Are the Violent Heroines in Kill Bill & Death Proof Empowering or Sexualised?
My name is Connor Winterton and I am currently a PhD researcher at the Birmingham School of Media, Birmingham City University (UK). At the moment I am writing a chapter for an edited collection on the reception of Tarantino’s violent heroines in
Kill Bill and Death Proof. I wish to facilitate an online discussion regarding the representation of the women in both films. If you feel the need to check the authenticity of this post, or have any issues, please contact the editor of the collection David Roche: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kill Bill (Vol.1 and 2, 2003 – 2004) and Death Proof are films that unequivocally explore and celebrate the violent heroine and their often redemptive actions. Both are decidedly post-modern films that employ spectacular violence, bodies, and set-pieces to showcase the female killer. However, while Tarantino tries to celebrate the violent heroine within these two films, they have not been so celebrated outside of them. Feminist critiques have often attacked Tarantino’s version of violent femininity. Lisa Purse states that Kill Bill ‘present[s] us with a protagonist who seems readily to correspond to the sexualised object/active subject dualism of the action heroine’ (Purse, p. 85) with Emma Wood adding that Death Proof’s representation of women is plainly ‘bullshit’ and that these films are ‘still predicated on the eroticisation of killing’ (Wood 2007).
Overall, academic writing regarding Tarantino’s violent women tends to state they are either ‘sexualised’ in some way, ‘objectified’, or alternatively, ‘empowering’. What do
you think? How do you ‘view’ these women? I would appreciate any (polite) comments on this topic, and I thank you in advance.