Red Pill: The background to the controversial documentary
Controversial documentary The Red Pill has been the subject of feminist activist protests since it was released — and, as a result has been pulled from cinemas in Sydney and Melbourne. The Sydney University Students Union also blocked the screening of the film last week.
How did the project come about, what do the critics say and is the controversy likely to die down any time soon?
What is it all about?
The tagline is ‘a feminist’s journey into the men’s rights movement. The description on IMBd reads: “The Red Pill chronicles filmmaker Cassie Jaye’s journey following the mysterious and polarising Men’s Rights Movement. The Red Pill explores today’s gender war and asks the question “what is the future of gender equality?”
The filmmaker was researching rape culture when she came upon a website for men’s rights activists and the movie documents her exploration from there into the gender debate.
The title is a reference to The Matrix — with the protagonist offered the choice of a red pill, which opened mind to harsh reality, or a blue pill to maintain the status quo.
And who is Cassie Jaye?
A 30-year-old American documentary maker who has made movies on gay marriage and abstinence education. She used Kickstarter to raise funds for The Red Pill, raising $211,260 and a slew of publicity.
Of the film ‘sprocess she says: “If you ask someone who deeply cares about gender equality to look into men’s issues, that person is going to realise that men have issues that deserve to be addressed, and that is what happened when I was making The Red Pill. When I decided to look into the Men’s Rights Movement, I realised that gender equality goes beyond feminism. Gender equality requires looking at the bigger picture, which includes men’s experiences.”
And the film has been banned?
No, although some cinemas have pulled it after initially intending to show it. Last November The Red Pill was due to be screened at the Kino Theatre in Melbourne but was pulled following a petition. The film was also due to be shown at the Dendy Newtown in Sydney next week but has also been canned. The Sydney University Students Union blocked a screening of the film and said while The Red Pill was “purported” to be a film which highlighted issues specific to men in our society, the reality was “much more sinister” and had the potential to put women on campus at risk.
You can purchase and stream the film via iTunes and Fan-Force says there will be a screening at Village Cinemas Jam Factory in Victoria next month.
What the critics said
“What the film does illustrate is how the gendered culture war has devolved into an ugly schoolyard scrap, when goals could be aligned to work for greater equality for all. But “The Red Pill” (the title is a reference to “The Matrix”) only exacerbates that divide with its uncritical, lopsided presentation and inability to craft a compelling argument regarding a topic this controversial” — LA Times
“Red Pill offers an explanation for a single outrageous essay (which is said to have been a satirical response to an allegedly anti-male article elsewhere), but ignores the rest. In doing so, the film all but guarantees that the movement’s opponents will conclude Jaye isn’t worth listening to” — Hollywood Reporter
What you said
“I gave up hope of seeing it so bought it from the US. I watched it with my wife with a completely open mind. It is certainly confronting and challenging. It absolutely confronts the Establishment position on Feminism. Didn’t agree with all of it but it is grossly dishonest to suggest or infer it promotes or accepts violence against women or that it is anti-feminism; though several of the interviewees professed opposition to ‘extreme” feminism.’” – James
“Whilst I certainly believe that children should be protected from certain issues as an adult I think I am perfectly capable of deciding what films I want to watch and so is every other adult. If I find something offensive I simply stop watching or change the channel or don’t go to the theatre but I don’t believe I have the right to decide what other adults want to watch.” – Deborah
“I rented this movie. It is hardly controversial (esp if you’re open minded and like to take on a range of views) and presents a lot a well researched info. The documentary maker is hardly “anti feminist’ as the misguided USU claims.” – Skeet
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