Thursday, December 8, 2011

Women We Never Got to Talk About: Jessminder

The tomboy, the rebel, the star, Jessminder of Bend it like Beckham is many a young girls hero. For those unfamiliar with the movie, Jessminder is 18 years old and the daughter of Punjabi Sikhs. She lives in England and loves soccer. She has posters of famous soccer players hanging above her bed and, somewhat secretly, plays soccer with a group of guys some weekends. One day, Jess is playing in the park when another girl walking by sees her playing and notices how good she is. The other girl (Keira Knightley), Mel, talks to Jess afterwards and tells her that she’s on a women’s team and that Jess should join. Jess goes to check it out, but knows that her parents wouldn’t approve. Her parents are more concerned with Jess finding a husband, and don’t want her playing soccer. Jess joins the team regardless and lies about her parents being ok with it. She quickly develops a crush on their coach, Joe (who is very white and very Irish).

I’ll try not to spoil the movie too terribly, but Jess defies the old fashioned beliefs that her family holds. She fights the stereotype that soccer is just for men and that the only thing women should be worried about is marriage. Jess blazes her own path and even dares to fall for a boy that isn’t a Sikh. Her sister and her sister’s friends, on the other hand, are boy obsessed. They love shopping for clothes and are first and foremost concerned with finding husbands.

Although we come out of the movie with a good message about women, the middle gets a little sketchy. Mel also has a crush on Joe. So, when Mel sees Jess and Joe kiss, she throws a bit of a fit. Mel refuses to talk to Jess. Their close friendship is almost ruined by a boy. Not the finest moment, but it is a coming of age story after all.

So, why is Jess a hero? Because we all wish that we could stand up to our parents like she did. We all have or have had dreams of becoming a famous soccer player or musician or what have you. Jess follows those dreams and actually gets to have them. In a time where men’s sports dominated she is part of an early women’s league. She isn’t a “superhero” exactly. No super powers, no world to save. But she is a normal person hero. A “super person” if you will. So she makes my list.

"Women" We Never Got to Talk About: Dory

“Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming swimming swimming” is a tune that I’m sure got stuck in many of our heads over the years. Dory, endlessly energetic and fun loving has to be one of my many favorite female characters. Although she isn’t a “woman” per se, her character has the strength and conviction of one. Although a little ditsy, Dory is the beloved fish who helped Marlin rescue Nemo and bring him back home. Throughout the movie, Dory is constantly looked down upon by Marlin, and scorned for not remembering things, but these comments reflect more poorly on Marlin than Dory. Dory, after all is the one who remembers the address on the goggles (P. Sherman, 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney), gets directions to the East Australian Current, and communicates with the whale they got stuck inside.

However, even in fish form, Pixar manages to retain some female stereotypes. When Dory and Marlin are swimming together, Dory is greeted by a group of fish that begin to “flirt” with her and form shapes. Dory and Marlin immediately seem like a married couple. The fish talk to Dory and Marlin hurries her along. The fish ask Dory if Marlin is bothering her, and Dory says no and tries to explain that they are lost. Dory is immediately chummy with them saying “aww come on guys”. Dory also becomes the damsel in distress at the very end of the movie. After Marlin and Nemo reunite, Dory is caught in a fish net. Marlin and Nemo must work with the rest of the fish caught in the net to save her.

Dory’s only real conflict throughout the movie is her memory. It is not really a love story until the middle, when Marlin is the only fish that has helped Dory remember. Bur it seems that for Marlin, he learns to love her annoying questions and bubbly personality. I still love this movie, but it is filled with little gender stereotypes. Men not wanting to ask for directions, women asking a lot of questions, women being good with children (think squirt), and women being more emotional (think Dory’s breakdown.)

Women We Never Got to Talk About: Shosanna Dreyfus.

Shosanna Dreyfus is, in as few words as possible, a bombshell. Shosanna is one of the leads of Inglorious Basterds, and she is arguably the downfall of The Third Reich. Shosanna is one of the best female characters because she complexly manages to be a woman in love and a woman with a heart full of hatred at the same time. She has our sympathy and yet satisfies the craving to destroy the people who hurt her completely. One review said “Tarantino could have made that movie, and it would have been exciting, violent, bloody and thrilling. But it would have been lacking a soul. The Basterds are not sympathetic characters. To make a movie solely about them would be the same as following ten serial killers as they torture and kill people for 90 minutes. Inglorious Basterds needs a soul, and it’s provided by Shosanna Dreyfus, played by Melanie Laurent.” Shosanna is the reason that we hate “The Jew Hunter” so very much. We are with her when he kills her family, and we want revege almost as much as she does.

Shosanna is a strong woman. She manages to escape the death of her family intact, and finds a new identity. She takes over a movie theater and lives her life there under the radar. Her conflict in the movie is not the traditional “female” conflict of finding love, although a German soldier does pursue her. (But Shosanna uses her suitor to get to her hated enemy the Jew Hunter). Her problem is not finding a career, because she already has that. Shosanna operates underground, with the help of her lover. And with single-minded determination she manages to take the Third Reich, her movie theater, and her life, down together. We usually look at characters that overcome things or have special powers or live to fight another day. Shosanna does none of these things. She is a regular woman and a secret hero. Not even the Basterds know she exists, and her lover, her partner in crime, dies with her. Her one heroic act is silent and the loudest news to cross telephone lines. Although she is far from perfect, I would have to call her a heroine.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Growth of Willow

Willow was one of the characters in Buffy the Vampire Slayer that most evolved. She was played by Allison Hannigan from 1997 to 2003. If I had been told at the beginning of season 1 that Willow was going to become a really powerful witch that would make her one of the most formidable villains to ever appear in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I would have never believed them.


