mad women in media

one of my favourite things about mad max was that at least two of the wives are pregnant and they’re still treated like people and not helpless fragile baby incubators that are likely to shatter into a million pieces at any second. because I’ve never actually seen that in a movie/tv show before. usually (espicially in action movies) it’s like a women is revealed to be pregnant and suddenly she needs a guy to hold her arm when she’s walking and carry all her bags around and generally treat her like an invalid but in mad max angharad literally starts going into labour in the war rig (I’m assuming that’s why she cried out when she was hiding in the hold with max but correct me of I’m wrong) and like five minutes later she’s hanging out of a movie truck using her body as a human shield for furiosa and climbing around on the rig. and the dag is running around in the desert riding motorcycles are jumping from trucks into cars and generally kicking ass and and I’m just so impressed that there’s a movie that treats pregnant women like actual people because pregnant women are hardcore as fuck and the film industry generally ignores that and treats them like porcelain dolls

mad max is breaking ridiculous stereotypes all over the place and I love it so much

C: I’ve asked my dad if we could visit America next year for the holidays. but now I’m getting anxious thinking about it. I have family that live in Chicago, Texas and Brooklyn and haven’t had anything happen to them ,but I can’t stop thinking of the things that could go wrong. I feel like I won’t enjoy it because I’d be so anxious. I’ve never had to constantly watch my back as someone who lives in a country that doesn’t allow guns. No offence, but form social media, America sounds mad scary too. 😣

Female Characters aren’t interesting?

I saw a post earlier today that made me so sad.  

In a nutshell, some people in the Fury Road fandom are upset that so much content is centered around the male characters, namely the War Boys, when there are so many great female characters that the movie actually centers on. 

From where I stand, it appears to be true.  Most of the headcanons, fanart, comics, and popular posts center on the War Boys.  I personally like all the fun WB stuff because let’s face it, they’re silly creatures with cool designs (and fit bodies) who live a fascinatingly backwards culture of dirt and cars.  It’s like Wasteland Naruto.  Boy Scouts in the desert, with cool makeup and loud engines.  I will not hide my shallow enjoyment of them.

However, I saw a defense to this today that really stuck in my craw.  Someone said one of the main reasons the boys are getting all the fan material is that the women aren’t fully developed as people.  This is not entirely untrue.  In actuality, we don’t get to see a whole lot about who the wives are. The film is only 2 hours long.  It’s impossible to give every character the screen time they deserve to become well rounded individuals.  

What makes me upset about this isn’t that it’s not an acceptable critique of the movie.  What makes me upset is that this is so, so often given as the reason why there’s not more material for female characters in shows and movies.  Even in a case where you have a large cast of women, people seem to struggle with finding them interesting enough to care about. 

If you have a show that centers around men, people will think for years about their backstories, their personalities, their motivations, parents, siblings, you name it.  People will fanon their families, relationships, lovers, childhoods, and just about everything you can think of for male characters.  Not so for female characters.  This happens in almost all cases.  I’ve been in fandoms for a long, long, long time, and in each one it is always the case.  I think the only exceptions are in cases where a show or property is literally made of all female characters. My Little Pony comes to mind.

The reason this makes me sad is because, as a girl, I always felt like I was less interesting in life too.  I wasn’t allowed to be rough and tumble and go on adventures like the boys.  There were, and still are, far, far fewer people that think girls and women are interesting.  We focus all our discussions on body types and sexuality, but what about just…us?  Girls.  Women.  What about our fears, our flaws, our pasts, our mistakes, our ridiculous anger and sadness, our ability to laugh at nothing, feeling like not fitting in or remembering that everyone you’ve ever trusted betrayed you, or not having a home or food or a blanket to stay warm at night.  What about all these interesting things we can think about?  Or, is it only interesting if it’s guys?

Anyways, I’m not sure why I’m rambling so much.  I just really disliked that post.  It made me feel bad as a girl, that even when presented with an amazing cast of varied girls and women, people still think the boys are more fun.  Even I felt this way, and I had to examine it.  For the first chunk of time after I saw Fury Road all I wanted to do was draw War Boys doing funny things.  I think it’s natural in many ways.  For me, though, when I think about the women, who they were, who they want to be, that carries so much more personal heft.  I could think forever about them, want to hug them, want to see them succeed, want to see them be idiots and do everything wrong, or be mean to each other because they’re insecure or lost, or they don’t know how to deal with their pain.  

There’s so much to think about with female characters.  I wish they were as interesting to others as they are to me…because maybe then I’d be interesting to the world too.  

stephen strange is not a poc 

stop accusing benedict cumberbatch and marvel of white washing the role when they cast a white actor for a white character but Tilda Swinton is playing the role of a Tibetan man in Doctor Strange. 

Get mad when a role for a poc is actually white washed. get mad that scarjo and natalie dormer and emma stone all took roles meant for woc, get mad that movies are made about ancient egypt with gerard butler and christian bale as leads, get mad that rooney mara played a first nation women and the media palmed it off with white feminism, get mad that photos of poc are white washed in the name of photo quality 

the problem is so much bigger than your petty dislike of benedict cumberbatch and the fact that he is white  playing a white dude - so much bigger

"She didn't take them; they begged her to go."

