October 29, 2008

Set if off vs Thelma and louise

In both the movie Set it off and Thelma and Louise the audience is presented women that are cornered in by a legal system that is working against them. As a viewer one begins to understand that the sexism isn’t an individual act that is perpetrated by one person, but rather that it can only exist in a system that not only supports it but also many times is based on a patriarchal system. The parallel story line between these two movies is connected through financial stability. All the women believe that they can escape the life that they are currently living through the use of money. Thelma and Louise first acquire their financial support with the help of a man that is in love with Louise. Once that money is stolen they begin to ignore the social norms of the law and begin their transformation as criminals. In the robbery that Thelma commits her character remains graceful, polite, and non-violent. This is a harsh contrast to the bank robberies that are committed by the girls in Set it off. While both these movies have many similarities when it comes to the aspect of feminism, it is in Set it off that we encounter the intersectionality of race, class, gender, and sexuality. This feminist movie is complicated by the use of more diverse characters that question the role of women in our society in a broader manner. In the movie Set it off all the women expect Stony are killed in the most brutal ways that would have never been chosen for the white women in Thelma and Louise. I believe the use of the male gaze was by far harsher and more extreme in Set it off. Many women in that movie were sexualized in a more vulgar and violent manner. This makes me question why it is normalized for a black woman to be so violently treated in that movie. The audience can see a distinct difference between the treatment of a black woman that becomes a criminal to the average housewife white suburban woman.

October 15, 2008

Thelma & Louise / Set It Off

In both of the films, Thelma & Louise & Set It Off, roads not only become an important means for the characters to run away from the cops but they also get a sense of having more freedom. Thelma & Louise always create more problems when they get off the road for a stop. When they are on the road, they keep moving without any problems as they enjoy the varied landscapes. They seem to be enjoying their time on the road whereas they are suspicious and cautious when they stop to rest. In the film Set It Off, while robbing a bank, the first thing that they after getting the money to be on the road fleeing from possibly getting caught. They realize being stuck in the bank for more than a few minutes is a problem but being on the road is almost a freedom from that state of mind as well as from cops. And they do get away from cops until the end. They separate in the end but only Stony (played by Jada Pinkett Smith) is able to get away by riding on the bus to Mexico. She could probably fly or take a boat to Mexico but they ride the bus by the road. This may be an exaggeration because road is cheapest method of travel but being on the road in the car or bus certainly gives sense of freedom. Thelma & Louise who were also trying to reach Mexico didn’t want to be stopped but in the end there are surrounded by cops from behind and a big cliff in the front. They realize that their freedom to a better live ends right then if they get caught by the cops and so they decide to ride off the cliff.

The ending of the both movies demands a mixed reaction. Both movies have a sad ending because Thelma and Louise supposedly is dead if they were to add additional 2 minutes to the movie after they ride off the cliff and in Set If Off, besides Stony, the other 3 women are shot to death. The movies at first seems to give a message saying you can’t get away after committing a crime and so either you kill yourself to escape incarceration or be killed in the process of escaping. But then the scriptwriters want the movie to make lot of money and so they have end the movie on a good note or at least give the audience some comfort or hope and so they end Thelma and Louise riding off the cliff with the smiles and Stony is able to reach Mexico with all the money.

October 14, 2008

Set it Off -Thelma and Louise

In both movies, the female characters were driven to commit crimes. These female characters weren't your average everyday criminals. They were simply at the wrong place at the wrong time. That's what makes the movies so interesting. In Thelma and Louise, the two women simply went on a road trip to get away from their ives for a little while. They stopped at a bar for food and chaos broke loose. Louise ends up shooting Harlan to save Thelma from getting raped. That incident was obviously not planned. From then on out, they realized that their lives would never be the same. They'd have to keep running from the cops and the chase would never stop. In the end, the fight to flee killed them. They knew there was no way out of their situation, so they chose death over hard time in jail. In Set It Off, everything goes wrong for everyone. All of there women wind up in a situation where they need money by no fault of their own, but the system.

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Thelma and Louise/Set it Off

In both movies the women aren't awful people, but the situations they are encounter drive them to a life of crime. In Thelma and Louise the event was when Harlan was raping Thelma. Louise protected her friend and shot Harlan. Thelma wanted to go straight to the cops and tell them that it was self-defense, but Louise knew that the cops wouldn’t believe that story because the whole bar saw Thelma and Harlan “dancing cheek to cheek all night?. This displayed the lack of trust the women had in the patriarchal system. In Set it Off there were multiple events leading up to the women committing crime. The first was when Frankie lost her job because she was an acquaintance of Darnell. This was a crucial event because Frankie was the mastermind of the bank robbery. She justified the crime by saying that the system is not looking out for them so they needed to take action into their own hands. The second event was when Stoney’s brother was wrongly shot. He was a good student and a good kid, and it was painful to see him killed, another situation when the patriarchal system failed. The final situation and the tipping point for when they finally decided to follow through with the plan was when TeTe lost her son to child services and needed to prove that she had enough money to support him. In both films, the women feel like their backs are up against the wall, and feel like they have nothing to resort to except criminal actions. The women in Set it Off justify their crimes because they keep saying that it is the last time that they would be doing it, and they are using the money for good. Stoney wanted to use the money to get out of the hood, and establish a better life, and TeTe was using the money to support her son. In both films the women have opportunities to stop and give themselves up. However, there would be no society for them to return to so they were forced to continue.

