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Compare Representations of Women in Action Hero Films Essay

Throughout the Media, and society, there are many stereotypes of women and of how men think and act. Within this essay I will discuss how modern day action films present these typical representations using three films; James Bond ‘The World is not enough’ (2002), Lara Croft ‘Tomb Raider’ (2002) and the 1960’s James Bond ‘Dr. No’. The roles of women within these action films are often presented as subservient and degrading. Throughout both Bond films, ‘Dr. No’ and ‘The World is not enough’, there are women who are often in roles such as maids and secretaries.

The audience are given a very negative view of these roles, as if to say only women should fill them. In ‘Dr. No’ there are around three to four appearances of women as secretaries and other subservient roles, this may reflect the time period as women in the 1960’s were only just acquiring rights and equality. Also in ‘The World is not enough’ the character Valentin Zukovsky, played by Robbie Coltrane, is seen paying off, or commodifying, women in his acquaintance.

Tomb Raider’ does challenge this however as the main character is female, but we are hardly ever shown another woman in a powerful role or position. All of these actions that are shown to the audience may lead them to believe that women should be the only ones that are not in a powerful position, thus leading their views of women in society to be changed. Yet another issue raised among the three films is that of how women are treated. The treatment of women within these films is highlighted and slightly different, even though they show some similarities when put together.

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In ‘The World is not enough’ James Bond continually ogles and stares at women and hardly seems to acknowledge or appreciate their intellectual ability. Also in ‘Dr. No’ Bond, played by Sean Connery at the time, aggressively grasps the women he wants. They are hardly resistant towards him which contrasts to the less dated film where the women seem to take a considerable amount of control.

‘Tomb Raider’, however, has a fixed idea of what women should be like and how they should be treated e. . the butler in the Croft manor says “I’m only trying to turn you into a lady, and a lady should be modest. ” The way the audience views James Bond’s behaviour, from his point of view, the males within the audience may seem to think this is acceptable and follow his example of thinking that they can see and treat women as sexual objects. The women in the audience may now be given a negative message of males, as they may see them as perverted and very assertive in their behaviour.

So not only are males given a negative message to how they may feel they should treat women, but women are also given a negative message that males treat them in a sexist and negative way. My final point that I wish to raise is how women are seen as the lesser sex, or weaker juxtaposed to males. In both James Bond films we are continually exposed to the comparison of a male to a female and nearly always shown that the male is stronger, physically or emotionally.

James Bond ‘Dr. No’ nearly always displays the main character next to a woman which tries to connote and represent how more masculine he is, in order to emphasize his ‘masculinity’ and strength. In ‘The World is not enough’ this is slightly toned down as the women are often shown stronger, and compared to a 40 year old film the women have much more respected jobs or positions. ‘Tomb Raider’ does however present this in a very different way; at the end of the film there is a scene in which Lara Croft fights the ‘bad guy’, Manfred Powell, and they fight in hand-to-hand combat.

Usually when a male is seen physically harming a woman we would see this as surprising and shocking, but because Lara’s masculinity has been emphasized throughout the film we are shown that the more masculine a person, the tougher or stronger they are. The audience is given a negative message of women being shown as the weaker/lesser sex within the two James Bond films, but ‘Tomb Raider’ sends out a mixed message to the audience. We are shown that the female character is very strong, physically and emotionally, but could this be because we are shown that she is more masculine than feminine?

The audience usually bases their actions and thoughts on the message that is sub-consciously given to them; we are not always aware of the message that films and the media try and send out. Throughout the three films that I have discussed the audience has been given positive messages as well as negative messages of women and men, the latter being the more dominant. The films have reflected the time period in which they were created, as shown in ‘Dr. No’, and all have proved to show women in a derogatory way at some point.

Men have been shown to be tough, sexist and strong nearly all the time, this is the message given to young men watching these films which could influence them in their lives perhaps forever. What does this mean for the future of women in the media and in society? We have seen that over a period of 40 years, from ‘Dr. No’ to ‘The World is not enough’ that the image of women has changed only slightly. In the future I would like to see women more positively represented, to show their strong intellectual ability. In another 40 years, will we see a significant change in the attitude of society and the media towards women?

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