[H]idden in an article on how “Salt” is oh-so-empowering for female action heroes is this tidbit. The filmmakers believe that it was perfectly OK for the spouse to be rescued from mortal danger if said love interest was a girl, but not if the romantic partner was a man. Apparently, it’s great if the action hero is a girl, as long as she doesn’t have the opportunity to one-up any male counterparts or reverse the oldest cliché in the action-film handbook. Saying that girls can be portrayed as helpless damsels in distress but boys can’t or shouldn’t be is the very opposite of the sort of “progress” that Noyce and Jolie claim to be making.
This is so, so tiresome. The most insidious part, I think, is that it’s not just supposedly “weak” female characters that need rescuing. Rather, it seems like a rule in film & television that any female character who is depicted as strong or tough (police, military, action hero! etc.) must at some point be saved! by a man! I guess this serves to placate the male viewing audience, allowing them to think: “yeah, she’s tough—for a chick—but I could take her on (or save her!)” Barf.
See also: Woman must die! to give Man motivation to save the world. Hey! Here’s an idea! Why not kill off the man for a change? That would be a twist no one would be expecting. It’d be like that old surgeon joke. Except in this version, the audience would be looking at Woman kneeling sadly over Man’s body and be all like, “So when’s he going to wake up from his dream?”