Category Archives: female characters

Talking Tahiri Veila

Being raised by Tuskan Raiders and being shaped by the Yuuzhan Vong should make for a compelling character. Unfortunately, for Tahiri Veila, she’s cast into role of the pining lover, moldable apprentice and slave to her desires. As likeable as Tahiri is, the unfitting uses of her character threaten her position on the list of female heroes in the Star Wars Expanded Universe.

Tahiri began her role in the EU as friend to a reluctant Anakin Solo. Orphaned and raised by Tusken Raiders, she has a vastly different background than her best friend. Tahiri and Anakin during the Junior Jedi Knights books act as children their ages often do as they go through their many adventures. She’s bright, bubbly and intelligent.

Tahiri pops up again during the New Jedi Order first in James Luceno’s Agents of Chaos II: Eclipse in a minor role. When the Yuuzhan Vong attack Yavin IV during Edge of Victory: Conquest by Greg Keyes, Tahiri doesn’t accompany most of the other students. Naïve about how the Vong truly are and feeling stifled by her age, Tahiri stays behind to fight alongside Anakin. Instead of the glorious adventure she envisions, she ends up captured by Shapers.

The shaping of Tahiri is one of the most horrifying and interesting events in the EU. The Vong Shapers have no qualms with eradicating Tahiri by replacing her with memories of another. They treat her as a science experiment, a game. The extent of the damage Master Shaper Mezhan Kwaad and Nen Yim inflict on Tahiri when they inserted the Riina Kwaad identity into the young Jedi trainee’s mind comes forth the strongest during the Force Heretic trilogy. While readers saw some of the effects before those, it’s only then does she have to fight the conflicting parts of her mind.

Tahiri and Anakin’s relationship turns from friendship to love during this time. It was short-lived, however, when Anakin died on Myrkr. Tahiri refused to kiss Anakin, telling him that he needed to return to receive it. It’s a common request seen in movies and books that the hero often fulfils, yet in this case, it adds another layer to the tragedy of Anakin’s death for Tahiri.

Tahiri appears to be recovering somewhat during her mission to Coruscant with Luke, Mara and several others including former Wraith Kell Tainer. Though subdued, Tahiri successfully contributed to the mission, especially when dealing with Lord Nyax. In addition, “Aunt Tahiri” and Kell’s interactions provide much-needed comic relief.

When Riina’s personality attempts to take control of Tahiri, she is forced to retreat into her mind to battle to deal with her two parts. She eventually merges the two and becomes a new mix of Riina and Tahiri. She’s harder, rougher, yet still maintains some of Tahiri’s brightness. It’s somewhat off-putting at first, but it makes sense with what has happened to her. During The Final Prophecy, Tahiri’s characterization continues to strengthen.

When the Killik crisis occurred, Tahiri became a Joiner. Despite that she suffered from depression from the loss of Anakin and that the Yuuzhan Vong part of her was known for blind devotion, Tahiri as a Joiner didn’t make much sense. Here was a woman who’d undergone a transformation into a more mentally sound person. She’d had her mind invaded once. It’d be logical for her to create some type of metal barriers against that happening again and be alert to it. This change would take time to become comfortable with, but it wasn’t as if Tahiri spent those five years on Zonoma Sekot in constant combat. She’d have time to recover. A world so rich in life and the Force seems like ideal healing grounds.

Moving past the Joiner kerfuffle, Tahiri’s characterization takes a major hit when she joins Jacen. Jacen manipulates Tahiri’s remaining feelings for Anakin to draw her into his trap. When it comes to dabbling in the Dark Side, Tahiri lacks the finesse of other Sith. While her fall to the dark side can be understood given the history, it’s the revelation during her trial for the murder of Gilad Pellaeon in Fate of the Jedi Allies by Christie Golden that Tahiri and Jacen were physically “involved” that does more damage to her—and her Sith Master. Tahiri pining after Anakin and then sleeping with his older brother is simply uncomfortable. It takes Star Wars to a place that it doesn’t turn to. In addition, it adds nothing to the story but sputtering by fans. The final verdict in her trial would have been the same without that particular development.