There are several powerful lines in Mad Max: Fury Road but this quote jumped out at me when I watched the fillm, and my mind has constantly circled back to it. It’s such a deliberate statement to make and one that completely reframes the idea of a rescue story.

In the context of this line, Immortal Joe screams something like “Where did she take them?!” and an old woman, presumably a caretaker of the Wives, points a rifle to Joe and says “She didn’t take them, they begged her to go.”

Joe, like most agents within typical hyper-masculine storylines, blames the person who ‘took’ his property. In many action films, we’ve seen the story where the man rescues the woman either A) at a point where the damsel refuses to acknowledge the danger she’s in, or B) right at the point where she becomes aware of the danger. This scene in Fury Road directly refutes that. Nor only in the script, but by having an older woman be the one to say the line. This line makes it clear that the Wives are acting from their own agency–not only is Furiosa choosing to aid them, but they BEGGED her to go. They instigated this escape and The Splendid Angharad was the mastermind. They chose freedom and asked another woman for help to achieve it. They also had other female allies that stayed behind to see it through.

Before we even properly know them, we’re being told that these people have agency. This is their journey, their politics, their choice.

you know how you can tell when the oversexualisation of women has gone too far? when a soldier in a movie can walk through auschwitz, staring in horror at the mounds of frozen, mangled, skeletal corpses of the people murdered, and a woman’s breasts are blurred out. because the unspeakable horrors of human torture and genocide are suitable for screen, but a woman’s body is not.

Mea Culpa: The 100 is Incredible

You might remember that a few weeks ago I offhandedly dismissed The 100. I had tried watching the first few episodes, but wasn’t very enthusiastic about it. I was suspicious about where the plot was going and exasperated by some of the show’s core characters. But a few of you rushed into my inbox to assure me that The 100 was worth my time and convinced me to keep watching.

I have never been so happy to be wrong, because The 100 is absolutely amazing.

If you haven’t watched it yet, stop reading this right now and go watch it. Seriously, go do it. The first season is already on Netflix and the second season should be up in the fall. You can also buy the second season on Amazon and iTunes, and the last five episodes are on Hulu. And yes, I know there are other places you could watch the show without spending money — but believe me, this show deserves your investment.

Set 97 years after an apocalyptic nuclear war, The 100 tells the story of small pockets of humanity struggling to survive. Orbiting around the radiation-soaked Earth is the Ark, an international collection of space stations joined together to keep humanity alive until the Earth becomes habitable again. But as critical life support systems begin to fail, 100 juvenile prisoners are declared “expendable” and sent to the ground in a desperate attempt to see if the Earth is survivable.

From there, we get two equally fascinating stories. Up in the Ark, we have a futuristic space-station survival story, where both ingenuity and brutality are required to survive. On the ground, we get a grungy, post-apocalyptic survival story as 100 teenagers struggle to cope with new and unexpected dangers. And over the course of the first two seasons, the story slowly expands to include survivors of the initial nuclear war — grounders — who don’t take kindly to the sky-people who are so recklessly ignorant of life on the ground.

This show is absolutely relentless. A lot of my early exasperation came from a distrust that The 100 would actually follow through on the incredibly high stakes they were setting. I kept waiting for a Deus ex Machina to appear and save the 100 or the survivors on the Ark from whatever impossible situation they were in, but that never happened. Usually, situations got even uglier. Equipment failed, distrustful citizens started a coup, and teenagers struggled to cope with disease, starvation, and rapidly escalating conflicts.

I’ll also admit that I found the angst a little hard to watch. A majority of the show’s core characters are teenagers — in all their selfish, short-sighted, reckless glory. It’s not always pleasant to watch, but it’s honest. And yes, some of the teenagers will say and do some truly cringe-worthy things, but I promise that it is all part of their incredible character arcs. 

Octavia Blake is probably the most impressive example of this. In the first few episodes, you think you’re getting a stereotypical TV teenage girl. She’s flirtatious and reckless, a combination that usually gets her in trouble. Just a few moments after her character is introduced, she says probably the most horrific, cringe-inducing one-liner of the whole series: ”Hey, spacewalker, rescue me next!” In her first episode, she strips down into her underwear and jumps into a river, where she’s promptly attacked by a giant river snake and needs to be rescued. In her first few episodes, it seems like she needs to be saved a lot. On one occasion, Octavia’s kidnapped and held captive by a grounder, who was ultimately doing it “for her own good.”

But Octavia is not helpless, she never apologizes for seeking out whoever she wants romantically or sexually, and she is certainly not a girl who needs saving. The viewers receive a sympathetic examination of her controlled, deprived childhood, and come to understand that her impulsiveness stems from a desire to make the most of her new-found freedom. Though others may shame her for her romantic and sexual interests, she continues to pursue them and ultimately gets exactly who she wants. She learns how to fight, integrating herself into the grounder community in order to learn the skills she needs to defend herself and her friends. She becomes one of the most well-respected warriors on the ground. And her relationship with her grounder boyfriend Lincoln is one of equals. Both of them are strong, independent, and dangerous fighters, but both of them occasionally need to be rescued by the other.

