"Set it Off" vs. "Thelma & Louise"
In both Set it Off and Thelma & Louise auto-mobility is crucial for the women to continue on their journeys. But, the ways in which auto-mobility is achieved are different and ideas about race and class that get inscribed are thus different as well. In Thelma & Louise, Louise already has access to a car that runs well and looks good. Louise is white with a steady job and thus access to a car seems more inherent for her. The issue of attaining a car that works well is not an issue at the forefront for Louise and Thelma to continue their journey as outlaws. On the other hand, in Set it Off Cleo's car definitely doesn't work well and it is only until they steal enough money for Cleo to spend her share on fixing her car, that the women can use it efficiently as a getaway. In Set it Off the women are black and from a poor neighborhood where access to a car is not as inherent as it seems to be in Thelma & Louise. Also, they have to steal cars during every bank robbery to even get back to their own car. The need for auto-mobility for Stony, Cleo, Frankie, and T.T. is something explicitly discussed and portrayed in Set it Off; but in Thelma & Louise that need is not explicitly discussed or portrayed, it just is. It is in these differences that the two groups of women's racial and class differences are seen.
The landscapes are very different in both films as well. In Thelma & Louise, the majority of the film takes place on the open road. The openness and vastness of the landscape hints at a sort of freedom that is not present throughout the majority of Set it Off. Set it Off takes place in an urban environment and takes on a very confined, trapped feeling that parallels the four women's trapped mentalities about where they are from and where they can go. Thelma and Louise have already escaped to the open road whereas Cleo, Stony, Frankie, and T.T. have yet to escape and are still dealing with their entrapment as poor, black women in an urban environment that leaves little room for upward mobility. The fact that Thelma and Louise are white women with at least some money to spend shows how escaping is easier for them than for the women in Set it Off. Even though both films center around women and women's struggles, the issues of race and class become apparent when one group can take to the road much easier than the other group. Also in Set it Off , the beginning of the film shows a successful black woman, Frankie, making her way up in life. When that success is threatened and eventually taken away from her, the other successful black woman (the cop) doesn't even "ask if she's thirtsy". This sets up a dynamic between successful and still struggling black women in the film where the still struggling black women need to fend for themselves and cannot expect, even from a fellow black woman, any help. This is interesting when looking the issue of class in Set it Off versus Thelma & Louise because in Thelma & Louise they do not really come in contact with other women in the same way Frankie does.