Normally, hot, young, bikini-clad women doing drugs are not sources for discussion of feminism. A modern feminist such as myself is not supposed to support the blatant sexualization of young starlets who are role models for other young women.
Still, a viewing of the new movie Spring Breakers left me feeling bewildered. Am I offended? Was this a good movie? Was this a good or bad thing for womankind? The ridiculousness is unending and unnerving.
The movie features four college aged girls who trek down to Florida for Spring Break. To afford this trip, they hold up a diner at squirtgun-gunpoint. Once in Florida, they are arrested for partying too hard. James Franco’s grangsta/ rapper character bails the girls out of jail and woos them with his stuff, such as guns and blue kool-aide.
Selena Gomez’s character Faith is the moral compass of the group. Albeit whiney and attempting to “find herself” on Spring Break, Faith is strong and shows that she alone is in control of her own decisions. A girl will do anything for her best friends, but must still stand up for herself.
Vanessa Hudgens’ and Ashley Benson’s characters are the more hardcore of the group, breaking both laws and female stereotypes. They are not the topless, silent girls on the rapper’s arm. They are the girls that make the rapper’s jaw drop as they defy everything he has seen in women. Shooting up Florida in their bikinis and pink unicorn ski masks certainly defies everything I’d previously seen. Sure, the obligatory threesome occurs, but it is all under their control and not just about pleasing the man.
Rachel Korine’s (who?) character is in full control of her sexuality. She tells the men explicitly when they can or cannot do the dirty. This scene made me expect that she was about to be raped. Perhaps there is something wrong with a movie when it makes you surprised that no one was raped.
None of these characters or scenes are typical of female empowerment, and yet I can’t help arguing in their favor. A walk outside of the cliché and into the questionable is sometimes necessary. Spring Breakers has women who speak their mind, make their own decisions, and do nothing because a man wants them to. Please ignore the gun fetishism.