Professor Parallel April 11, 2013 Feminism: Female Protagonists Against Moral and Social Crime In our society today, there are many different types of crimes being committed everyday. These crimes range in severity and type. There are very blatant crimes such as murder or burglary, but there are also more subtle crimes such as moral or social crimes. Moral or social crimes are ones that go against commonly accepted moral or social codes. Some examples of these crimes are racism, substance abuse, or discrimination against a group based on a similar quality.
One major types of coordination that we have seen in our society is gender discrimination, mainly against women. This type of discrimination sparked a phenomena called feminism. Feminism promotes gender equality and fights for women’s rights in all aspects of society. Today, we can see feminism all around us from women in the workforce to literature and cinema. Three films that strongly support gender equality and pro- feminism are The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the Alien film series (Alien, Aliens, Alien 3, and Alien Resurrection), and Legally Blonde.
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One aspect of these films that makes hem so interesting is the fact that they are so different and they are able to convey many aspects of feminism. The film The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was released in 2011 and directed by David Finches. This film was based on the novel The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Sties Larsson and it is the second film adoption made; the first was a Swedish version released in 2009. The original Swedish title of this novel was MГ??n Some Hater Skiving, which translates to Men Who Hate Women. This title was originally chosen because if sums up the misogynistic crimes in the book.
The 2011 film focuses on an English Journalist Mikhail Biologist (played by Daniel Craig) and his computer hacking female assistant Elisabeth Slander (played by Rooney Mar). Together, this duo is investigation the whereabouts of a girl who went missing forty years prior. Although the heart of this story is about the investigation of the missing girl, many tend to focus more on the crimes that are committed against the leading female character. She has been sentenced to state legal guardianship due to being diagnosed with mental incompetence.
This means that the state does not believe she is able to take are of herself, so they have assigned someone to manage her finances and most aspects of her life. The court has placed her under the supervision off lawyer, Nils Bujumbura. This alone is a moral crime against Elisabeth because they are placing the power over her in the hands if a man. This man proceeds to blackmail her into granting him sexual favors in return for access to her finances. Elisabeth is complacent in the beginning because Bujumbura is not forcing her to have vaginal sex but he eventually asks her for more.
When Elisabeth refuses his off, he proceeds to brutally has been committed against her. She proceeds to attack him at their next meeting, rape his with a dildo in the same manner he raped her, and permanently tattoos “l am a rapist pig” across his chest and stomach. Once she is done, she informs his that she filmed him taking advantage of her and she blackmails him into giving her full control of her finances and life. This is the main crime against women because Bujumbura is abusing his power, taking advantage of her and ignoring her wishes. Elisabeth reaction to this is to take her power back. Fob recognize this? I had it with me last time I set it here, remember? And this snap, you see it? It’s not a snap, it’s a wide angle fiber optics lens. I thought it was goanna be another blow Job, which is disgusting enough. But I misjudged Just how sick you are. Okay, here’s what’s going to happen. Pay attention. Look at me. Once you can sit again, which could be a while, I admit. We’re going to go to my bank and tell them that I alone have access to my money. Nod. After that you will never contact me again. Each month you will prepare a report of a meeting we will never have.
In it you will describe how well I’m doing, how sociable I’m becoming. Then, you will negotiate with the court to have my acceleration if incompetence lifted. If you fail, this video will spread across the internet like a virus. Nod” (Finches, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). This quote represents main example of feminism in this film. As stated before, Elisabeth reaction is to rape Bujumbura and blackmail him. This shows the female rising up and showing the man that they are equal. She retaliates by treating him the exact way he treated her.
She is showing him that she owns her own life and he does not have power over her Just because he is a man. Elisabeth is not the stereotypical female protagonist that many expect to see in a film or a novel. She is shown to be very masculine and harsh both in her appearance and personality. Although Elisabeth is not the stereotypical female protagonist, she is close to what one might expect for a stereotypical feminist. Her whole persona is what contributes to her being a feminist from her highly masculine appearance to her “don’t mess with me” personality.
She is shown with multiple tattoos, lots of piercing, short hair, and casually clothed. She is not a damsel in distress, or a woman who needs a man to protect her. She is an independent woman who can take care of her own affairs. Elisabeth is also not a woman who follows the standards of a female in conventional society. This contributes to her pro-feminist ideology because she comfortable in her own skin and she is a “woman” based in her own definition, not society’s. The next group films that portray feminist ideas are the series of Alien movies.
The first film, Alien, was directed by Riddled Scott and it was released in 1979. The second film, Aliens, was directed by James Cameron and it was released in 1986. The third film, Alien 3, was directed by David Finches and it was released in 1992. Lastly, the fourth film, Alien Resurrection, was directed by Jean-Pierre Jennet and was released in 1997. Although all four films were directed by different people, they all share the common theme of feminism in a very similar manner. All four movies are science fiction horror films and they follow the same plot line and back-story.
