Paul Andersen: Fair Game
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado
Angelina Jolie popularized the trend in “Boob Raiders,” the exploits of a shapely young woman with lethal appendages. I would never patronize such a titillating film but was told that Jolie’s bodily enticements were well represented in every livid scene.
“Kill Bill” saluted another heinous heroine, in which seductive and destructive Uma Thurman rampaged in violent ecstasy. “Pulp Fiction” falls into the same category, with both films highlighting violence and debauchery a la youthful femme fatales.
“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” took feminine violence to a new level. Not only was an attractive young woman the victim, but she was also perpetrator through ingenious applications of the stun gun and torturous nuances in the refined expression of amateur tattoo art. How inspiring!
Now, with the box-office smash of “The Hunger Games,” maidenly mayhem reaches an all-time high. There’s nothing like a teenage bloodbath with a brutal and beautiful babe to entice record numbers of popcorn-munching, Coke-slurping American audiences. We just can’t enough of this.
Baby boomers like I am can feel downright stodgy when reflecting that the film industry of our day produced G-rated classics such as “Cinderella,” “Mary Poppins” and “The Sound of Music.” The latter two starred Julie Andrews, the antipathy of contemporary slash-and-burn heroines, whose innate sweetness gushed from the screen.
The “it” girl of my youth was the young and fetching Haley Mills, who achieved adulation for her naïve portrayal of purity when she played “The Glad Game” in the uplifting Disney film “Pollyanna.” This was before “uplifting” referred to cleavage, of which Haley, alas, had none.
Perhaps the only evil personification of the female form in the 1960s was Samantha of the hit TV show “Bewitched.” In this silly sitcom, the mere wriggle of Sam’s nose conjured comic pratfalls for her dorky husband, Darrin. Oh, to think of the evil a slinky Samantha could wreak in a cinema verite of today. A remake is long overdue.
Given current ratings and box-office proceeds, audiences are gaga over violent death at the hands of delectable heartthrobs. The feminine touch to homicide is evidently appealing, or perhaps it’s a turnaround fantasy in which womanly waifs find that revenge against male antagonists is sweet indeed.
Whatever happened to the role model of Joan of Arc as the archetype warring female on whose godly mission an entire nation rode? History is rich with murderous maids and matrons, the foremost being homicidal maniac Medea from Euripides’ stage. This Greek sociopath popularized patricide, fratricide and infanticide as fodder for subsequent theatrical dramas.
Medea led a lamentable Greek chorus generically known as “black widows” for the innocuous pastime of serial murdering whatever fool husbands or unwitting relations they tantalized. Snake-maned Medusa had her charms, though no one could withstand her stare without getting rock-solid stoned. Madame Lafarge was a standout for being both callused and violent, but she was no maiden worth designing Lycra outfits for, as are Jolie and her ilk. Instead of blazing guns and robust curves, Lafarge was known for knitting.
For me, it was Lizzie Borden who first touched the nocturnal imagination with the fine edge of her axe. Talk about a whack job! Then came Faye Dunaway in “Bonnie and Clyde,” a machine-gunning moll who let her fingers do the talking. Carrie-Anne Moss in “The Matrix” and Linda Hamilton in “The Terminator” both excelled at the vicious dispatching of droll supporting actors.
Real-life parallels emerged with a bevy of femoid accomplices to Charles Manson. Star quality was captured by the unforgettable Lynette Alice “Squeaky” Fromme, who gained historical note for the attempted assassination of Gerald Ford. Claudine Longet brought it home to Aspen when she dispatched a two-legged Spider.
“Goodbye Earl,” by the Dixie Chicks, would be an appropriate closing soundtrack to this column, in which the writer sums up a warning that women and violence are inextricably linked because the warped prevailing culture finds it entertaining.
Fade out on the lyrics: “And it didn’t take them long to decide that Earl had to die/Goodbye Earl/Those black-eyed peas/They tasted all right to me, Earl/You feelin’ weak?/Why don’t you lay down and sleep/Earl, ain’t it dark/Wrapped up in that tarp?”
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