Friday, July 23, 2010

Butt-kicking Babes

Steve writes:

The tepid reaction to Knight and Day is reminiscent of the complaints about Kate Capshaw’s performance in Indiana Jones and Temple of Doom as a nightclub singer whose only contribution to the roaring action is to squeal. I can’t recall how many nerdy guys complained to me that Capshaw was a poor feminist role model compared to Karen Allen, who beat up bad guys in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Ouch!  That smarts!

Okay, look:  obviously, I have no brief for feminist role models.  I rolled my eyes at Sigourney Weaver’s over-the-top butchiness in Aliens, and I’ve never been a fan of the butt-kicking-babe fetish as exemplified by Lara Croft.  But yes, I was among those nerds who saw Capshaw (and ToD generally) as a significant comedown from Allen in Raiders.  For one thing, like most children, I liked my adult heroes and heroines to be faithfully monogamous, especially when the personalities were as well matched as Indiana and Marion.  I still like that.

And for another, it’s one thing to discourage women from usurping male leadership or denying them the expectation that they can routinely outfight men twice their size.  It’s quite another to say that helpless squealing the is apex of femininity.  Courage and resourcefulness ought not be exclusively male virtues.

Marion was brave.  Marion generally kept her head, if not always her composure, in the face of danger.  Marion was, or at least tried to be, an asset to Indiana in their joint efforts to recover the Ark of the Covenant.  Wilhelmina, in contrast, was none of these things.  But contrary to Steve’s assertion, I don’t recall Marion actually “beating up” any Nazis, nor performing any other feat beyond the realm of plausibility.  I would say the same balance was achieved by Ripley from the original Alien movie and Evelyn from The Mummy.

I haven’t seen Knight and Day yet, so I have no opinion to offer.

No comments: