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Thelma and Louise

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The movie Thelma and Louise attempts to make a difference in the way that people think. It sets out to challenge a number of conventional attitudes toward women. Although it achieves some success in this area for women, it does not do a great deal to rebuff society's stereotypical images of men. For the most part, men are portrayed in a negative light and in this paper, I will explore where these negative images appear within the movie.

Thelma's husband, Darryl is portrayed as a dirt-bag. He is intolerant, selfish, egotistic and domineering. In the beginning of the movie Thelma is shown leaving a meal in the microwave for her husband as she sets off with her friend Louise for a weekend holiday. This is the first of numerous occasions in which the movie seizes the opportunity to perpetuate negative images of men. This first image reinforces the view that men are incompetent at looking after themselves and if left alone, they would be unable to feed themselves. Darryl's negative image continues throughout the movie, he never realizes that his treatment of his wife contributes to her unhappiness and her subsequent rejection of him even though Thelma has talked to him about this. Darryl is shown as a distant and unfeeling creature that would rather watch his football game and laze around drinking beer than know the whereabouts of his mysteriously missing wife. He is the embodiment of the lazy, beer-guzzling slob of a husband of editorials and comic strips. Another example of his distance occurs when Thelma calls him shortly after Harlan's murder. She is trying to explain where she is but he misses the explanation because he is watching a football game. He does not express any love or tenderness, but simply orders Thelma to come home. Darryl believes that a woman's place is in the home, along side her husband, catering to his every whim. This also brings home Darryl's 'double- standard' attitude toward their marriage because the audience learns that Darryl was out most of the night before and felt no obligation to call or explain to Louise. Another funny, but telling scene that occurs between the police and Darryl shows the audience Darryl's willingness to use deceitful measures to bring his wife home. In order to trace Thelma and Louise's location through a phone tap, the police advise Darryl to be uncharacteristically gentle with Thelma when she calls, "Sound like you're really glad to hear from her. Women love that shit." Of course, Thelma knows right away that something is wrong because Darryl is never nice. In featuring all of these scenes, the audience is left with a very negative picture of Darryl and it doesn't improve for the other men.

Louise's boyfriend Jimmy, a struggling musician, is also shown in a less negative light. At first he seems loving and thoughtful as he helps Louise without being controlling. The audience then learns of his resistance to commitment. This again, highlights a stereotype that many hold that men fear commitment. Louise acknowledges this often 'typical male' reluctance toward commitment when she tells Thelma, "Jimmy's like any other guy, he just loves the chase." Jimmy does eventually come to Oklahoma City where he gives Louise the balance of her savings and spends a final night with her. This leads to another interesting scene where Louise and Jimmy are relating on a mature level in one hotel room, honestly discussing their feelings,



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