I don’t have any news about Jim Carrey’s weight gain, although I will keep an eye out for you, many Google searchers. But I did get a hot tip in the comments last week, and I wanted to share it: Jadet Cadet’s post on Gender and Size in the Action Genre.
She’s responding to a list of the Top 10 Action Babes from AskMen.com, a site which says of the “babes” in question, “Weâ€™re not sure if we want them to protect us or ravage us.” And Jadet does a great job of discussing the implications of this list as well as the sexualization of female action heroes in general.
Iâ€™ve noticed that female machismo has become more and more rigidly confined to women who fit a stereotypical mold of female attractiveness, especially in regards to slenderness. Women who are extremely muscular or heavier set are represented less in the horror/action/sci-fi entertainment circuit than the waif thin, and women who are both heavy and muscular are nonexistent. This provides a very narrow image of what female strength looks like in real life, and sends a conflicting message than can reinforce unrealistic standards.
The heroineâ€™s physical power is often explained by an external cause, a force she has usually has no control over. Six of the heroines on this list have portrayed characters with supernatural abilities on more than one occasion, and five have used supernatural or technological means to explain their unusual physical strength. This allows them to believably play the part while remaining thin and lightly muscular, the beauty ideal in modern day entertainment.
I love Buffy the Vampire Slayer as much as the next girl, but of course, this is exactly what I was complaining about in reference to Joss’s casting choices, so I completely take Jadet’s point.
She also talks about Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2, which reminds me of my favorite female action hero of all time: Marge Gunderson in Fargo, played by Frances McDormand. Marge is seven months pregnant throughout the film, reinforcing her femaleness. However, in her police chief’s uniform, she’s certainly not hyper-sexualized. She’s just brave and tough and smart, and she gets the bad guys in the end. She is, as Jadet puts it, “a rare type of female heroine that doesnâ€™t exist simply for the male audience to drool over.” I love her.
But I wonder: do you think we’ll ever get another action hero who is a woman, who is big and tough and not in a leather catsuit or a cheerleading costume? Will we ever get a hero that qualifies as buff, if not outright fat? Is it too much to ask for?
Posted by mo pie