In a year in which the nominees for the biggest awards are sans people of color and the hosts are 12, and at least in Franco’s case lack any class whatsoever, I find comfort in this:
There is so much love in their eyes it makes me believe the Oscars are about more than patting each other on the back in expensive outfits the cost of which could help some people pay their health insurance bills, eat real meals, and survive another day.
Oh well, at least Robert Downey Jr. did not take this opportunity to talk about having sex with all the female nominees (including the underage one from True Grit) during their award announcement like the last award show. BUT WAIT instead we had an aging Douglas flirting with the women hosting and up for Best Supporting Actress. It was nice to see him up and talking, and even better that the Academy Awards allowed an elder man with a speech impediment give an award; something other “shiny, pretty people” shows should do more often. However, sexism is sexism is sexism. Somebody please tell men chosen to present awards that neither the SAG nor the Academy Awards (or the Emmys for that matter) discriminate on the basis of cisgender alone and these awards are neither named “pretty girl award” or often given to people without real talent who have worked just as hard as the men who are not objectified win they win their’s.
Oh well, maybe they will leave Mr. Blackface Downey Jr. out of the memorial montage, like they did to poor Corey Haim. That’s two prestigious award shows in which his passing was not mentioned. Once is an oversight. Twice? Especially after Feldman’s public berating of the SAG organizers? That’s just a shame. He may have been troubled but a lot of people made a lot of money off of him in his hey day and more importantly, he turned critically acclaimed performances in films like Lucas. He deserved better in death even if they could not give it to him in life.
(and to think Hattie McDaniel actually risked her job to try and make this role less offensive than written;
can you imagine what the script says)
So yeah, I could analyze the mtv-ization of the awards in ways that were not funny nor entertaining, or slag off the wardrobe choices, or even celebrate the wonder of first time winners. But instead I am just going to say perhaps they need to hire a real comedian, learn to leave the sexism behind, and actually honor all of the stars that the Hollywood machine once praised and then spit out when they didn’t taste as sweet. You can do that can’t you? Afterall, I had to sit through a montage of Gone With the Wind from the people who used to give out a DW Griffith award, I think you can at least get some things right.
(yes I did file this under bitter much; I know my shadow)
Based on the still largely gender segregated profession and perception of the sexuality availability of flight attendants, do you think that this new tactic to get people to think about safety on the airline is creative or demeans? can it be both?
(updated) So a lot happened in the world of fluff while I was away and, if my stats are to be trusted, some of you are really desperate to hear what I think about certain media moments. Here is the long and the short of it in the following order:
Dr. Who Season Finale
Wonder Woman Revamp
Lindsay Lohan’s Arrest
Despicable Me Review
The Real L Word a Retraction
Dr. Who Season Finale (Spoilers)- I admit that after much initial scepticisim, I decided I really liked the latest incarnation of the Doctor. As I said in my post “Dr. Who Super Quickie“, the writing, acting, and directing had finally seemed to gel, everyone was bringing their A game, and the storyline was finally distinctive and engaging. Unfortunately, Moffat could not just sail his own ship into Dr. Who history like the amazing writer, director, and fan he is capable of being. Instead, like a rejected child whose lost one too many fights with daddy, Moffat consistently veered the show back over Davies territory in order to rewrite, rehash, and re-envision what has come before instead of simply taking the show in the direction he would like to define it’s latest incarnation. As a consequence, many of the episodes and especially the first part of the finale played out more like “suck it dad” than creative expansion. I’ve never been one for Freudian dramas between men, but when the final episode pt 1 aired as a mirror of the first, full of pointless pontificating and the resurrection of doctors past dissolving into the underwhelming Matt Smith I’d had enough. When part II opened with all of the Dr. Who enemies past destroyed, I wanted to call about the BBC and demand an apology to loyal fans or at least get myself put on an important panel in Britain to give a scathing review up close. The ridiculousness of Moffat having to constantly remind fans that his Doctor is The Doctor and his Whoniverse was better than all the rest because ha, ha, he destroyed all the other ones, throughout the show ranged from the subtle changes that we could all get used to, to the drastic ones. He even stomped on Torchwood lore by making Rory somehow able to be human despite not having an ounce of human DNA left as a cyberman while Lisa, who was half human, could not pull it off. But the worst, was when his entire first season at the helm ended with “DO OVER.” Seriously? What kind of lazy writing does one have to engage in it that they offer up very little new material throughout an entire season and yet