Review: 'Assassination Nation' Is Feminist Rage Personified

Review: 'Assassination Nation' Is  Feminist Rage Personified

Women are tired of taking sh*t from men.

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In Sam Levinson's new film Assassination Nation, Lilly, Em, Sarah, and Bex are four teenaged high school girls so in love with themselves and obsessed with social media they ignore the world around them. Their hometown of Salem has lost its f**king mind. This is why, when the sh*t hits the fan, they have no time to prepare for the onslaught of violence coming their way. Within the first two minutes, there is a huge trigger warning flooded with multiple triggers, and the film delivers on them all. Don't be fooled into thinking this is a satirical comedy. There is nothing funny about what these young women endure.

Lily (Odessa Young), Bex (Hari Nef), Sarah (Suki Waterhouse), Em (Abra) are like so many youngsters of their generation. They seek social media fame, love, makeup, smoking weed, and love flirting with people twice their age. Lily is the leader of the group but doesn't trust her coven of friends enough to tell them she's been sexting the next door neighbor Nick (Joel Mchale). Things go wrong for the group when a 4chan script kiddies begin hacking into the phones of prominent figures in the Salem community.


Photo via BRON STUDIOS

Exposed as a gay crossdresser, the town mayor has his pictures leaked. Next, naked photos of the high school principal's daughter emerge, and the town labels him a pedophile. Salem soon spirals into paranoia as ordinary citizens suddenly find their text messages and private picture galleries are shared with everyone. Local police trace the suspicious activity back to Lily's house. From there, a slow tension builds, and the deluge of deadly hysteria hits the audience like a freight train and doesn't slow down for sixty minutes.

The film is more accessible if the characters are thought of as personifications of the different personalities of those who navigate the internet. Women receive the most abuse online no matter what intersectional crossroad they stand on; however, the main issue is social media can cause people to go nuts with call-out culture, which has become the norm.Writer/director Sam Levinson knows how to write empowering dialogue. Every actress has at least one monologue that is poignant, culturally relevant, and tailored to each character's personality. I found myself agreeing with their logic most of the time. Bravo to Levinson for making the women smart, capable, and self-reliant. Also, it is refreshing to see queer actors in roles where their identity is a non-issue, as actress Hari Nef is one of the leading heroes in Salem's feminist revolution.

Photo via BRON STUDIOS

Assassination Nation isn't perfect. The last shot is the young women of Salem joining the four main heroes on the street in a great show of solidarity among women. Unfortunately, it doesn't have the desired impact and is anti-climactic. After all that's happened on the streets of Salem, no one is coming outside to join this makeshift revolution weaponless and in their pajamas.

There could have been a bit more inclusion among the leads. White and black women aren't the only ones who receive online harassment, experience doxxing, and worse.

But what the film does, it does fairly well. Assassination Nation puts extreme toxic masculinity on display—and shows what can happen when men have too much control. In the time of #TimesUp and #MeToo, it is women who are at the forefront of change. For the women of Salem to live, they must rise and take back their power. But, it makes you wonder: can't we all just get along in this technologically advanced society? Only time will tell, but one thing is for sure: women are tired of taking sh*t from men.

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An Open Letter To The Men Who Love Women

#MakeWomenFeelSafeAgain

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I'm going to cut right to the chase and just get a few facts out of the way.

1. Sexual assault is an issue. It exists, 100%.

2. Sexual assault is far too common and happening far too often.

3. Women are being told how to prepare and defend themselves from sexual assault, and men aren't being taught how to avoid doing it.

Do you not understand that the number of women who are speaking out about sexual assault is nothing compared the total number of women in the world who have been sexually assaulted?

Being accused of sexual assault is a horrible thing, but being a victim of it is a lot worse.

As women, we prepare to defend ourselves and watch our backs to keep from ending up in a situation where we are taken advantage of. It is time to stop saying "boys will be boys" and teach our men about consent and respect for women. Men need to be taught how to ask for consent and how to directly discuss their sexual intentions with a female without making them feel pressured or insulted.

How on earth could you say a woman was not sexually assaulted if a man never asked for consent or both people involved were not in the right state of mind to consent? This goes for any man or woman in any situation. Whether the woman in question is a stranger, a life-long friend, or an old flame you, need to ask for consent every single time. Prior sexual experiences with another person or a close relationship with a person does not disqualify them from needing to consent.

You need direct consent from anyone you intend on touching.

The men you hear of being accused of sexual assault and their reactions tend to be similar: confused, angry, embarrassed, and defensive.

I understand that many men who have been accused feel as if they didn't sexually assault anyone and felt as if the sexual experience was something both parties agreed on. If men would take more time to consider their situation at hand, they wouldn't have to justify or defend it later. Know exactly how a woman feels before you touch her. Know exactly what a woman expects before you touch her. Know exactly what an unforced, relaxed "yes" to consent sounds like.

You may not have meant to cause a woman harm, but you did because you neglected to fully understand a woman's worth and show her respect before becoming intimate. Mistakes happen, but you cannot stop something that you didn't even attempt to prevent.

When it comes to defending yourself or another man against sexual assault accusations or charges, think of a woman that you love. You have at least one woman in your life who you love whether it be you baby sister, your mother, your daughter, your cousin, the waitress who always remembers your order and so on.

How would you feel if a woman you love was sexually assaulted and wanted to come out about her experience to help other women from having to experience such a traumatizing experience or to take back the dignity that was physically stripped from her body?

You would want that woman to come to you. You would want to defend her and protect her. You would want to do everything in your power to ease her pain.

Respect your women, love your women, and believe your women. Make women feel safe again.

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