Tahiri returns to her role as a hero in Troy Denning’s Fate of the Jedi Apocalypse. She fought one of Abeloth’s forms with the help of Boba Fett. The alliance, if it can be called such, between such vastly different characters worked well. Tahiri also fights alongside the Jedi in the Temple towards the end of the book. In both cases, she shows the Tahiri unseen for years. She’s an assertive, decisive woman capable of holding her own in most situations.

Tahiri is yet another female character in the Expanded Universe whose potential is repeatedly misused. She’s stuffed into the box of the lost love and self-pity. While she received closure during Allies, I’m not convinced that the Anakin card won’t play again in her future. No one wants to see a depressed, wallowing Tahiri.

Tahiri’s destiny links with Anakin long after his death. Rather than force her to stay tied down to a ghost, let her move forward. She can still have fond memories of him without them dragging down her spirit. The relationship is a part of her, but shouldn’t define her entire life. Aaron Allston sent her in the right direction during Conviction and Troy Denning pushed it farther along with the events of Apocalypse. It’d be a terrible loss if Tahiri faded into the background.

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Filed under Allston, Anakin Solo, Expanded Universe, Fate of the Jedi, female characters, FotJ, Jacen Solo, NJO, Star Wars, SWEU, Tahiri, Troy Denning

50 Shades of Grey rips off characters and portrays women poorly

The success of 50 Shades of Grey is rather unsettling. It’s not that it contains strong sexual content that’s the problem; it’s that the characters are basically Bella and Edward from Twilight and that it portrays harmful relationship dynamics.

One of the most important parts of writing is to create characters. It’s just as, if not more, important than plot. Had Katniss Everdeen or Harry Potter been horrible characters, their stories wouldn’t have had such success, even with spectacular plots. Poorly constructed characters are hard to read in any setting, no matter how good it is.

E.L. James wrote 50 Shades of Grey (and its two sequels) as a Twilight fan fiction series titled Master of the Universe. She slightly modified some physical characteristics and other details, but the characters are clearly based off the cast of Twilight. James’s characters are not new. Turning Edward to Christian and changing bronze hair to dark copper (is there really a difference?) is not creating an original character.

The main female character, Anastasia Steele, acts like Bella. If someone described her character to me without mentioning anything about Twilight, I’d say that she was Bella Swan. She thinks that Christian is downright gorgeous. He’s too good looking to be mortal. His movements appear irresistible from the start. His accidental brushes send her spinning. Anastasia is even clumsy like Bella!

Christian is possessive. His subordinates act just as silly as Anastasia does when he looks at him. I can’t tell you how many times in Twilight Bella commented on some stranger’s reaction to Edward’s physical appearance. He’s young, but acts older.

Even Anastasia’s mother sounds like Renee, Bella’s mom. Her friend Jose who obviously loves her but she doesn’t love back? Jacob.

Sound familiar? What’s sad is that I wasn’t looking for other Twilight characters while looking through passages.

It doesn’t matter what people think about Stephanie Meyer’s writing, characters and work. The fact is that she created Bella, Edward, Rosalie, Jasper, Jacob and the rest. They are hers. It’s wrong to make money off other people’s creative property. End of story.

I have nothing against fan fiction. As long as an author is okay with, I see no reason for fans not to write it—provided the writer doesn’t make any money off it. Fan fiction can be a great tool for honing various writing skills in addition to a fun hobby. Had James left her story as fan fiction, it would join the millions of other stories out there.

The problem with adapting a fan fiction to an original novel is that the writer and the reader are presented with the question of what is original. Let’s say someone writes a fan fiction story about Han Solo and Princess Leia defending a displaced ruler on a backwater planet. The writer decides that the plot is a great idea and to make turn it into an original novel. Instead of a backwater planet, it’s a small fictional country. Han Solo and Princess Leia don’t use blasters anymore. They have regular guns. Leia’s a blonde and Han shaves his head, but they act the same as Han and Leia. How is that original? Just because a plot is original does not mean that the entire novel is.

