Damsel in distress

267

A damsel in distress is a stock character, almost inevitably a young, nubile woman, who has been placed in a dire predicament by a villain or a monster and who requires a hero to dash to her rescue.

Damsels in distress are almost inevitably tied up or chained; in the old melodramas and serials they would then be thrown onto railroad tracks or tied onto logs headed into a sawmill.

The damsel in distress is a popular stock character, perhaps in large measure because her predicaments almost always have more than a whiff of BDSM fantasy about them. The helplessness of these damsels, who are almost always foolish and ineffectual to the point of cluelessness, and their need for male heroes to rescue them, has made the stereotype the target of feminist criticism.

Damsels in distress are not used nearly as often as they were previously, and current depictions of the stock character usually play the role as camp. The stock character did undergo a revival of sorts in Halloween, Friday the 13th, and other slasher films of the 1980s. Here, though, the stock character was played with a twist: there were several young women characters, most of whom were killed by the serial killer villain, but one survived to defeat him. The young woman survivor herself became a stock character counterpart to the damsel in distress, as embodied in characters such as Ellen Ripley in the Alien series. Sarah Connor, a damsel in distress in The Terminator, became the effective survivor type in Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

Damsel in Distress is the title of a book by P. G. Wodehouse and a motion picture that starred Fred Astaire. (via Wikipedia)

No tags for this post.



0

Your Cart