Saturday, October 29, 2011
Another blast from the not-so-past: Kim Possible! Can I safely assume that most of us are at least somewhat familiar with this cartoon? If not, no big deal, just check out the opening theme above and you'll get the gist of the show.
I'll be honest--I don't remember this show too well. I caught episodes of it here and there (and enjoyed them), but I was no major addict. What struck me when I revisited Kim Possible, though, was how much she reminded me of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Similar to how Buffy would have a much easier time living a "normal teenage life" if she wasn't the Slayer, Kim would also have a lot less on her mind if she didn't have to worry about homework and her love life along with saving the world. More importantly, when Kim and Buffy are kicking butt, they know that they're good at kicking butt, and certainly don't mind throwing in a few extra snide remarks and fancy flips during their fights.
Even the opening themes are similar. They show our two heroines balancing a life of fighting evil and surviving in school, cheerleading, best friends, enemies, and of course, ugly villains. Even though Kim always shows up with perfectly styled hair and a crop top that exposes her lean tummy, Buffy never looks too shabby either! It's not just that they know they're strong, good-looking girls--they love being girls and won't miss the perks of being a girl for the world, figuratively.
Even though Kim Possible is targeted at a younger audience compared to Buffy, I think it's safe to assume that Buffy helped pave the way for a lot more "girl power"-centric shows. Without Buffy, the idea of a powerful heroine who's otherwise a typical girl in high school would definitely be much harder to imagine, and it's likely that many cartoons would not even bother making their female leads more than one-dimensional.
How else do you think Buffy has contributed to empowering women?
Despite bad animation, poor costumes and make-up I found Buffy The Vampire Slayer quite entertaining. I guess this was mostly because of the characters and their relationship with eachother. All of the dispute and cooperation among these high school kids made the whole thing interesting.
What mainly got my attention though was how Buffy found herself an actual team to fight against vampires soon after she started her new school. As Xander told Willow, the fact they faced vampires all together made them share a secret.
As I was thinking about Buffy's new team another team came to my mind: The Harry Potter Team. The similarities between certain roles of characters is very interesting. Buffy, similar to Harry, is a chosen one who had no say in whether he/she wanted to be that way. It's not hard to draw a connection between Hermione and Willow considering that they are both depicted as nerds, who seem to know things that other do not. Ron and Xander also have similar roles in that they seem to be more of the human side in their teams. They get angry, they make hasty and arbitrary decisions but they are still an important part of the team. Giles, I thought, had a similar role to the Dumbledore's role in Harry Potter as the older character acting as a mentor to the younger ones but not being directly involved in all of the things going on.
I'm sure if I go back and think a little deeper I might be able to find even more examples of teams of four with similar roles. The team of four with the chosen one, the smart one, the human (emotional) one and the mentor seems to be a guarentee winner as long as things around it are supported.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
The idea of girl power in general is actually pretty odd when you think about it. As the essay's author, Victoria Newsom, describes it: "The paradox of girl power is that girl power focuses on empowering femininity, but restricts itself to patriarchal constructs of what it means to be feminine. The primary restrictions of girl power in patriarchy are the body type favored within the girl power construct, the style of representation, including clothing styles that are appropriate for girl power practitioners, and the constant stereotyping of hyperfeminity and youth. " Instead of expressing feminism by breaking away from feminine stereotypes, girl power embraces them.
Sailor Moon certainly exhibits this concept. She is a very unique superhero in that she is extremely stereotypical. She is the epitome of "girly" - a fourteen-year-old schoolgirl who "is almost completely preoccupied with boys, dating, avoiding homework, playing video games, and food." She is also notorious for being a crybaby. Yet, she remains a strong hero and role model, as do all the rest of the "Sailor Scouts." As Newsom puts it: "These characters strongly exhibit and remain tied to traditional concepts of femininity. These girls are each, expressively, female. They are able to fight in a capacity associated with male heroes without necessarily 'becoming'male. These young women illustrate that it is 'okay' to be a girl and to 'fight back.' The characters are perceived in the press and marketed as role models for young women."
Sailor Moon's character is very different from any other superheroine I've come across. Even in the newer comics we've been reading where the superheroines have been much more progressive, I have yet to see another who manages to be both extremely girly and a tough hero. She is quite a paradox: she takes the dichotomy of girly-girls vs. bad-ass superheroines and falls somewhere in between. According to the essay, "The characters all act as 'heroes' in a way similar to other female characters; however, they are not masculinized and desexualized, as are the other female action and horror heroes. Instead, the characters are a combination of conflicting character types, such as victim and hero, established in the studies of action and horror."
