After much anticipation, the world was finally introduced to the first female Doctor. And, to the credit of the writers, the Doctor accepts the change and immediately moves on to the action. However, being part of a group that always has an eye on how women are portrayed in the world of popular culture, I couldn’t help but want to add my voice to those discussing this “first” for the Doctor Who franchise.
So, I give you a mini review of the first episode of Season 11’s “The Woman Who Fell to Earth.” Buckle up and consider this your spoiler warning.
I’m perfectly fine admitting that I never thought that I would be writing this post. I was never a huge fan of the Evil Dead films and as a person who has seen many of her favorite intellectual properties canceled or rebooted with less than stellar results, the absolutely perfect Ash Vs Evil Dead series kinda annoyed me. The tone is spot on, the horror elements are both unique and hilarious, and Ash is the same kind of person he’s always been. This series is proof that reboots can be done, and done well… And almost as if to add insult to injury, Ash Vs Evil Dead accomplishes the very thing that the previous films lacked – interesting and capable female characters.
What? An article arguing that Ash Vs Evil Dead is feminist and contains not one but two notably kickass female characters? Indeed. So here we go.
For those of you not as familiar with the show, when we first meet Ruby Knowby (played by the suspiciously ageless Lucy Lawless) she claims to the be the daughter of Raymond Knowby – the professor in the Evil Dead films who discovers the Necromonicon and Kandarian dagger. I don’t think I would be spoiling too much to say that Ruby’s history is much more, um historical? complicated? spooky? than that.
What makes Ruby a great character is that she’s smart. Smart enough to connect herself to Ash’s past and insert herself into this life. She’s also smart enough to adjust her plans to the circumstances around her. You almost feel shocked when an idiot like Ash gets the better of her, but I think that’s the point. It’s engaging because Ruby is formidable and interesting in her own way. She gets annoyed at Ash but always manages to keep her goal in sight. A well-written villain (and acted – Lucy Lawless is GREAT!) is one that you’re excited to see, love to hate, but also find appealing on some level…even when you know you shouldn’t. Ruby is one of those villains. Oh, and she’s a woman. Well done, TV show.
The other awesome female character in this show is Ash Williams’ friend/teammate Kelly Maxwell. In many ways, Kelly starts off as a basic “strong female character.” She puts Ash in his place when he tries to flirt with her and is basically angry all the time and bitterly sarcastic. In a lot of shows, this would have ticked off all the boxes for their required strong female elements, but over the seasons of the show, Kelly has proven to be more than that. Her attitude is linked to her life and past rather than just it just being a personality trait. Better yet, she even becomes more comfortable showing other parts of her personality including extreme loyalty to her friends and loved ones.
Kelly becomes even more interesting as a character when you compare her with her counterpart on Ash’s team, Pablo Simon Bolivar. Rather than just having Kelly fill in what may be considered the more feminine role on the team, most of that role sits comfortably with Pablo. Kelly is the one who takes to fighting more naturally and it’s Kelly who formulates a lot of strategy and planning. Additionally, when it comes for the group to take a break, Kelly is the one who grows restless with no demons to battle while Pablo is perfectly content to stay in town with Ash to both support him and set up a food cart. Pablo is the one serving as the emotional heart and team cheerleader. Best of all, it isn’t a bad thing and he still is a force to be reckoned with on his own.
I personally find it very exciting to find awesome ladies in surprising places. Ash Vs Evil Dead proves that you can not only reboot an older male-focused property but also update the story to include more women characters who serve as much more than plot devices. There are rumors that the third season of this show could very well be the last, so if you’re a fan of kickass ladies and inventive horror action sequences, you should be getting your hands on this in hopes that the series might continue a bit longer. You might be surprised by how much you enjoy it. I certainly was.
The winter holidays can be a wonderful time filled with fun and surprises and time spent with people you love. However, it also has the potential to be a total turducken of stress: family tensions wrapped up in shopping insanity all stuffed inside of diminishing hours of sunlight. And you may well get the latest sickness that’s going around too.
