Feminist Guilty Pleasures – Do Bad Movies Count?

Every Sunday, a few girlfriends and I get together to relax and hang out before a busy week – good old-fashioned girl time. It almost always includes beer, greasy food, and a movie. This week, the movie was “Piranha.” You may remember it in theaters a few months back as “Piranha 3D” and if you are anything like me you casually made jokes about it to your friends but would never actually pay money to see it (not in this economy!). I’m always up for a terrible movie and, as expected, the movie was obnoxious, gory, hilarious and… surprisingly enjoyable.

I honestly could not tell if this was the worst movie I had ever seen or the work of genius.  As I was doing some “research” (I googled ‘Piranha 3D’), I was shocked at how well-received the movie was.  It actually got a 74% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes which is actually a pretty high score on a scale I almost always trust, even “J. Edgar” with Leonardo DiCaprio got a dismal 41%.  Not to mention the film went on to gross over $83 million worldwide.  There had to be some sort of method, right?  Or maybe I’m giving the movie too much credit and people really just want to see hundreds of big-breasted girls being dismembered in bikinis.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about because there is no way you would waste an hour and a half of your life by watching this movie, let me give you the Campbell’s soup version: a fisherman is fishing on a lake in Arizona and an earthquake splits the lake floor causing a whirlpool which he falls into and is then ripped apart by a school of piranhas that emerge from a chasm and ascend the vortex; some attractive people get together including a porno filmmaker to find some good spots on the lake for making a porn movie; the fisherman’s mutilated body is found in the lake but the sheriff decides not to do anything because 20,000 college students are partying in their town for spring break; as people begin to get killed by piranhas in the most gory way imaginable a scientist discovers the piranhas are ancient and have been trapped underground for over two million years (I’d be pissed too); warnings to evacuate the lake are ignored and thousands of mostly female tourists with big boobs are attacked by piranhas and so begins the mass killing spree.  **SPOILER ALERT**  The piranhas are finally taken down by exploding propane tanks killing most of them, or so we think, until we find out that the deadly beasts were only babies and as the surviving character wonders out loud where the parents are, a giant piranha leaps out of the water and swallows him whole.  AWESOME.

Let’s face it, topically this movie is a feminists’ worst nightmare.  Most of the scenes show massive amounts of exposed female body parts both living and in the process of dying.  The mutilation by blood-thirsty piranhas makes up a majority of the movie and its as if they have an affinity for silicone.  One scene actually shows a girl getting pulled apart at her midsection like that one magic trick with the saw.  That was right before two girls with large breasts got their bikini tops ripped off and were subsequently severed by a chainsaw.  My friends and I laughed the entire time and the worst part is, I loved every second of it.  I immediately became introspective and asked myself if I was a bad feminist for enjoying such a display of objectification.  Just as I was about to accept #feministfail and rip off my “Honk if You’re a Feminist!” bumper sticker in a fit of rage, I thought to myself, are campy movies given the poetic license to behave badly to simply be laughed at?  Or do they actually serve a larger social purpose in the form of irony?

I would like to call on my fellow feminists to watch “Piranha” or its sequel and tell me what you think the answers to those questions are because, frankly, I just can’t decide on my own.

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