The teen horror film The Craft (1996) has remained a cult classic with girl audiences for two decades. Scholarship about the film has focused on its negative representation of girls’ friendships, sexuality, and desire for power. In this article, I honor the significance of girl culture by accounting for The Craft’s appeal to girl audiences. I argue that The Craft’s relevance to girls arises from its subversion of teen film tropes. The Craft explores adolescent girls’ fear of isolation by depicting a mentally ill teenager who draws strength and happiness from the company of her friends, and becomes depressed when they oust her. By flouting the imperative for adolescent girl protagonists to be white, middle-class, mentally healthy, and normatively bodied, The Craft portrays girls’ desire for understanding over the pursuit of so-called popularity, girls’ anger arising from marginalization, and girls’ exploiting of friendship as a weapon.
Girlhood Identity in The Craft
Marty McFly as a 1980s Teenage Boy Role Model
In a world of overprotected, overscheduled children, parents look to the past, and even to Hollywood, for insight about how children were raised before minimal risk equated to serious hazard. The most recent corpus of films to feature minors who grew up without our current preoccupation with child safety was the somewhat well-established canon of 1980s teen films, but this canon tends to exclude the original Back to the Future film. While Back to the Future is hardly a neglected text, extant studies have elided its exploration and indeed exploitation of adolescent themes as well as its affinity with contemporary films about teenagerhood. I contend that when we look back for recent cues on coping through boyhood without so-called helicopter parents, and we consider the likes of Jeff Spicoli, Lloyd Dobler, and Ferris Bueller, we can find further valuable lessons by including Marty McFly.