Skip to content
Volume 2, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 2044-1983
  • E-ISSN: 2044-3706



This article will examine the ‘female punk narrative’ found in the American cinema of the 1980s. Although a largely unexplored trend, several American narrative films of this period centre on a young, economically marginalized female protagonist who navigates the punk subculture in search of economic, artistic and personal fulfilment. The punk heroine rarely meets any of these goals and often incurs great personal damage along the way. These narratives, with their emphasis on female subjectivity and themes of unattained personal fulfilment, bring to mind the ‘women’s pictures’ and melodramas of the 1950s. This observation raises the question of whether these female punk films are at all transgressive or are simply traditional narratives dressed up in Mohawks and ripped stockings (much like how punk music of the 1970s and 1980s is often castigated for being pop music in disguise as something transgressive). A close reading of Lou Adler’s Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains (1982), a major studio production, and Susan Seidelman’s Smithereens (1982), an independent feature, will address this question. These films’ differing materialist backgrounds, as well as the presence of punk ‘star personas’ will be addressed. The writings of Richard Dyer, Claire Monk and Dick Hedbridge, along with references to Desperate Teenage Lovedolls (Markey, 1984), Times Square (Moyle, 1980), Breaking Glass (Gibson, 1980) and Light of Day (Schrader, 1987) will supplement the discussion,


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a success
Invalid data
An error occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error