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The Representation Of Women In Action Films

2302 words - 10 pages

Women have made progress in the film industry in terms of the type of role they play in action films, although they are still portrayed as sex objects. The beginning of “a new type of female character” (Hirschman, 1993, pg. 41-47) in the world of action films began in 1976 with Sigourney Weaver, who played the leading role in the blockbuster film ‘Aliens’ as Lt. Ellen Ripley. She was the captain of her own spaceship, plus she was the one who gave out all the orders. Until then, men had always been the ones giving the orders; to see a woman in that type of role was outlandish. This was an astonishing change for the American industry of film. Sometime later, in 1984, Linda Hamilton starred in ...view middle of the document...

41-47). Since the seventies women have also become “conformed to traditional sex role expectations” (Hirschman, 1993, pg. 41-47).

Weaver’s character, Ripley, in ‘Aliens’ had a few trademarks which portrayed her as a masculine woman. She had no make-up on her face, her hair was cut short, plus she was dressed in a tank top and a pair of pants. She was a tough woman who didn’t put up with nonsense from anyone. She was outspoken and swore on occasion. Even with all the masculinity that Ripley possessed, she had a natural motherly instinct which was introduced to her character when she found a little girl hiding and fighting to survive against the aliens. Ripley cared for and protected this girl, named Neut, with her life. Hamilton’s character, Sarah, in ‘Terminator I’ and ‘II’, had the same type of look as Ripley in ‘Aliens’. Sarah had no make-up on her face, her hair was a mess, and she too wore a tank top and a pair of pants. They both smoked cigarettes and had a harsh word or two that came out of their mouths. These two also both had motherly instincts: Weaver with little Neut and Sarah with her son John. There were no big differences between these two other than the fact that Sarah wore no bra. In ‘Terminator II’ Sarah was locked in a maximum security mental hospital after she attempted to blow-up a computer company. There was a scene where Sarah was doing pull-ups in her cell, to strengthen and tone her body (Hirschman, 1993, pg. 41-47) so the cameras could focused on her sexually. The movie ‘Tomb Raider’ had a very different structure. Jolie’s character, Croft, was tough, and very sexy. She wore a skin tight leather outfit that accentuated the curves of her body. She had a gun in each holster - one on each of her hips, a knife on her belt, and she rode around on a fast motorcycle. These types of lead characters changed some of the ways in which women are portrayed in the industry of film. Women are now portrayed, more often, as independent and intelligent (Maio, n.d.). This was unusual in the past, because the main representation of women were housewives: portrayed as powerless and ineffectual (Maio, n.d.). A woman whose protagonist is not the lead female heroine is shown as weak and emotional (Maio, n.d.). These lesser roles are known as the damsel in distress. However, even the heroine sometimes needs to be saved by a man.

In Terminator I, Sarah is portrayed as a woman who was hysterical and a little on the edge. She needed to be saved and of course, she was saved by a man. In Terminator II, her character was portrayed as a strong, empowered female able to handle anything (Starlet, 2007). She could make use of a wide range of arsenal: the automatic pistol, the police baton, the hunting knife, the rifle, the shotgun and even the grenade launcher (Hirschman, 1993, pg. 41-47). According to Vladimir Propp, a theorist in the mid-1900s, there is a pattern in films since the beginning. He says there are eight Character types which bring the...

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