The women are what really make The 100 absolutely remarkable. Teenagers, young mothers, older women, leaders, followers, revolutionaries, warriors, engineers, artists — women can be anything and everything and are complicated, fully human characters. They aren’t just side-kicks or romantic interests. Their arcs are central to the story, and their actions constantly drive the plot.

I’d argue that The 100 is probably one of the most feminist sci-fi shows on TV, though it may not carry its feminist perspective quite as prominently as other media. This isn’t Mad Max; you won’t find women writing “We Are Not Things” on the wall. It’s not that the women of The 100 would disapprove of their actions. Clarke, the inspiring leader struggling to find a moral path in a dangerous, ruthless world, is essentially The 100’s Splendid. Lexa, from her war paint to her ruthless practicality, is basically a younger Furiosa.

The women of The 100 just don’t need to assert their basic humanity in quite the same way. As Laurie Penny wrote in her review for Buzzfeed, Mad Max is a feminist response to a particular misogynistic apocalyptic narrative.

The logic of the neo-misogyny espoused by men’s rights activists and Return of Kings commenters is grounded in the idea that, as Clarey puts it, “when the shit hits the fan, it will be men like Jack Mad Max who will be in charge.” Come the inevitable collapse of civilization, women will need men to protect them. The so-called natural order will reassert itself, the thinking goes, and hot babes will go crawling back to the kitchen to make cockroach sandwiches where they belong. What’s threatening about Fury Road is the idea that when the earth burns, women might not actually want men to protect them. Men might, in fact, be precisely the thing they are trying to survive.

The 100, in contrast, is a feminist re-imagining of the typical apocalyptic narrative. The show starts with the premise that when the apocalypse came and society fell apart, men and women worked together and acknowledged that they were each required to reach their full potential for humanity to survive. On the Ark, every single person is needed to keep the space station functioning. Women are leaders, doctors, and zero gravity engineers. On the ground, women are commanders and warriors, crucial to leading and protecting the pockets of humanity which survived. Though certainly not perfect, each of these societies is undeniably more egalitarian than our own.

There is one group of survivors, introduced in the beginning of Season 2, which seems to be directly descended from the political and social elite of the pre-Apocalyptic United States, and they are the most patriarchal of the post-apocalyptic societies. There are few women in any notable leadership positions, the military force is composed entirely of men, and though the leader is ostensibly titled the President, it’s clear that leadership is beginning to descend in a dictatorial manner from father to son. This is also the society which suffers the greatest loss after the apocalypse, in large part due to the arrogance, pride, and cruelty of its male leaders.

The 100 also upends one of the most common narrative staples of apocalyptic fiction — the good man who must do terrible things in order to survive and protect his family, and what he becomes afterward. This story arc certainly exists in The 100, but it belongs to a teenage girl. The Walking Dead may have Rick Grimes, Mad Max may have Max Rockatansky, but The 100 has seventeen year old Clarke Griffin.

Clarke never intends to become the leader of the Ark survivors on the ground, but she ultimately becomes the de-facto leader due to her naturally commanding presence, her practicality and insight, and her ability to command respect. But as a leader, especially one who has to lead her friends through multiple disasters and conflicts, she has to make tough, morally questionable decisions. As the death toll from her actions climbs, she becomes more detached from the people she is fighting to protect. But she continues making the tough decisions that need to be made. The adults of her community — the former leaders of the Ark — are already exhausted by the battles they’ve fought and the decisions they’ve made. Either they abandon the group or they cede their authority to Clarke. Even in a show that makes teenagers its core focus, it’s still incredible that the creators were brave enough to give this story arc to a teenage girl. 

There are so many other things I love about The 100. I love that the show never shames the teenage girls for being interested in sex or for boldly seeking out relationships. I love that the show doesn’t limit itself to heterosexual relationships. I love that there are canon bisexual and lesbian women depicted kissing onscreen in a way that is beautiful and genuine and not intended solely for titillation or shock value.

I love that almost everyone involved with the creation of this show is so activeIy involved on social media and engages with their fans. I love that about half the writing staff of The 100 are women. I’m a little bit less in love with the fact that only two women have directed three episodes of The 100, and I hope that this is something that will be addressed in Season 3. 

But I love that the show is beautifully shot and visually gorgeous. Even though there are plenty of examples where women are filmed in a way that reflects the male gaze, I love that there are so many examples where men are shot in a way that reflects the female gaze. I love that we get lingering shots of half-dressed men being gently dabbed at with wet cloths.

The 100 is one of those shows that I love so much that I need to share it with anyone and everyone.

If you haven’t watched The 100 yet, this is the show you need to catch up on this summer. And if you have watched The 100, let me know — I need someone to freak out with me until Season 3 airs.