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Teen Girls in Film Showcase True Grit

January 10, 2011

The plucky young women who drive 'True Grit' and 'Winter's Bone' highlight the evolution of dumbed-down female characters into ones that save the day with smarts and courage and the growing influence of women in the film industry.

"I am about to embark on a great adventure," says the hero, tucking a Colt revolver into a flour sack, donning a wide-brimmed Stetson and riding out into the wilderness on the trail of a killer. Smart, stoic and purposeful, this avenger is a stock western movie protagonist in every way but one — Mattie Ross, the central character in the new film "True Grit," is a 14-year-old girl.

Given that female adolescents are frequently depicted on-screen as vapid ("Mean Girls"), angst-ridden ("Twilight"), pregnant ("Juno") or merely decorative ( "Spider-Man"), Mattie Ross is a remarkable role. She never shakes out her braids in a makeover montage, swoons over a cute stable boy or frets about the daunting task at hand tracking down the man who shot her father, with assists from a crusty federal marshal ( Jeff Bridges) and dandified Texas Ranger ( Matt Damon). Read More