The presence of stereotypes in works of literature, film, and music establishes a canon of information for the audience to derive assumptions for. Assumptions are made and thus subconsciously the audience begins to decipher the meaning which they associate with certain characters and events to draw conclusions about the work as a whole. “Cabin in the Woods” uses this process to parody what is expected from the characters in the film.

The girl who would be the innocent virgin in the film is first shown in an open window packing a bag in her pink underwear. Dana bounces around the room and flips to a page in her sketchbook where we learn that she has drawn a picture of the professor she was sleeping with. Right away the first stereotype is broken and the audience is left wondering what her identity is and any assumption they had about “the virgin” is slain.

This disrupts the comfort that one might find in understanding the character cast and checking roles off of their list.

If thought through, this means she will not be the one most greatly sought after or first to die which reveals the disruption of major plot points as well. The horror genre is known for systematic deaths as well as arguably predictable event outcomes; this makes Whedon’s iconoclasm crucial to reinforcing the film’s identity as a comment on stereotypes.

Perhaps even more iconic of a role in horror films is that of the dumb blonde. This stereotype is both misogynistic and degrading in itself.  Jules is introduced immediately as a blonde, but an artificial one. Her hair being dyed to fit the role of the blonde is a clear example of making fun of the horror genre’s need for specific roles.  Her artificiality is a comment on the stereotype as well.

The fact that Jules is insecure about the dye job also indicates that she isn’t dumb or superficial as blondes in horror films tend to be. Her sensitivity and awareness help to break the stereotype as well. Blondes aren’t generally understood to be in touch with their emotions or conscious of their actions but Jules is in fact hyper aware and thus no longer an icon.

While the film is one giant “what the heck?”, it does pose valuable concerns about the way we generally view female characters in horror films.

-Jennah Curtin

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