still can’t think themselves out of the one new piece of information they provided without just calling time, literally, and starting again? What is the point of a time traveling show if the solution to go forward and then backward in time to rectify one’s mistakes is not expressly prohibited? Where is the tension in the show, if at any time they don’t like the direction they can just yell “do over” and set the universe’s time clock back to the part they liked? And as for those of you wondering if Smith is coming back as the Doctor, he is. I’ve seen the early images from the second season filming and he is there in an even uglier tweed coat; but then this should have been obvious from both the ending of this season and the fact the man has a 5 year contract. The sharp distinction between Matt Smith as Doctor when the scripts really were new ideas devoid of Moffat’s posturing and Smith as puppet in Davies banishment is only slightly less striking than the caliber of the story lines, direction, and acting of the supporting cast in these same episodes. To see how great this show could be if Moffat would stop playing what one of my colleagues calls “penis, penis, whose got the penis” long enough to realize no one else is measuring makes me sad, at best, for how terribly mundane it will continue to be until Moffat let’s it go. (I had a discussion about this on twitter with some filmmakers, fans, and DMs with a few former employees of Who, and everyone was in agreement that the show has potential but Moffat’s obsessions get in the way. We also agreed the finale was underwhelming for anyone who has been a long term fan of the show; people who are only 5 or so years in to their fandom may feel differently because they don’t recognize all of the elements that we do.) Here’s hoping that during the hiatus Moffat puts his issues to bed, realizes that he is the undisputed heir to an amazing fortune, and gives us the brilliance Dr. Who and Moffat’s own legacy deserve.
Wonder Woman’s revamp. First, go read Gay Prof’s analysis because there really isn’t anything else to say about what is lost here. En breve: her proto-feminist legacy has been completely erased, no more matriarchy origins, no more island of powerful women aka Amazons, no more female defined moral code or ethics, and yes no more swimsuit. As I said, I could be analytical about it all, especially given the huge loss of feminism, proto-feminism, and even pseudo- or out-dated feminism that defined various incarnations of Wonder Woman, including her origin story, but Gay Prof has already done that so well. So Instead, I am going to tell you a story. A long time ago, in an isla far away, I used to run around in my front yard in my Wonder Woman underoos imagining I was a powerful Amazon who stopped bullets with my big, shiny, bracelets. Years later, I was a wee lass jumping over koi ponds and lassoing cacti with an actual golden lasso I found one day on a walk with my big sister, with the boy next door. He was Steve Austin and I was Diana and we were saving the world across the super hero-bionic divide. I credit these moments and all the ones in between them for my development as a femme. I was never insulted by the bathing suit, or the short skirt, I was empowered by it, because I understood that Wonder Woman was a powerhouse that even male superheroes and military generals respected and she did it in thigh high boots and those signature bangles I mentioned already. The only women who made me want to femme out more were probably the queens and female rulers on Star Trek who combined their minis w/ the most delicious fabrics and green, purple, and glittery eyeshadows. Like Diana, they could not be bested even by the likes of Captain Kirk. For me, the revamping of Wonder Woman into some watered down, feminist-history-absent, manga-esque (and I like manga), video game ready, no doubt wise-cracking ie makes fun of men to prove her superiority instead of just being superior b/c she is umm a superhero, teen girl with a bad hair cut and even worse fashion sense makes me want to go all Fembot on someone. So for all the feminists saying “at least she has pants”, your analysis of why she didn’t before was spot on with regards to gender inequity in the superhero universe, however, her pants come at the price of her actual feminism and feminist history. More than that it comes at the price young girls who are still bombarded with hypersexualized images of youth that never contained feminist messages while being robbed of the few cultural icons that did. Better to be a girl in the front yard in your swimsuit taking down bad guys than an equally young girl in the backyard wearing XW-inspired hoochie gear # 5 while practicing how to go down on them instead. Oh and one more thing, have you seen the drawings of Wonder Woman? Most, tho certainly not all, of the fan art shows her with powerful legs and biceps, looking strong enough to take on the world. Many of the women and men who emulate her at conventions, costume parties, and events do so with a sincere reverence, even when its campy, toward her strength, intelligence, and femme-fatale. And even music videos that do homage to her have all referenced her brains and her braun as well as her beauty. This stands in stark comparison to the re-imagining of other female heroes and side kicks found in graphic novels who have always been fully clothed; take good look at the fan art and you will see a pattern in which their drawings make Barbie look appropriately proportioned, I’m just sayin’ …
