signal boost: What Makes A Perfect Female Action Hero?

via Jezebel:

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.


feminist tv review: Camelot (Starz) 1×05

This was a significantly better episode than all the others, and not just because they managed to make an episode without supplementary smut. Feminist agenda in three parts and spoilers ahead…

Read more of this post

Camelot, The Borgias, Game of Thrones: Failing Us, One Episode At A Time

I’ve been trying to articulate my feelings on women’s treatment in these three new shows that the fantasy geek in me is inevitably drawn to. Thank goodness for the internet:

The Dothraki
While I love fantasy novels, I’m a Black woman and I can’t help but get a little sad, that I always feel just a little bit out of place as a fan and reader. And not because we don’t show up. But because when we do, we are murderers, thieves, prostitutes. Or in other words, we are on the periphery, in the margins. And if I wanted that I would just watch the evening news.

Camelot, The Borgias, Game of Thrones: The Spectacle of Rape
And yet, apparently, the rape of delicate blonde women seems to be something that Starz, HBO and Showtime assume their viewers want to watch. The aesthetic of Camelot and Game of Thrones is particularly sickening – they give us rape with soft lighting.

The Rom-Com Conundrum

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?

Certainly not.

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.

Related Articles
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!

%d bloggers like this: