No ordinary action heroine: the subversion of postfeminist discourse in the quest to kill Bill

Lindop, Samantha (2012). No ordinary action heroine: the subversion of postfeminist discourse in the quest to kill Bill. In: Cultural Studies Association of Australasia Annual Conference (CSAA 2012), Sydney, Australia, (). 4-6 December 2012.

Author Lindop, Samantha
Title of paper No ordinary action heroine: the subversion of postfeminist discourse in the quest to kill Bill
Conference name Cultural Studies Association of Australasia Annual Conference (CSAA 2012)
Conference location Sydney, Australia
Conference dates 4-6 December 2012
Publication Year 2012
Sub-type Oral presentation
Language eng
Formatted Abstract/Summary
This paper focuses on action heroine Beatrix Kiddo (played by Uma Thurman) in Quentin Tarantino’s double feature Kill Bill Volume I and II (2003, 2004), and explores how the character is constructed in relation to the paradoxes that dominate postfeminist discourse. The tough, deadly action heroine is a celebrated figure in contemporary Western cinema. Much of the popularity of these combat ready protagonists stems from the fact that they symbolise and celebrate many of the gains made by second wave feminist activism, not only through their self-assurance and physical prowess, but also with the way they occupy roles traditionally reserved for male characters. However, despite their ‘kick-ass’ attitude, the vast majority of these female action figures are also presented as highly eroticised spectacles designed for the male heterosexual gaze and whose battles invariably serve to maintain patriarchal order rather than disrupt it. For feminist scholars such as Anthea Taylor in her new book Single Women in Popular Culture: The Limits of Postfeminism, these kinds of contradictions and tensions surrounding female representations in film are not only common but are constitutive of postfeminist discourse itself. Examining Beatrix in relation to materiality I argue that Kill Bill is unusual in that it does not encourage the superficial pleasures of consumerism, commodification and materialism so often associated with the spectacle of postfeminist heroines. Nor does it defuse the threat of female power by offering the body of its protagonist as a glamorous, sexualised display designed for heterosexual male viewing pleasure, and threats to patriarchal hegemony are far from ameliorated. On the contrary Beatrix subverts dominant expectations of how a woman should look and behave. Consequently it is difficult to read Kill Bill as a straightforward engagement with postfeminism.
Q-Index Code EX
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Conference Paper
Collection: School of Communication and Arts Publications
 
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