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In the final fifteen years of the life of legendary director Orson Welles he pins his Hollywood comeback hopes on a film, The Other Side of the Wind, in itself a film about an aging film director trying to finish his last great movie.
This film has some historic value, but let's be honest: it's questionable to discuss sexual equality and focus on a specific gender in the same sentence. To address this film's primary problem simply alter the concept: how would a documentary about MEN in the comics industry come across?
Don't get me wrong; this isn't a male vs female thing. The target goal is understandable, but as a documentary it fails due to both contradictory presentations and obvious opinionated bias. In addition it suffers from simply poor content; if you can stomach the first 30 seconds you may be able to tolerate the remainder.
This is primarily interviews and people talking... and talking... and talking... and to me came across as fascinating as a philosophy-based college lecture with slides. About halfway through one wonders if this is about the role of women in comics or cliché feminist propaganda.
If one is seriously into comics history and wants to see a specific section of it (namely, the role of females in the history of comic creation), parts of this might be worth a view. But it fails significantly by regularly digressing into gender issues-- many of which are nothing more than people sitting around and complaining. Is this what the viewer comes in expecting?
One has to consider the paradox (if not hypocrisy) of women objecting to being sexualized at conventions and in comic stores-- but then using sexuality in their choice of cosplay costumes (featured in this film as a supposedly positive thing).
If one frequents comics shops where women are regularly portrayed as superheroes wearing the least amount of clothing possible, don't be surprised if the regular clientele tends to view women in a sexual manner. It's one of those "duh" things. No, it's not "okay" or "right"... it's just predictable reality. That the directors / writers of this documentary seems to miss that reality entirely is a puzzlement.
The documentary states (without validated data) that women have historically been a large part of the comic book audience. In truth, if a large percentage of comic book readers are female, why have female characters in comics have been widely presented as large-chested, scantily clad and wearing skin-tight costumes? Women in lead roles in the industry have been directly responsible for that presentation. If the film wants to claim sexism in comics, maybe it needs to more accurately point the finger at both genders. Instead what we have is a documentary that comes across as self-contradictory.
What this documentary seems to completely miss is this: if one wants to present a strong, powerful female character-- don't dress her in a chainmail bikini. You'd would think such concept would be obvious to women who supposedly played a major role in running the industry-- and in those who portray women in cosplay both in early years (Red Sonja is focused on to an excess in the film) and to this very day. If you decide to focus on female sexuality in the industry, that is the focus it will take. The documentary does little to lessen this focus.
Viewers would need to be REALLY into comic history and development to sit through this entire film and even then at the end of it, one might wonder, "Okay... so?". There are a lot of contradictions. There is a lot of visible bias and soap-boxing. These spoil the historical potential of this presentation.
At the end, to be fair we need judge this not from a gender standpoint but the simple question, "Is this a good documentary?". I have to say "no, not really". It's mildly interesting. It's not a bad film, but it's not as good nor as accurate as it could have been. Its appeal will be to a very limited audience and will most likely not benefit the reputation of the genre. Or perhaps it presents the reputation of the genre too accurately: as a sexist industry in general. DC and Marvel didn't put all those female superheroes in latex thongs by accident, and obviously didn't do so to appeal to a large audience of female readers. As a documentary this fails to present a balanced, accurate and unbiased viewpoint.
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