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June 1994


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Tom Byers <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 2 Jun 1994 11:56:33 EDT
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Department of English, University of Louisville
Phone: (502)852-6770 or (502)852-6801. Fax: (502)852-4182.
Among strong women in mainstrean Hollywood cinema: Sigourney Weaver as Ripley
in the ALIEN series; Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor in TERMINATOR 2; Jodie
Foster as Clarice Starling in THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS. What's most
interesting/troubling to me about all of these is the ways in which patriarchy
recuperates them: in Starling's case by making her determinedly a daughter (w/
not just one but THREE very clear father figures); in Sarah Connor's case by
showing her to be both a bad mother and an inadequate protector who, tough as
she is, simply can't do it w/o an even tougher, more pumped up man--see the
scenes in the scientist's home (and Susan Jeffords' remarks about her in
HARDBODIES--Rutgers University Press) for the abjection of this strong woman);
in the case of Alien by the infamous undressing scene, which I've looked at in
"Kissing Becky: Masculine Fears and Misogynist Moments in Science Fiction
Films," ARIZONA QUARTERLY 45.3 (autumn 1989): 77-95. Generally, Hollywood does
not allow strong women w/o undercutting them in some specific way that allows
them not to be too disturbing to men--though increasingly conscious of this
sort of critique, H'wood increasingly tries to have it both ways. One more
comment--one of the most amazing things about all this for me was the recent
flap about vengeful violence by women in THELMA and LOUISE. Suddenly violence
that's routine in buddy movies became disturbing, because women were doing it
(rather than having it done to them). To me this isprecisely the converse to
the tendency of the "new man" movies of the last fifteen years--starting w/
KRAMER VS KRAMER--to make domestic work and childrearing heroic NOW THAT A MAN
     Of course there are bazillions of good books and articles about all of
this--to my mind one of the best recent things is Tania Modleski's 1991
FEMINISM WITHOUT WOMEN (Routledge). What do others recommend?
bitnet tbbyer01@ulkyvm; internet [log in to unmask]
Thomas B. Byers
Department of English/University of Louisville
Louisville KY 40292