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June 1994


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Alison McKee <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 3 Jun 1994 20:34:00 PDT
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
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A few years after its making, *Thelma and Louise* continues to stir up
heated debate, I see!
Not to give Denise more grief, but I'm a little uncomfortable
with her distinction between "academic feminists" and
"mainstream feminists," even though I understand part of her frustration:
> screaming horde
> of academic feminists (I use this term to differentiate them from the
> mainstream feminists)
As a member of the screaming horde, I feel that Thelma and
Louise are not only *both* "too cool chicks fighting patriarchy"
*and* outlaws, but *also* neither:  in my view there's a
complexity to the characters and the narrative trajectory
which invokes those kinds of labels but ultimately prevents T and L from
being comfortably labeled as either.  Hence all the heated debate -- when
the film was released as well as now. And hence -- for me -- one of the
finest aspects of the film.
> Didn't mean to take out my frustrations on anyone on this list.  Just
> found myself at the 'straw that broke....' point about whether
> Thelma/Louise are two cool chicks fighting the patriarchy or two
> outlaws who do one ill-thought-out thing after another and commit
> senseless suicide at the end.
My academic feminist friends tell me
> I can't be a REAL feminist without seeing the power and the beauty of
> this film; I am now and always have been a feminist.
As someone who does view *Thelma and Louise* as a kind of litmus test for
friendship (I'm kidding -- though I was genuinely appalled when a very close
friend of mine . . .  a feminist . . . said she disliked the
film  and walked out of it), I am nevertheless leery of such an attitude, in
myself or others:  who am I, or anyone else, to judge whose feminism, or any
other political philosophy , is more genuinely felt and mobilized on the basis
of such criteria?   This source of frustration I understand, even as I'd
probably end up being one of the people who gave Denise a headache! :)
It's been a long week.  And year.  I recommend a martini.
Alison McKee
Department of Film and Television
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