In Season 1 of Buffy, Willow was sophomore student in high school that nobody talked to because she was extremely smart and shy. She was constantly bullied by the popular girls in Sunnydale High School, who were Chordelia and her followers. As she befriends Buffy the viewers start to see a change in Willow. When she is bullied again she stands up for herself and replies to the insults, which is very out of character for the Willow in the first couple of episodes.As the season goes on Willow discovers that she is a witch and she starts learning about magic from Giles, she also becomes an important member of the Scooby gang of Buffy, since she becomes the logic and reasoning of the group. Her wardrobe in the season also starts to change and she goes from wearing preppy homemade looking dresses that she wore on the first episode to more fashionable clothes.


Willow gets into a relationship with Oz, a werewolf played by Seth Green. He first appears in the episode " Inca Mummy Girl". Oz and Willow have a happy relationship until Chordelia and Oz find Xander and Willow kissing. Then they start to have fallouts, but by graduation their relationship is back on track. When they get to college Oz meet another wolf and he cheats on Willow with the female wolf called Veruca. He sees that he is a wolf all the time and so he is afraid of hurting Willow so he leaves. His absence marks the period were Willow starts getting romantically attached to Tara and they become the first lesbian couple on television.


Willow and Tara have various problems in their relationship once Willow becomes addicted to magic, but eventually they resolve their differences and get back together. As everything is pure happiness between the two of them Tara is shot and she dies. When Tara is murdered Willow hurt and anger transforms her into the villain and she is a strong witch looking for revenge; eventually Xander's friendship saves her from total corruption.

100 Greatest Female Movie Characters

On Facebook someone posted a link about the 100 greatest female movie characters. Looking over the list I felt like it was a very interesting assortment of women who made it on there. There was everything from kiss ass girls like Nikita to cartoons like Jessie from Toy Story to even a plant called Audrey 2.

By having such a wide assortment of different types of women, this list really showed how there were many ways for a girl to be strong and independent. It didn't matter what profession you had or where you came from in life, it was all about what you did and how you handled yourself.

This was an issue that was brought up in class, asking about some modern strong female characters and people brought up characters like Miranda Priestly from "The Devil Wears Prada". This list should give people a lot more names to add.

But the real question is, do all these women deserve to be on the list? Or are there others that should be on it instead? Look through and tell me what you think!

Disney Princesses, Heroines or Stereotypical Females?


Who cannot say that they did not watch a Disney movie when they were growing up and fantasized about the magical worlds portrayed in the Disney films like Aladdin, Cinderella, and Beauty and the Beast?When I was smaller I would dress up with a "glamorous" tiara and imagine that I was the princess of this picturesque kingdom and had my happily ever after with a handsome prince. The Disney princesses were all beautiful beyond comparison and at the end of every storyline their beauty played a key role in their happily ever afters. But never did I wonder what price they had to pay in order to get their happy endings. 

All the princesses ended up with their happy endings but in the process they became victims of male objectification. Cinderella was saved by Prince Charming from her dreadful stepmother and her horrible living conditions, but did he have a good enough reason to save her? Not really he fell in love with her physical beauty the night of the ball. Jasmine refuses to get married in order to satisfy a law, so she and her father the sultan end up enslaved by Jafar. The hero of the storyline is none other than the "street rat" Aladdin. Ariel changes her physical appearance by exchanging her beautiful voice for legs, so that she can go to the surface and fall in love with Prince Eric. The problem is she cannot speak, but really do women  have something important to say or to do according to Disney movies?

Foreshadowing of Willow

One thing I really enjoyed about watching Buffy (because I've been an addict and have now seen almost every episode) is how well thought out the show is- even many seasons in advance.

The writers knew the direction each character was going and who they were at their core well before we as an audience could figure it out. One great example of this is the episode "Dooplegangland" in season three. In this episode, Willow as a vampire comes in from a different reality. When sending her back to her own reality, Willow says, " It's horrible. That's me as a vampire? I mean, I'm so evil, and skanky.. and I think I'm kind of gay." Willow doesn't actually come out til almost the end of the fourth season, and at this time she was still very much with Oz. As an audience member I would have never guessed that this was actually foreshadowing of what was to come.

This is the same thing that books like Harry Potter do so well. JK Rowling is famously known to have planned out the entire series on day on a long train ride. I think it is really a sign of true quality, that writers aren't just making things up as they go along but have a real focused goal. If Buffy didn't have this interconnected aspect to it, I doubt it would be studied at all.

Lara Croft

Just as Bridesmaids is constantly referred to as the female version of The Hangover, Lara Croft is known as the female Indiana Jones. Tomb Raider, the videogame, marked an important departure from the traditional role of women in videogames where they were always portrayed as supporting roles for the hero in his adventures but never the heroine. Before Tomb Raider men had this notion that if they were to market videogames for girls, they could put in jeopardy their lucrative market, which was composed of boys and young men. This videogame demonstrated that this belief does not ring true to the consumers because the game became and instant hit among both males and females and by 1997 fan boys were comparing Lara Croft to a female Yoda.

Lara Croft, played by Angelina Jolie in the film based on the videogame, is constantly compared to men counterparts because she is an active heroine in a traditionally known men’s genre. Men are usually seen as the ones that run around fighting the bad guys, rescuing the damsel in distress and in the process blowing up buildings and walking away without looking back at the explosion.She is not the first female to go around kicking ass because there were others like Nikita and Thelma and Louise, but her rejection of male dominated values and the common notion of femininity make her one of the most unique action heroines. 

The Conflict Behind the New 52

When DC first announced that they were going to reboot the DC Universe, everyone was very excited and eagerly awaiting for what the artists would bring to the table this time. Once the first issues of the DC 52 were published there was a huge backlash specially surrounding the female heroines. One of the most talked about scenes was Catwoman and Batman’s sex scene in the first issue of Catwoman.

The controversy began because DC portrayed women in an intensely sexual context that seems demeaning even to the most sexually liberated woman. Before Catwoman’s face is revealed there are shots of her red lingerie and then a couple of booty shots when she is wearing her extremely tight leather pants. This belittles females around the world because women are just shown as eye candy as if they have no purpose but to serve as window dressing.