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Trina Hendrickson's Set It Off

The loyalty of sisterhood is expressed and shown greatly throughout the films 'Set It Off' and 'Thelma and Loise.'
In both films, women were given a chance to drop everything that was going on and start a life with a currently involved man. Loise and Stony both chose to remain loyal with their friends. The girl friends were portrayed as family, like sisters in both films. There was such a strong bond between each woman that the viewer could sense the love and respect throughout each scene that was filmed. The loyalty remained until the very end of each film. Each woman choose death in the end. I perceive in doing so, they believed they would always be best friends to the end.
The landscape in both films differed greatly from one another. In Thelma and Loise, the landscape was naturistic with wide open areas often shown. Thelma and Louise were often shot in natural daylight with no surrounding buildings. In Set It Off, a more urban street environment was portrayed. The women were surrounded by buildings and lights. The deaths that took place in the end helped reflect the nature of the landscapes. In Set It Off, the women were brutally shot to death in the streets of the city. These deaths reflect the dark business of the city life that was shown as their surrounding environment. Thelma and Loise choose to drive off a cliff. The shot as they were driving was freeze framed with them holding hands surrounded by many other beautifully colored rocks and cliffs. Their death was portrayed as more natural and soothing just as the atmospheric landscape was shown throughout the film.
Both films were similiar in comparison while reflecting evident differences, but the main point portrayed in each film was the loyalty of sisterhood.

Set It Off vs. Thelma and Loise

The loyalty of sisterhood is expressed and shown greatly throughout the films 'Set It Off' and 'Thelma and Loise.'
In both films, women were given a chance to drop everything that was going on and start a life with a currently involved man. Loise and Stony both chose to remain loyal with their friends. The girl friends were portrayed as family, like sisters in both films. There was such a strong bond between each woman that the viewer could sense the love and respect throughout each scene that was filmed. The loyalty remained until the very end of each film. Each woman choose death in the end. I perceive in doing so, they believed they would always be best friends to the end.
The landscape in both films differed greatly from one another. In Thelma and Loise, the landscape was naturistic with wide open areas often shown. Thelma and Louise were often shot in natural daylight with no surrounding buildings. In Set It Off, a more urban street environment was portrayed. The women were surrounded by buildings and lights. The deaths that took place in the end helped reflect the nature of the landscapes. In Set It Off, the women were brutally shot to death in the streets of the city. These deaths reflect the dark business of the city life that was shown as their surrounding environment. Thelma and Loise choose to drive off a cliff. The shot as they were driving was freeze framed with them holding hands surrounded by many other beautifully colored rocks and cliffs. Their death was portrayed as more natural and soothing just as the atmospheric landscape was shown throughout the film.
Both films were similiar in comparison while reflecting evident differences, but the main point portrayed in each film was the loyalty of sisterhood.

Sisterhood, Loyalty, and Justified Crime

In each of the films, sisterhood and loyalty are established in part through the commitment of crimes to help relieve the patriarchal laws that have encumbered them. In “Set it Off? the women had to worry not only about gendered, but also racial obstacles. Their wages were unfair and they received verbal harassment from their boss. One had to prostitute herself to get college money for her brother who was unjustly killed by law officers shortly thereafter. Another was unfairly fired from her job for reasons with racial undertones. The turning point was the inability to afford child care with the unfair wages that put a third friend’s child custody in jeopardy. In “Thelma and Louise,? Thelma’s rape and unfair legal system where she could have been perceived to have deserved her rape by “asking for it,? led to murder, armed robbery, kidnapping of an officer etc. The fierce loyalty of the women was clearly shown in their refusal to submit their friendship or their freedom to a patriarchal system that had enslaved them for so long. The ultimate display of this is in the death of all the female protagonists with the exception of Stony in “Set it Off.? This explanation also speaks to the question of the justification of the outlaw status of the women in each film. Because each of the women’s lives were burdened and disenfranchised by a misogynistic system, they were put into situations that threatened their lives, freedom, well being not only of themselves, but, as displayed in “Set it Off? often the lives of family members. Because they lacked a voice in this system, they were forced to pervade the law.

"Set it off" vs. "Thelma and Louise"

In both of the films the outlaw status of the characters is justified towards the beginning of the film. In both movies the women have to become outlaws in order to escape their fate and start a new life. In "Thelma and Louise" the women become outlaws when they encounter Harlan, and Louise shoots and kills him, in defense of her friend. Therefore, they have to become outlaws and try to get to Mexico to start a new life. However, in "Set if off" the four women all need money and are determined to do whatever it takes to get out of the projects, even if that means robbing a bank. Their status as outlaws becomes more severe as the film progresses, and they are all shot to death except for Stony who is the only character in either of the films to escape her fate and survive. I think that the endings of the films were similar in the way that all the characters escaped their fate of living unhappy lives or going to jail. But they were different because in "Thelma and Louise" the end is just their car frozen in the sky, but in "Set it off" you actually see the brutal killings of the three women, and how Stony made it to Mexico and could live free for all of them.

Endings and The Road

How are the endings similar and different?

Both let it go too far, literally killing them in the end. Thelma and Louise end up running their car off the cliff, and Cleo and Frankie die in the line of fire. Neither of them wanted the police/system to win. They were going to fight until the end. They both knew that their only options were prison or death, and obviously death seemed like the better of the two. On the other hand, police surrounded both scenes in the end, showing how strong the system is, leaving us with the notion that the police will technically always win. Death was supposed to symbolize that the women won in the end, but they still had to die, so how much of a win was it?

In both movies, nobody had anything to look forward to in life if they had chosen to live, except for Stony and T.T. Stony did live and T.T died unwillingly. Cleo believed there was nothing for her in the future; she would only remain in the ghetto. Frankie had lost her job at the bank. Thelma was in an unhappy marriage. And Louise was not in the best relationship.

