Just For Men Movies: Gran Torino

Posted by Irresponsibility

Clint Eastwood’s musclecar hymn to all-American masculinity, Gran Torino, upset me so much, initially, I couldn’t write about it.

The problem isn’t that I hate the film. Quite the contrary. I like it. Or did until the point where the only viable female character, Sue Lor (Ahney Her) in the film is brutally raped. She goes from the intelligent, articulate, high-spirited catalyst for the relationship between curmudgeonly Walt Kowalski (Clint) and her gormless teenage brother Thao (Bee Vang) to a mute object. When Walt heads out to confront Sue’s rapists it is not for her benefit, but for his. Her suffering is the stage on which Walt and Thao perform the blood-rites of masculinity. Then, the lady vanishes. In the film’s final scene Thao cruises down the highway in the Gran Torino. A man in all his glory.

Gran Torino’s “women only exist to make men possible” theme is depressing enough. Worse, the men I’ve talked to about it not only see nothing wrong with that; they don’t see the message at all. Apparently men are so utterly comfortable with, and accustomed to, being the centre of the universe it never crosses their minds that women object to being treated with casual brutality (onscreen and off) and then discarded when they cease to be useful to the male narrative.

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