White Feminist Science Fiction as Cinéma Verité, or what else is fuckin’ new: vulnerable white girl aesthetically brutalized at the hands of stock character Asian crime mobsters (apparently in Taipei, but the boss seems to be played by Choi Min-sik, super-recognizable Korean actor from Park Chan-wook’s Vengeance trilogy, but ssshhh, all Asians and their crime syndicates are interchangeable, see also: who-the-fuck-cares-about-the-baddie). Suddenly-superhuman white heroine indiscriminately kills taxi drivers according to whether or not they speak English (it’s feminist revenge narrative, everybody, everyone benefits from more badass white women!).
Also, some general things white people say/do/expect when they’re traveling outside the West, i.e. these bits of the trailer were practically documentary realism:
1— “YOU SPEAK ENGLISH? TAKE ME TO THE HOSPITAL NOW.”
2— Interrupting surgery (who cares who’s on the table when it’s not me) and ordering doctors to attend to her first.
3— Condescending to Morgan Freeman’s character because white woman who just got magical powers yesterday definitely outranks black specialist’s lifetime of scientific research, expertise, devotion.
4— “I can feel every living thing”—along with every other Eat, Pray, Love turista rhapsodizing about connectedness to the universe while the POC around get stomped on.
5— “Since when did you start writing Chinese?” Familiar hard, imperious stare of a white person who’s taken one class in an Ethnic Studies department: “Since an hour ago.”
Ends with Johansson’s character telepathically bodying everybody in a hallway and approaching Amr Waked’s character. Cut to black, but you know what’s going to happen. And even if there’s a twist in the film and he survives, you know what’s already happened, in this trailer, this moment, which is that viewers had to bear witness to the implication of absolute fatal doom for Waked’s character, as Lucy approaches with a businesslike determination that would make Sheryl Sandberg’s ilk proud.
"I’m not even sure mankind is ready for her," intones the voiceover from Morgan Freeman’s character. If by mankind Freeman’s character means POC humanity, and by her, he means the terror of asymmetrical Western warfare in the twenty-first century guise of white feminism, then, well, it’s not a question of being ready or not being ready. The very nature of this well-worn dynamic, this righteous weaponized indifference to certain survivals and humanities when it comes to aggrandizing their own, is about storming in and obliging people to be “ready.” White supremacy behaves as though its beneficiaries have supernatural powers that allow them unlimited access to and power over the lives of others? That particular science fiction story has another name: modernity. See also: coloniality, imperialism.
P.S. No, the ultimate superheroine Lucy will of course forever be the one from Jamaica Kincaid’s Lucy. I think especially of the scene in which Lucy marvels at the way her white employer, Mariah—another classic white feminist character of 20th century literature—tries to talk about her own “Indian” blood, as if it’s a superpower (the ‘I’m 1/16th Cherokee’ thing white people do):
Mariah says, “I have Indian blood in me,” and underneath everything I could swear she says it as if she were announcing her possession of a trophy. How do you get to be the sort of victor who can claim to be the vanquished also?