“Predator” and “Prey” are Roughly the Same Amount of Woke, Actually
One is a scathing satire of toxic masculinity and imperialism. The other has a cute dog.
First things first: Yes, I know that the former President probably sold nuclear secrets to the Saudis. Yes, I know that’s a big deal. Yes, I’m still writing about Predator, and specifically about why some dudes online hate the most recent Predator, because that’s the world in which we live. We wage endless culture war over pointless nerd culture artifacts, because we are a horrible species, and we enjoy picking fights and hurting and even killing each other for no reason, and that is the point of the Predator franchise, which its defenders seem to have missed.
The controversy centers on the most recent entry in the series: Prey, which debuted on Hulu this August. Prey is a prequel, set in Comanche territory in the early 1700s. Its protagonist, Naru, is a young woman whose brother is a respected hunter; she wants to become a hunter herself, but she’s frequently told that she doesn’t have the right stuff.
We do see Naru try and fail to kill several animals — a deer, a mountain lion — and those failures are sometimes disastrous. We also see that she’s smart and scientifically minded. She pays attention to her surroundings. She’s good at field medicine. She can improve pre-existing traps and weapons, or invent new ones. She’s the first person to notice when a creature with glowing green blood starts skinning the nearby wildlife, and (spoiler? I suppose?) when someone inevitably out-Predators the Predator, Naru is the one to pull it off.
Dudes online have responded, as they so often do, by calling Naru a “Mary Sue.” A girl cannot beat a Predator! Certainly not a girl who isn’t even good at hunting! It takes a team of manly, cartoonishly ripped military men to kill a Predator! And so on.
There’s a lot wrong with this, not least the fact that “Mary Sue” was originally a phrase intended to denote an…