Wednesday 17 September 2014

The Fridge-Women of the Land of Tomorrow

If you've not heard of Women in Refrigerators, you should probably femaliarise with it, and the concept in general.

Is it an important (pop-)cultural observation? Yes, I think it is.

The general gist of this thing is that women are often sabotaged out of the 'actual character' column into being plot points for members of the member-gender, with specific reference to page 15 (I think) of Green Lantern vol.3 #54.

The site and the term are fifteen years old at this stage (and the comic just turned twenty), but it isn't really an out of date concept. The general undermining of female protagonists is an ongoing trend in media.

Samus Aran, bad-arse cosmic-bounty-hunter of Metroid (and its related sequels), has found the time in recent games to run about in her space-underwear and go uncharacteristically wobbly-kneed due to the pressures of the dangers that surround her and the presence of boys who can talk her through it.

This is the very same character whose reputation is based on repeatedly striding (arguably under prepared) into space-pirate planets and dying worlds in order to get business done. There are few characters who are depicted as being as calm under pressure in literally world-shatteringly dangerous situations as Samus Aran.

This was a strange direction to be approved by Nintendo after the unparalleled Metroid Prime Trilogy.

I don't really know what to say about all of this.

It's a shame.

That's what I can say.

It's a shame that I find comparatively few examples where female characters are afforded the same level of story arc epicocity and complexity as is given over to male characters. Even if female characters are being better written these days, and given better stories than they were previously, how many female characters get an Emerald Twilight, Return of the Dark Knight, or a Death and Rebirth of Superman?

I'm tired of falling back on Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Willow, who is the most interesting, hardworking, brave, intelligent character on that show (and would be on many others), and has the most interesting story arcs and trials to overcome.

And, while she is 'saved' by Xander in season six (after her own Woman in a Refrigerator moment), it is through The Power of Friendship and not through promises of marriage and babies like the end of The Fifth Element.

There are just a ton of questions I want answered.

Why do fantastic games with female protagonists like The Longest Journey and Syberia dwell in obscurity?

Why can't Princess Peach rescue herself from Bowser's Castle? I think it's called escaping. Where is that game?

Why isn't there a fantasy-kingdom-management game starring Princess Peach? She can't spend all her time getting captured and rescued?

Why don't they remake The Guardian Legend? Arguably, one of the most incredibly well designed games ever made, with or without a female protagonist.

While I'm glad that Scarlet Witch is being added to the roster in The Avengers: Age of Ultron, why don't She-Hulk, Mockingbird, any of the Spider-Women, Moondragon, Crystal, Firebird, Firestar, Echo, Wasp, Captain Marvel, Hellcat, Tigra, Madame Masque, the Kate Bishop Hawkeye, Terminatrix, or any of the other female Avengers get a look in?

Why isn't there a She-Hulk TV series that is a cross between a superhero show and a courtroom procedural show? Did I mention that She-Hulk is both a superhero and a highly skilled lawyer who frequently represents superheroes in court? Imagine looking at the superhero phenomenon from a legal perspective. Where is that show? I would absolutely watch that show.

Where is the Barbara Gordon film trilogy? From Batgirl to Oracle and the Birds of Prey. Protege to team leader in three films. A character who finally escapes the obsessive, unhealthy, and violent world of both her real father and symbolically adoptive father by being paralysed from the waist down, only to decide that they're both doing it wrong.

Where is the Hawkwoman film franchise that looks at the complex history of her origins as a militaristic police officer on her fascist home-world of Thanagar, to a superhero in exile on an unfamiliar Earth? What happens when both sides call her traitor after war breaks out between the two worlds she has called home?

Why don't they promote Katma Tui, Arisia Rrab, Boodikka, or any of the other female members of the Green Lantern Corps to the title lead of at least one of the five ongoing Green Lantern comics?

Why isn't there a cinematic sequel to Willow (the film, not the character) that focusses on the adventures of Elora Danan?

Why can't they revive Magnum, P.I. with Thomas Magnum's daughter, Lily Catherine Hue (who would be in her early thirties), as the eponymous star of the new show?

Why isn't Shadowcat (Kitty Pryde) the focal character of the X-Men film franchise instead of continually being sidelined so that other characters can play her roles in stories?

Why is Cutthroat Island the last pirate movie with a female lead that I can name? Female pirates were a thing. A real thing. An awesome real thing.

Why is DC Comics' Harlequin treated as a sex object instead of as a cautionary tale about successful women (she was a criminal psychiatrist at the top of her field) who become trapped in abusive relationships?

Holding up the infrequent example is not parity, but nor do numbers create equality. 

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