A New Theme: Amazons in Action

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A little known fact – I love action movies.  I’m the girl who would rather watch people getting their asses kicked than sit through a romantic comedy. 

The one caveat here is that action films by and large star men in the leading roles and not women.  Of course, we did go through a period in the late 90s and early 21st century where you saw women regularly kicking ass on-screen.  There was Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Xena, La Femme Nikita, Alias, Tomb Raider, G.I. Jane and if we want to go back further you’ve gotta mention Pam Grier as Foxy Brown and Sigourney Weaver as Ripley.  But where are they now? Angelina Jolie is the only actress mentioned above that still appears in action roles.  One of my favorite quotes from her comes from an interview (and I’m paraphrasing here) where they ask her if she wants to play a Bond girl and she replies, “No, I wanna play Bond.”

Adding insult to injury, we act as if the entertainment industry is doing us a favor by casting women as strong, capable, heroes.  Bruce Willis backs out of Salt and they replace him with Angelina Jolie … how often does that happen? How many of us were impressed that the studio execs made that decision? Well, women in action have always existed.  Women, who were fierce warriors – courageous and honorable fought and died in wars and revolutions throughout history.  Now there’s something you don’t learn about in school!

So, let’s examine the stereotypes and prejudices which encourage us to believe that women can’t hold their own in a physical capacity against men, whether that means sports or combat.  The underlying assumption that we are just at a natural disadvantage leads some to question whether the female action hero is believable.  Why wasn’t Jason Bourne Jane Bourne? What message does that send to little boys and girls? What does it say about men and their role in society? Is their worth solely tied to the belief that women need them to do things that we couldn’t possibly do for ourselves?
****SPECIAL NOTE**** Going forward there will be a new theme every other week instead of every week.  This will give us more time with each theme.  And a great big thanks to all of you who are following this blog!

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One response »

  1. It’s true there was a fashion for female action heros in the last decade which seemed to take its cue from the video games of the time – Mortal Combat, Lara Croft etc. Seems to have died out recently with the notable exception of Haywire starring Gina Carano – which was superb and probably the best hollywood treatment of a female action hero to date. On TV it’s a different matter – We are forever being shown waif-like female cops physically aprehending big tough male baddies in CSI, NCIS, Mentalist etc. The trouble with these depictions is that the lack credibility – the women just don’t look strong enough to man-handle a 6ft 200lb guy – but that’s not to say that no woman could – not at all – there are plenty that could for real, but directors seem to opt for the less plausable depiction, probably so that the male audience is titilated, but doesn’t feel too threatened. Having said that I have just watched (while I’m typing) a scene in the TV show – Revenge. I don’t follow it my GF watches it religiously however I looked up to see a character called Emily commit a serious beatdown on some guy – now that was both convincing and plausable and therfore very effective.

    The trouble with most mainstream female action heroes (or heroines) and indeed any tough or strong female characterisation is that it is always done tongue in cheek – Like Xena for instance. This is a shame as a genuinely tough female is loved by all – hopefully the days of compromise are coming to an end….

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