”. Bad juju surrounds this super-secret-spy program and we encounter old friends, Julia Styles, and are introduced to new agents, Alicia Vikander. Vikander plays the head of the CIA Cyber Ops Division. She’s basically a hacker savant and grows a soft spot for Bourne, believing that he might be able to stop his murderous rampage and come back to the CIA.
Vikander has the makings of being an amazing female character in these types of films. She is intelligent, speaks her mind and is the top in her field. She held a large part in this film and was given a hefty set-up for the next film. I was thoroughly impressed that a movie franchise that has historically portrayed men as heroes and bosses would give a woman character some depth. It wasn’t until Vikander turned around that I realized that I was very, sadly wrong.
Keeping up Vikander’s hair for the majority of the film was a large jaw clip. You know, those things we put in our hair in the 2000’s? Those huge, gigantic clips that were thankfully exchanged for something simpler like, I don’t know, a ponytail holder? Those ridiculous clips the size of your head that couldn’t possibly be comfortable? That thing was perched on Vikander’s head. A black one, like a giant spider that was hitching a ride on her hair. They apparently couldn’t afford a brown one, so this black one would have to do. At first I was confused as to why I was upset, surely it was just a costume choice. I mean sure, it was distracting but who cares?
It was then that I took into account the rest of her clothing. In every single scene, Vikander was in an ill-fitting shirt, jacket and pants. Not an article of clothing on her fit properly. There was even a scene where she was wearing a large, bumbling cable-knit sweater. This woman is the HEAD of her department. She is an employee of not only the CIA, but of the government. Her male counterparts were in pressed, crisp suits. Obviously. Somehow while being off the grid, Bourne was always seen in a fresh pair of jeans and a clean black crew-neck.
It made me sad that because this woman was in a tech-savvy field that she had to be deemed as “frumpy”, that her character hadn’t earned the right to not look like crap. She never had her hair down and in close-ups she was made to look like she had bags under her eyes. Now, I understand that just because she is a woman that she doesn’t have to wear make-up. She doesn’t have to wear a fitted shirt, that is her character’s choice. Hell, I barely wear makeup or fitted clothes. Ask my mother. But I still feel feminine.
What I was upset with is that instead of making her a neutral character, or just making her look like she works for the government, she had to be defeminized. That any feminine identity would discredit her from her job. Because THAT would have been just too much to comprehend for the audience. There was nothing in her backstory (or lack thereof) that explained why she looked like she was wearing hand-me downs. One of her plot points is that the head of the CIA gives her a chance to do ~~~something~~~ but ultimately thinks she is unqualified/silly to do so. Perpetuating the notion that women do not belong in the big boys club of government. Interesting timing, don’t you think?
There is no reason to make her character like this, other than the assumptions put onto the audience. To go so far as to put makeup on her (I saw that highlight and them brows) but to accentuate her under-eye bags is such an upsetting choice. It was something as simple as a hair clip that completely deflated me not only as a woman, but as an aspiring actress. These are the roles that I have to look forward to. That this industry can try expand and write a powerful character but go the extra mile to keep her in her place.
Alaina Boukedes is a graduate from the University of Alabama with degrees in Theatre and Journalism.
Originally published at eepurl.com.