Sexualized Saturdays: Powerful Women and the Men Who Love Them

Power comes in many different forms, and there’s no one right way to be a strong female character. That said, however, there’s a clear dearth of female characters whose strength is, well, strength. We’re moving forward in media in terms of representing women in STEM professions and many other male-dominated fields, but one spot that remains lacking is the sort of woman who can bench-press a truck.

The superhuman guy + regular-human girl = love trope is a tale as old as time, and it’s one that’s getting kind of boring to me, to be honest. How many pairings of this nature can you name off the top of your head? Thor and Jane Foster; Bruce Banner and Betty Ross, Superman and Lois Lane—hell, might as well mention Belle and the Beast since I made that tale as old as time reference. And it’s not even limited to Western media—add Abel and Esther of Trinity Blood, and Tsuna and Kyoko from Reborn, among others.

Off topic, they are super cute together.

Off topic, they are super cute together.

Even in cases where the guy is not powered, per se, like Carol Danvers and James Rhodes, the guy is still a superhero of similar caliber. He isn’t, like, a brilliant scientist, or a librarian—he’s a fighter just like her. When both are equal, whether powered or not, our best bet is that they’ll have equivalent combat skills as well (think Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask, or Hawkeye and Mockingbird/Spider-Woman/Black Widow/whoever he’s dating these days).

Meanwhile, there are very few pairings in which the woman is the super-strong punchy one, and the man is just a regular dude with non-combat skills that’s occasionally in awe of his lady’s powers. This is a representational problem on two levels: one, it perpetuates the idea that it’s weird for women to be physically stronger than men, and two, that men who aren’t their girlfriend’s equal in strength are somehow lesser than men who are.

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Hannah Hart’s “Hello Harto” Tour

About a year ago (wow, I can’t believe it’s been that long!) I talked about Hannah Hart in a Web Crush and since that time I have grown from simply crushing on this wonderful young woman to full on loving her. Yes, I am a Hartosexual, and I’m clearly not the only one, because Hannah is taking her show on the road!

When Hannah first proposed her tour, she started an Indiegogo campaign to raise money to fund it. I had every intention of making a post here about it to help spread the word a little, but it turned out that I didn’t have to. Why? Because Hannah reached her goal of $50,000 in less than 24 hours. I literally didn’t have time to make a post about her campaign before the Hartosexuals of the world swooped in and saved the day, making her campaign one of the most successful in Indiegogo history and reaching more than four times the original goal. Hannah’s response to the success was touching:

Because Hannah is such a loving person, her tour is going to focus on charity. In each city she visits, rather than doing a typical “Meet & Greet” event, she will be volunteering at a local non-profit organization where fans can pledge to spend their time volunteering with her. She will also be filming episodes of her web series “My Drunk Kitchen” in fans’ kitchens throughout the tour.

I don’t know about you, but I really find Hannah very inspiring. For one thing, she is one of the success stories that really shows the power of the internet to connect people and move them. We aren’t just schlubs who sit in basements watching cat videos and ranting anonymously about whatever irritates us, we are people who have found a community and connection with people spread far across the world that we often have difficulty finding in person.

In addition to this somewhat intangible success, Hannah is taking that community out into the “real” world and doing good. This humanitarian effort, combined with her own personal brand of entertainment, helps so many people, from the organizations she assists to her fans who get to be a part of something bigger than themselves. If you’re a fan, or even if you just want to be part of a group of people trying to make a difference, I encourage you to check out her tour site to see when she’ll be near you and pledge to take part in the activity she has planned for your area.

The Women of Elm Street: The One-Offs

In the long history of the Nightmare series (at least seven films spanning 10 years, or nine films spanning 26 years if you count those apocryphal additions) there were of course some women who only led the fight against the villainous Fred Krueger for one film. These women are Lisa Webber of A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge and Maggie Burroughs of Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare.

Nightmare on Elm Street- Lisa and MaggieUnfortunately, these are two of my least favorite movies in the series. Starting with Freddy’s Revenge, it had the problem that is so common when a surprise hit is given an unplanned sequel in that it didn’t understand what was great about the original and failed to re-capture its magic. Its main problems were replacing the female lead with a male and going with a concept that almost entirely did away with the nightmare aspect by having Freddy reincarnate himself in the real world.

Now, if this movie was so bad and didn’t even feature a female lead, why am I talking about it? Well, I do want to give it credit for trying to push the series into new territory rather than being a retread of the original (just because the risk didn’t exactly pay off doesn’t mean it wasn’t admirable) but also because it played with the typical gender roles of horror movies.

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Fanfiction Fridays: “Grounded”

Grounded by tumblr author Jackasslow is a three-part Big Time Rush fanfic about two of my favorite aspects of the show: Kendall and Logan’s relationship and Mrs. Knight’s parenting.

