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About Female Action Heroes

(Note: this was originally written as a comment for a post on the excellent Action Flick Chick blog by Katrina Hill, but was eaten by the WordPress.org instance there, so I decided to publish it here, after a lot of editing and enhancements.)

Excellent feature! I greatly enjoyed it (just note that I'm a guy) - thanks for sharing and I hope the panel was nice. I hope to see and welcome many talented and resourceful female writers and authors of sci-fi and action, who will collaborate to create part of the next generation of female heroines who are intelligent, resourceful, competent, and talented, yet still sexy, and feminine. Naturally, as a male writer (see the stories and screenplays section of my homepage), I am not going to stand idle and let my peers, whether male or female, surpass me easily, but I suppose that there's always a place for more people competing for that.

Buffy Summers was an awesome character, and I was totally into her and Sarah Michelle Gellar, who was the superb actress and martial artist, who played her, back in the wild wild Web 1.0 days and the first seasons of Buffy (before Buffy graduated from high school and when Faith was still around). That was shortly after I graduated from high school, had lots of raging hormones, and worked in several workplaces as a programmer, and was about to start my college degree. I think Buffy was the “perfection achieved” (or epitome or whatever it is called) version of the fighting lady, whom girls could relate to, look up to as a role model, and found it easy to feel empathy for, and that not only were guys not intimidated by her, but found her extremely attractive.

Anyway, Buffy and other shows I watched in this period such as Friends and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, provided a lot of inspiration and fodder for my stories and screenplays, and I have also created a world titled the Selinaverse that crosses many such influences (what can I say - bipolar disorder / manic-depresssive disorder can be fun sometimes… ;-)) along with other things. Even my most normal story yet - The Human Hacking Field Guide, which tells the story of several high school teenagers in 2005 Los Angeles, who deal extensively in working on open source software (and to a lesser extent free/open “content”), drew inspiration from the characters of Buffy and Faith for the protagonist (Jennifer Raymond) and the antagonist (Eve “Erisa” Siegel) respectively.

I think part of the problem with the realisation of female heroines and even female authors, was the traditional Judeo-Christian Ethics value system which limited the amount of activities women were able to do to exclude philosophy, most important artworks, writing, poetry and being a scholar, the performing arts, and naturally - fighting. Furthermore, the names of most of the most important action heroines in the Bible were deemed inauspicious in the Jewish tradition (the Halakhah), only to become popular among Jews after the Zionist revolution. An action hero or a “hacker” (see the essay titled The Word “Hacker” by Paul Graham) is someone who bends the rules, makes up his or her own rules, takes decisive actions, and controls his or her own destiny, even if they are completely not violent. See what I have written about the David who fought Goliath. This is while a tragic hero accepts his own fate, is bound by many invisible rules, and does not take decisive action - the exact opposite of an action hero. (That put aside, I feel that in art, action heroes and heroines often also initially have hubris (= excessive human pride) and undergo a sort of Catharsis (= a humbling process), although it is a more subtle than the one experienced by tragic heroes in tragedies.)

In any case, I think there's some bitter justice in the fact that there have been several important Jewesses who championed the break from the Judeo-Christian ethical system:

  • Sarah Michelle Gellar.

  • Alisa Rosenbaum → Ayn Rand, who despite her many faults in personality and in her philosophical work, and the fact that she often fell victim to the falsehoods and moral fashions of her time, greatly helped lay the ground for the move away from the traditional Judeo-Christian ethics (and not just the sexual/romantic ones).

    I was told that Ayn Rand’s philosophy was criticised for being not very “original”, but this kind of “originality” in copyright, having original ideas, patents, and even trade secrets (and what open source/open content/etc. like to call being “proprietary”), was a 20th century fad, and Rand still deserves credit for having a retro, but right-in-the-spotlight philosophy. I am well aware that Rand kinda professed to have supported this “originality/anti-open” philosophy in her works, but in her deeds, she was almost always “if you do not publish - you perish”, in the sense of making her opinions and thoughts known and given to the public consumption, even if she was criticised for them.

  • Marta Kauffman, who co-created the Television show Friends, which despite superficial appearances to the contrary, took a large part in championing an Aristotelian society, a positive sense-of-life, resourcefulness, passion for life, gender equality, and critical thought - including of many modernist and post-modern scientific beliefs.

