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Trinity's Legacy: Badass Babes in Tight Clothes
by Bobby B.

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Realer than real-deal Holyfield

Realer than real-deal Holyfield
There's something happening and you'd better know what it is. You see it all around you; on the street, where you work, undoubtedly where you play, if you're lucky you see it when you go home. Calling it a revolution might be overstating the matter but certainly it can be said that a movement is in full effect, a profound shift in the socio-political construct. If you think it hasn't touched you, you're not paying attention. No less than the world we live in is changing irrevocably and everything will be permanently altered from what it was before. Things are different now. Of course, if it is happening out there in the Body Public it's being reflected on our movie screens. It, put simply, even crudely, is the cultural, political, professional and sexual empowerment of women. (This is not a comprehensive definition, but it will do for now.) This empowerment is manifesting itself artistically in the creation of a new cultural archetype, a secular myth: The Badass Babe in Tight Clothes.

The spring of 1999 was the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning (depending on how you look at it). In that spring, you were as likely to be sitting in the theater watching strange, emerald coding crawling down the screen and voices talking in the background as you were to be watching anything else. Within moments you would be introduced to a mysterious young woman, beautiful, sexy, sleek. What appear to be Secret Service men or CIA agents arrive downstairs to tell the police sergeant that he has unwittingly condemned his men to death by sending them to bring down this woman. In the next few seconds we see her dodging bullets and dismantling trained police officers and in one dazzling moment she takes to the air, everything freezes and the world, literally and symbolically, revolved around her. It was a moment of breathtaking cinematic beauty and the theater filled with "ooh" and "aah". (At the time my predominant thought was “this is going to be wicked!) And when, after diving through a window from another building and she rolled to the bottom of stairs, whirling when she hit bottom with both guns drawn and one lock of hair fell fetchingly, as they say, over one eye, well, I had a new movie crush. After that, whether we realized it or not, everything was going to be different.

The movie, of course, was THE MATRIX and the badass babe in the tight black leather was, again of course, Trinity. Trinity was not the first such babe or the second or the seventeenth. She was -- is -- a crystallization of a truth that had been gathering momentum for years, a next step in the evolution of a people. She would not have appeared before 1999 and everything afterwards will be influenced by her. In this way, even though she was not the central character of THE MATRIX, she was easily the most important, the most iconic. Since bursting onto the screen in that spring of 1999 she has proliferated the public consciousness in a variety of fantastic figures of ferocious females, each one a different facet of the jewel of Trinity's Myth:


Wow. All of these movies have come out since 1999. That's just to name the ones I could remember! Think this character, in her many different incarnations, hasn't gotten a hold of the public consciousness? Now, all of these movies haven't been successful, a lot of them have been crap, some of them have been great. Regardless, they keep churning them out. For this kind of cultural impact this character must have tremendous appeal for women and men. Why? Who is she? What is the promise of her special allure that everyone finds so irresistible? I myself (and I probably shouldn't admit this) can't get enough. It doesn't matter how good or bad the movie is, I always dig this character. ULTRAVIOLET- I loved it. AEON FLUX - I loved it. But that attraction has specifically to do with the character at the center regardless of the movie around her. Granted, there's an extent to where that's just me being a pervert who has a thing for, ahem, badass babes in tight clothes. I accept that. But all these movies aren't being made just to keep me happy (though I'd be cool with that). Who is this magical woman who keeps flashing her dangerous and seductive myth across the public consciousness?

This'll teach you to give me a bad review!

This'll teach you to give me a bad review!
[mith] n. 3.idealized conception: a set of often idealized or glamorized ideas and stories surrounding a particular phenomenon, concept, or famous person
Encarta � World English Dictionary � & (P) 1998-2005 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.)

