Wait 'til they get a load of Hit-Girl
She uses language worthy of a diatribe in a Quentin Tarantino movie. She covets butterfly knives and Berettas, not Barbies. And instead of fretting about whether boys like her, she opts to swiftly slice through mafia men with a samurai-style sword in each of her adolescent hands.
She is Hit-Girl.
And even though her movie, "Kick-Ass," won't be widely released in American theaters until Friday, the 11-year-old assassin who sports a bob the color of grape Kool-Aid -- and is portrayed by Hit-Girl "It" Girl Chloë Moretz -- already has emerged as the most controversial and magnetic comic-book-movie icon since Heath Ledger reinvented the Joker.
Depending on who you ask, Hit-Girl -- who first sprang into existence in the 2008 "Kick-Ass" comic book, written by Mark Millar and illustrated by John Romita, Jr. -- is either a new standard-setter for superheroic awesomeness, a fresh-faced symbol of female empowerment or flagrant evidence that our culture has coarsened beyond repair.
To get a clearer sense of how her cinematic creators view her, we went directly to one of the sources: Jane Goldman, co-screenwriter of "Kick-Ass," wife of well-known British TV and radio host Jonathan Ross and mother of three girls.
Goldman, chatting via phone from Los Angeles, says she expected the character -- who, in addition to kicking you-know-what, isn't shy about dropping f-bombs and the c-word -- to generate some controversy, especially since executives at various studios initially "loved the story but didn't feel they would be able to take the movie on if Hit-Girl remained that age." The feedback Goldman and co-screenwriter/director Matthew Vaughn consistently got: If you change the character's age to 18, then it's fine.
"That seems to me rather flimsy morals," she says. "If you disapprove of violence then you can't think there is any age when violence is appropriate. A lot of people use the phrase underage violence, which to me is meaningless."
Goldman says she was reluctant to turn Hit-Girl into a legal adult because it would be unfaithful to the source material (she is 10 years old in the comic), and would run the risk of sexualizing the character.
"She is a female antihero and it's actually by virtue of the fact that she is young that we've avoided that glamorizing, guns-and-girls type of violence, which is more offensive to me," she says.
"The point about her is that she is not there to be decorative. She's an antihero. She's Han Solo."
Despite the tongue-in-cheek, playful energy that infuses every frame of "Kick-Ass," both the movie and Hit-Girl in particular have raised the hair on more than a few critics' necks in the UK and Australia, where it's already playing in theaters. In the Daily Mail, Christopher Tookey called it "one of the most deeply cynical, shamelessly irresponsible films ever." The Australian branch of Focus on the Family also has expressed concern about placing a child at the center of so much non-stop maim-and-murder mayhem.
"The interesting thing about the controversy in England and Australia is that it's seemed to take place largely in the press," Goldman says. "Obviously everyone is free to express their opinion but we haven't met any kind of resisting force. And I haven't met anyone who's seen the movie who was offended by it, or who felt it shouldn't have been made or released. They just said it wasn't suitable for children, and I agree. To me, that's sort of the beginning and the end of the issue."
Even though the film is rated R in the U.S., all the ancillary marketing may put Hit-Girl in front of impressionable eyes, whether kids see the movie or not. For obvious reasons, McDonald's isn't doing a "Kick-Ass"/Happy Meal tie-in, but Hot Topic, one of the favorite shopping mall hang-outs among the aiming-for-edgy tween set, is selling its share of "Kick-Ass" merchandise, including Hit-Girl T-shirts that proclaim, "Girls Kick Ass!"
"I don't think anyone has ever been corrupted by a T-shirt," Goldman says, "unless there's a huge objection to the word ass."
This is America, I remind Goldman. There might be. She laughs.
And when asked if we'd even be having this conversation if Hit-Girl were Hit-Boy, Goldman has another chuckle.
"I think that's an excellent question," she says. "I think there is something about [a girl in this role] that makes people more uncomfortable. It amazes me that the traditional view of little girls as being innocent and sweet still holds true."
"I'm personally fed up with people seeing women and girls cast as victims," she adds, "so I feel it's refreshing."
| April 14, 2010; 9:30 AM ET
Categories: Movies, Pop Culture
Save & Share: Previous: The 'Lost' 5: Prepping for 'Everybody Loves Hugo'
Next: 'Housewives' stars back producer; 'Idol' musical director headed to 'Tonight'
Posted by: hodie | April 14, 2010 10:00 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: byoolin1 | April 14, 2010 10:04 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: DorkusMaximus1 | April 14, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: northgs | April 14, 2010 10:13 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: northgs | April 14, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: wadejg | April 14, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: bobsewell | April 14, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: gorilla_monsoon72 | April 14, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | April 14, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Amelia5 | April 14, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: IrishFox | April 14, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Clairebell | April 14, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: molsonmich | April 14, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Amelia5 | April 14, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | April 14, 2010 2:19 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: sorcerers_cat | April 14, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: sorcerers_cat | April 14, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: northgs | April 14, 2010 4:52 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Amelia5 | April 14, 2010 5:29 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: sorcerers_cat | April 14, 2010 6:37 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Amelia5 | April 14, 2010 6:54 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: sorcerers_cat | April 14, 2010 7:35 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.