Why Do Critics Hate Kristen Stewart’s Snow White?

My TIME.com column today:

Many critics have faulted Snow White and the Huntsman for, oddly enough, an absence of heart. This is a peculiar criticism for a movie that takes great pains to establish the emotional complexity of its characters. Charlize Theron’s Queen Ravenna is a bipolar mix of steely goddess and unhinged harpie. But she’s also a genuinely tortured soul – with a history of sexual and emotional abuse. When was the last time we saw an action movie villain whose eyes filled with tears each time she embarked on a murder spree? SWATH is a triumph of feminist storytelling, not because the female leads look invincible, but because they are fully dimensional.

Other critics have suggested that all this feminist reimagining is eventually hijacked by an attempt to masculinize the story, literally dressing Snow White in a suit of armor. It’s true that things come to a predictable end, with a saber-rattling battle. But Director Rupert Sanders didn’t turn the two women leads into men: “That happens sometimes when films turn women into action heroes. But I made a decision not to have Kristen do anything that she wouldn’t realistically be able to do. The men follow her into battle because of the spirit within her…”

Read more: http://ideas.time.com/2012/06/05/why-do-critics-hate-kristen-stewarts-snow-white/#ixzz1wv60mrk0

[Also: check out my earlier piece on Kristen Stewart, The Harsh Bigotry of Twilight Haters here.]


About ErikaChristakis

Yale Lecturer in early childhood education/Licensed teacher/Former preschool director and Harvard College house master/some-time journalist. In possession of: unmarketable bachelor’s degree (Harvard, anthropology), semi-marketable graduate degrees (public health, education…). Rewarding career at the intersection of family, society, and schools (including long stint in parenting vortex). Forging a new path to connect all of the above.
This entry was posted in Children/Teens/Young Adults, Entertainment/Pop culture, Erika @ TIME.com, Women-related. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Why Do Critics Hate Kristen Stewart’s Snow White?

  1. Kevin S. Birnbaum says:

    As usual, and ironically, reviewers and critics of them forget about the people that actually WRITE the films they’re talking about. Giving credit to the director for all those positive scripted comments when they were WRITTEN by three other people in this case, has always been a mystery to me. It’s as if a director just wings the whole thing. Give credit where it’s due. I’m sure Ms. Christakis, if someone gave credit to someone else for what you wrote, you’d be slighted.

    • Mea culpa! I’m always happy to credit writers! In this case, though, I felt the screenplay was only one part of what made the feminist choices so compelling; it was the overall tone of the movie, the actors’ expressions, the set direction (for example, the incredible scene with the scarred women, which was shot to look like a rural river village in South Asia, not medieval Europe, and thus – to my eye – made the scene so topical in terms of the mutilation/scarring that South Asian and African women undergo today). And there was very little talking, relatively speaking, from the lead actress. So much was conveyed in her silence. I think a bad script can sink a great movie but, in this case, I really felt the director had made conscious choices – including the casting of Snow White as someone beautiful but not Hollywood-hot beautiful – that made the movie what it was to me. (If someone actually took credit for my writing, that would be plagiarism and, yes, I would be pissed.) Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I’ll mention the screenplay next time, if I can. (Editors have the final say, of course.)

  2. Linnea Carlson says:

    “Bipolar Mix?” I don’t really appreciate when my mental illness is used to describe the Evil Queen in Snow White. Like many people with bipolar disorder I am a sweet and loving person. It is just another reinforcement of a harsh, unforgiving stigma. The argument about feminism gets nullified with the objectification of another group. The loose use of the term bipolar shows an ability to do the same absent minded critique as the critics being analyzed.

    I’m sure you are a good egg and wish you the best.

    • You are 100+ percent correct and I apologize. It’s far too easy to lapse into a kind of cheesy journalism speak which serves no one. Thanks for the helpful feedback.

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