Is The Final Girl Harmful or Heroic?

We all know and love this troupe. The last one standing is the young and virtuous sweet girl. She makes it to the end, maybe even taking down the bad guy, sometimes she runs the ‘Final Girl Circuit’, coming across the desecrated remains of her family and friends for extra trauma. The Friday the 13th movies are the best examples of this sub-troupe I can think of, namely the first one.

Here is where things get a bit less cut and dry. As I mentioned, Final Girls tend to be the good girl compared to their counterparts, such as the wild party girl. You know, the one who dies pretty early on in the film, most likely due to not seeing the hulking shadow approaching her and her boyfriend when they snuck off from the group for some… let’s call it adult fun time. 

The point is, she is meant to be the good girl which makes her worthy of life, not the others. At least, that is what these films might be suggesting. That doesn’t sit well with me/ I mean, killing off characters who don’t conform to the female gender roles, are open about their sexuality and so on. It’s gross. That’s not even touching the race aspect of how women of colour are rarely the Final Girl, they are either the best friend at best or just killed off without a second thought. 

Now, am I saying this is the filmmakers’ intended message? Not all of them of course but some of the early ones did. Hitchcock was quoted as saying “Torture the women! The trouble today is that we don’t tourture women enough”. I wish I was joking, he really said that on the set of The Birds

Final girls in more recent horror have evolved, take the recent Halloween films for example, as well as Ready or Not, a personal favourite of mine. Final girls these days tend to be the survivor using their wits instead of luck, being proactive fighters until the end. This is a great improvement, but the origin of this troupe being sexist does leave a negative stain on its name. 

We can’t change the origin of the Final Girl, but we can change her future.

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