Girls Want to Save the Day Too – Part 2

 

 

No post yesterday….I’m going to say it was in protest of SOPA.

Yep. Totally in protest of SOPA.

*ahem*

So, continuing my feminist rant…

It’s best to read that post before reading this one, otherwise you’ll most likely be completely lost.

Let’s go back to Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows for a moment.

Game of Shadows has three active female characters in the whole movie.

Let’s take apart their motivations and actions (not personality).

Simza: Gypsy woman who joins and helps Sherlock and Watson by sharing information, giving them passage to enemy territory and getting them out of danger, all for the sake of finding and saving her brother. She was only in London in order to find her brother.  Once she was part of the anarchist movement, but left it when it got dangerous. Her only motivation at this point is finding and rescuing her brother, and I doubt she is interested in stopping a war or stopping Moriarty (though to be fair, she has no reason to care…that’s where I think the writers could change it and give her something more, expanding her role).

Mary: Well, though at the end she seemed very happy to be part of taking Moriarty down, her primary motivations is to hear from and see her new husband. She’s a tough cookie and protects herself and her husband when danger arises, but other than that, she has no other goals or desires. If it weren’t for her husband, she wouldn’t even be in this mess.

Irene Adler: She’s very special to me, and not because she shares the same name as my mother, but because she had the potential to be the female version of Sherlock Holmes. In fact, the reason she’s in the movies at all is that in the stories she is one of the extremely few and probably the only woman to ever outwit Sherlock Holmes. She is also the only woman Holmes acknowledged and showed interest in, which is a big deal since Holmes practically hated women (he saw them as a distraction).

In the first movie, Adler was awesome because still, she could outsmart Holmes, like when she drugged him, and this put her on the same level as him.

BUT they ruined it by making her not only a Love Interest but by also cheapening her character by making her a bit selfish and a criminal.  She was only interested in money, her job with Moriarty ….and okay interested in Holmes as well. Her role revolved around these two men and money and that was it.

In the second movie, well those who watched the movie know what happened with her.

And while it was great for the plot and for Holmes’ character development, for Adler and her role in the story it was…well limited and not at all living up to her true potential.

Often you will find female characters in these types of movies where their motivation lies strictly with money and survival. This is a trick. It makes it seem like they are strong, independent women, but that’s not equality. Why is it that for a woman to be seen as strong and smart, she has to lower her moral standards? This is not equality. I call it a trick because it fakes it. It looks as if they are strong and equal to men, but not really because they had to sacrifice something in order to get there and that’s not how it works or rather, not how it should work.