Although the frequent lingerie and booty shots are demeaning, feminists are not as bothered by them because these kind of shots that sexualize women are quite common in the comic book world, but instead they are outraged by the love scene between Batman and Catwoman. They question why the artists had to dedicate a whole page to the Batman- Catwoman action instead of just omitting it like they usually do. The answer probably is that DC wanted to portray “sexually liberated” woman who are in control of their sexuality, but in turn ended up portraying what men want to see.

Buffy Episode: The Harvest


"The Harvest" was the second episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer that we had to watch for class. It marks the beginning of a long friendship among the members of the "Scooby" gang, and it is their first adventure together. In this episode Buffy continues her confrontation with Luke  in the mausoleum, but as he is about to finish her off she repels him with a silver cross that was given to her by a mysterious stranger, whom later on is revealed to be Angel, the vampire with a soul.

As the episode progresses it is revealed that "The Master" has devised a scheme in order to be liberated from his lair, so that he can take over the world with his minions. Luke was supposed to be the vessel for his master and feed from as many humans as possible so that "The Master" has enough strength to break his confinement. Meanwhile in the final stages of the ritual in the Bronze, which is the club were all the high school kids hang out, Buffy shows up and she confronts Luke once more and dazzles him with artificial light. She then proceeds to systematically pierce his heart. The other vampires in the club see that they are leaderless, so they decide to flee as fast as they can. At the end of the episode Xander says one of his most recognizable quotes " Nothing will ever be the same."

Ironically as Xander has said everything has changed for the group and the town, but they refuse to believe the truth so they act as if nothing has happened the next day in school. Xander and Willow are introduced into the mystical world of Buffy for the first time and the rest of the story is history. 

Hit Girl: One of the Coolest Heroines Who Can Really Kick Ass


Hit Girl played by Chloe Moretz in the film Kick Ass is one of the best super heroines that I have ever had the pleasure of watching on screen. Although she does not have any special powers, she is a trained assassin and has an amazing mastery of knifes in combat. She was trained by her father Big Daddy, who was played in the film by Nicholas Cage. 

When the movie was first released it created a lot of buzz because the character Hit Girl was very controversial amongst a group of parents who thought it was wildly inappropriate for a tween girl to be cursing like a "truck driver" and running around murdering people without an ounce of remorse. What they do not see is the big picture, sure killing people is not exactly the most heroic thing, but because of Hit Girl and other equally controversial young femme fatales like Hannah young girls can look at this gals as empowering and they can identify with them because they are as young as them .

Monday, December 5, 2011

Successful Women, Dysfunctional Families?

Women who are the perfect Susie Homemakers are traditionally seen as having the perfect family with the perfect husband and the perfect kids. This was the traditional view that society in general had of a perfect household, but as the women's rights movement gained momentum, the traditional family dynamics changed as well as the women who were in charge of their families. No longer the Susie Homemakers , woman began to take up different roles in society.

kirchner.jpgFemales began to work and did not need a man to provide for them, so this started the trend of women getting married later in life, and in turn delaying their child bearing stages. One of the greatest cliches that exists is the one that a woman who is successful career wise is not capable of having a successful relationship with her partner and her children because she is not a stay at home mom taking care of everything in the household. Men, on the other hand, are capable of balancing a successful career and family life. So then the conclusion that many people have arrived at is that successful women have dysfunctional families, which is a strained relationship between a parent and offspring. The truth is quite the contrary though because women are able to have the best of both worlds, for example the current president of Argentina Cristina Fernandez was married to her husband for more than thirty years until he suffered a devastating heart attack and she also has two children. So is the notion really true?

Buffy Survey

I found this buffy survey online and I thought it would be interesting to try!

  1. The first character I fell in love with: Willow.  In season one, she is so relatable, genuine, and quirky!
  2. The character I never expected to love as much as I do now: Giles.  At the beginning, he seems so stern and merely there as an adult figure.  But throughout the series, as he became a parental figure for Buffy, I began to view him that way as well.
  3. The character everyone loves that I don't: Dawn.
  4. The character I love that everyone else hates: Xander.  He's adorable and more than often tries to do the right thing!  Yes, he's silly and not the brightest, but he means well and grows so much throughout the series.
  5. The character I used to love but don't any longer: Drusilla.
  6. The character I would date any time: Angel
  7. The character I want to be like:  I'd want to be like Buffy in the sense that she's fearless.  I want to be like Willow in her uniqueness.  Giles is brilliant and kind.  I want bits of all of them, really!
  8. The character I'd slap: Buffy.  Stop moping!
  9. A pairing that I love: Willow and Tara - their relationships is so real and natural.
  10. A pairing that I despise: Buffy and Spike.  Unhealthy, abusive, gross.
  11. Favorite male character: Spike
  12. Favorite female character: Willow
  13. My five favorite characters: Spike, Willow, Xander, Tara, Giles
  14. My five least favorite characters: Dawn, Riley, Cordelia, Drusilla, Faith
  15. Which character I am most like: Probably Willow.
  16. My deep, dark Buffy secret: I know all of the words to "Once More With Feeling." Not just the musical numbers.
I'd be interested to see your answers to these questions too!

Cat Fights

We have all heard of the term cat fight, and usually associate it as a fight between two women. Methods involved in fighting include scratching, slapping, hair-pulling and shirt-shredding (according to Wikipedia). Obviously, the superheroines we have studied in class have never resorted to this form of fighting, but I thought it was interesting to bring up how society links women and violence.

Cat fights are supposedly the way real women fight- we resort to cheap tactics and can't throw a good punch. Men are ashamed if called "you fight like a girl." It hurts to see that society continues to label women as physically incapable of harming someone or protecting themselves. Women are still labeled as weak and unable to fight- the media might recognize male boxers but few will report on female boxers.

