Representation of Women in Action Movies

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  • Topic: Gender role, Action film, Charlie's Angels
  • Pages : 5 (1810 words )
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  • Published : March 24, 2013
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If a man can fight, he’s a hero. If a woman can fight, she’s a b**ch! Representation of women in action films

The film industry never seems to lack action films and there always plenty for the market to choose from however how many of those have women in a leading role? A handful. There aren’t that many films that feature women in lead roles within action films. But the question is why? Why haven’t a majority of these women been given a chance? Are actresses like Uma Thurman and Angelina Jolie one-woman-wonders or have they just been given a lucky break? I’ll be exploring the representation of women in action films through a semiotic analysis. David Gauntlett argues that “in contemporary society, gender roles are more complex and the media reflects this. The female roles today are often glamorous as well as successful in a way that they were previously not. Much of this is due to the rise of ‘girl power’ in the media, through identities constructed by music artists and contemporary actresses, for example, who are demanding less passive roles” which explains how films like Charlie’s Angels have made it to the forefront.

Unfortunately, women have repeatedly suffered from a narrow set of representations in the media. They are regularly linked to the domestic situation i.e. housewives, or as sexual objects represented to entertain men. Furthermore, “the number of roles for leading women is far below that of men.” Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle is the film I’ve chosen explore and there several reasons behind this. I’ve chosen this text because it portrays women within dominant roles. Furthermore, the concept behind it breaks the pre-existing norm of women being the sexual object that entertains the male hero/spy. This isn’t the case in this film, they’re heroes fighting crime and saving the day. Not only are they stunning and beautiful but they also possess skills that crush and challenge existing stereotypes about women which is exactly why I chose this film.

Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle is an action comedy film that was released on the 27 June 2003. The film was directed by McG and produced on a budget of $120 million. It was the sequel to the 2000’s Charlie’s Angels and it was number one at the box office for its opening weekend and produced a worldwide gross of $259.2 million. The film was a success. It stars an ensemble cast including Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu. It also features notable actors and actresses such as Demi Moore, Shia LaBeouf and Matt LeBlanc. Diaz, Barrymore and Liu or the “Angels”, are three extremely talented, strong, sexy women who work as private investigators for unseen millionaire named Charlie. Prior to this film, they had starred in more passive roles in the romantic comedy genre. In most action films, "men were more likely to be adventurous, active and vicarious, whereas women were more frequently shown as weak, ineffectual, victimised, supportive, laughable or 'merely token females” (Gunter, 1995). A film such as this allowed their fans to view them in a more dominant, powerful light. This immediately challenges the pre-existing stereotype of women because they are illustrated as superior to their male counterpart. The angels are independent women who aren’t tied down or held back by men. On-the-other-hand, the fact that they work for a male, wealthy character who controls their every move is ironic because in reality, many women are in similar situations and living in a patriarchal society.

The opening scene of the film is a brilliant example of the female representation shown throughout the plot. It’s set in a filthy, hostile bar in the Himalayas in Mongolia. The bar is packed with lots of men drinking and jeering. The use of an establishing long shot works well to familiarise the audience with the initial setting and atmosphere. I believe the director did this in order to show the contrast between all of the men and the Angels.

A dolly shot is used to track...
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