Lara Croft – Feminist Heroine or Busty Sex Icon?

Lara Croft’s character all started from a popular video game Tomb Raider which started in 1996. She takes form as a female British archaeologist in search of ancient relics and adventure, coming into contact with all sorts of challenges in the form of power-hungry/greedy men, snipers, mummies, jackals, and ancient monsters. She acquires all sorts of weapons for these reasons. As the game grew more popular, two movies were created with Angelina Jolie starring as Lara.

As a video game character, her appearance is generally known to be a dark haired girl with a backpack, short cargo shorts, wide hips with guns holstered to them, army boots, a green shirt (bra?), a tiny waist, and large breasts.

 video games tomb raider lara croft 2000x1600 wallpaper_www.wallpaperhi.com_20

In Dangerous Curves, Jeffrey Brown addresses the use of guns in the hands of a female heroine. “…the action heroine who exhibits a mastery of guns represents a woman who has usurped a particularly phallic means of power” (30-31). Lara Croft’s popularity hits both genders; many women identify with female empowerment, whereas many men find her image titillating. Is Lara’s grasp on guns a turn-on for men? For many feminists, Lara’s necessity for ammo and gun control is a problem because it signifies that the heroine still needs this object of masculinity. Lara’s character may not have been as popular with men if she were to have no weapon at all.

Lara Croft is similar to the character of Maggie in the movie Point of No Return where they ask, “’Does the rise of the aggressive heroine really pose a threat to men or does she merely contribute to male fantasy via the eroticisation of hardware and violence?’” (41). Maggie has both a hard-bodied image and a feminine “soft” side to her character.

In the movie version, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001), Angelina Jolie plays Lara’s part as an elite British aristocrat removed from romantic emotion and any stereotypical acts of a domestic female. It’s very similar to the description of Maggie being, “physical and self-reliant, murdering without remorse” (35). She is still sexualized, Angelina Jolie’s anatomy matches that of the video-game creating the same sense of the male gaze. 

In this clip, her butler presents her with a white dress and high heel shoes which she casts off and declares herself as not ladylike. Instead Lara Croft’s movie character is known to wear this outfit:

hot-angelina-jolie-as-lara-croft

It’s interesting that Lara’s costume changed from a green crop-top to a black undershirt. Is this the director’s way of identifying Lara as a masculinized character? In Dangerous Curves, Brown recognizes the “black undershirt” as being the standard costume worn by Slyvester Stallone in the Rambo series, Bruce Willis in Die Hard, and “such muscular/masculine women as Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2, and Rachel McLish in Acres: Iron Eagle III” (35). Although in Lara’s case, the black shirt isn’t used to define her muscles; it’s used to define her breasts. She rejects the white dress for the black undershirt.

In conclusion, it seems that Lara’s character challenges the role of female heroism by not playing the part of a “woman in sheep’s clothing,” clearly, her body has all the shapes of a female’s curves. It is arguable though, that her large breasts are simply, “…a way to incorporate some ‘tits and ass’ into the action genre” (41).

Advertisements
Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: