Feminism and TV/Movie Characters

I read a very interesting article last night about Hollywood’s sad attempt at Feminism. You can read it here. It was quite the fascinating article that starts making you think about characters and your love and hate of them – not only on film or TV but also in books.

Of the list, the most fascinating one was of River Tam, Joss Wheden’s character from Fire Fly and the movie Serenity. It was pointed out that while she was a super genius who was very powerful (and in the movie proved she could kick ass), many of the story lines were around protecting the frail female. Wow! Good point.

I have two daughters and am a bit sensitive to how women are portrayed to them. I want them to be anything they want to be – from stay-at-home mom to female fighter pilot. I want them to know the world is their own, and that happiness and satisfaction in life is what is is all about. That they don’t need to fit into anyone’s box. To quote Margaret Fuller: “If you ask me what office women should fill, I reply—any… let them be sea captains if you will. I do not doubt that there are women well fitted for such an office.” But, I digress….back to my original topic….

I started thinking about the female characters I love and hate. Plenty has been said about Bella in the Twilight book series….and I think I’ve said some of those things myself, but it must be repeated that I hate her weakness. I’m glad she finds strength through the change, but found her difficult to relate to before that.

Romance novels are my guilty pleasure. I like them because they are like a TV soap opera in a book – mindless but somehow satisfying. My favorite books are those that have intelligent and strong female characters. These become my go-to must read again books. These books do not require the character to realize her life is not complete without her man – or that she is weak without a man. No, she realizes her life is strengthened by the partnership. It’s the whole separately they are weak, but together they are strong idea. An author who does a great job in this space is Sherrilyn Kenyon in her Dark Hunter series.

Buffy is still my favorite female character on the TV front, followed closely by Veronica Mars. I like Buffy because she’s a bit of a conundrum. She is your stereotypical blond hair, blue eyed cheerleader, yet she’s the one who is always rescuing people and kicking vampire butt. Veronica is more of a popular girl turned unpopular after her dad makes an accusation he cannot substantiate. Her entire family is shunned, thus forcing her to find some inner strength and rely on her brain.

On the movie front, I’m a little unsure who I would list as my favorite feminist character. Maybe it is Zoe from Serenity. She’s the calm and steady number 2 on the ship. She is happily married to a man who clearly is not threatened by her strength. She plays rescuer rather than being rescued. And while she is not the captain of the ship, it does not diminish her strength.

Hermione Granger is another character in both book and movie that I think is a good example of feminism. She is intelligent and does not diminish it for anyone. In the books, she usually is the one teaching Harry and Ron important things. She suggests Dumbledore’s Army as a concept, she comes up with the plan to use Poly Juice potion in the second book, she prepares them for their journey in their last book. Not bad…for a girl.

What do you think?