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Girlfight, A Clockwork Orange, and the fringes of society April 12, 2007

Posted by sindhub in A Clockwork Orange, class, Girlfight, imagery, race, the state.
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I just wanted to make some comments about the imagery from the beginning of Girlfight.  I was struck by how unabashedly dismal and bleak everything in Diana’s world was presented; the movie made no pretense, from the very beginning, about who Diana is and what her world is like.

In particular, I thought the very opening scene that we looked at in class bore an unusual similarity to what I know Stanley Kubrick used in a lot of his films–the image of the main character looking up at you with determinedly unsympathetic eyes.  One example is from the opening scene of A Clockwork Orange (warning: there is some violence towards the end of the clip, and I apologize for the poor quality [it’s a video of the movie being showed on TV] but it was the only one I could find that didn’t remix the scene with different music)

There are some similarities between the characters of Alex (the guy the camera is focusing on at the beginning of the video) and Diana.  Namely, I’m reminded of what someone said in class today, about how Diana starts the movie as a rebellious teenager and then reins in her energy and develops it into something positive (in this case, boxing), even if she still remains on the fringes of society.  Alex, however, is never able to do that–in fact, he is literally taken in by the state and put under a sort of mind/body control.

Another similarity is that they come from similar backgrounds–places that no one cares about, places that society at large doesn’t care about.  During the scene in which Diana is sitting across from the principal, who is reprimanding her for getting into a fight yet again, I was struck by how much distance there literally seemed to be between the two figures.  The principal (a representative of the State) understands nothing about Diana, and doesn’t try to; Diana knows this all too well, even saying, “Who cares if I get expelled?”  Similarly, in A Clockwork Orange, Alex and his friends see that school (again, a symbol of the ruling class and their ideology) can’t help them and won’t help them.  This is definitely class-related, and in the case of Girlfight, also racial.

A problem in comparing the two characters, though, is that Alex is literally a psychopath–he gets off on violence and rape, whereas Diana is someone who has more of a socially conscious view of the world and her role in it (even if it isn’t an optimistic one).  So the comparison ends there, but the way they’re represented (the resolute stare) is still similar, which makes me wonder about how people might perceive the character of Diana.  This brings us back to the idea of how Set it Off may have reinforced certain stereotypes about poor black women that were prevalent at the time it came out (and still are); does Girlfight ever present Diana as pathological?  Is it because she is so typically ‘masculine’?  What do race and class have to do with it?  What do you guys think?

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