croft’s sexuality March 27, 2007Posted by jenniferlewk in Tomb Raider 2.
I quickly want to discuss an alternative way to view the film Tomb Raider 2 through a societal lens before heading straight to the male/female lens.
The film’s premise is that an earthquake struck an area in Greece—the earthquake destroys a great temple, which happens to hold in it the oracle to Pandora’s Box. We see the earthquake through the eyes of wedding guests. Indeed, as the camera zooms in on the wedding, the couple is dancing and laughing–nothing appears to be treacherous. However, right after a woman asks the DJ to switch from classical and traditional Greek music to a hip-hop modern song, the earthquake strikes. Thus, a woman unleashes this “Pandora’s box” to lead to death and despair (and the beginning of Croft‘s mission) because of her desire to have something untraditional at the wedding, something belonging to the world of the future. Also significant culturally is that the, the “good guys” in the film are white and are are aided by the helpful, docile native. Conversely, the bad guys are Asian (an economic threat to the US) or mixed (the head bad guy does not phonetically look “Asian” upon first glance)–stating that worse than another race taking over is a mixed race, a half-breed. I know these points are brief and scattered, but I think it is interesting to look at the film through this broader cultural lens before analyzing more critically Croft as a female action hero.
This class is entitled, “Girl Power,” so I do want to look at the male/female dichotomy in the film. Croft starts chaos number 2 when she is trying to steal the oracle. Much like Eve reaches for the apple, Croft eyes the oracle with a (albeit moral, she is after all, a good guy) eye, it is her hand that grabs the oracle that starts the destruction of the temple. Aside from the obvious Pandora’s Box–a box which was opened by female greed (Adam and Eve, anyone?), Croft cannot and does not want to escape the fact that she is female. While much of her identity has been constructed by society (she wears the clothes she is given/are available to her…it isn’t her fault she has a gorgeous body, long eyelashes, and full lips) the setting heavily influences her agency. Indeed, in the moment of her greatest battle thus far in the film, she is underneath a mall. Although she is fighting for mankind, women are shopping above her (reinforcing the status quo that she, as a female superhero, is trying to deconstruct). While the location of the battle was not Croft’s choice, it was the conscious decision of the directors/screenwriters. Indeed, it seems as though Croft willingly partakes in her feminine image through her diction when she is gathering weapons for the upcoming battle between good and evil, Croft replies that she is merely, “accessorizing.” It is almost as though we as an audience are not supposed to forget that she is female.
Nonetheless, because she kicks ass while remaining feminine, the audience leaves with a positive view of Croft as both a woman and as an action hero… I think that the directors do have a feminist stance. Indeed, a little girl helps Croft with her video message by providing her with gum. The little girl is also is also the one closest to the circle that the oracle creates, thus revealing that women will continue to save the world. Also, the directors do comment on the sanctity of marriage—the first scene starts the chaos (perhaps stating that the marriage ceremony is antiquated and should be destroyed) and the last scene mocks it once again. We follow the two men’s fear and hysterics of their getting married through the camera angle as they run to a jeep driven by a woman. A woman helps them run away from marriage, an institution that is has historically asserted masculine power while simultaneously reinforcing a woman’s subjectivity. Croft’s rushing away from the marriage site shows viewers to view carefully this infrastructure that reasserts women’s passive role in society. Unfortunately, her clothing and figure make it hard to view her as an action hero–she will always be sexualized.