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Thelma and Louise Turns 20

Women and Hollywood By Melissa Silverstein | Women and Hollywood May 25, 2011 at 2:30AM

I can't believe that it is 20 years since Thelma and Louise was released. We still have so much work to do. This is a movie that resonated with people in a profound way, it's a movie that people still think about fondly, yet sadly it is a movie that never effected any long term change for women in Hollywood.
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I can't believe that it is 20 years since Thelma and Louise was released. We still have so much work to do. This is a movie that resonated with people in a profound way, it's a movie that people still think about fondly, yet sadly it is a movie that never effected any long term change for women in Hollywood.

Where are the characters that came after Thelma and Louise? Where are the women? This is a significant anniversary for women in film. Everyone remembers what they felt when they saw this movie for the first time (aside from how cute Brad Pitt was.) Share your memories of Thelma and Louise what has changed for women in film since then and what hasn't.

I wrote a piece several months ago about what could have been and pondering why things haven't changed. Here's some of it:

Thelma and Louise came out in May of 1991 and change was in the air. The film touched a raw nerve in women that had been lying dormant during the Reagan backlash years. It became a cultural touchstone, was on covers of magazines, and got both Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon Academy Award nominations. Geena Davis tells stories of women seeing her on the road and honking at her and thanking her for the film. But here we are 20 years later and it feels like that film was never made.

Where are the Thelma and Louise type movies today? Why weren’t there movies made in its wake? Why didn’t studios get women writers to create more characters like Thelma and Louise? Is it about the power that they had? Is the culture really that afraid of women?

I don’t get it and neither does Khouri who said answered a question about why we have never seen these types of characters again. (This is part of a larger interview with Khouri that will be published in the upcoming In Her Voice: Interview with Female Directors)

It’s a strange thing. I kind of thought this would really help. The response to this movie was overwhelming both positive and negative. Looking back, you could say its impression was indelible. And yet, I can’t point to a lot of other movies that have really followed in its footsteps.


To me folks, that is the question. Why didn’t we build on Thelma and Louise? It feels like we have spent the 20 years since losing power for women onscreen. The opportunity was ripe in 1991 and now in 2011 it feels in some respects like we are back at the starting gate.

Here are some pieces celebrating the anniversary:
'Thelma and Louise' stepped on the gas of feminism 20 years ago; today, they'd drive over that cliff all over again (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

Looking Back On 'Thelma & Louise' 20 Years Later (NPR)

This article is related to: Callie Khouri , Geena Davis


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