 

~~~~

 

So, how should it work? What is it that I’m looking for?

Well, to be very clear, this has little to do with the characters itself and her personality, and more about her behavior, motivations and role in the plot.

What she does, why she does it and how it influences the plot.

Take for example….

Claudia from Interview of the Vampire: Kills Lestat in order to be free, completely changing her life, Louis’ life and the plot from then onwards. She didn’t do it for Louis. She did it for her own desire to be free and get closer to know the truth about her kind and also the fact Lestat pretty much ruined her life. This she shared with Louis. They were equals, wanting the same thing (though with different ideas on how to get it). But her role is not the Hateful Bitch, because once Lestat was gone, her story didn’t finish. She didn’t dedicate her life for vengeance. He was just a temporary obstacle.

Lyra from The Golden Compass: She almost enters the realm of the Selfish Bitch (kind of hard to call her a bitch when she’s so young, so don’t take the title too literally), but she’s a kid. She lies to get what she wants, but she still has strong moral character. She also has a strong desire for adventure. She wants to find the truth of everything that is happening and wants to rescue her friends.  She is interested in the secrets of the compass, and to right wrongs. She also wants to find her father, but it’s not her sole motivation for everything she does. Being the main character, this might seem like obvious behavior, but her character is still very rare, which is why I love her so much.

In my opinion, the movies where female characters shine the most brilliantly and play roles truly equal to men are those with both female protagonists and female antagonists.

One of the best examples is Hayao Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke.

There are many characters in this movie. The best part is that for every male character, there was almost always a female counterpart. This could definitely be one of those rare movies where the female and male roles are equally distributed 50/50.

And this is also proof that just because a character is secondary doesn’t mean they have to fall into standard roles.

Without giving the entire movie away, Princess Mononoke is about a boy, Ashitaka, who finds himself caught between two worlds: the natural world and the industrial world.

He is also caught between two women (not romantically), who represent each world.

The movie has several named female characters with important roles, but I want to talk about the most important ones, San and Lady Eboshi.

San: A young girl, raised by a wolf-god mother (another very awesome female character with a very important role) and her pups, San wants to protect her forest and all the animals from the humans who are tearing it down. She fights for herself, her home and her family. Even after she falls in love, she doesn’t fall into any role and doesn’t change her values just because of him. In fact, she even attacks him after he rescues her sworn enemy.

Lady Eboshi: Leader and (I believe) founder of Iron Town, a city built on the edge of the forest known for its iron.  The city is practically run by women Eboshi took from the streets as prostitutes and gave them real jobs, a real future. She also took in lepers and takes care of them.  Despite her coldhearted way of killing the forest gods and cutting down the trees, her motivations are strictly practical. She’s not evil, but is simply defending her way of life just as San is defending hers.

Ashitaka is caught up between these two women who want to kill each other, but he doesn’t hate either. In fact, he understands them both and even though he falls for San, he still protects Eboshi, even when she nearly kills them all.

In other words, all three of them are equal, not one dependent solely on the actions of the other.

Watch the movie to see what I mean. It’s amazing.

 

~~~

 

Basically, it all comes down to equality.

That’s what I want.

This whole rant sparked inside of me years ago and it always comes back to the surface of my mind the same way.

I’m sitting in the movie theater, watching a kickass movie. One time, it was Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest. And I remember, after watching it for the third time, thinking:

“Why is it that I want to be more like Jack Sparrow than I wanted to be Elizabeth?”

 

This has happened to me again and again. My role models were all men.

Sherlock Holmes.

Jack Sparrow.

Iron Man.

Luke Skywalker.

Jesus.

Buddha.

(Oh Yes, I went there).

So this is the point of these posts.

I want more characters like them that are female.

A character like Sherlock Holmes, but female.

A character like Jack Sparrow, but female.

A character like Morpheus or Neo from The Matrix, but female.

A character like Jesus or Buddha, but female.

(YES I WENT THERE)

This would be TRUE equality.

Just because you give the girl a black belt in kicking ass, give her a large gun or make her sneaky, that doesn’t mean she’s equal to the guy right beside her who’s saving the goddamn world!

Thank you!

*drops mike, walks off stage*

 

What about you? Agree? Disagree?  Anything else to add?

Also, if anyone has any great recommendations of books, movies or graphic novels where female characters truly shine, please let me know in the comments. Lately, I’ve been running dry.

 

 

*Also, please forgive the religious cameos. I know they might have been or were real people and this post is about fantasy/scifi fiction, but please don’t take offense.  Not having a religious or spiritual female icon to look up is just as frustrating as everything else I mentioned and that’s why I included them. If you were insulted by their mention, I’m very sorry.

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Girls Want to Save the Day Too – Part 1

In the comments of the last post regarding the Sherlock Holmes 2 movie, I got caught up in a discussion about the female roles in the movie and whether or not they were important or not.

I believed that, while Simza was cool, she wasn’t as important as she could have been. Though she was important, I thought she wasn’t important enough.

Though all the female characters in that movie were fleshed out and characterized very well (and thus we have come a LONG way from when women first appeared in action movies), I want more.

This conversation sparked inside me a rant that has been inside me for a long time. I could probably write ten posts about it. Here’s one with a second post on the way.

It has to do about the roles female characters play in most fantasy or scifi action movies.

In most of these films (not all, but most or at least the ones I noticed), female characters fall into the same type of supporting roles over and over again. Fleshed out or not fleshed out. Kick ass or not kick ass.