Sailor Moon tells us, as well as the young girls she inspires (like the 8-year-old Rachel), that women don't have to be masculine in order to be strong. If they want to embrace their femininity, that's not a bad thing - even superheroes can be girly-girls.
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Personally, I love watching superhero movies, especially with women superheroes. This article on cinemablend.com, however, claims that there should be less superheroine movies because women do not enjoy watching them. It says that men watch superhero movies and women watch romance movies and there is nothing anyone can do to change that. It also says that men only watch superheroine movies because of the sexy main character.
Saturday, October 22, 2011
We've talked about how most (if not all) superheroes and superheroines were created for a reason, whether social or political, so it is expected that that their actions and behavior bleed certain ideas and principles. Does the environment play a role at all, then? Does the definition of a "heroine" change depending on the environment that they're placed in, or are all heroines inherently connected by some super-traits?
Let's compare the modern Batwoman and Disney's Mulan. Upon first glance, they're completely different. One's a red-headed lesbian from Gotham City, and one's a woman warrior from ancient China. Batwoman is cool and sardonic. Mulan is more or less a Disney princess. Batwoman wants revenge, while Mulan is driven by filial piety and honor.
How about Wonder Woman and Promethea? Both of the superheroines end up in America despite coming from somewhere else (Paradise Island and Egypt/the Immateria, respectively). Wonder Woman is simultaneously the Amazon Warrior and the All-American superheroine, while Promethea is not only a goddess, but also the essence of the imagination. One believes in loyalty, mercy, and forgiveness, while the other wields "the cup of compassion, the sword of reason, the pentacle of worldly knowledge, and the wand of will."
The list of differences can go on and on, but in the end, the traits described are all embellishments that give each heroine personality and help them "fit" into their environment, whether dark, grungy, traditional, or mystical. Ultimately, I don't think that these characteristics define our beloved heroines half as much as their strong will and the ability to keep fighting on no matter what happens to them. Most people have seen, experienced, or can relate to some form of violence, tragedy, or trauma, but the qualities that separate the normal individuals from the "super" individuals are those that lead to overcoming the mentioned obstacles, such as courage, determination, and most importantly, something to fight for.
After the comments I read I understand that many people think that Batwoman is a more original female heroine character compared to the others we have read about. I do agree with this. I also think that the villain in the story is very original as well, even though it is a reference to an already written book but there is something strange about her as well.
Alice, in the story, comes as the new leader of the religion of crime but she isn't exactly leading the villains as Mystique was trying to lead the, ironicly named, "Brotherhood" of Evil Mutants. Not only does she not lead but she also, in my opinion, hurts the team. Even the people around her who are supposed to follow her lead are often surprised by her decisions and actions.
She actually reminds me of the Adolf Hitler character in the movie "Der Untergang" (Downfall). She keeps making these decisions which are not understood by even the closest people around her. The same goes for Hitler in the movie, and in the movie after a certain point people secretly stop obeying his orders and this makes him even more furious.
Although it is a political issue I would rather not go into, probably many people would consider Hitler insane. As I read Batoman Elegy I was able to sense the same type of insanity in Alice. I also don't find it shocking that they both commit suicide.
Friday, October 21, 2011
Thursday, October 20, 2011
As we discussed Nikita in class, I noticed that we focused a lot on how some people were disappointed in Nikita. One of the possibilities that we decided could have been the reason for this was that Nikita showed a lot of (sad) emotion, which made her appear weak. We also said that it is only women who show emotion in movies—however, in 300, one of the most important scenes is when one of the warriors sees his son killed in battle. His strong, emotionless, and fierce shell breaks down and he bursts into tears while falling to the ground. I thought this was important because in this scene we view the soldier as passionate and we sympathize with him, while in Nikita some felt disappointed in her breaking down and showing her emotion. Do you think that the difference in opinions could be because one is a man and the other a woman? Or do you think that sad emotions portrayed are viewed differently because they occur in different circumstances? I personally feel that this discrepancy is because of peoples’ views on gender.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7prLRz0ovZ8 (this scene shows him fighting soldiers, gets cut off before crying scene, sorry!)