This brand new archetype, Trinity's Myth, is the Badass Babe in Tight Clothes. Who is she? First and foremost, she's a mystery, a dark fantasy, a blossoming contradiction. There is much about her and her past that is unknown, perhaps painful, perhaps dangerous, perhaps shocking, perhaps all of the above. This mystery greatly enhances her already blistering sex appeal which is further enhanced by the aforementioned tight clothes, which may or may not be particularly conducive to kicking ass and taking names, something these Badass Babes are always proficient at. She is, in point of fact, a deadly weapon, ruthless and single-minded in the destruction of her enemies and the pursuit of her given objective. She depends more on speed and precision than power or firepower but is able to call on both of the latter if the need calls for it. She is absolutely one hundred per cent wicked at hand to hand combat -- usually at a master level of several disciplines. She's insane with weapons too, from swords and automatic weapons to bazookas, motorcycle helmets and even coffee cups -- basically whatever is necessary to get the job done. In this she is ultimately professional, ruthless, yes, but rarely gratuitous or unnecessarily cruel -- cruelty after all, is not particularly efficient. Any anger or desperation she may have is hidden beneath a stoic mask of concentration when she is in the process of dispatching double-digit bad guys. This brutal adherence to efficiency is, however, usually pulled off with dazzling flair and panache. This is her eloquence, her poetry because she is a woman of few words. She is smart, often brilliant. Even with her extraordinary competence and confidence in her abilities there is usually a male figure, a mentor or teacher or just the guy who supplies her weapons, who she leans on for practical and/or emotional support or meaning. She has a streak of softness, of sensitivity which she has learned the hard way to keep hidden and which still sometimes betrays her. Her world being a violent one, death is a constant companion. Even with that she often has an extraordinary capacity to defy death, either bringing others back from the abyss or returning herself. Finally, the Badass Babe in Tight Clothes is alone. She's distant, aloof, either unwilling or unable to give of herself. And if she does, when she does, she suffers for it.

Though few of the heroines in the movies listed above, except Trinity, the prototype -- encompass all of these qualities they all contain most of them. Often, a given one is the exception that proves the rule. We know almost nothing about Trinity's past. We learn that she was a hacker in her time inside the Matrix and a criminal but that's it. And for all the characters in THE MATRIX coming into the Real World had to mean loss of family, of friends, of lovers, of everything that had been important. It doesn't get much more tragic than that. The amazing -- and beautiful -- thing is that Trinity manages to keep her capacity to fall in love. Not everyone does so. Beatrix, the Bride in the KILL BILL movies spends the better part of the four hours we know her in a general state of Pissed Off about her past. One wonders if she'll ever have the capacity to love anyone outside of her daughter ever again. In RESIDENT EVIL the amnesiac Alice only catches glimpses of her past life in memory flashes and finds out almost accidentally that she is more than capable of defending herself. In UNDERWORLD, Selene's family had been wiped out by werewolves (she thinks), Elektra (DAREDEVIL, ELEKTRA) lost both of her parents, Violet (ULTRAVIOLET) had lost her baby and her husband when she first became infected with her vampire-disease, hemophagia, Lara Croft had lost her father, who she had been extremely close to what's going on in the female psyche that is so much anger, so much angst to work out? Or does this phenomenon have to do with the fact that mainly men write these movies and consciously or sub-consciously we tend to feel that a happy woman is a docile one with no reason to fight? Or is merely a more fundamental truism being played out here, one that says to be the kind of person who is good at killing people, male or female, something, somewhere down the line has to have gone terribly wrong?

Is this why these Badass Babes, bodacious as they are, so rarely seem to laugh, have sex or any fun at all? When they do finally get down and get sweaty, as in THE MATRIX RELOADED or UNDERWORLD: EVOLUTION it feels stiff, forced, a lot of pretty pictures but actually very little eroticism at all. It feels, to a fan, like a betrayal of the characters somehow that they
Not your mama's vampire assassin.

Not your mama's vampire assassin.
so rarely get to cut loose and enjoy themselves. And it's hard. Trinity pays with her life for falling love. The Bride did as well, though she came back to life. Elektra died for Matt Murdock in DAREDEVIL. Even Jane Smith from MR. AND MRS. SMITH, who's married to Brad Pitt, is having trouble in the sack!