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Parallel Themes

There are many parallel themes in the films “Thelma and Louise? and “Set It Off.? One is the running theme of sisterhood. Thelma and Louise don’t seem to have as much history between them when the films begins as the friends in “Set It Off,? but by the ending of both films, all women are willing to die for the loyalty of their sisterhood, rather than return to the patriarchal normative society they all came from and struggled to get out of. The character of the white male cop is in both films, somewhat sympathetic to the women’s situation. I think the cops play a role symbolic to the possibility that white supremacist patriarchal society would have sympathy for the women and that the women could return to that normative society. Although on the outside this seems like a nice thing, it only illustrates that the women are surrounded by white supremacist patriarchal society, because they are either being oppressed by it, trying to run away from it, being threatened by it (as represented by the government) or being shown a little sympathy by it (as represented by the cop). Anyway you slice it, they couldn’t get away from it. That brings me to the similar endings. Although all but one woman dies in “Set It Off,? the surviving woman drives through the countryside, close to a cliff, with wide long shots of the sky, the road, and her driving in an open-top car. In “Thelma and Louise? it is the same long, landscaped shot with the sky and the women driving in an open-top car. The cars may symbolize their mobility and access to freedom, but both ends are bittersweet because of the deaths. I find it very interesting that both films have a character that is the handsome man that shows one character, previously sexually oppressed and abused, her capacity for enjoyable sexual experiences. My reaction to this concept is negative, because either by abusing or seducing, the man is showing the woman her sexuality and thus controlling it to a certain extent.

Sisterhood As a Means

In both the films “Set It Off? and “Thelma and Louise? there are distinct codes of sisterhood and loyalty, which are established for many reasons beyond the plot of the movie. In “Thelma and Louise? it is to lend support for the confined world of male patriarchy that the two women live in—especially Thelma. In “Set it Off? the women support one another as each experiences their own tragedy (except Cleo) in which male oppression dictates via the system. It is not only an issue of gender, but also one of belonging to a minority race group and to the lower class. However, despite these differences of status, as the plots progress the women’s sisterhoods in both films become amplified as a result of their outlaw status. In both situations we are shown scenes where one of the women in the group thinks of leaving, but in the end loyalty to the group beats all. Moreover, these relationships are what allow them (if only temporarily) to succeed; they also reveal characters the audience can sympathize with. For example, Cleo endears herself to the audience through her humor, but more ultimately in her loyalty to Stony and Frankie when she tells them to get out of the car and run to freedom while she heads toward certain death. In “Thelma and Louise,? humor is also used as a device to endear us toward the outlaw behavior, but it is their dedication to one another against all hardship that makes us respect them. Stony says, “Do you feel free? Cuz I don’t, I feel very much caged.? This one line encapsulates the caged existence that all of these women are forced into because of their “inferiority? in a system of male patriarchal superiority. This situation then is what deems their “outlaw? behavior necessary and acceptable. For, within this system, they could never achieve freedom. Just as without their sisterhood they would not have the means to fight for the ends they long for. (It is obviously debatable that in reality women should use sisterhood to advance themselves without breaking the law, however within the plots of these films the women were given no other choice).

White Cops

Both "Set it Off" and "Thelma and Louise" portray the nice white male cop who just wants to help some poor innocent ladies that have more problems than they can handle. However, there are definite differences concerning race and class. While in the end of both films these cops seem to be knights in shinning armor to these women, the cop in "Set it Off" - Detective Strode- started out as a problem maker and not a problem solver. At least you could say he was for the women involved. Detective Strode caused many of the problems for the character Frankie. He made an unfair and racist assumption about Frankie being involved with the bank robbery just because she lived in the projects, she knew the robber, and she was black. Even as the film progressed, he didn’t change his mind about her and used this information to find the girls after they robbed a bank. In “Thelma and Louise? we see the white male cop worrying about the girls from the very beginning. Is this because they are white middle class? Thelma is a “nice sweet housewife? and Louise is an older white woman. Is this the reason for special treatment from the law? Louise murdered a man and no one was murdered in “Set it Off? until much later in the film. The crimes presented in these movies are vastly different, yet the punishments don’t seem to fit. After viewing both of these movies, you can’t help but feel that there is something unfair going on and it seems linked to race and class. What they have in common though is just as unfair. Each of these films presented to us have some very strong female characters. Yet, somehow by the end of the films the white male cops seem to be the heroes. This is a gender inequality and is probably in place to make male viewers feel “more safe?. How would these films be different if the main cop involved was a women?

Sisterhood and the Status of the Outlaw

I believe the only feminist aspect of "Thelma and Louise" and "Set it Off" was the strong sisterhood it portrayed. All of the women in both films felt a strong sense of loyalty to each other. This loyalty controlled the narratives, as Louise would never have murdered the man outside the bar, and the women in "Set it Off" wouldn't have been able to rob a bank without cooperation of all four of them (nor would they have the motive to). The sisterhood unites them as women against patriarchy, visible in the way Stony and Louise denied their lovers, and in the blatant disregard showed for the white male cop in each film.
I was disappointed, however, in the way "Thelma and Louise" and "Set it Off" justified the status of the outlaw. Crime is the only solution the films offer to problems like rape and poverty. There is no chance for the women to

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Bad ass sisterhood, gone too far?

Set it Off has a much more urban setting then that of Thelma and Louise. This is dictated by the fact that they are lower class black women. Most of the movie took place in a "ghetto" city setting that is stereotypical setting for black oppressed people. Thelma and Louise were also lower/ working class but there was no "ghetto" to speak of because they were white women. Obviously a testament to how race is portrayed in the media.

In both movies, sisterhood in established by agreeing upon their oppression. Once they all accept it in both movies the ladies decided to get there justice by whatever means necessary. Race, sexuality and gender didn't so much play into the sisterhood establishment however that fact that all characters (both movies) need money is a key factor in their alliance.

