Our resident guru on all things teen-related (??), Renu, lays a rebuke on Divergent.
Those of you who have seen Divergent – the dystopian sci-fi teenage-girl-saves-the-world thriller – would know it’s based on a book by Veronica Roth of the same name.
I love the book – A LOT – so I was worried that the movie wouldn’t live up to my expectations. Surprisingly it did for the most part, however I had one big issue.
When the character Tris Prior (played by Shailene Woodley) was put in a compromising situation under the final stimulation test, there was a huge misinterpretation in the translation from text to screen.
As you may already know, the stimulation tests are designed to unearth the fears of the Initiates, based on personal experience or values. In the book, Tris shows her fear of intimacy with her mentor/boyfriend, Four (played by Theo James), which makes sense with her roots in the faction ‘Abnegation’, one that values selflessness.
Tris had been brought up with a distinct lack of intimacy, in an environment that taught her to prioritise the needs and comfort of others before hers. Her decision to join the faction ‘Dauntless’, a polar opposite to ‘Abnegation’, also brought with it a change of values. She learnt to become more selfish, less ‘stiff’ – as the other members call her. She vows to remember her roots with her tattoos of the three ravens, one for each of her family.
However those birds also represent her fears in the stimulation.
The warm feelings she develops towards Four, a fellow former ‘Abnegation’ member, are all alien to her due to her fear of intimacy. So it’s safe to assume she’d be reserved about getting close with him, right?
But the way the movie showed Four forcing himself onto Tris was far too animalistic. There was no scope for Tris to be able to trust Four with it painting him as a monster, forcing himself onto his girlfriend in the least sensitive way possible.
Everyone is afraid of being in a sexually oppressive situation like that. In my opinion, this scene could potentially send the wrong message to teenage girls, those who idolise Tris. Instead of showing that it’s okay to be afraid of something you’re not used to – in this case intimacy – they made it seem as though a girl’s only way out is through violence.