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Monday, October 17, 2011
The oversoul is about one universal soul that all people share and draw thoughts and knowledge from. The immateria, like the oversoul, is thought and imagination. It is a place that always exists and is transforming in our heads. Our minds contribute to and are our realities. After all, things that we physically experience are only our perceptions of what is going on around us. I think it was best said by Dumbledore in Harry Potter 7. “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?" - JK Rowling.
How do we access the immateria? Well, in I <3 Huckabees (the movie), Bernard suggests that Albert break the world down into little pieces. He shows Albert a white sheet and points to one area and tells him that it is NYC. He points to another place, that is Paris, another is Albert himself. The point he was trying to make was that everything is connected. Everyone is connected because every piece of matter is connected to everything else. When Albert finally has the moment when he can see clearly, the images that he physically sees break into little squares and move freely through space. Similar to when Promethea moves into the Immateria, reality morphs into a communal space that all matter can occupy.
There are so many books and films about what is real. I could go on and on, but I'll end it now. I just thought that Promethea answers this question again in a really interesting way.
A lot of us have seen Kick-Ass, so the concept isn't all that new. However, people seem to be taking it more seriously. Some "superheroes" have been arrested for their conduct, but some people are suggesting that rather than punishment, these "heroes" should have to abide by some sort of code. It seems like the police even appreciate this people, they just don't want them to take it too far. Could we potentially live in a world where "superheroes" exist?
Saturday, October 15, 2011
After reading an article on the internet, I came to realize that it doesn't matter how classy or how slutty a superheroine is because somehow she will still be turned into a sex icon. This article lists the "10 Superhot Superhero Girlfriends." Number 7 is Jean Grey who, as we concluded in class, was one of the more conservative superheroines we studied. Apparently, however, her hot attributes are her tight clothing and catching on fire "which has gotta be a lot of fun."
I had pretty high hopes for this movie, but I was sadly disappointed. Nikita started out as a super tough and fearless (albeit somewhat unstable) character, but I felt that she became less and less of a powerful woman as the movie went on, despite her training and "refinement." I also felt that her strong presence in the movie diminished as it went on--her most impressive actions were probably the shootings in the opening scene of the movie. After she became more ladylike in appearance and behavior through her training, she seemed to become a lot more fearful. Whether it was because she started to care about her life or fell in love, the supposedly new and improved Nikita was not nearly as "cool" as the Nikita we were first introduced to.
I appreciated the fact that Nikita clearly had a lot of strength and skill, but I was upset that there weren't many scenes in the movie that actually showed off her abilities. The latter half of the movie seemed to have an equal amount of romance and action scenes, if not more romance. The "action" wasn't quite action either--she screamed, she delivered tea as a disguised maid, and she broke down into hysterics around the Cleaner. I wasn't even angry at her running away at the end--I was just confused. She couldn't decide whether or not to give up love or fight back for love, so she ran away? Alright, movie.
Overall, Nikita wasn't the heroine that I wanted her to be. She had much potential, but as she was developed more and more into a so-called "femme fatale," she lost the witty, rebellious, "I don't give a shit" spark that defined her in the beginning of the film, and therefore became less of a powerful heroine to me.
The New 52 relaunch by DC was a big gamble--the company risked losing longtime fans--but fortunately for DC and the sluggish comic book industry, it received quite a positive response and was met with great success in terms of sales. So the big question is...how was it done, and what was changed (or rather, sacrificed) in the process?
This article titled "Truth, justice, and plenty of violence" that I recently read from the Boston Globe sums up the variety of responses the comics have been receiving and focuses in on how the comics seem to be "aimed at a more mature readership than ever" with their darker and more risqué content. Cases in point: Starfire and Catwoman, also covered in a previous blog post.
Quoted from the article, DC Comics copublishers Jim Lee and Dan Didio said in a statement, "We needed to energize our existing fan base, reconnect with lapsed readers, and introduce our storytelling to people who know our characters from films and TV but have never read a comic book.’’ In other words, in order to get sales up again, beloved superheroes (and superheroines to an even greater extent) were given a "modern" makeover, complete with more sex appeal, violent tendencies, and shinier spandex. This wouldn't be a big deal if the "sexy" makeovers didn't work, but they have proved to be effective at attracting attention over and over again, whether in the music industry, film industry, or comic book industry. But think about it--doesn't the whole "increasingly risqué content" idea feed into itself, forming a racier and racier cycle? After all, as each new generation comes and goes, society as a whole seems to grow more used to the culture of violence and sex, and therefore different industries and the media know what to turn to to get more attention.