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Landscapes and Ending in "Thelma and Louise" and "Set it Off"

Both films tell the stories of ordinary women whose circumstances force them to kill and steal. Two differences are the landscapes and the endings.

“Thelma and Louise? takes place in Oklahoma; “Set it Off? in L.A. The landscape in “Thelma and Louise? consists of big, open spaces, which some feel represent freedom. For Thelma and Louise, though, it more accurately shows that they have no where to go for help. Conversely, the women of “Set it Off? live in the city, which represents how trapped and oppressed these women are. Theoretically they have plenty of people around to help them; the problem is that no one wants to.

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Set It Off

The films Thelma and Louise and Set It Off can be heavily compared and contrasted - their similarities are many, but their differences equally as diverse. They are both road movies, true, as well as being adventure films and a female infusion into the 'buddy movie' genre. At the same time, they fulfill these roles very differently.

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Sisterhood and Loyalty

Sisterhood and loyalty are very important aspects of both “Thelma and Louise? and “Set it off.? In both films it is the women who keep each other running and they don’t let each other give up. In “Thelma and Louise,? both women have lives and men to go home to, but they choose to stick together and run away to Mexico. The reason they get into the whole mess is because Louise shoots the man that attempts to rape Thelma, standing up for her friend. As the two of them commit more crimes and get into more trouble, they still support one another. In “Set it off,? the four women also have a loyalty between them. They feel they need to help each other and protect one another. When Frankie loses her job at the bank, the other three get her a job. They all decide to keep robbing banks to get money for T.T. to get her son back. One very good example of sisterhood in the film is after their first robbery. Although T.T. chickened out and didn’t participate, they still gave her a cut of the money. Also, at the end of the film there are a lot of examples of this. First, Stony doesn’t even want to participate in the last robbery, but because of the

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October 13, 2008

Endings Similar and Different

In the movies "Thelma and Louise" and "Set It Off" the endings similar and different at the same time. Situations that seemed to be the same with the endings were for example that each women seem to choose their way to their end. Thelma and Louise choose to drive off the cliff instead of turning themselves in. Cleo in "Set It Off" choose to let the other girls go while she drove the car and than chooses to not give herself up and there for being shot by the police. Than looking at the fact did they were have a choice because they would of all been put in jail for a really long time and is that really living? So than both movies make it seem that this is the only choices they have is to choose death. Differences with the endings of the movies were with "Set it Off" there was so much more violence than "Thelma and Louise" had. Another difference is in "Thelma and Louise" they decide to die together and in "Set It Off" that is not how it is played out the girls don't die altogether. I thought it was interesting to look at how Cleo was killed in "Set It Off" she was the only queer character that was actually public with her sexuality and she was the one that was killed in the most violence scenes in both movies. Thelma and Louise being so close could of been queer but because they were pretty white girls it wasn't played like that and Cleo was a big manly looking black women. Its just curious to think about.

I think that violence is coded by gender in that both movies the "outlaws" were a group of girls or friends that have known eachother for some time. In Thelma and Louise there was sexual violence with rape where Thelma was almost raped and in Set it Off, although there was no rape it was unwated sex for money, very degrading, given she had to do it. I dont think that race was a factor in Thelma and Louise but they used sexualty as a systematic violence in that how could two women kill a man. In Set it Off race was a group of four black women who live in poverty and experience tragedy everyday and subjective to racial comments (losing jobs) and they needed a way to live and by that robbing banks. Some of which was personal vendetta other of which was to achieve higher class standard and to escape the typical black women struggling, and being a provider to their child. Sisterhood and loyalty was established truely when Louise shot Harlan, Thelma although wanted to go to the cops, Louise refused but instead of Thelma turning her back she followed Louise and stood by her through ther journey.

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Thelma & Louise - Set It Off

Thelma and Louise and Set It Off are two different films in regards to their cultures and settings, but they both represent great examples of sisterhood and loyalty. And through these examples, their fates (ending) are very similiar and understandable.

How are sisterhood and loyalty established?

I believe that before each of these movies started, sisterhood and loyalty were already established with all of these women. You could just sense through how they talked to each other that they were very close. In Thelma & Louise it was apparent from the start of the film that these two women were best of friends and they would do anything for each other. Whether it was dealing with one's husband/boyfriend, or just being there to talk, these two women had great chemistry (kudos to Geena Davis and Susan Surandon). In Set It Off, the relationships between all four women are the same. Even though at times many of the women get upset or angry with T.T., they always recognize that she is one of their girls and she will always be one until the end. This question could be changed to how are sisterhood and loyalty confirmed in the two films. That question is saying that these women already had this special bond and through different acts, it was confirmed. In Thelma and Louise, their already special bond was confirmed when Thelma, after being beaten up and almost raped, told Louise that she wanted to go with her on her journey to escape what had happened instead of going home and recovering from her traumatic experience. She wanted to stay by her friends side. Towards the end of Set If Off there is a very similar situation that comes up. After all their money is stolen and there is a murder, the women need to go on one last bank robbery before they all go there separate ways. Stony no longer needs the money or wants this lifestyle. Whether she wants to stay with her new boyfriend or not, he has given her a new outlook on life and she really wants nothing to do with robbing banks. But even though this is the case, she understands how much she means to her friends (sisters) and she goes along with the final robbery anyways to prove her loyalty to the group.

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How does the role of the white cop function in the narrative?

Both of these movies portray the white cop as the cause of oppression. He represents all that acts against the women in the two films. When we first see him in “Set It Off? he is accusatory, oppressive, and unjust after the bank robbery in the opening scene. Through his unfair methods of investigation (staking out the women against his supervisor’s warnings), we see him put together the pieces of the puzzle that will eventually tear the women down.

