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Cody, G.A. Swift, W.J. (1997). Feminism, Feminist Cinema, and Thelma and Louise: A View from Cybernetics. Psychoanal. Rev., 84(1):43-54.

(1997). Psychoanalytic Review, 84(1):43-54

Feminism, Feminist Cinema, and Thelma and Louise: A View from Cybernetics

G. A. Cody, M.D. and W. J. Swift, M.D.

Thelma and Louise, Ridley Scott's 1991 hit movie, has been the subject of considerable praise and controversy. Filmed for a modest 17 million dollars, the movie was a great commercial success but the critics were far from uniform in their enthusiasm. Reviewers referred to the protagonists with such wildly disparate descriptions as “daring anti-heroes” (Maslin, 1991a, p. C1), “outlaw princesses” (Rafferty, 1991), and “killer bimbos” (Grenier, 1991), practicing “guerrilla feminism” (Baber, 1991). Gloria Steinem (1992) rhapsodized about the film: “Thinking about Thelma and Louise draws out of us the strength of Thelma and Louise and that's what brings tears to our eyes.” Controversy raged over whether those that revelled in Thelma and Louise's antics were engaging in “a strikingly adolescent hostility towards men” (Merkin, 1991, Section 4, p. 17) or whether those that criticized the film were simply made uncomfortable by the upending of the paternal order represented in the portrayal of powerful women and ineffectual men (Maslin, 1991). Further controversy concerned whether a discussion of Thelma and Louise in terms of feminism was even justified, given that the format of the plot was remarkably similar to many male “buddy movies” (the prototype being Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) that had never generated much in the way of similar discussion regarding sexism or paternalism (Maslin, 1991b, Section 2, p. 11). The film's author, Callie Khourie, stated that the controversy surrounding her film “smacked of a double standard,” and it was “not fair to judge it in terms of feminism” (Rohter, 1991).

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