The (Female) Force Awakens

It’s happening, finally. The importance of heroines isn’t being cast away and seen as something that’s not worth film-makers, comic book creators and TV producers time.

It’s a new year, and a new hope.

Alongside the blockbuster of the year, where Charlize Theron stole the throne from Tom Hardy’s Mad Max, we had some killer television.

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At the end of 2015 we saw Marvel’s Jessica Jones bring a harrowing, female-focused storyline to screens, where sexual and emotional abuse is shown at it’s most potent and it’s the male characters who go nameless.

Supergirl also hit screens, and even though it’s popularity has seemed to dwindle – it’s a shame. Supergirl was integral to my interest in superheroes. She was the attainable heroine, the one I could most relate to as a child.

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Lesser known, but still important were the Scream Queens and Scream series’. As a horror fan, these stand out. Dispite Scream Queen’s tongue and cheek look at slasher flicks and use of movie tropes, the cast is heavily female, and they are all very well fleshed out, with both heroines and villains.

Scream was perhaps one of my personal favourites, with the Scream series yet again warping perceptions and proving that it’s still well ahead on the horror trend, still relevant and cleverly self-aware.

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Then came Star Wars, and thank the universe. Rey gives little girls the hope we have been waiting for – the proof that you don’t have to ever be the damsel in distress, be sexualised, be provocative. That a female character can be just as universal as a male. Let’s teach little boys and girls not to worry about gender, to relate to the character and not the sex – young girls have to do this a lot more, as the hero of a blockbuster is very rarely a girl, so finding yourself in the shoes of a boy is common in our imagination.

Here’s an interesting article that illustrates this point beautifully and adds to our cause – we don’t need another hero, let their be more heroines.

New Statesman Article: What to do when you’re not a hero anymore

And another brilliant piece from Mary Sue: The Importance of Rey

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New Year… Women on Screen!

So with a new year dawning, we are looking at some of the most exciting films coming in 2014.. there are many! X-men: Days of Future Past, The Amazing Spiderman 2, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, 300: Rise of an Empire, RoboCop, GODZILLA (yes, really)… we could go on! However, we are counting down the top 5 that feature kick-ass ladies, of course!

Here is the count down!

5. Lucy

Capitalising on Scarlett Johansson‘s current reputation as a super heroine (we have negative feelings towards her role as Black Widow) this film sounds a lot like Painkiller Jane, if you haven’t checked out PK Jane, there will be a review of the new line of comics coming soon!

Basically, a drug mule (Jane isn’t a drug mule she is an agent) takes a drug but it ends up being absorbed into her system and turning her superhuman. She has super strength and the inability to feel pain. The premise sounds promising, it is only Johansson that puts us off… no trailer yet, we shall keep you updated!

4. Divergent

Another young adult novel based film. Think Hunger Games…

3. Jane Got A Gun

Natalie Portman stars in this western, taking on a Calamity Jane- type role. Sound exciting? No trailers yet… But, if you want to know a little more, here is a video:

2. Maleficent

This one has had some MAJOR hype… we weren’t sure if this was real, it sounded so amazing, but it is! Angelina Jolie takes on Sleeping Beauty’s evil fairy godmother. We wonder how long it will take for all the Disney villains to be granted their own movies?

1. Veronica Mars

This gets the number 1 spot? Why? Because it’s Veronica Mars… If you never watched the series, go out and buy the DVD box set… it’s 3 season’s of well, we don’t know how to describe it… Nancy Drew meets The O.C.? This film was made possible by the hardcore cult fan base the series created raising funds through the Kickstarter campaign series creator, Rob Thomas and star, Kristen Bell set up following the cancellation of the show. How amazing it that?

Dr Who: travelling through space, time and gender?

The Day of the Doctor was an outstandingly popular event across the whole world of fandom. Cinemas showed the latest episode, and here in sunny (I mean rainy…) Cardiff, the home town of the TARDIS, it was celebrated probably unlike anywhere else.

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The TARDIS expertly landed on top of Cardiff Castle in celebration of 50 years of the BBC’s beloved Time Lord

If you didn’t know, the Day of the Doctor celebrated 50 years of the quirky, white, middle class male who is actually an alien from out of space, gracing our television screens.

