Thursday, November 29, 2007
Girls Kick Ass!
When you think of action stars, whom do you think of? Bruce Willis, Vin Diesel, Charles Bronson, Jackie Chan, The Rock, even Governor Schwarzenegger. The list of actors one considers action stars goes on and on. Where are the female action stars? Sure, there have been plenty of women who have starred, or more likely co-starred in action movies, but very few of them would be considered action stars. It is time to re-evaluate what makes and action star, and why it seems to always have to be male dominated.
Many women have proven their ability to be box office hits as action stars in the past. Actresses such as Uma Thurman in Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2, Sigourney Weaver in the Aliens Trilogy, Angelina Jolie as Laura Croft in Tomb Raider and Milla Jovovich in Resident Evil have all played lead roles in these highly successful films where they take center stage as action heroes. They have shown that women can portray fighting skills, weapons proficiency, and brute strength just as convincingly as their male counterparts. It is clear that, with the right screenplay and directing, women are not the box office poison that movie executives seem to think they are.
Let’s start with the ideal action hero. Opinions differ, but we can agree on most of the general aspects. Our hero should be able to drive at speeds of 100 mph or more, or at least be able to look really tough on a motorcycle. They should be able to outrun major explosions and push innocent victims out of the line of projectile shrapnel. They should deliver unbelievably cheesy lines with complete conviction. They should be able to look good, even when they are covered in blood and dirt. They should be able to beat up any number of bad guys that come at them in a given scene. They should always be proficient with at least five different types of weapons (most especially, a bazooka). And they should talk in a low, raspy voice to show just how tough they are (with the exception of Vin Diesel, he talks like a Muppet, but still kicks ass).
Of the minimal list of characteristics that one could assume would make for an ideal action hero, not one of them are exclusive to the male population. Let’s use Milla Jovovich as an example (she has starred in more action films that any other female). She has, in her various movies, looked really cool on a motorcycle, outrun exploding buildings, convincingly said some pretty awful lines, looked great covered in blood and dirt, beat up groups of genetically altered bad guys, blown away all kinds of stuff with all kinds of guns, not to mention her moves with a sword, and has even used the raspy voice when she was really pissed off.
Knowing that women can do anything men can do when it comes to being an action hero, there doesn’t seem to be much of an argument for why there are not more of them. Sure, there have been a few female-fronted flops like cat-woman and Electra, but there are also plenty of male dominated stinkers like Daredevil and anything starring Dolph Lundgren.
Young girls need role models to look up to too. Women should no longer settle for the secondary action characters. Writers should stop creating roles that, for no legitimate reason, have to be filled by men. Movie executives should take a look at the box office numbers when deciding whether to take the risk on a film starring women. This could be just another way in which women could rise above the inequality that continues to thrive in this nation and show the newer generations that girls DO kick ass.