you thought I was going to miss the opportunity to do two Wonder Woman pics; silly
Lilo’s arrest – am I the only one who thinks a critical piece of the puzzle is being ignored in the hate on Lindsay bus? While many child actors end up addicted and burned out, and Lohan made no friends with her pre-teen diva act, it seems to me that hating on her in the absence of similar critique for the industry that supplied her and every other kid on the block is not only wrong but incredibly short-sighted. Part of the reason the industry gets away with taking talented children and turning them into drug addled teens with one foot in the grave is that our culture engages in collective cognitive dissonance as a society; we know who gives them drugs, how and why, and yet we just keep on staring at the spectacle and blaming the victims. More than that somewhat predictable answer to the Lilo situation, I want to add a queer eye. At least publicly, Lindsay’s drug habit seemed to spiral at the exact moment she was considering her sexual identity. Her first reported major drug bouts came around the same time that the photos of her engaging in knife play with another actress surfaced. Both women denied the lesbian content of the images and the media was happy to spotlight the “freakery” and call it attention getting. Shortly after those images emerged however, Lilo was moving forward with Samantha Ronsen. And while she seemed to be occasionally better while with her, Lindsay’s addiction continued to flare up. Those moments when she seemed to cross the line from spoiled party-girl to addict seemed to always coincide with public humiliation surrounding her sexuality or with dwindling film options that everyone assumes are related to the drugs, and are to some extent. But no one considered how quickly the doors shut on her options while similar young women in Hollywood with far less talent and just as public drug use continued to find work; those girls were all straight. Young queer people self-medicate every day in this world especially in response to imagined and real rejection. They fall down the looking glass never to resurface. So I ask you, is it so much to think that maybe a young woman just discovering her sexuality, who still does not even use the word “lesbian” to describe herself, who has her sexuality discussed in public across the world as if her feelings mean nothing or worse are humorous or a publicity stunts, and who already works in an industry in which drugs come easy and fast to people in her position, is in fact partially medicating her way through a major identity change? And even if she wasn’t, knowing what we know about the coming out process in the U.S. do you think someone who is already using drugs wouldn’t consider turning to them for comfort when the whole world is taking opinion polls about her sexuality and mocking her sometimes heart wrenching break ups with comments like “even women don’t want you fire c—-h” and “ha ha, guess that lesbian thing really wasn’t the way to boost your career”? So I am not saying there isn’t a complex picture here in which Lindsay must take some responsibility, including for her own actions, but instead pointing out that there are both recognizable circumstances devoid of sexuality and very clearly documented issues with regards to them that everyone seems to want to ignore so that we can all point and laugh of the fallen child star. I for one think she deserves more than that.
Despicable Me – the first hour is a snoozefest facilitated by the major jokes having all been included in the trailer. The last 1/2 an hour however is endearing and entertaining. Despite being billed as a supervillian movie, it is really a modern Orphan Annie in which the main character falls in love with three Orphan girls while trying to steal the moon. In finding his inner-parent with them, he also resolves his issues with his own judgmental mother and makes peace with the ways she tore down his dreams of going to the moon that led to his criminality, and plot to steal the moon, in the first place. There are 5 main women and girls in this movie, all of whom are white. Some of them are stereotypical, like the overweight Southern Belle-turned-B–ch who runs the orphanage and the overbearing, uncaring, mother. The girls, on the other hand, represented a range of female identities none of which are disparaged despite the fact that one or two of them are extremely different. One girl wears glasses but there are no other disabilities present in the film. There are also minor female roles in which the women are also stereotypes, including the overbearing and over-indulgent N. American tourist mother and the overweight black mom. Minor male characters with lines are more varied: there is an overweight, clueless, N. American father, and over-indulged obnoxious N. American tourist son, and the annoying-but-meant-to-be-slightly-creepy, scientist, who is not emasculated but instead used as the source of jokes about age and aging; there is also a black male tourist with no lines and two Egyptian guards who are so dumb they don’t know the pyramid has been stolen, there roles as really minor. The major action takes place between the male supervillians and the bank, also run by a man, and most of the comedy involves yellow aliens who speak a mixture of Spanish and gobbledy-gook, which of course is insulting.