The basic plot line for all four movies focuses on the main character Ellen Ripley (played by Sojourner Weaver) and her interactions with an alien race, the Xenomorphic. This alien race is very predatory and their only goal in life is to keep their race alive and growing. The most society, which means they only have one queen whose goal is to rule the society and the rest fight to protect her. To reproduce, the face-huggers must implant a living host with her larvae. Once implanted within the living host, the larvae will grow and then rip it’s way out off the halt’s chest.
The first main way that this film series is feminist in nature if the spin it puts on traditional gender rolls and gender stereotypes. In a traditional gender role, the male is the one who is brave, protective, strong, and saves the day. On the other hand, the female is the one who is passive, cared, helpless, and is dependent on the male for survival. This film takes those roles and slightly switches them. The main character who is able to defeat the aliens is a woman, Ripley. Similarly to Elisabeth from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Ripley is not the stereotypical girl female protagonist.
Ripley is always shown as being brave, courageous, and masculine. One main reason for the masculinity of Ripples character is because her role was originally written as a male character. The director chose to cast a female spur of the moment. Once they cast Sojourner Weaver, they made very few changes to the script or direction. Ripley is also an interesting and pro-feminist protagonist because she is not involved with a man and there is no romance in the plot. This shows that she is an independent woman who is able to thrive on her own. “Ripley, though, is not saved through the interventions of a male hero: she saves herself” (Tory).
Ripley is a character who is able to develop and survive without the help off male counterpart. This shows that Ripley is an independent woman who does not need help to succeed. Through the progression of each film, Ripples character becomes more masculine and independent but she never looses her femininity. For example, in Aliens, the crew discovers a young girl named Newt who has been able to survive on her own. Ripley proceeds to take Newt under her wing and protect her in a very maternal way. Newt becomes extremely attached to Ripley and even starts referring to her as “Mommy’.
In contrast to Ripley, there are male characters such as Dallas who are reliant on the female character and are not able to protect themselves. Many of the males in these films are shown as cowards and helpless. In the first film Alien, a male character is the only one who is impregnated by the aliens and dies as a result. This is a very interesting stereotypical role reversal because Kane, a male character, is the one being raped, impregnated and giving birth. Kane has been impregnated by the face- hugger and he then awakens with no memory of the event.
This is very similar to women being raped and not remembering the event because they were drugged with Roping or Speculation, the two most common date rape drugs. Kane gives birth to an alien known as a chest-buster, which is the most graphic scene in the entire film. Kane is shown to be in excruciating pain while the phallic-shaped alien fetus frees itself from the confines of his chest. This also mirrors the great deal of pain women feel during the birthing process. The Alien film series has been drenched in gender, rape and feminism since the concept was first conceived.
The visual concepts were adapted from the works of H. R. Geiger. In Jigger’s original designs, he made the creatures very blatantly sexual featuring multiple body parts made out of human genitalia. Although the final visuals in the movies are not exactly like Jigger’s original concepts, they are toned down versions that still possess genitalia on the alien starship, and bulbous mammary projections everywhere – virtually every cone works itself out within a matrix of sexual suggestiveness” (Cobs). This shows the extent of sexual references within this film and how Jigger’s vision was adapted onscreen.
One interesting thing in these films is that genitalia are used to identify gender in our society but that is not true in the Alien series. This means that the gender of the aliens cannot be determines by their phallic or vaginal appearance. In the films, we are shown that the Xenomorphic are able to experience change in their gender. First, the eggs are made to mirror the appearance off penis head. This is notary to common belief because, traditionally, we view eggs as being a product of women and therefore a feminine byproduct. The chest-busters are also supposed to mirror fully matured male genitals.
In contrast, the face-huggers have a very vaginal appearance. These aliens are the ones who rape and impregnate the living hosts. This is a pro-feminist because the vaginal creature is the one overpowering the male victims and performing an act that is traditionally thought of as masculine. The final film that represents pro-feminist ideals is Legally Blonde that was directed by Robert Luckiest and released in 2001. This film is not one that people might see as outwardly feminist due to it’s upbeat tone and stereotypical protagonist but there are many plot points that are promote feminism.
In contrast to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and the Alien film series, the Legally Blonde protagonist Ell Woods (played by Reese Weatherperson) is a very girl and highly feminine feminist. As seen above, the characters Elisabeth and Riddled are highly masculine characters who do not need the help of a man because they are highly masculine and strong enough to take care of themselves. Ell Woods, on the other hand, is a feminist because she does not sacrifice her highly girl nature to succeed in a man’s world.
