The last one week has been about Animal. As much as I dislike a film like that getting attention, not criticizing it means letting the hate just be. It’s almost like not taking a stand. So, even after all the trolling and misogynistic comments that I received for not liking a film, here I am. People who like the film have two arguments, one of which is just enjoying misogyny. The other is: “But oh, it’s good filmmaking.”
I did try and focus on the logistics of it. Then I realized that I don’t owe that to audiences who are going to like it anyway. Or the man who thinks that abuse is given in a relationship. I don’t owe that to Animal or Sandeep Reddy Vanga. To me, it stops being a work of art when it’s problematic. I also don’t understand why I have to look at what the film ‘gets right’ when it’s outright problematic?
It’s also weird to me that when men find something hateful towards them, they have the privilege to just be angry. Women, on the other hand, are told that they should find logic. People are not fine with the fact that misogyny and sheer hate is stopping women from liking a film. You know what’s unfair? There is a scene in the film which has offended people because apparently it has Tripti Dimri, a woman, showing “too much skin.” THAT can be a legit opinion, but calling out sexism cannot be?
Even when films show women as central characters, people look for ways to find offense. These characters are not even morally wrong or problematic, it’s the representation that annoys people. But they are allowed to hate on it. Now that women find something purely scary, especially when we already live in a man’s world, they are expecting us to “talk about what’s likable.” That is if and when we are not being shut for having an opinion here. So there is sexism associated with the film, in more ways than one. On-screen, there are dialogues and scenes that are derogatory. Off-screen, there are people playing out everything they learnt from the film.
The funny part is that people are hell-bent on convincing us that it is just a piece of art, with no impact on the real-world whatsoever. Tell that to a woman who is constantly being abused for saying that Animal is offensive.
Seriously though, this is still a lot of logic – and I get that we must have reason for critique. Even so, saying that a film is bad because it orchestrates sexism, violence and abuse is reason enough. You cannot expect women who have been through all of it – who go through all of it, every day – to look past the storytelling to appreciate this piece of art. Also, if art is subjective then why are we being forced to evaluate it from a point of view that is not even ours?
Where cinema is a piece of art, its elements constitute storytelling and messaging as well. The sole purpose of it is not entertainment – and even if the intent is THAT at times, it shouldn’t have any impact at all. If films can’t do something responsible, they do not have the right to do something that adds to the problem. I also understand that constantly being the voice of reason can be a lot of pressure – for artists, for films, for people. However, if we wish not to be the voice of reason at all times, not having any opinion is always a choice.
I see Animal for what it is – a film that glorifies toxic masculinity and sexism. Like other audiences, I have the right to say that I dislike it because of how it impacts women eventually. And that should be reason enough.