In reply to two comments on my Stranger Things review:
*I have a question for the women watching this, at what point does the need to point out the empowering “strong female character ” stop?
*In fact, the ’empowered female character’ point Alachia made about Ela was really the only thing I found jarring in what was otherwise an excellent review (though I’m finding she is really consistent in delivering quality reviews from what I’ve watched so far).
Maybe it’s because I’m female that I pay more attention to how females are portrayed…but in the cases of most of the “strong” ones.. they come with caveats. Sara Conner- crazy, Ripley- terrified and abused, Rey- young and unsure of her powers. …and whatever that Hunger Games mess was. These women are weak on some level but rise out of that to find strength. Even Eleven was the same.
If you look at movies targeted towards men vs women you see a vast difference in where the heart of the story lies. Love, Emotional Triumph, Sex, Relationships vs Fighting, Car Chases, Revenge, Violence. I’m not even going to label which is which. There is a general division of interests between men and women in the states and that is something people don’t want to say. That we’re somehow equal in interests as well as everything else. Men and women are not the same.
What is generally derived as bold, brave, and fortuitous characters in film tend to be of one sex. Not to mention physically efficient. There are rare exceptions but in general, this is the case and I don’t necessarily blame anyone for it because like I said, the sexes are different here and the demographic interests in movies is apparent.
My biggest concern is that you have a problem if a female wants to feel empowered. Not all of us just decide we’re equal and worthy of different attributes. Everyone comes into their own sense of worth at different times and different moments depending on their value system. Emboldening a moment for one sex shouldn’t be seen as unnecessary or a waste. We all need moments.
I personally love the idea of physical strength being more represented in film. It is why I really love anime as they’ve done what general western films simply lack, in giving females amazing and equal powers to male counterparts. I don’t care if it is just fantasy, it’s just nice to see on a personal level. I don’t know why that’s an issue, wanting that?
It’s nice that people ask the question. I think it’s a valid one. Strong female characters should never stop if they are part of a compelling narrative. To shove a strong female into a story just for “empowerment” sake is where things just become trite and undermines the point. Both male and females should be able to take pride in their sex, there is nothing wrong with that.
Where that source of pride comes from can vary and the necessity also vary. Some women like to see themselves sexually dominant, others business savvy, and some like me want to see women snap necks. It’s a personal thing! There is no right or wrong to it.
Now if you sit there and try to shove “strong female” down everyone’s throat without providing a decent narrative along with it, then you defeat the whole purpose. Rey’s character in Star Wars was a huge cop out in my opinion and leads down the path of “she’s a bad ass because they said so” …instead of you just knowing she’s a bad ass because she simply was one. Male or female, that story path is weak. You kind of need to at least be able to peak at where their strength comes from…ie intensive training, gifts from the gods, specific life experiences, academics… etc.
For example in the case of Sara Conner in T2, you know she’s gained her strength from extensive work outs as well as her experiences and knowledge of the terminator and the future. In the case of Rita in the Edge of Tomorrow it was trauma from the war and extensive non stop combat training.
It’s nice to see physically powerful females represented. We do after all, live in a world where human trafficking is a 32 billion dollar industry. In the US alone, 4 million women are victims of domestic violence.
I think a lot of us are lucky in that we live in a social circle where women are empowered daily by their peers and parents. But that’s not the case for everyone. So yes, in some aspects the idea that women need to be empowered can seem like some kind of pedantic petty pat on the head that females don’t need. And in some of the films, it sure seems like that’s all they are doing.
But there are cases where strong character moments connect and embolden someone to feel more worthy or more capable or enable them to see past their current situation. For that, I don’t really feel like you could ever say there could be enough.