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Female Subjectivity: Blue Steel Essay (Movie Review)

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Updated: Jan 13th, 2022

Feminists believe that theorists have misunderstood female sexual pleasure (jouissance). They cannot relate it to Lacan’s logic and rationality in symbols (Thornham, p. 50). In turn, this creates a female subjectivity characterized by a plenitude of contradictions as they avoid material issues in women’s lived realities. Such issues create a female too close to herself and unable to see or take a second look at herself. Therefore, seeing the “real” in self becomes a problem and creates a female incapable of generalization and abstraction. In turn, women closeness to themselves leads to viewing female characters at surface level regarding their roles in movies. Only men take the central in-depth looks in the film industry. This creates a female character that is only a desirous image of the film, of course for male actors and the audience’s gaze. Therefore, male actors define every aspect, including spectators of the film leaving the role of women to mere objects.

The feminist film must employ counter-cinema strategies, which must emphasize women as human beings. This results in a subjective relationship by putting much emphasis on the female body and personal features. However, overcoming such female emphasis requires tactical authorial self- inscription and intrusion, which may be difficult to achieve. This is because techniques like this one create anti-narrative quality raising issues of the relationship of feminist film to film narrative. Theorists also believe that film narrative is a male-centred ideology. This approach leaves the emphasis on female characters in jeopardy and feminist films must continue to work within the narrative subjectivity of men. However, some feminist films tend to rise above this subjectivity and impose the roles of men on women.

Blue Steel is an action-packed psychodrama that takes a feminist approach. The lead female character manages to perform police roles effectively (previously preserved for men). Male actors and audience respond to Megan Turner’s line of duty with a gaze, and Turner does not like it. We notice this by several questions regarding why she decided to work as a cop. Turner’s responses are full of sarcasm. “Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to shoot people“, she tells her partners. In this same line, Turner tells her prospective suitor “I like to slam peoples’ heads up against walls“. As a female cop, Turner demonstrates excellent performance in shooting, and brittle responses regarding her chosen line of duty on male characters are capable of providing.

Turner shows her strength and her hidden vulnerability well as a female character. The male gaze for a female actor is in Eugene. Eugene shows an obsession with Turner. Male dominance in roles and narrative become the mainstay as Eugene takes over the centre. He sets up a meeting, dates Turner (an image of desire) and takes her to rides and fancy restaurants in Manhattan. In addition, Eugene carves Turner’s name on her bullets.

Male-centred ideology and dominance are also in Nick Mann. Turner, a female cop, cannot recover her gun and badge on her own. She must rely on Nick in doing so. Likewise, Nick must help her track down the psycho killer, Eugene. Female subjectivity in this case leads to reliance on a male actor so that a female actor can accomplish her roles. Society has also created a powerful male who can use his wealth and influence to evade justice. Only a male actor can help Turner resolves a case of a psycho killer.

Female subjectivity in Blue Steel portrays a female obsessed with guns. The director manages to capture and deliberately points out challenges women face when taking up male roles or when working in a male-dominated profession. However, Turner shows familiarity with the job (Hills, p. 13).

Works Cited

  1. Hills, Elizabeth. “From ‘Figurative Males’ to Action Heroines: Further Thoughts on Active Women in the Cinema, in Screen.” Senses of Cinema, 19.1 (1999): 13- 20. Print.
  2. Thornham, Sue. Feminist Film Theory. Scotland: Edinburgh University Press, 1999. Print.
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