« Yikes! | Main | Best. Read. Ever. »

June 02, 2010

No Wonder America is Messed Up

Where have all the heroes gone?

To help celebrate Entertainment Weekly‘s 20th anniversary (one more year and we can finally drink booze!), the writers and editors have carefully curated a list of the 100 greatest characters in pop-culture over the last 20 years. Whether the fictional women, men, ogres, muppets, babies, and cartoon rockers who made our list were initially created before 1990 didn’t matter so long as they made a lasting impact in the culture after 1990. Some characters were so inseparable in our minds and hearts — like a certain highly articulate TV mother and daughter, for example — that we simply listed them together. (Hey, it’s our list, so we get to make the rules.) Rest assured, we carefully deliberated, debated, argued, and bickered over who would make the cut and where they deserved to be ranked; after you take a look at our list, please feel free to do the same in the comments.

I found the choice of "great" characters interesting.

I read a lot on conservative sites about how women are "always" portrayed as smart, capable, and superior to men (and men are "always" portrayed as hapless, pussy whipped buffoons). Certainly the selection of Homer Simpson plays to this narrative.

But how many strong, positive or admirable female characters appear on this list? Out of 100, I see only one or two: Sarah Connor, perhaps. Arguably, Dana Scully. The rest are a motely crew of ditzes, bitches, sluts, murderesses, and prostitutes. Not exactly role model material.

Not too many heroic male characters either, though Maximus (Gladiator), Harry Potter, Jack Bauer and Morpheus seem cast in the heroic mold.

Who would make your list, and why?

Posted by Cassandra at June 2, 2010 08:49 AM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.villainouscompany.com/mt/mt-tb.cgi/3693

Comments

WOW! There were a very few I would have put on my list but for the most part a liberals who's who of meaningless characters. Homer Simpson #1....OMG!

Posted by: vegasguy at June 2, 2010 11:11 AM

That was a stunner, wasn't it?

I have laughed at the Simpsons from time to time but the show makes me very uncomfortable. I find Homer hard to watch a lot of the time. He makes me cringe for the same reason I always have to leave the room when sitcom characters beclown themselves.

Posted by: Cass at June 2, 2010 11:18 AM

John McClane from Die Hard.
Sergeant Martin Riggs from Lethal Weapon.

Posted by: Craig at June 2, 2010 11:31 AM

Good choices!

I don't watch much TV so I'm a bit handicapped there. I do better with movies.

Posted by: Cass at June 2, 2010 11:42 AM

Fave woman:

Mona Lisa Vito from My Cousin Vinnie.

Posted by: Craig at June 2, 2010 11:46 AM

How could I forget Marge Gunderson from Fargo!

A great character in a great movie.

Posted by: Craig at June 2, 2010 11:53 AM

Agent K from Men in Black.

Posted by: Craig at June 2, 2010 11:58 AM

I don't know whether I should be proud or ashamed at having never seen more than half of the listed shows.

That said, of what I do recognize, it's kind of hard to tease out the gender discrepancy for positive attributes as the list contains a sizable chunk of the villain character space of both genders (The Joker & Annie Wilkes) as well as the current trend toward blurring the lines between the heroes and villains.

For instance, where do you put The Bride from Kill Bill. We are meant to empathize with and root for her but every single person in it is a bloody assasin. She's smart, capable, and clearly better than the men in the film (of course, she's better than *everyone* in the film). But do you really want to consider a revenge motivated assasin as a positive, admirable heroic character? I don't think so.

Same kind of thing as Ephelba (The Wicked Witch of the West) from Wicked (at least the stage version, haven't read the book).

Then you get the opposite side with Kara Thrace from BSG. She most certainly counts as a heroic character within the series and is certainly strong, smart, and capable, but is one of the biggest screw ups around. Her entire personal life throughout the entire series is a study in bad decisions and self-sabotage. The male side is Tony Stark from Iron Man who is a womanizing alcoholic.

Personally, the trend away from perfect heroes and "perfectly evil" villains has made for some more interesting stories. We still know who the good guys are and who the bad guys are, they just aren't as flat anymore.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at June 2, 2010 12:28 PM

But that also means that many of the "heroes" aren't exactly role models either.

But as for female heroic role models, you could do worse than Olivia Dunham from Fringe.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at June 2, 2010 12:46 PM

The list is tripe, but I do need to disagree with you about the list of women:
99. The Bride from Kill Bill
Murderess, yes. But in the same sense as Clint Eastwood's character from Hang Em High. Revenge killin' is frequently portrayed as heroic in pretty much every culture, so I'm going with "strong and capable heroine" here.
98. Lisbeth Salander from The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and its sequels
Never saw it.

