Thelma & Louise landed in theaters like a depth charge on May 24th, 1991. The shock waves rippled out for weeks, months, even years. Watching the movie proved a profoundly riveting and personal experience for the American audience. It was entertained, but also electrified.
And divided. The film touched off a catharsis for viewers who identified with the heroines, and a roil of controversy for everyone else. It was possible to encounter couples who actually split up after arguing over whether Louise should have fired that pistol. Feminists debated into the wee hours whether driving off a cliff was a defiant statement of self-determination or a capitulation to the view that the only way for women to win was to lose.