Friday, February 24, 2012
Weathering The Storm
With witchcraft of his wit, with traitorous gifts,--
O wicked wit, and gifts that have the power
So to seduce!--won to his shameful lust
The will of my most seeming-virtuous queen. (Hamlet I.V.42-5)
This "seeming-virtuous queen" is Gertrude Hamlet's mother. Now, Gertrude's motives are never truly known. We have interpretations but no direct truth. But she is a survivor. Which brings me to Gale Weathers. Top Story's own resident story hound is nipping at the heels of Ghostface every chance she gets. Whether she's helping or impeding, Weathers always gets her man(or woman in some sequels).
Gale often exists in opposition to our Final Girl, Sidney Prescott. While Sidney suffers the trauma of her mother's death, Gale bases her career on it. While Sidney is sympathetic and fearful, Gale is an opportunist. Basically we're coming back to a theme I've touched on in this series which is "agency", meaning she has an internal motor that drives her. She does not need to be chased, she is chasing. But Gale is a B-I-T-C-H. She is mean, uncaring and manipulative. Yet she lives through these darn films again and again. I'd like to say there is a reason beyond Courtney Cox's contract to forever be starring in these films but I'm not sure there is. But let's look at Gale's involvement as a kind of femme fatale-esque character which one might say of Gertrude, Jordan Baker, Madame Bovary, Eve or Scarlett O'Hara or any other ballsy female character that didn't exist in a film noir.
Gale's a seemingly sleazy reporter with a less-than-reputable show. Her objective is to get the biggest headline and complete her arc that began with the murder of Maureen Prescott. She manipulatively flirts with the goofy Dewey who is clearly smitten with her, using him for closer access to Sidney. SO WHY IS SHE ALIVE AT THE END??? Well, we needed Gale. And Scream was, in essence, a neo-slasher film. It's the first movie (I can think of ) where the characters were aware of other horror movies. They could reference them and use them in order to survive. Failure to accurately know horror films resulted in death. I'm looking at you Casey. Who the hell doesn't know Mrs Voorhees was the killer in Friday the 13th Part I?! If that was a spoiler for you, get off my blog. Kidding! But seriously, you should watch more movies.
A "neo-slasher" (neo meaning "new") is a film that accepts the tropes and history of the genre and subverts them which in turn gives the audience new thrills using a similar guise. Now, let's talk "older" women in slasher films. They don't often do well. Women fall between nubile young thing and dottering old woman. Gale is in her 30s, successful at her job and aware of her sexuality. She bridges story lines nicely so when we get to the final reveal it makes a hell of a lot more sense.
Yes, we're supposed to hate Gale but I always liked her (I'm *such* a Monica) because she gets shit done. Sidney seems to whimper uncontrolalbly throughout the films but endeavours. Gale brashly barges through the mysteries of the Scream series in search of results rather than getting caught up in feelings. It is her presence that makes these films neo-slashers, rather than another by the book slasher.
Slashers, at their core, often have to do with family in some way. Blood is thicker than water if you will. But Gale is an outside force that cares not for families. In that sense, she has revitalized the genre and given its audience a way to root for a hero that a decade before, wouldn't have survived.