After our discussion through Hunger Games of what makes a superheroine, I started thinking about the characters in a show I watch, The Vampire Diaries. Yes, the show is sort of a Twilight knock off and not super well written, however, I still enjoy it. But the question comes, why is the show so popular when its major plot is that the main character Elena is the damsel in distress always saved?
One reason I believe it has been so successful is that most females would like the idea of having two super attractive guys always wanting to protect them. On the other hand, nowadays media cannot succeed if they present only weak females. Then I thought of the criticism of the Hunger Games, Katniss doesn’t make enough hard moral decisions. Well, that isn’t a problem with Elena. Almost every episode she has to choose between the lesser of two evils; usually allowing a crazy psycho vampire to get what they want in return for the safety of a loved one. Throughout the show there is major emotional turmoil and moral conflict.
Even though Elena has to make moral choices, her choices are usually overruled by Stefan or Damon, the vampires in love with Elena. She can choose the moral high ground to sacrifice herself for a loved one, but it doesn’t matter. One of the boys will end up saving her, even if it means the death of another character. But, she can take care of herself and has been in a good number of fights, even getting herself out of some hostage-type situations. She is shown as both an independent strong woman and a more helpless female in need of protection. Can Elena be considered a strong female character if she is strong and makes the hard choices, but her choices are not followed?
Along with Elena, there are many other formidable female characters. All are connected in that they want to protect the men and friends in their life. In my Charlie’s Angels post I questioned the “wrongness” of women using their sexuality to get what they want. Here in The Vampire Diaries, these women go a step farther. The characters use not just their sexuality, but exploit the fact certain male characters like them. Elena, though she is sometimes ignored by Stefan and Damon, she also has considerable influence over them. She holds their love over their heads in a “if you love me you won’t do …” type of way. The classic male protective nature can be taken advantage of by the women.
To me, these types of qualities could offset some of the more stereotypical qualities that the women possess in this show. All of the characters are beautiful, love is the females’ main priority, they are slightly overemotional, and they are vindictive in revenge. Does a female character have to challenge all stereotypes or just show more and more strength. Is it enough just to be respected?