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From Total Recall to Last Action Hero(ine): Sex, Violence and Sharon Stone in the 1990s

Susan Hopkins (University of Southern Queensland, Australia)

Gender and Action Films 1980-2000

ISBN: 978-1-80117-507-4, eISBN: 978-1-80117-506-7

Publication date: 24 November 2022


This chapter draws on my affective memories and personal history of fandom and fascination with the celebrity body of Sharon Stone and with the gendered narratives she embodied through playing a particular character type of the icy cool, feminine trickster who seduces a dominant or hypermasculine male action hero in Hollywood films of the 1990s. Through close analysis of images, scenes and dialogue, the chapter explores the construction of the Sharon Stone persona and character type within action-thriller film case studies of Total Recall, Basic Instinct, The Specialist and Last Action Hero. These films are positioned as pedagogical tools as well as pleasurable texts, engaging theory around fandom and ‘fictional realities’ (see also Frauley, 2010) to intentionally blur the boundaries between popular culture texts and the ‘real’ life of fans. From a fan perspective, this chapter explores the emancipatory potential of these filmic narratives and moral pedagogies; reconsidering what the feminine Sharon Stone character teaches the masculine action hero within the film, and what she also teaches us beyond the film. For while the rise and fall of the Sharon Stone character in action-thriller narratives is typically constructed in misogynistic moral terms anchored in eroticised violence, it is the strength, resilience, power and transcendence promised by her embodied star image and its seductive, defiant, idealized femininity which the fan remembers, and which echoes still in fantasy futures beyond the filmic text.



Hopkins, S. (2022), "From Total Recall to Last Action Hero(ine): Sex, Violence and Sharon Stone in the 1990s", Gerrard, S. and Middlemost, R. (Ed.) Gender and Action Films 1980-2000 (Emerald Studies in Popular Culture and Gender), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 9-21.



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