Monday, December 5, 2011

Not So Violent Superheroines

Looking again at the elements that have made female action flicks successful, Stephanie Mencimer wrote an article comparing the differences between male action flicks and female action flicks ( Due to the successes of Tomb Raider, Charlie's Angels and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Mencimer analyzes why these female action flicks have suddenly become popular despite the genre's long existence. Mencimer states that:

“Technology and the sexual revolution, though, have combined to make the muscleman---and his movie---obsolete. Wires have allowed Lucy Liu and Cameron Diaz to high- kick, jump, and fly better than Seagal ever could, and the girls didn't have to become body-builders in the process.

This article was written in 2001, during the boom of these action-babe flicks. Hence it's understandable that Mencimer would state that the aging of certain male action stars has lead to a shift in focus to female action stars, who are more graceful in their kick-ass fighting skills.

A more intriguing idea Mencimer raises though is the act that action chicks do not act as violent as male action stars. Mencimer states that:

"None of today's action chicks come near that level of messiness. The violence is sterilized---it is, after all, PG-13, aimed mostly at 12-year-olds. They rarely mess up their hair, nor do they really fight---or perhaps gun down---significant bad guys like, say, Rutger Hauer or Wesley Snipes, which would seriously upset the balance of power. Often they end up sparring with other women. Their motives are always pure and they never use unnecessary violence the way Arnold and the boys get to. The body count in Commando topped 100; Charlie's Angels couldn't have had a single real corpse."

She states that women who are portrayed as too powerful would not be easily accepted by men. I think this is a really interesting point to raise- that superheroes are allowed, and almost expected, to kill many of their enemies while superheroines are only supposed to fight to a certain extent. Many of the action flicks mentioned in her article did mostly have women fighting women. It is almost as though the idea of a woman overpowering a man is still unacceptable to society. Yet what does this say to the young girls who watch these films? That they are allowed to be kick-ass to a certain level, but will never be able to defeat the boys? I think it's demeaning to always have these action chicks only fighting females and not males, for it shows that despite being superheroines, they will always have their limits. Women should be shown as equals to men, as worthy opponents, to show young girls that they can stand up to boys as well.

There are still hardly any male-female fights depicted in action movies today- showing that the prejudice that superheroines are weaker than superheroes still exists. In order to have these superheroine flicks truly respected and taken seriously, do you all believe there is a need to show that women are fully capable of taking down men? Would it be acceptable or realistic to show that? I personally think that superheroines can have more fight scenes with male characters and show their skills. May the best man or woman win, depending on their capabilities, not just because of their gender.

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