valiantreader

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    Latest Topics

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    What Constitutes a Strong Female Character?

    Often in TV, we see female characters being portrayed as "strong" if they are irritable, contradictory, or just plain mean. Characters like Abby in Sleepy Hollow, Alicia in the Good Wife, and Amy from Superstore all seem like people I’d want to avoid. Their prickly personalities are supposed to signify that they are confident women who are trying to make it on their own in the world. But is that really what a strong woman is about? Having a personality that makes you unkind to others and very irritable does not seem to constitute the ideal woman in my book. It seems rare that we see a kind, agreeable woman being portrayed as someone who is also strong. What is the perfect combination of spunk and kindness that would make up the ideal "strong" female character?

    • This is an excellent topic! I find that I usually can't stand female characters in books, movies, and TV lately because they are so one-dimensional. It seems like authors and producers really want to push the "badass female" trope, which always makes her come across as rude, irritable, and like you said, just plain mean. I get that they're trying to make a woman seem tough and able to stand on her own two feet, but in reality, women are not that one-dimensional. A woman can be strong without being unlikable, obnoxious, or "tough." An example I would use is Yuna from Final Fantasy X. She is a very soft-spoken, gentle character, but she is out to save the world, and when she needs to stand up for herself or her friends, boy, does she do it! So I think the answer(s) to your question is/are complex. – Christina Legler 4 years ago
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    • Female characters are written by female screenwriters are often the best way to get good strong roles out for female actors. One example is Elaine Pope who wrote for Seinfeld. Elaine the character was one of the first really funny women on TV who did not portray the stereotypically straight "man" for the funny main character. Getting a multi-dimensional female character on TV would require a screenwriter who would have insight into women enough to make them entertaining. Usually conflict is what drives a character and plot. So the conflict would have to be something that would resonate with women. How the main character deals with the conflict with as you put it spunkiness and kindness would be nice to see. I think that Marg Helgenberger and Jorja Fox on CSI were a move in the right direction. Also Amy on Big Bang Theory is both very sweet, smart and strong and not your typical lead actress in Hollywood. – Munjeera 4 years ago
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    • This is a fascinating topic and one that I still find myself mulling over in my head. I think when we think of "strength" it's a word that is already so imbued with (sometimes narrow) masculine ideals. As Jack Graham wrote in "Stephen Moffat - A Case For The Prosecution," "Fetishizing ‘power’ in women characters – having them kicking ass and always being ready with a putdown - isn’t the same as writing them as human beings."Perhaps this would be a separate article, but aside from personality, appearance is also a big factor in what makes a female character "strong" (or "feminist"). For example, in video games, I often come across scantily clad women and then have to ask myself if I'm right to criticize the creators for their male gaze-based designs or if I'm accidentally slut-shaming. – txl 4 years ago
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    • I did my graduate thesis on this very topic. The trouble anyone who wants to write about this intelligently is going to run into is the answer to this simple question: what is femininity? Any answer that's remotely palatable is going to be complicated and nuanced. Ultimately, it is a social construct. And social constructs change--femininity in 1950 looked much different in 1970, and so on. Coming up with a streamlined definition is tricky, if not impossible in our very fragmented 21st century society.That said, I find the trope to be problematic because it perpetuates a false binary: traits coded as feminine (nurturing, empathy, crying) are weak, and traits coded as masculine (terse, detached, "tough") are strong. Basically, women are only strong if they "act like a man" (the quotes are to indicate skepticism--see above discussion of femininity versus masculinity).Some possible good examples in different genres of womanly women are: Snow on OUAT (I know, the show is terrible, I will not even argue that). Rizzoli and Isles are both great, and a great example of a healthy female friendship. Felicity Smoak on Arrow is another example of femininity to me. I don't really watch any sit-coms anymore because I haven't found one to rival How I Met Your Mother (the greatest sit-com ever), but Lily from HIMYM is a good example, I think.You may want to read Carina Chocano's NYT article entitled: "Tough, Cold, Terse, Taciturn and Prone to Not Saying Goodbye When They Hang Up the Phone"--it was the spark for my thesis. – ladyabercrombie 4 years ago
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    Latest Comments

    This is a very good article! Yume Nikki is my favorite of the three games mentioned. The strange atmosphere of the dreams and Madotsuki’s refusal to leave her room leave me wondering what kinds of traumatic things she’s experienced. There are some days that people feel so bad, the only thing they want to do is fall asleep and start over the next day. The fact that Madotsuki would prefer her dreams to facing the real world is a powerful idea. It makes you think more deeply about what a depressed or generally unhappy individual is going through. The game has made me more sympathetic to those who feel extremely unhappy with their life. I have become more understanding to depressed individuals, and applaud them for making an effort to fix their problems. As Yume Nikki shows, it can be an enormous task to even get out of bed, and go out into the real world.

    3 RPG Maker Games That Show How Games Can Have Personal Art Too

    I really like that this article gives some merit to the world of fanfiction. Although some fanfics are laughable, and the world of fanfiction can quickly become a black hole for any avid fan, I think it is a useful tool when it comes to writing. When I was younger, I would unintentionally write fanfiction about tv shows that I enjoyed. Doing so allowed me to create original stories without too much mental exertion, and it was fun because I loved the characters. Practice with writing fanfiction allows people to be very creative without having to go through the (sometimes) painful process of creating their own characters and the world they live in. Fanfiction can be an extremely useful tool to help young writers transition into creating their own stories.

    Fanficton: A Practice in the Art of Storytelling

    Five Nights at Freddy’s is a series that has really piqued my interest. FNAF 2 was my favorite game, because it gave us a view into the pizzeria when it was fully operational, and it introduced a bunch of new characters. I was disappointed with FNAF 3 when I first saw it. I eventually came to be really intrigued by Springtrap, but I still wish that there was a game set in present day that ties everything together. FNAF 4 has an interesting story, but I really feel that there is a missing link that ties all of the games together.

    The Narrative of Five Nights at Freddy's

    I really liked Glee when the show first started. I thought it was very commendable that the show was trying to represent the underdogs in high school, and the humiliation that they faced from their peers. I also really liked how Glee tried to bring in groups of people that were facing so much criticism and discrimination. The original characters were well-rounded, and relatable. Even though a character like Kurt was gay, he still had many other talents and aspects to his personality that were likable. His function on the show was partly to represent the gay community, but he was also a good character that viewers could connect with. Glee lost its magic when it started to create new characters for the sole purpose of representing a certain type of person. For example, Coach Beiste transitioned from female to male. I appreciate this attempt to represent the transgender community, but it just felt forced. Coach Beiste’s unique personality made her interesting, and just because she wasn’t very feminine doesn’t mean she had to make a transition to being male. It felt like the characters in Glee were just there to represent a certain group of people, and were no longer relatable or likable in other aspects of their personality. Poor character development is why Glee failed.

    The Rise and Fall of Glee

    Unfortunately, film scripts have to uphold a certain set of rules so they can be translated into film. Traditional forms of literature may be more pleasant to read because they take their time in setting each scene, while screenplays must have each and every word propel the story forward.

    The Literary Merit of Film Scripts

    This is a really fun article~ Loki is definitely one of my favorite Marvel villains. Thor seems like a fairly bland character if he doesn’t have his brother to interact with.

    The Marvel Cinematic Villains: What Makes a Memorable Antagonist?