22 Jump Street: A comedy sequel with a feminist subplot

SPOILERS AHEAD!

The hype surrounding the release of and reaction to 22 Jump Street has been nothing but great things. The movie itself is flawless in its self-mocking dialogue and set up. It will always be universally funny to make fun of yourself, and this movie adopted that ploy and made it a major plot point. 

Although the same plot points are still a part of the second movie that was in the first: bromance, drugs, surprising dealers and suppliers, and the ever famous tripping balls drug sequences, there is a subplot in the second Jump Street movie that shocked me. In the best way. 

This movie is undoubtedly a movie about a relationship where two opposites have become attached to one another and how that heterosexual male bond will continue to flourish under pressure. Yet, through all the testosterone filled man love, I have found after watching the movie twice a very clear and subtle feminist plot line. 

We have all seen a bitchy, cranky, spoiled lady child as an antagonist before, but not in the same way as the character of Mercedes. She makes demands, doesn’t take them. From the beginning she is outspoken, fearless, and yes, more or less of a bitch. The one scene of her’s that stands out the most to me is the fight with Schmidt in the hotel with the extremely high guy randomly in the background. Schmidt refuses to hit her because she is a woman and her reply is,

“Well if you saw me as a person instead of a woman!”

HELL YEAH! She may be the bad girl, but she knows it and wants to be treated and, most importantly, is portrayed in the same way in the movie as if she was just a bad person, not a bad guy. 

There is not argument that this movie has reoccurring plot lines and recycled stereotypes and archetypes. Every movie has them, but this movie takes a step to change the name of the game. Instead of the girl, Maya, being taken captive, the captain is. And while Mercedes takes charge, Maya isn’t the helpless bystander. She is an active part of taking Mercedes down. The women of this film are strong and bold.

Maya is confident in herself, her sexuality, and her aloofness. She plays the part of what we would except to see in a man after a one night stand. The scenes of Schmidt making the walk of shame with all the other girls is not only refreshing but hilarious. Bending gender roles and expectations in the medium of film is a great way to create comedy and at the same time making a statement regarding societies expectations. We don’t usually find a standard walk of shame from a woman on screen as particularly humorous (Unless you watch the movie Walk of Shame with Elizabeth Banks), but from a man, it is. We are literally laughing at the standards we have created. 

I am sure over half of the movie goers didn’t pick up on this subversive plot that I may have just created in my modernist, feminist mind but if they did, all the better! It may not have been in the filmmakers, Lord and Miller’s, minds at the time of making this movie. They may just have wanted to bend the gender roles and take the issues of your standard romantic relationship and place those stereotypes on a heterosexual male partnership. But I have higher hopes for them. I am going to look on the bright side and hope. For once. I hope the time has come that we not only continue to laugh at the breaking and bending of gender expectations and restrictions, but accept it as a reality. 

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2 thoughts on “22 Jump Street: A comedy sequel with a feminist subplot

  1. I wouldn’t say this movie had a “feminist subplot” because it had no plot in the first place. It’s mindless entertainment with a series of scenes that beat the same jokes over and over again. Yes, we get it, they’re too old for college. Yes, we get it, sequels are over the top. Yes, we get it, the male characters are in a bromance but everyone thinks they’re gay. Yes, we get it…Ice Cube’s office looks like a cube of ice. It’s frapping hysterical! Fortunately, the one actually funny scene in the movie is now on YouTube and that’s all that’s really worth seeing.

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