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Sexy vs. Smart Action Movie Heroines

Can a Strong Heroine Be Sexy?

At a WonderCon panel over the weekend, Hanna director Joe Wright spoke on how the thriller's unlikely heroine is the antithesis of other sexed-up action heroines (alluding specifically to Sucker Punch).

"The place of young women in society, and the continued sexual objectification of women — I find that whole culture terrifying and kind of disgusting really . . . I probably shouldn't say this, but I look at posters for recent films with girls kicking ass; there's one out at the moment, in bikinis and crop tops, and this is supposedly female empowerment, and that's bullsh*t. Female empowerment is not about sex; that's the point of female empowerment. It's about brains. So I was very keen to look at those issues with this movie, and Hanna exists outside of that."

When it comes to kickass heroines, do you agree with Wright that female empowering characters shouldn't be sexy? Or do you think sexy and strong can coexist?

Wicked Wicked 6 years
Of course heroines can be sexy. But intelligence and strength should be the focus. In the case of Sucker Punch, it's not. They're parading around in ridiculous costumes that are not at all functional but are instead skimpy just for the sake of getting males to spend money on tickets.
stoof stoof 6 years
I like when female characters are sexy AND smart- it's like the total package/ultimate threat- it's power. Strong, powerful women are the ultimate turn-on for me! I loved the movie The Tourist with Angelina Jolie- she was powerful, aggressive, drop dead gorgeous and talented (I'm referring to tactical training; her character was the best spy in the business) By the end of the movie I was all riled up and wanting to kick ass myself!
Pistil Pistil 6 years
I was having a hard time thinking of a kick-ass heroine (in the context of film) where the sexy angle isn't played up, or even other stereotypical heroine qualities like sweet and innocent. What about Lisbeth, the girl with the dragon tattoo? She's smart and strong and sexy, but in an alternative way, not your typical cleavage and catsuit sexy.
mixedpie mixedpie 6 years
I guess I don't understand or something but... isn't sexy and powerful a GOOD thing. I mean, I know the history of it, and how some may see it as objectification, but then you also have a notion that smart women have to be less attractive, and that pretty women are ditzy and of course that's not true in real life (though I've heard there is evidence out there that attractive people may tend to be smarter). Of course I'd like to see more less-attractive females presented as strong and powerful, (and for that matter, I'd like to see ugly males as well; IMO Beastly is downright offensive trying to pass off a really attractive guy as the "ugly" beast). Though, for the most part, I think I just have to say I agree with Spacekatgal. I like a woman who can be smart, beautiful and kick ass... so long as she isn't acting slutty.
zeze zeze 6 years
I love Joe Wright, and this is just more to love. And I agree, that strong and sexy is possible, but naked and sexy ARE mutually exclusive and sometimes the sexiest women are those who don't put it all out on a platter and objectify themselves.
Annie-Tomlin Annie-Tomlin 6 years
I don't think he's saying women characters can't be sexy; I think he's railing against the sexual objectification of women characters. I agree with him in thinking that being "hot" shouldn't be a stand-in for true empowerment. But can a heroine be strong and sexy? Of course. I always think of Buffy, who had a sexual side to her character, but wasn't defined by it.
MeiGaku MeiGaku 6 years
i'm really not happy with his comment in that he's trying to say that in order for a woman to be strong, independent, etc., she basically has to abandon her sex appeal. women are beautiful, and if you can use that to your advantage, then good! we've TRIED to fit into the male mold via our shoulder pads and pant suits, but it doesn't work. women are women and men are men. there is nothing wrong with using everything you have to your advantage. i do agree that sucker punch is pandering to male fantasies and whatnot, but since i have not seen the movie, i cannot say the characters are dumb or otherwise. i'm just so tired with the idea that for women to be equal, we somehow have to be like men or become asexual. we should be equal, but know that we are different--and that makes it all more terrific.
Pistil Pistil 6 years
I don't think sexy and strong have to be mutually exclusive, though I do like to be more than just visually engaged. I want substance too. I can't really comment much on these movies as I have not seen either.
RoaringSilence RoaringSilence 6 years
I think rather than with clothes, everyone has a bigger problem with behaviors, such as heroines who really have to be rescued by a guy in the end / do silly things for a guy.
JJJSisters JJJSisters 6 years
I agree totally that "Beauty or sexiness have to do with aesthetics" I think that female heroines are probably oversexualized in general, but there are plenty of them that not only look hot, but kick major butt and and are intelligent etc to boot. She can't exactly help she's hot, if it's a good character, then the sexiness is only an aspect of her persona. Examples Syd in Alias or Milla Jovavich in Resident Evil.
amber512 amber512 6 years
I absolutely agree.
RoaringSilence RoaringSilence 6 years
I agree with Amandapedia. Beauty or sexiness have to do with aesthetics. There are certain things most humans find beautiful, among those the shape of the female body. Accentuating it is not a bad thing at all, because everybody enjoys looking at beautiful things. No one can honestly deny this as a general principle - the only time people disagree is when they have different perceptions of what is beautiful to them. I don't think it cheapens her intellectual capabilities if a heroine is sexy.
Amandapedia Amandapedia 6 years
I say yes with the idea that sexy does not equal naked. It is possible to be sexy and clothed at the same time.
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