Film & Media Studies Theory

Whitman College – FMS 387

Jennifer’s Body

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“…the sadomasochist teen horror films kill off the sexually active ‘bad’ girls, allowing only the nonsexual ‘good’ girls to survive. But these good girls become, as if in compensation, remarkably active, to the point of appropriating phallic power to themselves. It is as if this phallic power is granted so long as it is rigorously separated from the phallic or any other sort of pleasure. For these pleasures spell sure death in this genre” (Williams 610).

Jennifer’s Body (2009) serves to both prove and challenge William’s brief hypothesis on “sadomasochist teen horror films.” Jennifer, the evil antagonist, portrays excessive sexuality and is ultimately defeated.  The initially unsexualized protagonist, on the other hand, is the girl who defeats her. Although her nonsexual image certainly situates the character in a ‘good’ girl category, this film does not imply her complete abstinence from sexual engagement. Perhaps it is evidence of changing times, but William’s understanding does not fully account for this ambiguity. Still, as a reward for being a ‘good’ girl in a monogamous relationship and not using her feminine wiles to seduce hordes of men, the protagonist wields an almost phallic power at the end of the movie as she impales Jennifer and finally defeats her.


Author: Denali Elliott

I am an undergraduate student at Whitman College and will graduate with a Film & Media Studies major, English and Politics double minor in the spring of 2015. Aspiring to become a multimedia, international journalist, I enjoy creating short films or experimenting with photography and writing through both academic work and free time. My latest films and photographs will be the product of my travels to Zurich, Switzerland and Paris, France over spring break. In addition, I share my work from an Advanced Filmmaking class, The Pioneer (a school newspaper), and projects or classes prior to this year.

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