97. Violet Weston from August: Osage County
Never saw it.

95. Wilhelmina from Ugly Betty
Never saw it.

90. Marge Gunderson from Fargo
Highly intuitive, clever, and capable cop who solves the murders. There's no one that wouldn't see this as a positive character (except perhaps the crooks in the film). "Strong and capable heroine"... check.

86. Karen Walker and Jack McFarland from Will & Grace
Karen's no role model for sure (alcoholic and drug abuser), but no one could accuse the character of being weak, stupid or dependent on a man.

83. Jen Yu from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Strong capable female character, even beats the heck out of some men. And not even the violent type to boot. She tries several times in the movie to avoid violence.

81. Amanda Woodward from Melrose Place
Never saw it, but since I am AWARE of what the show is about, I'll take your word on this one as gospel.

79. Elphaba from Wicked
Portrayed as misunderstood rather than villainous (as she is in Wizard of Oz). Now I think Wicked is pap, but the character can only be faulted for letting her bitterness of how others treat her for being different turn her into "the wicked witch". I'll give you halfsies on this one.

73. Catherine Trammell from Basic Instinct
Wow... evil for sure. But she's stronger, more capable and definitely superior to almost all the men in that film. Negative role model granted. But you can't call the character dumb, weak or a fading flower.

72. Kara “Starbuck” Thrace from Battlestar Galactica
Strong and capable with the admitted failing of trying to out good-ole-boy the other good-ole-boys. But again, not dumb or weak.

69. Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada
Didn't see it.

68. Effie White from Dreamgirls
Didn't see it.

66. Allie and Noah from The Notebook
Didn't see it.

65. Lorelai and Rory Gilmore from Gilmore Girls
Didn't see it.

60. Mary Jones from Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Saphhire
Didn't see it.

58. Thelma and Louise from Thelma & Louise
HORRIBLE role models. For certain. But if you think the movie shows them as anything OTHER than "smart, capable, and superior to men" then you saw a different film than I did.

54. Juno from Juno
Didn't see it.

52. Annie Wilkes from Misery
Insane for certain. But not dumb or weak.

50. Pearl the Landlord from FunnyorDie.com
Didn't see it.

49. Vivian Ward from Pretty Woman
I assume this is the Julia Roberts character. No, she's a Disney princess in a streetwalker costume. The worst stereotypes of dumb, weak, and dependent on a man to save her. Full points granted to you on this one.

42. Sydney Bristow from Alias
Didn't see it.

34. Cher from Clueless
Didn't see it.

33. Sarah Connor from Terminator 2: Judgment Day
You covered this. Strong, smart, capable, maternal... every bit the power woman role. But in the interest of fairness, in the first Terminator movie, she's the exact opposite. So I'd forgive if you only granted half points to the character.

28. Madea from several Tyler Perry films and plays
Didn't see it/them.

24. Felicity Porter from Felicity
Didn't see it.

21. Roseanne Conner from Roseanne
I hate Roseanne Barr, but since I never actually watched the show, I can't fairly speak to this one.

20. Ally McBeal from Ally McBeal
Never saw it, but again, I am at least aware of what it was about... so I'll conceed it.

18. Sue Sylvester from Glee
Didn't see it.

17. Lara Croft from the Tomb Raider franchise
Other than losing points for being walking fanservice, she is in fact the stereotypical amazon warrior. Strong, smart, capable, needs no man's help. Yadda yadda yadda.

16. Bridget Jones from the Bridget Jones series
Never saw it.

12. Fox Mulder and Dana Scully from The X-Files
Scully needs to be given full credit. She was a doctor/FBI agent/genius. The only "down side" she had was she was a skeptic (which normally is a huge positive, but when your show is centered around the fact that there ARE aliens and monsters and ghosts... it makes you a little dumb) and even that worked to her favor occasionally.

9. Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City
Never saw it, know what it's about, will concede the point here.

6. Rachel Green from Friends
Terrible character. She was helpless, weak, pathetic and were she not attractive would have never been liked by anyone. Full points to Cass and may God have mercy on her soul.

3. Buffy from Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Depends on if we're talking the movie or series. In the movie, she starts out a worthless airhead and only later redeems herself (somewhat) and I'd give you half credit for. If we're talking the Joss Whedon series, no cred for you full credit to Buffy. She's incredibly capable, strong, needs no man, and kicks some serious butt. But then again, she's a Joss Whedon heroine. Meaning she's hot but eminently capable. They're all pretty identical that way.

Posted by: MikeD at June 2, 2010 12:46 PM

WHEW... got that done. So in summation. I went through all the women on the list (if I missed one, it's because I didn't know it was a woman and never saw the item in question), and most of them are strong, capable, better than most men stereotype women.

Some of them are also absolutely awful role models. What's this mean? Only that both you and the stereotype are right. Hollywood does TEND to portray strong, smart, hypercapable womyn. And Hollywood also puts out female characters you'd never, EVER want to have your daughter act like. But yeah, most guys on that list are the strong, hypercapable hero types. But then again, I've only really noticed the "buffoonish, stupid, weak man who needs a woman to hold his hand for him" is mostly in sitcoms or commercials. Men don't go to movies where they're portrayed as such.

