The Appeal of Thelma & Louise; a buddy movie about two women on the run
Stella Atrium 11.11.11
The 20th anniversary of Thelma & Louise was in February 2011.
claimed the movie directed by Ridley Scott broke stereotypes and
allowed female characters to step out of a corseted past into liberated
action. Never mind the movie presents women acting like men would
act. Never mind that Thelma robs a store only after she receives
instruction from a drifter.
again, the characters we love don't solve problems the way women solve
them, but rather ape the actions of the men. Where are their mothers,
aunts, sisters, cousins, best friends, daughters?
about women must appeal to men, even when the male characters are
secondary, as with a sympathetic policeman played by Harvey Keitel and
ex-boyfriend played by Michael Madsen. The movie audience was mostly
men, and they liked the idea of women on a lark with 2% body fat and
oversized handguns. We still have the standard scenes for car chases,
gun violence, fiery explosions, and a hero's ending. The twist is that
women get to blow up stuff.
are they liberated? Or... are they just acting like a guy would act in
similar situation? Maybe a woman would find other ways to hide by
changing her looks and blending in, or entering a brothel where the
police never investigate.
Thelma & Louise a struggling waitress and repressed housewife take
off one day while the husband is fishing. They stop to cat-around at a
dance hall, and Thelma (Geena Davis) is pressured by a drunken cowboy
who Louise (Susan Sarandon) shoots with her Texas-purchased gun.
Adventures on the run after the feminist statement include picking up a
drifter, scaring a truck driver, packing a cop into his car trunk,
calling home to bring down the police, and sprinting toward the Mexican
1974 movie Thunderbolt & Lightfoot (Clint Eastwood and Jeff
Bridges) depicted drifters in a similar socio-economic strata.
is beaten by bad guys who pursue them, and the tension between
Lightfoot and Thunderbolt is tentative friendship built on a common
need to escape jeopardy. They end badly, too, when Lightfoot dies of
injuries from the beating. We expect less of this movie, though, and
treasure it for the performances.
social wrong was righted in Thelma & Louise? Besides the
eye-candy, what did we learn about ourselves? I'm reminded of the old
adage that "she acted like a man because she was treated like a woman".
The scenes are well played,
especially when Thelma says, "Something broke inside me," but Thelma & Louise is ultimately unsatisfying.
I object mostly to the ending when the pair drive over a cliff rather than return to society and face jail time.
have claimed this ending shows that there's no place in real life for
rogue women; except Thelma and Louise aren't acting like women. The
pair is acting like they think the men would act, all the way to
driving off into the sunset.
women today mention Thelma & Louise as a shining example of
liberated acts, of improvising, of getting a little of her own back. I
despair for our young girls who have few role models and must fit
behavior into unnatural patterns to find acceptance among peers who
believe that women should act like the guys.