Hollywood never seems to tire of making movies about men hunting women, and this year was no different. The latest in the genre is Halloween (2018) starring Jamie Lee Curtis as the prey and James Jude Courtney and Nick Castle as the man trying to kill her (they share the role of serial killer Michael Myers). This is not even the first time this man, Myers, has hunted Jamie Lee Curtis. Halloween is a franchise that includes 11 movies, and she has been hunted by him in five of them. The stories revolve around a man who, as a boy, stabbed his sister to death before going on to become a serial killer. The first movie of the franchise, Halloween (1978), made US$70 million at the worldwide box office (unadjusted dollars). The subsequent films did not fare as well. So far, Halloween (2018) has made over US$142 million at the worldwide box office. That US$70 million in 1978 dollars for the first movie translates to quite a respectable sum in 2018 dollars. No wonder filmmakers were avid to make sequels.
In the three years I have been researching the sexualization of women in media and violence against women—for which I have analysed hundreds of feature films—one of the dozens of things I have kept track of is occurrences of men hunting women in film. It is a common occurrence and does not only happen in movies about serial killers—far from it (see my post from June 5, 2018). Filmmakers and audiences appear to relish women being hunted. The opening scene of the first movie from the franchise even includes a point of view shot, so we are shown the first girl's murder through the killer’s eyes (first-person perspective), which is especially disturbing. This film technique can give the viewer the impression that he is the one responsible for the action, in this case killing the girl. In the “real” world there is a pandemic of violence against women, according to the United Nations. Gynocide is a global problem, and the overwhelming majority of women’s killers are men. As just one example from just one country: In 2012 UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kyung-wha Kang noted that 647 women were killed in El Salvador in 2011. That is just one year in one little country. It is high time filmmakers stopped normalizing men hunting women on the big screen. It doesn't matter how many times Jamie Lee Curtis kills her pursuer at the end of the movie. It doesn't change the fact that for most of the movie she and many other girls and women are a man's prey.
© 2018 Alline Cormier
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