Friday, November 21, 2014

Evil Dead: Representing Humanity (And Inhumanity)

Evil Dead:Representing Humanity (And Inhumanity)  

Curiosity can kill you; literally. In Fede Alvarez's 2013 adaptation of Evil Dead, a group of teen friends stumble into a death trap, with seemingly no way out. The clique decides to spend the weekend together in an old, run-down cabin in the woods. What better place to have a reunion? One of the young women, named Mia, is a drug-user, and with the support of her friends she vows to quit. But after a very weird series of events, a hidden basement is discovered, filled with voodoo, witchcraft, and a tattered book. They all disregard its significance, and unknowingly summon an evil force... straight from hell. 

Stereotypes are everywhere. We as a society need them to survive, but have we gone too far? Is the media failing to address all different types of people? The Representation Test was created to challenge films, and the types of people that are chosen to represent those films. The project itself states the reasoning for the test stems from an "effort to change the limiting culture of Hollywood, which continues to fail to represent the full spectrum of humanity, we’re proud to introduce The Representation Test – a media literacy tool that grades films on how well they challenge the status quo." ( The test awards points to films that avoid damaging stereotypes, and think beyond the scope of cultural limitation. I will be analyzing Evil Dead in light of this vision.

First off, I'd like to point out the fact that the 5 friends in Evil Dead are literally the only human beings present throughout the entire film. So although there is a limited number of people to represent in the first place, I'd say that the group is somewhat diverse. Now, let's look at the specifics. Will it pass the Representation Test?

According to the results, Evil Dead earns a total of 7 points, narrowly receiving a B grade on the test. Three out of five characters in the film are women, representing a majority. (To be honest, the 'demon' in the film also seems to be a woman, but I won't consider this because I'm not 100% positive on that...) So, I don't see any problem here. In fact, I think that the film did a really swell job of balancing genders in the movie. In addition, I really think that the movie uses ethos in a powerful way of representing the characters. The whole film runs on adrenaline, scare factors, and the like. In this way, it avoids stereotyping its characters. As Lunsford agrees in Everything's An Argument, "sometimes emotions can support the legitimate claims you hope to advance." (Lunsford, 452)

There is one woman, out of the five total characters, who is African-American. Again, considering the movie only has five characters to work with, this isn't a bad representation at all! There is no reference to her race, there is no stereotype associated with it. She is not reduced, she is just there, as a character, trying to fight an evil demon, no big deal. This is what I love about horror movies; there's no focus on trying to be funny, and there's not much romance. Not that I don't enjoy those things, but it's just refreshing to see them absent. The plot of Evil Dead is so imaginative, that it stays away from stereotypes in general. Yes, the characters all make unbelievably stupid decisions, and get themselves into a boatload of trouble with the 'demon of the dead,' but I feel like there is no pressure to judge people.

In Evil Dead, there are no people who identify themselves as being LGBT. This is one instance where the film is lacking. Thus, it does not get any points in this category of the Representation Test. There are also no people with a handicap, or any sort of physical disability. (unless you consider Mia ripping her own arm off a disability) Although, I would like to comment on the fact that Mia is a drug addict. Is this stereotypical? I think not. The film portrays Mia is being a cute, happy girl who happens to have a really unfortunate problem. The friends try and help her out, to overcome the addiction in an attempt to be positive. So I like what the film decided to do there.

One other point of insufficiency has to do with the body types of the characters. Every single character (out of the five) is a pretty attractive person. The women are thin, and very good-looking. The men are decently athletic, as well. So for the most part, the film does a bad job, because it is unrealistic in portraying all of the friends as being super appealing to the eye. I will say, though, that the characters are diverse in how they appear. Mia has dark brown hair, her brother David has light brown hair, his girlfriend Natalie has blonde hair, Olivia is African-American and has dark brown hair, and Eric has long, wavy, muddy blonde hair and glasses. In my perspective, this cast does vary in a sense.

While I personally have an 'everybody should love everybody' type of outlook on life, I think that the Representation Test's aims are unrealistic, and over-the-top. It just seems like it's trying too hard. I love the message, and I agree that all types of people should be positively represented in motion pictures: no matter what gender, race, class, age, sexual orientation, or disability the person may have. But life isn't equal. It never is; not in school, not in the workplace, nor in communities. There will always be a college, or a company, or a town, that has more Caucasian people than African-Americans, or vice versa. This is true most of the time, so I think it's just a little silly to think that we have to always make sure everyone in a film is different and displayed as so. On the other hand, I do believe that directors should aim, if they feel it's necessary, to provide a diverse cast, obviously if each person is the best for their perspective role. I only say this because I notice that if people are more represented, then we will recognize their 'differentness' and be more educated and in-tune to eliminate stereotypes and make healthy judgments on other people. Evil Dead doesn't really do anything to eliminate stereotypes, or enhance diversity, but it doesn't do anything negative, per say. 

Unfortunately, Evil Dead is a difficult film to analyze in light of the Representation Test! However, there were a few notable things to comment, on and so I award the movie 3 pickles. Evil Dead earned a solid B grade on the Representation Test, and embodies the appeals with a fair, unprejudiced standpoint on its characters.

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