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Why does there always have to be a boyfriend? April 11, 2007

Posted by kelly in bound, female relationships, G.I. Jane, Girlfight, La Femme Nikita, Set it off, Thelma and Louise, Tomb Raider 2.
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I’ve noticed a pattern in the past few movies we’ve watched – every powerful woman has to have a love interest. In Working Girl, Thelma and Louise, La Femme Nikita, Tomb Raider 2, Set it Off, Bound, Girlfight, and G.I. Jane, there is a love interest for the main female character(s).

It seems like the boyfriends need to be there in order to assure the audience that these women aren’t as “hard” or unemotional as they seem to be. Underneath their tough exterior, they still fit perfectly into the heterosexual power dynamic where they are delicate and sensitive in the arms of men. (more…)

Thelma and Louise and Set It Off April 3, 2007

Posted by ajaramillo in Set it off, Thelma and Louise.
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While watching Set it Off, I realized how much the influence of Thelma and Louise had on future films and the depiction of female protagonists. As women, Thelma and Louise were outside the sanctioned male power structure from the beginning. Even though Louise may have been justified in shooting Harlan, the law system was still weighted heavily against them because they were not male. Set it Off took this theme of women fighting against a unjust system and added a cast of black females from the inner-city, an underprivileged group that, apart from sexism, had to suffer from racism as well. Both films suggests that the women’s crimes are an understandable, if not justified, reaction of the disadvantaged groups for the dishonor and maltreatment still suffered at the hands of oppressive state and more privileged social groups – whites and males. Set it off and Thelma and Louise both star thieves and robbers that the audience ends up rooting (more…)

Women and Crime April 1, 2007

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

Althusser, suicide, and our two female outlaws March 15, 2007

Posted by Wasik in Althusser, Thelma and Louise.
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I would like to keep addressing the idea of suicide in Thelma and Louise. As I mentioned in class, I think that their suicide can be seen in one of two ways: either as an escapist, cowardly act, or as a triumphant rejection of a system and world which has failed them. Their choice to commit suicide can be seen as escapist and a cop-out on the director’s part because if the two main characters had been men, the final scene would probably involved a glorious shoot-out to the death. The movie that best illustrates this point is “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”. Like “Butch”, “Thelma and Louise” is a buddy story: it is the tale of two friends who become outlaws and adventure around the country while steering clear of the police. Predictably, Butch and Sundance go down shooting, while their female counterparts opt to go off a cliff.

However, I think that suicide is not inherently cowardly even though there are few examples of males in American cinema choosing to commit it. For me, Thelma and Louise’s escape through suicide is a victory. In his article “Ideology and the State”, Althusser lists a number of (more…)

Robert Cover’s Nomoi and Thelma and Louise March 14, 2007

Posted by andyw in Female Power, Thelma and Louise.
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This post is an attempt to move a theory from its original theoretical space (in this case, American critical legal studies) into the realm of cultural theory (i.e. to extract from it a methodology, a hermeneutic device, that can be used to examine cultural objects). There are three parts: the first is an exegesis of the hermeneutic device; the second is a specific application of it to Thelma and Louise; the third is a brief comparison of it with Althusser. (more…)

Thelma and Louise: The New Frontier March 14, 2007

Posted by jenniferlewk in Thelma and Louise.
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The setting of Thelma and Louise is pivotal to its success as a film. Thelma and Louise break free from their constraining homes and jobs and set out West, a place symbolic of rebirth. They go West to create a new life and do succeed. Thelma and Louise grow as friends and as women. They learn to accept each other’s vulnerabilities and faults, while embracing their strengths and intuitiveness. The film, however, takes place in the western frontier, a place which simultaneously embodies the Anglo-American desire for conquest. Thus, these women try to start a new life in a setting where conquest has thrived. The frontier is gendered because this conquest and westward expansion has historically been male, Anglo, Protestant breeding grounds. The women are doomed before they begin, if the frontier is understood in this manner. Indeed, the women do come to realize that the West is not an equalizer; wherever they travel, they remain trapped within the boundaries of the dominant hegemony. Men rein wherever they go, whether asserting control by rape, by theft, by wiring money, or by wearing a badge. Therefore, the contradictory space of the West does not allow the women the opportunity to be fugitives while beginning a new life. So, the women head a different direction, south, to escape their subjugation. Although the pretext for traveling south to Mexico is to escape the law, it is important to note that the border is not just a physical crossing. Instead, the special movement of border crossing involves the mixture of cultural forms and identities. If they can cross the border, the have the chance to become independent from the law’s gender biases and from the broader social constructs that rule the American way of life. However, white male cops (the stereotypical image of American “justice”) catch these outlaws while they are at the Grand Canyon. Nevertheless, these women remarkably retain their agency in this mystical location. They agree that they can not go back their former subjugated selves, so they drive over the cliff to commit suicide. The drive isn’t a slow, creeping-up-to-the-edge path to suicide, but rather, an exhilarating rush of liberation as they fly over. The film stops with the car finally at a higher angle than the cops (the most visual representation of the dominant hegemony) as it soars over one of the wonders of the world. Thus, Thelma and Louise’s journey embodies the contradictory messages of the west: rebirth and conquest. They die because the rest of the people in the film can not accept this contradiction. After their death, life can live on in the comforts of the binary.

