THIS FUCKIN’ MOVIE.
IN MY OPINION.
IS A FEMINIST MOVIE.
AND IS ONE OF MY FAVORITES.
BECAUSE IT’S AWESOME.
Why do you think it’s feminist? I kind of agree, and I was *thisclose* to using this for my horror film class (but I couldn’t find any secondary sources). I might use it for a different class…
Well, I actually think it’s the film’s structure that makes it feminist. In the movie, Stuntman Mike stalks and murders the first group of women — that’s also the section of the movie in which the “grindhouse” aspect is most clearly presented: random cuts, grainy visuals, cheesy audio, etc. This kind of places the audiences in a more or less “outdated context.” Movies aren’t shot/made like that anymore. So these women, while their conversation certainly lends itself toward a more progressive portrayal of women (specifically, explicit/comfortable conversations about sex and wanting pleasure for themselves), are living in a decidedly archaic genre.
Enter Stuntman Mike. He’s a predator, voyeur, and a villain straight out of an old-fashioned slasher film wherein women were objects and victims — and he treats them as such. As stated in the hospital scene, he gets off on his victim’s pain and needs the thrill of killing women with his car to reach sexual climax. From a postmodern standpoint, I think that Stuntman Mike is the audience: he is the Male Gaze, reveling in the torture and death of women. He is an action junkie, a 12 year-old sociopath obsessed with cars and violence.
And that’s all set-up for the second half.
Because then things change. The world’s design becomes more modern — clearer picture, less hiccups in editing, vibrant colors. The women are decidedly different: even more sexually liberated/explicit, physically capable of handling themselves, and (this is important) are gear heads themselves. And what’s more — they are not scared. In this section, the women are not afraid of Stuntman Mike or his car (different from Arlene in the first section who says she is scared of Mike and, “It’s your car”) but in fact love stunts, love daring action, and love cars.
Kim and Zoe are, in essence, the modern day women. They are not scared of danger, they run toward it and are confident in their skill and ability to handle it. They are not scared of predators, they hunt them down. Stuntman Mike, however, has a strange turn that many men criticized when the film was released — he becomes whiny and weak. But I think this is super intentional on Tarantino’s part, because the film has jumped genres. It has gone from the grindhouse/slasher film that Julia and Arlene inhabited into a modern day car chase movie where the women are empowered, strong, and prepared (the whole conversation about Kim carrying a gun acts as anecdotal evidence of the ways in which the world has changed; women must be vigilante). The great thing about this transition is that Stuntman Mike is not ready for it. He is overwhelmed, usurped, and thwarted. Zoe and Kim engage Stuntman Mike on a level that he did not anticipate — his own — and utilize that same violence and pain he has inflicted on so many women, on him. And with the final act of Death Proof, they welcome Abernathy into this same modernized world and though she is most fearful of the group, she joins in (“Fuck that shit! Let’s kill this bastard”).
So, yay! Feminism!
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