A fan fiction writer could successful turn the plot she used in a story into an original novel. Instead of scrolling through the document and removing references and changing names, start from scratch. Create new, original characters and use the plot. Odds are that that original plot idea with original characters will turn into something different from the fan fiction story. Personally, I’d rather start something completely new.

Other characters can act as inspiration, but a writer shouldn’t make it the same as another. Someone can use Leia’s take-charge attitude as a trait for her own original character without making a replica of Leia. The idea is inspiration, not copying.

Not all readers care. I’ve had a plethora of conversations about 50 Shades of Grey where the others participating don’t see the problem. Their focus is the sexual content, which is probably why it’s such a popular series. One woman I work with is trying to talk most of the female members of the staff into reading the series. She raves about how fun it is to read and how much she enjoys reading that type of content. If were a completely original, well-written erotic novel that didn’t read like an X-rated version of Twilight, it wouldn’t be an issue.

The setup for 50 Shades of Grey is ridiculous. Anastasia must drive to Seattle to do an interview for her friend Kate. Kate is the editor of the school newspaper and managed to score an interview with Christian Grey, the CEO of Grey Enterprise Holdings, Inc. Anastasia doesn’t even work for the school newspaper. Anyone with even a shred of newsroom experience can tell readers that this is a ludicrous idea. Never pass an interview off to a random person, especially when she isn’t associated at all with the world of reporting. In addition, walking into an interview without knowing anything about the person is one of the biggest mistakes a person can make. She blames Kate for not giving her prior information. That’s not an excuse.

Just like Twilight, 50 Shades of Grey piles on horrible relationship dynamics. Christian practices BDSM because of his past, it seems. Instead of showing how the relationship between a dominant and submissive works, James creates an abusive, skewed dynamic. She takes the unsafe set up and romanticizes it. It’s not as if the information about BDSM is hard to find. It took me 20 seconds to find a website with the proper terms. Within minutes, I found all the necessary information about safe words, consent and the potential problems that can crop up that I didn’t know about before. Additional searching reveals that members of the BDSM community and others cite that what Christian and Anastasia participate in is not an accurate portrayal of the majority. Research is a vital part of writing. It doesn’t take long to start with the basic facts.

As Bella does in Twilight, Anastasia turns a reluctant, possessive man into the so-called dream man. The idea of changing a harmful partner into the perfect mate is as old as time. As important as it is to see the good in someone, when you put your safety and health at risk, there’s a serious problem. Portraying yet another female character as the virginal, innocent creature who endures her partner’s controlling behavior in favor of trying to change him is something we have had more than enough of.

If the success of the series tells anything, it’s that there is a demand for erotic fiction for women. What’s sad is that instead of good quality writing and healthy dynamics, the most popular piece of erotic fiction is a mirror of one of the most widely criticized relationships in today’s literature. Anastasia isn’t a woman to look up or care about. She’s just like Bella Swan, a tool. Given that they are one and the same, that’s hardly a surprise.

50 Shades of Grey rips of characters from an author and sends a horrible message about relationships. Both of these reasons are why E.L. James won’t see a cent from me.

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Filed under 50 shades of grey, fan fiction, female characters

Let’s talk about the Hapans

Click here to read Fangirl, Kay and I talk about the Hapans and their female dominated culture. It’s the first part of the discussion, so look for more in the future!

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Filed under Discussion, Expanded Universe, Fangirl, female characters, Hapes, Star Wars, SWEU

Finding character in clothing: The costumes of the Star Wars Original Trilogy

Costume choices make just as strong of an impression as dialogue and behavior do. The costumes of Star Wars not only capture the characters themselves, but the environment and tone of a scene. Even the smallest detail, like the embroidery of the Naboo symbol on Queen Amidala’s Red Invasion Gown in The Phantom Menace, tells a story.

Over the next several weeks, look for blog posts discussing the costumes of the Original Trilogy, Prequel Trilogy and Expanded Universe. In addition, there will be a post regarding costumes from other movies. Costumes add another layer to storytelling and can, at times, tell more about a character than the words they say.