Furthermore, there has been huge exploitation on this idea of "cat fighting." Many cat fighting videos have surfaced, as men apparently find it amusing to see women fight this way. There are sexual undertones hinting towards lesbianism in these commercialized cat fights. I find it disgusting how cat fighting has defined the fighting power of women- we are all not weaklings, and we don't necessarily fight in that way. The exploitation of cat fights has further tainted the strength of females- two females fighting are seen as a joke and now carry sexual undertones. I think this idea of women fighting as "cat fights" has significantly contributed to the idea that superheroines can only fight other women and not men.

Not So Violent Superheroines

Looking again at the elements that have made female action flicks successful, Stephanie Mencimer wrote an article comparing the differences between male action flicks and female action flicks ( Due to the successes of Tomb Raider, Charlie's Angels and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Mencimer analyzes why these female action flicks have suddenly become popular despite the genre's long existence. Mencimer states that:

“Technology and the sexual revolution, though, have combined to make the muscleman---and his movie---obsolete. Wires have allowed Lucy Liu and Cameron Diaz to high- kick, jump, and fly better than Seagal ever could, and the girls didn't have to become body-builders in the process.

This article was written in 2001, during the boom of these action-babe flicks. Hence it's understandable that Mencimer would state that the aging of certain male action stars has lead to a shift in focus to female action stars, who are more graceful in their kick-ass fighting skills.

A more intriguing idea Mencimer raises though is the act that action chicks do not act as violent as male action stars. Mencimer states that:

"None of today's action chicks come near that level of messiness. The violence is sterilized---it is, after all, PG-13, aimed mostly at 12-year-olds. They rarely mess up their hair, nor do they really fight---or perhaps gun down---significant bad guys like, say, Rutger Hauer or Wesley Snipes, which would seriously upset the balance of power. Often they end up sparring with other women. Their motives are always pure and they never use unnecessary violence the way Arnold and the boys get to. The body count in Commando topped 100; Charlie's Angels couldn't have had a single real corpse."

She states that women who are portrayed as too powerful would not be easily accepted by men. I think this is a really interesting point to raise- that superheroes are allowed, and almost expected, to kill many of their enemies while superheroines are only supposed to fight to a certain extent. Many of the action flicks mentioned in her article did mostly have women fighting women. It is almost as though the idea of a woman overpowering a man is still unacceptable to society. Yet what does this say to the young girls who watch these films? That they are allowed to be kick-ass to a certain level, but will never be able to defeat the boys? I think it's demeaning to always have these action chicks only fighting females and not males, for it shows that despite being superheroines, they will always have their limits. Women should be shown as equals to men, as worthy opponents, to show young girls that they can stand up to boys as well.

There are still hardly any male-female fights depicted in action movies today- showing that the prejudice that superheroines are weaker than superheroes still exists. In order to have these superheroine flicks truly respected and taken seriously, do you all believe there is a need to show that women are fully capable of taking down men? Would it be acceptable or realistic to show that? I personally think that superheroines can have more fight scenes with male characters and show their skills. May the best man or woman win, depending on their capabilities, not just because of their gender.

Buffyverse vs. Twiverse?

We've talked about it a lot.

But I'm going to talk about it again... Twilight.  I know.  But hear me out.

People compare Buffy and Twilight a lot because they both involve vampires (and subsequently falling in love with those vampires).  But today I'm going to talk to you about the major differences between Buffy and Twilight.

  1. Joss Whedon creates an entire world, the Buffyverse if you will, for the Scoobies to live in.  In this world, there's demons, vampires, magic, and more.  The amount of detail that went into this world is astounding.  As for Twilight, Stephanie Meyer (the author) plopped a family of vampires right in the middle of our world.  Nothing is unusual, except the vampires, which makes the story awkward and hard to believe.  Additionally, the lack of detail and care into the "Twiverse" shows that the love story is really the most important thing here.  Whereas in Buffy, the world and the detail matter just as much as any storyline does.
  2. Buffy is about the supernatural, fighting vampires and demons, and saving the world.  While doing this, the characters learn about themselves, each other, and even form relationships.  The bonds between the characters are complex and interesting.  Twilight is about a love story.  Twilight is about a girl who falls head over heels for a vampire and everything else revolves around that.  See the problem here?
  3. The main characters of both series fall in love with vampires.  The main difference: Buffy doesn't let her infatuation cloud her judgement.  In fact, she even fights the vampire she loves in order to save the rest of the world.  Bella is well aware that Edward is dangerous to her and others and stays with him anyway.  Bella does extremely dangerous things just so Edward will come back to her after leaving her.  Unlike Buffy, Bella puts her love for her vampire first, above her other friends, family, and her safety.
  4. Another difference: Buffy would never willingly become a vampire.  Buffy is happy being who she is (for the most part).  While she falls in love with two different vampires, she always continues her work as the slayer.  Bella Swan, however, spends most of her time asking to be turned into a vampire, damned to live forever.  All she wants is Edward, and she would risk her mortality and soul to be able to spend the rest of her existence with him.

The bottom line?  The purpose of Twilight is to tell a silly love story with no deeper meanings or connections.  Buffy forces the viewer to think, feel, and evaluate their lives as well as the show they are watching.  It is thought-provoking, interesting, and inspiring.  Watch Buffy instead.


In the breakout book series (soon to be major motion picture in March 2012), the protagonist Katniss Everdeen goes from being a nobody in her poverty-stricken district in post-apocalyptic North America, to a renowned superheroine, leading the country in revolution. The Hunger Games is a survivor-type reality show that Panam (America's new name) government puts on, in which 24 children between the ages of 12 and 18 fight to the finish, with only one live survivor at the end. Katniss's first heroic move is volunteering to fight instead of her sister, when her kid sister is drafted into the games. Knowing that her life will most likely not continue after the games, given that she is female (and therefore considered weaker) and from the most destitute area.
Katniss goes into the Hunger Games, and through the alliances she makes, and her extreme skill in archery, she makes it out alive. She and the boy sent from her district team up together and refuse to leave the arena unless both of them survive. Katniss can certainly be considered a superheroine during the games, but her true shining moments come after the games are over and the government is out to get her. The country is in serious need of a change, as the government controls their every move--let's just say their constitution looks nothing like ours. Katniss, even when she feels like she has nothing left, musters the strength to change the country. She develops a band of followers, whose symbol is the mockingjay, the animal on a pin Katniss wore throughout the entire Hunger Games. Katniss does not possess superpowers, but she is courageous, strong, and fights to overturn those who are corrupt and unjust. She is regarded as a superhero by all of the people in her district, as well as the other districts who feel similarly oppressed.
A superhero is not just a person who possesses special powers, but is someone who can make a difference in at least one life that will have a lasting and meaningful effect.

