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4 Bizarrely Specific Rules That Exist in Movie Universes

#2. You'll Never See a Woman Get Her Brains Blown Out

(Not in an American movie, anyway.)

[The following entry comes from a buddy and friend of the site, Mike Dillon, who has a legit grown-up job as a professor at USC. This is his observation, so I'm letting him put it in his own words, which are much smarter than my words. I've done my best to break up the academic language with pictures and captions featuring the kind of jokes and hard-hitting observations you expect from Cracked.com.]

The bullet to the head, accompanied visually by dramatic blood/brain splatter, is associated with some of film's most shocking moments, such as the bathroom scene in Full Metal Jacket, and/or punctuates the visceral impact of a death for the audience -- particularly if that gunshot comes unexpectedly, e.g., Samuel L. Jackson's death in Goodfellas, Brad Pitt's in Burn After Reading, or DiCaprio's in The Departed.

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Damon's all "Ew get outta here," and DiCaprio's like "Oh no, my brains!" -DOB

However, that kind of graphic "headshot" seldom seems to occur among female characters; that is, even when a woman is unambiguously shot in the face or head, although we may see a bullet hole afterward, it remains exceptionally rare to see the same degree of background splatter in mainstream dramatic narratives as we do with the men.

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Do whatever you want, lady, just keep those brains inside your head. Have some self-respect.

Case in point: In a YouTube video titled "100 Movies 100 Headshots" (of course this exists), which compiles bullets to the head/face with varying degrees of gruesomeness, only two victims are women. A sequel video, "Another 100 Movies Another 100 Headshots," features between six and nine identifiably female victims, depending on whether you count monsters and zombies.

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Nothing gross about a zombie woman's brains.

I think it's fair to say, first of all, that bullets to the head are generally received as "more violent" (certainly more likely to receive an R rating) than bullets to the body. If the headshot is deliberate, it may suggest an execution, and therefore a heartlessness on the part of the shooter. Headshots also carry a sense of "difficulty" or "exclusivity" with them, given that the head is a smaller target than the body; this is evident in video games in which successful headshots earn greater achievements.

Google
While doing photo research for this article, I Googled "DiCaprio headshot" and then felt like such a turd.

This further suggests that a bullet to the head is an unusual or unnatural act in excess of what it takes to shoot the body -- it is about skill and precision devoid of the sloppiness and emotional trauma that may come with murder. Why, then, is this "exceptional" form of violence reserved for men?

Some of the recent debates on gun control attempt to put a precise finger on the very imprecise assertion that there are deeply cultural roots for American gun violence -- after all, violent films and video games, even widespread gun ownership itself, do not result in the same levels of gun violence in other industrial countries. While not positing any definitive answers, I believe that Jack's recent article touches on an interesting point when noting that guns in America are shown to compensate for some kind of crisis in masculinity (or patriarchy generally). We might argue that if guns equal manliness, then a well-placed, well-timed shot to the head is an impressive display of one's masculine command of the weapon. Shooting for the head takes rational calculation and physical control of the firearm. Emotional indecision (coded stereotypically as "feminine") will lead to failure or misfire.

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And how about how women be shopping, right? Boy, I am just RUINING this article with how dumb I am.

Let's apply this logic to a female shooter. In The Matrix, Trinity blows a man's head away ("Dodge This").

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She has already demonstrated that she can fight alongside the best of the men, and it culminates in this point-blank execution (although there is no splatter) that, each time I've seen the film with a crowd, elicits cheers from the audience. The scene confers the status of "badass" to her already androgynous characterization. Significantly, as some have criticized, Trinity becomes increasingly relegated to the traditional feminine role of lover/supporter after this scene, which belies her masculine proficiency in combat.

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"Arf!"

But we're talking about the victims, not the shooters. If shooting someone through the head makes you a badass, it suggests greater weakness, even shame, on the victim's part. To be shot in the head is to be "owned" and reduced to nothing -- as seen in action films, a hero can be shot virtually anywhere on his body and still stagger on to continue the fight. A shot to the head, however, ends things right there. And this, to my mind, is where gun violence most reveals its phallocentricity -- wherein "fucking someone" and "fucking someone up" converge to produce this particular form of "fucked up" ultraviolence. Take a listen to the thunderous Nine Inch Nails song "Big Man With a Gun," which explicitly links the power of firing a gun to hyper-masculine fantasies of sexual violation. Through this metaphor, the song clearly assumes that the combination of sexual power with firepower produces a total domination over another person. Interestingly, the victim's gender in the song is not specified.

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Guns are wieners!

If NIN correctly likens the joys, entitled sense of power, and recklessness of using a gun with those of using a dick, then gun fighting between men really amounts to a dick-measuring contest. Being shot in the head, then, is a form of emasculation. Blood splatter invokes a kind of perverse "money shot" that underscores how thoroughly someone has been made the object of another person's violence. Shooting someone in the head would seem to guarantee "making him his bitch" -- it is, in essence, the use of a specifically masculine tool to make the other person wholly submissive. People have commented for ages on the symbolism of society's weapons of war often being phallic in shape and design ... following the logic that firing a gun is a form of masculine assertion of power, shooting another man in the head and dropping him dead, as opposed to chipping away at his strong, resilient body, is an ultimate form of domination over other masculine competition.

The reason that we so rarely see women getting their brains splattered? Masculine violation of, and domination over, a woman occurs on her body and not her head ... which, of course, opens a huge, separate can of worms ...

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Worms also look like dicks!

#1. The Future Is Bright

If you have any money laying around, invest all of it in a company that makes weird sunglasses that are round, goggley, or round and goggley. If movies are any indication, those are the only things we'll be wearing in the future.

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Pitch Black

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Oblivion

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The Matrix

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The Postman

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Waterworld

Sure, Deacon's using it as an eye patch, but that was clearly a pair of round, goggley sunglasses at one point. You're not fooling me, Deacon.

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Daniel O'Brien

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