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The article tries to make the point that horror has changed in recent years and that female characters have moved form being victims to protagonists.

But in fact that’s not a new trend the trope of ‘the final girl’ for example, dates back at least to 1970’s and describes a plot where, from a gender-mixed group of protagonists, it was a female who would emerge and kill the monster.

It’s actually disspointing that educated people (the writer is an associate professor of gender studies) are still writing articles like this. Instead of characterising this as new, it should have been accepted as a cornerstone of the genre, because it is.


I agree. It’s almost harder to think of lead male protagonists in (modern 70s and post 70s) horror films than female ones if they aren’t the big bad bar exceptions like Evil Dead. The whole essence of horror lends itself to the character who is most forthright and clean-cut surviving, that’s rarely a man. Horror movies became something that rarely had or needed big stars because the essence of the hero in them worked against what was thought of as strong leading roles. You just have to look at Halloween and Alien to see that a big name male star wouldn’t make it to the end of the movie based on the internal rules of the genre.


Interestingly, Ripley was originally going to be played by a man in Alien, but they decided to go with Sigourney Weaver in the end.


Pressure of the genre convention perhaps? It didn’t feel right to have a man kill the monster?


I’d need to go read up on the production again, but I think they just wanted to do something different. A female protagonist was quite unusual for science fiction and horror at the time, especially one with Ripley’s level of agency and her antagonistic character traits.


It is unusual for a change like that so the idea that it was for stronger narrative is a fair assumption I think.


The script’s characters are pretty gender neutral. You could shuffle the genders and no-one would think it was odd.

The earliest example of a ‘final girl’ I’m aware of is ‘Black Christmas’ which is an early 70’s slasher film, and (arguably) the prototype for the sub genre that followed.

But there may well have been others.


ALIEN was unique in that the four white males all died first, before the two women and one black man. And Jones the Cat.


The movie’s script was deliberately written gender-neutral. From Wiki:

In developing the story O’Bannon had focused on writing the Alien first, putting off developing the characters for a later draft.[45] He and Shusett had therefore written all of the roles as generic male ones with a note in the script explicitly stating “The crew is unisex and all parts are interchangeable for men or women.”[21][49] This left Scott, Selway, and Goldberg free to interpret the characters as they liked and to cast accordingly.


The final girl leads to a far stronger character arc than it would for a man, it’s almost as if Ripley starts as how a ‘final girl’ would be at the end of a final girl film and just becomes finaler. Or stronger as the case may be.


That definitely lends itself to inferring that they ended up feeling the narrative was stronger if Ripley was a woman. Perhaps it was a combination of both reasons, narrative and something new.


That’s probably how 90% of movies could be written. There obviously will be cases where the cast’s gender is important, but if you analyse it I bet it’s not actually as many cases as you might think.


Ripley is stuck in her rut, doing her job, occasionally questioning authority/the rules but without actually rebelling, she’s basically going along with things.

By the end she’s got nothing she can rely on except herself, everything she put her trust in either let her down, betrayed her or just fell victim to the creature.

It’s a popular film for a lot of reasons, but Ripley’s journey is definitely one of them.


Unfortunately you get bogged down much of the time with what a protagonist wants. If it’s to survive, that’s a very human thing, but if it’s something less universal then it changes how the narrative will play out. The more unique the thing the protagonist wants, the more of an issue gender is.

For instance - A film about a man wanting to become President is a very different film than a woman wanting to become President, however, a narrative where someone is stuck on a sinking boat could be written completely genderless.

Edit: Just to add, the above ‘for instance’ is now my new gender equality argument. We should be in a place where the same applies to both in terms of writing them genderless.


The choice to make Ridley a woman seems to have happened before Weaver auditioned since Cartwright auditioned for the role too and thought she got it until she found out she was Lambert.



I was never a big fan of Tennis but…



I am always a huge tennis fan…and






You kill me sometimes, David. You really do. :laughing:


The article also has a bit of Ulises Farinas art.