With actress Pam Grier’s breakthrough in Coffy and Foxy Brown, women entered action, science fiction, war, westerns and martial arts films—genres that had previously been considered the domain of male protagonists. This ground-breaking cinema, however, was—and still is—viewed with ambivalence. While women were cast in new and exciting roles, they did not always arrive with their femininity intact, often functioning both as a sexualized spectacle and as a new female hero rather than female character. This volume contains an in-depth critical analysis and study of the female hero in popular film from 1970 to 2006. It examines five female archetypes: the dominatrix, the Amazon, the daughter, the mother and the rape-avenger. The entrance of the female hero into films written by, produced by and made for men is viewed through the lens of feminism and post-feminism arguments. Analyzed works include films with actors Michelle Yeoh and Meiko Kaji, the Alien films, the Lara Croft franchise, Charlie’s Angels, and television productions such as Xena: Warrior Princess and Alias.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Amazing en well-argued work. A must for academics as well as film buffs.
All too seldom, in reading about film, I have the experience of picking up a book that proves to be a revelation. Super Bitches and Action Babes: The Female Hero in Popular Cinema, 1970-2007 is precisely that-a groundbreaking work that not only sheds new light on a trend in films but also provides a fresh theoretical framework in which to situate its argument.
Typical previous examinations of women in action roles had seen them as masquerading in male guise in a manner that ultimately is subsumed within white patriarchy. Only female stars of 1910s serials had been generally regarded as succeeding in transgressing male dominance, largely the result of a formative era in film where the audience was large female. However, in Super Bitches and Action Babes, author Rikke Schubart peels away old standbys, especially Laura Mulvey's essay on woman as created by the object of the male gaze in cinema.
Instead, Schubart outlines a far more convincing case, which she...
This book had so much promise, but ultimately missed it's mark.
Examining Baywatch, both Buffy and Charmed--would ironically fit her babe-superhero paradox construct, were then somehow given less discussion time in the text. I found this particularly ironic given that she was interested in Pam Grier films for the juxtaposition of female agency and sexualization. Buffy and Charmed would today seem to be the closer 'cousins'.
Plus, Buffy series creator Joss Whedon received academic training in gender studies while he was studying film at Wesleyan University. Certainly this, his conceptualization of Buffy as an 'alternative feminist icon' including apparent character contradictions with the movement/stereotypes and his off camera promotion of events such as Equality Now would have provided more substantive discussion.
And yes, I'm empathetic to the constraints perpetually placed on harried graduate students. I myself couldn't research everything which...
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