 

A New Hope

Perhaps the costume that stands out the most in A New Hope is Princess Leia’s Senatorial Gown. Unlike the dresses worn by princesses in other movies, Leia’s dress wasn’t at all revealing, tight or restricting. She wears two different styles of the gown. The one worn on the Death Star, the Alderaan Princess, has short, less bulky sleeves and heavier while the Yavin version uses more voluminous sleeves and a more lightweight fabric.

The Senatorial Gown covers Leia from neck to toe. It’s loose fitting, white in color and simple. The color and fit insinuate purity while the simple design seems more appropriate for someone younger. The only accessory Leia wears is a silver and white belt. The hood in the back doesn’t appear bulky, merely practical. Leia’s practical and confident, yet she’s naïve in many aspects of life, including romance and military life. Her costume relays all these traits and more.

The Senatorial Gown wouldn’t be so memorable without the infamous double buns. The style combined an out-of-this-world feel with royalty. The buns hold her hair tightly to the scalp. Nothing is askew or hanging freely. Such is the life of Princess Leia for a third of the trilogy. The double buns, just like her, appear completely together, as if nothing can shake them loose. Emotions, a trip through the trash, nothing breaks through either.

At the medal ceremony on Yavin IV, Leia changes into a slightly more relaxed yet formal dress. The scooped neck, less rigid hair and gauzy cape remove some of the stiffness the Senatorial Gown cast on Leia. She still wore white and maintained that royal, pure look, but it’s clear that while she is still the same Leia, she has allowed herself to feel some joy at the destruction of the Death Star.

Leia’s hairstyle at the end of A New Hope consists of a crown of braids on the top of her head with one trailing behind. The crown of braids maintain her position, while the one trailing down acts as a sign of a touch of relaxation, regardless of how short that moment is. By that point, she needs a brush with joy after the loss of her world and family.

Everyone’s favorite farmboy Luke Skywalker wears a getup that solidifies his youth and role. The loose fitting tunic, pants and boots all indicate working hard in the heat. The lighter color is not only practical for a planet with two suns, but also give Luke an air of innocence and naivety similar to Leia’s. His garb is more casual that Owen Lars, who wears a robe and undershirt. Luke isn’t as focused on his life on Tatooine as his uncle is.

Luke’s second costume is the orange flight suit later worn by the Rogue Squadron. The insanely bright orange color acts as a drop of color in the drab grey and black color scheme that plagues the Empire. The suits, helmets and gear were based off what various military units wore or designed. In a way, that mixture is a strong indication of what the Rebel Alliance is: a mixture of various parts that wouldn’t normally work together, but when they do work seamlessly.

Luke’s final costume is the yellow jacket ensemble he wears for the medal ceremony on Yavin IV. With the blaster slung midway down his thigh, black undershirt and yellow jacket, some of that naïve boy from Tatooine blends in with a man who has witnessed death and destruction.

Han Solo’s clothes scream rebel. With a blaster as far down on his thigh as possible, a dingy looking shirt and black vest, it’s clear that this man sets his own rules. Even when presented with a medal at the end, Han sticks to the black vest. Even as he is being honored for his role in the destruction of the Death Star, he gives no outward indication of a change of heart. Even though his views changed, he wasn’t quite at the point of showing it.

Obi-Wan Kenobi’s Jedi robes first appear worn and comfortable. The long tunic doesn’t suggest that he is a fighter, more of a mentor. In that way, it captures the essence of Obi-Wan. Throughout the Saga, he teaches, tries to negotiate and fights only when necessary. More on the Jedi robes in the prequel post.

Darth Vader’s suit is the ultimate sign of an evil villain. With its mechanical appearance, it screams that the wearer is someone evil. Add in the loud ominous breathing and low dangerous sounding voice and the package is complete. His helmet and suit hide him completely, forbidding anyone from thinking he has any humanity left in him. The suit contains no decoration or alludes to style. It intimidates and keeps the man inside alive, that is all.

The Imperials wear uniforms featuring olive green, black and grey. Their costumes contain various features, like the riding pants that are based off what the Germans wore during part of the 19th century. The Imperial uniforms are drab and formal, similar to any military unit’s garb. There is no color aboard the Death Star, nor would there be. The colors play on the mood found aboard the space station: order, fear, destruction and desperation.

