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The problem with the military training movie hero April 20, 2007

Posted by Liz in G.I. Jane, women and war.

An interesting point was made in the article “No Pain, No Jane” by Charles Taylor of Salon.com regarding the big problem faced by G.I. Jane and, in fact, all military training movies. The gist is that the essential element of a military training movie, the degradation and abuse, psychological and physical, that a military trainee must go through to achieve success, inherently contradicts the qualities that we the people hold near and dear in our “standard”
Hollywood hero- “independence and instinct and distrust of authority.” I think that Taylor’s point is an interesting one, and that the contradiction that he describes may be even more relevant to the case of the female military trainee. The Oxford English Dictionary defines Girl power as “a self-reliant attitude among girls and young women manifested in ambition, assertiveness and individualism.” When a person goes through military training, at least as it is depicted by Hollywood, he or she is stripped of many of the cornerstones of “girl power”, most distressingly individualism. For in order to succeed, a woman in such a situation must conform, must fit in (to some extent). So though female characters like Lt. Jordan O’Neil do triumph at the end, it is difficult to call they victories displays of girl power.


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