The character, a Time Lord from a planet named Gallifrey, has a unique ability – to regenerate. This makes the show unique. The actor can be changed as often as the show likes (they keep changing the rules on number of regenerations…) and that means the show can run indefinitely – particularly as the Time Lord can jump through time and space!

However, the idea of regeneration is sometimes too hard to bear for simple human brains, and it has often been the subject of controversy. Every time a new actor is unveiled as the next doctor, uproar ensues; 2 months later they love him more than the last.

So, why not a female doctor?

In 1979, Romana, the Doctor’s Time Lady companion regenerates, showing the ability to pick and choose what she looks like while she does so – including changing gender. This surely implies that the doctor does indeed have capabilities to change sex just like his contemporary.

We did a poll to get your thoughts on whether there should be a female doctor. It was a close call, with a slight lean towards ‘no’, but is that because we just can’t bear change? With a show that has the ability to really subvert the norms, to change their lead character whenever they like – why not trial a woman? It’s not as if they couldn’t abandon it if it didn’t work.

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Kitty in delight, surrounded by her Dr Who collection

Mega-fan and photographer, Kitty Kems moved to Cardiff bay in order to be near the filming of Dr Who, along with her husband, who she admits is even bigger a fan than she is. “I buy him Dr Who Valentine’s cards every year,” she admits.

Kitty doesn’t think the Doctor should be a woman.

“But the Doctor is a man!” she exclaims, as if the idea is preposterous. “There are female Time Lords – the Doctor is just a male one.”

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Arrr! Terry also works as a Jack Sparrow impersonator

Terry Cooper, author of science fiction series, Kangazang! (audio books read by Colin Baker) has been a life long fan of the doctor and is pretty sure a female doctor will come along sooner or later.

“It has been hinted at with Dr Who that he could become female, even recently, the short film ‘The Night of the Doctor’ with Paul Mcgann that was aired just before the 50th, he was offered the choice to be male or female and even before that in the Sarah Jane Adventures, Matt Smith said he could be anything. It’s one of the things they keep touching base on but they haven’t taken the risk.”

With a show who has seen a multitude of actors, is it really so much of a leap for him to be female?

The true Doctor Who fans will always tune back in, because the show is more popular than the actor

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Feminist fan, Deborah, who blogs at diary of a goldfish and the f-word, brings up a really significant point regarding the doctor being male.

The Doctor is a special and important role model for boys, next to all the hypermasculine brawn-over-brain action heroes.

Deborah feels the companions have provided a much needed strong female character, even in older series’ they are no pushover. Later seasons have introduced intellectual women, who may not have the knowledge of the doctor, but they are by no means unknowing or naive.

She continues, “I think the Doctor has a particular character – it’s been played very differently by different actors, but there’s still a sort of soul that’s always been there in every incarnation. But I really don’t think that it’s to do with gender.”

Perhaps this is a very valid point. While women need heroines, and probably don’t have enough of them, little boys need heroes too, and although there is a realm of super men for them to pick out of – they are all so un-relatable. Superman may present himself as nerdy, hidden behind glasses and Peter Parker is no ladies man, but ultimately they are a complete fantasy. They are physically unrealistic, with the strength to literally hold the world on their shoulders and abs that a body builder would strive to achieve. The doctor is usually skinny, never very muscular, mostly quirky looking and relies purely on brain power and wit. He isn’t an overly masculine, testosterone fuelled hero, and yet he still saves the world.

This could also explain why so many women love him. He sweeps them away from the ordinary world, but he is safe, a best friend. But do the companions compensate for the lack of female hero?

By adding romance in the Doctors story arc with companion, Rose, we worry that current Dr Who producer, Steven Moffat just isn’t recognising the fact that the Doctor and the companion shouldn’t be lovers – by adding romance, there is an element of ‘damsel in distress’. Many feminists have been appalled by some of Moffat’s choices, but that is an entirely separate discussion…

Hopefully, with the revert back to an older Doctor, the romantic inclusion will come to an abrupt closure.