Posted by: MikeD at June 2, 2010 12:51 PM

Mike,
Going to have to disagree with you on Sarah Connor being maternal. She's anything but.

When John rescues her, she doesn't hug him, she checks him for injuries like you would a dog and berates him for being foolish and sentimental. Strong and independent, yes in spades. Maternal, not so much.

And from what I've been told about Buffy in the series(I haven't seen it but I have friends who are big fans): she *is* a ditz, but Whedon playes it as a subversion of the standard ditz trope.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at June 2, 2010 01:07 PM

I'm hoping the new Robin Hood series of films becomes extremely influential among men, at least.

What about Boss Spearman?

Posted by: Grim at June 2, 2010 01:10 PM

When John rescues her, she doesn't hug him, she checks him for injuries like you would a dog and berates him for being foolish and sentimental. Strong and independent, yes in spades. Maternal, not so much.

Eh. Your mileage may vary, but I don't see it that way. She's "Hollywood Maternal". She's going on and on about how only women create life and men just destroy it. Blah blah blah.

And checking him for injuries before hugging him after a gunfight doesn't strike me as un-maternal. It's more "competent" than "maternal" perhaps, but it if she's checking him for wounds I'd hardly think of that as un-maternal.

Posted by: MikeD at June 2, 2010 01:20 PM

Oh, and if you liked Harry Potter, pick up the Percy Jackson series of books (Yes, I had it pegged in the young adult fiction ghetto when I first heard about it, but it really is quite good). You'll get "heroic role model" types in both male and female variaties (yes, that's plural).

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at June 2, 2010 01:25 PM

A female perspective on the Connor character.

Women who are forced into survival situations often become pretty ruthless and emotionally cold. They can't afford to indulge their softer side.

I think her behavior *was* maternal - it's just that in an environment where her son was facing overwhelming odds, he didn't need a soft form of mothering - he needed a lioness who would die before letting anything happen to him.

Posted by: Cass at June 2, 2010 01:29 PM

But yeah, most guys on that list are the strong, hypercapable hero types. But then again, I've only really noticed the "buffoonish, stupid, weak man who needs a woman to hold his hand for him" is mostly in sitcoms or commercials. Men don't go to movies where they're portrayed as such.

I think grown men don't tend to, but young men and boys like the "Dude, where's my car" school of cinema.

OK, I took a stab at the male characters. Maybe you all can correct/fill in the gaps:

100. Tim Riggins from Friday Night Lights – waste of oxygen - weak
96. Bernie Mac from The Bernie Mac Show
94. Truman from The Truman Show – the hero as everyman
93. Game Boys: Nathan Drake from the Uncharted series; Kratos from the God of War series; and Niko Bellic from Grand Theft Auto IV – assuming antiheroes?
92. Christopher Boone from The Curious Incident of the Dog in Night-Time
91. Hancock from Hancock – bizarre antihero
89. Wikus van de Merwe from District 9
88. Napoleon Dynamite from Napoleon Dynamite – underdog triumphs
87. Tony Stark from the Iron Man series – smart, flawed hero
85. Daniel Plainview from There Will Be Blood – no idea
84. Dr. Gregory House from House, M.D. – smart but flawed hero
76. Tyler Durden from Fight Club
75. David Brent from The Office (original version) -
74. Don Draper from Mad Men – smart, strong, villain-ish
71. Det. Alonzo Harris from Training Day - villain
67. Borat from Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan - buffoon
64. Maximus from Gladiator – classic male hero role
63. John Locke from Lost
62. Jimmy Corrigan from Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth
61. Vic Mackey from The Shield

