The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Over at the New York Times, there's a trend piece on "newly empowered petites" on TV and in the movies by Maria Ricapito that declares, "In books, movies and TV shows, tiny women are shattering stereotypes and appearing as aggressive characters spoiling for a fight." Ricapito goes on to list a number of characters in the media that qualify, such as Lisbeth Salander of The Girl Who Played With Fire, Sookie from True Blood, Fiona Glenanne from Burn Notice, Hit-Girl from Kick-Ass, and the Powerpuff Girls as examples of characters whose looks disguise their strength.

While it makes sense to run an article about the diminutive but dangerous Salander since Fire opens on July 9th in limited release, it's a stretch to lump her in with Sookie, Hit-Girl, the Powerpuff Girls, and a former IRA agent who looks like she could be on the cover of Vogue. Although it's been over ten years since Natalie Portman grabbed a gun as Mathilda in The Professional, she's at least as timely or appropriate an example as the Powerpuff Girls.

Salander, "the ultimate pixie with attitude," receives special attention because her small and wiry frame and the considerable damage she doles out with it is described in detail by writer Stieg Larsson. "Often described as waiflike, she is constantly reducing thugs to a bloody mess," writes Maria Ricapito. While it's true that Larsson describes in detail Salander's physique to the point of fetishization, it seems simplistic to lump Salander in with these other characters.