Knights of Badassdom
Director: Joe Lynch
Writers: Kevin Dreyfuss and Matt Wall
Recommended? Not really, no.
Bechdel Test: See below.
It’s never any fun when your culture is represented by outsiders. Geeks know this as much as anyone—we’re much maligned, us people who favor strange costumes and make-believe. So like plenty of geeks, I’ve been waiting around for Knights of Badassdom for awhile now—finally, a film for us, by us. In fact, I’ve been waiting several years now. (There was a whole kerfluffle between the director and the studio that set it back a number of years and left us with a cut that is not what the director intended.)
But, well, if this is what geeks have to say about geek culture… then this is not our proudest day.
At the beginning of the film, a group of LARPers (Live Action Roleplayers) have their games ruined by a bunch of camo-wearing rednecks with paintball guns. Oh, the jocks… the geek’s natural enemy. I’m sympathetic to the LARPer’s plight.
But after all the homophobic jokes and casual sexism out of the mouths of the LARPers, I’m not so sure they’ve got a leg to stand on as being better people than their paintballing antagonists.
One review seemed to think that the sexist rhetoric in the film was a clever nod to the immature sexual jokes found within geek culture without actually perpetuating that sexism, and I’d like to believe that interpretation. But I don’t. There’s a whole scene where two characters banter in character about one’s “sea hag” of a wife. It’s subtitled in “out of character” English as how his bitch of a wife is making him clean the garage. The love interest is ogled openly by men who talk about her “+3 ass.” An upset woman is told (for laughs) that maybe she’s having her monthlies.
The primary antagonist of the film? It’s the protagonist’s ex-girlfriend, summoned from hell as a succubus, who goes around and seduces people and then rips their hearts out. Subtle.
The film passes the Bechdel test if a demon from hell counts as a woman.
Oh, the elf is gay? Oh man, didn’t see that one coming. Wait, yes I did. (That said, he has some of the best lines in the movie, in the one scene he’s in before his death).
Are we not better than this? Because what I’m looking at when I see this film is a film that’s more sexist than mainstream culture. I didn’t even know that was possible.
Outside all the above, it’s kind of an entertaining B-movie and I’m always a sucker for when roleplayers are forced to make the decision to actually fight evil. And credit where it’s due, I didn’t catch a single little person joke about Peter Dinklage’s character, and one of the LARPer kings was in a wheelchariot. I’m also always drawn to “hurray for the losers, fuck the social climbers” narratives.
So maybe I should just “man up” and try to enjoy the movie.