Megan slams her father up against the wall telling him that hes under arrest manacles him forces him into her car and makes him admit what hes done

In Blue Steel, Megan blows two men away: an armed robber in a grocery store and a serial killer on the street. In both cases she's in uniform acting as a police officer. Several critics have noticed that the few female heroes of the large cop-action genre tend to uphold the law more carefully than men do, perhaps serving repressive, antifeminist purposes by doing so.36 Such women might be patsies, in other words, playing into a patriarchal system that hates all women.37

Camilla Griggers argues that violent women such as Ellen Ripley of Alien fame use their violence on behalf of a militarized patriarchy that employs white women to supervise the men of color who work the lower rungs of such insti-tutions.38 Does Ripley (however unwittingly) serve a military-industrial complex and, if so, spoil our pleasure at watching her?39 Does she represent a conservative feminism that tells white women, specifically, that they can have a place in a white, male power structure only if they dominate others?

Answers to these questions are laden with untested and untestable assumptions about what various producers intended, how audiences responded, what characters wanted. Tiina Vares's essay provides an all-too-rare exemplar of audience study. This book cannot possibly decide whether the movies studied are hegemonic (bad) or subversive (good). We take it for granted that they're all both all the time in ways that undercut the moralistic distinctions. We like morals, of course, and wouldn't produce books like these if we didn't think that they, and the movies they study, could do some good. But we'd rather grant from the outset that one's victorious fantasy will send another away unsatisfied in a manner unlikely to be captured by intensive interpretation.40

Some of the films with violent women will be co-opted: racist, homophobic, procapitalist, nationalist. Others will be feminist, queer, or antiracist. We hope that all of these violent women frighten people who snicker at women's protests. Whatever their roots in male fantasies, their places in dominant orders, or their distance from real lives, may these images at least subvert the notion that women will suffer abuse patiently. Like many of the most notable moments in the history of popular film, the blaxploitation genre disappeared before long—a passing oddity in the menu of white-producer tastes. And women have a long way to go before they reach parity with male cops on-screen.

Perhaps many of the violent women studied herein share similar fates; it's not possible to know. What will become of the suburban housewives with handguns, or the gender-bending cops working white male turf? Can Hollywood stand another Sharon Stone or Kathy Bates? In "Caged Heat" Suzanne Danuta Walters recommends that we watch the lowest genres—the independently produced, grind-house, or straight-to-video fare such as women-in-prison movies—for the subconscious of our popular culture. The current crop of high-profile violent women may indeed find themselves driven back to those haunts before long. Whatever the case, we'll take these women seriously now, not as ideals of a utopian age or role models for kids, but as pop-cultural players shaped by fights over race, class, and family values in a vital game of sexual politics. They disrupt dreams of women's gracious acceptance of all that men hand them, and right now that's good enough for us. This volume studies violent women in the movies not merely as patriarchal pawns or broken promises but also as possible tools in the liberation of women from racial, class, gender, and other political constraints that oppress women and deny them equal chances and equal rights.

0 0

Post a comment