The Battery: Even Zombies Can Be Sluts

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I watched a zombie movie with my coworkers yesterday: The Battery, an independent, low budget film that’s being applauded for its realism and blah blah blah. I watched it. It was pretty alright. I’ll tell you about something that bothered me, which is obviously why we’re here.

There is a part in the movie where one of the lead characters (a white, male, former baseball player) is asleep in a car when a female zombie makes her way across the field and starts trying to “get him” through the car window. She is wearing short-shorts, a t-shirt with no bra, and knee-high baseball socks. She’s dead and gray and…well, a zombie. The male character awakes with a start, freaks out, and then—to the audience’s dismay—pulls down his pants and underwear and starts masturbating furiously to the sight of the zombie’s clothed breasts pressed up against the car window as she tries to reach him.

It was actually pretty funny. It’s the zombie apocalypse and he hasn’t seen or touched a woman in months. He was desperate, lonely. It was absurd and silly and when his companion in the movie kills the female zombie and catches him jacking off, he laughs hysterically. Funny scene.

That’s not what bothered me. What bothered me was the cast list.

At the end of the movie, the zombie girl in the short-shorts was billed as “Fresh Zombie Slut.”

Oh?

It’s just like we see in real life, folks. We have a woman without a bra or wearing short-shorts, or just a woman in general, and we have the male gaze seeing her and sexualizing her—EVEN IN HER STATE OF DECAY—and yet she is the slut. She, in her natural state, who just happened to die while bra-less, is the slut. Not the ridiculously disgusting dude in the station wagon who sees decomposing boobs and feels obliged to masturbate to them. Her. The woman who, so sorry, didn’t stop and say “Oh, before I turn into a zombie I better put on some longer shorts and a bra,” is the slut.

This is misogyny. Even in death, women are subject to the whims of patriarchy and rape culture. I wish she had eaten him.

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7 thoughts on “The Battery: Even Zombies Can Be Sluts

  1. ethanoort says:

    Hello, director of the film here, Jeremy Gardner; guilty of–among other things–Googling myself and coming across this post.

    At first I must admit, I was geared up to be saddened that you were going to rail against the scene. I had hoped, from a character perspective, it would serve to show how depraved, frustrated and lonely Mickey had become. But I also wanted the audience to be able to laugh at him. But then, no, you understood exactly what we were going for.

    The point you actually set out to make surprised me even more, and is absolutely and completely valid.

    I can make no argument against it, only a weak excuse:

    I did not name her Fresh Slut Zombie. That credit was typed up on a whim as the titles were being entered in haste to make a festival deadline by Christian Stella, my director of photography. Perhaps that can be considered casual misogyny. Or even ingrained or subconscious misogyny. I myself wasn’t the least bit concerned with what her character was called in the first place. She had no name or backstory, so it was going to be a loose characterization one way or another. Perhaps that can be considered lazy or passive misogyny.

    All I know is that Elise was asked to be sexualized in a bizarre and embarrassing way for a very small movie for no money, and she gave an incredible and committed performance.
    And the asshole who named her character Fresh Slut Zombie on a whim is her husband.

    He’s gonna kick himself.

    Thanks for watching the film.
    Jeremy

    • oliviaacole says:

      Thanks for reaching out, Jeremy, and thank you for acknowledging my points. I think casual or unconscious misogyny is a perfect way to describe what we’re talking about here. You/other men are both at fault and not: we are all victims of patriarchy in many ways, and sometimes victims make other victims.

      Overall, great film. And absolutely awesome soundtrack. Thanks again, Jeremy.

  2. Christian Stella says:

    Olivia, this is Christian Stella, the director of photography, following up on Jeremy’s comment.

    I named the character as I was making the end credits. It was a misjudgment by me, in a failed attempt to be funny as I made my wife’s name stand out in the credits. The fact that she is an accidental temptress, and my actual wife, is why the name was tongue in cheek. However, you are absolutely correct because I can’t expect people to know the relationship I have with my wife and why my wife lets me joke like that. She does because she knows I’m a big pansy and anything even slightly manly that comes out of my mouth is said with a thick layer of sarcasm.

    • oliviaacole says:

      It’s so great to hear this background about the credits. It does make a difference, but as you said…”how are we supposed to know?”

      A coworker who watched the movie with me said, “It could have been Sexy Zombie. Or even Objectified Zombie.” He thought the latter would have been even funnier, and I am inclined to agree lol

      I appreciate both of you reaching out here. It really does matter.

      • Christian Stella says:

        I may change it for the DVD release. Why does objectified sound worse to me!? Probably because it admits that I objectified my wife on screen. But in full disclosure, my wife Elise was really drunk and insisted she do it. She also picked out the wardrobe, which sort of creeps me out and makes the scene more perverted, because she looks young.

        Just know that my wife is actually one of the 6 principal people who worked on this movie, not just that small role in the movie. I was honestly more concerned with what title to give her for doing EVERYTHING for everyone on set. I settled on Production Manager. She was supposed to be camera assistant and script supervisor, but I realized that was demeaning personally after all the work she did (relegating her roles to “assisting” the guys). So I changed that and called her a slut at the same time… Boneheaded.

      • oliviaacole says:

        “Objectified” is definitely worse, but it’s more tongue-in-cheek. Because, well, he IS objectifying her. A zombie has no cerebral control over its actions: it simply IS. Mickey, however, does have control over his actions, even in his state of loneliness, and even if his objectification is unconscious. But Sexy Zombie might be just as effective: if we’re naming a zombie for something that is beyond its control, then maybe it should be something it embodies rather than something that is happening to it against its will? Although perceptions of sexiness are also kind of against our will, aren’t they? But now I’m getting too fucking deep lol

        I googled your wife’s name (before I knew she was your wife) and saw her roles in the film other than the zombie acting. She’s awesome. And if her personal sentiments aren’t offended by being called a slut by the man who loves her, than no harm, no foul….in the private sphere. But as we’ve already acknowledged, all bets are off when we enter the public.

        I think changing it for the DVD release would be awesome. I’d certainly buy it.

  3. Excellent post! I always enjoy a good zombie post.I can’t tell if the comments are actually the director or if you are just messing with me…..If they are then that would be CRAZY!

    If you are interested, and I am not trying to spam you here (though I’m sure that exactly what spammers say :), then head on over to The Disorder here on WordPress (http://thedisorderpodcast.wordpress.com) and check out our new Project Z area which will specialize in zombie posts. The rest of the site is us trying to be funny and we would really appreciate feedback if you have the time! I try to go around and comment on blogs because I know how difficult getting comments can be! Anyway, I’m sure I’ve taken up a lot of your time but I enjoyed this and just wanted to let you know!

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