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'Kick-Ass' is shocking, but it's not what you think

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aaron-johnson-kick-assImage Credit: Dan SmithFor the record, I love Hit Girl in Kick-Ass. She’s a resourceful, quick-thinking daughter who loves and respects her Daddy, does her homework, and has an admirable sense of responsibility, self-determination, and family pride. Also, she’s got a way with language. No sane kid will confuse this cartoon character’s fantastic, murderous antics with appropriate real-life behavior. (Insane kids are beyond the help of role models in a comic-book movie.)

What outrages me, though, is what hasn’t warranted a shrug of disapproval, either from Concerned Parents or from Clucking Media. It’s this: When Dave Lizewski, the average teen with super-hero dreams, is seriously injured while first trying out his skills as Kick-Ass, he is self-conscious enough to request that the ambulance workers who rescue him dispose of his home-made costume. And as Dave begins to heal, his father’s biggest manly concern is that, since his son was allegedly discovered naked, the young man might be gay.

Back at school, the rumor spreads quickly: Dave is, oooh, gay! Tee-hee! Even his best friends tease him mercilessly. (In the screenwriter’s hypocritical nod to propriety, Dave’s classmates call him a “lame duck,” rather than anything more offensive.)  Indeed, the pretty girl Dave pines for, a popular cutie who otherwise wouldn’t give him the time of day, adopts him as a close friend because he’s harmessly, tee-hee, gay! The two even share sleepover dates — which is funny because we know Dave is a horny heterosexual!

Well. What if the rumor spread that Dave was Muslim? Or Puerto Rican. Or left-handed. Or deaf. And he had to protest that he wasn’t. Is that funny, too? I wish I could express myself with the freedom of vocabulary granted to Hit Girl when I say that the nonchalance of this unexceptional sexism is appalling. No, worse than that, it’s evil. Because while sane kids aren’t likely to take up firearms inspired by a fictional little girl in a mask and a purple wig, they are absolutely likely to repeat the behavior of Dave’s classmates. Average movie-going teens, after all, think nothing of declaring “that’s so gay” to make another kid shrivel with discomfort.

Hey, Kick-Assers, what if Dave Lizewski is gay: So what? Hey, Hollywood, the sexist crap stops only when movies pitched as cool-for-the-kids don’t perpetrate this bigotry. Don’t make me go all Hit Girl on your buttocks.