The Real L Word – I know I said it was like bad dyke drama that you cannot turn away from in my original post, but seriously now it’s just bad. Since that first episode, I have not been able to sit through an entire episode of the show and I stopped watching all together when Rose, one of two Latinas and the only one who is light but not white appearing, through a party at the home she shares with her girlfriend and then spent the entire night demeaning her and acting like a loud mouth. When her girlfriend Natalie tries to confront her sexist and belittling behavior, Rose simple tells her to move out if she doesn’t like it and seems completely unfazed when Naatalie says she might and started to cry. In fact, Rose went downstairs and continued her boorish behavior with her guests. It was the kind of moment that makes you question whether a reality show should be a “true” reflection of the diversity of the lesbian experience, which includes boorish, self-absorbed, women who really don’t care about anyone but themselves or if it should make an effort to show lesbians in as positive a light, without losing sight of reality, as possible because it is only one of two reality shows to be centered completely on us. And these questions are colored, pun intended, by the fact that the only person acting this way is the only visible woman of color on the show; though, admittedly, she is not the only one who plays with women’s emotions and puts her needs first. I fall somewhere in the middle on the issue, in that I believe that a diversity of experiences need to be shown but that when you are among the first to represent a community to a wide audience you need to engage in point and counterpoint, ie that there needs to be a balance of identities and that race needs to be a factor in making the decisions about who you cast. In this case, if you have a loud mouth sexist Latina lesbian than you need to have a loving non-sexist Latina lesbian alternative precisely because the former plays into the stereotype of sexist hotheaded brown folk. Technically the L Word has provided this alternative in soft-spoken Tracy, the problem is Tracy is a white Latina (white appearing in the language of the U.S., blanca, ie white, in the language of Latin America) and therefore is not a visible counterpoint to Rose at all. And while we are talking race, there continues to be the ongoing issue of an utter absence of people of color in the “Real” L Word’s version of LA. If we removed Rose and Tracy LA could pass for a really sunny Sweden; when you film somewhere as diverse as LA, you should be able to get some people of color in the background shots just because they are there. This lack of reality has been a bone of contention amongst culturally conscious lesbians since the fictional L Word but there is also the issue of unreality in general in reality shows and what it means for the stories we see rather than the ones that were told/filmed. For more insight into that from a couple on the show we participated in order to help people struggling with self-acceptance or figure out how to fit into a sexual identity that has become synonymous with a lifestyle they may not lead see here. The women of Velvet Park also discussed in detail the way the show seems to want to exploit every negative thing about every member of the cast and turn this show into a sort of “Real Housewives of Lesbian County” which seems inappropriate in general and especially in the context of groundbreaking television. And so, I have to remove my endorsement of the show as something painful and yet compelling to watch. I’m not watching and from what I can tell neither is anyone else who is media savvy.
(I realize this is full on fluffy when I could be writing something else; sadly I’m busy, give me a break)
Yesterday, having been given a reprieve from two pending meetings and a deadline, I went out to sit in the sunshine with the dogs. While they were running happily at the dog park making friends, I thought I’d catch up on my “summer fluff reading”. I have been meaning to discover why the Steig Larsson books are so popular with feminists and whether or not the new zombie book for the summer stands up to World War Z for a while now and this seemed like the ideal time.
In the park, most people prop themselves up under the shade of a tree to read but I like the sun. So unlike others, I sat just beyond the trees where the full face of the summer sun could shine on me. My iPad rested against the make shift stand I’d made out of my bent knees; the letters of my ebook were only slightly visible but still readable. I’d already read the reviews of the iPad glare problem, so I had already adjusted the color theme on the nook reader app for summer reading and had an anti-glare screen ready in my purse just in case. The color adjustment, combined with an increase in the font size, worked well enough that I could read the words in full sunlight with limited strain.