It can be tough to focus on self care at a time of year that’s often geared towards thinking of others. But you do need to include yourself in the kindness you’re spreading as the year comes to an end. My fellow lady Smalerie has already shared some general winter self care tips. If you need some additional ideas, read on.
Welcome our friend and reader, Carolyn Frantz, making a great case for watching Supergirl. Want more? You can find her on Twitter as @cosmic_carolyn. – Ed.
Since this is my very first guest post with the Ladies of Comicazi blog, I’ll begin with a confession: I’m not a hardcore comic fan, and I’m certainly not a purist when it comes to comic universes. Most of my favorite comic books aren’t published by DC or Marvel, so I’m new to both. But I love a good story and good art, and I have a soft spot for heroines that are intelligent, strong, and independent, like Agatha Heterodyne: Girl Genius.
Even so, I’ve fallen in love with the new CBS show Supergirl, and I’m here to tell you why! A friend of mine, Danielle, wrote a feminist ode to Supergirl recently. She made some great points as to what Supergirl is doing right:
- The two most powerful people in National City are women.
- Women can be villains too!
- Women aren’t helpless victims.
- “Girl” is reclaimed as an empowering term.
- Young girls need a female superhero to look up to.
All of these are excellent reasons to watch Supergirl, and I encourage you to check out her article here. But I have a couple of my own feminist* reasons why Supergirl is not to be missed:
Supergirl’s costume is awesome without being overly revealing or sexual. It may seem superficial and counterproductive to focus on our heroine’s outward appearance. But in Hollywood, there’s just no way to escape the male gaze, and its use in advertising (“sex sells”). As a result, what women are wearing/not wearing in Hollywood will always be important. Supergirl needs a kick-butt costume to go with her butt-kicking moves, so dressing her in a tiny leotard isn’t believable. Even fierce female powerhouses like Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas tug at their leotards, and Gabby isn’t even punching villains. Mad props to Supergirl’s wardrobe department for coming up with a cool-looking costume that actually works for Supergirl’s extra-active lifestyle.
Supergirl goes by her real name. In all the Superman universes, including Smallville, Superman goes by Clark in his regular life. Pretty much no one is allowed to call him Kal-El. And let’s face it, Kal-El doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. Kara, on the other hand, is a real name on our planet, so Supergirl goes by her real name, both in regular life and when she’s fighting crime at the DEO. A central tenet of feminism is that the way we use language matters, and there is power in naming important people and experiences. Feminist textual analysis often notices when women are named in texts— and when they’re not. Calling a woman by her name is powerful, and Kara claims her given (Kryptonian) name. Which leads into…
Supergirl struggles with her identity, which is something all real women do. By virtue of her frozen-time backstory, Kara has vivid memories of her family and life on Krypton. She lives into her dual citizenship on Krypton and Earth, which is a cultural balancing act. In our (supposedly alien-free) society, people of color experience something similar every day, having to be proficient in white culture as well as the culture from which they come. Women experience this also, living in a man’s world. We have to work to maintain our feminine identities while operating in work spaces and sometimes religions that are male-dominated, and therefore oriented toward the way “old boys’ clubs” work. Hence the glass ceiling. Fortunately, Kara has a supportive boss, Cat, who broke the glass ceiling herself and is willing to help Kara face the same hurdles. Kara also struggles with being adopted. Adopted children struggle with questions of identity all their lives, as illustrated in this poignant letter to the stars of Supergirl from an adoptive mom. Carrie, the author, explains how the media usually portrays adoptive parents inaccurately. Her story illustrates how powerful it is for her daughters to watch a story focusing on an adoptive family that’s more true to life. Even without the adoption dynamic, Kara’s struggles in her family relationships mirror real life. Unlike many shows, which either gloss over the reality of complex family relationships or parody them in the extreme (I’m looking at you, Modern Family!), Supergirl portrays relationships as they often are: complicated, but full of love. Any woman knows that relationships with sisters and mothers can be tumultuous. Supergirl portrays the tensions in these relationships well, while still showing the intense love and loyalty that family brings, adoptive or not. Finally, last but not least…
“Why does this even matter?” you might inquire. I’m glad you asked! Women in this culture are always being told we should diet. Female bodies that aren’t basically twigs are unacceptable in the media, which is why plus-size models are so extraordinary. Women are more likely than men to develop an eating disorder, and young women are especially vulnerable: 86% of those with eating disorders report they began before age 20, and 41% of all 1st-3rd graders want to be thinner. Controlling what women eat, psychologically or otherwise, is a means of controlling and devaluing women’s bodies.
