The Red Pill is a 2016 American documentary film that explores the Men's Rights Movement. It was produced and directed by film director and actor Cassie Jaye.
The film is the culmination of interviews and research Jaye did over the course of a year. At the start Jaye was skeptical towards the Men's Rights Movement, something she believed to be a hate movement. The film is her journey of a largely academic exploration as to the origins of true Men's Rights activism, something that focuses on equality through a male lens to the world.
There has been criticism of the film, as in some ways it is framed to suggest that Jaye, an oft-typecasted "Dumb Blonde" in her previous short-lived acting career, is denouncing feminism. However, it is a personal story of a personal journey and can be given validity as such. Jaye says she was more driven to make the film and see why people who claimed not to be misogynists supported Men's Rights because producers would only fund the documentary if it were given a feminist bias. Also, she was allegedly disqualified from applying to film production grants in the "female director" categories because of the subject matter, though this was reported by Breitbart so can be taken with a pinch of salt.
This, Jaye claims, caught her eye: there is funding support for female directors and filmmakers of color but not for white men. This is what she claims to see the Men's Rights Movement as being about: a completely equal playing field.
The documentary largely focuses on the societal double standards around legal recourse for men as "masculine" compared to women: both standards and media representation of marriage and childcare, rape and abuse, appropriate jobs and workplace conditions.
With the filmmaker being a woman, The Red Pill can be analyzed as having the Female Gaze applied. It could be argued that this is one way in which any potential controversy from individual toxic Men's Rights activists may be neutered in effect by the female direction and language of the film on a large scale.
It was released on October 7th, 2016. For the similarly-named trope after which the movie is indirectly named, see Red Pill, Blue Pill.
This documentary discusses the following tropes:
- The Baby Trap:
- Activists within the film argue that if a woman enacts this on a man, he has pretty much no legal recourse from being saddled with a child he didn't want or wasn't prepared for. In some cases, a man is legally obligated to care for a child even if he isn't the biological father.
- Activists mention France's banning of "at-will" paternity tests without a court order, which limits options for men to refute paternity claims.
- One of the activists in the film Jaye interviews alleges that his own wife trapped him in marriage by getting pregnant, and describes the hell she put him through in their custody battle.
- Both Sides Have a Point: The film focuses on the Men's Rights Movement because of their comparative under-representation in media and because Cassie who was a feminist at the start of filming wanted to criticize the movement. Even at the beginning of film-making, when Cassie Jaye was a supporter of feminism, she says that the Men's Rights Movement has a point and that MRA's have a few legitimate grievances.
- Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male:
- Cassie talked with several men who were victims of domestic violence from their female partners, with no help from the police. One was even warned that if she hurt herself striking him he would be prosecuted. Many US states' domestic violence laws are based on the Duluth Model, which declares men to be the sole perpetrators.
- Activists discuss with her that almost no abuse shelters take male victims.
- False Rape Accusation: Cassie discusses how damning the accusation is and how it can destroy men's lives. She also interviews several men who say they were subjected to this by women they knew, and discusses the effect in had on their lives.
- Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics: Cassie discusses how domestic abuse statistics are often misrepresented, or selectively applied in ways that lead to the prosecution of men, mainly in men being singled out as the perpetrators - but never victims - in domestic abuse cases.
- Men Are the Expendable Gender:
- One of the prominent points discussed within the film is women's exemption from the draft. This was something Jaye herself (from the start) conceded was in women's favor and was a prominent talking point with Paul Elam.
- The trope is also discussed in relation to how society at large sidelines or suppresses men's issues and posited as a reason for it.
- Activists cite the fact that high fatality jobs are disproportionately staffed by men (leading to them being the majority of work fatalities).
- Activists cite news media coverage over homicides that highlight female victims far more than men.
- Activists cite similar rates of prostate cancer-related deaths to breast cancer, yet getting much less support.
The documentary contains examples of:
- Men Don't Cry: The film defies this trope whenever a man cries during an interview. They aren't treated like they are weak when this happens, which is an aspect of narrative for the topic of the film.
- It's a reference to the slang phrase "red pill" from MGTOW note and MRA note circles, which is in and of itself a reference to the Red Pill, Blue Pill concept made famous in The Matrix. Though each circle pursues it differently, there is some overlap and for both it means the rejection of society's expectations and the mainstream, but the slang term also refers to the rejection of what society and the mainstream expect of men and women.
- The tagline is another double reference, again to The Matrix which is in and of itself a reference to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Morpheus's description of the effects of the Red Pill include the idea of showing the main character "how deep the rabbit hole goes," and this documentary is meant to show something — presumably the "rabbit hole" that is gender politics — to the audience. The reference to Wonderland concerns "going down the rabbit hole," which is itself a slang term for entering into either the unknown or the disorienting.
- Sympathetic P.O.V.: The film is different in how it presents MRA in a positive light. This can be accredited to the journey of the director being to support the Men's Rights Movement having an effect on the film content, the fact that the research is primarily conducted as interviews with MRA's who will obviously be in support of their own cause, and because a lot of the criticism of the movement is left out of the film completely. Whether the film is overtly supportive of the movement or not is debated.