In “Thelma and Louise? the white cop is more sympathetic, even siding with the two women throughout the film, but still serves as oppressor simply by duty. His desire to help the women is what eventually drives them over the edge (literally). We see him in the beginning outside the bar where the shooting took place as an intelligent figure of justice because he quickly puts together the information that will solve the crime. Later we see his relentless pursuit as an attempt to save them from their unfortunate situation even though he is really threatening their escape from the male dominated culture they are oppressed by.

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Freedom, the road and endings

I choose to discuss the role of the road and also how the endings are similar and different. In both films the main characters want to get away because of their circumstances. Thelma and Louis want freedom from their monotonous lives at home. Thelma and Louis were oppressed by sexism and classism, while the women in “Set it off? were oppressed by racism as well. Characters like Cleo want freedom with money; she does not have the desire to leave her home like Stoney. The majority of “Set it off? takes place in the city. The road to Thelma and Louise represents freedom. When the characters in “Set it off? are on the road they are usually being chased by police in the confined landscapes of the city. The characters all experience freedom in their escapes and crimes. They do not portray the classical female characters. They drink, and in “Set it Off? we frequently see them smoking pot. At the end, there is an exciting car chase with the police close behind, and most of the characters die. Thelma and Louise however, do not get shot like the others. They choose to drive over the cliff into an open landscape.

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Justification of the Status of Outlaw which Leads to each Ending

In the films “Set it Off? and “Thelma and Louise? there are clear justifications for the actions that lead to their outlaw statuses. These justifications are both derived from social systems that render them powerless. But these justifications are clearly different in both films. In “Thelma and Louise? the social systems at work include sexuality, class, and gender. Sexuality and gender are emphasized more in the film as the attempted rape of Thelma and the murder of the perpetrator sets off their journey into an outlaw world. The film portrays the white women as helpless in a situation where the judiciary system will not be friendly to murderers of a white male when there is no hard evidence of the rape. Their battle is fought on the grounds of sexism in the court system and their only way to freedom is to run. Of course, I must mention that the director of the film is a white male, Ridley Scott. bell hooks would conclude that because the director is a white male he has no obligation to depict the oppressions of race in his film. “When white males make films with all white subjects or with people of color, their ‘right’ to do so is not questioned? (artistic integrity 69). She would also say that he may have gone out on a whim to make a feminist film that created two female characters that kept the movie going. The movie though is based mostly on the aspects of white feminism. If the director had chosen to portray these women as black women the story would have created a more complex justification for the outlaw status. Thus, this may be the real difference between the two films.

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Intersections of Race and Class

The questions of sisterhood between the women of these films and the role of the white cop are explored in similar ways- and yet the differences highlight the intersections of class, race and the position of the spectator very differently. Generally the story unfolds as the women band together, and their crimes serve to pull them closer demanding higher levels of trust, involvement and loyalty. Both films also highlight the choice of sisterhood over heterosexual relationships. In the end of both films the patriarchal, white state (as is exemplified by a sympathetic white cop) is "unable to save" them as his chase is the largest contributor to their demise. In both cases the cop has nothing but confinement to offer the women- providing no real options for them to return to, and thus the women chose to run until they die (stoney as the exception -but we'll return to that).

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"Set It Off" & "Thelma and Louise"

In the films “Thelma and Louise,? and “Set It Off,? outlaw status is justified by being on the run. In both films, the women are running from the law. On the other hand, you can see they are not only running from the law, but they are running from the lives they lead. There are differences in the lives they lead, including having a man in their lives, or not, as well as the crimes they commit. The outlaw status Thelma and Louise portray, is that of murders, whereas the women in “Set It Off,? are portrayed as bank robbers. In both films they are running, but not necessarily from the same crimes.
The ending of the films are both similar and different. In “Thelma and Louise,? the women decide to drive off the cliff when they police have caught up with them and choose to die rather than go to jail. In “Set It Off,? the women have similar priorities, when they try to run from the authorities. The difference, is they didn’t stick together like Thelma and Louise did until the end. They women in “Set It Off,? split up and went their own ways to avoid being caught. In the end, one was killed, one got away, and the others were caught. They did not stick together the way Thelma and Louise did.

Thelma and Louise & Set it Off

Although very different these two films these two films have a lot in common. They both demonstrate the importance of sisterhood and how strong the bond between the women truly is. Throughout the films the women experience difficult and even traumatic events. However, instead of tearing the women apart the stregth of the sisterhood they have holds them together. In Thelma and Louise the two women start off their adventure in a harmless fun loving attitude that quickly leads to murder and then a series of less significant crimes before finally taking their own lives. In set it off the women start off not hurting anyone and then turn violent. Another difference in the films is how the women are killed. In Thelma and Louise the women are killed in a seemingly beautiful manner, and in Set it Off the women go out in a very violent fire fight with the police. Perhaps this was done becuase the women were minorities from the "hood" and not white women as they were in Thelma and Louise. Set it Off also had a queer aspect and the queer character just happened to be killed in the most violent manner.


How are the landscapes different?

There are many different aspects of Thelma and Louise and Set It Off that are very different.