The story begins with Kendall disrespecting his mother (bad move, bro) so she grounds him. He is grounded not only from the usual privileges like television and cell phone, but also from something far more important: Logan! This is extremely difficult for Kendall, and Logan too. To be honest, their attachment to each other bordered on unhealthy in the early days of this show, constantly needing physical closeness and reassurance from each other, and this story takes place during those young, clingy days of new love, so they’re not handling it very well.

The reason I enjoy this fic so much is because it highlights Jennifer Knight’s ability to handle her children. What I’ve always loved about Mrs. Knight is that she is not the absent, neglectful, overbearing, flighty, or otherwise ineffective parent that tends to appear in Nickelodeon shows, and most shows aimed at the teen/tween demographic. In most of these shows, if a parent is present (and many times they aren’t) they’re usually the butt of the joke in their magnificent ineptitude, but Jennifer Knight has been an exception to that rule since the beginning of the show. She demands respect from her children and the other boys in her charge and makes them take responsibility for their actions. She’s actually, you know, parenting. She doesn’t always know what to do but she manages, and that portrayal of a parent who disciplines and loves and struggles is one of the most unique and beautiful aspects of Big Time Rush to me.

Even though this story is primarily about Kendall, it’s the attention given to Mrs. Knight that makes it stand out to me. She is the one who gets the plot going and causes the personal growth in the main character which finally leads to the resolution. The story is also hosted on fanfiction.net as a single chapter rather than broken into three parts if you’d prefer to read there rather than on tumblr. Check it out; it’s a great little piece celebrating some of my favorite characters.

The Women of Elm Street: The Apocryphal

We will begin our series on the female protagonists of the Elm Street series with two movies which exist outside of the main arc of the seven-film series, and the women who lead them: Lori Campbell of Freddy vs. Jason and Nancy Holbrook of the 2010 remake A Nightmare on Elm Street.

I wasn’t sure if I would include Freddy vs. Jason or the 2010 version of A Nightmare on Elm Street in this series. I considered including FvJ since it is made in the same universe as the rest of the series, even if it doesn’t fit in perfectly with continuity, but I really had reservations about including the remake for a couple of reasons. It creates a new canon, for one, and is the first time Freddy Krueger is not played by Robert Englund, but more importantly, it ruins the series’ tradition of strong female leads and I just plain didn’t enjoy it or remember enough about it to include it. Like it or not, though, it bears the Elm Street name and including it gave me a good way to also include FvJ.

Let’s start off with Lori. Continue reading

The Best Part of ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ Movies

It’s the kick-ass women, no lie. Even before I identified as a feminist, they were the main reason I loved this series. Back in October I mentioned my intent to talk more about this film series, and it’s time to make good on that promise.

The Nightmare on Elm Street series has always stood out from its contemporaries as a horror franchise with a focus on women as protagonists. Though female characters are often the focus of slasher films, they aren’t exactly what one would call a “protagonist”, and they usually fall into one of two categories: meat or Final Girl. (I wish I could remember the blog I got these titles from, but I can’t seem to find it) The meat are there often to be objects of lust, the comic relief, the mean ones, or some other minor role to fill, but ultimately they’re there to die. They are nothing more than fodder for the killer. The Final Girl is just what you’d guess from the title: she’s the one who makes it to the climax. She’s not necessarily the smartest or the strongest and she usually doesn’t do anything, she just lives the longest. She is the best avoider of death, typically through little to no effort on her part.

From the very beginning, however, A Nightmare on Elm Street was different. The first (and best, in my opinion) protagonist of the series is Nancy Thompson, played perfectly by Heather Langenkamp. Nancy is smart, resourceful, and determined. She was the first horror movie character who I saw take an active role in her own survival. She was proactive rather than reactive: she didn’t just wind up in a confrontation with the killer and have to fight her way out—she planned her attack. She learned all she could about her enemy and then researched methods of attacking him. Nancy Thompson is quite literally my hero.

The series continued to put women in roles of power and agency as it went on; some were more significant or worthwhile than others, but all of them managed to carry the film and, if not deliver the final blow themselves, had a direct hand in the climactic defeat of the villain. In the near future I’m going to take some time to discuss each of these women, from least to most prominent in the series, so if this post has piqued your interest in these movies (and I hope it has, because they’re awesome) you can look forward to hearing more about them soon!

My Babysitter’s a Vampire

My Babysitter’s a Vampire is a made-for-TV movie which launched a half-hour TV series of the same name. It is aimed at teens and tweens and airs in the US on the Disney Channel, coming to us from our neighbors to the north (eh?) where it airs on Teletoon.

 

BEFORE YOU ROLL YOUR EYES

I know this is a kids’ show capitalizing on the vampire craze. I know, but before you rush to judge, I urge you to hear me out because this show is actually pretty awesome.

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