I can accept that summer action films have a certain obligation to pander to the lowest-common-teenage-boy-denominator. I can accept that the boobies/explosion to dialogue ratio has to be high. But what I can’t stomach is the fact that every single female character Matthew Vaughn’s X-Men First Class — except for Prof. X and Magneto’s Mothers — needs to be objectified throughout the duration of the film.
It would be one thing if we were just talking about a “token female” character, but the cast is littered with women, and every single one is either completely or partially naked at some point in the movie.
Don’t get me wrong — I liked X-Men. It was a lot of fun. But I couldn’t help but be distracted at the way in which having Emma Frost turn to diamond or Mystique turn …
… into her blue skinned/red-haired self was basically an excuse to show the actresses as nude as possible without losing their PG-13 rating.
Even when the women were human, there was never a time when January Jones’s breasts were not shoved up somewhere around her neck, even when wearing a full-body jump suit. It’s little wonder why people suspect Jones and Vaughn had an affair on the movie, given that she was near-naked the whole time at his behest. Jennifer Lawrence was constantly clad in skin-tight, very short and often low-cut dresses, and when she finally gets to suit up as a member of the team, she is the only person whose top is zipped down to the middle of her chest. One would think that would be something of a safety concern, given that the suits are meant to protect them. Rebecca Romijn has a quick cameo as Mystique where she is, of course, naked and in a bed.
As for the other women in the movie, Zoe Kravitz is “discovered” by Professor X and Magneto while stripping. When she shows the pair her mutation, she unhooks her bra while they lounge on a bed and look impressed — at her dragonfly wings. She spends the rest of the movie in skintight leather Daisy Dukes and crop tops.
Rose Byrne, who plays CIA agent Moira McTaggart, strips to her bra and panties in the very first scene so that she can infiltrate some kind of Playboy club. Later in the movie, Byrne is told that her behavior is the reason women don’t belong in the CIA. Byrne also disappears for about an hour, leading me to struggle to remember who she was when she finally reappeared near the end of the film, despite having been a major character up to this point.
… I think you get it. My problem is not the sexualization of these women, but the fact that Mystique’s unzipped suit or Jones’s near-constant partial nudity or Kravitz’s Daisy Dukes or McTaggart’s silly lady ideas were not only unnecessary, but ran completely counter to the supposed point of the movie — embracing your individuality, accepting yourself, being your own person, etc. These strong, empowered women didn’t really strike me as the type who thought to themselves, “You know, I’m about to go into mutant battle. I better show off my titties” or “I no longer have to strip, and I’ve mentioned several times how I hated stripping, but I’ll dress like I’m working the poll anyhow.”
What’s your take? Is exposed ladyflesh just an accepted, unchangeable fact of summer blockbusters? Or did Vaughn go too far in his objectification of all his female actors?