Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Existence of Women in Sci-Fi

We watched a TED talks episode about the need for more strong female roles in our films and cartoons for children in order to help them respect each other and see different perspectives other than the normative white male.  I wholeheartedly agree with the idea that we need more strong women in films and cartoons, but not only in that but in advertisements also.  Watching television is a great way to get an example of the media objectifying women or categorizing them into female tropes like cleaning adds aimed for women.  While all of those terribly acted stupid things are being shown they are also projecting images onto men and boys about how they are supposed to act and think.  If anything is going to change about how we treat and view one another based on sex then we need to start living that way, believing that it is possible if you just do it and it will spread on.  I know I have said this a million times but it still holds truth, and that's the idea that if you can't see it, then you can't be it.  If I can't see a role model for myself as a young girl or boy how am I supposed to aspire to be strong and independent.  Thankfully there are some new movies that are trying to meet a more equal treatment of the different genders and sexuality.  I'd like to see more LGBTQ movies that had better budgets and better story lines that are not predator/prey style or teachers and students types (even though I do actually know someone personally that this holds truth for I suppose...), but the point is that there are other things that women are good at than merely being sexy or motherly for men.  And the same about the queer films, there are more than just what we have seen being played over and over or just plain discriminating.
By looking into the past we can also see films that may not pass any bechdal tests anytime soon, like Barbarella: Queen of the Galaxy where Jane Fonda travels around the universe having sex with everybody in sight, who are mostly men of some sort.  Don't get me wrong this movie is hilarious in how ridiculously it's acted and scripted so terribly for men.  Yes it had a "strong" female role but she was strong by means of having sex with everything...what does that even mean exactly?  Sex workers today may look at this movie a little bit different if it was redone in today's standards...in which case would be really pretty cool (I hope somebody gets that funded and Jane Fonda is somehow in it).  There is also the classic The Stepford Wives, where the men in this club decide to make replicas of their wives only they can program their wives to act anyway they want.  Imagine that, you get to control the person you are married to, so basically you make them do all of the things you don't want to do yourself, including having sex with you.  This movie speaks for itself about how it treats women of the time period and their roles as women for men and not women just for the sake of women.  In Liquid Sky the main character is this androgynous person with extreme make up, this person feeds off of other people in the film.  This idea is repeated in numerous films with slight twists, like in Teknolust the character feeds off of having sexual relations with different men.  Barbarella has sex with everyone around the galaxy, the same with Teknolust, it seems like a female character's best weapon is her sex.

Even in some of the futuristic styled films the female character's use of her sexuality to obtain something needed is found, in Tank Girl she basically has every male character at some point seduced.  "Using what your mother gave you" is what girls are told growing up, or at least I remember hearing it if not directed at me then at my sister or other girl peers.  So you can imagine the dismay when you do grow up and find out that maybe you didn't get a lot from your "mother" in the way the saying means, or that the saying itself is just kind of funny because it can be true but at what cost?  Sex workers are interesting people because some of them truly love it and some are stuck in it and miserable.  But to put that idea that the use of sex can get you almost anything you want in every little girls head may be damaging to her idea of independence and confidence.  Although when you think the world has failed us as female in every way they do produce respectable pieces of work, such a piece in my opinion is "Spirited Away".
The film features a young girl lead who shows bravery and courage in a crazy adventure to save her parents from remaining in their pig form.  The film's main characters are not over overwhelmingly male and show a good diversity of characters.  In Alien the gender roles of the characters are not highly influenced by what society imposes, they are relatively equal among each other and work together.  I have not seen Contact but after watching the trailer I want to, I like Jodie Foster and here she plays a smart adventurous role to contact the aliens sending them mathematical signals. The idea of life in the universe trying to contact Earth is a major theme in sci-fi that plays with our knowledge of Earth's existence in the universe and the possibilities of other life out there, that is what makes movies about another species so appealing and successful when done right.   

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