 

The Empire Strikes Back

In the next installment of the Original Trilogy, the costumes follow the changes in the characters, particularly Leia and Luke, much clearer. Given the multiple locations and opportunities to change, there are more costumes in the movie.

Leia is still wearing white, still her barred-off self on Hoth. The cold climate demands some type of protection from the cold, as seen by everyone. While the snowsuit isn’t formal, it certainly doesn’t belay any indication of relaxation. If anything, Leia appears more closed off than she did during ANH.

Leia keeps her hair up in braids. Again, her hairstyle is practical, perhaps more so than the double buns. Leia eventually sheds the vest portion of her snowsuit on Bespin.

The red costume Leia wears on Cloud City shows a dramatic change from the uptight princess to a woman finally allowing herself to be free. The dark red color of her tunic and pants suggest a more romantic, vibrate, alluring attitude. The tunic isn’t revealing or tight. The long white sleeveless cover adds a touch of soft romanticism and femininity. It’s decorated with embroidery, adding to the flair. Leia’s hair is also more relaxed. Though in braids, the looped style is much softer than any seen before. She is still Leia, but begins to adapt more to the changes in her life. Red is a deep contrast to the white she always wore before. It’s the color of romantic passion, something missing from Leia’s life until that point. In addition, it also shows that she is coming to terms with her growing feelings towards Han rather than hiding behind a stiff façade. The outfit is so characteristically Leia that it’s eerie.

Sadly, the Bespin outfit doesn’t stay on screen long. She’s stuck back in the snowsuit, sans vest, after capture. At the end, Leia goes back to white, wearing a gown that is almost in mourning. It’s almost the same as the Senatorial gown, though instead of the double buns or tight braids, her hair is pulled up in a more casual pile on the crown of her head. The hairstyle portrays more about Leia’s character at that moment than the dress itself. It’s clear that such a style wouldn’t take much time or energy. After losing someone, it’s difficult to do anything special. Though the dress choice could indicate that Leia could go back to the person she once was, her hair shows that it’s not the case.

Throughout ESB, Luke undergoes his Jedi training. Once free of the military snow gear and flightsuit, he turns to the khaki pants, ribbed tank and khaki jacket for Dagobah. His appearance gives him a more orderly feel, especially when he wears the jacket. Once he sheds the jacket, though, it’s clear how hard he’s working to become a Jedi. His clothing is simple caters to what he needs at the time. More importantly, it doesn’t resemble the ensemble we see him wear on the Rebel Base. He’s stepping away from the soldier to become something more.

Luke’s final outfit is a loose fitting tunic and pants. He wears it while the medical droid installs his prosthetic hand. Like most hospital garb, it’s comfortable and nonrestrictive. Its light color meshes well with Leia’s white robes, casting a type of light in the darkness that recently entered their lives.

No look at costumes is complete without a talk of Lando Calrissian, connoisseur of the all that is fine and luxurious. In his flared black pants, v-neck blue shirt and suave cape, Lando’s smooth and sophisticated personality is apparent from the start. He’s a businessman, ready to oil the wheels when necessary to reach the finale profit. The blue is peaceful and calm, suggesting that Cloud City is a safe haven for Han, Leia and Chewbacca. The silky fabric shows his love for the finer things in life. The hip cape is the final touch. Not many people can pull off a cape without looking ridiculous, but Lando does it. It seems like an extension of himself, that extra flair to his outfit—and character.

 

Return of the Jedi

The most iconic costume in all of the films is Princess Leia’s metal bikini. Scores of websites are dedicated to the construction of the slave Leia costume. Rather than allow the skimpy garb and chained collar to weigh the character down, it served as a tool for empowerment and means of escape. Not once when Leia was laying on Jabba’s dais or watching Luke, Han, Lando and Chewie approach the sarlacc pit did she look as if she was allowing anyone to humiliate her. Rather than permit that chain to stop or beat her, Leia turned the symbol of slavery into a weapon against her captor. Rather than try to hide herself or allow the costume to distract her, she accepted it and moved forward. She isn’t held back by anything during the events of Jabba’s palace.

