Strong Female Characters

One of my casual challenges involves a work with a strong female character. This term has become problematic in recent years because so many creators misinterpret what it’s supposed to mean. Too many see it as:

Strong Female Character – A character who is physically or emotionally strong (tough/badass) that happens to be female. Generally underwritten AF with minimal development over the course of the story. See Halle Berry’s Catwoman or any woman who is the mediocre hero’s ‘prize.’

This has become the new ‘Nice Guy’ or ‘Good Christian.’ Pro-Tip: If you have to tell people you are a ‘NG’ or ‘GC,’ you’re probably not. If you feel compelled to tell people you wrote a ‘SFC’ and expect praise for it, you probably failed. Hard.

What it used to mean and should mean is a female character who is well written, well developed, experiences change in as her story goes on, and exists separately from the male hero. Badassery is entirely optional. Think Maggie Gyllenhaal in The Dark Knight. Her character is an intelligent and capable lawyer who is doing her best to take down the mob on her own terms. Any of the women on Firefly have their own personalities, skills, and motivations. They aren’t there to further someone else’s story or be someone’s prize.

Gamora toes a very fine line on which type of SFC she is. She has her own relationship with her sister and her own motivations but she’s also Quill’s love interest. It wasn’t until the second movie we also got more women on screen in the GotG franchise so it’s easy for her to feel a bit like a token. We get Quill’s backstory but don’t know details about what Gamora went through or where she came from. She’s a badass but needs more development and history for her character to be strongly written.

I just finished The Girl with All the Gifts by M. R. Carey. There are three strong female characters in this book: Melanie, Ms. Justineau, and Dr. Caldwell. All of these women get POV time, have a mission, are well written, and are disinterested in other people’s bullshit. This is one of many reasons this book is fantastic and deserves a read (4.5/5). All female characters should be so well-written. Carey has some great SFC and gets it right in every sense of the word.

When looking at women in fiction, don’t just ask if she’s strong or a badass. Ask what her story is and does it matter in the context of main story line. Is she a person or a plot device? It’s not enough to just get representation; we need to get it right.

Insta Ads

Inspired by Safiya Nygaard’s latest haul, I decided to see what Instagram is trying to sell me. I mainly follow dogs, bookish accounts, and nature photographers (emphasis on underwater). I follow a couple of makeup accounts and nerd fashion designers. I post almost exclusively bookish photos with the odd selfie.

REI ENO hammock – I’m skipping Firefly this year. I have no practical purpose for a hammock otherwise. Big miss.

SunFrog Shirts – Decent size selection but very generic content. I’d go for Redbubble or Society6 in a heartbeat over this. Good effort but a miss.

Shut Up & Take My Money – A Chewbacca seatbelt cover. I post nothing about Star Wars and follow nothing about Star Wars but apparently I like enough geeky stuff that I am being urged to buy this. Another miss.

Third Eye Comics – Not sure if this is a fluke or not but I consider this place ‘my’ comic book store. I don’t follow them since I’m not especially into comics and only buy bind-ups. This one is a hit but I like this place before Insta got lucky. .75 instead of a full point.

Country Acres Resort and Rescue – A pet boarding and rescue place. It seems like a lovely facility. I’d enjoy working there if I wasn’t over 1,000 miles away on the east coast. That’s another miss.

That’s .75 out of 5. I kind of like having advertisers not be able to pin me down too easily. I like geeky stuff but I’m honestly not that into Star Wars. I’m being much choosier about what retailers get my money. The last 2 locations my account has are Washington, D.C. and New York City. I have less than no idea where they got the Missouri based pet resort.

Pokémon No

While I’ve really enjoyed playing Pokémon Go, the game is starting to become repetitive. It’s constantly the same crap roulette: pidgey, spearow, weedle, rattata, and caterpie. It doesn’t matter if people drop lures or more people are playing. In order to get good mons, the user increase in the area has to be astronomical. In my area, most people don’t like being outside for another month.

The nearby list is a taunt on a good day. “We’ll pretend there’s a vulpix nearby but only deliver a pidgey.” 9 times out of 10, any good mons that I get are as surprising to me as the nearby list. I try to ignore it but it’s hard to ignore the picture of a mon you want staring at you from the corner of your screen. It’s more frustrating than anything.

I’m looking forward to doing MeetUps once the weather cools off and I can be outside without melting. Enough people plus enough pokéstops should finally equal some new mons in my pokédex.

Music Monday: Pokémon Go

Since Pokémon Go has taken over the world, I thought I’d dedicate this Monday’s playlist to it. Some are songs I think go with the new game and others are from the soundtrack from the first movie. Yes, I had the CD. I was young and like bubblegum pop.

Pokémon Theme by Lindsey Stirling
I Know Places by Taylor Swift
Running with the Wolves by Aurora
Born to be Wild by J2
Catch Me If You Can by Angela Via
Jellyhead by Crush
Lullaby by Mandah
Victorious by Panic! at the Disco
Bug Hunt (Noisia Remix) by Skrillex
Ready Aim Fire by Imagine Dragons
Pokémon Theme by Daniel Tidwell

Scooby-Doo: What Did You Do?