Thelma and Louise are two white women who live in the suburbs and take a vacation away from their life. Their vacation turns into the adventure that leads to both their deaths, and both their freedoms. Thelma gets a little crazy, gets attacked by a man and Louise ends up killing him. That sets these two women off on a crime and killing spree that both liberates them and kills them. They were already best friends and this trip just strengthens that bond of sisterhood they already shared. They didn't always talk about the crimes before they committed them and they weren't both always on the same page, but in the end, they stuck together anyways. Louise thought about things a little more thouroughly than Thelma and they didn't cover their tracks very well when their crimes were committed.
The movie doesn't show a lot of blood or violence, it shows the women joking about the murders and crimes and them singing in their getaway car, which is always the same vehicle. They weren't cautious or careful, they knew they were getting caught, they drove around Texas instead of driving through it to get to Mexico. They spoke to the cops, they let them know what they were doing, and that they were ok, and that they weren't planning on stopping their crime spree. They made it so blatantly obvious that they were the criminals, it was almost impossible to escape, and in the end, escape meant death.

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Sisterhood, Loyalty and Landscapes

How are sisterhood and loyalty established?
In the movie “Set It Off? sisterhood and loyalty were established when the women’s lives started collapsing. After their first robbery there was a scene with the women joined in sisterhood embracing each other in a pile of money. Loyalty was created as a result of their strong sisterhood and because of their collective decision to commit the crimes. In “Thelma and Louise? the sisterhood and loyalty was somewhat similar. Their sisterhood was apparent in the beginning of the movie but continued to get stronger as their criminal lives progress. The loyalty was established in the same way as “Set It Off.? Even though they had different opinions, each stuck by the other when the decision was made. Although similar, when looking at race and class these movies are very different. “Set It Off? was about lower class African American females that had stereotypically common problems associated with their race and class. Some examples include the mother that cannot pay for a babysitter, brutal

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The endings of the movies, Set it Up and Thelma and Louise, are very similar. Towards the end of both movies the girls are on the run from the law. The authorities refer to them as armed and very dangerous (which is not a common description of women). Among the authorities, in both movies, there is one cop who tries desperately to help the women and wants to see them receive as little punishment as possible.
The endings also have some differences. In Set It Up, there are four girls who live in the projects and make very little money (barely enough to get by). Some of the white authorities see them as bigger trouble and treat them differently because they are black. The class and race difference between the authorities and the girls is more apparent/ important in Set It Up than in Thelma and Louise. In the end of the movie the girls originally plan on no one getting hurt especially themselves, but the last job they pull is the start of them being killed. The first one who dies is caught off guard by a bank security guy, and two of the girls chose death over dealing with the authorities and paying for their crimes. One of the girls survives and escapes to Mexico. In Thelma and Louise,

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October 12, 2008


How Is Outlaw Status Justified?
Both movies, "Set It Off" and "Thelma and Louise", justify criminals by showing how society and other uncontrollable forces funnel our characters into committing illegal actions. The audience feels sympathy for the main characters because they saw how the characters were cornered and how they had to resort to crime to break loose of their containment. In Thelma and Louise it was the near rape scene. Set It Off is a little bit different because it involves 4 "independent quests" of a group of friends that all decide that they will rob money once they have no where else to look for help. I think the Set It Off approached worked really well because we are able to see each unfortunate experience and it happens to us 4 times. By making us go through these unfortunate experiences 4 times, we even feel a rage toward authority and the system. This doesn't mean we don't feel sympathy for Thelma and Louise, but I feel a little less sympathetic toward Thelma and Louise. This also has to do with the fact that one of them were rapped and they talked about going to the authorities. Also, this might not be for everyone...

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Thelma and Louise vs. Set it off

After watching these two films it was clear that they share a number of both similarities and differences. One major similarity would be that the core of these films was the bond between the ladies. These women commit illegal acts, which calls for the need for a loyalty and trust. In addition, Stoney and Louise both choose their own destiny rather then going back to their men. This shows the how loyal they both are to sisterhood. I agree with the blog entry called “ Sisterhood, Outlaw Status and Sexuality? which states that, “the friends in both films are connected by a common injustice- a lack of power and mistreatment in a white patriarchal society.? In “Set it off,? these women are all driven to rob banks for various reasons. In “Thelma and Louise? these women wanted to escape their pasts and the system. What they all shared was their desperation. The solution in both of these films is to get in a car and leave town. There is this whole idea of escaping a male dominated society. The women in both of these movies have situational differences for their actions; however, the women in both movies stand by and support each other through the good and the bad. They are loyal to each other and nothing can break their bond of sisterhood.

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Sisterhood of the Traveling Crimes

Thelma and Louise and Set it Off both have the same sense of sisterhood and loyalty established in them. Both films lead to violence and crime but start from very different situations due to race and class. Both groups of women aren’t immediate family, but they care for each other that way. They also have created a situation to tie them together—being victims to an injustice. Thelma and Louise feel trapped by the patriarchal society and the men in their lives so they use their road trip as en escape from reality and a chance to let their hair down. However, instead of the fun, leisurely camping trip they had planned, they get thrown into a whirlwind of events including rape and theft. Thelma and Louise then have to connect and keep their bond of sisterhood stronger than ever to pull through. The women in Set it Off start their robbing banks profession through desperation. They are poor minorities who think that if they only had money, they could leave LA and find a better life elsewhere. Essentially they steal to gain justice from a “system that is just fucking them all anyways?.

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Set it Off

One of the main themes for both Thelma & Louise and Set it Off is violence. While these films share a common theme, the way in which they are coded be gender, race and status create completely different stories. In Set it Off the women are driven to violence because they are lower-class black women dreaming of getting out of their "hood rat" lifestyle. In Thelma & Louise the two main characters are white and already portrayed as middle-class. They start their violence as a reason to find their independence.
When the women in these films do commit crimes, the investigation process for each film is seen in two completely different lights. In Thelma & Louise the waitress at the bar is one of the main witnesses and tells the cops that there is no way the women could have committed murder, they just didn't have it in them. Right from the beginning they are presumed innocent. On the other hand in Set it Off the lead cop on the case has no concrete proof that Stony and the other women committed the crime but automatically assumes it is them. One can only assume that because these women are lower class, black women they are presumed guilty.