It doesn't have to be that way. Jump across The Pond and it's a different story. The British Lara Croft seems to get pleasure not just out of whupping up on bad guys but she's got several different lovers as well. You'd be hard pressed to find any Badass Babe who enjoyed the simple fact of herself more than RAZORBLADE SMILE's busty Lilith Silver(Eileen Daly). Lilith has some tragedy in her past certainly but it stays there. Now, 150 years or so down the road she's part seductress, part assassin, all vampire!. I mean, really. What's not to have fun with? Lilith kills for money certainly but really it's just because, being a vampire and all, she gets off on it. In one remarkable scene where she seduces/murders a nubile young victim Lilith explains to the audience, "Beyond sex is a greater orgasm, that of taking life. It may seem cruel but for the right victim I can make it the most beautiful way to expire; to die... of pleasure." Two women covered in blood has never been so hot. The flame-haired Mallory in France's BLOODY MALLORY is not the celebratory sexual dynamo that Lilith Silver is but she does have fun. Mallory has hunted supernatural creatures ever since her wedding night when she found out her husband was a demon who was going to sacrifice her (hm, metaphor anyone?). She killed him with an ax. Nowadays she runs around with a child telepath who takes over bodies of living creatures with simple enough brain patterns, including mice, bats, loutish thugs and sexy blond nurses. Another of Mallory's crew is seven foot tall demolitions expert who's also a blue wigged transvestite. What these movies lack in budget and polish they make up for in verve and exuberance. It's enough to make you think the American girls are going about it all wrong and need to let their hair down a little.

Not that it's all sturm and drang and grief and angst. How about those threads! Or the lack thereof. Trinity (Carrie Ann Moss) and Selene (Kate Beckinsale) have very similar outfits, leaving-little-to-the-imagination black leather, both with a decidedly bondage feel, neither of which seem like they'd be easy to move in especially when they put on their long black trench coats. But they both look wicked and isn't that all that matters? The Bride (Uma Thurman) far and away has the most practical outfit for wreaking havoc, the yellow jumpsuit reminiscent of Bruce Lee's in GAME OF DEATH but it's the only one like that and statuesque Uma makes it look good. In the RESIDENT EVIL movies Milla Jovovich's clothes look relatively practical and deliciously form fitting. When Elektra (Jennifer Garner) whips off her trench coat to reveal her blood red, fighting lingerie, right after "Wow!" your next thought might be "Will that thing stay on while she's busy skewering baddies with her sai?". Violet has a half shirt, hip-hugger pants and hair that all change color with her mood or the situation. (Milla Jovovich again. Is it just me or does it strike anyone else as ironic that a feather of a girl like Milla Jovovich is making a career playing tough broads? THE FIFTH ELEMENT, the RESIDENT EVIL movies, Joan of Arc in THE MESSENGER, ULTRAVIOLET, I mean, she must weigh seventy five pounds soaking wet.). Angelina Jolie of course, looks smashing in just about anything. She's possibly the only woman who could pull off kicking her husband's ass in an evening gown in MR. AND MRS. SMITH. I didn't think her gray jumpsuit from LARA CROFT, TOMB RAIDER: CRADLE OF LIFE could be beat until she emerged from the water as Beowulf's mom(???) wearing (stretching the definition of the word) nothing but gold shimmer. When are they gonna start selling gold shimmer in stores? The babes don't get much badder and the clothes don't get much tighter than that. Holy smokes!

But, alas, my heart will always belong to my first love, Trinity, so sexy, so down for the cause, so good at her job. >Sigh<. This is another trait all these Badass Babes share. They're all professionals to the hilt. Except for the Bride who does what she does for revenge and Lilith Silver whose motivation is pleasure and staving off the boredom of immortality, the other women of Trinity's Myth are all professionals through and through. Violet, despite the fact that she's a mercenary/spy/assassin and despite her claims to hate humans still refuses to kill them indiscriminately. When she does make the choice to kill she's the best there is, likewise Elektra, likewise Selene. These women's only motivation is doing whatever it takes to get the job done. But the ultimate professional is Trinity. Fight, hack a computer,
Nothing says 'Death Dealer' like tight black leather.

