Every Other Western Film essay example

1,702 words
Discuss the representation of gender in Sam Raimi's The Quick and The Dead (1995) The term representation is the way something is shown to us after going through the process of mediation. The real thing undertakes the stages of mediation being constantly changed, edited and built upon along the way. What is finally shown to us is a representation of the original thing. For example an old lady is normally represented to us on screen as either a sweet old grey haired grandma who sits knitting all night or the other extreme, a mean, pursed wrinkly woman who spends all her free time complaining how young people these days have no respect for their elders, and talking about the good old days. Representations are generally based around age, race, gender and social class and are strongly associated with stereotypes.

A stereotype of someone is basically what you would immediately think of when a particular type of person is mentioned due to how they have been commercially portrayed on and off screen. In reality it is very rare to see someone acting like their stereotype. For example teenagers are thought of as troublemakers who stay out all night drinking, doing drugs and having careless sex. They have no respect for anyone, beat each other up and are constantly swearing and terrorising people, especially old ladies.

These unfair stereotypes are not only used to categorise age groups but for virtually everything. Rich people are stereotypically snobby stuck-up and rude, look down on everyone and not socialise with anyone worse off than them. They are imagined to all live in mansions with whole rooms especially for counting money. They never do anything for themselves and are very obnoxious, greedy money grabbers. Also there's the comparison between black and white people. How black people are all good dancers, have natural rhythm and extremely white teeth and the idea of the fat American slob who lies in front of the T. V all day eating and thinking they are superior too all other countries.

One of the most commonly used stereotypes is gender. Apparently men are stronger, always right and or course better drivers. They have their bad points though, they cant do two things at once, all they think about is sex and don't respect women. On the other hand though, woman need men around the house!

They can't change light bulbs, hammer in nails or do anything else slightly practical. All they are good for is looking pretty, raising children and cooking a meal for their husband when he gets back from a hard day at work. Blonde woman especially are ditzy, stupid, have a tiny vocabulary. Aesthetically they have tiny waists, long legs and big breasts, which is why they are particularly popular with the men.

These can sometimes be quite offensive when used against people, which they are, even though everyone knows there is no truth in them. In the film " The Quick and The Dead" the representation of femininity surpasses expectations of a western film. It is mostly conveyed through Ellen (Sharon Stone) who is very different from female characters in most Western films. The role she plays in this film is similar to the main role in basically every other western film ever made. What makes it so different though is that a man normally plays this role. Normally a tough strong man, who rides in, impresses all the ladies and saves the town from the bad guys.

Ellen is shown as a tough girl who completely contradicts the typical female character in a western. She's defiantly not the damsel in distress figure. She's strong, in both aspects of the word, very sure of herself and not the sort to give mercy. She came to do what she's got to do and no one is going to stop her however hard they might try. She is the complete opposite of the only other female who plays any part at all in this film however small her part is. I don't think her name is mentioned once in the whole film and if I remember correctly then she is only on screen a small amount of times during the whole movie.

This is enough though for you to see that she is based around how females are normally represented in Western film. If you hadn't guessed I am talking about "The Kid's" girlfriend whatever her name might be. She is the sort of character completely dependent on others to look after her. All she seems to care about is whether her hair looks perfect, her dress makes her looks skinny enough and her boyfriend isn't dead. You compare her to someone like Ellen who wakes up the morning and probably doesn't bother putting a brush through her hair and is very rarely seen in anything other than trousers. I think the fact she is barely ever seen in a dress or doing anything very feminine at all kind of relates back to what I said earlier about her part in this movie normally being associated as the male hero's role.

I can't say I've watched many westerns but the few I have never would have a woman doing something as typically masculine as being in a shooting contest. This is more proof that the tomboyish Ellen is not playing the sort of character expected of her because she is female. I think that even the fact that all the way through the film she is referred to as " lady " and you very rarely hear her called by her real name shows to you that there is something unusual about her being a woman. The same for Leonardo DiCaprio's character " The Kid". The fact the name they have chosen to call him refers to his age immediately points out to you that he is a lot younger and makes you wonder why he would risk taking part in the competition. Ellen is being discriminated against because of her gender and " The Kid " because of his age.

Actually I don't think I heard his real name once throughout the film. It takes you back to stereotypes because in real life woman are stereotyped to be the "weaker" gender which is why you are so surprised to see her acting tough and macho. The representation of masculinity in the film was a little more how you would expect it to be. We have the younger man, slightly cocky, thinks he is a lot better than he really is and is bound to throw himself in at the deep end. This character, The Kid, didn't quite look as tough, rough and gruff as you would expect someone who was such a champion shooter to look and I think this was another thing to make you think he didn't quite fit in with the others along with the fact he was so much younger.

The other two prominent male characters were Herod (Gene Hackman) and Cort, better known as The Vicar (Russell Crowe). Herod was the character I felt was most similar to his typical representation. He was more of the ruthless, dangerous, insensitive hard man you would anticipate seeing in a western film of this sort. Alternatively, Cort was the hard man gone soft. He had come to the decision that all the shooting and killing he used to do was wrong. Now he was refusing to enter this competition purely because of his newfound religion.

He was even prepared to let himself be killed to avoid having to kill anyone himself. If it wasn't for Ellen's fast hand he wouldn't of even lived to the first round, maybe he truthfully would of preferred it that way though as he really didn't seem happy about taking part. It shows just how controlling and resistant Herod is. Cort was constantly tortured because of his beliefs.

I think Herod really was the only main character who actually fitted his stereotype in anyway at all. Of course we have the fat barman, the Indian, and lots of the other competitors were quite appropriate to their stereotypes. Overall the masculinity in the film was more fitting to the stereotype than the representation of femininity. Like I mentioned earlier, race and social class are also very significant representations. The small Mexican girl, Ellen's servant I suppose you could call her, represents these in the movie. She was very obviously of a lower social class which you could tell immediately from seeing her, partly because she was Mexican which I know sounds prejudiced but it has become such a common stereotype that is has more or less become normality.

You take notice almost immediately of her lower class because of the way she looks up to and respects Ellen from the start. She sees her as a superior person because of her age, race and probably the fact that she is "cool tough chick" that mysteriously rides in and livens everything up. Surely everyone wants a role model like that?? As a conclusion I quite like this film because instead of being a typical western, full of sexism and male dominance it is a more up to date modern film where females are just as important and equal to men. Of course it wouldn't be a good western if none of the characters were chauvinistic, narrow-minded sleazy old men which is why it is great that the main female in this film is as tough, if not tougher, than most of the men. It puts the whole stereotypical gender issue into proportion.

I think that the use of gender representation in this film adds a whole new dimension to the western genre, expanding the ideas and introducing a much-needed element of surprise.