TW: Transphobia, Sexual Assualt, Violence, Misogyny // Spoilers for Sleepaway Camp ahead
We [meaning mainly the girls, the gays, and the theys] all love a good revenge film — Jennifer’s Body
, Ms. 45
, and the new addition to the canon: Promising Young Woman
. All the films feature a woman who enacts her own version of justice against those who are not being punished for a heinous crime — normally upholders of oppression like sexual assaulters. Though violent, sometimes exploitative, and not usually having a happy ending for the femme protagonists, at the center of these stories are questions about how justice truly functions in our society. As we’ve seen post #metoo, industries have slowed in making progress and even the so-called damaging “cancel culture” has not removed most abusers from their platforms
. In this subgenre, fantasy and catharsis intertwine as one where we can escape to an alternate reality where the oppressed play karma in making those who killed our soul suffer in response. Though it does not fix the structural roots and usually punishes the women in the finale, the everlasting images are an escapist fantasy where related audience can feel sublime satisfaction that only comes with pure vengeance. That’s why we [see previous] love them.
For anyone who is not a cis white woman, a justice-fueled murderous rampage is not framed as liberation. Instead, they contribute to harsh stereotypes that vilify minority women