in movies

The strong, silent, violent type

Emily Yoshida, writing for Vulture about the popular trend of “silent, violent little girls” that’s sweeping the nation (this piece contains minor plot details about Logan):

Laura and her ilk aren’t characters. And their age and increasing silence has become a handy crutch for writers who might otherwise have a harder time bringing female leads to life. (Look to the lackluster characterization of Stranger Things’ Nancy and Joyce for evidence of this.) So while the device aims for gee-whiz novelty — A little girl who can fight? Now I’ve seen everything! — it ends up being a part of a fusty and familiar trend in genre writing.

Despite countless critical calls for more and better-written women, many genre and action films still find they can get by with a single, one-dimensional woman. Again, that’s fine — it takes all types, though I’d personally like to see more of the other types. But the fact that that single one-dimensional woman is now just as likely to be a girl seems conspicuously regressive, like a joke about Hollywood ageism told with a dead-serious face and deafening BWOOOMMMs for punctuation.

It didn’t occur to me that characters like Laura might be a crutch, but Yoshida brings up some interesting points in her piece. I loved Logan and enjoyed Dafne Keen’s performance as Laura, but the fact that violent girls’ silence is becoming a recurring trope does start to feel less enigmatic and more lazy as time goes on.