59. Master Chief from the Halo series – no idea
57. Clayton Bigsby from Chappelle’s Show – no idea
56. Barney Stinson from How I Met Your Mother – no idea
53. Edward Cullen from the Twilight saga – romantic hero
51. Omar Little from The Wire – didn’t see it
48. Red from The Shawshank Redemption – mentor, smart/strong
46. Jerry Maguire from Jerry Maguire
45. Stewie Griffin from Family Guy – smart but sinister
44. Jack Bauer from 24 – action hero – smart/strong
41. Harold and Kumar from the Harold & Kumar series
40. Ron Burgundy from Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy – didn’t see it.
39. Gob Bluth from Arrested Development – Huh?
38. Elmo from Sesame Street – lovable and cuddly
37. Keyser Söze from The Usual Suspects - villain, but smart/strong
36. Gollum from The Lord of the Rings – clever villain
35. Dexter Morgan from Dexter – no clue
32. Beavis and Butt-Head from Beavis and Butt-Head - buffoons
31. Forrest Gump from Forrest Gump. Hero whose personal qualities make up for lack of intellectual heft.
30. “Stephen Colbert” from The Colbert Report. Smart, funny, bit of a jerk.
29. Vincent Vega and Jules Winnfield from Pulp Fiction – assuming these are anti-heros. Couldn’t finish the film.
27. Frasier from Frasier- smart but neurotic. Still, a good person.
26. Kavalier and Clay from The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay – no idea
25. Woody from the Toy Story series – leader, underdog
23. Austin Powers from the Austin Powers series – likable buffoon
22. Eric Cartman from South Park – smart buffoon
19. Morpheus from The Matrix series – smart/strong/capable
15. Shrek from the Shrek series - hero
14. Jeff “The Dude” Lebowski from The Big Lebowski
13. Jack Sparrow from the Pirates of the Caribbean series – smart/strong/capable
12. Fox Mulder and Dana Scully from The X-Files – smart/strong/capable hero
11. Cosmo Kramer from Seinfeld - buffoon
10. SpongeBob SquarePants from SpongeBob SquarePants - buffoon
8. Hannibal Lecter from The Silence of the Lambs and its sequels - villain with no redeeming qualities, but smart/strong
7. Edward Scissorhands from Edward Scissorhands
5. The Joker from The Dark Knight – villain with no redeeming qualities, but smart/strong
4. Tony Soprano from The Sopranos - smart, capable, and pretty much immoral
2. Harry Potter from the Harry Potter series – hero.
1. Homer Simpson from The Simpsons – buffoon.


I see 3 main "types":

The hero
The anti-hero/villain
The buffoon or clown

The women seem to me to have far fewer heroes, a fair number of villains/bitches, and the female equivalent of the buffoon: the ditzy character who can't seem to keep her legs shut.

Posted by: Cass at June 2, 2010 01:33 PM

She's "Hollywood Maternal". She's going on and on about how only women create life and men just destroy it.

Gender feminism != maternal.

And checking him for injuries before hugging him

The thing is, she doesn't hug him after that either. She never embraces him at all. Ever. The script actually makes a rather big deal about that point (scroll to section 81C). There's a job to do, feelings are irelevent. She's actually quite *male* in that regard.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at June 2, 2010 01:35 PM

Well, The Bride is a traditionally male archetype too -- her maternal 'feelings' are grafted onto a Sonny Chiba character (which is why Sonny Chiba turns up in that cameo as the swordsmith).

Hollywood hasn't done a very good job of figuring out how to write female heroes who aren't male heroes in skirts. There are feminine villain types, but they seem to have abandoned the traditional female heroine (e.g., Sophia Lauren in El Cid) without knowing what they want to say instead.

Posted by: Grim at June 2, 2010 02:00 PM

I think the Leigh Anne Tuohy character in "The Blind Side" was a step in the right direction.

Posted by: Craig at June 2, 2010 02:10 PM

Buffy a ditz? In the movie, yes, but not in the TV series (in a few episodes she's rendered a ditz by a spell or poison.) In the TV series, Cordelia is a ditzy drama queen for most of the first two years, but gets her head straightened out by the time she moves to L.A. in Angel. Fred(erica) in Angel is another Joss hero-woman; Harmony, also in both series, is a ditzy clown.

Posted by: htom at June 2, 2010 02:30 PM

I think I must have seen one of the ditzy episodes! Admittedly I'm not a fan so I'm willing to take your word for it :)

FWIW, Craig, my husband read The Blind Side and *really* enjoyed it. He's a huge football fan - played both offense and defense in HS, and he said he learned things about the sport that he didn't know. He really recommends it. Easy read and informative as well.

Posted by: Cass at June 2, 2010 02:34 PM

Hollywood hasn't done a very good job of figuring out how to write female heroes who aren't male heroes in skirts.

This goes back to what I said in a long ago post about courage being widely considered a masculine virtue.

I think women have their own brand of courage. It is quieter. O-Lan in The Good Earth is a female character I've always found admirable.

Posted by: Cass at June 2, 2010 02:36 PM

Where's 'Ripley' (Sigourney Weaver) from "Aliens"?

If she wasn't a ' celluloid hero', who was?

What about Forrest Gump? Didn't he save Leutenant Dan (Gary Sinise), twice? He carried him out of the firefight and then saved his soul later. Even though the movie was more than a bit .....corny?

Spongebob Squarepants?
Napolean Dynamite?

I can't beleive I am spending time commenting on this. :)

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at June 2, 2010 02:40 PM

I think the Leigh Anne Tuohy character in "The Blind Side" was a step in the right direction.

I think Leigh Anne Tuohy *not* in The Blind Side had a lot to do with that. :-)

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at June 2, 2010 02:44 PM

FWIW, Craig, my husband read The Blind Side and *really* enjoyed it.

