Earlier I saw the following article from The Guardian, a very left leaning paper from the UK, and it was entitled the following
I would agree with most of the selection (apart from Buttercup, as the whole point of her was that she was supposed to be a useless damsel. It was satire) but I have a question to ask about the whole nature of the article.
At several points, the writer seemed to be of the opinion that it was the author's duty to represent the female characters in these stories as something aspirational. That it would be a goal desirable to achieve to be like them. Such as the following criticism, when talking about a blonde woman from Indiana Jones "It's really empowering to know I can be anything I want to be, as long as it's either this chick or a virgin who never stops pouting." Perhaps the strongest representation of this is when she says, when complaining of Bella's charachter in Twilight (who I agree, is absurdly stupid) "You guys know it's 2011, right, Hollywood? Women can do stuff now – it's the law!"
My question though is, why? Why do writers need to write female characters in such a way that they need to be aspirational? There are certainly plenty of male characters in fiction who I would not like to be like, even though I find them thoroughly engaging and interesting characters. I like Odo from DS9, but I wouldn't ever like to be that gruff/cold exterior. I like Dr House from House but I would never dream of being that all round unpleasnt. Why do feminists it seems now make the demand that all female lead characters are people that women should look up to and want to be like? That doesn't really seem reasonable.
Well here's the thing. There are far more fully-fledged male characters that have mostly good qualities than there are even female characters that have enough personality to be two-dimensional. That has changed A LOT in the past five years or so, rapidly speeding up after the Bridesmaid effect took place but overall it's still true. As a result women want characters that are strong because most movie-goers are too lazy to want fully-fledged ones more. Also it's kind of annoying to see your sex constantly be degraded to being secondary and needing help with the simplest tasks, which isn't exactly an uncommon role for women in movie history.
I think the opposite case is still obnoxious though. When a male character is kicking ass and there's this huge moment when he realizes that this girl he's hanging out with isn't actually useless. It happened in John Carter. The male hero steps up and tells the female he's going to save her and then she ignores him and kill like twenty enemies in five seconds without breaking a sweat. Those big theatric over-the-top you go girl moments seem to me to be just as bad as making her useless. Actually, if you're making her useless at least you're being honest with yourself. You don't really respect her as a character otherwise she would just be there kicking ass without any hint of irony or lead up that results just because she's a girl.
With that in mind I also think it's absurd to knock a movie just because the girl is useless. Lets ignore three-dimensional characters for a moment and focus on action movies where guys save the heroine. It sucks for girls that most movies are like this, I agree, in the sense of the big picture this is lame. However a movie itself is not inherently sexist just because it caters to male-fantasy. That's like saying any movie where a girl meets a handsome guy with lots of money is sexist. It may very well be, but just the act itself of catering to some sort of fantasy isn't sexist.
The act of women demanding empowering characters make sense to me, but that's only because I know movie-goers tend to be too lazy to just demand three-dimensional ones. Demanding ones that are empowering doesn't exactly lead up to quality female characters, the people involved in the movie can depict an empowering female character and still disrespect women. Making a female character strong just cause isn't exactly going to lead to better female characters is my point.
However, while some feminist may demand that women in media be portrayed as someone they can look up to they don't seem to have an averse reaction to fully-developed female characters that are portrayed as being horrible people. Take HBO's GIRLS for example. The characters in that, for the most part, are awful awful people. Yet no one would ever slam down the show for depicting these people as being terrible. Plenty of people slam it because the characters annoy them but the fact that they are unlikable isn't the problem it's just the way the show is written mostly if that makes sense.
On a final note Twilight did a weird thing where it's sexist against both sexes. I hear plenty of people say that Meyer hates women but less people tend to notice that she hates men too. I'm not particularly offended by that, I'm mostly just weirded out now. It's not even a general hatred of humanity, it plays like a hatred of very specific traits that only on gender tends to have. Then both genders are depicted as only having those traits that Meyer hates. Maybe I'm just inserting that in the story myself but that's what I thought.
A well thought out and intriguing reply. Bravo, sir.
Oh well thank you. Any topic involving movies or TV is pretty interesting to me so I enjoyed responding to your thread.