In my second installment of Fictional Ladies I Admire, I will be discussing strong female characters in various movies I enjoy.
While compiling my list, I noticed that four of them are from horror movies and some aren’t necessarily the protagonist in their movies. I’m a big horror movie fan, so that’s not entirely surprising, but I think it’s telling that some of the ladies are, while not necessarily “the bad guy,” aren’t exactly good guys, either. Being slightly villainous takes strength, too, people!
Miranda Priestly of The Devil Wears Prada – While she’s not necessarily the warmest person ever, Miranda Priestly is strong, confident, and has no problem asking for what she wants. I like to channel my inner Miranda Priestly whenever I’m feeling a little lackluster.
Lisbeth Salander of Girl With the Dragon Tattoo – Lisbeth has more demons than most, sure. She killed her father when she was a child, and her guardian is raping her in exchange for money in order to eat and pay her living expenses. She takes those demons, though, and uses them to her advantage when she solves a murder case that has been cold for decades with the help of her super-hot friend Mikhail. She also totally gets the rapist/guardian back for his bullshit. Adding to the fact that she’s an amazing computer hacker, a genius, and refuses to be a victim when certainly no one would fault her for it, and you’ve got yourself a bonafide heroine.
Tiffany of Silver Linings Playbook – I really, really enjoyed Silver Linings Playbook and Jennifer Lawrence’s character Tiffany. Tiffany is a sex addict, recent widow, and, like Bradley Cooper’s character, chock full of neuroses. Despite her problems, though, she is at peace with who she is and likes herself, flaws and all. She also is a pretty good dancer and is cute as a button.
Sarah Williams of Labyrinth – So Sarah starts out as kind of a bitch. After her parents divorce, she is resentful of her father’s “new” family: stepmother Irene and half-brother Toby. She is running late to babysit Toby, a task she isn’t really into. In a moment of jealousy, she wishes for Toby to be taken by a bunch of goblins and poof! He is! Realizing she’s in big trouble, she makes her way through an elaborate labyrinth to find Toby and his kidnapper (the Goblin King Jareth played by mega-babe David Bowie). Along the way she makes friends and realizes she really does love Toby and develops a stronger sense of responsibility. At the end, though thoroughly intrigued by Jareth (who wouldn’t be?), she refuses his attempts at seduction and an offer to stay with him forever in order to get her brother back. Yay!
Carrie White of Carrie – Carrie is another leading lady who has it rough. She’s tormented at school, her mom is a psycho fundy, and things keep breaking around her! Weird! Things start to look up, though, when Tommy invites her to the prom – they are even named prom king and queen! Prom goes bad, though, when mean girl Chris and her hoodlum boyfriend play a cruel joke on Carrie and dump a bucket of pig’s blood on her head as she’s being crowned. Her rage (and telekinesis) takes over and shit really hits the fan. Like Miranda Priestly, she’s not a total protagonist, but what I like about her is that she’s totally not a victim. I also like seeing mean high school kids get their come uppances. Take that!
Nancy Thompson of A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) – Nancy is one tough cookie. It’s not just anyone who can kill Freddy Krueger, and she did it almost all by herself! She’s also kind of nerd and likes her books – I can relate. She shows up again in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors to help out some kids, too. She’s just an all-around nice, nerdy, bad ass chick.
Jennifer Hills of I Spit On Your Grave (1978) – Okay, so, I Spit On Your Grave isn’t exactly… wholesome. And the first half of it doesn’t really espouse feminist praise. It’s the second half, though, where I am super impressed by Jennifer Hills and root for her wildly. While spending some time in a lake cabin by herself, Jennifer is brutally raped and left for dead by a gang of icky boys. She gets her revenge is super gross, highly imaginative ways and it’s AWESOME.
Laurie Strode of Halloween (1978) – By day Laurie is a mild-mannered high school student who spends her time studying and babysitting. By night (and as quite a surprise to her), she’s a knife/knitting needle/metal hanger-wielding heroine who protects herself and her babysittee from the evil and hard-to-kill Michael Myers.
The Bride in Kill Bill I & 2 – This one is fairly obvious, but for good reason! Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, and The Bride was super-scorned in Kill Bill. After being left for dead by her “friends,” she is on a mission to get revenge and her kid back from The Man. She also can escape being buried alive, walk to a safe place, and order some coffee like it’s no big whoop.
Lydia Deetz in Beetlejuice – I looooooove Lydia. I also loooooooove Beetlejuice. It and The Last Unicorn were my favorite movies as a cherubic young girl. Maybe that’s because as a little girl, despite my sweet nature, I knew deep down I was more like Lydia than say… Jane Butterfield. In any case, Lydia is one cool chick. She sticks up for herself in the face of her (well-intentioned) moronic parents, and can see GHOSTS! She also sacrifices herself in order to save the Maitlands by marrying Betelgeuse. And that dude is gross.