Nothing says 'Death Dealer' like tight black leather.
pilot a ship, spirit away the Keymaker on a motorcycle, sacrifice her life to further the cause, she's up for any task that she is called upon to perform.

(In one of the most ridiculous mistakes made in the Matrix sequels it was completely out of character for Trinity to get so childishly jealous when Persephone(Monica Bellucci) asks for a kiss with Neo as the price for bringing them to the Keymaker. Trinity as written in the first movie would know better. It's not as if Neo asked to kiss Persephone and they needed this to happen regardless. Her behavior in this scene was a betrayal of the character by the writers. Now, if Persephone had instead asked to remember love through Trinity, and we'd been treated to a Carrie-Ann Moss/Monica Bellucci liplock now that would have been a movie. But I digress.)

Is there any doubt that the heightened awareness of female professionalism should come at the time of Hillary Clinton, Condoleezza Rice, Janet Reno, Oprah Winfrey, etc., and when women are driving race cars, flying ships into space and putting their lives on the line in combat?

All of the trappings of a patriarchal society are not left behind however, not even for these women. In the beginning of THE MATRIX when Trinity is in dire straits because she's on her own and the agents are approaching it is Morpheus who tells her You can make it.� You can see the words of her mentor sink in and watch her make the choice to trust herself ...because Morpheus has faith in her. Elektra looks to Stick, her teacher of long ago for help and to see the good in her she thought she'd lost. Selene turns to Viktor, the sleeping king of the vampires, who turned her into a vampire, for wisdom and validation. Storm and Jean Grey of the X-Men have Professor Charles Xavier. Lara Croft spends all of TOMB RAIDER trying to bring her father back. Violet has only Garth the scientist who makes her weapons and who is in love with her, he's the family she's got. The reason why these women go to these men is because it is in front of Morpheus, Stick, Professor X or Lord Richard Croft that they can let their guard down, in front of them that they can show weakness, be frustrated or confused, for it was these men, they feel, who made them what they are. It is therefore that much more disturbing and violent a violation of trust when that patriarchal figure turns on them, as Bill does Beatrix in the KILL BILL movies or Viktor does Selene. Of course, that's also why these men die brutally at the hands of the woman they've betrayed. Hell hath no fury and all that.

The most meaningful and profound aspect of the Trinity Myth is her power over life and death. Trinity brings Neo back from the dead in the first movie with a kiss. She is herself brought back from death in the second movie by Neo. Lara Croft brings Alex West back from the dead. The Bride comes back from the dead herself. Elektra comes back from the dead. Selene, Violet and Lilith Silver are, well, vampires. There is something going on here, something that predates the twenty-first century and possibly even Christianity -- that is being tapped into. Like Isis, the Egyptian goddess of fertility who brought Osiris back from the dead, in the end, creation and nurturing of life, of hope, of the future...falls on our women.

This is the ultimate irony of the Trinity Myth and the profoundest truth. Everything old is new again. We are discovering that Trinity and the women like her are not the beginning of something new but the updating of something old, a re-fashioning of the Feminine, a bridge to the Goddess for the twenty-first century. Her face and trappings are different but her meaning is the same. And she is being passed down from generation to generation right before our eyes. For better or for worse a new legacy of women warriors is being created on our silver screens. In the startling scene from KILL BILL VOL. 1 after The Bride kills Vernita Green in front of Vernita's daughter, Nikki, she tells Nikki, "when you grow up, if you still feel raw about it, I'll be waiting." In ELEKTRA, young Abby is being turned into an assassin. Or how about the mysterious young avenger in HARD CANDY, at fourteen years old already using her wiles to tempt the bad guy into a worse situation and taking him out. Oh, the Bad Ass Babes in Tight Clothes are all over the place with many faces and in many incarnations. You can find them in all phases on the streets. You can catch them kicking much ass at the movies. We have Trinity to thank for that.

And they are looking good.

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Bobby B.
Bobby Bermea inherited his deep and abiding passion for movies from his mom. He writes about them as a fan: from the heart, without agenda or rancor and if he's lucky, with a little humor, wisdom and common sense.

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