Feminist Analysis

Postby Dragonclaws » Tue Feb 08, 2011 6:30 pm

So, in the thread “How does Eli view her gender-identity situation?” the user Aurora brings up feminist Judith Butler’s theory of gender-as-performance. Following this brief discussion, some users bring up the idea of a feminist analysis of LTROI.

gattoparde59 wrote:I have sometimes wondered what would happen if a feminist took a look at Let the Right One In. :think:


gary13136 wrote:There's probably a feminist out there somewhere who has. And maybe she is still scratching her head in puzzlement. :D I sort of think that with Eli not having gender or sexuality, a feminist might not have much material here to work with.


gattoparde59 wrote:I am thinking exactly the opposite. Seems unlikely this would happen however. Unlikely unless there was a school of feminist vampire studies. ;)


I’m guessing by “feminist”, they refer to a woman with a degree in Women’s Studies who publishes professional analyses on the subject of gender and/or devotes her life to activism, but I use a more liberal definition. Dictionary.com defines “feminist” as “a person who advocates equal rights for women” and “of, relating to, or advocating feminism”, and “feminism” as “the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men”.

I have a blog and vlog where I regularly advocate feminism, primarily through doing analyses of fictional media. Some past subjects include Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Twilight, and the made-for-Internet musical I Kissed a Vampire (and I liked it), which isn’t quite “a school of feminist vampire studies” but it is experience. As I have now fallen in love with the LTROI film, it makes sense to do a feminist analysis of it.

Okay, first of all, Eli is not a girl. This kind of puts a damper on analysis of hir as a female main character. The only female characters besides Eli I can think of are the mom and the teacher, both minor. Neither are very effectual in the narrative… but then neither are the male adults. When it comes right down to it, the film is really about a boy and his vampire, so any analysis of gender portrayal would have to be about the two main characters: Oskar and Eli.

Now, while Eli does not assert a female gender identity, ze does present as female for the most part. So, while ze can’t be considered female, Eli is definitely feminine. The portrayal of the feminine, as well as the portrayal of the masculine, is what we can analyze.

Eli’s portrayal is quite feminist in my eyes. Ze is a strong vampire who can act realistically like a young girl with an inner beast. (It’s those little growls that make it.) Hir femininity is not a hindrance at all. It doesn’t make hir weaker in any way. It’s just some aspect of hir character that makes hir more interesting. Neither is hir femininity used as a weapon.

Female vampires are often associated with misogynistic ideas. The social function of some folklore such as about Lilith, a vampire in some stories, is to reinforce ideas about women’s place in a patriarchal society such as medieval Israel (where Lilith stories flourished). Lilith represents evils of femininity: seducing men, killing newborns, and forsaking God by refusing to submit to her man. Many fictional female vampires of modern times are based off of this folklore, which can be problematic in a contemporary context. Not Eli, though. Eli is a monster the way male vampires are. It’s respectful.

Oskar’s masculinity can also be analyzed. He’s a sympathetic protagonist who we feel for because of the way he’s tormented. He has a bit of a violent personality but this is only due to the hostile environment in which he lives. He is contrasted with Eli, who is extremely violent out of necessity. After witnessing true violence when he helps Eli kill a guy, he throws down his knife as if to say “no, that’s not for me”. His feelings toward violence are never associated with his masculinity but are treated as an individual characteristic of his personality.

Oskar treats Eli pretty well too. When he encourages hir to come in without an invite, there is no indication of a gender dominance thing, but rather a human testing the limits of a vampire—and teasing the otherwise superior vampire. The only problematic point is when Eli offers to help with the bullies and he disparages hir for being a girl and not wanting help from a girl, the underlying issue being that a girl helping him would undermine his masculinity. This is pretty realistic, though, and Oskar comes to respect hir strength soon enough, so I don’t see it as a big deal.

So, that’s my feminist analysis of the LTROI film. When I read the book, I’ll analyze that one too. :)
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Re: Feminist Analysis

Postby bore » Tue Feb 08, 2011 8:07 pm

Dragonclaws wrote:Okay, first of all, Eli is not a girl. This kind of puts a damper on analysis of hir as a female main character. The only female characters besides Eli I can think of are the mom and the teacher, both minor. Neither are very effectual in the narrative… but then neither are the male adults. When it comes right down to it, the film is really about a boy and his vampire, so any analysis of gender portrayal would have to be about the two main characters: Oskar and Eli.

An interesting read.

There is also the hospital receptionist, but she has about as little screentime as the teacher and I think both are shown in pretty much the same way. It is the female teacher that takes care of the bullys wound, not Mr. Avila and the receptionist is also a caring character that wants to take care of Eli at the hospital.
The more interesting female character would be Virginia, the woman who get bitten by Eli and later turned.
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Re: Feminist Analysis

Postby Dragonclaws » Tue Feb 08, 2011 8:15 pm

bore wrote:The more interesting female character would be Virginia, the woman who get bitten by Eli and later turned.


