Stieg Larsson’s hard-hitting novel, titled Man som hatar kvinnor ("Men who hate women") in Swedish, was titled The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo<.em> in English translation — possibly a subtle indication of the publisher’s discomfort with the strong women’s liberation message contained in it.
Pippi Longstocking, the strong willed Swedish children’s book character jokingly adopted as a totem by the European anarcho-punk protest movement of the 1970’s and ’80s that Larsson participated in, grew up in his novels into Lisbeth Salander, the tough punk destroyer of fascism.
Salander has now come to Colombia Pictures through the film version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.
And Hollywood, the great cultural sausage machine is intent on mashing her into its image of womanhood — and it is not liberationist.
Compare the Swedish and the US movie posters. In Sweden, Salander sits broodingly hunched over, independent, staring into the viewer’s eyes from within her cocoon of anger and defiance.
In Hollywood, she is stripped bare for the viewer’s delight, literally hanging onto the arm of her male protector.
However, the US is the land of endless sexual hypocrisy, so there are two versions of the ad: an expose-all version for the internet ad campaign and a slightly less raunchy version for billboards, where text obscures the nipples.
According to the Wikipedia entry on Larsson, at age 15 he witnessed the gang rape of a young woman and felt ashamed for the rest of his life that he had failed to intervene.
Larrson dedicated himself to the struggle against fascism and especially opposed violence against women.
In the books, Salander turns her victimhood into emancipationist action and millions around the world have identified with her — understanding her struggle.
From violation in reality to liberation in fiction and back to oppression via Hollywood. Salander has come a long way and she has every reason to be angry.