Are Women Psycho or is it Just Hollywood?

Are Women Psycho or is it Just Hollywood?

Articles - Directing

I have recently noticed a disturbing trend in Hollywood
cinema: the psychotic woman. The films that come to mind are Basic
Instinct
, The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, The Temp, Body of Evidence, Malice, The Crush and many
more. It is not difficult to find these movies in the local video
store. The genre is erotic thriller. Erotic for half the audience,
perhaps… If films are not categorized they are still easy to spot
merely from their covers. Look for the scantily clad women holding
knives. One of my favorites is Pretty Kill. The cover is
of a woman in a teddy lying on a bed of   _ red satin.
She has a glistening knife in one hand and a rag doll in the other.
In big letters: "Angel! Hooker! Killer! A night with her is
full of surprises."   The descriptions of the
female leads are primarily sexual. On Basic Instinct‘s cover
Sharon Stone’s character, Catherine Tramell, is described as "a
cold, calculating, and beautiful novelist with an insatiable sexual
appetite." Lethal Lolita reads "Deception, Promiscuous
Sex, and Violence."

I suppose I should feel flattered that woman can now
be portrayed as equally threatening and dangerous as men; flattered
that we are now wielding the knives instead of only having them
wielded at us. But I’m not, and I’ll tell you why. These characters
are two-dimensional. They lack justification, development, and motivation.
The portrayal of these women is solely sexual and their psychoses
are spurred on by jealousy, greed, or sexual thrill seeking. In
other words, it usually revolves around a man. Sex is apparently
a woman’s most, and often only, effective weapon– as in the case
of Body of Evidence where Madonna’s character, Rebecca Carlson,
actually romps men to death. The femme fatale of the film noir era
has been transformed into the sex-wielding psycho bitch from hell.
This seems to stem from the media’s interpretation of male/female
relationships in the nineties. Somehow women are too difficult to
understand, they expect too much, and they’re bitter. Is this a
new thing? Is this indicative of the nineties? Is Hollywood cinema,
with its array of psychotic women, having any effect on male/female
relationships?

Gary Oldman and psycho Lena
Olin in Romeo is Bleeding.

This article was first conceived after I watched the
film Malice. Nicole Kidman plays a greedy woman who has both
of her ovaries cut out so she can sue the doctor (with whom she
is in cahoots) for twenty million dollars. What a way to eliminate
everything that makes women unique and powerful. There was never
any sort of justification given for her greed or disregard for her
body. I doubt we would ever see a male lead character have his penis
cut off for reasons of greed. It just wouldn’t happen!

Let’s look at the archetype of psychotic women (erotic
thriller) films: Fatal Attraction. Here we have a case of
a woman racing toward the abyss after being jilted. Glenn Close
portrays Alex Forrest, an intelligent and successful woman who,
after being dumped by her lover, goes over the edge. A crescendo
of horrifying and melodramatic expressions of her insanity evolve
from this.

Justification is the major issue. The point is not
that women shouldn’t use their feminine charms to help achieve their
goals, but that their goals be justified. Good examples of femme
fatales would be Teresa Russell in Black Widow, Angelica
Huston in the Grifters, and Kathleen Turner in Prizzi’s
Honor
. It isn’t even that women can’t be psychotic. Kathy Bates
is a perfect example of a well-developed psychotic woman in Misery.

Most of all, I would like to see women playing three-dimensional
villains (traditionally male), where the motivation for their villainous
behavior is not motivated by men’s rejection of them. A good example
would be Lena Olin as a hit woman in Romeo is Bleeding. Here’s
a woman who is just as violent as any character in Reservoir
Dogs
.

It seems very patriarchal of Hollywood to think that
men are the only thing that women get upset about. To mass-produce
these "erotic thrillers" only proves what audiences Hollywood
is truly targeting. My hope is that we will soon begin to focus
on women in the non-traditional, well-rounded roles usually reserved
for men. MM

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in Articles - Directing

  • Articles - Acting

    Editor’s Weekend Pick: Short Term 12

    By

    MovieMaker‘s pick of the films out in theaters this week is the award-winning, heart-pumping Short Term...

  • Articles - Acting

    Fictionalizing Truth: Lee Daniel’s The Butler & More

    By

    We’ve all seen those stately biopics (usually with Oscar aspirations), in which renowned actors portray real-life...

  • Articles

    MovieMaker Editor’s Pick: Prince Avalanche
    by MovieMaker Editors

    By

    MovieMaker’s Editor’s Weekend Pick is director-writer-producer David Gordon Green’s Prince Avalanche, starring Paul Rudd and Emile...

  • Articles

    Thor Freudenthal Sets Sail with Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters
    by Kyle Rupprecht

    By

    German-born moviemaker Thor Freudenthal started his career in visual effects and animation, working on such films...

  • Articles - Cinematography

    Best Of: The Most Bodacious Surfing Movies

    By

    Much like an ocean wave, the surfing movie subgenre has seen its share of peaks and...

  • Articles

    Tattoo Nation: Director Eric Schwartz (Part 2)

    By

    In Part One (of this interview, we talked to Colorado-based Tattoo Nation director Eric Schwartz about...

  • Articles - Directing

    Things I’ve Learned As a Moviemaker: Kevin Smith

    By

    Director, screenwriter, sometimes actor, and all-around major geek Kevin Smith has deep roots in independent moviemaking,...

  • Articles - Acting

    Perfectly Paranormal: Ghostbusting in Film

    By

    Where would the world be without the paranormal investigators of cinema? Overrun with evil spirits, demons...

  • Articles

    MovieMaker Editor’s Weekend Pick: Storm Surfers 3D
    by Rory Owen Delaney

    By

    Storm Surfers 3D delivers big wave-riding experience for moviegoers!  This week’s MovieMaker Editor’s Weekend Pick is...

  • Articles

    Laurence Anyways: MovieMaker’s Weekend Pick
    by Kelly Leow

    By

    In recognition of the Supreme Court’s landmark dismissal of California’s Proposition 8 and its striking down...

  • Articles - Directing

    Things I’ve Learned: Neil Jordan’s 12 Golden Rules of Moviemaking

    By

    In the last few years, Neil Jordan, whose career spans three decades, has written and directed...

  • Articles - Directing

    Re-Vamping: Ten Unique Takes on Vampire Mythology

    By

    In celebration of the release of “Byzantium” this Friday, we’ve come up with a selection of...

  • Articles - Directing

    Things I’ve Learned: Gus Van Sant’s Six Golden Rules of Moviemaking

    By

    Gus Van Sant is one of America’s most heralded, iconic independent auteurs.  Based in Portland, Oregon,...

  • Articles - Acting

    Sloppy Seconds: The Best (and Worst) Horror Remakes

    By

    Horror movie remakes are a dime a dozen these days, with retreads of such genre classics...

  • To Top