Female-Led Science Fiction Blockbusters: Performing “Stop Taking My Hand!”
Smith-Rowsey’s final full-length chapter ties together many of the threads of the previous chapters while mapping their insights onto female-led blockbusters. Beginning with Christine Cornea and Dennis Bingham’s separate observations that distinguish between male and female-led films of the same genre, the author finds that while “kick ass” women in canonical films are indeed performed appropriately, these roles tend to demand, and be attenuated by, a greater degree of performative virtuosity than that which characterizes their male counterparts. Smith-Rowsey notes Caroline Heldman’s dismissal of some such films as featuring “fighting fucktoys” and attempts to defend the better-performed Athenian blockbuster through three case studies: Aliens (1986), The Hunger Games (2012), and Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015). Circling back to points made in previous chapters’ case studies from Titanic (1997) to Star Wars (1977), Smith-Rowsey finds that actors such as Sigourney Weaver, Jennifer Lawrence, and Daisy Ridley have established the unpredictable, strongly performed “bad ass” heroine as entirely blockbuster-worthy.
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