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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.

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…)

Feminine Power April 10, 2007

Posted by kelly in Power, Tomb Raider 2.

I think that there is a lot at stake when we try to define “female power.” In defining it, we seem to agree that the type of power that women can have is different from the power than men typically wield. I think it would be better to call it “feminine power,” as feminine implies society’s ideals and characteristics or behavior, rather than sex or gender.

In our class discussion, we debated whether or not female power is linked to sexuality, and the exploitation of it by women. At first I agreed with this idea, (more…)

Female Power: Standing in Masculinity’s Shadow April 10, 2007

Posted by kblack10 in Girl Power, La Femme Nikita, stereotypes, Tomb Raider 2, Working Girl.

Women have long been thought of as strong, matriarchal characters, but from the films we have watched in class, it is apparent that as time progresses, the actual “power” that a woman can posses is always in relation to power already existing in their male counterparts. In Imitation of Life, Annie is seen as a strong character because, aside from the issues with her daughter, she manages to take on the “male role” in a rather unconventional “family”. While Annie did not necessarily adhere to typical profile of the strong female as being attractive, beautiful, and catering to the idea of the male gaze, her character proves that there is far more to being a strong woman than appearance. For that time period when the ideal family consisted of a working father, doting wife, two children and a puppy, Annie represented the fact that a woman can not only raise, but also run a family just like the stereotypical ideal husband. The movie Working Girls displays a break through in girl power for its time because (more…)

Is Lara Croft simply a man in woman’s clothing? March 28, 2007

Posted by sindhub in Angelina Jolie, gender, La Femme Nikita, Lara Croft, Tomb Raider, Tomb Raider 2, Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life.

Throught Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life, I was struck by how ‘masculine’ Croft’s behavior and personality were.  And I don’t think I would have been as struck by this trait of hers if we hadn’t seen Besson’s Nikita before this.  Whereas Nikita feels remorse and questions the violence she has to perform, Croft almost ruthlessly kills the bad guys off, one by one.  And while all Nikita really wants is to be married with Marco, Croft is apparently afraid of commitment and getting too close to anyone, only to be betrayed again in the end by her love interest and forced to kill him.

So the masculine qualities that Croft has: adventurousness and risk-taking, stubbornness/resolve, ass-kicking, technologically adept, etc.  And of course, she’s the one in charge of the men on her team; she decides what they’re gonna do and tells them what to do, not the other way around.  There are only two other substantial female characters in the movie (the old lady who greeted them in the mountains, and the little girl who gave her her bubble gum); for the most part, Croft is surrounded by men, and the movie consistently makes her look like the stronger person. (more…)

croft’s sexuality March 27, 2007

Posted 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.