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The Truth About the Fact: An International Journal of Literary Nonfiction

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The Truth About the Fact: A Journal of Literary Nonfiction is an international journal committed to the idea that excellence in the art of letters can play a vital role in transforming the planet we share.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Lisbeth Salander: A New Kind of Heroine

Popular opinion today is quick to demonize the media for perpetuating the gender dichotomy and unrealistic standards of beauty, among other infractions. We often label this industry as a type of moral machine, using its power to coerce its viewers into a singular standard of conduct. Lately it seems that the public has been “wising-up” and starting to reject media discourse and instead forge a new path for entertainment ethics. Therefore, is it possible to think that this widespread knowledge coupled with a changing social landscape may enact change when it comes to these depictions in the future?

After watching “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” this past week, my ill-formed and premature consensus was “yes”. My excitement over this new, progressive female narrative almost had me forgetting the current production of subliminal sexism that is being constantly churned out of publications such as Cosmopolitan or shows such as “Toddlers and Tiaras” on a daily basis. Although maybe not the catalyst for a total revolution of Hollywood standards, this movie does promote a new archetype of the female protagonist while simultaneously rejecting representations of the overly-sexualized, submissive female character that has become the norm.

The film’s heroine, Lisbeth Salander, is depicted as an introverted computer hacker and a badass in her own right. However, her character is much more than just a blatant defiance of social and gender norms; her story is one of emancipation from the patriarchy. Although many have been quick to call Larsson’s graphic depiction of the abuse suffered by women at the hands of men in his novels inherently misogynist, he created Lisbeth’s character as a representation of strength for female readers. After witnessing a rape in his youth Larsson felt immense guilt for never helping the girl and so created Lisbeth’s character and her subsequent story as a platform to raise awareness about violence against women.

All things considered, the accounts of the characters within this film, although gritty and at times uncomfortably violent, create consciousness about issues that our society deems taboo. So far the majority of the dialogue surrounding the film after its release this month has been for the most part positive. Both gay activists and women’s rights groups have praised the film for its boldness; AfterEllen described Lisbeth to readers as “one of the strongest fictional female characters we've seen this decade”. Many others hope that this film and others like it that reject sexism and homophobia will begin an new outlook towards female and queer depictions in film and television. Hopefully the importance of this narrative will not fade as merely another counter-cultural cult film but rather a testament to the work that is being done to make women and queer people more visible in the media and a platform for future, inclusive rhetoric.



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