Here is a picture of a couple who lived happily ever after in canon to raise our spirits before delving into the depressing fates of many other queer female characters. (art by Bryan Konietzko)
I spent a lot of time trying to decide on a topic for today’s post. But I could really think only of one topic, although I tried to resist it for a while because it’s too sad and frustrating. In the end, I decided to go with it. And so today I want to join the conversation discussing the queer women that have died on our TV screens this year, the Dead Lesbian trope, and the implications of this continuing trend.
Spoilers for Lost Girl, Person of Interest and The 100 below (and of course, don’t look at any of the links if you don’t want to be spoiled about any character deaths anywhere).
A while ago we had a post discussing female protagonists who are being watched over/controlled by men/patriarchal organizations. Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Orphan Black were primary examples. Today, I would like to expand on the ideas of that post and talk about a subset of this type of female characters—female characters who are not only overseen by men/organizations (often patriarchal, though perhaps not always) but are also raised to be killers and assassins against their will. I’m a bit torn when it comes to this type of character. On one hand, these women are complex and their tragic backstories allow for character development and growth. But on the other hand, the misogynistic undertones in their arcs are troubling.
Spoilers for Orphan Black, Killjoys, Firefly, and Doctor Who below the jump. Also, trigger warning for child abuse and self-harm.
I mean, I’m not one for princess fantasies, usually, but even I would love to be a space princess.
Lately, I’ve grown so tired of watching male “chosen ones” and “jerks with the heart of gold” save the day and get the girl. Representation matters, and girls want to be chosen ones too, and not just princesses in distress. Women are allowed to hate the world and be brilliant while reluctantly saving the day. And we should be able to see ourselves, our stories, and our fantasies reflected on screen too. I’m always on the lookout for female characters subverting generally male character tropes, and today I would like to tell you about some of them and why they matter.
Artificial intelligence (AI) and its potential to run amok has fascinated sci-fi enthusiasts since Isaac Asimov introduced The Three Laws Of Robotics. Ever since then, there have been various scenarios where an AI would start harming people because it saw them as a threat to whatever mission the AI and the people were carrying out (see 2001: Space Odyssey) or out of self-preservation (see The X-Files “Ghost in the Machine”). This trope culminated in The Matrix trilogy, which presented a world where machines had become the dominant species on earth and humans were reduced to a source of heat.
Person of Interest introduces a new narrative which is a sort of combination of all of the above. It starts off with an AI machine with omnipresent/omniscient abilities which was designed to detect acts of terror before they actually happen. But it detects all acts of violence, which then have to be separated into relevant (terrorism) and irrelevant (ordinary crime). While a mysterious government agency deals with the terror threats, Harold Finch (the creator of the Machine), along with John Reese, Joss Carter, Sameen Shaw, Lionel Fusco, and Root, take it upon themselves to try and prevent the ordinary crimes.