Leia fully integrates herself as one of the soldiers in the Rebel Alliance with what she wears at the briefing and on Endor. There isn’t a shred of white on her uniform, which also removes the “princess” from the battlefield. She wound her hair around her head in braids. It’s out of the way and very “Leia.”

The Ewok dress is a rather interesting piece of work. Leia appears vulnerable in it. Her hair almost completely unbound, held back by a braid. Her insecurities about herself come through while wearing this dress. It’s wilder, rawer than anything else she’s worn in the movies. When Leia learns the truth about her heritage, she’s knocked down to a dark place. Everything she’s known is sent on a tailspin. Even after the destruction of Alderaan, a horror only a few could relate to, she still had a grasp on her past. With Luke’s reveal, everything changes. She does have family out there and he’s a monster. The Ewok dress plays off these emotions quite well.

Luke sheds his farmboy clothes for good with his black Jedi uniform. It’s strict, darker and formal, as Luke now is. He still maintains his inner confidence and belief that good will prevail, but now he’s learning the discipline necessary to be a Jedi. He never loses the black uniform. Rather than change, he simply throws on a camouflaged poncho and helmet. Though a member of the Alliance, he’s set apart from everyone else through his dress.

Han Solo finally meshes the lovable scoundrel with his sense of responsibility on Endor. While he doesn’t give up his traditional pants, white/ivory shirt and vest/jacket combo, he adds a camouflaged jacket. Not only does this help him blend in to the forest, but also it gives a sense of similarity to the Rebel fighters.

Emperor Palpatine maintains a shroud of evil and mystery with his shroud. It possesses neither glory nor glamour. It is threadbare, old and rough as he is. His face stays mostly hidden by a low cowl. His cane isn’t smooth, its scraggly and eerier looking. The Emperor’s robes exude both mysticism and danger.

Acting as a stark contrast to the black of the Emperor’s robes is the red of the Crimson Guards. Their smooth helmets, inhuman appearance and bold color demand attention. No one around the Emperor can forget that it would be a very bad idea to try to harm him. The ceremonial weapons look intimidating, always within sight of visitors and ready to punish.

The costumes of the Original Trilogy reflect the overall feel of the three movies. The changes of the characters, the darker tone of the Empire and the lighter colors to Rebel Alliance paint a clear picture of the state of the galaxy. Life is dark in many corners and oppressive. The Rebel Alliance is the light in that darkness, restoring color and hope to the galaxy.

Look for an in-depth look at the costumes of the Prequels early next week.

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Filed under costumes, Darth Vader, fashion, female characters, Han Solo, Lando Calrissian, Luke Skywalker, Original Trilogy, OT, Star Wars

10-year anniversary of Attack of the Clones-and Padme’s amazing wardrobe

ImageTen years ago today, a boy in first period Algebra dropped little tidbits about Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones. He’d gone to the midnight showing, something I wasn’t aware the local theater participated. He spoke of an amazing lightsaber duel, plenty of action and that something happened at the end regarding Luke and Leia. I was particularly puzzled over the last bit.

I’d been looking forward to AotC for months. I spent more than a buffering the first theatrical trailer on the family’s old computer with dial-up internet. I taped and watched a variety of specials about the movie and Star Wars in general. I still have those tapes, but no working VCR. For some reason, I can’t make myself throw them in the trash. I collected various articles. That was how I found out about the Star Wars convention a mere hour drive away at the beginning of the month. Had I known about it before, I would have waited to have knee surgery.

That Saturday, a friend, my brother and I met at the movie theater. It was quite the experience. Anakin’s moment with the Tuskan Raiders shed so much more into his character. Obi-Wan’s one-liners and quick thinking impressed. Granted, his lightsaber skills at the end bothered me. He was so skilled in TPM and then fell flat. The excuse of a different fighting style doesn’t work. Qui-Gon would know how his Master fought and pass on the knowledge. Yoda stole the end with his fight. Count Dooku added a more complicated villain to the mix.

And then there was Padme.

