Adolescence in Action

Screening Narratives of Girl Killers

in Girlhood Studies
Author: Eva Lupold
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The term girl heroine is an ambiguous signifier in discourses surrounding action-adventure cinema. Film scholars occasionally refer to adult action heroines as girls, while adolescent warriors remain largely overlooked in the literature. Research on women warriors focuses primarily on “musculinity” films of the 1980s or on more recent “action babe” movies featuring adult women. However, movies like Kick-Ass, Hanna, Violet & Daisy, Hard Candy, True Grit, and The Hunger Games demonstrate that films with adolescent action heroines are increasingly popular. This article argues that contemporary depictions of girl warriors emerge as a result of recent shifts in cultural attitudes towards girlhood sexuality and girlhood aggression. It also argues that the rise of the adolescent action heroine points to anxieties about changes in nuclear family structures, and that contemporary action films imply that young girls should be responsible for maintaining moral order. Ultimately, such films thus contain regressive as well as progressive messages.

Girlhood Studies

An Interdisciplinary Journal

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