There was an ad on the side of the screen that consisted of a picture of a girl sitting in front of a fire by herself. She had a hood on over her clearly dyed, jet-black hair. There was a piercing in her eyebrow and she had on enough dark makeup to put the most “emo” individual to shame. There were no words associated with this except for a phrase right beneath her- “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”. My curiosity was peaked. I decided to research and that is how I was introduced to the world of Lisbeth Salander, one of the greatest modern heroines to be committed to paper.
It took me a few days to get through the first book, less to get through the second, and I finished the third in the series on the same day I started it. Reading was one of many coping mechanisms I used to get through my mother’s death and through this rather healthier endeavor, I made a friend with the female protagonist. She was a computer hacker, which not only suggests a certain “I don’t give a shit about rules or the law” attitude, it also demonstrates a keen intelligence and concentration that is needed to even understand one machine, let alone to hack into several. She had several piercings, plenty of tattoos, she wore her hair dyed black and chopped up. She rode a motorcycle, carried weapons and guns, had a cavalier attitude about sex and most relationships in general. She was totally independent and she was real. She fought back against everyone who tried to control her and keep her down.
Lisbeth is as rebellious and tough as they come. She was a rock star in her own right. However, as much as someone like me (and countless other young females) may place her on a pedestal, we need to examine something first. What made her that way? Would she have been as edgy as she was had she not suffered years of neglect and abuse? Would she not have been that way had she had a “normal” upbringing? It made me question why I loved her so much, why so many other people love her so much. Lisbeth Salander has strength, there is no doubt about that. Instead of whining and whimpering and crying like so many other fictional (and real-life) females do, she sometimes committed horrendous acts of violence in the sake of well-deserved revenge. She was a product of her dysfunctional environment.
In a perfect world, the things that happened to this character would never happen to anybody. Even the minutest offenses I would not deign to wish on my worst enemy. So to read about them, even if they are happening to someone fictional, is almost sickening. It seemed the author had no choice but to make her as strong as she was to endure her own life. I believe this is why I related to her on such a personal level. My life was nowhere close to what LS lived through but it was no peach either. I am not wanting for personal traumatic experiences that leave one altered forever. So to read about how someone rose above it was empowering.
My issue starts to come in, however, when a commanding female presence such as this one is turned into something dismissible. Strength should not be a passing fancy. Lisbeth Salander is the “next big thing” at the moment with the release of the GWTDT movie in America. This means that after the spell has worn off, the character of Lisbeth Slander will fall by the wayside. Her 15 minutes of fame will be over. I have a serious problem with this. To take someone so compelling and diminish her significance down to a mere fad is outrageously brazen. What happened to her also happens in varying degrees to women (and sometimes men) all over the world everyday. These numbers of people finally have someone fictional to look up to and now that someone is reducible to a craze of ripped tee shirts and lip-rings.
It seems that before LS came to the big screen and made being anti-establishment cool, it wasn’t cool and now that she has, everyone will want to be some sort of a bad ass rebel. What happens now to the girl who has a real dragon tattoo and got it before the movie came out as a means of coping with being raped? What about the guy who started carrying around a concealed weapon because he became unhinged after watching his mother get beat down by his father? And the young person who turns into a cyber thief to steal money to be able to pay for the family house that is about to be foreclosed upon, forcing his/her family out into the street- what becomes of this person? Is it now acceptable to be a chick who likes motorcycles? Or a guy who chooses to live on the edge of society? To some, these are just “fads”; this is real life for others. What do you tell them, that this “phase” in their life will only go as long as people can make money off of it and that once they can’t, it’s now over?
Personally, I knew at age 13 I wanted a tattoo. I told my mother and she said “wait until you are 18, then you can legally do whatever you want.” Months after hitting 18, I got my first one. I’m now up to 5 and have every intention of getting at least 3 more. But don’t worry, Hollywood says that right now tats are cool. I’ve always loved motorcycles and the freedom that comes with riding one. I’ve been taught how to shoot handguns. I personally thought the one used in the movie Sucker Punch with the charm dangling at the end was sexy. I want some new piercings. I can look at math puzzles (I couldn’t do this in high school) and now solve them in my head. Hollywood says this is cool. Oh great, now I don’t have to feel like a freak for systematically dyeing my hair black since I was a senior in high school or wearing black eyeliner and black clothes.
I mean really, what the fuck? This was who I was before movie execs turned it into their latest cash crop. So now, all the girls who are going to be sure to request the “Lisbeth Salander” at their next hair appointment, are going to walk around feeling cool for falling for the Hollywood okay-doke once again. Basically, being yourself shouldn’t be a fad. It should be a reality, something that is practiced everyday. And you damn well shouldn’t be ashamed of it. Otherwise, you don’t deserve to call yourself a fan of someone like Lisbeth. Indeed, she never let anyone dictate who she was in life. And as someone who admires this particular character, I have no intention of doing it either.
<3 IMP </3
*PS- I loved the movie and thought Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara did a fantastic job.
This was in no way, shape, or form aimed at the actors.