This past Saturday night, I went on a date to see Kick-Ass, the new film based on Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr.‘s comic books about superheroes with no superhero powers. As a self-proclaimed nerd and comic-book lover, I chose the film (much to my date’s delight) as I’ve been itching to see it ever since I saw the trailer. I had also read the controversy swarming around the character Hit-Girl, the 11-year-old female assassin, on Jezebel, due to her flagrant use of the word “cunt” and her violent ways.
I loved Kick-Ass. A funny and quirky movie with fantastic fight scenes and great visuals, accompanied by an interesting soundtrack. As someone who loves fearless, independent women and girls, I also adored Hit-Girl. Actress Chloe Moretz ((500) Days of Summer) imbues the sweetly precocious character with the right mix of cynicism and naiveté, brutal vengeance and honor. Personally, I was not offended by her dropping the C-bomb. Although if a young boy had uttered the word, I probably would have found it sexist and offensive. While viewing the young girl shooting, punching, hacking and slashing villains to pieces with her sword was a bit disconcerting, it was also incredibly exhilarating to see such a fierce female character.
I don’t think there’s a really simplistic answer to hit girl. On the one hand, this film is extremely violent, and her flippant use of the C-word is unacceptable. But, on the other hand, the fact that this character is able to break out of the box, the norm of what we see for girls and women on screen, I find that quite empowering and refreshing.
The media constantly tells us what girls and women how we should look and how we should behave, forever pitting us in a virgin/whore dichotomy. So perhaps people feel uncomfortable and shocked when characters step outside the boundaries of where society believes they should reside. Comic books put characters in extreme situations, at times for allegorical purposes, at other times, for pure escapist fantasy. Hit-Girl may not convey the idealized form of girlhood, but I agree with Silverstein that she is empowering nonetheless. Taking charge of her life, she avenges wrongs, not waiting around to be rescued. Watching Hit-Girl on the big screen made me want to don my own purple wig and mask and kick (metaphorical) ass.