Fantastic Female Friday: Abernathy (Death Proof)

Rosario Dawson is one of my faves. The Puerto Rican/Afro-Cuban/Irish American actress has played in-genre fatales such as Gail in Sin City (and the upcoming sequel Sin City 2: a Dame to Kill For), Maya in The Descent, Roxane in Alexander and Mariana in the Rundown in 2008 she starred in and executive produced the show “Gemini Division” playing an undercover cop who stumbles on covert genetic exeriments perpetrated by the government. She’s clearly no stranger to getting her action-chick on. And one of the her go-to confidence tips is “Standing like Wonder Woman” (More notable since she voiced the character Artemis in 2009’s animated Wonder Woman), she created her own comic book miniseries (“Occult Crimes Taskforce“- which at one point was being considered for a film adaptation) Need more to love about Rosario? Probably not, but there is plenty more.

But I’m actually, not here to fangirl Rosario Dawson.

I’m here to shout out my favorite character from one of my all-time favorite movies.

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Abernathy from Death Proof.

Before we get to “Why Abernathy?!” Let’s talk about “Why Death Proof?!”

Because I hear this all the time, “There’s too much talking,” “it’s so long/slow” “That movie where the girl rides on the outside of the car?!”

Why Death Proof?

I hear you. I have mentally logged every complaint of this movie. Even Tarantino said it’s his worst film. And I’m telling you that you are wrong. And he is wrong. Kill Bill part 2 is his worst film. Anyway, the plot. After dispatching a group of girls who take Wild Turkey shots and pull outrageous dares on each other, namely radio personality Jungle Julia (played by Sydney Tamiia Poitier) setting up a challenge that any man who recites a poem to “Butterfly” (played by Vanessa Ferlito) gets a lap dance from “Butterfly.” The butt of this joke is the first to realize that Stuntman Mike isn’t just a hillbilly has-been and that he’s a nefarious dude. Stuntman Mike gets his kicks stalking show-biz types (he’s out of Hollywood seeking revenge on the industry that left him scarred up through rising stars -unluckily for Jungle Julia, she just got her first billboard). B-scream queen Jordan Ladd and Rose McGowan’s characters get caught in the collisions as well.

Only after that are we introduced to Kim (Tracie Thoms), Zoe (Zoe Bell as herself), Lee (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Abernathy.

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They’re picking up Zoe from the airport when Stuntman Mike starts his stalk. They’re working on a film together, Lee’s the lead actress who just got her first cover, Abernathy does make-up and Kim and Zoe do stunts.

And for all the complaining about dialogue: come on, this surpasses all movies ever for the Bechdel test, and the POC Bechdel test. You can’t have it both ways. And for me it’s not just that they talk, it’s what they talk about. Which is anything from Italian Vogue to John Hughes/classic action films to Gun Control.

All Zoe wants in the whole world is to drive a car like the car in Vanishing Point and play “Ship’s Mast” she sees her chance. While their stunt driving, they run into Stuntman Mike. No, literally, he runs into them with his car.

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So why Abernathy?

So we have 2 bad ass stunt people, Zoe “The Cat” and Kim whose preparedness was essential. Why Abernathy? Abernathy isn’t an action chick. She does make-up, she likes European Fashion mags, 16 Candles and has lefty views on gun control that if Kim shared would have doomed the lot of them. She’s a mom. And that’s why. Be honest with yourself, how many Molly Ringwald movies have you seen? Are you an action chick or a sandwich maker? Why do we treat it as a deficit when a character behaves like a regular human being? Abernathy is the one who convinces the hick to let them take the car for a drive. Zoe and Kim try to leave her behind, but she’s all “Hell, fucking no, I’m as cool as you” and she is. When it’s time to go after Stuntman Mike she stays strong and sticks with her girls.

And let’s talk about these bangs:

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I try to cut mine like that all the time and I look like a child who shouldn’t have scissors. For serious.

In short, she’s a real girl who defends her girliness like when Kim says “Of course you haven’t seen Vanishing Point, you’re a girl.” and Abernathy responds, “Excuse me. And what the fuck are you two?” But when it counts she’s down for her friends. Proving you don’t have to be an action-chick with “no sense” to make it to the final scenes.

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