Monday, October 29, 2012

Final Girl, Redux

I talked about this last year, but I love Halloween. I love being frightened, I love being pushed right to my edge, and I love reading about characters who hit their edges and find ways to vault above and become heroes. (I write about people with superpowers. Come on, you're damned right that I have a hero/heroine fetish.) I also believe that fiction reflects and informs life. Horror flicks don't work unless they hit us right in our guts. Big bug movies in the fifties talked about atomic fears, the wave of possessed/scary children movies in the seventies talked about counter-culture, and the slasher films of the eighties talked about sex. (Bay-bee, talked about you-and-me…I'm sorry, I'll stop now.) Given how recently feminism had emerged as a force to be reckoned with, you would think that demonic women vanquished by tough, manly men would emerge as a major trope in these movies, but that's not how it shook out. Demonic forces arose, all right, and only one person could stop them.

And the answer was a girl. It's probably no small mistake that slasher films were aimed at teenagers, they of the shiny-new freedom and disposable incomes. It would have been easy to go for the lowest common denominator and make the boys the stars of the show, since girls will usually consume media about boys while boys are much more hesitant to be associated with anything that could be construed as "girly", but they didn't. Slasher films decided to depict girls being strong, smart, proactive badasses, which is a big part of why I love the genre so very hard.

But enough love songs to horror, or we'll be here all day. I have a deep fondness for Final Girls, which undoubtedly informs everything I write even though I don't dip my toe into straight horror all that often. As I said last Halloween, Sidney Prescott is still the Final Girl to end all Final Girls for me. That doesn't mean that the genre doesn't have plenty of other awesome female characters to offer, though, most notably one Nancy of Nightmare on Elm Street fame. This movie's as old as I am, but I never get tired of watching it. Nancy's smart, tough, and doesn't even think about backing down in the face of evil. She's also, it has to be said, kind of a bitch, but by the end of the movie she's pretty sleep-deprived, and what can I say? I've always had a soft spot for the cranky ones.

Halloween's only a few days away. Who's your favorite Final Girl?

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