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Boy Jokes: Content Analysis of Hollywood Misogyny in Mean Girl and Slasher Movies
Unformatted Document Text:  4 II Slashers The mean girl cycle was born during the mid-1970s period that produced the first slasher movies, one of the most misogynist of Hollywood’s many genres, but also among the few to present women as heroes. Carol Clover (1992) has argued that the reaction of young men to movement of women into professions helped to spawn the slasher genre (e.g., Halloween [1978] and Friday the 13 th [1980]) and its presentation of the “triumphant self rescue” of girls (Clover 60). Slasher movies portray boyish young women as the only heroes strong enough to put the monsters down. The latter usually come in the form of sexually deviant males armed with phallic instruments of death. Slasher movies rehearse misogynist dramas of female vulnerability to male predation, but then (like the rape-revenge dramas of the same period) allow their “final girls” remarkable shows of force. This was the first movie genre to confuse traditional notions of gender and present girls in the roles of violent heroes. The final girls of slasher movies made their way into other genres over the course of the next fifteen years. The science-fiction Alien (1979, 1986, 1992, and 1997) and Terminator (1984, 1991, 2003) cycles featured women who rose from more traditional feminine vulnerability. They outfought the phallic monsters that had stalked them and killed their friends. Men, who in other stories would likely become heroes, died trying in these films. At the close of the 20 th century, slashers resurfaced as a moneymaking genre, with such new and successful series as Scream (1996, 1997, 2000), I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997, 1998), and Urban Legends (1998, 2000). These films tended to present boys as jokes, making them the villains of the Scream movies and (mostly) helpless victims and bystanders of the rest. 1 Final girls use handguns to escape attack in most of these movies; and the hero of the Scream series is among the strongest final girls of the genre. Urban Legends offers long scenes of male victims in fear, and finally reveals its villain to be the meanest girl imaginable. During her face off with the final girl, a female cop comes to the rescue, the boyfriend’s attempt to save the final girl fails, and 1 The I Know What You Did Last Summer films are a remarkable throwback in this regard, offering the most helpless hero of recent films. Though she kills the villain at the conclusion of the two-film story; herboyfriend must come to the rescue at the end of the first movie. The fantasy sequences that end bothmovies show her stalked and attacked.

Authors: King, Neal.
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background image
4
II
Slashers
The mean girl cycle was born during the mid-1970s period that produced the first
slasher movies, one of the most misogynist of Hollywood’s many genres, but also
among the few to present women as heroes. Carol Clover (1992) has argued that the
reaction of young men to movement of women into professions helped to spawn the
slasher genre (e.g., Halloween [1978] and Friday the 13
th
[1980]) and its presentation of
the “triumphant self rescue” of girls (Clover 60). Slasher movies portray boyish young
women as the only heroes strong enough to put the monsters down. The latter usually
come in the form of sexually deviant males armed with phallic instruments of death.
Slasher movies rehearse misogynist dramas of female vulnerability to male predation,
but then (like the rape-revenge dramas of the same period) allow their “final girls”
remarkable shows of force. This was the first movie genre to confuse traditional notions
of gender and present girls in the roles of violent heroes.
The final girls of slasher movies made their way into other genres over the
course of the next fifteen years. The science-fiction Alien (1979, 1986, 1992, and 1997)
and Terminator (1984, 1991, 2003) cycles featured women who rose from more
traditional feminine vulnerability. They outfought the phallic monsters that had stalked
them and killed their friends. Men, who in other stories would likely become heroes, died
trying in these films.
At the close of the 20
th
century, slashers resurfaced as a moneymaking genre,
with such new and successful series as Scream (1996, 1997, 2000), I Know What You
Did Last Summer (1997, 1998), and Urban Legends (1998, 2000). These films tended
to present boys as jokes, making them the villains of the Scream movies and (mostly)
helpless victims and bystanders of the rest.
1
Final girls use handguns to escape attack
in most of these movies; and the hero of the Scream series is among the strongest final
girls of the genre. Urban Legends offers long scenes of male victims in fear, and finally
reveals its villain to be the meanest girl imaginable. During her face off with the final girl,
a female cop comes to the rescue, the boyfriend’s attempt to save the final girl fails, and
1
The I Know What You Did Last Summer films are a remarkable throwback in this regard, offering the
most helpless hero of recent films. Though she kills the villain at the conclusion of the two-film story; her
boyfriend must come to the rescue at the end of the first movie. The fantasy sequences that end both
movies show her stalked and attacked.


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