This year, the Me Too and Time's Up movements have spit fire across the globe, setting the world's creepiest bosses, predatory celebs, and perverts in hiding ablaze... but we still have a long way to go. Before Harvey Weinstein was revealed to be a longtime harasser, countless people got away with misconduct because they could; because there was never enough interest in the topic, or enough "evidence" to prove it was an epidemic. People also never believed the victims. In a way, Laurie Strode, the protagonist from John Carpenter's famed horror franchise, represents all the women who have experienced (and continue to experience) the horror of abuse. In the upcoming film Halloween, a direct sequel of sorts to the original 1978 film, she'll finally get her moment of glory.
In the first Halloween, teenaged Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) and her friends are viciously attacked by Michael Myers, a mental hospital escapee who murdered his sister, Judith, 15 years prior. Michael has a taste for babysitters — young, vulnerable women. By the end of the night, Laurie is left devastated after her closest friends are brutalized and the man who terrorized them escapes — wounded, but otherwise free and unpunished. Since the film's release, Halloween has been viewed by some as a tale of warning against debauchery. Michael's victims were "wild" youth who engaged in sex, drugs, and other behaviors associated with the era. Meanwhile, the sole survivor, Laurie, is a good girl who never misbehaved. In 2018, this mentality echoes slut shaming and the idea that the teens who lost their lives "deserved" their fates more than Laurie, who was "pure" and submissive.
In Halloween II, which picks up directly after the events of its predecessor, Laurie is shattered, shocked, and docile. With her brother on the loose, this Laurie isn't so much living as she is surviving. For her, every minute is traumatic because the man who ruined her life is out there, and you better believe he still had it out for her.
The franchise produced four films before we saw Laurie again in 1998's Halloween H20: 20 Years Later, the sequel revealing she faked her death to escape Michael. She moved away from Haddonfield, her hometown, to Northern California in an attempt to have a peaceful life. Even there, in a seemingly safe environment, Laurie is tormented by her violent past, and the possibility of Michael finding her. Every move she made is influenced by her attacker. In the end, Michael discovers her once more, but this time, Laurie refuses to let him go. Scared out of her mind but fed up enough to take chances, she ultimately decapitates Michael... except it isn't Michael.
In the next film, Halloween: Resurrection, Laurie's attacker returns once again to shred what little security she might have developed. Shortly into the film, she confronts him on a roof and ends up losing her life after he pushes her off of it.
Ultimately, the lesson the Halloween franchise has taught us is that Laurie can't win. She is smart and brave. She fights hard and tries to do the right thing. She defends herself and others. But it's never enough.
If this sounds familiar, it's because Laurie's story echoes the experience of victims of sexual assault, abuse, and misconduct. Jamie Lee Curtis would agree.
In an interview with Variety, the actress revealed:
"The movie was written in January 2017 and it was a movie about trauma," the actress said. "We never make movies about what happens after the violence. We make movies about violence, we glorify it, but we never ask what happens [after]. And in the asking what happens and seeing what generational trauma looks like, all of a sudden on Oct. 10, 2017, that first article came out in the New Yorker. All of a sudden, women started talking about stories of violence perpetrated against them, sexual violence perpetrated against them, oppression perpetrated against them by powerful men in powerful positions who stole their innocence."
"And now all of a sudden, this idea of women — you see, a bunch of those perpetrators are in prison today," she continued. "And the women who helped put them there are relieved, a little bit, of that trauma. And that’s what our movie is going to bring to people on Friday."
Story after story of harassment teaches us the same thing: No matter what a victim does, their attacker somehow ends up on top. Even if a women completely removes herself from a workplace, a hometown, or even a state, the trauma she weathered under his abuse sticks with her. Most of the time, this isn't the sort of story that ends happily.
In 2018's Halloween, however, Laurie Strode is a brand new woman. She lacks the time to subscribe to society's ideals and doesn't have the privilege of "forgetting" a man who's haunted her over forty years. Modern day Laurie represents a woman who is fearless — someone who won't sit quietly while one man dictates the course of her actions and abuses her into acquiescence. She's experienced a level of agony most people will never comprehend, but now is her time for retribution.
Halloween is no longer Michael Myers's party, it's Laurie's, and that's thanks in large part to her personal dedication to never being a victim again. Laurie's been through a lot and will finally come out on top — she's prepared and ready to put an end to years of terror.
Comparing late '70s Laurie to her grown up, hard as rocks, modern day iteration is inspiring and empowering. Halloween beckons us to take a long, hard look at our heroine and realize we are no longer looking at the same woman who cowered in a hospital room waiting for her assailant to end her once and for all.
It's this spirit that proves Laurie Strode is the heroine 2018 really needs — the heroine who plays smart, savagely, and takes no crap. Her character reflects a shift in our culture; an evolution of the "final girl" that's so satisfying it's as if we're loading the pistol along with her. Like many women who have suffered abuse, Laurie's journey has been long and perilous, and it's about time for her to have real redemption. It's no longer enough for women who have been manipulated, terrorized, or shaken to succumb to the wills of their abusers because, today, it's not realistic. Women are speaking up, pointing fingers, righting wrongs, and changing the narrative.
So while some of you may remember Laurie as a doe-eyed teen clutching a kitchen knife in horror, may we present a new image to commit to your mind's eye:
Locked, loaded, and ready for battle.