Are film baddies too real?
It's pretty much par of the course that unless the baddie in a film is a well off, middle class, white American, the group of people that they're representing will no doubt want to complain about the way they are portrayed, after all the film can only show them in a few hours at most, and it needs the characters to behave in a very specific manner for the story, and that usually means twisted and evil.
Of course that won't give a real world view of that group, and that can lead ot peiple being upset and complaining of stereotyping and misrepresentation. Except it's a film, and these films need a baddie character and need them to behave in a certain way, so is it right to take these views to heart and speak out?
The most recent example of this is just after the release of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (Filmstalker review) where the Russian Communist party have spoken out about the representation of Russians in the film and because they say it distorts history. They've even asked for the film to be banned altogether.
According to the BBC the head of the St Petersburg Communist Party Sergei Malinkovich said:
"Why should we agree to that sort of lie and let the West trick our youth?...They will go to the cinema and will be sure that in 1957 we made trouble for the United States and almost started a nuclear war...It's rubbish... In 1957 the communists did not run with crystal skulls throughout the US."
Well I think it's fair to say that any sensible minded and rational human being would realise that Indiana Jones is complete fantasy and that there wasn't really a fight for a crystal skull nor aliens and flying saucers linked with Aztec temples...or is it?
This is just a further step onwards from previous complaints of historical distortion from Iranians over the film 300 (Filmstalker review), a lot of which you can read about right here on Filmstalker. Yes that film was fantasy as well as Indiana Jones, but it was based on an actual historical event and so is closer to reality and accepted fact, so perhaps there's a case to answer to with the portrayal of the ancient Persians there?
Much closer to reality are cowboy films, films that have to a degree affected popular historical belief about the early time of settlement in America. To begin with these films showed the native American Indians as a vicious and evil enemy who murdered and raped the early settlers without care or provocation. This has changed over time though as the representation of the American Indian and the early modern America has slowly come to be shown more factually in film.
Yet those beginnings in film really did affect popular opinion and belief about the native American Indian and the period in history, and it is perhaps very fair to acknowledge that they were misrepresented and received an unfair portrayal in film. Could the same be said for groups of baddies in other films, like 300 and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull?
Of course if production companies were to make sure they upset no one then every baddie on film would be a complex and torn character who would have to carry out their deeds through necessity to protect themselves, their home and/or their beliefs, and that instantly brings the goodies into question for their mixed moralities. Not only that but it would also take away from the story itself, which can be so much better when there's clear cut goodies and baddies - look at Die Hard for example.
So how much is too much, and should all portrayals of baddies be far removed from reality and actual groups as possible? Is the only answer to portray every baddie as a white, middle class American, or is that even misrepresenting a group of people as much as those mentioned above?
Are some people just being over sensitive and films such as Indiana Jones are so far from reality it doesn't matter? If so what about those that are closer to reality, such as early films about native American Indians?
There are those that will say it's only a film, of course they are right, but can people really make the distinction in this overly political correct and sensitive world? Should we really be more careful of who baddies are in film and how they are portrayed?