A lot of these characters I really loved anyways. But again. I want more. I want something else in addition to this.

Here are some of the main roles I noticed:

The Love Interest – the person or thing that needs to be saved or protected and basically the main personal motivation for the male protagonist’s  actions, other than to save the day.

Examples: Trinity from The Matrix, the girl from Transformers 2, M.J. from Spider-Man, Elizabeth from Pirates of the Caribbean.

The Rescuer/Protector – the protector of someone they cherish: a child, a mentor/father, a lover/husband, usually male but not always.

Examples:  Arwen and Eowyn from LOTR (I know I said I love them and they are awesome, but again, their motivations were all because of a male figure in their lives), Trinity from The Matrix (yup, she’s both: Neo’s Love Interest and Neo’s protector. She’s there for his sake, either to be his motivation or his support), Simza from Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows (she’s there for her brother).

The Selfish Bitch – usually a thief or criminal whose motivations are shallow and usually involving money. They are often coldhearted and /or unsympathetic to others.

Examples: Irene Adler (I’ll get more into her in the next post), Catwoman from the old Batman movies and cartoon show.

The Hateful Bitch – similar to the Selfish Bitch, but she has lost someone (a child, her whole family, a lover or husband, often a male but not always) and her actions are motivated  solely on making the person who hurt her, pay.  Or simply, they’ve been hurt or suffered trauma and now are cold hearted and unresponsive…until a man comes in and makes them whole again (*gags*) or not.

Examples: The girl from Underworld, the girl from 28 Days Later, Mystique from X-Men (and it hurts me to say this cause I LOVED her, but even if she was inspired by injustices to mutants, her main source of motivation was freaking Magneto and the second he turned on her, hurt her, she switched sides in order to hurt him), The Bride from Kill Bill.

The Stereotype – a character who has no fleshed out background, and is simply playing out a preset personality type.

Examples: The tomboy, fighter pilot girl from Avatar, Scarlet *I think that’s her name*from Iron Man, the girl from Ghost Rider (who also plays The Love Interest and The Girlfriend…god I hated her).

The Girlfriend – a character whose only source of motivation is to be with her man.

Examples: Bella from Twilight, Elizabeth from Pirates of the Caribbean, every single princess in every single Disney Princess Movie (even if it doesn’t start out that way, it ends up that way, but then again they are romances so it doesn’t really count or really matter).

There are more, most likely, but these are the ones I noticed the most. That doesn’t mean these characters were poor (well, some of them were) or the movies sexist or boring. I loved most of these movies. I’d watch them again. Some are really fleshed out and they really work. It has less to do with the characters themselves and all to do with the importance of their roles.

There’s nothing really wrong with them other than it sometimes feels like that’s all there is.

However, there are female characters who break these roles.  Characters I enjoy a bit more because they are so RARE. For example:

Claudia from Interview of the Vampire

The scientist lady from Avatar

Lyra from The Golden Compass

Most of Hayao Miyazaki’s female characters (except maybe Sophie from Howl’s Moving Castle, and Kushana from Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind…though only a little bit, because even though Kushana was hateful, she also loved the men under her charge and was motivated by that devotion as well as her own sense of pride. Miyazaki characters who especially broke the standard roles are San and Eboshi from Princess Mononoke, and Nausicaa from Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind).

The biggest difference between the characters that play the roles mentioned above and those who break them is that those who break them aren’t SOLELY motivated by a man or anyone else for that matter.

And most importantly, their roles matter a WHOLE lot more because they act the same way a male main character would act.

What does this mean?

Their motivations expand. They don’t just act for themselves or for romantic longing or for family devotion or a mother’s instinct (and in fact has nothing to do with another character at all) and more for their personal values and beliefs.

What I mean is….

They are champions of their own world.

THEY want to save the day, or learn the truth, or make a difference, or solve a puzzle, or escape fate, or defeat evil, or etc. That’s their primary focus.

