From the acclaimed misogynist director of Hustle & Flow comes a new movie in which Samuel L. Jackson chains a skeletal Christina Ricci to his radiator and attempts to “cure her of promiscuity.” I saw the trailer a few months ago and found it hard to believe. But seeing the film’s website, which is up now, I realize they’re completely serious. It’s not even done in a pulp-y style.
Ricci told MTV her character is “a girl who suffers physical flashbacks to a childhood rape. Some women and young girls freak out, panic, and need to cut themselves. [My character] needs to cause herself the same kind of pain when she has panic attacks by having anonymous sex.”
Sounds like being chained up in only her underwear and then preached to is exactly the kind of healing process this character needs.
The creepiest thing about the movie, or at least its marketing, is that it’s not only about selling Ricci’s body. It’s about selling the idea of sex with a girl who’s been abused and who’s clearly got a lot of problems. There’s even an interactive feature (if you click on “experience” in the upper left corner — click here for a screenshot) that allows you to drag two pills across the screen and then watch a video of Ricci collapsing. Now she’s yours for the violating! Plus, the “page loading” graphics that appear every time you click feature her silhouette struggling against the chain. A recurring image in the film as well, I’d imagine.
I’m sure this is going to go over well with the Axe-wearing crowd, but don’t you worry, girls! There are also features for you, such as the “Hard Out Here for a Nymph” quiz (screenshot here), which basically glamorizes Ricci’s emotionally disturbed, abused, and drug-addled. state. (It’s also a nice reference to the hit Oscar-winning song from Hustle & Flow.) If your quiz results prove how slutty you are, the game will tell you “You ain’t right yet” – which is apparently Samuel L. Jacksons refrain as he keeps Ricci chained up. Handily, the site also provides you with code so you can embed your “nymph” score in your MySpace page.
Too bad it’s a bit late for you to send your special someone an official Black Snake Moan Valentine’s Day e-cards, which allows you to upload a photo of yourself so that YOU appear chained to the radiator in a midriff top and cutoffs. Why say “I love you” when you can say: “They say if you love something / you gotta set it free/ but you and I know / that ain’t right. / This Valentine’s Day / if you love someone / chain ‘em up / then they’ll know how much / you really care.” (I wish I was making this shit up.)
To cheer myself up, I created a belated v-day card that features the aforementioned misogynist director’s face on Ricci’s body:
The Sundance reviewer pointed out that the film looks and feels a lot like Elia Kazan’s Baby Doll, in which a rural Southern man tries to seduce his best friend’s “distraught but sensually aroused” child bride. (Compare the movie poster to this still of Ricci.) Most reviewers agree that, like Baby Doll, Black Snake Moan is long on scandal and short on substance. I don’t know if I’ll have the stomach to actually watch this whole movie, but I’m not surprised at that assessment.