ImageIt took about .5 seconds for me to think Padme was a fantastic character in The Phantom Menace. She didn’t waver from her convictions just because someone wanted to kill her. She maintained a desire for a peaceful solution over war, similar to TPM. Rather than wait to die or hope that Anakin or Obi-Wan would rescue her, Padme came up with her own plan to try to avoid death in the Geonosian arena. Instead of hiding behind Anakin’s lightsaber when the battle droids appeared, she grabbed a blaster and shot back. It never felt as if she was the one being rescued, or that she wasn’t an equal part of the team.

ImagePadme also had a killer wardrobe. Thinking back on it, it seems rather important to separate her from the others this way. Her costumes showed her personality. She could move in them, yet they added to her natural regale stance. They made her appear more comfortable, more like herself. The complex, restricting gowns wore as Queen of Naboo maintained a strict, somewhat rigid image. Padme became another person in those ensembles. It didn’t seem as if she had to dress prettier because she was a girl. The clothing choices fit the character.

I’m not sure which my favorite is. The blue outfit on Tatooine has a certain casual flair to it, while the picnic gown is gorgeous. Even her arena garb was done well—except for the tearing that was rather unnecessary.

It’s incredibly easy to rip on the corny lines spoken by both Anakin and Padme. They sound ridiculous if you take them at face value. In a movie, we tend to expect more smooth, touching lines. Most of Anakin’s dialogue actually sounded like what a 19-year-old man would say. Most people in love say things that sound cheesy to outsiders, especially at a young age. Yes, it would have been great if the lines were better, no argument there, but I can live with them.

Ten years later, despite the flaws, I still love Attack of the Clones. It’s hard to believe that it’s been this long since Yoda’s first big screen lightsaber duel.

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Filed under female characters, movies, Padme, romance, Star Wars

Once Upon a Time season finale sends viewers on an emotional roller coaster

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*Contains spoilers*

Some season finales act as a bridge between two seasons (How I Met Your Mother, 5×24 Dopplegangers). Others seem like a regular episode until a final bombshell in the last five minutes (The Big Bang Theory, 2×23 The Monopolar Expedition). Then there are the ones that send viewers through an emotional tailspin from beginning to end (House, M.D. 4×16 Wilson’s Heart).

The season finale of Once Upon a Time, A Land Without Magic, falls into the latter category.

The show started with a bang. Within the first five minutes, not only did Emma finally believe in the curse, but also Regina admitted to trying to rid the world of Emma and that the curse was real. Emma’s physical raging at Regina was like Katniss’s reaction to Peeta’s love reveal in The Hunger Games. Emma didn’t care about the curse and Regina was so guilty and distraught that she didn’t seem to care either.

What made last night’s finale so incredible wasn’t just that the curse was finally broken or that Henry, for all real world purposes died, it was the dynamic created between the characters. For the first time while in the real world, Regina puts herself aside. At least, that’s how it seems now. We won’t know until next season the story behind what Rumpelstiltskin unleashed onto Storybrooke. Given Regina’s evil grin at the end, it’s something that will go in her favor.

Now that the curse is broken, there’s a question of what now? Had the writers’ drug out the curse, there was a good chance it would become tedious. Forcing Emma to believe because of Henry was the most logical method. Her connection to him is why she is there.

This also provides the theory that Mr. Gold found a way to keep tabs on Emma and chose Henry for Regina to bring her to the town.

The finale ran viewers through a variety of emotions. Joy that Emma accepted the curse. Sadness for Henry and August. Amusement at the return of Maleficent and the nods to Disney’s Sleeping Beauty (will we see Aurora? I hope so). Elation when the curse broke and when Mr. Gold learned Belle was alive. And finally shock at what Rumpelstiltskin chose power over bringing back his son. If the wishing well truly does bring back what someone wants, then he could have brought back Baelfire.

However, that will have to wait for another season.

ImageFor the next season, I could see a fight to defeat Regina. This could easily mirror Charming and Snow’s attempt to overthrow the Evil Queen. There are so many questions, but that’s the point of a season finale; to offer viewers a touch of satisfaction but to leave them wanting more.

Once Upon a Time accomplished that and so much more.

