Wednesday, November 07, 2012

DOC NYC ’12: A Girl and a Gun

It is a real Rorschach test.  When people see a gun in the hands of a woman, they might see it as an equalizer, an instrument of empowerment, or a fetish object.  None of these is mutually exclusive.  Indeed, the many perspectives on women gun-ownership often overlap and conflict with one another in Cathryne Czubek’s A Girl and a Gun (trailer here), which screens as part of DOC NYC 2012.

Although many of G&G’s talking head experts hail from the general neighborhood of feminist thought, just about everyone acknowledges women’s relative physical vulnerability compared to men, especially liquored up stalkers.  This was particularly true for one middle aged tai chi instructor who broke up with her abusive body-builder boyfriend.  Realizing the police operate almost entirely reactively rather than proactively, she came to the somewhat reluctant conclusion she needed a gun.

She is not the only one to rely on guns for protection of life and limb.  One young widow living on an isolated farm with her young baby used her late husband’s shotgun to blow a home-invading predator to Kingdom Come.  Part of her remains troubled by the incident, but she will do it again if need be to protect her child.  Similarly, sex columnist Violet Blue has seen her fair share of death threats.  However, letting would-be stalkers know she keeps a loaded gun handy has had a deterrent effect.  She also thinks armed women are hot (and we’re not about to argue with her).

Naturally, G&G takes great efforts to show the other side of the coin, such as the prison interview with a woman who fatally shot her ambiguous roommate.  Somewhere in the middle, we meet an Upper Westside social worker, who became an accomplished recreational shooter, but refuses to keep a firearm in her apartment.

When supposedly exposing the ways the gun industry has attempted to exploit the women’s market, G&G is rather underwhelming.  In truth, it is hard to imagine a better informed group of consumers than women gun-owners.  Still, the fact that Czubek’s film will even entertain the notion some women have a legitimate and pressing need to own a gun for reasons of self-defense is rather bold.  That she bends over backwards to present cases of accidental and criminal gun deaths is to be expected.  Yet, it is impossible to watch the Oklahoma farm widow’s segment and argue she would be safe without her guns.

Given its somewhat balanced approach, G&G is probably in for a rocky reception at DOC NYC.  However, it could have earned Blue a whole new fanbase were it not for the anti-Romney material on her site.  For New Yorkers and her Bay Area neighbors, A Girl and Gun offers some eye-opening moments.  Recommended accordingly for local audiences, it screens this coming Sunday (11/11) and the following Wednesday (11/14) at the IFC Center, during DOC NYC ’12.