From a friend on Facebook: “How’s this for a Scooby Doo theory? That gang were all reformed criminals, and mystery solving was their community service. Just a group of misfits with nothing in common, paying their debt to society. Can I get some ideas as to what each of their crimes were?”

Velma was a hacker or the past equivalent thereof. She was attempting to liberate the wrong information and got busted. Shaggy was a stoner so possession and possible distribution. Either he was a first time offender or his dad knew somebody. Fred was some type of white collar or theft from rich people. His dad got it plead down. Daphne dated a bad boy to piss off her parents and was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Again, her rich parents were able to bargain her out of her accessory to a major crime.

Originally they were supposed to be a band and find mysteries in each town on their tour. This premise makes more sense than just scrapping it (which is what happened) and gets mocked a bit in the latest reboot. Either way, it’s fun to think about.

 

The Fandom Awakens

I saw the latest installment of Star Wars on Friday. I had grown to loathe this movie by viewing time because of the inescapable hype. I then made a snarky comment on reddit that blew up enough to make the front page. I knew which character died within an hour.

This didn’t help since I’m highly critical of this franchise. The writing on the first 6 films sucks. While there are some funny moments, most of it makes on the smallest amount of sense necessary to keep the series afloat.  The character development is nonexistent. Leia’s planet is blown up and we hear no more about it. Luke’s entire family is flambeed but when he goes into battle, he wishes Ben/Boo Radley was there instead of the people who raised him. Anakin and Padme have no chemistry. When she said “I love you,” I thought, “Are you sure?” Padme loses the will to live after seeing her babies born? That is the stupidest, most indefensible shit I’ve ever heard in my life and I’ve seen Trump at the Republican debates.

I went in prepared to hate this movie. I left with a new appreciation for the franchise. Contrary to what the previous paragraph would have you believe, I don’t hate the franchise. I respect what it has done for popular culture but I saw it as an adult when you can’t unsee plot holes and bad acting. The Force Awakens fixed most of the issues I had with Star Wars. It even passed the Bechdel Test!

The cast was diverse and talented. The story was interesting, made total sense, and ended in a way that had resolution and left room for the other 2 films we know are coming. The characters had motivations and desires that worked and they grew and changed as the story progressed. It was a good movie. I’d give it a 6.5 out of 10.

Why didn’t I rate it higher? I want to give it a 7 but I have 2 major problems with this film and explaining those requires SPOILERS. You have been warned.

1) Cheap CGI

The new cantina scene was great. Maz (Lupita Nyong’o) was an excellent use of motion capture. However the junk dealer on Jakku? He looked ridiculous. I’ve seen enough episodes of Face Off to recognize the fat suit, foam, and paint that went into this character. It was very half-assed and again, took me out of the moment.

The worst offender was Kylo Ren’s mentor. If you can nail Star Wars FaceTime in the prequels, Space Gollum should look better in here. For a big bad, he looked like the forgettable villain in a fairy tale cartoon for little kids. I don’t care if he’s 20 feet tall (you should call tech support about that BTW). If the Sith leader can look creepy and menacing on video conference, so can Space Gollum.

2) Derp Vader

Someone kill the casting director. They nailed every character except Kylo Ren. Why did every other character work so well? Because they were either  already established in the universe or the new kids were played by unknowns except Derp Vader. He’s played by Adam Driver, better known as Hannah Horvath’s boyfriend on Girls.

The second I saw him without the mask, I couldn’t take him seriously as a villain. Driver has gotten to much exposure as this weird idiot on an insanely popular show. FFS, one of the Obama kids interned on it! People associate him with this role. I couldn’t unsee it and it took me out of the moment. Even his rage tantrums felt like Derp Boyfriend instead of Unstable Bad Guy.

While I’m on the rant, why does he have such nice hair under a freaking helmet? It’s like he’s out of a damn shampoo ad. Can you at least pretend to make him look different than Derp Boyfriend? Give him a military cut? Anything? How about a vague attempt to make him look like his parents? Derp Vader is a walking joke about the milkman.

Did Driver do a good job? Yes. Had I never seen him before this, I’d think he was OK. A milkman joke but good. But I have seen him and it’s like watching Rob Schneider as the bad guy.

Those two issues are going to be mostly my issues. Unless you’ve seen Girls, Kylo Ren hasn’t been tainted for you. If you love, like, or merely tolerate Star Wars, go see this movie. It’s the best in the franchise. The nerds were truly blessed this holiday season.

 

Music Monday: Geek Chic

I am a big nerd. I have a first doctor, favorite Star Trek captain, and a crazy amount of books. This Monday, I am bringing you some nerd music.

Nothing to Prove by The Doubleclicks
Best Game Ever by Mikey Mason
Talk Nerdy to Me by K-Face
All the Single Maties by The Village Idiots
Princess Rap Battle by Whitney Avalon feat. Sarah Michelle Gellar
Blink by Chameleon Circuit
Poor Unfortunate Subjects by Weekenders
Now I’m the One That’s Cool by The Guild
Run This Game by Insane Ian
Five Nights at Freddy’s by The Living Tombstone
Training Hard by NateWantsToBattle
Doctor Who Am I? by Professor ShyGuy
Cosplay Is a Good Time by Screen Team
I Ship It by Not Literally