They don’t support or rely on a man who wishes to do these things, or revolve their every action around the main male character’s actions, but act on their own in order to affect the world around them or, in this case, the plot—the most important thing.

She’s a leader.

She’s a hero. (And not the type in skin tight leather and six inch heels. Girls only wear that sort of thing to get the attention of guys or feel sexy/attractive…to guys. That kind of getup is uncomfortable, painful and demeaning).

She’s a detective.

She’s a problem solver.

She’s a doctor.

She is an independent thinker.

In the next post, I’ll take characters from popular movies and explain exactly why I believe they fall into redundant, less-important-than-they-could-be roles or break out of them and have stronger roles because of it, and what true gender equality in action genre films really looks like.

What do you think about  female roles in sci-fi/fantasy/action/adventure/genre/youknowhatimean stories?

Agree or do you think I’m being too much of a nitpick? Please, let me know in the comments.

 

BROMANCE: Why I LOVED Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows

 

 

Sorry for the lack of updates! I know, I know. I said I’d do better and I’m not actually showing it. This is a poor excuse, but I spent a great week with family off the island and sort of lost focus. I thought I could keep up the publishing schedule while on my short vacation, but it proved trickier than expected.

But now I’m back in the saddle and things should move more smoothly.

If not, feel free to troll the hell out of me in the comments.

So, what do I have for you today?

I have for you the topic of….BROMANCE!

Strangely enough, despite being a girl and a hopeless romantic at times, if I was at the bookstore or movie theater and had to choose between a romance (and an actually good one like Young Victoria or Moulin Rouge…okay that last one is kind of sappy, but I loved it anyways) and bromance action/adventure (like Supernatural and the recent Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows), I’d pick the bromance every time.

Speaking of Sherlock Holmes, that is why this is on my mind. I watched the movie twice and still completely overlook the lacking plot/mystery and little to no importance to the female characters.

Why?

Because the bromance between Sherlock Holmes and John Watson was EPIC.

Before watching, I heard some negative opinions regarding the movie, so I went to the theater with only one condition. I’ll love it as long as I got my Holmes/Watson fix.

I was not disappointed.

So what makes bromance so freaking appealing?

Well, generally, I have no clue. But for me personally…

Well…

Watching Two Attractive Men Fight, Play and Bond is Hot as Hell

What? I’m a healthy heterosexual woman. It’s like twice the fun than the usual one man action story. And while I know a lot of people like to take it further into writing fanfiction where the bromance turns into real romance, I prefer them straight. …Cause that means they’re still available to me. In my imagination anyways.  Leave me and my fantasies alone!

 

Friendship between Men is Rare

Men are tough, unemotional and completely clueless to their feelings. At least, that’s the stereotype. So to see male characters openly show affection for each other, without going completely gushy and sappy, is even more awesome because it’s rarely seen in real life and in even most stories. Of course, it’s all the rage in manga, which is probably why I love it so, and in genre fiction.

The Stakes Are Raised Dramatically  

In the Sherlock Holmes movies, Holmes and Watson’s bond is played out more obvious than would normally be allowed without getting too mushy thanks to Holmes eccentric personality. Since he’s a loner without any friends (which the writers made a point to mention and accentuate in the second movie), his affection and protectiveness for Watson feels more natural and also, at least in my case, I felt more involved because the stakes have been raised. Watson is not only Holmes best friend; he’s his ONLY friend, which makes him even more precious.

A little Spoilery from this point on…

 

But…

 

That is why in the first movie after the explosion in the middle of the movie and we see Holmes okay, the look on his face as he turned to see if Watson was okay and we don’t see what happened to Watson right away made me react strongly. I felt just as worried as Holmes did, and I loved it. And heck, I didn’t read the stories by then. I actually thought for a moment they really would kill off Watson.

In the second movie, their bond was accentuated even further than the first movie. Perhaps the writers figured out the movies strongest point was their friendship.

 

 

 

Again Spoiler Alert!!

