‘Firestarter’ and the evolution of the psychic teen woman
The unique “Firestarter,” primarily based on the 1980 novel by Stephen King, starred Drew Barrymore as Charlie, an 8-year-old woman who can set issues on hearth together with her thoughts. Barrymore was recent from stealing the present in 1982’s “E.T.”, however this 1984 thriller was a essential flop, with Roger Ebert observing that for a movie about deadly telekinesis, “essentially the most astonishing factor within the film … is how boring it’s.”
Since then, popular culture has absolutely embraced the trope of the younger woman with psychic powers, with many characters inspiring devoted cult followings. The metaphor of the unknowable thriller, energy and instability of a woman on the cusp of womanhood — sixteenth birthdays and proms have each figured prominently — has been by means of many iterations. And the style has come a good distance from the unique “Carrie” bathe scene, wherein Sissy Spacek’s terrified powderkeg of a teen is pelted with tampons by imply women chanting “Plug it up!”
On the event of a “Firestarter” reboot, starring Ryan Kiera Armstrong (“American Horror Story”) within the Barrymore position and Zac Efron as her dad, we current a watch record for the evolution of the psychic-girl universe.
King’s first printed novel grew to become a Brian De Palma horror basic, with a younger Spacek starring as Carrie White, the abused teen who develops the power to maneuver issues together with her thoughts (to not point out set them on hearth) when she’s pushed to the brink by her domineering mom (Piper Laurie) and a horrifying promenade prank involving a bucket of pig blood. “Carrie” would pave the way in which for many years of harmful psychic women down the road in popular culture.
On this late-eighties film now considered by many as a camp basic, Robyn Full of life performed Louise Miller, a gawky teen who finds that she’s really the reincarnation of a robust witch and can come into her skills when she turns 16. A precursor to the teenage-witch bonanza of the ’90s, it introduced a light-weight contact to the subject material. Bonus: it’s bought an inexplicable rap scene.
The mid-Nineties had been excessive instances for supernatural teen women. Robin Tunney, Neve Campbell, Fairuza Balk and Rachel True are a gaggle of highschool associates who discover empowerment in creating their magical powers — earlier than it corrupts a few of them. A millennial fave, it’s feminist and tacky in equal measure.
Melissa Joan Hart starred on this lighthearted, laugh-tracked sequence adaptation of an Archie comedian, wherein her character Sabrina learns on — yep, her sixteenth birthday — that she will do magic. Seven seasons ensued, with Hart proving the endurance, and rankings clout, of the supernatural teen woman.
Cute baby actor Mara Wilson performed the title position on this adaptation of a comically darkish Roald Dahl e book, wherein precocious Matilda Wormwood finds she has telekinetic powers that emerge when she’s abused by the terrible grownups round her. Extra ominous than many films ostensibly for teenagers — and a predecessor of many different girl-centric child lit variations in movie — this Dahl adaptation would spawn a success Broadway musical.
Joss Whedon‘s sequence featured a bunch of highschool children coping with supernatural points, however Alyson Hannigan’s geeky Willow Rosenberg was the character who most embodied the psychic-teen trope, together with her powers rising progressively all through the sequence —concurrently with discovering she was homosexual, after which tragically dropping her girlfriend. The plotlines of “Buffy” have impressed numerous educational research, and Willow’s arc has been considered as an outline of queerness, of drug use, and of the experiences of female hackers pushing again in opposition to a sexist neighborhood.
Emma Watson’s Hermione Granger, hero to many a tousle-haired feminine bookworm, was a Muggle-born woman with magical powers who ended up saving Harry’s life on many an event. Of all of the psychic women within the popular culture panorama, Hermione most likely looms largest, inspiring generations of ladies to embrace their interior superpowers.
The Duffer brothers’ Netflix sequence channeled so many facets of pulpy Eighties popular culture, however its breakout was absolutely Millie Bobby Brown because the telekinetic Eleven. Initially giving robust Drew Barrymore vibes, Brown’s Eleven has very a lot grown into her personal distinctive character, and launched many youthful viewers to the trope of the psychic woman.
Kiernan Shipka anchored this revisit of the Sabrina story, which was modernized with a darker, twistier, extra completely Gothic worldview — and, crucially, no snigger observe. This “Sabrina” modernized the character as soon as written for a sitcom, giving her an edge that was in line with the cultural embrace of ladies’ and ladies’s complexity.
Set in a vaguely sketched period that may very well be now or the ’80s, this Netflix sequence starred Sophia Lillis as Sydney Novak, alarmed to search out she has anger-induced telekinetic powers. The present suggestions its hat to early influences (see her preliminary look in a blood-soaked costume a la “Carrie”) and to Eleven of “Stranger Issues,” making it the proper bridge between the outdated and the brand new guard.
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