Posts Tagged ‘Brave’

So its been awhile. I know. 

The new job is awesome, but I have been putting in some long days .Actually, I am typing this up on my lunch break. THAT’S how crazy its been.  I will be better I promise! 

But here’s the real reason that I wanted to talk to you today.  There is this little article that @EllieSullie (and, unbeknownst to be until after the fact) @JulianGrant threw up on their Facebook feeds.

It pissed me off to no end folks.

I will be nice and link you to said article which you can read here.  The gist of the article is this, that the “strong female characters” we have been seeing in films lately are really just… to use the author, Tasha Robinson’s own words “Superfluous, Flimsy Character disguised as a Strong Female Character”.

She lists example after example of this: 

-Valka in How to Train Your Dragon 2

-Wildfyre in The Lego Movie

-Tauriel in THe Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

-Dahl in Riddick

-Carol Marcus in Star Trek: Into Darkness

and more and more.  Here’s where I get ticked off:

The idea of the Strong Female Character—someone with her own identity, agenda, and story purpose—has thoroughly pervaded the conversation about what’s wrong with the way women are often perceived and portrayed today, incomics {sic}, videogames, and film especially.” 

This is an annoyance right here. The entire article focuses on films. If you are going to mention comics and video games, then guess what, you need to give examples of those too, which Ms. Robinson does not. (This is Speech 101 kicking in). However, I would like to bluntly express, in my post, I will NOT be talking about video games because I am not a gamer.

However, I am a TV/Movie/Comic Geek and Gender theory in mass media is one of my favorite subjects.

The other thing, she only gives one- yes ONE- good example, which is….. Emily Blunt’s character, Rita in the recently released Edge of Tomorrow. That’s it. One example of a positive (by her standards) strong female character.

I do agree with Ms. Robinson that there are a number of “wanna-be” SFC in mass media, but to give only one positive example is ridiculous. I ranted on @elliesullie’s post on this, and I realized there are a ton of SFC in film, television and in comics. So to balance out the negative article, here is a list (not completely comprehensive, because that would take probably 8 years to read) of strong female characters, through and through.

According to Ms. Robinson, to be a “legit” strong female character needs to do the following:

  1. After being introduced, do something that is “fundamentally significant to the outcome of the plot”. 
  2. If she is contributing to the plot, is it something other than getting hurt to motivated the hero? (I.e. what I always called the “damsel in distress” role).
  3. If the character could be replaced with a note on an inanimate object, then she is not useful to the plot.
  4. She cannot be the strongest/fastest/meanest etc until the male protagonist shows up who is stronger/meaner etc
  5. If she never needed to be rescued before, does she get rescued in this story to make the male hero look good?  (For comic fans- think of the old Fantastic Four or X-men comic books where all of a sudden Sue Storm got a nose bleed in the beginning of a fight or Jean Grey wandered off to fix her make up). 

So with that five qualifiers in mind, I would like to present to you some of the most kick ass “Strong Female Characters” in TV, Film and Comics.

(Some with explanations, but a complete list will be added and continued to update as time goes on). 

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  • Glenn Close as Monica Rawling, Season 4 of The Shield

A former professor of mine, PG, can attest how much I love this character. I wrote a paper (it was suppose to be only 10 pages, I wrote close to 20) for my final grade for his class on Monica Rawling. 

Why is she so kick ass?  Well she is one of the first characters I ever saw that DID NOT fall into one of the major categories (whore/saint/damsel in distress). She was all of them. Coming from a cop family, I am VERY picky about my police shows but Ms. Close just made my jaw drop on the first line she has. Throughout the season she plays a tough as nails police captain (which right there, being a female captain is hard enough), dealt with unpopular politics of a controversial asset forfeiture program she spearheaded and even went out with the Strike Team to kick ass and take names. She didn’t see herself above anyone else, and even though she was a captain, didn’t have an office. She planted herself right in the thick of everything (defiantly-lead from the front, not behind a desk).

