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Women and Crime April 1, 2007

Posted by Wasik in 9 to 5, general considerations, Set it off, Thelma and Louise.

When watching Set It Off, I couldn’t help but see the comparisons to 9 to 5 and Thelma and Louise. Although this movie was made a lot more complex with its problematic class and racial themes, I think that the story of women turning to crime to solve their problems/gain revenge against the men who have wronged them because they have no other way out is similar in all three cases.

However, the women in Set It Off seemed to have much more agency than the characters in either 9 to 5 or Thelma and Louise. In 9 to 5, the women dream of offing their boss, but end up accidentally stumbling into the crime, while Thelma and Louise make their first killing as a direct result of attempted rape. The women in Set It Off, though, have a more concrete plan. The scene which most depicted their agency for me was their sitting around a large wooden table, emulating “The Godfather”. Like the mafia, they have become a family welded together by illegal profiteering and mutual protection. Yes, they have been victimized by the men they work for, but they fight back in a calculated, powerful way. Likewise, the ending of the movie stood in stark contrast to the one in Thelma and Louise. In Set It Off, Queen Latifah kills as many cops as she can before she dies; Frankie, too, refuses to give herself up without a bloody fight. In fact, I think that the carnage at the end of the film is intentionally very similar to the carnage from the (male) bank robbery at the beginning, showing how far these women have come from the passive victims they were at the beginning.


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