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Landscapes & Outlaws

Thelma & Louise and Set It Off are polar opposite when comparing the landscapes between the two. Thelma & Louise had a landscape of white middle-class suburbia. There is a scene where Louise is picking Thelma up from her home and in the background you see a little girl on her bicycle and her mother is walking with her. Throughout most of the film the landscape consists of the peaceful desert. They seem to have a feeling of oneness with the landscape. Many of the scenes were filmed at gas stations, truck stops and motels.

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Race, Gender, and Violence in Thelma & Louise and Set it Off

The violence seen in both Thelma and Louise and Set it Off is for the majority very different. The most extreme difference would be how much violence is actually seen on scene. Set it Off has numerous scenes with gratuitous violence. A good example of this is the endings of each film. Thelma and Louise ends on a freeze frame rather than showing the cars decent to their death, while Set it Off’s ending is very graphic in the deaths of the three women. Also the women act very different when they are being violent. When Thelma robs the bank she is very calm, quick, and polite. While the women in Set it Off seem much more aggressive and more willing to shoot. It reinforces the idea that Kimberly Springer makes in Waiting to Set It Off, when she said, “African Americans are thought to be always already violent due to their ‘savage’ ancestry? (174). When comparing these two films they seem to support this idea. The violent caused by the white women is much less aggressive/violent than those of the African American women in Set it Off. This is continuously seen when looking at the violent scenes within the two films.

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Space and violence

Springer states that “in US cinema, the violence of Black women always seems a result of their being Black, while violence of white women is often celebrated as liberatory? (173). I think Set it Off both reinforces and challenges this idea. There is definitely diversity of characters and their comfort levels with violence (or threat of violence) as justifiable means, as opposed to “natural? quality. However, juxtaposing Thelma & Louise with Set it Off we can see how such claim could be interpreted. In Thelma & Louise violence starts as a response to violence, as self-defense. In Set it Off, some would argue, violence is chosen. Although the life situation is tough, robbing banks should never be a solution in the land of American Dream.

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One of the biggest differences I've noticed between "Thelma and Louise" and "Set It Off" is the sense of reality that the films portray. I see "Thelma and Louise" as a satire - lighthearted, silly, unrealistic - it left me with a sort of satisfied happy feeling at the end.
With "Set It Off," I became much more emotionally involved with the plot and the characters, and the ending left me teary eyed and upset. I think this is because the film is more serious and realistic. The four women have very real problems: they all have tough lives, they're broke, they're surrounded by violence, and feel stuck and fucked by the system. Their relationships with each other are also very real. They're going through hard times together - they love and support each other but we also see how money can tear their friendships apart; how you can replace money, but not friends.
In "Thelma and Louise," the two women are being oppressed by men. While an abusive marriage and rape are very serious and real issues, the ways Thelma and Louise get back at men and patriarchal society are comical: robbing a convenience store while being extremely polite, locking a cop in the trunk of his car and taking his sunglasses, all the while driving through a beautiful desert landscape in their convertible. They aren't committing these crimes to better their lives - they're doing it as payback.

Thelma and Louise vs. Set It Off

In Thelma and Louise and in Set It Off, when the audience joins the movie, the women are already good friends. In Thelma and Louise the two women talk on the phone and are planning a weekend away together. In Set It Off, Stoney, Cleo, Frankie, and T.T. grew up together and are able to understand one another’s problems (even though they are vastly different); they all wanted better lives for each other. In Thelma and Louise, loyalty is first established when Thelma chooses to “betray? her husband by leaving for the weekend with Thelma and not telling him. This shows the audience that Louise is much more important to Thelma than her husband is. Loyalty is again established when Louise kills Thelma’s near rapist. This shows the audience that Thelma is so important to Louise that she is willing to commit a capital offense for her.

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Sisters to the End

Outlaw films put the viewer in a tricky position. Do you root for those who are breaking social norms (norms which we ourselves follow) or do you secretly want things to turn out the way society has told you they should? Most classic films in which the main characters are outside the law end with the outlaws eventually being "brought to justice" - usually through death. Thelma and Louise is an excellent example of this. Even though it is hailed as a "feminist take" on a typically male-dominated genre, it does not fully break the bonds of society in that Thelma and Louise must be brought to justice in order for the film to end properly. While this "justice" is quite touching - a kiss, "no regrets", etc. - it still falls into a stereotypical patriarchal ending (no pun intended). Set It Off, a similar movie in many respects to Thelma and Louise has a quite different ending in which one of the outlaws manages to escape to Mexico (incidentally, Mexico is where Thelma and Louise were headed before they were caught). In many respects this is much more subversive than Thelma and Louise’s ending could ever hope to be – she “got away?

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Women Running for Freedom

In both of the films Thelma and Louise and Set it off, the women are finding ways to escape their life problems. Both are similar because they mainly have to do with male dominance issues. The women in these movies had to deal with male paranoia. The men are taken away by these women and constantly want to steal their freedom and courage. This brings the women “outlaws? closer and they form a special bond that eliminates the patriarchal society. These “outlaws? want to make their decisions based on their sufferings. In Thelma and Louise, Thelma has a horrible relationship and almost gets rapped and Louise struggles with her past of being raped. In Set it off, Frankie lost her job, Titi her son, and Stoney her brother. The movies are similar but race and class did not seem like a problem in Thelma and Louise like it did in Set it off. Either way women were not portrayed as important or taken seriously in either case. I find it interesting how both movies have a cop become their center point. Thelma and Louise had Hal, who tried to help them get out of more trouble than they already were in. Then in Set it off the detective is constantly trying to keep them alive. These movies needed them to let the viewers understand that it is not just a feminist film and not all men abuse the role of patriarchy.