Olivia Dunham in Fringe

When I asked in class the other day how many people watch "Fringe," I was really surprised when no one raised their hand.  The main character is a strong female, so I thought she would be extremely appropriate to bring up in our discussion and blog.

"Fringe" is a sci fi show about an FBI division called "Fringe" that investigates a series of unexplained, seemingly supernatural events that often have to do with mysteries surrounding a parallel universe (again, thank you, wikipedia).

Olivia Dunham is the main character of the show.  She is recruited to the Fringe division in the pilot, and completely rose to the challenge.  She is strong, secretive, motivated, and smart.  Olivia fails to conform to most "superheroine" stereotypes.  She is never sexualized nor does she let her personal life get in the way of her job.  Even when she is stuck in an evil parallel universe, Olivia stays true to herself and is able to fight and find her way home.  In the parallel universe, she is sentenced to death, experimented upon, and ignored by men.  Despite these torments and hardships, Olivia succeeds in beating them.

She also doesn't conform to the "women can't be successful in their career and have a successful personal life" stereotype either.  Olivia built a strong relationship with one of her colleagues and was able to fix it even while Alternate Olivia from the other universe pretended to be her and sabotage her life.

Basically, Fringe is an excellent show with a strong, independent female lead.  You should all watch it!

Video Games: Where are the Girl Versions?

Back when I was a kid, I was obsessed with Pokemon, both the TV show and the video games. During those days, boys and girls alike would play Pokemon on their Game Boy Advance, Game Boy Colors or what not, and have their own journey to become that Pokemon master. Yet there was one serious issue with these video games. When you first open the game, your avatar is automatically set to be a boy figure. This used to annoy me so much when I played the game- I was clearly a girl, and many of my girl friends played the game too, so why couldn't they create a girl avatar? This could have been partially due to the fact that technology wasn't as great back then, but I do remember my excitement when I heard the latest Pokemon game (Crystal version I believe) finally had the choice between a girl avatar or a boy avatar. For the first time, I felt like I was playing with my own identity, instead of being forced to be a boy when I was clearly a girl.

Video games in general have long been labeled since its creation as more of a "boy thing." Hence many of the superhero characters that we played as were often male- Mario, Ash Ketchum, the list goes on. I remember that when I was in elementary school, there were few "girl games" that I played. Most of the video games in the market were action games, and there weren't many games that were targeted specially towards girls.

Today, however, after observing what my little cousins play these days, there seems to be a far increased amount of game choices for both boys and girls. Girls can know finally play their own video games, and take on the role of a superheroine instead of being forced to take on the role of a male superhero. I think it's great to see there are now more role-playing games that allow girls to kick-ass as girls, playing as their favorite super heroine. The increased amount of "girl versions" of games has lead to more choices in what girls can play- they can choose to play some makeover game or maybe play Mario Smash Brothers as a female character. Do you all agree that the video game industry has slowly become more gender equal?

Forget Me Not

There is a new television show on CBS this fall called "Unforgettable." The show is about a woman named Carrie Wells who has a genetic defect, allowing her to remember everything she sees. She can literally go back into a memory and walk around in it in order to pick up something from a scene that she didn't catch the first time. When Carrie was twelve years old, her older sister was murdered when the two girls were playing in the woods. It was at that moment, at a mere age 12, that Carrie decides she will use her power to help people for the rest of her life. She grows up to work for the police department in homicide, using her power to solve murder cases.
This video shows the intro of the show and gives you a glimpse into Carrie's life:

Carrie may not be the traditional superheroine with X-ray vision and super strength, but she possesses all of the characteristics that a normal superheroine would. First of all, she has the defining moment where she decides to use her powers for the popular good. She explains in one of the episodes that before her sister's murder, she didn't pay much attention to her extraordinary memory; it was just sort of something she lived with. Afterwards, she made a promise to herself that she would never forget anything ever again. Secondly, she uses her superpowers to fight the bad guys. She is not physically abusing them, but she is using her skill to track down murderers and put affected families at ease.
Carrie covets the same awe and respect of her peers in the office that a superhero would hold from the townspeople. What's incredible is that this genetic defect is real. It is extremely rare, but it does exist, which means that if used for the greater good, we really do have superheroes/heroines living among us in the real world. There are so many ways to define a superhero/heroine, but Carrie Wells is absolutely a superheroine to those she helps in every case.

Sabrina, the Teenage Witch

I remember for our very first assignment, we were asked to write about a specific superheroine who has influenced us in one way or the other. My favorite TV show when I was in elementary school/middle school was Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. I think one of the main reasons Sabrina was so endearing to me was the fact that the series was rooted very much in "reality." The main plot of the series followed her life as a teenager with magical powers, struggling to grow up. Unlike Buffy the Vampire Slayer, where the plot revolves around Buffy's duty as a Slayer, Sabrina, the Teenage Witch focuses far more on Sabrina's everyday life, as her identity as a witch is more of a unique trait of hers than something that rules her life.

I personally never viewed Sabrina as a role model, for she would always use magic to try to solve her problems, which eventually ended up backfiring on her. Sabrina was usually more successful at solving her own problems as a normal everyday girl than as a witch trying to manipulate an easy way out of things. She was very much a flawed superheroine, but that is what made me relate to her more as a person.

