Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Action Heroine HQ

The Action Heroine Blog-a-Thon
On June 12th, 2007 the Amazons rule the blogosphere
Scroll down for a list of 50 additional participating blogs

Daughters of the Fairy Dust
by Nathaniel R

When the subject of classic action heroines comes up, you’d be safe to assume that most people conjure up instant memories of Wonder Woman, Lt Ellen Ripley (the Aliens franchise) and Buffy the Vampire Slayer before their minds wander to less famed and obsessed over examples of women who muscled their way through cinematic or literary adventures. But I think the vanishing point you need to look at for true action heroine perspective is Peter Pan. Stop laughing. I’m not talking about the many girls in green tights who’ve played this famously stubborn boy–though the traditionally gender switched casting almost makes a case for Peter Pan as an action heroine himself. No, I’m talking Wendy and Tinkerbell. It all goes back to them.

What? You don’t believe this boy can fly with that theory? I can fly try I can try I can try

JM Barrie’s Peter Pan holds a deserved spot in the literary canon. It began life as a play in 1904 before being adapted into the book Peter Pan and Wendy. Many adaptations followed in most every medium. It’s one of those famous stories you can love as a child and never outgrow as an adult because there’s so much that’s magical and insightful in the themes and the telling. The most famous film version is the Disney animated musical from 1953 but that one loses a lot of Peter Pan’s edge (particularly in the case of Tinkerbell) so I prefer the more faithful adaptation from 2003.

Early in the most recent Pan film Wendy mock swordfights with her brothers and frightens them with stories of Captain Hook. There’s a little of Little Women’s protofeminist Jo March in her –only Wendy has it better: she'll actually live out the adventure story she spins for her siblings. Wendy has a fearless spirit, as eager to fly and fight as the boys, but her peers and adversaries try to pin her down to more traditional roles. Her brothers lose the mock battle “Who are you to order me about and call me girlie?” she asks while towering over them. The Lost Boys waiting for her in Neverland also reduce Wendy to a typically feminine role. She becomes the “mother”. While Wendy dutifully fills the maternal vacuum she’s still eager to fly with Pan. It’s easy to see future action heroines in Wendy’s adventurous spirit with a huge helping of maternalization. Even the butchest and most dangerous action heroines are maternalized: The Bride (Kill Bill) and Sarah Connor (Terminator) both fight savagely because of their children. Even the Alien franchise’s iconic Ripley, though childless, is maternalized throughout the series be it through emotional adoption (Newt) or unplanned pregnancy (alien babies, ewww).

Tinkerbell is a little trickier. I recently read an article about Disney’s realization that the little fairy was one of their most popular characters. They're making plans to expand her place in the Disney universe. I’m not sure what that says about young girls today. For, you see, Tinkerbell is an anti-heroine if ever there was one. She’s not truly evil but neither is she a role model. She behaves in ways most commonly associated with uncharitable and/or sexist depictions of women. She’s fickle. She schemes. She’s selfish. She acts impulsively. She’s ruled by irrational and sometimes dangerous emotions (she even tries to kill off Wendy, her rival for Peter's love!). In short Tinkerbell is a mini mega-bitch.

Matters of influence are hard to pin down but isn't there a lot of Wendy (smart, resourceful but forcibly maternalized) in most action heroines? Tinkerbell certainly equates easily with many anti-heroines –a little wild, a lot dangerous, but still a true kick to watch and impossible to hate: think Catwoman and the like. The most obvious modern descendents of Wendy and that dusty fairy are Elizabeth Swann (love interest of Pirate boys / a natural leader herself) and Calypso (fickle imprisoned magical creature who creates havoc but also saves the day) in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. But I think you can even see a tiny bit of Wendy & Tink's DNA in rivals like the Kill Bill doppelganger amazons: there's The Bride (formidable, maternal, fond of storytelling) and Elle Driver (childish, irrational, obsessed with destroying her rival for her man’s affection –in this case it’s Bill in place of Peter)

It might be a stretch to make those last two connections but it amuses me. And you dear readers? Clap your hands if you believe in heroines and anti-heroines. Clap your hands.

READ MORE, COMMENT, SPREAD THE LOVE (of ass kicking women)

update: you can also look at the blog-a-thon by subject matter

fast women ~first blogs out of the gate
Coffee Coffee... on Cat Ballou, an action heroine that almost was
Screengrab chicks with guns -a top ten
Collecting Tokens Michelle Yeoh is one Supercop
Deep In Your Eyes on Mexican heroine "Lola the Truck Driver"
Film Otaku names the five best Asian action heroines of recent years
Damsel in Progress -The Long Kiss Goodnight schizo "mom" debate
Flickhead "Suck my dick!" said Demi to the Dude
Joes Movie Corner has a two-part contribution. You know Zhang Ziyi is there
Luke Hingis celebrates his fav' star turn: Cate Blanchett as Elizabeth
Wifely Steps takes lessons in feisty femininity from Elizabeth Swann
Cosmo Marius Miss World semi-finalists who played famous action heroines
My New Plaid Pants celebrates the only woman more badass than Ripley in Aliens. You heard that right... more badass than Ripley "Anytime, anywhere, man!"

