Sunday 5.1.05: Women Who Kill & Their Girlfriends
I remember when "Thelma and Louise" came out. Finally, people were saying, a women's buddy film. Finally, the movies would reflect a sea shift in society where women no longer need to be defined by men, where women could bond with each other and have adventures on the open road. Oh, and kill people -- just like a man.
"Thelma and Louise" was pretty, with Hollywood babes Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon. Men are punished for wanting too much sex, but the women are, in the end, noble enough to take responsibility for their own punishment.
Recently we saw another pair of female buddy flicks. "Monster" and "Butterfly Kiss." These are more brutally realistic. A pathological woman killer picks up a more "innocent" woman. The sidekick becomes complicit. They fall into a kind of sick lesbianism, not because they're gay but because men pretty much only deserve to die for their relentless, leering sexual desires. Their worlds are full of obsession, but short on love.
Still, I think these films say something about women.
Among recent internet chain letters is one on "true" friendship that says, "if you need to kill someone, I'll help you hide the body." A woman must have written that.
This morning's theory: Men compete with each other openly. Women are sneaky about it, proclaiming sisterhood while they are stabbing one another in the backs. That's in normal good times. But bad times are different. If a man is humiliated by a woman, he retreats into his loneliness and works out his pathological path from there. If a woman is humiliated by a man, she calls her girlfriend.
Hollywood may have only discovered the female buddy movie in the nineties, but women have always helped each other bury the bodies.
Thelma and Louise (1991)
Monster (2003), based on the true story of serial killer Aileen Wuornos
Butterfly Kiss (1995)