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  • Black Widow (both in comics and portrayed by Scarlett Johansson in Iron Man 2, The Avengers and Captain America: Winter Solider

Ill be the first to admit that I have a girl crush on Black Widow. She has always been one of my favorite characters ever since I started reading the Daredevilcomic book. She is THE spy. She is NEVER the victim. I mean really, to be part of the KGB red room training is not something anyone could go through. Did Natasha ever go “woe is me, I was made into a KGB spy against my will?” No. She rolled with it and then turn coat and started working with America. So now, you have a KGB agent, who’s now an American agent? Hell’s yes. And if anyone questions her, she pretty much kills them. 

Now, with the film adaptation, I was slightly disgusted because in Iron Man 2, she was handled more like a trophy wife until the last 5 minutes of the film. Now in Avengers, Wheadon actually gave the character some depth, and then in Winter Solider, she actually seemed more….human… then in Iron Man 2.

@EllieSully pointed out that alot of the aforementioned article that makes me upset does force feed some ideas down kids throats (in regards to The Lego Movie) and that there wasn’t really much out there for kids.

I beg to differ.

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-Merida in Brave

I mean come on. She stands up to EVERYONE going “yeah, no I am not following tradition to be married off so we can get some land”, she is an early tomboy, “yes, I much rather play in the woods and shoot things with my bow and arrow”.  She realizes her mistake and does everything in her power to fix it, unlike the delayed realization with her mother.

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-Torunn in Next Avengers

I love… LOVE… Torunn. This Marvel animated movie (set in an alternate universe), is a story about the sons (and daughter) of the Avengers. The parents were killed by Ultron and they are being raised by none other than Mr. Bachelor himself, Tony Stark. 

Torunn is the daughter of Thor and is upset because she thinks her dad either left her and/or is dead. Understandable why she is upset.  She is very much into her heritage. So much so she goes to the opposite extreme to be Asgardian as possible- even trying to put words like “Verily” into her every day speech. She goes through the true hero’s path (stubbornness, fighting, loosing something she thinks is important, realizing that it isn’t important, saving the day— wow, sound like her father much??) Her journey is practically a mirror image to the Thor film. At the end of the day- even though she could return to Asgard and be with her family, she decides to stay on Earth and take care of her little “brothers”. 

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Agents Simmons and  May in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D

There are various reasons why these two should go on the list. Simmons is smart as a whip, May is a tactical genius. Simmons creates all types of gadgets etc and geeks out reading scientific studies. May, well she is nicknamed (much to her dismay) “The Calvary” for a reason. These two, both being on the same show, display vastly different aspects  of a “strong female character”- both brains and brawn. Do they need to be rescued sometimes? Yeah that happens to even some of the male heroes on the show, so you cannot count it against them.

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Katey Sagal as Gemma Teller in Sons of Anarchy

There is a specific reason that I used the image above with that quote. I will agree with some people that the way Gemma handles things is not exactly ethical, but its coming from a good place. If they need to put a picture with the phrase “Mama Bear” then it has to be of Gemma/Katey. For those who haven’t seen the show, Gemma has been a victim of rape and also of domestic abuse. I am only using the word “victim” here to classify the plot. She was NOT a victim by any stretch of the imagination. She picked herself up, brushed herself off and in the moved on (to do some devious planning to retaliate against the people that hurt her, but you get the idea). 

Other Strong Female Characters: (listed)

  • Agent Carter (Captain America: The First Avenger and the upcoming Agent Carter miniseries on ABC)
  • Agent Scully (X-Files TV show and movies)
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer (both television and comic books)
  • Captain Janeway in Star Trek: Voyager
  • Hermonie Granger in the Harry Potter Series (Both books and films)
  • Pepper Potts in the Iron Man films
  • Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games (both books and movies) 
  • Wonder Woman (Comics and the ever loved Lynda Carter TV Series)
  • Xena the Warrior Princess (TV)

Please feel free to comment and throw your two sense in here folks. The bigger this list gets the better! Support your reasoning and I will update this post (asap) with your reason on the list!