 

 

 

In the beginning of the second movie, they killed off Adler right away. Then they showed Holmes and Watson doing what they do what they do best, arguing and getting into trouble (well, more like Holmes getting Watson into trouble) and then Watson’s wedding. Thus their bond is accentuated right away, but especially Holmes affection for Watson, though in his own eccentric and slightly selfish way.

So when we get to Moriarty directly threatening Watson’s life after Holmes is told of Adler’s fate, the stakes shoot up the roof. Who cares about the murders, explosions or a war between France and Germany – it’s the threat of Watson being killed just to hurt Holmes, who’s already hurting due to Adler’s death, and Holmes taking action to prevent all of this that keeps my butt glued to the chair and eyes on the screen. It becomes personal.

The train-fight action sequence is by far one of my favorite parts of the movie; with the chase scene and Holmes “death” scene on the other train coming in close second (though it was obvious Watson would use the adrenaline, so it wasn’t too suspenseful. I just loved their reactions).

Again the key word:  BROMANCE!

 

Spoilers Over.

…Well the worse ones anyways.

 

 

This is probably one of the reasons we rarely see genre action movies with strong, intelligent female characters with key roles in the plot.

Guys don’t identify with them and women don’t exactly mind watching hot male leads be…well hot male leads.

It’s why I didn’t really care so much that Adler wasn’t used and Simza barely played any role at all (and the role she did play was to save her brother, another male).

I was too distracted by Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law’s dynamic chemistry played out on the large screen to care.

This is also probably the reason that in the Supernatural fandom everyone hates Lisa and probably any love interest for Sam and Dean. In fact, I think this is also why there are so many Castiel haters. With Sam and Dean actually being true blood brothers, anything that gets in the way of their bromance is considered evil and needs to go. (Though I personally think there’s enough of Dean to go around for everyone: Sam, Castiel, Lisa, and Bobby!)

Maybe one day, there will be a movie with it all: bromance, strong independent and important female characters and an intelligent plot that leaves you guessing (like another Lord of the Rings).

Until then, I’ll enjoy what I can get.

Once more for the road: BROMANCE!

It rocks.

 

So, have you seen the new Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows movie? If you read this far, I really hope so! What did you think of it? Do you enjoy bromance or does it make you puke? Let me know!

 

 

 

Hollywood — A Request from an Action Junkie

Nothing disappoints me more than a movie or T.V. show with a great idea or opportunity, but fails to deliver or execute—even worse if they limit themselves.

I love Transformers. I loved the different cartoon shows on T.V. and I even enjoyed these movies…to an extent.

I recently, finally watched the third one on DVD and I wished I had watched it in theaters.

The action was so amazing! In fact, that is pretty much the only reason I love the movies so much. The action is so amazing. That and that Sam Witwicky character is fun to follow around.

But what’s probably my favorite scene in this movie, is a tiny moment, probably less than a minute, where that Director of Intelligence lady (or whoever she was) walked up to the autobots (the good robots) to talk to them for the first time. In this scene, the other autobots explain that Optimus (their leader) isn’t talking to anyone, that he seems upset and as one autobot put it: “He’s pissed.”

I loved that scene. I must have rewinded and played that short scene over and over again.

Because it was probably the only scene in the entire movie where it seemed like Transformers were more than just machines with cliché one liners and cardboard personalities.

In this scene they had personality, they had emotions.

Optimus was pissed.

I loved the Transformers show on tv not because it’s about robots that could turn into things and then fought other robots that also could turn into things. I loved it because these robots that could turn into things were like real people that had drama.

My favorite Transformer is Starscream, who’s actually a bad guy. Now I’m not a die hard Transformers fan. I don’t know the complete canon or storyline of the comics or Japanese tv shows or watched any of them in their entirety. In fact, the version of Starscream that I fell in love with was from the Transformers: Armada cartoon, which was technically an anime and…well apparently a lot of fans really hated (though I enjoyed it enough).

Anyways! Starscream was cool int he cartoons and comics because he was always fighting with Megatron and I loved how in Armada he turned good before dying. I really loved that.

