Life on Mars, Veronica Mars that is …

On Friday night I went to the Zinema to see the Veronica Mars movie.

I got there early, and so caught a drink at the Zeitgeist. I’ve taken to ordering drinks with one of the three gins from Vikre. Some of the bartenders are amazing; the gentleman tonight made me the tastiest beverage imaginable, with gin, grapefruit juice, essence of maraschino cherry, and some kinds of bitters, salt, I think — I am sorry if I don’t remember the recipe. It was so tasty.

Then, downstairs to the movie.

I was most thrilled to be greeted by the local leader of the Veronica Mars fanclub, who was handing out buttons and “WWVMD” wristbands.

Her efforts are something. As a frequent attender of geek/nerd events, I admire someone with passion. So I want to point out where you can learn more about the show that set her on fire and inspired a crazy kickstarter campaign.

Twitter: @NeptuneRising; #VeronicaMars

As for the movie: I am torn. It was a solid story, perfectly in the tradition of the TV show. Yet another murder among the student body at Neptune High. Briefly, it made me wonder about the kids I went to high school with — how many are dead? I know of only one (rest, John Sanasarian). There could be more. It feels like 10% of Veronica Mars’ school must be dead by this point. But that works within the logic of the TV show.

What also works within the logic of the TV show was the very real tension between the apparent feminism of Veronica’s character and the narrative of patriarchy (or at least hypermasculinity) in the movie.

Veronica has a degree from Stanford Law School, a job offer, and a boyfriend (of mild temperament but clearly also a professional-class success story). She gives all of this up to return to Neptune, California.

In Neptune, the law officers are corrupt, the motorcycle gang is corrupt, the “rich kids” (now rich-late-twentysomethings) are corrupt. (Only the men and woman, just one, closest to Veronica are not corrupt.) In some ways, Veronica’s feminism is the story of a woman who must clean up corruption, and that’s awesome.

But to do so, she must make several key moves.
1. She must turn her back on her career as a lawyer.
2. She must turn her back on the boyfriend that supported her in building that career.
3. She embraces Logan Echolls, a picture of hypermasculinity (solves his problems with his fists, suspected twice of murder because of his temper, and at the end of the movie, goes away from his love, Veronica, for 180 days as part of his tour in the navy).
4. She must encourage Weevil, a former motorcycle gang member, to leave behind the domestic life (wife and baby girl — the wife even texts him to buy diapers midway through the movie) to help her clean out corruption. He must cease being the post-feminist (“Alan Alda”) male and become hypermasculinized, again.

In short, to advance her work and life as an amazing feminist character, Veronica embraces hypermasculinity in the men around her. Her feminism is intertwined with (rather than resisting) some of the behaviors that (I think) make patriarchy possible.

Can you be a feminist who is still carried, like a babe in arms, by your Navy boyfriend, into bed, before he leaves you for 180 days at sea? Veronica Mars offers us that vision, one that I think I need to think about.

Here’s hoping that the Neptune Rising crew, who were out in force at the Zinema on Friday night, can help me think this through.

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