Monday, 27 October 2014

Action Heroines Should Not Wear Heels

As great as the first Dirty Harry film was, the general lack of female characters but more specifically female cops can seem jarring to a modern viewer. It took two crappy sequels before a female cop was finally introduced in The Enforcer. This could have been done well, with the relationship between Kate Moore and Harry Callahan being a very emotional one as he has to grow to respect her. Of course they botched it all up and instead gave her a lame death scene that added nothing to the story (seriously, they could have cut it out entirely without changing anything) and just served as one of many things hastily thrown into the already extremely rushed and disappointing climax for the sake of drama.

Of course, even if you can overlook the film's problems, perhaps the character of Inspector Kate Moore isn't that bad after all, or perhaps she could have been. The film apparently wanted them to become equals by the end, but that whole aspect is arguably made redundant when Harry won't even let her put on some practical clothes. One thing I've learned about cops is that you should never, ever  put one in a dress and high heels while on duty under any circumstances, and of course they do exactly that in The Enforcer. Was this a thing the San Francisco police did in 1976? Why does Harry get to wear pants and shoes for his chase scenes but his co-star has to stumble around because the producers never thought about getting her a more practical wardrobe? This was the 70's, it's not like there were laws against women wearing pants.

The sad thing is that this isn't the only occurrence. Sometimes it can be more forgivable, as in North by Northwest (where aside from being a time period situation, Eve probably didn't expect to be climbing over Mt. Rushmore and the impracticality of her shoes does play into the action) but even today it's something of an unfortunate trend for women. Even in more modern films, while action heroines might omit the dress they still get put into high-heeled boots the director apparently thought looked better.

If you ask me, nobody should ever have to wear high-heeled shoes at all. I haven't a clue who thought they would be a good idea but they are extremely impractical footwear for all occasions. Despite this being common knowledge today many filmmakers still seem to insist on putting girls into high heels regardless of how practical they might be, especially action heroines. Apparently it is only because they think it makes them look better, even though the heroine would look perfectly fine without them.

To provide a straight forward example, it seems every rendition of Catwoman gives her heels for no apparent reason. This is a character who regularly has to sneak around dark city streets and climb along rooftops and yet not a single cinematic treatment has given her practical footwear. Even Nolan's take on the character still puts her in high heels (though admittedly the idea of them being designed to work as spikes does sound kinda cool).

Really, it seems the only reason filmmakers continue to pursue this trend even today is because they somehow have it in their head that it makes action heroines seem more attractive. They've already stripped the dresses that were common in older action movies so why keep the heels? Now I won't claim that female characters shouldn't be physically attractive, but are the heels really necessary to make that happen?

As a case in point, Lara Croft in the Tomb Raider films is an action heroine who usually dresses in ways appropriate to the situation. She's still an attractive figure (as you can expect with Angelina Jolie being cast) but they don't try to oversexualize her. You could argue that she does expose herself, though mainly in environments and in ways that are practical to her situations, but she certainly doesn't wear high heels. The first film even makes a joke out of it at the very end when Lara's butler drops a whole bunch of dishes in shock on seeing her in a dress.

Lara is unfortunately one of a few exceptions to the rule, along with a few other characters such as Ellen Ripley in Aliens and Sarah Connor in the Terminator films. Unfortunately a lot of action movies seem to be more concerned with ensuring their heroines are attractive than in actually giving them something fitting to their situation. You don't see Arnold Schwarzenegger or Sylvester Stallone being given impractical gear when they star in their manly action films (although in some cases they are every bit as exposed, if not even moreso), so why put women in the high heels instead of letting them have the cool boots used by the guys?

That is not what I meant when I asked for a strong female firefighter!

This is sadly something that seems to have persisted in modern media. Even Marvel, despite otherwise being very good about incorporating strong female characters, is guilty of using high heels inappropriately. So many times when watching action films I find myself remarking "and that is why women should not wear high heels". Now being a guy I don't have a lot of experience, but based on what I've seen I would not recommend high heels for a person of either gender in any circumstance, especially if you're an action hero.


  1. THANK YOU! "Crime fighting stilettos" should not be a thing.

    1. I know, especially not in an age when people should know better. As I noted it isn't even necessary to make the heroines attractive, especially considering most people don't generally focus on examining their feet.

  2. Thank you thank you thank you!!!!!! I am so sick of heels. They are horrible for women anyway (Chinese bound feet anyone). Your feet feel so bound up in them and your ankles hurt, you get blisters and, I have joint pain-they are not good. I always laugh at the cops-the men wear sensible shoes and the women-high heels. Nowadays it is even worse-the heels have gotten higher and spikier. I have seen women fall over because they are so dangerous. It makes women into mere playthings and to make men go hubba hubba. The women have to be in skin tight outfits with spiky boots or shoes. These women are stupid because you can hear them a mile away-the echo from the shoes alone will give them away. It makes me groan

    1. I know, it's ridiculous. The Dirty Harry example MIGHT be somewhat excusable due to different social standards in the 70's, but even that one I'm still not entirely certain of. The female cop there was average-looking and the film wasn't exactly trying to make her attractive so I'm not entirely sure what the filmmakers were thinking.

  3. I guess I understand the insistence on Catwoman wearing high heels...cats appear to walk on the tips of their toes.
    But on other action heroines...heels are ridiculous.