Oh, God, I can't believe I forgot about the whole Virginia subplot! I guess I'm just more interested in Eli and Oskar... *facepalms* Okay, I'll consider that subplot and post a follow-up when I can.

bore wrote:There is also the hospital receptionist, but she has about as little screentime as the teacher and I think both are shown in pretty much the same way. It is the female teacher that takes care of the bullys wound, not Mr. Avila and the receptionist is also a caring character that wants to take care of Eli at the hospital.


Good points.
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Re: Feminist Analysis

Postby intrige » Tue Feb 08, 2011 8:39 pm

I remember showing LTROI to a friend of mine a while ago. When we came to the scene where Eli was quoting Oskars "Stabbing three" lines. My friend said:
"Now that sounded like a boy". I can't remember if I told her anything, but I can recall she said that. I would say, sometimes Eli is very femenin, and sometimes not. That is even more clear in the book. Lina her self is very femenin, I suppose that has something to do with it.
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Re: Feminist Analysis

Postby thestich » Wed Feb 09, 2011 2:37 am

Yes,

Seeing Eli through Lina makes the 1 second shot that changes Eli's sex that much more of a jaw dropper.

I never had a clue before the shot, and was completely stunned after wards when I realized what it meant.
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Re: Feminist Analysis

Postby Ash » Wed Feb 09, 2011 7:00 am

Eli's view of herself is truly heartbreaking.

"Then what are you?"
"Nothing."
"What do you mean, 'nothing'?"
"I'm nothing. Not a child. Not old. Not a boy. Not a girl. Nothing."
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Re: Feminist Analysis

Postby Ash » Wed Feb 09, 2011 11:16 am

On further thought, I don't think it's so much a male/female thing, it's much more an child vs adult world being portrayed.
JAL's adult world is childish and centred around the superficial - petty relationships, money (or the lack of it), self-obsession.
While it's the children that deal with all the significant aspects, and they are the movers and shakers.
The police are useless - Tommy is the one who has figured things out about the Angby killing.
All the parents (and Hakan) are pathetic characters.
The teachers are only concerned with the meaningless - "They told you to do a lot of things and you did them. The whole thing had been invented so the teachers would be able to hand out photocopies. It didn't mean anything."
Oskar didn't leave so much because he loved Eli, it was because he saw no attraction in becoming one of them, an adult.
LTODD seems to confirm this rejection by him. He would rather an become undead killer than grow up.
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Re: Feminist Analysis

Postby genie47 » Wed Feb 09, 2011 1:30 pm

Ash wrote:The teachers are only concerned with the meaningless - "They told you to do a lot of things and you did them. The whole thing had been invented so the teachers would be able to hand out photocopies. It didn't mean anything."


Wahahaha.....

When I read that out I burst out laughing 'cus that is how school was like for me in SG. :(
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Re: Feminist Analysis

Postby gattoparde59 » Thu Feb 10, 2011 1:32 am

My take on this is a little different than what has been said so far, although Ash is on the right track.

Both Oskar and Eli are abandoned children. In lieu of the parents who have shown themselves to be childish and self-absorbed Oskar and Eli are forming their own surrogate family, they are being the parents to each other. Oskar, rightly or wrongly, I have cast in the role of the "mother," and I think Eli's attraction to Oskar is that he actually reminds Eli of his own mother. Eli, rightly or wrongly, I have cast in the role of the father. Eli, Lina's portrayal excepted, was conceived as a masculine character, conforming to masculine stereotypes. I havn't read Let the Old Dreams Die yet, but that ending makes sense if we think of it the way Ash describes it. "F---- all of you, we are going off to make our own family and be our own parents."

The American version is a variation on this, becoming a cautionary tale about bad parenting. "Better be a good parent or your kid will be seduced by a demon etc. etc." The parents in this version are virtually non-existent.

These ideas I am taking more from the novel than from the book.

As for a feminist point of view, I think it is hard to find in the novel, other than Lindqvist seems very interested in gender roles and stereotypes. But maybe I am not thinking creatively enough. :think: In the novel, Virginia is defined as a maternal character, looking after the hapless Lacke who can't seem to be able to even feed himself. What pushes her over the edge is seeing her maternal nature (her biological definition as a mother and caregiver) being perverted by her infection.

I'll break open the story and tell you what is there. Then, like the others that have fallen out onto the sand, I will finish with it, and the wind will take it away.

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Re: Feminist Analysis

Postby God of Vampires » Thu Feb 10, 2011 8:25 pm

If LTROI has taught me anything about gender, it is that it is completely irrelavent ;) .

I wonder if society do not emphasis gender and sex needlessly much, teen culture at least seemingly definitely does :think: . It almost seem teenage boys for the most part spend too much time worrying about their own and others sexuality. Too many times have I been accused of being gay with no basis whatsoever except that i don 't think about sex 24 hours a day. The worst part about it is that they seem to believe that it is an insult, while in fact it is only unaccurate labeling. This is most likely a case of projection http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychological_projection , so I can't say I care. I don't see why people worries so much about being homosexual, in Sweden, that is no problem, worry about something worth worrying about, like pedophilia (If Håkan is any indication, being one sucks) .

Eli is really a feminist's dream, proving that it does not matter if you are born as a girl or a boy, that do not need to much of an impact on your life ;) .
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