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Friday, September 17, 2010

where have all the heroines gone?



I have always been drawn to any TV show or movie starring and revolving around Super Heroines. In my youth obviously I was captivated by the Wonder Woman TV show starring Lynda Carter. Many hours were spent spinning & fueling the imagination with our adventures together. My grandparents had audio records of the Wonder Woman comic that completely captivated me. I became entranced with the idea of a woman super hero who didn't have to rely on men; she could rescue herself as well as others.

I enjoyed The Bionic Woman as a child but not in the same way I looked up to a traditional Super Heroine (keeping with the league of many male characters). The 2007 Bionic Woman remake was enjoyable at first (especially because of kick-ass characters like Katee Sackhoff joining in). But repetitive story lines and uninteresting characters couldn't keep my attention (or apparently anyone else's).

I've done a lot of searching in TV & movies and probably watched most of what's out there to offer in terms of female super heroes (every version of Cat Woman, Wonder Woman, vampire fighter, etc). Though there are some in my queue to see still such as Birds of Prey & Witchblade, the options left to me are fairly cheesy and overly-sexualized, almost parodies of female heroes.

Doing a basic web search for 'super hero' versus 'super heroines' or 'women super heroes' finds drastically different results. Most all of what you see image and content-wise for the female search is practically all sexualized. Web results yield the top SEXIEST heroines and places to buy the lingerie-styled costumes.

Many search results after the sexy sites was this article discussing the anti-hero of the stories, the "non-extraordinary" half of the duo in superhero movies. So it basically details the perils (and hidden strengths) of the damsel in distress. NOT what I was looking for - I want the women who save the day (in the fun, fantasy sense, not the literal grassroots people of the U.S. That's another blog post).

I think the largest contributing factor is that historically comics were written predominantly by men, who were playing out their sexual fantasies through female super hero characters. I'm not bashing that, it's probably in large part thanks to that expression that female superheroes continued to endure.

Compelled to search on, I refined my search words and came across a complete list of Super Heroines. Though I don't consider that a really accurate list considering they list The Queen of Swords, which is from a tarot deck, not the heroine universe. The concept is generalized a bit much but at least it's a jumping off point to make some more discoveries.

I'm disappointed in you Hollywood movies. Where is Wonder Woman? Joss Whedon would have ROCKED that movie but you passed on it. Probably because it was variant on what the masses conceptualize. Perhaps she had too sharp a wit? (Obviously I still haven't gotten over that particular loss).

Women AND girls need super-heroines; not only in obscure comics but mainstream movies and TV. The strongest representation we've had in a while was Hit Girl, who completely dominated the whole "Kick-Ass" movie with ruthless, R-rated force. Yet she doesn't share billing with the star "Kick-Ass" even though he really needed Hit Girl to teach him the ropes.

The emerging feminine nerd collective is gaining strength. (just see who I follow on twitter :) There IS an audience for true super-heroines, despite what market research appears to show.

Essentially what we are teaching our little girls now (with the exception of Hit Girl) is that our abilities center around wielding the power of our sexuality and sexual prowess.

I think every female should create their own Super Heroine, just for kicks and a fun exercise. I've joked that Hips of Fury is my alter ego and in a sense she is. She's the best parts of myself combined into a form containing special abilities and powers. Plus she's a fascinating character and fun to write!

However, I hope the female geek collective (and awesome male geek collective too) are able to gang up enough on Hollywood to get a proper super-heroine movie made. My vote is @JaneEspenson to write an authentic heroine perspective - don't ya think?



3 comments:

  1. Good stuff. I, too, watch lots of women heroes -- yes, they're beautiful and sexy. But I also secretly want to be Wonder Woman when I grow up (at least, Lynda Carter - who doesn't like whirling around?). Shh, don't tell anyone.

    I would definitely recommend BIRDS OF PREY (RIP). Yes, the leads are all lovely -- Dina Meyer #Phwoaaaaar -- but there's also a whole strong woman, sisterhood, stand up for yourself thing going on. These are not Katie Sackhoff butch types, #notthatthere'sanythingwrongwiththat. But they're also not shrinking violets.

    They're good role models. Plus, while they do change the comics around, it's respectful of the ideas behind it all.

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  2. it's hard to find that blend of not too butch, not too sexy super heroine (though basically I'll take just about ANY super heroine ;-)
    Women are usually classified as one or the other. Wonder Woman's great because she's so strong and powerful yet beautiful too. I love Fray from the Darkhorse comics but she is a rather typical butch/tomboy character.
    Thanks for your comments!

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  3. I wasn't trying to imply that butch was a bad thing - good heavens, how much do I love M-Rod? (Answer = A LOT)

    But you are correct - for girls, it's a tougher thing to find the happy medium. I am happy y'all keep trying. :-) My current love is Maggie Siff on SONS OF ANARCHY. She's beautiful and bookish and all woman. But she has that raging asskicking bitch inside, too.

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