Reese Witherspoon wants to shoot someone

That’s the headline over at, anyway. We all know that Reese Witherspoon doesn’t hesitate to speak up about
women’s issues from a feminist perspective, and this time she’s addressing
women’s roles in Hollywood. She’s been promoting her upcoming
quirky little film called Penelope.

If you missed the 9 out of
10 movies that manage to pigeonhole talented actresses into tiny, underutilized
roles or stereotypes, here’s her take. Witherspoon wants a shot.
At playing a badass with a gun, that is. And she’s annoyed with
shoot-’em-ups that feature some dude gunning down the baddies and saving
the day. Or the woman, or the world, or any combination thereof.
(I think I’ve seen the trailer for that movie under three different
titles this week.) Her words:

“Why does the guy get to shoot
him? I want the girl to shoot him! I love watching Angelina Jolie
kick ass in Mr. & Mrs. Smith,

and I can’t wait to see her in Wanted.
I would love to shoot someone. In the kneecap or something, just to
stop them!”

Well. Hardly the words of a steel-nerved
gunslinger. It’s true she’s no Angelina Jolie, but maybe I can
see it. But even after gunning somebody down, you know Reese would end
up looking more innocent and wholesome than before she drew the gun.
Even leather chaps and a motorcycle helmet make her look petite.
The stills from Penelope just make me want to pat her on the

As for her point about power in shoot-’em-ups,
I do agree. After watching those trailers for upcoming films this
week, my girlfriend and I debated how possible it is to have an epic
where it’s the girl who saves the day. Can audiences take a male
character who needs saving, and not in a let-me-mother-you kind of way? Maybe, maybe not.
But we don’t often have the chance to find out.

We are seeing heroic women
on TV fairly regularly now, though they are problematic too. One of the
things I detested about the Bionic Woman remake was how
Jamie’s bionic birthing occurred after a love affair, meaning that no
matter how heroic a figure she might (have been intended to) be, she
was still a man’s gift to the world. But in the movies?
It’s rare. Heroic females come in ensemble casts or not at all.

Strong women don’t have to
carry guns to prove a point, but Witherspoon is right. More than
a few genres of film could do with a little gender diversification.