I saw the movie and read the book just a couple of weeks ago myself. It was a really good book, but it's tone is far different than the movie. The book is far more of a football book with the Tuohy's/Oher as supporting background while the movie is a personal drama with football as a supporting background.

Both are well worth your time but they do have different tones.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at June 2, 2010 02:51 PM

The book is far more of a football book with the Tuohy's/Oher as supporting background while the movie is a personal drama with football as a supporting background.

That's exactly what the spouse said.

Posted by: Cass at June 2, 2010 03:18 PM

Alas, I pay so little attention to popular culture that there are only about 20 on either list that I could dare comment on. That's what I get for spending too much time reading. Too bad they didn't go back a little farther to "Hill Street Blues," "Star Wars," "Silverado" and some things that I am familiar with. [flounces her skirts and returns to researching water laws]

Posted by: LittleRed1 at June 2, 2010 03:21 PM

"I always have to leave the room when sitcom characters beclown themselves."

My wife cracks up every time I do this. She cannot understand how I can watch guys beat the heck out of each other in war movies but can't stand to watch sitcom characters beclown themselves.

Posted by: Russ at June 2, 2010 03:28 PM

96. Bernie Mac from The Bernie Mac Show
91. Hancock from Hancock
90. Marge Gunderson from Fargo
88. Napoleon Dynamite from Napoleon Dynamite
87. Tony Stark from the Iron Man series
83. Jen Yu from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
64. Maximus from Gladiator
37. Keyser Söze from The Usual Suspects
36. Gollum from The Lord of the Rings
33. Sarah Connor from Terminator 2: Judgment Day
29. Vincent Vega and Jules Winnfield from Pulp Fiction
14. Jeff “The Dude” Lebowski from The Big Lebowski
12. Fox Mulder and Dana Scully from The X-Files
The characters listed above I know, either from having watched them on TV, or when the movie(s) came to TV, or in the case of Iron Man, from my days in the 50's and early sixties when I read almost all of the Marvel and DC comic books I could acquire.

The rest I've either not heard of, or heard of by way of conversations with others.

Have I missed much while my back has been turned to pop culture? I'd suspect not.

That said, call me a throwback, give me a 500 gallon martini and isolate me out back with a to-do list, but my heroes have always been real people who did real things. And when I exited my teenage years, athletes dropped from the list of heroes too.

BTW, can I have a straw with that martini? Oxygenates the blood-alcohol more thoroughly ya know... =8^}

Posted by: bthun at June 2, 2010 04:02 PM

I tend to watch forensics shows, so the female characters I'm most familiar with are Kate and Ziva from NCIS, Deputy Chief Johnson from The Closer, Dr. Brennan from Bones, and Catherine from CSI. They're only faintly maternal, if at all, but they're heroines that suit me fine. I also liked Angelina Jolie in Mr. & Mrs. Smith and Ripley from the Alien movies, and Sarah Connor. And -- I really hate to admit this -- Demi Moore in G.I. Jane. I'm not trying to claim it was a good movie or authentic in any way. I don't care. Feel free to revile!

Posted by: Texan99 at June 2, 2010 05:31 PM

One of the heroines not mentioned, but deserving of some recognition is Éowyn, the niece of King Théoden, in "The Return of the King" (LOTR trilogy). She disguised herself as a man and travelled with the Riders of Rohan to the Battle of Minas Tirith in Gondor.

During the battle she confronted the Witch-king of Angmar, Lord of the Nazgûl, after Théoden was injured. The Witch-king threatened her and boasted "No living man may hinder me," referring to the 1,000-year-old prophecy foretelling that the Witch-king would not fall "by the hand of man".

Éowyn then removed her helmet and declared:
"But no living man am I! You look upon a woman. Éowyn I am, Éomund’s daughter. You stand between me and my lord and king. Begone, if you be not deathless! For living or dark undead, I will smite you, if you touch him." AND SHE DID!

To me that was one of the highlights of the movie.
Éowyn was strong (could pick up a fully armored hobbit with one hand on a galloping horse), courageous (could kill Orcs), tough minded (not beguiled by the smooth talking 'Worm-tongue'), and clearly a "royal" leader in her own right.

Posted by: ziobuck at June 2, 2010 08:20 PM

A highlight of the movie? Not that. It was Tolkien who gave us that.

"Come not between the Nazgul and his prey! Or he will not slay thee in thy turn. He will bear thee away to the houses of lamentation, beyond all darkness, where thy flesh shall be devoured, and thy shrivelled mind be left naked to the Lidless Eye."

A sword rang as it was drawn. "Do what you will; but I will hinder it, if I may... no living man am I! You look upon a woman. Eowyn I am, Eomund's daughter. You stand between me and my lord and kin. Begone, if you be not deathless! For living or dark undead, I will smite you, if you touch him."

