So far, I am not excited about the English-speaking version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I loved loved loved the book series, and saw the first Swedish film adaptation of it. I loved the film. I was amazed with the amount of violence they were able to show without being too gruesome (basically, the book was very violent, and while I was afraid of having to see some of the violence, I also knew that censoring it would damage the story). And I loved the way the filmmakers dealt with the character of Lisbeth Salander.
Lisbeth is not necessarily a feminist character. While very tough, she’s always described as looking like a young boy instead of a woman, and the books imply that she ultimately needs (male) Mikael to come to her rescue and save her from herself (what can I say? the books aren’t perfect). But even so, she is a strong woman who has survived abuse and adapted. She is incredibly (ridiculously, actually) intelligent, and she uses it to her advantage. She can fight. And she’s a sort of vigilante character: doing good for good’s sake but doing it outside of the law. Who doesn’t love that kind of character? (Batman, hello!)
So why does the English-speaking version seem to be turning her into a sex symbol?
Check out this poster for the film. She’s naked!!! Totally unnecessary. Also, what’s with Daniel Craig’s creepy hold on her? Does he own her? Is he ‘protecting’ her? Lisbeth is a sexual character in the book; in fact, her lack of inhibitions along with her willingness to seek love (and her own pleasure) from whomever she chooses is admirable. But she is not, as this poster implies, a sex object.
And yet, with this being the English-speaking, Blockbuster-intended version, somehow I’m not surprised. Our culture objectifies women. Period. You want a strong female character at the center of your film? Great. But she’s gotta be naked.
Also, the tagline bothers me. “Evil Shall With Evil Be Expelled.” We’re calling Lisbeth evil now? What are her “evil” characteristics exactly? Independence. Strength. Lack of nurturing “feminine” characteristics. Stubbornness. Extraordinary intelligence. Perseverance. Asocial tendencies. Tattoos. Piercings. Survival skills. Instinct.
Yeah, evil. She probably sold her soul to the devil. (And the devil is, as far as Hollywood’s concerned, an uncompromising sense of self.)
Can you please take a strong female character and portray her admirably, even when she doesn’t fit into society’s narrow feminine mold? Oh, and can you do this with her clothes on?