On particular episode that really stood out to me was when Sabrina had to deal with procrastination. Torn between going to a party and finishing her paper, college student Sabrina eventually cast a spell that literally gave her more time. Yet a side effect of her spell was her friends' lost of time- as their actions were physically stalled and slowed. This especially links to our lives now- I'm sure everyone has procrastinated and know of its harmful effects, but the show's literal depiction of procrastination really helped me realize how not completing your own duties can strongly affect people around you.

Sabrina's mistakes led me to realize some of my own mistakes, and I began to note the importance of confidence, hard work and responsibility. Sabrina is a unique type of realistic superheroine that makes it easy for any girl to relate to. I think the birth of more of these flawed, but endearing superheroines could be beneficial for younger generations. Rather than have fabulous superheroines that have traits we will never be able to embody, it's much easier to have a realistic superheroine who makes the same mistakes we make but isn't afraid to confront them and change herself for the better.

Vampires and Humans

With the new Twilight movie upon us, I thought I would compare the characters in my guilty pleasure, Twilight, to those in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. While different in several ways, the characters are also quite similar. Buffy and Bella share a common top priority: family and friends.
Both Buffy and Bella repeatedly go out of their way to sacrifice themselves for the one's they love. They both define family as not only those related to them by blood, but also those who they care about, love, and depend on. Let's not forget to mention, they are also both humans who fall for the dangerous vampires. Granted, in Twilight most of the vampires are depicted as fairies and won't harm a human if given the chance. Buffy literally sacrifices her life in order to save her younger sister, Dawn. She considers her life insignificant if she can't share it with the people she holds most dear. Similarly, Bella leaves her parents in the dark about her relationship with a vampire in order to protect them. She repeatedly makes the Cullens aware that her first priority is keeping her father safe (her mother lives in Florida).
Bella, by nature, is much more careless and irresponsible than Buffy. In the second volume of the saga: "New Moon,"Bella intentionally does reckless things to bring back her beloved vampire. Though Buffy is reckless for having a relationship with the more foreboding, Spike, she does not intentionally put herself in horrifying situations to attract another's attention.
Another way in which they are fundamentally different is that Bella wants into the supernatural world, and Buffy wants out. Bella sees the world of vampires as sexy and alluring and she wants nothing more than to be part of it. Buffy did not choose to lead the supernatural life, and would love nothing more than to be a normal teenager. Perhaps some fan fiction switcharoo? I'm not sure how much Buffy would like Edward though....

Xena: The Other Slayer

Before even Buffy was created, there was Xena: Warrior Princess. In many ways this show was a precursor to Buffy, with many similar themes (although they were running at the same time for quite a while). This show features Xena, a warrior woman just as strong as Buffy. She was once a ruthless killer, but changed her ways and now spends her life trying to help others to redeem herself, on a quest for the "greater good."
Although there are not the same monsters, demons or vampires in Xena, she does have to fight other strange creatures (mostly from Greek mythology) such as centaurs and even gods (similar to Buffy's fighting Glory) to protect the world. Xena does not have a "Scooby gang" like Buffy does, but she does have her two best friends to help her: Gabrielle, a bard, and Joxer, the ridiculous comic relief character.

Xena even had a lesbian subtext before Buffy did. Although much more ambiguous than Willow and Tara, Xena and Gabrielle seem to have more-than-friendly affections for each other. They even kissed a few times. The creators of the show purposefully made it unclear whether or not they were really in a relationship, but there was definitely something there.

We think of Buffy as THE groundbreaking feminist show of the '90s, but clearly it was not the only one. Xena was a great feminist role model as well - possibly even a role model to Buffy herself.


It is a common Hollywood trend that when good girls have sex, or engage in inappropriate activities, bad things happen to them. In your typical horror film, the innocent girl gone bad usually dies. This sends a message to viewers that sex is wrong, and if you have sex, bad things will happen to you too. Buffy takes a slightly different approach, but still furthers that message.

When Buffy loses her virginity, Angel loses his soul for feeling happiness, and then turns on her. He becomes evil again and makes Buffy feel horrible about herself. Her situation with Spike is a little bit different, though. She openly enjoys her sex with Spike, which theoretically is forbidden. The repercussions of this are in Spike's attempted rape of Buffy. It is framed as a punishment for Buffy enjoying the sex. That said, afterwards in the following season, Spike seeks to get his soul back so that he will be worthy of Buffy's love. This is not the harsh consequence that usually follows a stereotypical Hollywood sexual interaction.
(I tried to find a clip on youtube of Buffy's fight with Angelus, but I couldn't find it--you can watch it on Netflix if you'd like to complement the description).

It is said that the producers added the rape scene specifically to make the viewers feel thats Spike is NOT worthy of her love, however if that's really the case, then why would he seek to become better for her afterwards? This show was also created to counter the stereotypical helpless female, but at times, like the post-sex incidents with Spike and Angel, it seems like that's exactly what Buffy is (in this way). Buffy is, of course, an excellent fighter, and at times the most powerful one out there. In my opinion, however, what happens off the battle field is just as important as what happens on it, in terms of character assessment.

"Hollywood's Limited View of the Sexes"

The article “What Comparing Bridesmaids and The Hangover Reveals About Hollywood’s Gender Problem”, by Sophia Savage, reveals an obvious lack of progression when it comes to seeing women in being represented outside of their stereotypes in the movies- specifically in comedies. This article addressed several snap-judgments regarding female actresses like “comedies starring women [are] chick-flicks.

Some reviews recounted in the article were blatantly sexist in their surprise that a movie starring so many women could be so funny.

"… even when it's basically The Hangover in drag, this is as good as it's going to get for women in Hollywood movies this summer."

“So if you want to see Bridesmaids, see it. You’ll enjoy it. I give you permission to see a chick flick. Show how modern you are by viewing a film starring women.

"[The] comparison has a negative side: Bridesmaids is promoted as the movie every woman should see, and that invites patronizing. 'It’s a chick flick, but they’re acting like men, so guys will like it, too,' the general tone seems to be. It’s almost as if, just this once, women have been given a free pass to be funny."