Many TV shows portray women eating salads, discussing diets, and not-eating at dinner tables. Not Supergirl! Kara usually eats very healthy meals, but she’s also shown feasting on favorites like hamburgers, pizza, ice cream, curry, and donuts. Her chow-and-chat sessions on the couch with Alex at the end of a long day are one of the best parts of the show. They’re a chance for the sisters to process all that’s happened, support one another, and be women actually enjoying food on camera. When you think about it, that’s actually pretty rare. While some comedies make women who love food the butt of the joke, Supergirl seizes the opportunity to break that stigma. Kara needs super fuel, and feeding her super-fast metabolism sends a message to young girls that there’s no guilt or shame in calorically supporting their bodies.
By now, hopefully you’ve been convinced to give Supergirl a try if you haven’t watched it yet. The end of the season is especially exciting, particularly with the Flash crossover. If you already love the show, share it with a young girl— or boy!— in your life and plant seeds of empowerment in their hearts.
*Before any men’s rights activists jump on my use of the term “feminist”, my definition of feminism is “the radical notion that women are people”. Any true feminist, in my opinion, believes in the basic equality of all people regardless of sex, gender, race, creed, orientation, etc.
By now, you’ve almost certainly heard about the bizarre, offensive interview that the author of the new book Slimed!, a history of the early years of kids’ cable network Nickelodeon, did on Flavorwire. If you haven’t, here’s the original interview.
Sadly, racist and sexist drivel like this is all too common in the world of pop culture nerds. That’s part of why I usually don’t comment on it. Most times, I’m content to let other people who share my feelings on the subject do the talking. But this case goes beyond just the usual ignorant garbage.
Should we be mad at Mathew Klickstein because his views on race and gender are vile? Absolutely. But there’s a whole slew of other things he’s done in this single interview that shouldn’t be ignored.
Searches for terrifying or shocking kids’ cartoons usually turn up the same old lists of cartoon conspiracy theories (which never make sense and always conclude that the cast of the show is actually dead) or “adult” scenes from old theatrical shorts (which are often taken out of context and come from cartoons that weren’t intend for kids in the first place.) But there’s no need to resort to crazy theories or cartoons that were really for adults to find ‘toons that can leave some permanent scars on young viewers. Even if you just check out one decade – the one I spent my formative years in – and limit yourself to television animation, you can find a treasure trove of shocking and disturbing animation aimed squarely at children. Here are just five of the most nightmare-inducing animated TV episodes of the 80s.
What’s it about? Good guy scientists battle bad guy subterranean monsters with occasional help from elemental creatures.
Why is it nightmare fuel? Inhumanoids is not a great cartoon, in part because the heroes were totally forgettable and wore terribly designed armor. What it had going for it was the monsters, and the creators of the brand knew it because the show is named after them. There was a lava spewing monster, a plant creature, and others. But the most terrifying member of the Inhumanoids is D’Compose. D’Compose had a weird reptilian skull for a head and an exposed ribcage. His power was turning people into monstrous undead creatures.
Of all the Ladies I might watch the most current TV. A dubious distinction, but TV is a great knitting companion, especially on those long tedious scarf projects I always seem to get involved with (but that’s probably another post-or not). I’ve been pretty vocal about not watching The Walking Dead anymore, so what am I watching these days? Apparently, Bromances! So here are three shows featuring guys who solve mysteries, stop crime, and challenge each other to survive.