3 minute read
John Carpenter’s Halloween is the movie that made babysitting insanely terrifying. Heaven knows no teenaged girl wants to be stalked by William Shatner with a knife, especially while responsible for young children. And really, no one wants to be stalked by the Shat (except for the Travelocity gnome) period. Shatner aside, Halloween plays on a creepy and simplistic musical score and the assumption that you’ll see yourself in Jamie Lee Curtis’ situation – that is, unaware of what’s awaiting her until the last quarter of the movie where she becomes a total badass. Her character, Laurie Strode, is one of the earliest examples of what is known as the “Final Girl,” which is the strong, female, central character who is able to rise above and beat the predator at his/her own game.
The term was coined by author and professor Carol J. Clover, and includes much more discussion and deeper characteristics than mentioned above. For instance, there’s a whole “Sex = Death” thing, but for the purpose of this article, we’re going to keep it simple. The Final Girl is tough while retaining a feminine softness, independent of female stereotypes, and smart. She almost always makes it to the end of the movie, while other characters are killed off, and often slays (or at least gets rid of for the time being) the person/entity stalking her. This piece obviously isn’t going to cover the perils of in-office stalking but rather, for the female audience, how to adopt the Final Girl attitude in your workplace.
In Halloween, Laurie Strode is introduced as wholesome in comparison to her, um, “experienced” cheerleader friend. She is established as kind, responsible, and seems to be the “mom” of the group. As the movie rolls on, and Michael Myers’ stalking increases, you see Laurie begin to take action and embody the tough/soft paradigm. She’s protective of her young charges, upholding the promise made to Tommy’s parents, but still stabbing at a human being who has threatened her and the children.
Women are often challenged with the “bitch” situation – if you’re strong, you get called a bitch, and yet if you’re delicate, you are weak. Final Girls defy this idea, and you can too. Finding that balance of softness, hangin’ tough as New Kids on the Block would say, and being flexible is the key to skipping the bitch thing at the office.
Laurie is also quick to come up with a strategy to trick that dummy, Michael. Final Girls are smart (since their minds aren’t clouded by drugs and other misgivings), and able to deceive the killer. As Michael follows her up the stairs, she pulls a fake-out by opening the window to bluff her escape, and runs to the closet for cover instead. I know you, dear readers, are all very intelligent and will adapt to this trope quite easily. The takeaway: always have a strategy in your back pocket, and use that big brain of yours to enact it when necessary.
Achieving Final Girl status is something to be proud of, whether in real life or inside a horror flick. Maybe you’ve always been one and didn’t realize it, or perhaps learning of the trope’s existence will empower you to become the ultimate FG in your office. Either way, I salute you. Say it with me, “I am Final Girl, hear me roar!”
**If you’re a proud Boisean, you should most definitely hit the Idaho Horror Film Festival this weekend (October 16th – 19th) in Downtown Boise! Saturday night, the Egyptian Theater will play host to a special 25th anniversary screening of Halloween V with Don Shanks, the man behind the Myers mask. Check out the lineup and more info here: idahohorrorfilmfestival.org
About the Author
Stephanie Norell is the Marketing Director for North by Northwest’s Boise office. She loves horror movies and Pinterest, adores the classic film Xanadu, and “enjoys” disseminating her thoughts for trolls to discuss online.