The winged creature screamed at her, but the Ringwraith made no answer, and was silent, as if in sudden doubt.... Out of the wreck rose the Black Rider, tall and threatening, towering above her. With a cry of hatred that stung the very ears like venom he let fall his mace. Her shield was shivered in many pieces, and her arm was broken; she stumbled to her knees. He bent over her like a cloud, and his eyes glittered; he raised his mace to kill.

And did not, for Merry and Eowyn; but this is no miracle of Hollywood. They would never have dreamed it.

Look over the language again. Look for alliteration. The heroic poetry of the Old Norse and Old English, to which Tolkien gave his life's work, that poetry alliterates: it does not rhyme. What you have here is an epic poem, hidden in a novel.

Hollywood does not know what it wants to say about women as heroes. Tolkien knew what he wanted to say. The world would do well to hear him. Galadriel!

Posted by: Grim at June 2, 2010 09:49 PM

As much as I enjoyed the movies (I have them on CD) I know the books so well that every time a word was changed in some favorite passage, it bothered me.

It's a testament to how well they were done that it didn't bother me that much. One of my favorite parts of the book was when Faramir and Eowyn were recovering and fell in love. They really gave that part short shrift in the movie and it's a shame.

Speaking of alliteration:

Forth, and fear no darkness!
Arise! Arise, Riders of Theoden!
Spears shall be shaken,
shields shall be splintered!
A sword day... a red day...
ere the sun rises!

Posted by: Cass at June 2, 2010 10:07 PM

Do you have the theatrical release versions or the extended special editions? They are able to expand on several story points in those (even longer, 2-DVD) versions. I have the boxed set... Yeah, I'm a big nerd.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at June 2, 2010 10:52 PM

+10 on Eowyn.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at June 2, 2010 11:13 PM

I have to say I haven't seen enough of those movies/TV shows etc. to comment individually on each one, but I am left with the impression that the people that write for Entertainment Weekly are pretty vapid...

Posted by: Pogue at June 3, 2010 12:36 AM

My wife cracks up every time I do this. She cannot understand how I can watch guys beat the heck out of each other in war movies but can't stand to watch sitcom characters beclown themselves.

I am much the same. I do NOT like sitcoms or movies that focus on laughing at how foolish and inept the characters are. There are exceptions (a notable one that comes to mind is Zoolander; while it's mindless entertainment it does not make me uncomfortable for some reason... if I had to guess I'd say it's because it's SO over the top), but almost universally I over-empathize with the character and cannot watch.

Posted by: MikeD at June 3, 2010 10:24 AM

I have to agree with Pogue. It shocks my sisters sometimes with how "out of touch" I am with much of today's pop culture.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at June 3, 2010 05:49 PM

Jack Bauer is a Democrat.

The Demoncrats might as well have won when the people that are supposed to be "ruling America" can't even distinguish truth from illusion or illusion from truth.

Posted by: Ymarsaka at June 4, 2010 12:02 PM

I always have to leave the room when sitcom characters beclown themselves.

That's a pretty good trick that you can do it for cartoon characters.

A good male role model is Simon in Firefly. He's got issues, namely cause he lacks offensive power (He's not terribly good at killing or fighting). But, as his background was more fleshed out in Serenity, so was his relationship reinforced. Simon becomes less of the over protective big brother and more a person who knows what he gave up, and did so gladly for those that he loved and needed to protect.

Of course, Jayne (and his town) is really good at fighting but he lacks all the redeeming values of a Simon. So contrasted with Simon, Simon tends to look much more sympathetic and core/integral.

Zoe is also a strong character, partnered with Wash, the slightly geeky and mostly off the beaten tracks, pilot. She sort of melds the issues of femininity, marriage, with military discipline and appearances. It wasn't focused on in depth, but what material there was, came out pretty coherent and valuable.

Honoka of The Third, is an interesting female leader. Aware of personal boundaries, dedicated to a nomad's life with few connections to a fixed location or people, and seeking the beautiful amongst the desert. Exemplified in poems quoted under star light, which were some of the best narrative devices around to communicate mood and serenity. She also tends to be confident and calm-assured. Normally, things that you would expect people to be in angst about (wangst), she is perfectly calm about. On the surface. Below, she could be feeling many things, but so long as she knows she can handle the situation externally, she does not allow internal emotions to dictate her actions or behavior. Alphas have many resources under their belts. It's why they can calmly face a machine gun pointed in their direction, walk in front of it, and jokingly convince the operator that he's not going to succeed in suicide by Honoka with those threats. It's not because she's invulnerable to bullets. It's because, as she said, it works better to threaten people with a gun, when your gun has ammo in it.

