(Originally written for Latitude Lookout March 2015 issue)
Feminist is a word that is often seen as detrimental and intimidating. It doesn’t have to be, there is a spectrum of feminism like any other movement and entertainment is an avenue that many (men and women) use as a platform to promote equality. Sometimes the political agenda is made clear, sometimes the message is more subtle. To celebrate this month of female role models, here are three suggestions of films with strong female characters and real life personalities (possibly role models}:
The Punk Singer
Nothing says female empowerment for our generation than the Riot Grrrl movement of the 90s. The Punk Singer is an intimate look at Kathleen Hanna, lead singer of Bikini Kills, Le Tigre and Julie Ruin. The documentary is a time capsule of the political movement through the lens of the 90s punk scene. The Punk Singer and Kathleen Hanna is not for everyone, the movement is in-yer-face, blunt and loud music.
On the complete other end of the spectrum is the seemingly surface deep, high school comedy, Clueless. Written and directed by Amy Heckerling as a loose interpretation of Jane Austen’s Emma, this film holds a strong comedic female cast including Alicia Silverstone and Julie Brown and a sharp script full of historical female shout outs and culture-creating colloquialisms similar to predecessor Heathers (which is also worth watching if you love Mean Girls).
One of Ridley Scott’s most popular films, Alien has one thing that many Sci-Fi and action movies of the time didn’t: a strong female lead. Ellen Ripley wasn’t the damsel in distress, nor the sidekick to a burly man. Sigourney Weaver’s portrayal is spellbinding as an intelligent, competent heroine that is able to take control.