The Red Pill (2016)
Dir. Cassie Jaye
“Down the rabbit hole of gender politics.”
In both the fictional world of the 1999 film The Matrix and the very real one of the men’s rights movement, the red pill represents embracing reality in all its uncomfortable complexity.The Guardian
Red or blue? Is anything really that simple? Well, in the case of controversial documentary The Red Pill, the answer is “no it’s not.” And should we ‘ban’ a film simply because it offers a different opinion? Well, surely you would agree with me that it’s ludicrous even to propose that idea. If you don’t agree with me then please stop reading this, because I don’t think you and I are going to ever see eye to eye.
I’m going to be edgy here and declare that I strongly urge everyone (whether you’re a male or a female) to seek out this documentary and watch it. You don’t have to agree with a single argument that director Cassie Jaye makes, but you should give it some time and some thought. It’s an interesting film which is needed at this turbulent time. Whether you’re pro-feminist, anti-feminist or like me somewhere in between (if there is still such thing as being in the middle that exists nowadays), you should at least attempt to watch this film. Simply put it needs to be watched, it’s topics need to openly discussed and we can’t just keep cruising through our lives getting triggered and being offended by everything.
Jaye started off as a feminist investigating the ‘hate group’ known as ‘A voice for men’. Already this seems prosperous, aren’t we living in a patriarchal society? Don’t men already have a voice? Well, not really. At least not every man has a voice. Many men suffer just as much as their female counterparts. During the course of the film we see Jaye spending a year filming the leaders and followers within the movement. We are given access to her personal video diaries and witness her inner turmoil she is facing as she tries to comes to terms with her experiences and transgression. Jaye is brutally honest in addressing how conflicted she is, and how she struggles to identify with the struggles of the opposite sex.
The film is mixed up in controversy, the biggest ‘slur’ against the film is that it was funded by men’s right activists? Indeed Michael Cernovich; an alt-right social media personality writer (according to his Wikipedia entry), did support the film with a 10,000 dollar pledge but it has never been disclosed whether he did or did not have any input into the final cut of the film.
Jaye maintained that “our five highest backers … are neither MRA nor feminist. I would say three out of five of them didn’t even know about the men’s rights movement, but wanted to defend free speech,” Jaye also claims that the film’s backers and producers would had no influence or control of the film. In her statement she doesn’t claim to be a supporter for the MRA, she sees herself as a teacher and to show another side to the story which is often ignored or misrepresented.
My hope for this film is to educate audiences on the issues that face men and boys in our society today and analyze why the current gender discussion is not fully inclusive. I don’t have all of the answers, but I believe the first step in the right direction is asking the uncomfortable questions.Director’s statement
The film gives another side to the story, and by the end I was beginning to ask questions such as whether or not we’re being misled somewhat by the mainstream media. And I was left feeling somewhat confused, angry and frustrated, but not in a negative way as I was suddenly eager to research further into the current representation of males.
Like all documentaries, The Red Pill is designed to shock and gauge an emotional response from its viewer. Perhaps in a way this restricts it somewhat from being original. However it certainly delivers on the ‘shock factor’ with it’s statistics like “1 in 4 males being subjected to domestic violence” are being constantly swept away by the domineering statistic that “1 in 3 women are ‘victims’ of domestic violence.” Who is subjected these 1 in 4 men to abuse? If it’s so common then why don’t see the hashtags and the awareness days for this in the same way that we see for women? The most interesting section is when Jaye meets the founder of the first domestic violence shelter in UK, who states that she when their days first opened it was men and women who were turning up seeking help. We never hear about this in our society, it is brushed aside and ignored. Men just need to man up, right?
We also seem to ignore the fact that the divorce courts are heavily biased towards females. It is often the mother who wins custody of the children. The film presents some heartbreaking accounts of men actually taking their own lives as they’re being denied access to their children. The film’s message is very clear with this-don’t use children as weapons.
The film follows the traditional documentary style format. There’s nothing flashy or visually different to set it apart from other documentaries. But, is that a fair critique? It’s not trying to transform the genre. The aim of The Red Pill is to be informative, to bring our attention to harsh world of statistics. The numbers don’t lie…Men are more likely to commit suicide, to be homeless and to die whilst on the job. If times have changed for the role of the woman, then why haven’t our view as the male being the macho breadwinner still stuck in the 1950s?
All in all, neither side is made up entirely of saints. The feminist movement has its sinners and it’s extremists. The same for the men’s right activists. No one (not even a film-maker) can force you to make up your mind about what you believe in. I can’t force you to watch a film, and I am simply recommending The Red Pill to you if you’re curious about current gender politics and you’re still comfortably on the fence with this one.
In my personal opinion; if you want to explore the other sides to gender politics then I’m afraid you have to tackle it from all sides. You can’t ignore either side and then claim to be an expert. As director Cassie Jaye describes it:
The Red Pill challenges the audience to pull back the veil, question societal norms, and expose themselves to an alternate perspective on gender equality, power and privilege.
And I for one, gladly accepted her challenge.