Knowing that comic books were once geared toward children, is this a goodbye to the childhood heroes and heroines with "clean" and golden reputations?
As I was watching the movie I always had this expectation that there is something big which the viewer does not get to understand. As I kept on watching I was trying to pay attention to details to be able catch what the missing part was. I did try very hard but was unsuccessful. So, I thought that in the end of the movie I would understand what that was; however it never happened. Nikita simply ran away from a life as an assasin, which I don't understand was given to her in the first place because it never required anything extremely special. All her tasks were about 5-10 minutes and she never did anything outstanding that would require the French government to make her go through years of very tough training. The only thing she did do that needs background was maybe to put together all of the pieces of the gun in the hotel room.
The movie in general was enjoying to watch and Nikita is definitely a tough female character, who in the movie is reflected as "uncontrolled power" similar to the bad side of Jean Gray, The Dark Phoenix, but I never really understood the purpose of the organization and the things that they made her do. So I understood what she was doing but not why and this just leaves me with a big question mark in my head.
I might be missing something and if I am please let me know.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Sally is considered to be a "whore" by Rorsach, who I think is a very good depiction of a vigilante because he is so dark, pesimistic, serious and very conservative in his ideas. I don't know whether "whore" is the correct word to describe her actions but she is definitely a woman who like seeing that others are turned on by her actions. You can get a sense of this even in the attempt at rape scene. Another example is when she finds out there there are porn magazines of herself. Now, as an older woman, who finds out people turned her into a porn star she feels honored.
For those of you, who either watcehd or read the book, what I would like to know what you think about Sally.
These depictions of Batman or Superman are simple examples. Just look at how nicely shaped they are. Batman has pumped up biceps with a nice upper body (chest muscles, six pack) and very powerful lower body. Superman has incredibly broad shoulders , visible biceps, triceps, shoulder muscles. His wings are what are amazing though. His lower body seems even more powerful than Batman's. There's even a black area on his read underwear!
It is true that female characters are sexualized in comics. They definitely draw the reader's attention to specific parts but I think that for a female that is interested, male heroes also have very interesting parts. I think both genders of superheroes have to be depicted like that, because they are super, more than human. (Of course, there are examples when are not too)
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Intrigued, I decided to keep exploring the site, and I found out that it was created by none other than GAIL SIMONE!!! (Clearly, this excites me a lot.) What a funny coincidence! I found an interesting website that relates to our class... and it's written by an author we focused on in class!
Beyond this coincidence, the website is actually very entertaining. On the "Character List" page, it says:
Not every woman in comics has been killed, raped, depowered, crippled, turned evil, maimed, tortured, contracted a disease or had other life-derailing tragedies befall her, but given the following list (originally compiled by Gail, with later additions and changes), it's hard to think up exceptions.
Buf from X-Man (crippled)
Candy Southern (dead)
Captain Marvel II/Photon (depowered, ceded code name to a male hero)
Carol Ferris/Star Sapphire (turned into a villain by the Zamarons, possessed by the Predator)
Celsius (insane, dead, called delusional liar)
Christine Helvin of Troublemakers (victim of date rape, discovered she could never have children because she was no longer human)There is also a page on the site called "Respondent List" which features responses to the website from comic book creators. Most of them actually make great arguments and points about women featured in comic books. There is also a page of "Reactions" by various comic book authors, all worth a glance.
Why is it that female characters are perpetually killed/injured/depowered in comic books? Does this make it more entertaining, or is it now just something that has become part of the formula for writing a good comic book?
You should all click here to visit the website. It's fun to browse, very interesting to think about, and we get a glimpse of some of Gail Simone's work before "The Circle!"
Monday, October 10, 2011
Saturday, October 8, 2011
Today while I was reading a magazine, I came across an article about Chaz Bono being engaged. For those who do not know Chaz Bono, he was the daughter of Sonny and Cher. Yes, he was their daughter. Some years ago, Chastity Bono underwent a sex change operation to become "Chaz" Bono. Today he is engaged to a woman, Jennifer Elia.