The films, Thelma and Louise and Good Will Hunting portray a unique perception of gender and violence in modern society. In both films, the rebellious aspects of characters are a shock to many of viewers, but to the counterculture women aggressiveness is a refreshing alternative to the limitations of established sexual stereotypes. There are a number of references to the sex drives in new body, and the elements of voyeurism and narcissism are comically exploited. The films allude to the possibility of men weakness while they also acknowledge the existence of sexual aggressiveness in the female, albeit as experienced by a male personality. Thesis Being in drag forces people to change their traditional roles, gender preferences and perfume completely different functions in order to survive.
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In Thelma and Louise, Thelma luxuriates in her female attributes, and it seems that the switch from male to female also instills a sense of obligation to others, a lessening of the drive to exploit people. Females are naturally passive and that feminization must necessarily be a frustrating and painful experience. The film ignores the more positive, reconciliatory elements of works that celebrate gentleness, sympathy, and sensuality (not, of course, that these are exclusively female traits). In Thelma and Louise, careful manipulation of form and content is informed by his astute understanding of the expectations, demands, and responses of his audience. This sensitivity points to two of the essential differences of serious female impersonation. In earlier films the audience had been aware of the deception, but in the sixties and seventies, filmmakers increasingly chose to leave viewers in the dark, often until the end of the film. In part, this is a difference in the prevalent genre featuring female impersonation and the more serious films, often with shock value.
Good Will Hunting portrays a weak personality of Will Hunting but strong personal values of women characters. This shift in audience awareness is comparable to the change that took place from the Shakespearean to the period in drama; the former, more optimistic vision allowed the audience knowledge and some sense of insight and order, whereas in the darker world of the drama, the audience is almost as much victimized by the shocking spectacles before them as are the characters within the play. In this film, the accretion of gender dues on characters like Chuckie Sullivan, Prof. Gerald Lambeau, Morgan O'Mally, etc. It is tied to topical issues, and it offers extreme, flat characterizations rather than complex, varied individuals. Moreover, the film plays to the male sense of usurped power and injured pride. The particular manifestation varies, but the desire to place man in the superior position is invariably expressed by depicting masculine women as aberrations, and Will Hunting as a victim. Still, all characters have a sexual appeal, offering the kind of companionship that does not threaten their peers.
Similar to these films, The Codes of Gender and Tough Guise portray violence and changing social roles of women and men. Still, these films concentrate on male violence raised in difficult life situations. Underground audiences admired her, and filmmakers created female impersonations that had many of the same strengths and self-imposed emotional boundaries. These artists recognized a particular mentality in American culture--that of aggression, individualism, and a disdain for domesticated tameness--but in placing these features on women and female impersonators, they delivered a challenge to the establishment's double standard for men and women. Conventional critics and audiences sensed the threat in this overturning of values, but despite their protests they were waging a hopeless battle against attitudes that were to subtly permeate even the wholesome family film.
The films vividly portray that violence is not natural to women but they have to protect themselves and save their lives. In Thelma and Louise women is countered by opposites to men: the perversely effeminate villain, whose clothing and physical characteristics are subversive in their ambiguity. In these films, which glorified the attributes of bravery, anxiety over sex roles emerges in the image of the transvestite (both male and female). Rather than offering female relationships as an alternative to the power-oriented aspects of heterosexual love, these films present women operating on the basest principles of attachment, choosing partners on the grounds of their strength, success, and ability to dominate. Any sign of weakness is greeted not by sympathy but by abandonment. Conflicts are resolved through violence, be it self-inflicted or outer-directed. The films tend to undermine the seriousness of the feminist theme. The suffering, violence, and shame of these sexual reversals soon became the object of ridicule in films, with the humor calling for an uneasy truce between the general public and disturbingly elements of society. In many of the films, the titillation offered by sex and violence is condemned by certain characters, but rarely do we take the moralizing seriously. There is a great deal of irony, self-parody, and veiled allusions to other films, reminding the audience that this is, after all, only a movie.
Similar to other movies, Good Will Hunting demonstrates that when a man in a drag he does everything possible to survive but become alien to people around him. Of course, what keeps the film from being an open vision of human possibilities is the fact that none of the variations from the norm are any more profound than changes in costume. The movie never challenges the audience with anything more shocking than the proposition that an older man has the right to join a fraternity and dress like a woman as a prank. Thus, although the film purports to present a liberal message, it supports the status quo by refusing to acknowledge the existence of antisocial behavior. The unabashed attitude toward female impersonation is in keeping with image as a star, and the easygoing quality of his screen image also fits in with the message of the film. Stereotypes are overturned in a spirit of harmless fun, and the intent is not so much to undermine traditional values as to show that society's established structure can accommodate variations, as long as they are polite, friendly, and relatively passive. Will succeeds in this film by being passive, a trait often associated with feminine behavior. His appeal for innocent girls and middle-aged ladies is that of the non-threatening, kind-hearted, almost androgynous male.
In sum, the films portray that when a person in drag he/she can change traditional behavior patterns and become violent or shy. Their bisexual or sexless appeal is made apparent when viewers see just how effective they are in imitating behavior. The mannerisms are no more feminine when men characters are in drag, but they are surprisingly pretty and effectively. If characters have any sex drive, they polite, unassuming attitude prevent them from directly acting on such impulses, and it is this lamblike innocence that draws women to men. If this method reassures the ladies, the success of this method insures him against accusations of effeminacy, and thus makes males acceptable to men as well. Still, violence and aggressive behavior patterns are a part of every film. It seems that these cruelty and deviant behavior unveils inner problems and life sufferings of the main characters and can be interpreted as an opposition to fate and destiny.