The documentary “The Red Pill” starts with self-proclaimed feminist documentarian Cassie Jaye googling “rape culture,” which leads her down the Internet rabbit hole of men’s rights activists.
From the outset, Jaye’s film is tilted in favor of the MRAs she interviews and lacks a coherent argument, not due to her own internal conflict but because the film is built on a fundamental misunderstanding of the relevant terms, including “rights,” “patriarchy” and “feminism.”
Frankly, everyone involved could have used a vocabulary lesson and a cathartic viewing of “Mad Max: Fury Road” to comprehend the ways in which patriarchal systems control resources to exploit both women and men.
Certainly, there are many dire and urgent troubles men face that should be addressed, including issues regarding family court, intimate partner violence, workplace deaths and economic pressures, presented here in a flood of statistics.
Jaye never gets to her original question about rape culture, and ultimately twists herself in knots to justify the movement’s misogynist rhetoric.
Watching male and female MRAs explain feminism to her is frustrating and grows increasingly repetitive and dull.
What the film does illustrate is how the gendered culture war has devolved into an ugly schoolyard scrap, when goals could be aligned to work for greater equality for all. But “The Red Pill” (the title is a reference to “The Matrix”) only exacerbates that divide with its uncritical, lopsided presentation and inability to craft a compelling argument regarding a topic this controversial.
‘The Red Pill’
Running time: 1 hour, 57 minutes
Playing: Laemmle Noho 7, North Hollywood