Dhianella and Age in Heroic Age, typify two stereotypes in leadership or hierarchy-rank. Both are high caste and high rank. Yet one is certain about the path that will be taken and the other is uncertain. While various different people on different planets with different socio-economic systems would trust in Dhianella, none would trust in Age. Yet it is Age that Dhianella draws her strength from. It would have made for a Legend of Galactic Heroes kind of political machination if both had dedicated loyalists that didn't see eye to eye over some things and both leaders had to smooth things over in order for a proper alliance to be conducted for mutual benefit (and survival). But, Heroic Age isn't that complex nor long enough to make that plot well done. The relationships become simpler, yet more pure at the same time.


Oz Vessalius of Pandora Hearts is another good leader. He's young, inexperienced, and has some issues dealing with personal and family matters. But he gets it right where it counts everywhere else. He was given a servant at a young age, another child to play with, essentially. Yet, unlike most other kids his age, he didn't become insecure with a stranger in the house, he didn't become abusive, he didn't judge himself in any way superior because he was the Master and this other kid his Servant.

Instead, Oz of the noble house Vessalius intuitively understood that, no matter the cost in blood or pain, his duty as the leader was to protect his servant. Oz has a little golden haired sister following him around while he leads his small group of loyal followers to distant horizons and new adventures. She submits to the authority of her older brother because she trusts him. Never to harm, never to be made afraid, never to be used or abused simply because her brother had a bad day. She sees the world made anew by following where he stepped. In some ways, Oz's issues are the reason why he has a fatal weakness, yet is unlike any other weakness we often see in proud or arrogant or high status individuals. Oz's problem is that he accepts death too readily. And thus he devotes his life to others, because he has already given up hope for much of it himself. It is the ultimate trait of those who survived in bad situations and of the samurai caste of ancient Japan. To accept whatever horror, pain, or disaster was happening right before you as real, as ineradicable. Death became a simple statistic or fact, neither feared nor avoided. For survivors, they sometimes had to cut off their own arms or legs in order to live, because living was the solution they sought. To be resilient, they had to accept the situation as it was and not go into fantasies, nor waste energy becoming mad, sad, or something else.

The mind of no mind.

Seirei no Moribito: Balsa and Chagum are interesting contrasts in status and personalities. Socially, Balsa is pretty low compared to Chagum. Yet concerning individual wisdom, maturity, and strength of will/prowess, Balsa is at the upper echelons of human ability while Chagum is starting at the point all children start at (mostly zip). Chagum, thus, gets pretty much tired of always being protected, secluded from the world, and thus wants power for himself. Well, that's what the instincts of all young men have, one way or another, shown itself. The interesting part is how he goes about it. Instead of what you usually see in the fictional worlds of Hollywood, the young, insecure, and immature individual doesn't seek power or "respect" by abusing others or making them weak and in his thrall. Instead, Chagum becomes strong by making himself stronger. And to do that, he emulates a vision of strength he has had with him for awhile: Balsa.

Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion + R2: Lelouch is the primary teenage leader here. You won't know whether he is in reality a megalomaniac or the salvation of his followers until the 2nd of the last season (R2). The ride, however, is worth the trip as it contains multiple roller coasters all going over and under each other and you don't know which one you are in cause there's no time to remember when you stopped. Sometimes this makes you feel sick, yes. Sometimes it is exhilarating. And other times, it is peaceful. Sad. Nostalgic. Code Geass hits all the high and low points. It also is about a guerilla movement fighting off an oppressive Empire. Good for the times, but not artificially created with a political goal in mind. Which is always nice if you have studied propaganda and can respect the artistic work of people who respect your own abilities enough not to try to bamboozle you with dreck fit for the masses.

Stellvia of the Universe: Chick crack for a versatile and general definition. The various characters and their inter-personal dramas all would fit under that definition. Still, it has a lot of other things going for it. It's certainly made with a female perspective in mind, which is why I can't easily digest the character traits and output them. On the other hand, that is probably also due to the fact that there are so many characters there. To go with the main character,

Shima Katase. She's starting school. In a space station. A Foundation (Stellvia). One of numerous other Foundations, designed to protect the entire solar system from the cosmic wave and blast front of a nearby super nova that had laid waste to the planet Earth a few odd centuries before. The school will graduate her as the next generation for the Great Work that the Foundations exist for.

The Foundation Stellvia has the duty of being the shield for planet Earth.

And so begins Shima Katase's journey amongst friends and rivals, who will eventually all be pitted against a power from the universe itself. So she has boyfriend problems. Then she has test problems. Then she has personal confidence issues. See what I'm talking about? Issues, drama, and so forth.

She is neither a high status leader that is full of calm assurance as the other leaders mentioned before, nor can she in particular be called a "leader" in the true sense. What she is is an ordinary person, mostly, that has to deal with some normal and some beyond normal issues. She is easy to relate to for a certain broad portion of the audience. Even males who don't have the "boyfriend" problem, will find her issues with rivals in a sport setting familiar. Her need to win and demonstrate her prowess in the school sport competitions is just as fierce as any other young man playing sports. None of this "no touch dodge ball" we have in some schools infested by Leftist politik.

