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  1. #21
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    The strong female character, is so because no-one wants to acknowledge that the ordinary is strong enough. If a male character is physically unattractive we are conditioned to look for other heroic traits in that character, a wry sense of humour, higher than average intelligence, some kind of physical skill. If a female character is physically unattractive we are encouraged to discount her except as backdrop scenery against which the beautiful woman is made more beautiful. Yet physically unattractive women can also have humour, intelligence and physical skill. But we are not encouraged to then look for it. If she is to be a significant character then we must amp up all her qualities (especially her looks) so that people will see the other traits.

    At the end of the day we still primarily see women for decorative value, whether we choose to acknowledge that propensity or not.

  2. #22
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    Never once, have I thought of Sigourney Weaver, Meryll Streep, or Pam Grier (Jackie Brown) as physically attractive. Love them just the same.
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  3. #23
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    Just google Sakura Haruno for a real strong female character.



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  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnnyyukon View Post
    Never once, have I thought of Sigourney Weaver, Meryll Streep, or Pam Grier (Jackie Brown) as physically attractive. Love them just the same.
    That's because they are real people. I'm talking about fictional characters here primarily. Although I will admit I rarely watch TV or movies, I read instead. But without fail in my favourite genre nearly every single significant female is physically attractive no matter what her other traits may be.

    All the women you have listed I do find physically attractive, mostly because they aren't stereotypically so. Each has a unique beauty about them, Meryl Streep in particular seems to get more so as she ages. She is awesome with silver hair. I only know Pam Grier from the movie Jackie Brown although I'm not sure how much of her was fictional versus the real her there.

  5. #25
    ^He pronks, too! Magic Poriferan's Avatar
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    I never saw this thread originally. I pretty much agree with the premise of the OP and I've thought the same thing for some time. One adjective I particularly love is "plucky" because it is almost exclusively applied to a heroine who is generically strong and daring. So plucky is the word that always comes to mind for this blank canvas strong females.

    I think the most unusual thing to see is a female comedy relief, or the female wacky sidekick. And I don't mean in works where nearly every character is female or where there is a blatant (often patronizing) attempt to appeal to a female audience. You rarely ever see female characters like that amongst a bunch of male characters.

    So, at this point, I think the most liberating depiction of a woman is one that is eccentric and funny.
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  6. #26
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    Kind of a side note as I am reading the original article, but you know what gave me chills about Arwen from LotR?

    It wasn't when she snuck up on Aragorn (the action the article aluded to), it was when he was going to take Frodo, she said, "I'm the faster rider, I'll take him" (i.e., she was the more sensible choice regardless), he says it's dangerous, and she says, "I do not fear them" -- even though you can tell she's a little afraid. And then she's riding to save Frodo, with all those riders breathing down her neck. It was a brave brave moment and she was just resolute and unwavering despite being fully aware of what she was doing.

    Liv Tyler was right in that she didn't have to hold a sword to be strong, her will was just indomitable even in the face of fear, and she just rode that horse right through the middle of it, alone, to save another. I actually get shakey/teary watching that, it's one of my favorite scenes in the entire movie sequence.

    Quote Originally Posted by Magic Poriferan View Post
    So, at this point, I think the most liberating depiction of a woman is one that is eccentric and funny.
    I felt that way seeing Kristen Wiig in "Bridesmaids."

    Ellen Page was rather cool as Juno (in "Juno"), but Kristen definitely came across as an eccentric woman who wasn't detached (like Juno or Daria or other popular variations of the snarky female). You often see women taking on these more "male-accepted" stances when it comes to humor, of which the sardonic woman is one.

    Another favorite movie of mine is "the Descent," which is really a horror flick, but it's all women, and they actually are WOMEN rather than women written like men, despite doing/facing a bunch of stuff that could scare most men half to death, and there was a lot of quirky/goofy stuff in their interactions in the beginning of the movie especially (during the sleepover, for example).


    Quote Originally Posted by 93JC View Post
    Ripley isn't 'sassy', 'feisty' or a "damsel in distress": she's a normal, rational human being. In fact if the other characters had listened to her they wouldn't have been in the trouble they were in in the first place.
    Ding ding ding.

    Yeah, that kind of engages what I said about Arwen and Aragorn a moment ago... They actually have a brief conversation about "who is the more sensible choice to take Frodo" regardless of gender. There is probably a touch of gallantry in Aragorn's desire to be the one, to protect Arwen; but they both agree that she's the better rider of the two, and he acquiesces quickly because he knows she's right. Just two people making a sensible decision.

    God, I have to say that Lambert drove me nuts. She was like, 'everything that is wrong with a woman' in terms of media stereotype, although she also felt very real to me so the acting (by Veronica Cartwright) was at least decent. But whiny, prickly, inept, weak, and then a screamer there at the end.

    The second film, Aliens, is even better at characterizing Ripley as a well-rounded person. At the beginning of the film she's suffering from severe PTSD as a result of the events of the first film. Eventually she gets hooped into going back to the planet where they found the Alien in the first film, and things go awry as one might expect. On the way there she gives a room full of marines a briefing about her 'encounter' in the first film. She trips over her words, words trail off... It's clear that what happened to her was very disturbing and the marines fall silent except for the female private, Vasquez, who interrupts and jokes "I only need to know one thing: where they are," as she makes a mock gun with her fingers and fires it at imaginary aliens.