Women & the Law March 14, 2007

Posted by kelly in 9 to 5, Thelma and Louise, wild things.
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Thinking about a lot of the films we’ve watched recently, it seems that many of the women who feel failed by the law decide to take it into their own hands. As someone pointed out in class, Louise shot a man not out of self defense, but out of rage and frustration with his actions and words. She knew that he would never be prosecuted for his treatment of women, and so she decided to carry out her own “brand of justice.” After realizing that the law will never protect them, Thelma and Louise embark on a mini-spree of other crimes including blowing up a fuel truck after its driver makes distasteful comments to them. While these actions are extreme, we cheer the women on because we believe these men deserve it. But do we truly believe that these women should be allowed to live above the law?

In “9-5,” the three main characters are not necessarily failed by the law, but the system. Dolly Parton has to endure the sexual harassment of her boss, who can be compared to Harlan of “Thelma and Louise,” while Violet is constantly overlooked because of her sex. Once again, although it happens (more…)

the oppressed working-class woman March 12, 2007

Posted by sindhub in bad girls go..., class, race, stereotypes, the color purple, Thelma and Louise, theory, Working Girl.
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So I noticed that most of the movies we’ve been looking at have dealt with the problem of the oppressed working-class woman, e.g. The Color Purple, Working Girl, and now Thelma and Louise.  Actually, let me rephrase that–it’s more that the men they’re oppressed by are working-class.  From Mick in Working Girl to Mister in The Color Purple to the truck driver (can’t get a more blue collar occupation than that), the men from the ‘masses’ are almost unanimously brutish, abusive, piggish, boorish, and explicitly sexist.

 This got me thinking of the Walkerdine article, “Subject to Change without Notice: Psychology, Postmodernity, and the Popular.”  She spends a lot of time talking about how ideology about the masses/the working classes has always thought of them as of inferior intelligence, of a more primitive mindset, and how they can only be transformed by ‘upright’ middle class values (Protestantism, hard work, gumption, etc.).  So the portrayal of the men of different classes in these movies is truly disturbing to me for this reason.  It seems a little bit too easy (more…)

Men and the Male Gaze: Thelma and Louise March 12, 2007

Posted by lindamc in "the gaze", Thelma and Louise.
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The men in Thelma and Louise seemed to fall into two brackets: pigs who see the women through the traditional objectifying male gaze, and those whom we were supposed to view the women, or those holding the “male gaze” for the audience viewers.

The “pigs” clearly represented what the women were fighting against: sexual violence against, and general oppression of, women (the dirty trucker, the guy they shot outside the bar (Harlan), Thelma’s husband, Darryl). They are played so over the top in these roles (the trucker has female bodies engraved on his truck to clearly show his objectification of women, and Harlan and Darryl clearly have no respect for the women in all of their assigned dialogue. By having such a clearly negative group to fight against, viewers are drawn into the female protagonists’ plight, and feel sympathy for all their brushes with the law. However, I feel as those this is compromised throughout the film, by the other male characters, who provide their own “male gaze” on screen. 

The main detective, Investigator Slocomb seems to be oddly sympathetic to the girls, because as we randomly find out, he “knows what happened to [Louise] in Texas” referencing her own rape. Also, Louise’s boyfriend, Jimmy, is wonderfully supportive and loving towards her, offering her the money she needs, and even proposing in order to keep her by his side. After Jimmy serves this purpose, however, he is rarely seen again, his part as supporter seems lost, as if when he heard that she was in trouble with the law, he would do nothing. Darryl follows the investigation closely, but Jimmy seems to disappear. These two men in particular, seem to distract from the main focus of the audience, which is to support Thelma and Louise, and draws then into a man’s world, where some guys do understand, and makes the audience ask: why do they have to keep running? Slocomb and Jimmy will work it out, they’re nice guys. I feel as though those loose ends make the film less about female empowerment, and more about two crazy women getting beat up and lost in a man’s world. 

The last shot of the film, Slocomb chasing the car, could show, if one were to argue this way, that he was running after them to try and pull them back into the man’s world, that they had broken free and he was trying to reign them in. However by not having the camera follow the girls off at the end, but having a shot from behind Slocomb’s shoulder, and then the car flying over the edge on the side, I feel like we end disconnected from the girls. We follow them from the point of a male detective who, while clearly (and in my mind strangely) is empathetic and supportive of the girls, is also a man, and a representation of the police (controlling men).

 

Red Riding Hood’s Gone Crazy March 11, 2007

Posted by Rob Anne in Big Bad Wolf, Ellen Page, Freeway, Hard Candy, Red Riding Hood, Reese Witherspoon, Thelma and Louise.
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I’d seen Thelma and Louise years before and didn’t take too much away from it except that it was a cliche feminist/woman power/”we’re gonna wrong the men who’ve wronged us” flick and that it was a bit long for my taste. Looking back, I realized in some ways it created the cliche, or at least perpetuated it. Guess I’ve seen too many parodies of this movie to take it as seriously as people did in 1991.

I’m not trashing it or going to go on about how it was actually NOT empowering because of such, such, and such. I’m looking at it in the eyes of someone from 2007 and I don’t think I have the same perspective of someone viewing it in 1991. There were plenty of moments I wanted to roll my eyes, but that’s because I’m jaded. For example, the scene it which Hal Slocumb is telling J.D. that he’s going to blame him if Thelma and Louise get hurt – well, it’s not as though Thelma didn’t have a choice about robbing the store. Though she did it because J.D. stole their money, it was still her choice. The way Slocumb makes it out is that they were powerless pawns to a male force – but I disagree. Their actions were motivated by men doing them wrong, but they still made their decisions – that’s what’s feminist about this movie. They’re feminists because they made the choice to be fugitives, they’re not feminists because men victimized them and forced them to avenge the wrongdoings. Slocumb saw them as victims, as though they were dainty until a MAN stepped in the way and turned them bad. But they turned themselves bad – and they liked it. (more…)