However, I had barely gotten to page three of my book, when the iPad went dark. The screen blinked once and then was gone. A moment later a familiar yellow triangle with the lightening bolt throughout, I thought was relegated to desktops, popped up at the top of my screen with a warning: iPad needs to cool down before use. It was 75 degrees outside. Hardly hot.
I moved to the shade of a tree and tried pushing the restart button … The same scary warning came up again.
My partner, who had brought a hard copy book to the dog park, simply laughed at me as she turned the worn pages of her favorite paperback. Like me, she wondered exactly how my new iPad was going to fair either in Spain this summer or in la isla where we often find ourselves this time of year. Like other working summer travelers I had these visions of slimmed down carry on luggage this year; just me, my love, and all my reading, emailing, writing, etc. crammed into a sleek little iPad. However, 75 degrees is positively cool compared to the 90-100+ weather that dominates the Latin landscape in the summer time.
After 1o minutes in the shade, my gf decided perhaps we should go home in case the IPad blew up. It had not turned back on. And while I was trying not to look anymore foolish in front of her than I already did, I was starting to panic. After having the IPad for several months, it has all of my notes from last term, one of my newer presentations, two in progress papers, 6 books, and my portable copies of two teen series I am reviewing for use in a media class for Fall. All of that would be lost if the IPad blinked out because of a little sunshine. (You are supposed to back up the IPad on a desktop or laptop computer regularly so as not to lose data, but with my busy life I seldom have time. In fact, one of the reasons I was reading on the nook app instead of the kindle app, which is far superior in book like reader experience, is because Barnes and Noble actually saves your books to the website and makes it possible to access them again if you lose them on your portable.)
By the time we reached home, the iPad was working again. No permanent damage occurred with any of my files nor the applications as far as I can tell. However, I am left with the sinking suspicion that the iPad is utterly useless outside of air conditioned settings in the summer time. Not only does the screen wash out in sunshine, unless you are willing to spend between $10 and $30 extra for an anti-glare protector, but apparently the iPad overheats in moderate sunshine. I’m not willing to experiment to see if it overheats while turned off in sunshine, ie if you walk around with it in your bag in the sun, so I can’t say how it will fare moving from AC to AC. Just imagine how much hotter the inside of a purse or gym bag is than your hands. Or worse, what happens when you show up to present that brilliant new theory of yours and the warning sign goes up on the big projection screen because the conference room AC is lower than N. American standards.
If you can’t sit in the sun, it might not work without AC, and you are likely not able to carry it around for extended periods in the sun, then it is a $700 piece of equipment that is only available for seasonal use. Images of my gf tucking her paperback back in her bag chuckling and memories of historiann’s post on ebook readers in general abound.
There are many fixes supposedly promised from Apple on the way for the iPad. Among these are issues with multi-tasking, screen adjustment, and app standards. Yet both the proprietary nature of Apple’s app system and the hardware issues seem like they are going to continue to make this little machine as problematic as it is revolutionary. For me it has become an integral part of my daily life, from the alarm system that sings to me when I have to go to a meeting, to the notepad where I keep all of my notes & quickly integrate links to videos and websites that are related, to the option of folding the carrying case up and setting it on the dashboard to watch videos for my classes while my gf runs inside the store hardware store, it’s endless uses have made my life much more simple on the go. And yet, as I pack for our seminar in Spain this summer or re-imagine my research/vacation trips to la isla, I can’t help but think that the iPad will be staying at home.
Jane Lynch makes me giddy with the stupid, always has, and the pic below makes me think getting the state to recognize one’s long term commitment and love for another person might actually be worth it.
In global news, the first queer couple to be married in Portugal were also lesbians. Teresa Pires and Helena Paixao got married this morning after 7 years of unwedded bliss.
And while it is nice to see all of this joy, we can’t forget that Chimbalanga, 1/2 of the Malawi couple arrested for performing a traditional marriage ceremony, is still missing after only being released from custody due to combined internal and international pressure. (UPDATE: according to trans blogs Chimbalanga has been found and did a press conference with her partner Monjeza.)
