I recently went to the theaters to see Dredd 3D. The following blog post is a discussion simply of this movie, as I am not well versed enough in the comics to discuss them fairly.
There is really no way around it, Judge Dredd is a fascist, who lives in a fascist world. He is oppressive and aggressive. He is also, quite literally, Judge, Jury and Executioner. For those who have not yet seen the movie, Dredd takes place in the future, where the United States has become an irradiated waste land known as the Cursed Earth. This has lead to the creation of one ginormous metropolis, called Mega-City-One, which stretches continuously up the entire north coast, and houses over 800 million residents. The only law enforcers in this dystopia work at the Hall of Justice, and are called “Judges.” Judges police whatever crimes they can, and provide on the spot sentencing, which often involves instant execution. Dredd is one of these judges, offering swift and unemotional “justice.”
But what is so absolutely fascinating about this movie, is that in this unjust and out of control futuristic U.S.A, women play a major role, and have control over many different aspects of life in Mega-City-One. For starters, Dredd’s companion in the film is the young “judge-in-training” Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), who also happens to be a psychic (caused by the radiation). In the film we see Anderson excel at her job, but she is also able to show Dredd the benefits of bringing emotion and humanity to their work. Anderson is a wonderful heroine, reminiscent of Sarah Conner or Ellen Ripley. She is a strong woman, who is able to dominate her field, while still maintaining a “feminine” side, meaning she does not have to become “masculine” to succeed.
But Anderson is not the only positive female example in Dredd. The Chief Judge (Dredd’s boss) is played by a black woman (Rakie Ayola). And, on the other side, the villain is the drug dealing, ex-prostitute known as Ma-ma (Lena
Headey), and although Ma-ma is the “bad guy,” she is still a very strong woman, in control of hundreds of men who would lay down their lives for her. And all these women are given power, without it seeming like a remarkable thing. In this world, there are female judges and male judges, women crime bosses and male crime bosses, and everyone appears to be treated equally. Both the men and the women are equal in Mega-City-One.
And so after watching this movie, I had to wonder, how did a world that would give birth to a man like Dredd, also make way for women to have so much power? I do not have the answer, but it is certainly something to think about, that a fascist world gave give birth to a feminist society.
Law & Disorder, or, On Loving Judge Dredd and She-Hulk by Alyssa Rosenberg
The New Judge Dredd Movie is a Great Chick Flick by the Fashion Harbinger