Heroine Content Links #30: Transformers 2, Star Trek, Crouching Tiger, Mulan, and more

Hello cherished readers, here is the second installment of (almost) all the links that have been in Skye’s Delicious account and tagged “heroines” for the last two years. Pick a couple and have a relaxing few minutes with some lovely anti-oppression pop culture analysis.

Found via The Angry Black Woman, from Some Came Running, Did “Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen” have to be THAT bad? by Glenn Kenny:

Much has been made of Skid and Mudflaps, two “jive”-talking bots whose presence Bay defends by invoking the ever-popular “I’m doing it for the kids” argument. George Lucas said something similar about Jar Jar Binks. And yet I fail to see any uptick in the popularity of Steppin Fetchit in the 7-to-16 demographic. But there’s the thing, or one of the things, anyway; it’s not just that Skids and Mudflaps are racist stereotypes – they’re racist stereotypes that are at least twenty years out of date. Bay really needs to get himself to a Tyler Perry movie or something before he tries to make fun of black people again.

From feministhemes.com, Star Trek Through the Years: Star Trek (the new movie) by Alethea Joy:

Would I like to see more women in varied roles? Of course, but I don’t see how they could have fit more women into this movie and still reintroduce these characters and this universe as efficiently as they did. Of course, that means I will expect more of future installments, but for this movie, I’m not angered or offended by the disparity.

From Gender Goggles, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and getting female action heroes so very right:

Common tropes of action movie women: There’s only one. She’s super-awesome at everything but not awesome enough to actually do anything plot-important. She doesn’t fight men. She doesn’t fight the Big Bad. We don’t pay any attention to her life goals, only her cleavage. (She has some pretty impressive cleavage, and her hair and makeup are always perfect, even after big fights.) She’s handed off to some guy as a prize at the end of the movie. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon includes a stunning NONE of those traits!

Also from Gender Goggles, Forbidden Kingdom: just watch Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon instead:

Also, although the Evil Witch gets to fight men at two points – kicking White Guy’s ass, and ultimately losing to Drunk Guy – Sparrow (The Girl) never gets to fight anyone but the Evil Witch. She confronts the Big Bad, but she does so by saying, “Hey! Over here! It’s me, the youngest daughter of that man you killed! I am here for revenge! Wait a second while I take my jade dart out of my hair, swish my luxurious locks around, and – gack!”

(My favorite part is the gack.)

From Let’s Fold Scarves, Murdered by pirates, a heart torn out and eaten, meet Victoria… I can’t quite decide which sounds more fun, about Stardust:

Yes, the three witches are obsessed with their looks and the attainment of perpetual youth which is a stereotype. Yes, all the bad women are ugly which is another stereotype. Yes, our heroine is a beautiful blonde which is yet another stereotype. Yes, the heroine can only shine when her heart is not broken which means the witch can only be defeated through a man’s love. All these factors sound bad but take the last point – our hero is unable to beat the witch by any means except by the accident of giving his heart to the heroine.

From Nerves Strengthened With Tea, Cherry’s Dance of Death: Feminism & Planet Terror [TRIGGER WARNING ON THIS ONE for discussion of sexual violence]:

Both Death Proof and Planet Terror consider the question, “how can women have power?” Both come to extreme and uncompromising conclusions. Death Proof suggests that women should fight male oppression with equal violence. “Don’t mess around, just kill him,” says that film.

Danger Gal Friday: Neytiri by Lisa Paitz Spindler:

On balance, I enjoyed Avatar and relished in Neytiri’s experiences. She is a strong character with her own arc and is not written as the stereotypical sidekick, or as Jezebel put it “handbags” or “girlfriend parts.” A formidable warrior, Neytiri is Jake Sully’s mentor not just in the softer emotions of falling love, but in the Na’avi art of war. Avatar is also another example of a Science Fiction Romance that doesn’t skimp on the world-building, science, or character relationships.