The last comment was what I found the most disparaging. Bridesmaids is an allegedly "groundbreaking" film (which is pathetic considering the day and age we live in), but the last comment reveals that people will view this movie as just a rare exception to a stereotype, not a means of deconstructing the stereotype all together. Even if more steps are made in efforts to defy these limiting views of women, we are in for a very long battle before a big impact can be made.

Taking Over

Comics that have existed for generations before ours are constantly being transformed into mainstream movies left and right. With Spider-Man and Batman being two of the more popular ones, the list is massive. Such a list of superheroes and heroines that have transitioned from comic book to movie that is provided below. Mind you, I kept only the titles that were readily available in my memory upon reading the list (off of this website:

Fantastic Four
Green Lantern
Iron Man
The Punisher
Sin City
V for Vendetta

This list's only basis was the author's memory, but even then I still think it's important to note that only two woman made this list. It makes sense seeing that, as we often discuss, not many comics with woman leads are popular or yet alone exist. However, I don't understand why Hollywood wouldn't invest in changing this. It doesn't make sense to me artistically or economically, and here are my two reasons why:
1. There have already been so many remakes of Batman, Spiderman, and their gang. We get it, they're cool. This being said, there are so many more interesting story plots that exist. I say this not only because I'd like to see more women on the big screen, but also because I'm tired of the same thing!
2. As opposed to releasing new movies with male leads, why not appeal to a large audience base: younger girls. With movies such as Twilight raking in the big bills, why not make use of that group of consumers and release a movie about a superheroine? Wouldn't that make economic sense? Moreover, in using popular actresses such as Emma Watson or Kristen Stewart to play the lead, it is almost guaranteed that it will sell.

I wish both the comic and movie industries would wake up and see that times are changing, and that if they have any desire to survive, they should change with them!

[Strong Characters], Female...NOT [Strong Female] Characters

Discussing the virtual nonexistence of strong female characters in movies inspired me to look into the reason why these types of roles are unpopular in mainstream culture. However, I came across the article "Why Strong Female Characters Are Bad for Women" (written by Shana Mlawski), which opened my eyes to some opinions of these“strong females”.

Mlawski's argument was primarily inspired by the movie Transformer (2007), most specifically a quote by the leading female, played by Megan Fox:

"'Both of the female characters in the movie were very strong characters. Rachel [Taylor]'s character is very intelligent. I thought that they were representing women very well."

Although the article first was astounded that Megan Fox considered herself playing a strong female role when she was obviously being flaunted as a sexual object, but an argument against strong female characters later in the article uses Megan Fox’s character as an example for why the media should revert to females being portrayed as damsels in distress.

“Damsel in Distress was kind of a terrible character, but at least she did end up with the hot hero at the end…More often now, [the Strong Female Characters] would be saved by the Schlubby Everydude.”

Although Mlawski’s argument was mostly based on hilariously exaggerated opinion, there was some validity in what she was saying. I wouldn't go as far to agree that "strong female characters are bad", I do think Mlawski's reasoning does ring true in some aspects.

“Women were clamoring for ‘strong female characters’, and male writers misunderstood. They thought the feminist meant [Strong Female] Characters. The feminists meant [Strong Characters], Female.”

Roles in movies are often put in context of gender. Like we said in class, we typecast roles in life to certain genders: leaving the emotions and compassion to the women and the strength and handiness to men. Even when these stereotypes are defied, we always bring it back to gender. Mlawski emphasized this to reflect on the subsequent flaws and overall bad name that this has given the name of strong female leads. That is why, in her own quirky way, this article is arguing in favor of “weak female characters…not ‘weak’ meaning ‘Damsel in Distress.’ ‘Weak’ meaning ‘flawed’. A main reason why these strong female leads rarely survive in Hollywood is because how blatantly unrealistic they are…they are literally physical, mental, and emotional perfect used to tantalize a male audience.

"There would usually be a scene (or three) where the "Strong Female Character" would be trapped by the villain and put into sexy clothing, I guess as a punishment of some sort. And even when she was being strong, she was always doing it in the sexiest way possible...all in all, the 'strength' of her character was just to make her a better prize for the hero at the end--and for the horny male audience throughout."

Not that I'm saying this is the only reason for the recurring failures in strong female leads, but perhaps if the female character's intentions reverted from pleasing the male audience in this way, there would be more opportunity to explore the possibility of making these characters more complex and realistic.

Alice ( Batwoman) and Baby doll ( Sucker Punch)

Alice was a character introduced in the Batwoman: Elegy story arc. Alice was Bat woman's long lost twin sister, whom Kate Kane ( Batwoman) thought to have been brutally murdered when she was just a child. Alice is a very interesting villain in the comic because she dresses up like a child with Victorian influences. She also has a distraught way of speaking; she uses the pitch of a small girl whenever she is threatening to kill someone. The manner in which the character dresses up like an infant is common for both Alice and Baby doll, a character from the film Sucker Punch.

Babydoll and Alice both dress up like oversexualized schoolgirls, which turns out to be an odd combination that has lead to huge controversy because it is still a topic of taboo in society. The outfits that they wear come to represent their different psychological traumas. In Alice's case she is stuck with a child's mentality because of her traumatic experiences as a child ( Alice's mother was murdered right in front of her and she was ripped away from both her father and her twin sister, Katy). Baby doll is over sexualized because she lives in an institution were the madame and the men take advantage of them sexually, so Baby doll tends to retract to her imaginary world in order to escape her reality. 

The Brains Behind the Madness

Upon searching the world wide web, I found Gail Simone's message board on her website. I found her response to the question of why not many women submit to Marvel to seek work to be very interesting. It may, perhaps, answer the question I posed before as to why there are not many female heroines. Simone writes,

"I like Marvel. I have a lot of friends at Marvel. But there is definitely a Howard Stern/partytime/fratboy/strip club element. Again, I like Marvel. But when I was there, it was inevitable that every female who left or was let go would be referred to as a ‘crazy bitch’ at some point. I don’t blame any one person for it, but it is something that could bite them in the ass if they’re not careful."