P.S: you should watch the three episodes of the Parody: A Love Story (Twilight, Harry Potter, Karate Kid, and Buffy parody) video on YouTube, which sports a chubby girl, who seems unattractive at first, but ends up learning and doing some mean Karate in a typical Buffy-like hotness.

Anyway, thanks for the excellent write up and sorry for getting carried away.

Best regards,

— Mr. Shlomi Fish (a.k.a “Rindolf”) of Tel Aviv, Israel.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 19th, 2013 07:38 am (UTC)
Re: Technology favours women

zornhau wrote

I think technology favors female emancipation in this as other fields. Ripley is more convincing with a gun than a sword.

Yes, you are right, naturally (though I'm not familiar with Ripley). Throughout history there was a gradual trend towards weapons that are lighter and more effective. You may recall the scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark (the first Indiana Jones movie) where Indiana Jones runs into a ferocious master of the Arabian sword, and just shoots him with a gun from the distance (and a female or even a young girl could have done that too).

Another group that Technology empowers are young people. For example, Maria Aragon was a 10-years old girl when she recorded her keyboard+vocals cover of Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way”, which has received millions of views since then, and was also approved by Lady Gaga herself, who ended up performing it along with Ms. Aragon, and publishing other covers and videos on YouTube and elsewhere. There are many other stories of pre-teens and teenagers, who achieved success at their young age. Despite common belief, there is no good reason why young people should necessarily be less competent than older people, and it's time we stopped treating youth as incapable.

Technology (both material, but also mental) empowers females, young people, as well as many other minorities that are discriminated against. However, there are people who will take advantage of this status, like manipulative and evil (= want to destroy competence and values) women, who claim you should feel sorry for them due to their sex and incompetence. The best examples I can think of for that are the historical Cleopatra VII Philopator and the fictional portrayal of Queen Anne of Austria in Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers, who is the true villain in this book, despite Dumas’ burning desire to portray her as the poor victim, and the sexy, exciting, resourceful, and awe-inspiring, Milady de-Winter, as the villain.

Mar. 19th, 2013 09:11 am (UTC)
Re: Technology favours women
Quick responses:

Ripley as in Aliens!

Oddly society's disdain for teenagers reverses itself whenever there is a major war - Spitfires were flown by frighteningly young young men.

There is, of course, a social power in being a victim.
Mar. 19th, 2013 07:57 pm (UTC)
Re: Technology favours women

Hi zornhau, thanks for your comment.

Ah Ellen Ripley from the Alien frenchise - have not seen these films, and the original ones predate my time, but I heard good things about them. I guess it's another thing I should watch sometime, as well as The Matrix.

OK, here's the wikipedia article about spitfires, which I didn't recall what it was off hand, because I'm not big into weapons and stuff like that. It may sound ironic, but I'm a peaceful, and not very athletic straight male, who appears like a normal person, although quite geeky and dorky, and who is a gentleman and strives to be as honest as possible, and is not afraid to express his “feminine” side (a typical "good guy"). Yet, I think I am most attracted to the typical “bad girl”: the strong, competent, rebellious, sexy, exciting, girl, with the mysterious past. Like Faith on Buffy, Milady de Winter on The Three Musketeers, Jadzia Dax on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Eve “Erisa” Siegel on my novella the Human Hacking Field Guide (which some men and women said they'd like to meet, but is unfortunately fictional).

Of course, below the surface, I can be very provocative and subversive, like saying that I am the Messiah (and that everyone should think so).

There is, of course, a social power in being a victim.

I am tired of truly heroic people who became tragic heroes: Galileo Galilei, Ayn Rand, Aaron Swartz, Whitney Houston, Marilyn Monroe etc. and many people whom I haven't heard of, but were still heroic. Yes, we tend to remember them better, than the people who were wise enough to play all their cards right, and kept growing in happiness, competence and love until their death (and were lucky enough to live in enlightened times), but that did not make them more productive and influential than those heroic people whose life had a happy ending. Furthermore, we have seen enough deaths of heroic people, whether past or present and I don't want any more deaths of such people - not now - not in a thousand years - not never. I admire God but like Muhammad, don't trust him enough, and know that I should tie my camel.

Regards, — Shlomi Fish.

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )