This horror movie cliché is so problematic, it’s spooky.
( @mrsbassett / Tenor)
Scream, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Alien, and A Nightmare on Elm Street – what do all these films have in common? It’s not just the fact that they’re horror movies; they all end in (almost) the exact same way.
Enter: the Final Girl. She’s the white, heterosexual, innocent (and usually virginal) teenage girl who somehow seems to outsmart the villain in every slasher film known to man.
This isn’t just an antiquated cliché that we can look back on in ‘80’s and ‘90’s horror movies; modern day final girls are just as controversial. 2019’s Midsommar and Ready Or Not are just two of the many examples of traditional final girls being copied and pasted into modern horror flicks.
This isn’t to say that the trope hasn’t evolved over time, notably with the horror genre becoming more sex-positive.
The horror genre has historically demonized sex about as much as the murderous villains who star in the movies. From Friday the 13th to Halloween, sex is depicted as a crime punishable by death, which begs the audience to think: they should’ve seen it coming!
Slut-shaming and blaming the victim for their supposed “impurity” is a trope that’s slowly disappearing with the times, fortunately.
For instance, Sidney Prescott from Scream subverted the trope that in order to survive a horror film, you can’t have had sex. That being said, she was still a straight white woman.
Unfortunately, horror movies in which the LGBTQ+ character survives are hard to come by.
When it comes to queer representation in horror, we’re often left with tired stereotypes and maybe a bit of subtext.
By exclusively making Final Girls straight white women, it’s almost as if horror movie creators are saying these are the only “innocent” people that deserve to survive their frightening scenarios, which (obviously) isn’t the case in real life.
The horror genre is (albeit slowly) becoming more diverse, though.
Some present-day horror directors – notably, Jordan Peele – are making the world of horror movies more diversely representative, and in turn, less predictable.
There are some horror movies with Black Final Girls – like The Invitation, Alien vs. Predator, and I Still Know What You Did Last Summer – a few cult classics don’t make up for the vast history of whitewashing and misrepresentation.
Despite being a seemingly simple fix to write more diverse characters in movies, the horror industry seems reluctant to scrap the classic slasher formula just yet. But hopefully, overtime, we’ll see the representation we deserve.
Maya Lang is an Online Writer at Rowdy Magazine. She enjoys playing guitar, staying up far too late, and daydreaming about living in the '80s. You can reach her on Instagram at @mayaxlang for more info and movie recommendations.