“It’s degrading,” were my sister’s exact words when I asked her why she didn’t want to see Sin City, Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino’s film adaptation of Frank Miller’s classic graphic novel series. “If you can’t see why, then you’re an idiot.” Despite my protests, nothing seemed to change her mind. She refused to watch the film, which she repeatedly denounced as “shitty” without being able to explain why; she had only watched one trailer on our BT Vision on-demand service before deciding the critically-acclaimed film had no redeeming qualities, describing it as “shitty” and “shitty” and the much more creative adjective “shitty”. Yes, she really had no other words for it.
On the other hand, I found the film to be fantastic; stylish, gritty and darkly witty, it’s everything I expected executed with the slick visual style which has been the target of much praise. As for the comment regarding the film’s “degrading” nature – I couldn’t disagree more. The prostitutes of Oldtown are dangerous, ruthless, and determined to protect their business and their truce, which is all but shattered by Rafferty’s death. These whores aren’t the subject of objectification; they’re businesswomen, exchanging services for cash with no judgement from others or accusations of moral depravity, much superior to the dirty reputation of Amsterdam’s red light district or Hamburg’s Reeperbahn.
The film’s nudity is barely ever in a sexual context; the most sexually charged scene in the film is Jessica Alba’s dance, which oddly enough also has no nudity at all. No, the use of nudity here is purely artistic, a supplement to the already unique and eye-catching visual aesthetic of the black-white-red-blonde colour scheme. Everything is exaggerated, even the plot and the animated gore, and the film’s protagonists are primarily strong, self-sufficient women. Degrading? No, Sin City is nothing but empowering to women, and you’d think the film would have some reputation for that. But no, my sister, so thoughtful and educated thinks that Sin City is a shitty, degrading film, and her mind is set on that notion before she’s even seen the film – which knowing her stubbornness, she probably never will.