From The F-Word blog, Hit Girl by Tracy Plowman:

Because Hit Girl takes pleasure in the violence she commits, the point that she’s a child and has had no control over her upbringing has been less prominent in discussions of the film by critics and reviewers than the condemnation of the character because she enjoys it. To me, this point about the inability of children to make free choices, especially in when confronted with pressure from parents or other caregivers, was far more attention-grabbing than any amount of swearing.

From Feministe, Last-minute Monday Fluff: Mysterious As The Dark Side Of The Moon by Isabel:

Sexism like whoa, right? Right! But what makes this awesome is that, of course, Mulan is among his “men,” and she mans up with the rest of them! Thus, the scene becomes a super-efficient demonstration of the artificiality of assigning traits as belonging to a particular biological sex! Disney has a couple other heroines who could be argued to do their own versions of ass-kicking, but to my knowledge none of them kick the ass specifically of enforced gender roles, and also invading armies. Gender essentialism: take THAT!

Found via Lisa Paitz Spindler, I enjoyed Indy’s Women: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull at The Feminist Spectator:

In one of the film’s most unfortunate missteps, these creatures, who stream from the central tomb much as the horrible, giant red ants copiously bled from their mound earlier in the film, are costumed as caricatures of Native American Indians, with feathers, war-paint, and loin-cloths. The extras’ over-the-top make-up screams Disney World ride more than it serves as a scary narrative detail, a gratuitous bit of racism that could have easily been cut.

From The Hathor Legacy, Those Fantastic Incredibles! by C.L. Minou:

Edna is brilliant, clever, powerful, and – surprisingly for a movie – not particularly glamorous. As I’ve said before, I don’t object to female characters being beautiful, glamorous, sexy, etc. What I don’t like is that in movie-land practically all sympathetic female characters have to be beautiful. It gives a weird message that women don’t count for anything (or don’t exist) unless they’re pretty, whereas males can be any size shape or form.

From Stale Popcorn, Review: Star Trek by Glenn Dunks:

That the movie is set some 300 years in the future also means diddly when it comes to the gender/race/sexuality balance, too. Not only do the armies of the future have only one member of each minority (and broad minorities too such as “women”, “asians” and “blacks”), but “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” is still very much in effect.

From Susan Hated Literature, Whip it!:

Too often, in so-called women’s films is catching a man the most important thing ever. That’s not the case here and it is so nice to see it.

From DVDs Worth Watching, Whip It by Johanna Draper Carlson:

This is the kind of movie that, seen at the right time by the right person, can change a life. It encourages striving and finding different ways to do things and alternate
families, made up of those who understand you and what you want. I also liked the way that, although there are various remarks about chicks in fishnets on skates, Bliss as “Babe Ruthless” is fully covered and no one says a word, while the older women (most players are mid-thirties) can choose to reveal what they want.

The Stifled Voice of Lisbeth Salander by Monika Bartyzel at Cinematical:

On screen, Lisbeth loses the extra dimension that makes her more than a body for revenge. In a way, her strength is what is sexualized and objectified, rather than her body. On screen, she’s lethal. When the mystery wraps up in the film, the powers behind the camera allow her to play god, in a sense. They make her more dangerous and threatening and unfortunately, treat her as much of the people in the trilogy’s world see her: as this almost inhuman shell who is hard to communicate with and dangerous to cross.

Feminist Mom Approved, a guest post by Rachel Feldman on Women and Hollywood, comes to a different conclusion than I did about the the third Mummy movie but I like her overarching thoughts on movies:

There is a lot of talk in our culture about the impact of sex and violence in the media on our children. For me, issues of vulgarity and misogyny are far more important. The way a woman is depicted in a story and how men treat her are more relevant to me than the wielding of guns or the expression of desire. I want my son to grow up with an image of women as powerful creatures who are equals, not side-kicks, enablers or fluff girls.

And that’s all, folks. More linky love to come next year!

This post was originally published on Heroine Content, a feminist and anti-racist movie blog that ran from July 2006 to May 2012.

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