Hit Girl, the 11-year-old assassin from the film Kick-Ass, represents a subversion of passive ideas of girlhood, argues Tracey Plowman. But at the same time the character poses some uncomfortable questions and contradictions
Okay, so I had to do it. I tried to hold back and couldn’t, I am compelled to write an essay on Hit Girl, the assassin from recent comic book-based film Kick-Ass. So what is it about this character that’s so irresistible to me? Everyone is talking about how an 11-year-old girl says ‘cunt’ to a bunch of hard-nut drug-dealer chaps, but that’s not the only thing to discuss here. Note, this is not a review. This is a review, and one that puts the actions of Hit Girl in context very nicely. But stepping aside from the merits of the film, I think the character and the way people have reacted to her point to several interesting political discussions including the sexualisation (or not) of violence, the invention of childhood and role models in the media.
Firstly, I have to disagree with Melissa Silverstein, writing at Women and Hollywood, when she says that the violence perpetrated by Hit Girl is not sexualised because it is being done by a young girl against grown men:
So much of violence we see in films is perpetrated on women because they are women. Hit Girl kills because that’s what her daddy (Nicholas Cage) taught her to do (let’s not get into the bad parenting here.) You know you’re into different territory when the first scene you see of your heroine is her father teaching her take a bullet in a vest.