There’s a slow but exciting change occurring in popular media, these days: lots of creators are finally beginning to show female friendships in their works. That’s not to say that there have never been friendships between ladies in the public eye before the last few years—Wicked comes to mind, among other things—but the message seems to finally have gotten out to the world at large. We want more than one lady in things, and we want those ladies to understand each other, not for them to antagonize each other.
Arrow comes back tomorrow, so I will be the first to admit I’m cutting this trailer review a little close. That said, I’ll also be the first to admit that I’m psyched as hell for Arrow Season 3.
Several years ago, comics writer Gail Simone introduced the term “women in refrigerators” as a way to describe women in comics who have been hurt or killed as a way to further a man’s pain. Since then, it’s entered the general geek vernacular as a way to describe any woman who ends up dead for manpain’s sake, and while more and more people are likely to call out The Powers That Be for writing women this way, it does remain an often-used trope. The whole premise of Supernatural revolves around two fridged women, Mary Winchester and Sam’s girlfriend Jess, and women regularly are hurt or die to make its leading men sad. (A short list: Anna, Sarah Blake, Pamela, Meg, Amy Pond, Jo, and Ellen, just to start us off.) Barry Allen’s origin story in the upcoming Flash series centers around his mother’s death. Rachel’s death in The Dark Knight was purest fridging, and so were Allison’s death in Teen Wolf, Frigga’s death in Thor: The Dark World, and Spock’s mom Amanda’s death in Star Trek XI.
The problem with this trope is that it reduces women from people with agency into objects that are acted upon; they go from characters who make choices to tools whose purpose is to make someone else sad or angry or motivated, and that propagates the idea that objectifying women is a legitimate storytelling technique. One interesting thing about this trope, though, is that it’s become so expected that writers have started to use it in a subversive and surprising way.
Spoilers for Arrow Season 2, Elementary Season 1, and How To Train Your Dragon 2 below the jump.
It’s been something like six weeks since the final episode of Arrow’s Season 2 aired, and this is no longer remotely timely, but here, finally, is my review thereof. My review of the first half of Season 2 was pretty complimentary, and I stand by my opinion: the show has been doing way way better this season both from a writing and from a feminist perspective. There were definitely some ugly moments toward the end of the season, though. Let’s get right into it.
While DC’s movie arm dicks around with so-so films and clunky sequel titles, their TV branch seems to be doing something good. Arrow’s second season was significantly better than its first, and that magic seems to have rubbed off on the same-universe spinoff The Flash. Continue reading
Many people do not understand why or how other people become addicted to drugs. It is often mistakenly assumed that drug abusers lack moral principles or willpower and that they could stop using drugs simply by choosing to change their behavior. In reality, drug addiction is a complex disease, and quitting takes more than good intentions or a strong will. In fact, because drugs change the brain in ways that foster compulsive drug abuse, quitting is difficult, even for those who are ready to do so.
—National Institute on Drug Abuse (x)
From Tony Stark’s alcoholism to Sherlock Holmes’s 7% solution, geek media is rife with portrayals of addiction and substance abuse. As someone who has watched close friends and family members struggle with real addiction, I have a very personal stake in these fictional portrayals. It means a lot to me if a show that includes an addict among its characters takes the time to treat addiction as the complex problem it is. And because of this, I am tremendously turned off by shows that act like an addiction is something that can easily be gotten rid of.
We haven’t spent much time talking about Arrow here. Okay, there was that once, but that was a review of the very first episode, so we’ve definitely got some lost time to make up.
I never really bothered to review the show during its first season because, well, I didn’t think it was much to write home about. Much like my decision to keep buying the Fearless Defenders comic, I tuned in weekly more out of a desire to give a hopeful, just-starting-out superhero show good ratings so that the CW would continue making superhero shows. (I was apparently successful, as they’re planning a Flash spinoff series. Dammit, CW, make a show about a lady superhero, not another white guy.) The writing was sort of terrible, the plots were sort of predictable, and at least half of Oliver’s manpain was based on the fridging of his illicit lady-love. The only character who had consistently decent dialogue for the entire first season was our hero’s go-to hacker Felicity Smoak, a queen among women.
Anyway, I’m glad I gave the so-so first season a shot, because the second season is pretty much kicking it in the ass. Spoilers below the jump.
Superhero movies are starting to become ubiquitous, whether they’re done by DC, exist in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, or belong to one of the other companies that holds rights to Marvel characters. In the next few years alone we’ve got Guardians of the Galaxy, Wolverine, Thor 2, Captain America 2, Ant-Man, Avengers 2, Amazing Spider-Man 2, X-Men: Days of Future Past, a Fantastic Four reboot in the works, a Justice League movie on the table, rumors about other DC projects, and the as-of-yet unrevealed MCU Phase 3 films. There’s also the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. TV show premiering in the fall and Arrow, which will be back for a second season.
So Wednesday night was the series premiere of Arrow, a show based off the DC comic character Green Arrow, also called Oliver Queen when he’s not out pwning the bad guys. Personally, I don’t know much about Green Arrow outside what Young Justice has taught me—he’s not Batman! Sorry!—but from what I’ve seen so far, I approve of the show. The first episode’s not without its faults, but it was exceedingly enjoyable, and it makes me want to watch more.