October 11, 2008

Sisterhood of the Traveling Fugitives

There were many similarities between Thelma and Louise and Set it Off. The main similarity that I noticed in these films was the role of men. Men were portrayed as untrustworthy and dangerous. In Thelma and Louise, all of the male characters (with the exception of the heroic male cop) disappoint them or betray their trust in some way. The man at the bar tries to rape Thelma, J.D. takes their money, and the “kind? truck driver turns out to be a vulgar chauvinist. In Set it Off, Stoney is lied to by her own brother, sleeps with a wealthy man for money, watches both her brother and “sister? die at the hands of a man, and is ripped off by Luther. Both of these movies include scenes in which men are gathered around a surveillance video, watching women perform a criminal act that is typically carried out by men. It’s almost as if they’re waiting for them to mess up, or that they’re amused by these silly and naïve women who believe they can actually get away with armed robbery. Their crimes are almost viewed as excusable because they’re “just women.? After viewing the surveillance video in Set it Off, the police officer warns the bank employees, “Do not be misled by the fact that these robbers are female…they are armed and dangerous.? No one takes women seriously in either of these films, and as a result they end up serving more as a comedy than a drama/adventure. Both of these films also include a strong theme of sisterhood, and in the end all of the women choose their “sisters? over everything else. Unfortunately, most of them choose sisterhood over life, and both films end fatally. What sort of message does this send about femininity? Succumb to the power of men or die?

October 10, 2008

Outlaw Justification through the White Cop

The outlaw status and the white cop both really run hand-in-hand in these films. Both groups of ‘outlaws’ are really socially justified through the cop. As a viewer we can find our own ways to justify their crimes but for society’s purposes they are, and probably have to be, justified through the legal system-via white cop.
In Thelma and Louise, Hal is continually trying to bring the women in before they dig themselves deeper into trouble. In Set It Off, Detective Strode is constantly trying to keep the women from being shot, going so far as to put himself in danger of Frankie. A similarity that flows through each of these films is that the cop really illustrates the justification to the viewers. In T/ L, Hal reprimands to J.D. for stealing all of Thelma and Louise’s money causing them to need to rob a convenience store. Hal is then truly putting the blame on J.D. rather than the women. In S.I.O., Detective Strode is obviously guilt ridden for Stoney’s brother being shot while he was in charge, from there he goes to great lengths to try to make up for it/make things right, especially with Stoney, hence in the end he tries to keep the women from being killed and he let’s Stoney off.

The road to freedom?

In both films, the main female characters believe their freedom will come by fleeing or running away from their current life situations. The problems which initiated this need for freedom revolve around men and poverty. Instead of addressing these issues and finding solutions, the women have one focus, and that is to get out of town. These characters are willing to do whatever it takes to get them on the road, or keep them on the road to “freedom?. Thelma and Louise are restrained by the men in their lives. These women decide to take to the road, in order to restore their freedom. In the scene where Thelma is timidly asking her husband’s permission to leave, she never builds up the courage to confront him. Thelma and Louise think that escaping on the road will bring them to freedom, instead of confidently standing up to the controlling men in their lives. The women of “Set it Off? are all struggling to get by, with crummy jobs. They think freedom, especially Stony, will come from leaving L.A. In the scene where the women are on the roof, getting stoned, they make the decision to start robbing banks.

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Sisterhood, Outlaw Status and Sexuality

Sisterhood and loyalty are established and maintained in similar ways in both films. Out of desperation, the main protagonists commit illegal acts thus establishing the need for a loyalty and trust. The friends in both films are connected by a common injustice- a lack of power and mistreatment in a white patriarchal society. The women in both films have a deep understanding of each other because they are all part of a working class. The “Set it Off? main characters connect through a shared minority status and are similarly mistreated because of it. Race doesn’t play much of a role in “Thelma and Louise?.

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Outlaw Status/Endings

One of the things that really got me thinking with both of these movies was the way that “outlaw status? was portrayed and justified. The tipping point in both movies seems to be an act that represents the oppression of patriarchy. In Thelma and Louise, this is Thelma’s attempted rape. In Set It Off, three out of the four women are victimized or trapped by the system in some way. For Titi, the loss of her son; for Frankie, losing her job; and for Stony; the death of her brother, which ultimately is the event that really sets things into motion. Interestingly, Cleo is the only one who doesn’t seem to need an external push to want to rob a bank. Springer pointed this out in “Waiting to Set it Off?: “Stony, Tisean, and Frankie were all abused by the judicial and law-enforcement systems. They see money as their way out of poverty and into middle-class respectability. Cleo, on the other hand, is never given a motive for her violence and therefore is depicted as a stereotypical “bulldagger? with violent tendencies.? (p. 187)

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October 9, 2008

"Set If Off" vs "Thelma & Louise"

Stringer says, “Through character development, this scene establishes, who will live, and foreshadows who will die.? After reading Stringers article I feel like that statement works perfectly for these two movies. When comparing “Set It Off? and “Thelma and Louise? I think there is a difference in how violence is coded by gender and race. In “Set It Off? every crime that was committed seemed so violent with a lot of guns and killings. The violence committed by these African American were more violent with the gun shooting, and had more of a serious tone with the scenes within the movie than in “Thelma and Louise.? We also need to remember that this is taking place in the hood because these four ladies class is very different in Thelma and Louis’s. In “Thelma and Louise? I almost felt like everything was done in almost a comical point of view. Even though the rape scene was very moving, a lot of the later crimes had not such a serious tone and was laughable unlike the scenes in “Set It Off?.

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