I know I’m a bit late to the party, but I just watched the Swedish version of ‘The girl with the dragon tattoo’. The film both scared and disturbed me. But overall I liked it. It stayed true to the book, which I thoroughly enjoyed; mainly because of the refreshing writing and strong female character in Lisbeth Salander. But I’m not here to write a book review. I’m here because I’m pissed off. Upon googling the American version of the movie to see whether it’s worth watching I stumbled upon some of the movie posters and anger quickly consumed me. To better explain, here is a comparison of the Swedish and American movie posters:
And these are the American posters:
If you didn’t know better, you would think they were two different movies with completely different story lines. Mikael isn’t even present in the two official Swedish posters. Lisbeth is staring directly at the camera in both, she’s aggressive, powerful and in control. Not a hint of sexuality.
Now lets jump to the American posters. I didn’t pick and choose them, they are the official movie posters. And Lisbeth has magically lost her clothes and attitude in all of them. It’s pretty clear the people responsible for marketing the American movie didn’t get the memo: Lisbeth Salander doesn’t like to be touched, she doesn’t walk round naked and isn’t one to be submissive or needs to be protected.
The whole reason these books became the phenomenon they are is because of the strength of Lisbeth’s character. She’s damaged, weird and anti-social. But most of all she’s an intelligent and determined surviver. So why do the American posters have her in submissive, sexualized poses? Why is Daniel Craig in the foreground with her in the background? Why does he have a protective arm placed over her? Why is he looking down at her whilst blowing smoke into her mouth? And why the hell is she naked?
Women don’t aspire to be Salander. But they respect her. Despite her history of physical abuse and sexual violence she’s physically strong, mentally sharp and in control of her sexuality. Are we really so afraid of women like that?
I get that sex sells. But so does violence, genuine adaptations of beloved books and powerful characters. Why do we always resort to making women a commodity? If you want to add a sexualized message, why not have Daniel Craig naked? Oh that’s right, he’s not a young sexy women with a nipple piercing that will feed raunch culture it’s daily dose of sexualizing everything. The American movie posters are nothing more than an exploitation of Larsson’s iconic female character in an aim to increase profits.
There is a strong contrast in the message the Swedish and American posters are sending. And I know which one appeals to me. Give me the Lisbeth Salander holding a knife, a gun or riding a motor cycle any day. Because I’m sure as hell not identifying with the one being submissive or posing naked.
At the end of the day, we should ask ourselves: What would Larsson think?