Thursday, October 28, 2004

Turn up that stereotype and dance, dance, dance!

After tonight's eclipse I rented Kill Bill Volumes I and II and watched them back to back. Although not as funny as Tarantino's others, it was a fun movie. For anyone who grew up watching Kung Fu movies on rainy Saturday afternoons it's a fun ride.

More than anything I liked how the movie played around with the stereotypes of the female warrior. The first one is a pure revenge fantasy for Beatrix (Uma Thurman), but the 2nd spins it a little bit by introducing a daughter. Even the main villain is slightly humanized and given a touch of depth through the daughter.

Strangely, it's the 2nd thing this week to make me think about stereotype characters and how the use them. The first was Desperate Houswives, the fairly new show on ABC on Sunday nights. All the main characters are essentially types. You've got the pissed off divorced mother, the hyper-sexual neighbor, the exmodel having an affair with young man, and on and on. But somehow despite the soap opera setup they're able to play with the tropes to give the characters just enough depth and quirks to make them believable, interesting and damn fun to watch.

For a more literary example, I remember reading an interview with Alice McDermott shortly after her novel Charming Billy won the National Book Award. She was asked about where the idea for the book came from, and she said she was obsessed for years with the idea of an Irish drunk for a character but she avoiding writing it because it was such a steretype. She finally realized she could write it so long as she gave the character reason and motivation to become that drunk, and that became the focus for the novel.

What's the point? I'm not sure. It's just got me thinking about character a little differently. Using these steretypes in new ways plays with people's expectations and can really surprise a reader. Sounds like an interesting techinique to play with.



LadyLitBlitzin said...

I loved both the Kill Bill movies, even though, yeah, they were quite different from Tarantino's other stuff. (This morning I kept thinking about that psycho sound that would go off when she was about to battle a foe.)

It was very interesting how Volume 2 was SO different than Volume 1, though, bringing in much more humanity, plot and character, like you said. It's odd though, I sort of liked Volume 1 a little more -- maybe I just thought the Crazy 88 was that cool.

Hebdomeros said...

I loved all the actions scenes, costumes, and the shots in part 1. It was a live action Anime, and I loved it. I was just really surprised by the difference between 1 and 2; I was expecting more of the same (and would have been fine with it), and got something else. That's a good thing, though. I like being surprised; movies surprise me so rarely anymore it was a nice change.