As always, marriage is not at the top of my organizing agenda but when it costs people their lives or their freedom, makes history, or simply brings so much joy to the couple you can’t help but smile, I think it’s worth a mention. If this weren’t a quickie, I would of course have to bring up the race, class, gender (umm, I couldn’t find a single cis blog that reported Chimbalanga’s reported gender) and locational issues surrounding the way these stories have been reported across the blogosphere and in the queer press. It is particularly disturbing that most of the stories on the last piece have eschewed talking about the couple, their genders, political goals in making a public announcement, their activism, and subsequent treatment, in favor of raising the spectre of “Evil, Dangerous, Darkest Africa” and refocusing on homophobia sans transgender issues. These constructions rival the boycott of Jamaica while people are beaten, killed, kicked out of school, denied basic rights of passage (prom, graduation, etc), threatened, harassed, fired, and in the case of the U.S. legally denied the right to work in certain industries (the military) or get married in a nationally, and many cases, state sanctioned ceremony in Western Countries. Trans people are also not included in state level discrimination laws including many of the states that have laws for the rest of the queer alphabet. Thus neither writers in Britain nor the U.S. have the right to claim the moral high ground they have taken in reporting international stories, particularly from Africa and black diasporic countries; their ongoing belief that they do have the high ground in the face of so much violence and exclusion in the West, speaks volumes about why gender and racial tensions continue to exist in the queer community and why so many Black Britains are writing pieces about imperialism in the queer movement these days.
And you thought this quickie was going to be fluffy … like you don’t know me enough by now.
It seems that many people have been searching for my reactions to several women related top stories this a.m. So, I thought I should let you know:
No there will be no picture of Venus Williams outfit at the French Open on the blog – news flash, I am a black woman, so no another black woman’s muscular bum in “nude” shorts does not give me the same Saartje Baartman thrill the rest of you seem to be having. The Williams sisters have always chosen tennis outfits that challenged the once unquestioned white genteel uniform of tennis. While those choices have not always been tasteful, they have transformed what people can and do wear on the court. By daring to question the unquestioned, ie the hegemonic nature of a tradition designed to mark out both race and class in its codification, they opened the door for tennis to step out of certain visual narratives of the past into the present. While I would never wear what Venus Williams chose to wear at the French Open, I cannot help but wonder how intentional her choice really was in the face of the ongoing French exoticism of the black female body and the very clear line back to Saartje that you can draw from it. I don’t think finding irony in the attention this outfit has raised in this context out of step with what is going on nor do I think we should miss the opportunity to think a little deeper.
Sex and the City 2 holds no interest here – while I was deeply amused by the rundown of posts across the internet and print media trashing SATC2 exotification, pseudo-feminism, and cliche homophobia over at Feminist Texican’s blog, the bottom line is: I never watched the show on tv (I didn’t have HBO), I only saw clips of the first movie in the wee hours of the night a few months ago which involved not only diarrhea “jokes” but also the policing of one’s hair tied directly to victim-blaming around infidelity, and so while I might be lured in by the idea of a more bronzed version of the guy from Northern Exposure on my screen, there is nothing about this movie that even slightly interests me. So just like last year kiddies, as far as we at like a whisper are concerned unless Martha Jones shows up to rescue the fab 4 from themselves, with a twinkle eyed David Tennant in tow, you can forget about it ever showing up on the blog.
Truthfully, I am swamped with prepping for this great psych seminar the gf and I are taking together in lands faraway and trying to weather the epic shakeup in one or more of the departments in which I teach regularly at the uni, so the sound of crickets prevails here at the blog even in the face of even more snarky things I could say about both of the pop culture things above and a bevy of others I have yet to mention. Instead, I leave it to you to generate your own conversations about them here or elsewhere.
A recent post on The Grio about black superheros and their absence or underfunding in the Hollywood Blockbuster cycle prompted me to point out that not only does Hollywood fail to produce summer blockbusters with black female super hero leads, but the Grio list largely left women out as well. As a result, I sent out links to two of my older posts about female superheroes who might make great Summer Blockbusters on my twitter account. A day or so later, SciFi Wire featured a post about female “superheroes” they would like to see in film; the bulk of these women were white and many of them were actually anti-heroes or villains. Since I don’t have a SciFi Wire account in order to comment on their pages, I found myself chanting “But Some of Us are Brave”. Brave enough to write and then re-post my summer query about why women are relegated to RomComs in the summer when a bevy of female superheros await expense trilogy success. More than that, why are the only women Blockbuster loving audience see seldom full-fledged characters or sexualized, including electronically enhanced (ie they make everything bigger in post-production, pad the outfits, or the actresses cast have strategic enhancements already that are accentuated by the suits they wears)? And why are the most fleshed out of these ones whose story lines fulfill expected roles: wife, girlfriend, or love interest.
