Passengers – A Celebration of Rape Culture?
So there’s this lonely guy, a bit out of his mind and fallen into an unfortunate circumstance, stalking a beautiful woman while she’s unconscious and vulnerable. He manages to manipulate her into a sexual relationship, and in doing so robs her of the life she should have had and condemns her to a lonely death. This is a basic synopsis for the movie Passengers.
I suppose Passengers is meant to be some kind of ‘love conquers all’ tale, but really, are we swallowing this. I can empathise with the Chris Pratt character, Jim Preston. Spending the next 60 years with nobody but an (admittedly suave) android named Arthur (Michael Sheen) doesn’t sound overly thrilling. And yes, if you’re effectively going to kidnap a woman and coerce her into a relationship you could do worse than Jennifer Lawrence (playing a character named Aurora Lane), but seriously, he wakes her from stasis on board an interstellar vessel 90 years early because he’s lonely, effectively murdering her (they can’t be put back into stasis, and neither of them will live long enough to see their vessel reach its destination), and by movie’s end SHE FORGIVES HIM!!! (oops – spoilers!).
Is this message, that this man is somehow a hero, and somehow a romantic, really ok?
I can buy a man committing such an act out of momentary insanity. I can buy Aurora (eventually) forgiving his lies and manipulations on the basis that the alternative is her own terribly lonely existence. Heck, they’re both fit, and to be fair if Jennifer Lawrence woke me up 90 years too early to have sex with me I’d probably begrudgingly agree to it (but no cuddles). Where this plot line really begins to unravel is when Jim manages to figure out a way to put her back into stasis, effectively undoing some of the wrong he has done to her, and she refuses, instead agreeing to remain loyal to this most untrustworthy of men and living out their final decades alone, just the two of them (I can only assume she wanted to spend the next 60 years passive-aggressively torturing him and reminding him every day what a dick he is).
Oh, and it’s painfully slow and nothing really happens – except they put out a fire. I guess that was thrilling. Laurence Fishburne sticks his head up for a few minutes. That was ok. Nothing else really to report. The movie was boring, the plot believable until it wasn’t anymore, and the overarching message – that it’s ok to trick a woman into sex and expect her to be ok with it – more than a little troubling. Really, I am surprised that Jennifer Lawrence, a role model for young girls the world over after The Hunger Games, would accept the final premise of the film and the message it delivers.