Hit Girl: a Kali-esque Vixen
Contributor
Written by
Kathleen Sweeney
April 2010
Contributor
Written by
Kathleen Sweeney
April 2010

We've certainly never seen a character like Hit Girl before. She's a Kali-esque vixen, a vigilante warrior machine in fast mo, who still manages to be cute and smiley when she takes off her purple wig and eye mask. With Hit Girl's appearance in "Kick Ass," pop culture just added another icon of girlhood. And this one, at eleven years old (the actress who plays her, Chloe Grace Moretz, is just thirteen)...has upped the ante on what's possible for the bubblegum years in a storyline. With a head's up about some serious "Kill Bill" style violence ahead, I knew I'd have some eye covering scenes (my daughter says: wimp), but I am just not inured to blood, to killing, to bone-crunching. Not in this lifetime, anyway. And yet, despite the flinches, seeing this able-bodied girl take down the bad guys single-handedly provided some intense fantasy satisfaction reminiscent of 1991's "Thelma and Louise." Could it be the petition I'd signed earlier in the day to end trafficking of girls and women in Hawaii? Is the emergence of an archetype like Hit Girl part of a global sea change for girl power? There were a lot of girls at the screening on Saturday night, at the late show, even. Some as young as eight or nine years old were recapping scenes in the Ladies' Room afterwards...(not the last time I wished for my Flip camera)...They loved the movie, though agreed: it was WAY violent and they were still a bit shaken by it.... Once again we cross into the terrain of "real" violence versus "fantasy" violence. Is it a pure cartoon or does it link to the real world? Compare these bloody scenes to the dust clouds produced by Buffy the Vampire Slayer's well-placed stakes into Undead hearts and we've got a very different kind of drama going on, at least in terms of blood-letting. And even though Hit Girl does back flips and flies through the air, the scenes lacked the martial artful zen explored by Jen Yu, the teenage warrior girl of Ang Lee's "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" (2000). A lot of people were laughing in the movie theatre, partially because the character of Kick Ass himself is so awkward and unable to pull off the superhero get-up. But nobody laughed when Hit Girl whirled the guns and knives like a dervish. They held their breath. A couple of troubling issues remain: in this motherless universe of "Kick Ass", demented or clueless fathers rule the world. And, faithfulness to Mark Millar's graphic novel aside, did Hit Girl have to be so young to pull the impact? Did she have to don a jail-baity plaid skirt and knee socks of Catholic girl porn to gain entry to the villain's lair? What kind of girls are we really looking for in pop culture, that dreamscape of collective symbology? Do we really want girls who can wield guns, knives, spears and tasers? Truth is, many are looking for continued change in the real world of girls so they can acquire the power to manifest as activists, artists, advocates and innovators--without being silenced, starved or abused. How do the worlds of cinema and everyday life interweave and overlay? I look forward to all the continued conversations. Having broken a new set of taboos, Hit Girl will be on rewind for a long while, and her saucy language is the least of it.

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