Status. Much of life, and much of TG fiction, revolves around the issue of status. Who gets to be on top and why? How much of that is related to gender identity, and what would happen to an alpha male type if he were to find himself in a beta-girl body?
The Hit Girl playfully explores all these ideas. The main character starts the film as a hit man, a big, burly dude who kills people without remorse, but only people who have it coming. Nevertheless, he lives in a world where he does what he wants, solves problems with violence and never feels threatened. Then, one day while visiting his niece, who he constantly refers to as ‘shorty’ despite the fact she hates it he dismisses her complaints about life in high-school by saying, “I would love to have a teen-age girl’s problems.”
He wakes up in the morning to find himself transformed into a petite teen-age girl, and one with a body more like a middle-school girl at that. His niece finds great pleasure in seeing him now reduced in stature, both physically and socially, as she is now both taller and stronger than him. In addition, he finds himself facing the value system that society preaches in terms of male and female value.
Early on, he challenges his niece to tell him one good thing about the fact that he is now a teen-age girl. She shrugs and says, “You’re really pretty?”
The plot of the film then moves along Freaky Friday, Turnabout tracks. The former man learns all about what it means to be a girl as he gets used to wearing a bra, deals with mean girl bullies and has to even turn himself into a sex-object, dressing up as a slutty Catholic school girl and doing some awkward pole dancing as he tries to complete his mission and rescue a kidnapped friend.
A great deal of the humor of the movie involves seeing the character forced to experience life as a female, including being pressed into wearing girl’s clothes and carry around an extremely feminine backpack. Yet, at the same time, it seeks to ultimate invert or at least challenge the male is better biases of society as the main character increasingly finds himself getting comfortable with and even enjoying aspects of being a girl. Of course, most pointedly, he learns to reject the idea that he is now helpless and despite his small size and lack of physical strength, he takes on the challenge of taking out the scumbag kidnapper who is planning on trafficking in young women to pay off his debts.
The character, at the end of the film at least, remains female and seems to have accepted his new life. He gets involved in drama, living his life as Jessica, with talk of his sister adopting him and raising him as her own daughter. Maybe someday that movie will get made.
This film hits a lot of buttons found in classic TG literature, and I feel does an interesting job exploring the challenges to identity and also the notions of status inherently tied up in gender, age and sex. It seems to me that the story ultimately suggests that a lot of it has more to do with people’s own attitudes than with anything else. It’s only embarrassing to be a girl because he feels that being a girl is inferior, but once he lets go of that assumption its just a life, and perhaps a better life than the one he had. It turns out, having the problems of a teen-age girl really was just what he needed to become a better person.
His status in the eyes of the world may have diminished with his loss in stature, but his happiness is positively bullish.