90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
Here and Now with Robin Young
Public radio's live
midday news program
With sponsorship from
Mathworks - Accelerating the pace of engineering and science
Accelerating the pace
of engineering and science
Wednesday, December 28, 2011

What Is It About ‘The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo?’

Rooney Mara, shown in a scene from "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo." (AP)

Rooney Mara, shown in a scene from "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo." (AP)

Swedish author Stieg Larrson’s “Millenium Trilogy,” which began with “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo,” has sold 65 million copies worldwide and has spawned three Swedish films and an American version of “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” directed by “The Social Network” director David Fincher.

The series includes scenes of horrific violence against women, including the rape of the heroine, hacker Lisbeth Salander. So why is it so popular, particularly among young women?

Here and Now pop culture critic Renee Graham says that the story pulls in women because of the way that Salander gets back at her attacker.

Graham calls the character “the great punk avenging angel….for all women who have been taken advantage of and brutalized.”


  • Renee Graham, Here and Now pop culture critic

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Andreawilder

    Renee is right!
    When I left the Swedish version I said to a woman walking beside me:  “Don’tcha love it?”
    She smiled “Yes.”

    FOR ONCE a woman gets a chance for revenge, and , my oh my, is it cathartic.

  • moose1

    Brutal rape scenes are the kind of thing that people in our soul-dead, hostile culture like to see. Even Rooney Mara – in her Fresh Air interview – had no problem with that scene. But the author “decries violence against women?” Give me a break. It’s all about hating women, and we’re all lapping it up.

    • Anonymous

      Don’t project your own love of tawdry titillation on the rest of us.

      What it’s about (if you bothered to read the books or see the Swedish film) is the powerless and abused getting empowered and taking what control of their own lives that they can. I don’t care for heroes but if I had one it would be someone like Lisbeth.

  • Mark

    Is this an unconventional Film Noir?  If so, is Blomquist the femme fatale?

    • Gelfling

      No, Blomqvist is the damsel in distress.

  • Paddle4living

    The difference in this movie (by the way, the Swedish version will be unmatched by any version after) is that women do something about violence against them other than going on Oprah to talk about it!  Love it!

  • J Frog

    Pop culture gets such a break from the media/press.  They are so quick to “connect the dots” to all kinds of influences when violence happens in the “real world”….the “tone” in Washington, guns, political web sites, hate groups, etc….some which might be real influences, others which are not.  But the REAL elephant in the room is the constant drumbeat of violence in our pop media….the violence in music, video games, TV….and movies.

    Rarely does the media question whether theses are the REAL influences corrupting our society….making us numb to the violence.
    So…after hearing what this movie is about….I won’t be seeing it.

    • Anonymous

      You write as if violence was invented by pop culture and the media. It was here long before either word was invented and you can thank the media for making it more widely known that it is happening behind closed doors everywhere to women, children and the defenseless. If hearing about it makes you numb then you need a heart transplant. It makes me….and the Lisbeths of the world…angry!!

      Stop blaming the messenger and stop being an apologist for your own culture.

      • J Frog

        Yes, I can see it makes you are angry.

        …Yep, I’m blaming the messenger.  The media’s exposure therapy of violence (intentional or unintentional) is doing us great harm….in those immortal words:  “the medium is the message”.

        • Anonymous

          If “out of sight, out of mind” makes you sleep better at night, I’m happy for you. Do you also blame war photographers for depicting history?

          I would invite you to dinner to discuss this but I’m afraid you  might eat the menu instead of the food.

  • Jspahr

    It is obvious that Lisbeth is an ‘aspie’.

    • Anonymous


      She doesn’t have Asperger syndrome. She is a victim of multiple acts of violence by men and by the medical establishment. She has nothing to say to them because they do not listen to her and never will. It’s her choice, it’s not a disease.

      This book (and films) is about making your own choices, so at least try to get that much right.

  • Mellibell

    The problem is that Lisbeth is a fictional character with superhuman speed, agility, strength and intelligence. Most real women ins this world aren’t Lisbeth.

    • Anonymous

      You clearly did not read the book either. She is petite but takes boxing lessons which anyone can do. Her only unnatural ability is a photographic memory, hardly a super-power.

      Most real women won’t mind seeing (even a fictional character like Lisbeth) score one for our side.

  • Saj04

    I agree, in the Swedish version (I’ve not seen the new one yet) the woman seeks revenge against her attacker.  Yes, it is violent but it isn’t afraid to talk about things that happen all over the world….and worse than we are seeing in these movies.  Maybe it will wake up some people who live in the bliss bubble of being unaware and encourage them to get involved with agencies that are addressing violence against women.     

  • eric smith

    We are becoming animals.

    • jamie

      I’ve worked in the field of law enforcement and violence prevention long enough to know we aren’t becoming animals,  too many all ready are.  It depends on the world you live in how long  you can ignore the realities of violence in our society. 

  • http://www.wellturned.com/ Rebecca

    It needs to be said that this book was overly long, poorly edited, and quite boring in parts. It was also far-fetched — and not in a good way. The resolution of the plot and the unexplainable (except through the author’s fantasies) attraction female characters had to Blomquist were very unrealistic.  Lisbeth was interesting, but not much else in this was worth remembering. I can’t understand why everyone raves about this book.

Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

September 16 7 Comments

Kathy Gunst Explores Community Supported Agriculture

Kathy Gunst joins Cook's Illustrated executive food editor Keith Dresser at his CSA pickup and offers recipes for the seasonal CSA fare.

September 16 11 Comments

Remembering Jesse Winchester

Jimmy Buffett remembers his friend the late songwriter Jesse Winchester, whose posthumous album is being released today.

September 15 26 Comments

A Call To Reject Corporal Punishment As Part Of Black Culture

An incident of child abuse by an NFL player has raised questions about the use of corporal punishment as a form of discipline in the African-American community.

September 15 26 Comments

Would You Pay To Get Your Kid Into A Top College?

A San Francisco company charges parents for a consulting package based on the odds their student will get into a certain university, with prices up to a million dollars.