On Marvel's behalf she does make shoutouts to welcoming editors and admits that it's been years since she was there, stating that perhaps the atmosphere has changed. However, her experience leads her to believe Marvel has an institutionalized faux ‘badboys’ environment, to say the least.

It's interesting to see that Marvel has few female heroines in their headliners. It's more interesting to see that few women work for Marvel. Now, to me at least, it's most interesting to see that most women don't even want to work at Marvel. All along I thought the problem was that Marvel didn't employ women writers, but yet it's the writers who choose not to go to them. In holding onto the stereotype of the Marvel environment, women would rather dedicate their efforts elsewhere, "in a place where I don't have to fight an offensive atmosphere, can more easily get work, and oh, yeah, make more money," as an aspiring woman writer says.

Maybe the problems of the comic book aren't attributable to one company or one series or one writer or one anything. Perhaps the problem stems from the perpetual stereotypes that no one seems to be capable of letting go of, neither the companies nor the writers. Maybe change has to occur from the very core to revolutionize this industry.

Pirates of the DC Universe

Arrrrrrgh Matey, what do you know about piracy? Perhaps you know about the music piracy epidemic that rose in the beginning of 2000s, or maybe you're just still stuck on the corny beginning line of this blog post. Basically, piracy is a problem that haunted the music industry as soon as people had the hardware to consume music digitally, and this article ( argues it is threatening the comic industry today.

The author argues that the launch of the iPad with its tablet form factor will influence individuals to download comic books illegally because
a. it's free (obviously)
b. reading a comic would feel very much like reading a comic book directly
c. the iPad provides a much more appealing avenue to read comic through than simply downloading off of a computer monitor.
This problem is especially heightened due to the younger, more tech-savvy audiences the comic book industry is now targeting. This being said, the author proposes that comic book publishers "copy the people copying their products to save the industry," stating four steps that he believes must happen:

  1. Release issues at a reasonable price of $0.99 to $1.99 each.
  2. Release issues the same day that print copies ship to comic book stores.
  3. Publish all current titles on the iPad.
  4. Begin publishing back issues and series in groups (ie: X-Men #1-100) and sell them in groups of 25 or 50 at a reasonable price.

So, what do you guys think? Do you think there is a way to stop piracy from devastating the comic book industry? Moreover, do you think piracy is the main problem the industry is now facing?

Caroline and Buffy

Since Twilight came out, there seems to be a growth in the vampire story popularity. I, like I'd guess most other girls in this class, have been affected by this craze in some way. Although I have read the Twilight books and seen the movies, it is not my favorite post-Buffy vampire story. I've actually become obsessed with the show Vampire Diaries.

For those who haven't seen the show, it is about a girl named Elena who is known as "the doppelganger" and the two Salvator brothers, Stephen and Ian, who try to protect her and end up falling in love with her.

This show seemed to have a lot in common with Buffy. She falls for a good vampire who doesn't hurt humans, her best friend's a witch, another one of her friends dates a werewolf- but the main character Elena lacks the power Buffy has. She is constantly the damsel in distress, needing to be saved an protected by others. She has no magic powers, and is undeniably human through it all. Because of this, I find her a very weak and uninteresting character.

The character who I feel is the most like Buffy is Elena's friend Caroline, who gets transformed into a vampire. She starts out very superficial and girly, but as the show progresses becomes a much more complex character. She like Buffy, wants to live a normal teenage life. Both start out as blonde, popular, cheerleaders with lots of friends. But once they start to become involved in the supernatural, they really grow into themselves. Caroline starts assisting in protecting Elena, and thus vampire takeover, while helping her friend Tyler- who is supposed to be her mortal enemy- through his transformation into a werewolf. While doing this, she still keeps her popularity, cheerleading, and fun-loving attitude. She doesn't care what the rules are and does what she thinks is right- very similar to Buffy.

Even though this is obviously not as quality of a show as Buffy is, the character Caroline proves that even in silly teenage television, there can still be a hint of feminism for you to look for.

An Alternate Universe

In an attempt to avoid repetition amongst my blog posts, I searched for a topic that has not yet been discussed. I kept running into blogs and articles recycling the same issues that we’ve already touched upon. However, I then rememberd one aspect of the comic world we have not yet discussed – the art of cosplay.

Cosplay has been around for decades within the comic, anime, and sci-fi fandoms, centering around communities of fans who make homemade costumes of their favorite characters. While I have heard of some cosplay conventions that go on in America, I really only found out about this seemingly alternate universe through my cousin living in the Philippines, where it seemed to me that the comic book culture was much more prevalent. She underwent a period of her teenage years characterized by goth and all things black, a time we now jokingly call the “dark ages.” Upon visiting her in Manila, I lived through an out-of-this-world experience, finding myself surrounded by living and breathing characters. To my right was Captain Jack Sparrow, to my left Sailor Moon, and in front of me was a group of individuals I was most impressed by – the cast of Sandman. I had attended my first cosplay convention.

This is an image of my cousin retrieved from the Dark Ages. (I'm pretty sure you get how appropriate that name is now...I hope she doesn't kill me for posting this...)

Cornell applications might as well require that an applicant check off a part nerdy box, for we all essentially had to be to find ourselves studying here (apart from the Hotelies, of course.) But all jokes aside, being different is something I now take pride in. The story was much different as I was growing up, however, for I did all but defy societal norms. Nickelodeon romances made me giddy and barbie houses excited. Ballet and art defined my after school activities, and pink was my favorite color. Needless to say, cosplay was out of my element. However upon being immersed in this culture for the first time, I found myself genuinely impressed. Some of these costumes appeared as though they were taken straight from their comic or movie origins, but yet they were the product of dedicated fans. I was impressed.

I've posted a few impressive costumes I found online, but if this is your first time hearing about the world of cosplay, I highly suggest investigating further for yourself. If this post wasn't incentive enough, I'd advise you to think of cosplay as Halloween on random days of the year - now who could object to that?!