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Filed under female characters, once upon a time, Review

Turning women into sex objects removes their humanity

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Black Widow in her catsuit.

Women are not sex objects. Their role in a quality story is not to fulfill a male fantasy or act as eye candy.

Sex sells. This is no secret. When creating a marketing scheme for a product or outline for a commercial, advertisers must look at their demographic and combine it with what research shows will capture that demographics’ attention. Axe product commercials show women fawning over a man because he is wearing their products. It doesn’t matter how they feel or if they even want the man, the aroma he gives off automatically makes him desirable—if you believe the commercials.

Even products for women objectify their customer base. Victoria’s Secret commercials show their models prancing around looking like sex goddess. Viewing this does not make me want to buy their products nor does it empower me. Gatorade is more affective at empowering women by showing a healthy mix of female athletes along with male athletes.

Over the past several days, various blogs and websites have been discussing women in Star Wars and Black Widow in The Avengers. As with most conversations about women and gender, the issue of the over sexualization of women appears.

Just as children are told from a very young age, what matters is on the inside of a person. I believe that the majority does not want to read a Star Wars novel with a flighty, driven by carnal desires, flimsy woman who bows to every whim of the man she’s with because she is so overcome with lust over his manliness that she can’t see straight. Paragraphs and sentences speaking of how tight and low-cut her shirt is, how large her breasts are or how hot and bothered her mere appearance makes the men in the room isn’t the storytelling we want in our fandom.

In The Avengers, Black Widow fights in a slinky black dress at the beginning. Later on, she wears a catsuit, just like Agent Maria Hill. Tony Stark, Bruce Banner and Steve Rogers wear normal clothes at some point and their costumes are not sexualized. Scarlett Johansson’s tight catsuit doesn’t leave anything to the imagination. It puts her character in a box that no matter how great she is, she can’t break free from if she’s treated this way.

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Leia captivated audiences from the start by her character.

The issue is beyond Star Wars and The Avengers. It encompasses our everyday lives. Sexual messages and behaviors are showing up younger and younger. Take a walk through the girls’ department at any clothing store. You will see shirts with cutouts in all the wrong places, low-cut necklines, short skirts and other inappropriate attire. The shoe department is just as bad. You can find heels higher than two inches made for seven-year-olds. No such problems exist in the boys’ department.

Sex finds its way into children’s shows through references and dialogue. The child may not understand it at first, but she will catch on eventually. All it takes is one child to ask another at school what it meant. The real meaning of the joke or comment will be known in minutes. Re-watching the shows we used to love as children review so much that we missed.

From a young age, women are told that we must be desirable to men. “Don’t get dirty. The boys won’t like you.” We are constantly assaulted with images of the ideal woman, of the way we should act to gain the approval of a man. We’re told to “man up” or “grow a pair” when something seems tough. These types of comments teach young girls and boys that men are, by default, tougher, stronger and superior to women and that the only way a women can compete is to act as a man.

The Hunger Games books and the movie smashed through the bestseller lists and box office. It is concrete, undisputable proof that a good quality female lead can sell. Katniss wasn’t a sex symbol. In close ups, viewers can see her facial imperfections. Capitol’s ways of transforming the tributes is seen as bizarre and unnatural. People didn’t feel for Katniss because of her appearance. It was her characterization and her story that drove her into our hearts.

Sex is a fact of life. It’s not offensive if one character considers another attractive. It’s becomes offensive when the woman’s only purpose to the story is to be a sex object. An object is not a person; it is an item. Calling someone a sex object removes her humanity.

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Katniss isn’t loved because she’s a sex symbol.

The constant claims that women are only sex objects hurt everyone. The issue is in the hands of consumers. Stop responding favorably to sexualization. Companies respond to losses of profit. The reason so many gossip magazine exist is that they sell well. The more issues that sell, the more appealing the publication is to advertisers, thus more money the publishing company makes. If the market for gossip magazines fell, less would hit newsstands. It’s the same with sexualization. By not protesting it, it will never stop.

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Filed under Expanded Universe, female characters, female geekdom, feminism, Katniss Everdeen, Princess Leia, The Hunger Games