Girls with guns : understanding gender and violence in contemporary action cinema.




Roark, David E.

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Since Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979) there has been a steady trend toward movies featuring women using firepower. These films have been, for the most part, shunned by the critical community. They are regularly called sexist and/or unsophisticated. I argue that these criticisms often ignore the basic mechanisms at work within these films and how they effectively communicate positive representations of women. Through analyses of Alien, Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), Barb Wire (1996), Sucker Punch (2011), KickAss (2010), and La Femme Nikita (1990), I argue that, while these films include problematic elements (e.g., ideologically male women, sexualization, and women whose motivation relies on one or more males), they are also often misunderstood. Within the context of a film, these taboos can be used to criticize society’s understanding of established gender norms. Therefore, the “girls with guns” subgenre should not be seen as necessarily regressive.



Gender studies.