Hollywood would like to believe that if they put a few emasculating phrases in these scantily clad side characters mouths we won’t notice their irrelevance to the main plot or that their dimensions rival Barbie. They peddle in soft-core pseudo-feminism that many young audience have come to think of as empowering precisely because they are not given alternative visions of strong women nor taught about them in schools thanks to the Texas School Board. But honestly, if your biggest aspiration is to be the center of attention because of the size of your breasts or butt padding and your occasional snark at leading men, you are selling yourself so short it is a wonder we can even see you so far away from the feminist finish line. So here are some women who had brains, strength, beauty and took center stage, and yes, in some cases they also did it in very revealing clothing but that is because most of the artists drawing them were not women.
The never ending discussion about the role of women in graphic novels and the depiction of women in adapted comics and novels for the summer blockbuster has begun. Rather than fight the good fight this summer, in which I remind people that ideas about women and the depiction of female characters can in fact be updated from the original without violating the basic plot I am just going to point to the myriad of female superheroes in classic comic books that could be staring in movies this summer. In fact, a quick view of the films scheduled to be released this year has only one offering in which women have (as I recall) been seen as equal to their male counterparts: GI Joe. While Uhura in the new Star Trek is actually smarter than many of her male counterparts, she is completely undermined as I discuss in my Star Trek review, so she does not count. And the Director of Transformers II finally saw his way around putting women in, but the graphics show no update of the character; she is still an anorexic looking, neon pink thing, updated only slightly so she has actual headlights for breasts!!! I haven’t seen anything that sad since Tranzor Z’s Missile “Boobs”.
While I’d like to see the women below in more clothes, sans bum shots, if sent to the big screen, don’t tell me we don’t have options. This is what happens when Hollywood favors white heterosexual male producers, studio heads, and directors over the same diversity in Hollywood that we have in the country as a whole. All of these female characters, many of them poc and some differently-abled, fall out. And I don’t think there is anything wrong with having white, male, heterosexual directors (paging Bryan Singer) but I do think there is something wrong when year after year the plethora of big budget summer offerings can only offer me various plays on the same heteropatriarchal driven fantasy. (Not to mention racial narratives that perpetually imagine fantastical worlds without poc in them or poc who are so stereotypical they make me long for lines like “I ain’t birthin’ no babies”.)
the song in the background:
Isis, one of the first all-female rock bands signed in 1964 & homage to Mighty Isis
featured super heroes & villans
Bionic Woman (the real one)
The Huntress (Batman and Catwoman’s kid in an alternate universe, now there’s a blockbuster for you)
Vampirella (whose swimsuit I swear I saw at the shop last week while looking for my own)
Friday Foster (played in the film version by Pam Grier)
The Black Canary
Rose and Thorn
Other women, who might be great for blockbuster films are included in my other post on female super heroes/tv characters (which includes some Latinas from Latin American graphic novels sense the depiction of both Latinas and Asian American women is so poor here in the states).
Or how about a golden age come back like these women from the 1940s? Using 40s comics would open several genres that are popular right now like: Mysteries, Psychological Thrillers, Gangster Movies, etc. all with super heroes (see my explanation of this new combination in my Wolverine post)
Featured heroes & villans:
the domino lad
Woman in Red (a detective who put hard boiled male detectives to shame)
Phantom Lady (not the anime ok)
The Spider Queen
Invisible Scarlet O’Neal
International Girl Commandos
Luna Moth (who one of my friends is named after)
What about gay representation? Wiccan and Hulking from the Young Avengers perhaps?
I suppose this might be a bit much?
But I did really want to see what “Juice Pig” looks like in part 2. And in QAF land, they did make it into a major motion picture at the end.
