Tag Archives: Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Hell Hath No Fury Like a Woman Written Scorned


[SPOILER WARNING for The Rebellion Story. If you’re in the magical girl loop or just don’t care, read on unafraid]

Not gonna lie—there’s something immensely satisfying about watching a character rise up powerful when they’ve been everyone else’s kicky bag in the story so far. Especially if it’s someone characterised as traditionally weak and helpless, a young woman for example. Fighting back against the resident nasties, in whatever form they come, removes the damsel in distress frame and makes her her own vengeful hero. Bonus points if she’s superpowered up now, bonus bonus points if it’s something the baddies wanted but backfired. Yeah. It’s bitchin’. But it’s also a trope that can be used quite problematically.

Look at Lucy for example, or at least the trailer for it—I might be jumping the gunshark to cast judgement over the movie before it’s even out, but bear with me—aside from being all “woo-hoo! A lady-led superhero movie!” something about it rubbed me the wrong way. At first I thought it was just the ‘using more of your brain’s capacity makes you an automatic badass’ thing, which, I mean, I’m not a neuroscientist but I’m pretty sure that’s not as grounded a theory as some might think, even if it is explained by Morgan Freeman. Then I realised that the badassery I was watching played exactly into this little narrative idea that grates on me: Our Heroine is a force to be reckoned with, oh yes, but only after being manipulated, fondled and beaten to a pulp.

The drugs that make Lucy superhuman were implanted in her completely against her will, removing any agency from the get-go, and they were only activated when she was kidnapped by (presumably?) a rival gang and violently injured. Yes, there’s something very rewarding in watching the thug come back in thinking he’s got the upper hand and Scarlet Johannson smirking and kicking his expectations square in the crotch then swaggering out of there. But that’s the trap this trope falls into—women granted the ability to be world-shatteringly badass, but only once everything else is stripped away from them and, as the trailer states, they’re losing everything that makes them human. It’s sister cliché is ‘she’s suffered so much she’s really done and she’s going to turn evil’. It happens to perfectly respectable main characters everywhere, from Buffy to Madoka Magica. And it can be annoying, problematic, and occasionally make no damn sense. Continue reading


Filed under Fun with Isms

Dying in Fiction 103: Deal with the Supernatural for Long Enough

Within fiction there are certain codes, ingrained enough in our collective psyche that, hypothetically, if we were to end up stranded in a made-up world, we, as geeks and fiction aficionados, would sort of know what to do to stay alive.

It’s a dangerous business being a fictional character. As if life wasn’t hard enough, you’re caught and contracted into the business of propelling along a story, and that means having constant drama flung at you by the godly hands of your writers. They’ve got to keep the audience invested, see, whether that means piquing their curiosity about the future of your love life or scaring the bejeezus out of them with life-or-death suspense. My understanding of television writing comes down to this: it’s a group of people in a room with some pens and paper and a whiteboard, rubbing their hands together and going “Okay, team. How can we mess around with everyone’s lives this season?”

Not even kidding there. I listened to a seminar on it at a writer’s festival I went to, but that’s an irrelevant detail except that it allows me to waft around the fact I visit writer’s festivals and am clearly a deeply cultured human being. The point is, screenwriters are in the biz of cramming as much drama into their characters’ lives as they can to make their creations as engaging as possible. In any long running series, it’s inevitable that at one point or another they’d have to start running out. After all, there are only so many times you can raise the stakes before it gets ridiculous. When scraping the bottom of the proverbial barrel with a creative spatula, writers are often faced with the option of the ultimate dramatic device: kill off a main character.

If we’re talking about anything set in the real world, this can be a serious move that many executives, team members and fans would rebel against in terror. But if your show resides in a universe where the supernatural is putty in its writers’ hands, then you’ll find there’s much more leeway, and, as the hero, much more of a chance you’ll be horribly murdered. Because they can bring you back. Continue reading


Filed under How To

Kicking Ass in Pink High Heels

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Fashion Concious AND able to Hurt You!

There is a trend in characterisation known as THE DEMONISATION OF FEMINENITY which is a bunch of scary big words reeking of social justice and the topic of this week’s post.

We all remember the good old days right, where women were proper ladies who hid beneath their bonnets and occasionally got kidnapped and let the heroes do all the work? I mean what use is a woman in a fight or an adventure? All those graceful lily white hands are good for is needlework and tea sipping, and of course carrying around her sixteen children. The heroics are the man’s job, and his damsel shall stay on the sidelines being distressed.

Somewhere along the line, it was decided that this wasn’t as capital an idea as people thought, since there was this little thing called the Feminist Movement that politely kicked down the door to the great House of Stories and said “Excuse me, good sirs, but where the f*ck are all the badass ladies?”

So they were granted badass ladies and all was well. Now it was not just the menfolk who could save the day with their rippling abs but the women as well, no longer banished to the background and romance roles to swoon and weep and occasionally die of consumption.

But another problem arose in its place. With these new female heroes (“heroines”, like the drug, because they made everyone deliriously happy) came a new stigma which was the reverse of the old one, much as if when the feminists kicked down the door they had hit the stereotype and belted it inside out. In place of the idea that women should never act like men, there came a new trend, and it forbade women from acting like women. Continue reading


Filed under Fun with Isms