I could never watch people in embarrassing social or romantic situations. Before, it was simply an uncomfortable feeling, a sort of helplessness that is triggered by stimuli that one can't fix. Now, I actually know what they are doing, how they are manipulating emotions, and I like it even less now.

And if they show a violent encounter, it's probably even worse now. Because not only do I despise Hollywood's version of "violence", but everything they do is both hypocritical as well as instilling an uncontrollable and unholy terror in the audience concerning guns and crime. A terror that people cannot control, because the solution (arming themselves with good and safe training) is something Hollywood will not permit. (Only their bodyguards get that kind of stuff, I guess)

After all, Obama did say that your life, your very existence, up to and including your death, will be the government's to decide for the benefit of all. In the name of Social Justice and equality. They could just as easily make that existence into one full of terror as one full of goodies.


Psychologically, it makes a difference whether you see yourself as the one that is doing the violence or the one that has violence being done on them.

Imagine a person that is being held up against the wall and choked.

Now imagine that you are the one choking that person. Most people, you see, imagine themselves being choked, because the "victim" mentality, one of passive acceptance, is inculcated by Urban and Developed Civilizations as a form of social control.

Conservatives serve a good social purpose because they have a vested interest in fighting this "social control".

Posted by: Ymarsakar at June 4, 2010 01:02 PM

What's this mean? Only that both you and the stereotype are right. Hollywood does TEND to portray strong, smart, hypercapable womyn. And Hollywood also puts out female characters you'd never, EVER want to have your daughter act like. But yeah, most guys on that list are the strong, hypercapable hero types.

Balance in life requires more than simply strength. The government is strong, yet does that make it just, wise, or virtuous? No, of course not. Only a Leftist would think truth equates to power or control.

Hypercapable is also a Hollywood myth. Nobody is capable of doing what requires more than two people. That includes procreation, regardless of whether it is artificial or not. It still takes more than one person. Almost everything advanced in human civilization takes 2 or more people to make it work.

"Hyper-capable" is a myth disseminated in order to more easily convince people that a Messiah, like Obama, can solve their problems because he is "hyper-capable". The fact that this makes the populace more readily agreeable to dictatorship and tyranny, may not have been a "fluke".

Posted by: Ymarsakar at June 4, 2010 01:12 PM

Empathy. It can be cross connected back to Cassandra's post on the subject.

Becoming stronger, individually, is never a bad idea. But it is also not enough. To fight the enemies that must be fought. To destroy the barriers that must be destroyed. To overcome whatever life, Murphy, or fell darkness decrees, requires more than simply strength.

No matter how strong a man or woman is, they are mortal. Their works will be gone the moment they themselves leave this plane of existence. And because they are mortal, they can be taken away by a mere accident. A rifle carelessly handled and discharged into the heart of what could have been the greatest commander of the early 21st century. A crossbow, carelessly slung across a soldier's shoulder, misfiring and piercing the lungs of the army's commander. Their best hope of preserving their nation. All lost. All gone to ashes.

Human beings are frail and mortal. No matter how much you work at it, no matter how strong you become, you will never surpass that genkai, that limitation. You cannot become a God. And thus you must look for other ways to accomplish the same end, using different methods.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at June 4, 2010 01:23 PM

This goes back to what I said in a long ago post about courage being widely considered a masculine virtue.

I seriously doubt Hollywood is capable of producing a real moment of courage. They'd have to have the real thing in order to make an illusion out of it on stage.

If Gary Sinise was in charge of Hollywood, maybe. But then again, he isn't.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at June 4, 2010 01:29 PM

Btw, the reason why some Leftist entertainment street scrubbers fear nuclear power plants so much, including nuclear weapons, is because they loved the Simpsons so much that they started believing all nuclear technology was operated by Homer Simpsons.

That, of course, could frighten anybody. Not just a Leftist.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at June 4, 2010 01:45 PM

Where is "McDreamy" in that pop culture list? Quite a few people who don't watch Grey's Anatomy still know who's being referred to when that name is mentioned. The McDreamy character -- Derek Shepherd played by Patrick Dempsey -- should AT LEAST be there before Tim Riggins.

Posted by: LilMissIndie at June 7, 2010 08:33 PM

Hypercapable is also a Hollywood myth.

Yes, because Achilles, Hercules, Odysseus, Beowulf, et al didn't exist until after Hollywood created them. /sarc

The hypercapable hero is as old as story itself. And it will continue for so long as stories are told: Hollywood or no Hollywood.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at June 8, 2010 10:09 AM

Post a comment

To reduce comment spam, comments on older posts are put into moderation 5 days after the last activity. Comments with more than one link also go into moderation. If you don't see your comment after posting it, try refreshing the screen. If you still don't see it, your comment is probably in the moderation queue.




Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)