Taxi

24 Feb

Hauna Dawkins

Group: Gender

Summary: This week I watched a movie called Taxi (2004) starring Queen Latifah and Jimmy Fallon. Taxi is a movie about a feisty woman Belle played by Queen Latifah and an “inept” cop who end up randomly teamed together in a cat and mouse chase, trying to catch 4 female bank robbers. For the past blogs I have been analyzing the ways in which women are stereotypically presented in the media, for this week I chose a movie that I think tries its best to challenge society’s expectations. Looking at large scale the movie definitely uses Belle’s role and as well as other cast members to change the way women are presented in film …However they weren’t able to eliminate the stereotype in its entirety as typical female behavior/expectations are evident throughout the movie.

Analysis: Main character Belle is the exact opposite of the stereotypical woman that we usually see in movies. Although she is a relationship (with a veryyy good looking man I must say) she doesn’t wear the typical revealing, tight clothing and she isn’t portrayed as a sex object or in a sexual way as most leading women in film are. Belle drives a taxi, and she is among the best drivers in New York… she started off bike racing with a group of young males and at the beginning of the movie gets her taxi license as all her peers congratulate her, her old boss tells her “you’ve been the best guy I’ve had”. Throughout the movie she displays these male characteristics/behaviors that go against the usual expectations.

At one point in the movie she is going off on Andy Washburn (the cop) because he accidently shot her taxi. She throws him down, takes his gun and his badge…all in comedy, she’s yelling at him because it took her 5 years to work on all the special effects on her car…

Instead of having the soft, feminine, sexy demeanor Belle is dominant, aggressive and persistent. Andy had gotten into her cab to get a ride to a bank robbery because his vehicle was totaled… the police had confiscated her taxi after the chase because she had so many violations from driving fast etc…In the police station she gets into it with Andy again and their conversation goes like

Belle: “it was that stupid idiot right there!”

Andy: “You don’t talk to me like that”

“I talk to you however I want….somebody better talk to him!”

This type of conversation is just one of many that Andy and Belle in the movie where she’s schooling on him on something, whether it’s what actually happened during the case, or how to drive… Queen Latifah does a great job of being a strong, dominant, woman …giving the rules and calling the shots.

It’s funny because I noticed that although she is a main character, and one would assume to be the main character, the plot is still based around the story of a quirky cop who loses his job and has to solve a case with the help of the “black best friend”… who is female. I just thought that it was interesting that when first watching the movie, you think this is about Belle and her story when really it’s just her playing a part in the hegemonic world’s scheme of things.

Belle’s relationship with her boyfriend was another thing that I wanted to discuss… it was almost as if she and her boyfriend Jesse switched roles with her being the man and him being the woman. Two times in the movie, she stood him up and he was sitting at the restaurant waiting for her to come…she had got tied up at work and with running around with Andy trying to catch the robbers that she had forgotten about their plans. Usually in movies it’s the woman waiting around for the man who gets caught up at work and neglects her feelings…etc…

Jesse (Belle’s boyfriend) is very forgiving, understanding affectionate. He initiates physical encounters with her and exhibits soft behavior that we usually see women participate in.

Washburn’s boss is played by sexy actress Jennifer Esposito. In this movie she is a no nonsense boss, the lieutenant at Precinct 8 where Andy works. Her dress is very appropriate, she wears a skirt, past the knees, a buttoned up blouse and jacket. She also has her hair pinned back and she doesn’t wear any distracting jewelry. She doesn’t play a major role in the movie, but her character seemed to go in opposition of how women are represented in film. She didn’t play into her appearance at all …

At point in the movie she even takes the hostage’s place with the criminals and goes with them, allowing for the young boy to go free… She was the only woman at the scene and there were several male cops there and she was the one to offer to take the hostages place… I thought that that was unusual because men are usually the ones that are the “protectors”…

The movie, unable to escape all modes of stereotypes, chose to have the robbers in the movie be four women who just so happen to be sexy Brazilian bombshells. Lead by model, Gisele Bundchen the four women are beautiful, wear provocative clothing and use their beauty to fool the cops after they rob the bank.

At one point the women got pulled over by a cop right after they robbed a church … Gisele’s character Vanessa was wearing a swimsuit and teasingly distracted the cop by showing him a suitcase full of thongs while also demonstrating other seductive behavior …the girls were able to escape without the cop second guessing if they were the women who were involved in the robberies.

Another scene were the typical sex objectified woman was evident in the film was when Vanessa (Gisele) frisked the lieutenant before taking her captive as their hostage… as all the men cops watched in awe, she sexually frisked her body, grabbing her boobs, butt etc… as if she was looking for weapons on her person. The cops were dumb struck, and some even seemed to lose grip on their stance and gun holding position as this scene truly catered to the hegemonic society we live in as it teased and tested the male “gaze”.

Response

I saw this movie when it first came out years ago and I didn’t notice all the ways in which males and females were represented in the movie. I think this movie does a job at trying to change the stereotype …but at the same time I think that the producers feel like they HAVE to give in to our HEGEMONIC society’s expectations and stereotypes of our culture in order for a film to be successful and to make money. I think that if the robbers of the bank were 4 unattractive men, the dynamic of the film would have been missing that something, that extra-ness that sex that “makes the world go round”.

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