career gals ~up at the crack of dawn, posting
Ultimate James Bond the double barreled women of Goldeneye
Way of Words "She's a Maniac..." Hollywood's nonthreatening action women
Odienator Streep puts accents into action w/ The River Wild
Pfangirl on the aborted Paul Verhoeven project Mistress of the Seas
Sell Me a Screenplay the top three heroines... and one that sucks
Stale Popcorns offers up haiku for hero(ine)s
Verging Writer Thelma & Louise took extraordinary actions
This Distracted Globe on the making of James Cameron's classic Aliens
Michael Parsons on Blade Runner's childwoman Pris
Forward to Yesterday "Inaction Heroines" on the three modes of women in studio-era action films and the women of Scaramouche

no nonsense ladies ~12:00 Noon sharp
Film Flap tips on creating an strong woman in your screenplay
As Little As... curates an exhibit of Indiana Jones's women
I am Screaming... Angelina Jolie/Lara Croft's secret weapon
Flick Filosopher Top Ten TV Action Heroines (sans Buffy!)
Low Resolution the good-bad pleasure of "Charly Baltimore"
Woodstock on Barbarella. Jane Fonda IS the queen of the galaxy
Victim of Time a tribute to Lola who ran ran ran
Rants... 'You call that scene stealing?' On Kill Bill's Gogo Yubari
popbytes a classic: Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor and the pilot episode of the new Terminator TV series

divas. they're fashionably late
Cinemathematics on "The Two Ripleys"
Heroine Content thinks Paycheck treats its heroine (Uma!) right
Lazy Eye Theaters heroines sans the action
Stinky Lulu "the makeover" in female action flicks
All About My Movies spotlights Ofelia in Pan's Labyrinth
White Board Markers "by the honor of Greyskull, she has no power"
Crumb by Crumb she roared. rampaged. got bloody satisfation
Collecting Tokens action heroines I've wanted to be
this is a blog about you "Ode to Elle"
Cinephilia is almost speechless over Lady Vengeance
Burbanked has a special edition of "womb to tomb"
Jester Tunes celebrates leather queen, gun totin' Trinity
The Listening Ear gets lost in Brigitte Lin's eyes
Dr. Insermini mi top 5 de heroínas
The Blossoming Stix Jada Pinkett Smith in A Low Down Dirty Shame
Cinebeats Tura Santana is "the real deal" in Faster Pussycat Kill Kill
Lazy Eye Theater Ode to O'Ren, the best role Lucy Liu will ever have

grande dames they make their own schedule thank you very much
Ultimate James Bond Ass Kicking Bond Girls
Goatdog "Also starring Errol Flynn..." on Olivia DeHavilland
Bright Lights After Dark Kill Hagen... some 79 years before Kill Bill
Gallery of the Absurd Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon reimagined

WHEW. That was fun. And I still haven't read them all. But I will. I only host a couple of huge blog-a-thons a year but there's always something happening at the film experience, one of the hardest working / most obsessive movie blogs in the known universe. So bookmark, link up, subscribe, tell your friends. And if you really like what you're reading at any of these participating blogs, do the same with them. Support fine blogging. [/plug plug]

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Jigsaw Puzzle said...

Right now I remember the girls from "The Descent". They really gave those monsters a headache.

Michael Parsons said...

Ohhhh "The Descent" ensemble. that would be great!


it would. I hope someone covers it. But then I hope someone covers everything and that probably aint possible.

perhaps a narrower topic for the next 'thon.

but meanwhile i gotta finish my article and collect more links. stay tuned...

Marius said...

You know, I thought about doing The Descent, but I didn’t because I figured others would write about it. Seriously, it’s an awesome movie about women who can kick butt. I would have focused on Sarah and Juno.

adam k. said...

I've got one coming up. Your favorite...

adam k. said...

Actually, you're probably doing the same thing... damn.

Lucas Dantas said...

man! i'll have so much to read when i return from school! mine's also posted, it's been exciting to be in a blog-a-thon, my first ever!

Anonymous said...

This is so exciting! (it's my first) can't wait for the blog-a-thon to go into full swing! I'm +7GMT so i'll wake up to thousands of blog entries to catch up on!

thanks nathaniel for organising!!

Marius said...

Yeah, thanks for your efforts, Nat. You're my hero!

Emily Blake said...

Hi we haven't met but I put in my two cents.

A good topic to blog on.

Anonymous said...

Sweet idea.

I couldn't help myself, I did a villianess rather than a heroine.

adam k. said...

