please note: this is a project of the year 2000, kept here as archive for www.cyberpink.de!
It is not updated anymore!
Lara Croft's body is probably the first thing about her that catches our attention. It is also probably one of the main reasons for her enormous popularity. Therefore it is essential to look at this body and at the meanings it generates:
It is largely the
merit of Michel Foucault to bring the body into the theoretical discussions
and to unmask it as the primary site for the operation of modern forms
of power; power that is not top-down and repressive but rather subtle
and elusive, producing so-called 'docile bodies.'
The Body as Commodity
In our postmodern
consumer culture everything has been turned into a commodity or a good
to be consumed. Lara is constructed in precisely this way, capitalist
discourse permeates her entire existence. She is there to be consumed
and she helps to bring other products for consumption to the public's
interests via advertisments.
The Body as Sexual Object
The reduction of Lara's
body to a mere sexual object (her physical fitness only serving to further
her attractiveness) is a perfect example for what Foucault has described
as the evergrowing discourse on sex. In our obsessiveness with sex we
have come to percieve sex as the ultimate standard against which the body
and pleasure are measured. All bodily pleasures are always related to
sexuality: they are understood in the terms of the degree to which they
deviate from, conform to, improve or avoid sex.
But the hypersexualisation
of Lara's body serves more ends than just raising her market value: it
serves to reinforce biological difference. In her article Forms of
Technological Embodiment Anne Balsamo poses the question why certain
bodies are represented in an overly sexualised way. Her argument, concerning
female body builders, equally applies to Lara:
When looking at representations
of Lara this is precisely what we see: her sexual attractiveness is
clearly more important than her physical capabilities (not to speak of
the weapons she carries). This is one of the reasons why she is not perceived
as potentially threating. The fear that a strong and even armed woman
might induce in a male consumer is radically diminished. Even though she
may challenge the common notion of femninity as weak, compliant and depending,
the inherent thrat that existing social order might be overthrown is reduced
by overemphasising the biological differences between men and women. In
this way we are constantly reminded and reassured of these differences
which are so essentially necessary to justify male superiority.
HOME - TOMB RAIDER - CHARACTER - MANIFESTATIONS - IDENTITY - BODY
© Birgit Pretzsch, August 2000 in case of questions or comments please mail me
All this information is basically a summary of my Masters thesis "A Postmodern Analysis of Lara Croft: Body, Identity, Reality"