“All you need for a movie is a girl and a gun.” French director Jean-Luc Godard’s famous quote influences Cathryne Czubek’s documentary title choice, ‘A Girl and A Gun.’ Her new film examines the relationship between women and guns in American culture. Don’t worry gun lovers; this film does not take a stance for or against the ownership of guns. It explores why women choose to use and own firearms. It’s at its best when Czubek’s vignettes let us glimpse at the reasons why these women love their guns. As blogger Violet Blue notes, “It’s owning my womanhood.” She bought her first gun after getting death threats while writing a weekly column for the San Francisco Chronicle.
This is a fascinating and heated subject. Unfortunately, the documentary just manages to scratch the surface. It starts off touting the obvious sexiness of guns to women. Katharine Gates, author of ‘Deviant Desires,’ points out, “They are hard and hot and shoot things out.” Guns have always been an extension of masculinity in our culture due to their phallic shape. Gun sales to women have nearly doubled in the last decade. Czubek takes us to a Las Vegas gun show where gun manufacturers target women. Gun booths display their hot pink product lines to female customers. As one lady at “SHOT Show” explains, “I just like being a girl, but I don’t like looking like a man.”
Among the women profiled is Robin Natanal, a Tai Chi instructor from Massachusetts who became a gun owner after breaking up with her violent ex-boyfriend. It shows her window shopping at Bass Pro Shops. At the display case, the gun salesman shows her various kinds of firearms that are popular for self-defense. Many women will be able to relate to Natanal’s lack of knowledge and ambivalence toward guns. Don’t let this sweet lady fool you. When she takes her new handgun to the firing range, the target says it all. She’s a great shot. Another story visits a young widow and single mother, Sarah McKinley from Blanchard, Oklahoma who lost her husband to cancer. It’s the most dramatic story. As an intruder spent 20 minutes breaking down her front door, she used her husband’s shotgun to kill him and protect her baby boy.
A portion of the documentary touches on female-driven movies with guns. Several clips are rapidly shown from action movies such as ‘Terminator 2,’ ‘Aliens,’ ‘Resident Evil,’ ‘Kill Bill,’ and ‘Foxy Brown.’ Unfortunately, film buffs might be a tad disappointed in this segment. It glosses over the femme fatale character and fails to make any deep analysis of women in film. Magazine editor Peggy Tartaro brings up an interesting image of “the Sabrina” pose in TV and film named after the ‘Charlie’s Angels’ character. “It’s to get the sexy gun and the sexy girl in the same picture,” she explains. Another expert, professor Mary Stange adds some history to the mix. She talks about how the left accepted guns during the turbulent 60s and uses the Black Panthers as an example. Surprisingly, three-quarters of Black Panther members were female.
The flaw of this documentary is that it glosses over rather than offers a cohesive thesis on female gun ownership. It is neither for nor against it. However, for any woman considering the purchase of a gun, it provides an educational snapshot on the pros and cons. For details on where to view ‘A Girl and A Gun,’ visit First Run Features at http://firstrunfeatures.com/agirlandagundvd.html. Check out the official trailer - http://youtu.be/PSYG6jFG_ho.