    Vasquez is one-dimensional character, a female character written to be over-the-top macho. So macho in fact that when we first see her one of the other (male) characters jokes "Hey Vasquez, have you ever been mistaken for a man?" To which she retorts, "No. Have YOU?"
    Yeah, that was to Hudson. Heh.

    I noticed that too, though. I thought the two characters dovertailed so well -- giving us a depiction of a woman trying to be masculine to prove her strength, versus a woman who is just basically a person who ends up needing to be strong and rising to the occasion as she works through her issues and exerts herself to care for others. (In her favor, Vasquez drops some of the bravado by the end and has a bit more meaningful connection with others.)

    Aliens is one of my favorite movies, regardless of genre. The action sequences are great, the bantering is fun, but it has that dramatic core of Ripley's journey of survival and healing. Yes, she happens to enact this through the role of "mother" due to her personal story, but in a sense despite that feminine angle on things, she could be male or female, her story is a "human" one and thus something we can all identify with. She is a strong PERSON, not just a strong woman.
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  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    God, I have to say that Lambert drove me nuts. She was like, 'everything that is wrong with a woman' in terms of media stereotype, although she also felt very real to me so the acting (by Veronica Cartwright) was at least decent. But whiny, prickly, inept, weak, and then a screamer there at the end.

    ...

    Yeah, that was to Hudson. Heh.
    Some people panic in crisis situations. Toward the end even Ripley succumbs to emotion a bit and starts crying as her, Parker and Lambert decide what to do/how to escape. She doesn't really overcome that fear, she mostly stops crying because she gets pissed off at Parker. And that's okay, because she's ultimately a human being.

    And actually, now that I think about it, Ripley screams a couple times at the very end in the shuttle.

    It's not as though all of the crew are portrayed as competent, composed people in stark contrast to Lambert. Brett for example was pretty useless, he just happened to die early.

    Jim Cameron was smart when he wrote the same sort of part for Bill Paxton in Aliens. And Hudson is an excellent foil to Vasquez. Vasquez, whilst a little over-the-top, stays calm, cool, collected throughout the film. She acts bad-ass, and she is bad-ass. Whereas Hudson acts bad-ass and after the first firefight becomes the most panicked of the survivors.

    I noticed that too, though. I thought the two characters dovetailed so well -- giving us a depiction of a woman trying to be masculine to prove her strength, versus a woman who is just basically a person who ends up needing to be strong and rising to the occasion as she works through her issues and exerts herself to care for others. (In her favor, Vasquez drops some of the bravado by the end and has a bit more meaningful connection with others.)
    And speaking of Hudson, there might be no scene in the film to illustrate the bolded than the following:

    RIPLEY: How long after we're declared overdue can we expect a rescue?
    HICKS: [pause] Seventeen days.
    HUDSON: Seventeen DAYS? Hey man, I don't wanna rain on your parade, but we're not gonna last seventeen HOURS! Those things are gonna come in here just like they did before. And they're gonna come in here...
    RIPLEY: Hudson!
    HUDSON: ...and they're gonna come in here AND THEY'RE GONNA GET US!
    RIPLEY: Hudson! This little girl survived longer than that with no weapons and no training.
    [to Newt]
    RIPLEY: Right?
    [Newt apes a salute]
    HUDSON: Why don't you put her in charge?
    RIPLEY: You better just start dealing with it, Hudson! Listen to me! Hudson, just deal with it, because we need you and I'm sick of your bullshit.

    Aliens is one of my favorite movies, regardless of genre. The action sequences are great, the bantering is fun, but it has that dramatic core of Ripley's journey of survival and healing. Yes, she happens to enact this through the role of "mother" due to her personal story, but in a sense despite that feminine angle on things, she could be male or female, her story is a "human" one and thus something we can all identify with. She is a strong PERSON, not just a strong woman.


    Alien and Aliens are both in my Top-Five.
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  8. #28
    literally your mother PocketFullOf's Avatar
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    Hmm, I definitely see her point, but I think she is making a mountain out of a mole hill. There are other things in story lines that bug me as much, if not more so, but they aren't conflated with the equivalent of sexism.


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  9. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnnyyukon View Post
    Never once, have I thought of Sigourney Weaver, Meryll Streep, or Pam Grier (Jackie Brown) as physically attractive. Love them just the same.


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  10. #30
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    I like strong female characters in horror films, I even like it when the woman turns out to be the evil psycho (Alice Sweet Alice from the 70s, Mischief Night more recently) or when she's just extremely capable of showing necessary violence (the new Laurie Strode, the woman from the French film Inside)...these kinds of movies appealed to me as a very young girl and my ex used to find horror for me with strong females. There's a lot going on for me psychologically there, it's not about women being men, it's about women being capable of violence and defending themselves, which they are. I don't know if it's because I was a physical child but it never seemed incongruous to me at all. There are plenty of women who are athletes or who commit murder. I watch horror films for the same reason some people watch action films. One of my favorite series as an adult is Nevada Barrs Anna Pigeon series about a female law enforcement ranger.

    I don't necessarily need to see women in big business though. Like some of you may be perturbed by the karate princess, I am more perturbed by "the woman who does it all" i.e the woman who does too much and is typically better suited to being a very extroverted EXXJ. I don't like those characters or the implications that all women should be like them...but on the other hand there are probably EXXJ women out there who relate strongly to them, especially EXTJ.

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