I really love the movie Stardust. I’ll watch it any time it comes on. But while rewatching it recently, I realized how often the women in the movie were not active participants in the story. Victoria, Yvaine, and Una don’t get to do much of anything—they don’t fight battles, go on any great quests, discover any great secrets, or attempt to gain the family throne. The only female participants who are very active at all are the evil witches, particularly Lamia, their leader. This sends a particularly bad message, especially since of all of the good female characters I mentioned, only one wasn’t someone’s prisoner. Una is kidnapped by another witch, Yvaine is kidnapped for a time by Tristan, and Victoria, though never kidnapped, is barely in the movie and is portrayed as rather vain and selfish. Basically, the women of Stardust not only do very little, but also are severely lacking in any sort of empowerment.
Tag Archives: stardust
Oh, My Pop Culture Wicca: Magic/Witchcraft is Evil (It’s Not Really)
I have already discussed magic a little bit in my post on magic and Christian objects. To give a little bit of a refresher, the Bible condemns witchcraft and any other sort of magic, from talking to the dead to seeing the future. But like many things in the Bible, this rule is contradictory to other things in the Bible and other practices in both Jewish and Christian traditions.
For example, most churches will say, even today, that seeing the future or talking to the dead could make you a prophet. If it’s a gift that you have no control over, it would make sense that your creator blessed you with it. On top of this, there are certain practices that seem to rely on magic. Ancient Jews used to put magical amulets near the beds of their babies to ward off the demon Lilith, who was said to kill children. In the Acts of the Apostles, there is a passage that introduces Simon the Magician, who wowed the people with his magical abilities. However, when the Apostles showed up, everyone converted to Christianity, even Simon. In this passage, Simon is never condemned for using magic; what he is condemned for is offering the Apostles money in order to gain the same gifts granted to the Apostles by God. Peter condemns Simon for thinking he can buy God’s gifts and urges him to repent, but he is never condemned for using magic specifically.
Despite these contradictions and varied ideas about magic, the Bible still condemns all magic and witchcraft, which causes tension between Christianity and Wicca to this day. That’s reflected in our pop culture.
On Coverflipping and Perceived Intent
Back in May of this year, YA author Maureen Johnson issued a Tumblr challenge to her followers: coverflip a book. What exactly she meant by that was unclear, so as she explained it:
1. Take a well-known book. (It’s up to you to define well-known.)
2. Imagine that book was written by an author of the OPPOSITE GENDER. Or a genderqueer author. Imagine all the things you think of when you think GIRL book or BOY book or GENDERLESS book (do they EXIST?). And I’m not saying that these categorizations are RIGHT—but make no mistake, they’re there.
The saying “don’t judge a book by its cover” has been around for eons, but Johnson’s challenge made the point that yes, we do judge books (and books’ readers) by their covers. As covers are the first thing anyone sees about a book, it’s easy to formulate an (often incorrect) idea of the author’s intent from a graphic and a name. Does the cover feature half of a smiling girl’s face, two people kissing, or generally have a lot of bright colors? Probably written by a girl. Check the name. Does it sound like a girl’s name? Okay, I’m not in the mood for chick-lit romance today, I’m going to go for that book over there with a dragon on it! It looks like it’s written by a guy, so it’ll probably have a lot of action and adventure!
A bit simplistic, perhaps, but you get my point.