It seems that Showtime will be offering its own animated regular series starring “the world’s first gay superhero” hopefully in the Fall. It is set to be penned by Stan Lee and based on a novel about a gay superhero entitled simply: Hero. If the small screen can do it, so can the big screen.
Or how about:
Echo (Native American/also once thought to be differently-abled)
Jubilee (Asian-American, X-Men)
Misty Knight (differently-abled)
Dust (Afghani, Muslim, woman X-Men)
Ranma 1/2 (Asian, transgendered)
Dark Angel (Latina)
Sudra Jones (African American, drawn and written by Af-Ams)
Joto (black, and so totally gay even if he is too young to know)
Chandi Gupta (S. Asian)
The Black furies (environmental feminist werewolves; af-am)
Ghost (most popular female character at Dark Horse. ie $$$)
Random 5 (african american written by african americans)
The Menagerie II (Latina)
Arachne (a single mother)
Silver Hawk (Asian; Michelle Yeoh rocked this part in low budge, let’s see it with big American studio backing)
the silencer (african american)
Photon (African American)
Cecilia Reyes (Afra-Latina X Men)
Farscape women (various non-white aliens, including older woman)
Swift (Asian, bi-sexual)
Pathway (African American, autistic)
Dawnstar (Native American)
Heather Hudson (African American)
Sashiko (Asian American)
Hack/Slash (Lesbians, questioning, and taking back the night)
Sister Superior (differently-abled)
Starlight (African American)
Rina Patel (S. Asian)
Jonni Thunder (Genderqueer)
Obviously, some of these characters would need to be updated but the bottom line is that there are a number of strong women and poc that could be featured in the Summer Blockbuster cycle. Very few of them have been considered and still fewer have been centered. Several of the women on these lists actual appear in graphic novels about male heroes or in confederations containing male heroes, many of whom have already had multiple turns at the summer cinema. Despite this fact, most of these women are still absent. When they do appear, they are drained of much of their intellectual or physical powers, turned white when they were written as woc or bi-racial, or turned straight when they were originally bi-sexual or violently killed when lesbian. While many graphic novels and comic books are riddled with misogyny, that is not an excuse to either omit women or fail to update them for modern audiences. Many of the women in this list would likely only need updated clothes and dialogue and very little else. Some of the more modern characters have already been written as feminist and most tackled issues regarding the oppression of women at one point or another. While still others, like Anesta Robins are hardboiled sci fi detectives that would appeal anyone who liked Blade Runner. As I’ve said before, Bryan Singer proved this when he did the X Men and Stan Lee has repeatedly said he wants to do better by women, people of color, and differently-abled characters.
While there are many male viewers and directors who like things just the way they are – men as super human and women as half-naked objects all tied together in a heterosexist bow – the reality is that women and men with a clue are alive and movie going in the summer months too. We don’t all want to watch quirky chick flicks (which do very little for the racial or ability integration of films either) or spend our parenting hours re-directing intentionally misdirected youth. We don’t want to fight with our significant others, less clear friends, and blog trolls about why black face, the absence of visible Latinos, the demonizing of the queer community, and women in spandex undies and stilletos is just not ok. I certainly do not enjoy being called “un-american” on wikipedia.
If basic decency cannot influence Hollywood, then let’s talk $$$. Sex and the City, which also had its woman hating moments and saw the return of mammy, was female led and female centered. It was one of the major box office hits of the summer. And while part of its appeal was a successful tv run first, there were many shows with female superheroes and people of color who can say the same. If the attention the fictional comic book Rage got on QAF is any indication, the same could be said for gay superheroes if they’d actually be given a chance. And the re-release of Bat Woman, a lesbian, garnered so much buzz people were looking to buy copies before it even went to print. And seriously, do we really want to condone a film genre that seems to echo the wrongheaded warning of The Seduction of the Innocent?
Who would you like to see next summer? (PS. No, I am not looking forward to Beyonce as Wonder Woman or Rose McGowen as Barbarella, but I do want to see both of those characters return to the screen.)
Imagine what summer would look like if instead of waiting for jingoistic, self-absorbed, womanizing Tony Stark to play penis, penis, whose got the penis, with some aging roid rager in a metal suit, you could watch an updated version of any of these women.