May 12, 2011 Leave a comment
A Brief Note About Not Feeding The Donald Trolls.
Rambles on feminism, activism, and society.
May 6, 2011 Leave a comment
Action heroines are rare creatures. The earliest were female versions of pre-existing male heros, like Wonder Woman, BatGirl and SuperGirl. Some more recent heroines have their roots in fantasy or sci-fi, like Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Selene from Underworld, or Alice from Resident Evil. But while there are plenty of realistic male heroes who run, jump and fight without being cartoony or existing in a vampire realm — think Jason Bourne, James Bond or Ethan Hunt — there are very female counterparts.
Deadline reports that a writing team has been hired to reboot the Tomb Radier franchise. These writers — the Iron Man and Cowboys & Aliens writing team of Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby — are male. Can they come up with a good female action hero? Maybe. We need to define what we mean by “good.”
First of all, it would be great if she could exist in the here and now. Today’s world. Not the future, or some kind of Underworld, or a mythical town in California set upon by vampires. Usually women are allowed to be heroes in those scenarios because, duh, it’s not real. It’s fine for a woman to be strong and know how to shoot to kill if werewolves or aliens are involved. She might even do it in her underwear, like Ripley.
Melissa Silverstein of Women and Hollywood agrees with Dargis, and writes,
There is a deep fear of female power that drives a lot of the misogyny in our culture. It’s just everywhere and the movies are one place where it seems to be acceptable and that’s what some people in the culture like and thrive on.
With a new Tomb Raider, the filmmakers have a chance to create someone closer to the ultimate female action hero. Not a girl, but a woman.
With that said, everyone should check out the trailer to Zoe Saldana’s new film, Colombiana.
April 18, 2011 2 Comments
I just read an article on romantic comedies and sexism, The Astonishing Sexism of Hollywood and What it Means for Girls; it does a good job of spelling out what we already knew- the damage the classic romantic comedy female lead role does to young women and girls who watch these tropes and internalizing them.
As I read through it, I thought about the absence of race in this conversation which got me thinking. Do I even want women of color leading rom-coms?
On a basic level, I want to say yes, more diversity in media, plzkthnx!
The classic rom-com female lead is either a type-A (exerts too much control) or wild-child (frivolous and childish- manic pixie dream girl) trope, and white (typically blond). Women of color tend to fall into the role of the sassy best-friend or side-kick, giving sage advice to the misguided but adorable and likable female lead while having no character development for themselves. More than that, even in so called “urban-targeted” films, we’re controlling, ball-busting or soul crushing- certainly not the adorable blond who needs to learn a lesson. No, we’re the harpy who needs to get taken down a peg or five. Do I want this, no need this to end? Hell yes.
On the other hand, I’m not only a black person, I’m a woman. Do I want to see women of color stripped of dignity and agency, made to be more vulnerable so that they appeal to an audience? Do I really want to see them perpetuate harmful stereotypes of women? Do I want to see them exist for the sole purpose of advancing a male character’s development? Do I just want a ‘whiter’ female character of color?
Even as I argue for more diverse casting, I can’t ignore the inherent sexism present in the entertainment business. As much as I want to see more women of color going past the sassy best-friend token role, I don’t know if I could bear it if they jumped from one oppression to another. This sort of conundrum is why I scoff at anyone who ignores intersection in anti-oppression work. Not only must we completely disrupt the institutional sexism in Hollywood, we must at the same time disrupt the instituionalized racism, ableism, queerphobia, etc. We need to have romances that aren’t heteronormative, where the woman doesn’t have to be shamed/taught a lesson to be seen as relatable or appealing, where women of color can flourish as fleshed out strong characters.
I do want to see a woman of color leading a rom-com (my ambivalence to rom-coms as a genre aside, it is a significant part of the box office biz), but the rom-com role itself has to change.
- Counting Colored Cash – POCs can make an impact—even though we’ve proven it time and time and time again—and will make the flimsiest excuses to justify why POCs shouldn’t be visible in the media and why our dollars don’t count. Excuses I’m about to debunk and with this post.
- Open discussion: Rom-coms, Ars Marginal style – Why don’t we take on all the rom com bullshit? Let’s subvert the fuck out of what this cliche-ridden drivel shovels to us about sex, love, and romance!” Take something you hate about rom-coms, then flip the script and make it something awesome!
April 16, 2011 2 Comments
Let me just begin by saying, me and my delicate girly-brain will be watching Game of Thrones (and Camelot, and all the sci-fi/fantasy I want to).
[Image: A screencap of Ginia Bellafante's wikipedia page; text reads: Ginia Bellafante (born March 31, 1965) is an American writer (of incredibly poorly written articles) and critic, for the New York Times, New York Observer, and Time (magazine).]
Ginia Bellafante’s Wikipedia page is not kind (and rightly so- though yes, Wikipedia pages are supposed to be ‘objective’, etc) and describes her work as “poorly written”. Unfortunately, she is read at the New York Times, which gives her undue credibility. Her most recent
offense offering is A Fantasy World of Strange Feuding Kingdoms, a startlingly sexist (critique??) New York Times article on the new show, Game of Thrones, and what she deems is its failure to appeal to women and its success at being “boy fiction”, whatever in fresh hell that means.
I’ll warn you now, this article didn’t meet a sexist entertainment media gender stereotype it didn’t write an ode to:
Keeping track of the principals alone feels as though it requires the focused memory of someone who can play bridge at a Warren Buffett level of adeptness. In a sense the series, which will span 10 episodes, ought to come with a warning like, “If you can’t count cards, please return to reruns of ‘Sex and the City.’ ”
The show has been elaborately made to the point that producers turned to a professional at something called the Language Creation Society to design a vocabulary for the savage Dothraki nomads who provide some of the more Playboy-TV-style plot points and who are forced to speak in subtitles.
The true perversion, though, is the sense you get that all of this illicitness has been tossed in as a little something for the ladies, out of a justifiable fear, perhaps, that no woman alive would watch otherwise. While I do not doubt that there are women in the world who read books like Mr. Martin’s, I can honestly say that I have never met a single woman who has stood up in indignation at her book club and refused to read the latest from Lorrie Moore unless everyone agreed to “The Hobbit” first. “Game of Thrones” is boy fiction patronizingly turned out to reach the population’s other half.
You’ve got your bingo cards out, right?
Epic fantasy as a boy’s only activity. Check.
Complex story lines (and apparently, too many characters!) being beyond a woman’s limited understanding. Check.
Reinforcing an oppression (in this case racism, “savage Dothraki” wtf?) instead of critiquing it. Check.
(What’s interesting here is that she misses the opportunity to critique the show on its racist othering of characters of color in the Dothraki. Instead she uses “savage” to describe them and seems to be more annoyed at the mere existence of subtitles (because y’know, subtitles were created just to inconvenience privileged.)
It doesn’t forget the classic, the romance was put there for the delicate flowers that are our women. Check.
So, you ever wonder why there aren’t more Sarah Connors on your TV/movie theater? Because mess like this still gets published in major media.