The big thing in superhero films right now is apparently two generally heroic guys beating the crap out of each other because they’re too manly to communicate with words. This isn’t a trope that particularly appeals to me, but I am always on the lookout for a story that will successfully subvert it. So it was with a tentative heart that I picked up V.E. Schwab’s 2013 novel Vicious. And while the story does put an interesting spin on the superhero story, I still found myself somewhat disappointed.
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.
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.
This past semester I’ve been super busy—I’m a full-time student with two jobs and an internship—and since I don’t have time for much of anything anymore, I decided it was a good idea to start procrastinating what I need to get done by replaying Final Fantasy XIII. I never really went into a full review for the game, though I did talk about its sequel a while back. To recap what I’ve already said, FFXIII doesn’t have the best storytelling. The plot itself is fine and rather compelling, but it wasn’t told in the best way. Additionally, the game is very linear until Chapter 11—you are quite literally on a single path that you cannot deviate from for the first ten hours or so of gameplay, and you are also incapable of returning to earlier parts of that path once you’ve moved on—which a lot of people didn’t like, including me.
However, one thing that I really think this game excelled at, and which helps me forgive a lot of its shortcomings, is the character development. There are still problems in this regard—I like Lightning, but she’s still just a carbon-copy of Cloud from FFVII—but for the most part, I really enjoyed the characterization here. One character that I was particularly pleased with is Hope.
Several months ago now, we reviewed the first issue of Fearless Defenders, the all-female team book written by Cullen Bunn and drawn by Will Sliney. The book was recently canceled, and last Wednesday, the final issue appeared in comic shops.
You’ll notice I didn’t say ‘a fond farewell’ in the title. Well, that’ll be because I had a very strained relationship with this book. In theory, I was very excited for it when it was announced. Fearless Defenders predated X-Men, Marvel’s other all-ladies team book, by several months, and I wished the best for it and from it; I really did. Unfortunately, it didn’t deliver.
This review is a little later than I wanted it to be. I held off writing it so I could watch the movie at least twice. Normally, my opinion of what I like and don’t like in a film tends to change drastically after seeing it numerous times, and looking back, I can say with almost 100% certainty that I greatly disagree with many things in the posts I wrote about The Avengers and Man of Steel. So I figured it wouldn’t be fair to do the same for Thor: The Dark World. That said, I might as well not have bothered with multiple viewings, because my opinion of this movie has not changed in the slightest since the opening night. Of course, since I’ve willingly subjected myself to it multiple times, you can probably already guess that I liked it.
Spoilers be ahead.
[Warning for Spoilers]
Lady Saika: Well, Lady Geek Girl has dragged me into this fandom as well, and I have to say: the season three tagline was a bit of an understatement. “Might” hurt? My ass.
But now we’re on hiatus (does the Teen Wolf fandom have a silly word for hiatuses like Supernatural‘s ‘hellatus’ and Hannibal‘s ‘he-ate-us’? Howlatus?) until January, and we can sit back, lick our wounds, and collect our thoughts about the first twelve episodes of season three.
Lady Geek Girl: Now, Madame Ace and I have delved into Teen Wolf before. We discussed both seasons one and two, as well as feminism in Teen Wolf and race issues in Teen Wolf. I have praised Teen Wolf before, because, while not perfect, it is a very feminist show. This season I had high hopes for the show to continue with its usual feminist themes. And while we still have many strong female characters and feminist themes, the ladies certainly took a hit this season.
Ugh. I was really hoping this episode would be good. I hoped so hard. It turns out this episode was so atrocious that I don’t even want to review it. It was a clusterfuck on literally every front and I’m pretty sure it only scrapes by as not-the-worst-S8-ep because “Man’s Best Friend with Benefits” is still a thing that exists.
I love comic books. Love them. I still remember my first comic book. I was in Kindergarten. A firefighter was discussing fire safety and as part of the free stuff he was giving out, I received a comic book titled Daredevil vs. Vapora #1.
Looking back on it, I realize how absolutely cheap this marketing ploy was. But man, did I love that comic. I read it until it fell apart. Eventually, I looked into other comics. I found out that the Batman cartoon that I knew and loved also was a comic book, and from then on, I was hooked.
And it is because I’m hooked to comic books that I come to you with this tidbit; comic book writers are going to kill this genre.