Strong Talks Merging "Super-Cute" with "Super-Psycho" for "Arkham Knight's" Harley Quinn
Video Games, Comic Books, TV, Film
Every once in a while I write a post just so I can use a comprehensive link in discussions rather than explaining myself over and over again. “No, it’s not equal” was born of this. Our issue today is not nearly as complex, nuanced, or far reaching as the subject of that post, but people misunderstanding the phrase “strong female characters” intentionally or innocently, and sometimes I just can’t tell which, is something that has been irritating me for a good long time.
Most of you probably don’t need this tutorial – everything I’m going to say here is honestly pretty basic and obvious (and I am by no means the first – or will be the last – to say it) but a surprising number of people still don’t get it. Since there ARE people that don’t get it, and still others who don’t get it to the tune that they think that writing “strong female characters” is indeed shorthand for tough badasses and that they’re doing “good work” by writing those one note characters, or by vilifying the idea of the “strong female character”…we’ll here’s my mini tutorial, rant, whatever you wanna call it. Enjoy.
So, back in August I did a post talking about the women of the Marvel Studios Films, doing that made me think I wanted to talk about all the superheroine film performances I’ve loved. Then a few months ago we did a whole post trying to figure out how to define a superhero. It ended up being a really interesting discussion (one in which by some miracle everyone was really well behaved! Miracles! They do happen!). However, the end result was that it became increasingly clear that everyone has a different view of these things and as such I would never satisfy everyone’s definition since such a thing didn’t exist. So I’m just going to choose to satisfy only my own criteria and everyone has to deal with that.
I was originally going to do a best 50 but while there are well over 50 roles of note, there weren’t really 50 I felt passionate about and wanted to discuss, even cutting down to the top 25 I found I was talking more about the problems I had with the roles/performances than the things that I loved, and since I intended this to be largely a positive post, I cut the list down again to a Top 10. And that was the sweet spot where I felt a horrible yearning for a few that had to be left off and could speak with real love about the roles on the list.
So, I have a column I’ve been working on — off and on — for a few months now, but I keep stumbling on the parameters and I thought I could put it out to all of you, see if together we could come up with better parameters than I have been able to come up with myself.
For the purpose of the column in question – which is a column about superheroes on film – my major stumbling block seems to be between action hero and superhero – where does one draw the line?
I have had some wonderful help from whip smart CSBG commenter Dean Hacker (thanks Dean!) and without him I would not even be this far along. Right now my in-process definition looks a bit like this:
“Superhero is a fluid term. It does not HAVE to come with clear cut superpowers or even a costume, though it should be said that costumes come in many shapes and forms beyond the traditional (i.e. is Ripley’s flight suit a costume? If not, why not?). While a “superhero” does not HAVE to come with the aforementioned superpowers or costume, a superhero does have to come with actions that are “super” in what they attempt – scope, breadth, intensity, etc., and perhaps with a “magical” solution of sorts to solving the huge problem they face.”
I love Halloween. It’s easily my favorite holiday. Christmas is a close second thanks to all the nostalgia (my parents do an epic warm Christmas). But there’s so much pressure on Christmas (just like New Years) that it can start to feel like obligation more than celebration and even I grow weary of the music and everything that comes with it which seems to creep into our lives earlier and earlier each year.
But Halloween never gets aggressive or greedy. It just hangs back being awesome. Go out and have the night of your life, or just hang back and eat chocolate and watch scary movies. Both are completely acceptable.
So it bums me out every year, especially the last five or so when superheroes have become so popular and mainstream to see so many lazy superhero costumes and since this is a column about women in comics we’ll focus on the superheroine costumes especially. The “super sexy” versions of costumes (that were already reasonably high on the sexy to begin with) get pretty tedious too, but my beef is not with costumes that are “too sexy” my beef is with costumes that are lazy as all get out or worse, don’t make a lick of goddamn sense (and not in the good way that things sometimes don’t make sense). Here are a few that really ticked me off in my hunt this year…
With intriguing columns about superheroine movies over the past months from io9 and Jezebel to USA Today and The BBC everyone is talking about this issue — that issue being “Where are all the Superheroines in Film?” Readers (or at least writers) cannot get enough of the topic. CSBG’s own Sonia Harris was interviewed last week for a Huffpost video, and I was interviewed last week by both CNN/HNL and SciFi Now Magazine for upcoming pieces on the subject. It feels like we’re hitting a point of no return where the people will simply demand a supeheroine film come hell or high water. We probably can’t call anything a “superheroine age” without some movies (and toys and all that comes with such things) but it does feel like we may finally be headed there.
I wrote over a year ago about why The Avengers got The Black Widow so right, and suggested some superheroine movies I’d like to see on the heels of that (I also wrote about both Catwoman and The Black Widow on Lit Reactor), but I was a bit too early for the rush it seems – and now, unwilling to be left out of the frenzy, since it’s an issue so clearly dear to my heart — here I am again.
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