Legally Blonde is a film about a young stereotypical sorority girl, Ell Woods, who thinks she is meant to marry her college boyfriend and live happily every after. She is shocked when her boyfriend, Warner, dumps her before he leaves for law school because she is not serious enough for him. Ell makes it her mission to prove him wrong and win him back. Dodo this, she applies to Harvard Law School and is accepted. While she is there, she realizes her true potential and is able to succeed on her own merit. She non realizes that she does not need Warner to define her future and she is able to create a new future as a successful lawyer.
The protagonist Ell Woods is the ideal stereotypical sorority girl in the beginning of the film. She is beautiful, ditsy, focused on her social calendar, not serious about school, and basing her self-worth on the man she is dating. She is what many people would consider an anti-feminist because she is self-absorbed, lacking ambition, and depended on a male. Once Ell sets her sights on Harvard, many of these qualities quickly change. She becomes obsessed with her studies and focuses on a life-bettering goal.
Although Ell is going to Harvard Law School to win over a man, she quickly realizes that she could better herself without the help off man. While at Harvard, Ell is faces with challenges and discrimination including a misogynist professor, Judgmental classmates, and her own self-doubts. Once Ell is able to pull herself up and start to excel, she is offered a law internship to consult on a murder trial. In this trial, a famous aerobics guru Brooke Taylor is being tried for shooting and killing her husband. While working on refuses his affection and begins to question how she got as far as she did. Was it because she is smart?
Or because she is pretty? This is a very pro-feminist part of the film because it show the struggle that many women have while they are trying to excel in a “man’s world”. Ell decides to take the high road and prove to everyone, including herself, that she is there because of her ability and not her beauty. Ell returns to the trial as the sole lawyer defending Brooke Taylor. Ell’s returning to the trial is an example of feminism because she has been challenged that she can’t do something and she is determined to prove everyone wrong; she is going to prove she can succeed in this male dominated field.
During the trial, the defendant’s departure, Chutney Windbag, is put on the stand and questioned about her whereabouts on the day on the murder. Windbag tells Ell that she was at the salon getting her hair premed, returned home to shower, and then found her father shot by Brooke Taylor. Ell: “And wouldn’t somebody who had, say, 30 perms before in their life be well aware of this rule, and if in fact you weren’t washing your hair as I suspect you weren’t because your curls are still intact, wouldn’t you have heard the gunshot…
Which means you would have had to found Brooke Windbag with a gun in her hand to make your story plausible, isn’t that right? Chutney Windbag: “She’s my age! Did she tell you that? How would you feel if your father married someone who was your age? ” Ell: Mimi, however, Chutney had time to hide the gun after you shot your father. ” Chutney Windbag: [in tears] “l didn’t mean to shoot him! ” This shows that Ell was able to win her case and prove her client innocent based on her stereotypical “girl’ knowledge.
If Brooke Taylor stayed with her previous male lawyer, she might have been found guilty, but Ell was able to make sure that didn’t happen. This ending promotes feminism because it is proving that sometimes “girl’ knowledge is what will aid someone in their career success. “The idea that women can follow professions while wearing pink, have both successful careers and successful relationships–that femininity and feminism aren’t mutually exclusive– appears prominently in both mainstream and independent films embraced by female viewers. ” (Ferries, Suzanne, Young, Mallory).
This concept of being a feminine feminist is what makes Ell a great representation of feminism. Ell is able to excel at a career without changing who she is and allowing her girl ways to assist her in her day-to-day life. As shown above, there are many moral and social crimes committed against women including rape, disrespect, and discrimination. In the film The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the protagonist is a victim of all three of these crimes. She is mistreated and taken advantage of because she is a female. Although she has been the victim, Elisabeth is able to retaliate and take back her life and power.
This film shows the female protagonist giving the male assailant a taste of his own medicine. This is a very pro-feminist message because she is able to stand up for herself and show society that she is equal those who have victimized her. We also see a very pro-feminist message in the Alien film series. These films are centered around a very strong and masculine female protagonist. Riddled is the ideal representation of feminism in this film because she is able to fully embody the role of the survivor, the leader, and the heroine.
This is significant because she is fulfilling the role that is blatant sexual symbolism and the role reversal of the genitalia. For example, the face-hugger aliens have a vaginal appearance and their Job is to rape and impregnate the host. This is a stereotypically male role in out society but it is being done by a female symbol. The last film to represent a pro-feminist point of view is Legally Blonde. Although this film is a chick-flick or a romantic comedy, it does have a very powerful protagonist and pro-feminist message.
Ell Woods might be a ditsy sorority girl but she is also a woman who was able to succeed in a man’s world while staying true to herself. Throughout the film, Ell is able to repetition her values and goal in order to achieve professional success. By doing this, she is able to take the legal world by storm and leave a lasting impression. Ell does this by staying true to herself because she does not alter her appearance, attitude, or opinions. She embodies the girl feminist who is able to achieve success based on her intellect in a male dominated world.