Looking like a hero: constructions of the female gun-fighter in contemporary Hollywood cinema

This source preferred by Christa Van Raalte

Authors: van Raalte, C.

Start date: 19 July 2012

This paper addresses the aesthetic and semiotic issues of dress, agency and desire as they are articulated around the figure of the female gun-slinger in action-driven genres. It explores the problems that this complex figure presents for feminist critics, in relation to the fetishisation of the female action figure, the potential for readings of cooption or resistance embodied in the transvestite heroine, and the celebration of cinematic violence. It also explores a number of strategies whereby film-makers and narratives contrive to contain the transgressive potential of the female gun-slinger. With particular reference to Salt (Phillip Noyce 2010), it highlights issues of transformation, performance and identity, focusing on the operation of costume as an ‘alternative discourse’ within the text. It considers the limitations and potential of the contemporary action heroine as an empowering female figure within popular culture.

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