I was also fashionably late! Please add me

Emma said...

I'm extremely late, but blame blogger. :D

Anonymous said...

Thoe are some good entries there...I hope SOMEONE gets around to Pam Grier

J.D. said...

I actually don't know if I'll do anything else today. I've been trying to write something on Eowyn, but I just cannot write long things, you know, without repetitiveness and strolling off the subject. I think I have to write something on Nausicaa, something I'm not surprised no one has done. :D So for now, can you change mine to just the Ziyi in HOFD post? [sighs] I disappoint myself easily.

StickyKeys said...

I hope I'm doing this correctly, I found out about this via Joer's blog at Low Resolution.

I'm On the Beach!: An Ode to Peaches Jordan

Erin said...

What a great list!

weepingsam said...

Late in the day, yes, but there's 6 more hours to go! Anyway - I'm in, with a hymn to the glories of Brigitte Lin.

VW said...

Wendy & Tinkerbell - awesome topic. A bit disturbing, though, to learn about Disney's T-bell plans.

Thanks for including me the the b-thon. Much appreciated.

J.D. said...

Just to let ya'll know, I have my second post up, The Mysterious Personal Greatness of February 22nd: A Tale of Two Heroines.

Pedro said...

You mention that Ripley was childless, but I remember that she had a daughter, who died between the first and second movies (hence Ripley's relationship with the little girl in Aliens). Come to think of it, maybe this was mentioned only in the Director's cut of Aliens.

Skye @ Planet Jinxatron said...

I think I'll be in whatever category comes AFTER fashionably late...

Blog: Heroine Content

Post: Paycheck


i think i got everyone.

whew. NOW i gotta read them all. yeesh this is exhausting. I hope you're all enjoying

J.D. said...

I must say, I'm liking everything I'm seeing from everyone! This is a great thing.

And of course Ziyi's there! If you spend five minutes on my blog at any time, you'll see her name. It's inevitable. :D

J.D. said...

And a Third and Final: A Letter From A Girl With A Problem.

Dan E. said...

I just put my post up on Ripley in Alien and Aliens. It's here. And just in the waning moments of my birthday. Hooray!

Dr. Insermini said...

Great entry. See my top 5

Lucas Dantas said...

nat's entry is surprising and very cleverly written.
i read some and the entries are always so surprising and witty, but got home so tired i couldn't read anything else.

Michael Parsons said...

Thanks for the coment on mine Nat

The link only occured to me when re watching Blade Runner and seeing the tragedy of the replicants.

Sharon/Boomer/Athena FOREVER!

Thank you Nat for such a fun experience!

tb said...

I haven't read them all yet, but is anyone doing Miyazaki's many kickass heroines?

Kimberly Lindbergs said...

Thnaks for letting me turn in my contribution "fashionably late" Nathaniel! I got back from my Vegas trip later than expected but I really wanted to contribute to this great blog-a-thon.

I love the mention of Peter Pan's Wendy in your post btw!

J.D. said...

I did Nausicaa, and that even works with my Ghiblog-a-Thon (which I have "unofficially" moved to all week) so it works with that too. But yeah, he does have a lot of great ones, don't he?

Anonymous said...


Not that it needs it, but I also endorse making the effort to see "Paycheck", which my wife and I both thought was one of the better films that year.

Anonymous said...

Interesting parralell between Tink and Elle Driver...but I'm not sure I would clap my hands to keep Elle alive....

Uncle Gustav said...

This blogathon's a resounding success! Congratulations, Nathaniel.


thank you --but it's really all about the various posts so i'm hoping people read alot of them

and comment

J.D. said...

Well, I'll be awaiting you're response to mine... you better... [hehe]

Unknown said...

Nathaniel, you've done a fantastic job hosting this. I've really enjoyed reading these (well, not all of them yet, but...) If I'd have made time to write something myself, it would have either been on Barbara Stanwyck in Forty Guns or Helen Ma in Deaf-Mute Heroine. But I'm a terrible procrastinator and couldn't get it together this time. Hopefully next...


thanks. i worry that the blog-a-thons are so big they're impossible to get through. but there are worse problems ;)

still i hope everyone churns through as many as they can. I'm discovering new blogs myself in the process.

i'll update with a "by subject" listing soon.

Anonymous said...

You mentioned Buffy, but what about some of Joss's other heroines? River was awesome in "Serenity" as was Gina Torres's character.


well Whedon is obviously the king of the action queens... or rather, the king in lieu of James Cameron's abdication of the throne

Danny K said...

hey, Nat! have you seen that your blog-a-thon got tagged by imdb's daily 'hit list' of suggested daily links?! i got soo psyched when i saw that!! CONGRATS YOU DESERVE IT!

jasmine said...

From the name of action heroine i remember the heroin's action in charlie's angels. the action they shown is pretty impressive.when i watched this movie on Action Movies Online i got stunned.