Recently, Chella Quint wrote a brilliant article for The F-word, celebrating her passion for the doctor, despite Moffat being a “rather sexist show runner.” She told us that she would love the Doctor to regenerate as a woman, and even have a female sidekick too! When we asked if she thought the Whovians’ opposed to a Time Lady would switch off, until biting the bullet and switching back on as they do with every regeneration, she said;

“I don’t think fans would even leave in the first place, let alone ‘bite the bullet and come back’ as you suggest. True Whovians enjoy complaining and ranting and speculating. It’s part of the fun.”

Journalist and blogger, Christie Tucker believes, “the key message of Doctor Who is that no challenge is insurmountable and that even unremarkable little guys can be important” the doctor has many times been described as afraid, as in essence, normal.

When we set out on this quest to decide whether the doctor should indeed be a woman, we were convinced that he should… why not, just for a laugh! But now we aren’t so sure…

He is an alternative hero for men – a new man, if you will. This makes him relatable for all,including women, because he isn’t oozing with machismo. Maybe it is indeed worth preserving his role within pop-culture and keeping him as him.

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A few of the most popular suggestions for actresses to take on the beloved Time Lord  have been Dame Judi Dench, Helen Mirren and Emma Thompson…  who would you vote for?

DR WHO 50TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL!

I am going to be writing a comprehensive feature all about fangirls of Dr Who and the all important question: why are all the doctors white males?

Please answer my poll to get your thoughts!

 

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TV: Season of the Witch?

We have had vampires (True Blood, Vampire Diaries…), then there was a brief zombie-flux (Walking Dead), but now, finally, are witches getting a re-vamp?

Witches are pretty much the feminist icons of the horror genre… Why?

They are mostly female, to start. They have been persecuted and underestimated. They are usually the losers in high school, the ones who can’t get boyfriends, the ones all the popular girls hate. Then they realise cats are all they need in life and have boys flocking around the block on their sixteenth birthday, yet ironically, aren’t interested anymore, because they can entrance anybody they want. They live with their sisters, and are more powerful than pretty much everything they come up against. They can not be controlled or manipulated, nothing gets past a witch.

Three new TV shows have hit our screens this Halloween, and all feature strong female witches…

Ingrid didn't know she had a doppelgänger...

Ingrid didn’t know she had a doppelgänger…

Ingrid hasn't mastered her powers yet...

and she hasn’t mastered her powers yet…

1. Witches of East End (Lifetime, Tuesdays @ 10pm)

Based on the book by Melissa de le Cruz, this is a rather camp expression of witches, but it is incredibly entertaining and boasts some rather intelligent and interesting female characters. The cast includes Twin Peaks star, Madchen Amick and Buffy veteran, Tom Lenk. The premise revolves around Joanna, her two daughters and sister. Their entire family is cursed all and Joanna has brought up her daughters not to use magic, until, of course, they begin to discover their hidden heritage.

Serilda forgot to put her makeup on this morning...

Serilda forgot to put her makeup on this morning…

2. Sleepy Hollow (Universal, Wednesdays @ 9pm)

Witchcraft is responsible for pretty much the entire premise of this legend, cursed horsemen re-animated for some petty revenge. However, the show has a new take on the fabled town haunted by horse riding headless spirits; resulting in an interesting plot that delves deeper than some old witches curse. Katrina, protagonist, Ichabod’s other half, is still a major player; and despite being a *SPOILER* ghost/dream entity, Ichabod would be lost without her, and arguably wouldn’t have a clue about ANYTHING.
There are also two covens within Sleepy Hollow’s history, one good and one bad. These covens come in to play continuously throughout the season. Katrina, of course, is part of the good coven… Serilda (above) is more fond of the black kind of magic.

Zoe wasn't accepted into Hogwarts

Zoe wasn’t accepted into Hogwarts

3. American Horror Story: Coven (Fox, Tuesdays @ 10pm)

The anthology series focuses on witches this season, with themes of oppression and racism and sexism. The private school housing the dwindling young witch population was set up by a suffragette, a statement by the writers on the status and importance of witches throughout their fictional history of America? no doubt! (witches = strong, confrontational young women?) This series is by no means an easy watch, dealing with torture and rape front on, this is no Sabrina.

“the world isn’t safe for a girl like me, but maybe I’m not safe for the world either”

Zoe, American Horror Story: Coven

Who are your favourite TV Witches? Vote now, just leave a comment and tell us your Top 5!