Force Awakens Spoilers!!!
Whilst we’re talking about women in film, some Force Awakens links:
On the accusation that Rey is a Mary Sue
This is actually relevant to the whole role models discussion, specifically that men have so many more to choose from than women, that women’s role models/characters take on an unbearable weight:
One of the reasons girls and women write a lot of this type of fanfiction is because these fantasies are not well-served by mainstream media in the same way male wish-fulfillment fantasies are. If we’re looking for straight-up romance, then there’s a lot to choose from. But as soon as we start looking for hero narratives that star a female character, the well dries up pretty quickly.
There are plenty of wish-fulfillment stories out there for men, our culture is awash with them. We find them on television, in movies, in video games, and in books. Boys and men who come from an ordinary life, are swept up in adventure, are bestowed with superpowers, extreme abilities, or suddenly important talents, become the driving force of the story, take on the mantel of hero, and ultimately win the day. Often they get the girl. Sometimes multiple girls. Many of them aren’t particularly well-written, but sometimes quality isn’t the point. Their purpose is not to inspire as great literature, but to respond to a particular set of common desires and fantasies.
Great article on why Finn is so cool:
Couldn’t agree more. Read this after I read the comments on this article, to which it is a great antidote:
I can’t believe that people are finding a way to see TFA as racist. You have this amazing character, who’s co-lead to another amazing character, and people think it’s racist?
I think there might be a couple of things going on with that: firstly, a fundamental sexism in that interpretation of Finn and Rey’s relationship. For some people, if Finn isn’t the hero because a woman is, then he’s being disrespected. And worse, because Finn’s a sensitive chap, who kicks arse and yet still gets his arse handed to him, and because Rey doesn’t need him to rescue her, apparently Finn’s a racist character (the unspoken reason is “because he’s weak”). Thus people see him relegated to ‘comedic sidekick’, a role that black men have fulfilled frequently over the years and which is thus stereotypical, but which is definitely not Finn.
The other issue is that, again, there’s too much weight on one character. Finn cannot be all things to all black men (and women). For those who see him as this fascinatingly nuanced character, he’s a fabulous representation of the vast capabilities of black men. But for those who see him as a weak, effeminate character, he’s an insult. But in order to see him as weak you have to buy in to both hypermasculinity and misogyny because it means that a woman must be saved by a man, rather than saving her own arse, and the man must be the hero of the piece instead of a woman.