Of course, in the Transformers movie trilogy he was the stereotype cardboard villain just like the rest of them. I sort of expected it, but it is still disappointing. At least in the original Transformers continuity he was interesting enough to be constantly fighting with Megatron to seize control over who will lead the bad guys.

Not here though.

There is so much potential with these characters, but instead we get an action flick that is just all action and little of anything else.

I’m not really surprised, but I kind of wish people would get tired of this already.

Even worse than the lack of personality, was that the only two female characters either had no personality and was just there to look pretty and be rescued or used as comic relief also insulted me. Can’t women fight too? Or want to figure out what the villains were up to along with the guys?

For action, it’s an amazing movie. For Transformer love, I had that tiny, itty bitty scene where Optimus seemed like a real person.  And that was pretty much it.

I wonder what would have happened if they actually tried. If they did create a solid, complex story and intriguing meaningful characters, and actually give the damn robots more human qualities that they had in the damn comics and cartoons?

What if they actually did the opposite of what we’ve seen so far in regards to sci-fi action flicks?

Like we’ve seen with Inception.

I would like to see more of that, thank you.

 

P.S. In regards to sci-fi action flicks, I also hear Hollywood is looking to remake the anime classic Akira. …Don’t. Do. It. Please. I beg you. Leave Akira alone!!

 

P.P.S. Actually, you want to do know what happens when they do put in depth characters and plots into sci-fi and fantasy movies? Oscar nominations happen. Freaking OSCARS!

 

That is all.

Story Laws – #1 Dead Man Walking

I’ve watched and read a lot of stories—perhaps not as much as others, but still a decent amount.

But almost anyone can identify a clichés or a trope Something you see over and over across novels and movies alike. The Damsel in Distress. The Hooker with the Heart of Gold. And, a recent one I learned, the Jerk with the Heart of Gold.

So what I’m about to say here has probably been identified already and explained in much greater detail and clarity than I’m going to right now.

I don’t care. This is something I’ve noticed and wanted to share. Free country and all.

*blows raspberry*

Anywho, here is the first of what I call Story Laws or Rules. Basically, it’s something that happens in a story that allows me to make a rather accurate prediction on the outcome of the plot. In other words, if A happens, B will almost certainly happen. I’ve seen it happen so many times it feel like it’s an unofficial rule or law for storytelling.

I’ll just say upfront that I hate these. It makes a story predictable and one of the things that almost all the stories I loved had in common is that I never knew what was going to happen next until the very end.

In any case, here is the first.

Story Law #1: If a character commits a heinous act that cannot be undone nor forgiven, that character will di, even if he is in actuality a good person or has redeemed himself later on. He or she will die regardless.

Examples! Be warned, I’m pretty much giving away the endings to these stories, so read on at your own risk.

 

The movie The Professional by director Luc Besson

The main character was an assassin and even though he had a “code” of never killing women and children and was overall a good person, taking care of that little girl who changed him forever, he still ended up dead…because he was killer.

 

The movie Daybreakers with Ethan Hawke and Willem Dafoe

This one is about vampires and one of the movie that proved I can officially tell when I’m about to be very disappointed. One of the characters I really liked was Ethan Hawke’s character’s brother.

Though he was an antagonist at first, it was obvious he was only doing what he thought was best and often struggled with figuring that out. He also cared about his brother and, like I said before, I had a soft spot for types like him. Of course, the minute he turned an innocent human girl into a vampire against her will, who was later killed—not by him—I knew he was gonna die.

It didn’t matter that he turned good in the end and saved his brother’s life. Apparently, the screenwriters felt he had to die.

And that pissed me off.

 

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK.Rowling

Oh god, did I hate this one. But I knew it was gonna happen. It wasn’t even the clue that Rowling was killing off all the characters from James’ generation when Sirius died. Though that may be the true reason Rowling killed off my most beloved Harry Potter character, Severus Snape because the Law doesn’t fit perfectly here.

Snape was never evil. Well, okay, he did nothing evil in current events in the books. Everything he did was for honorable reasons. And yet that doesn’t matter. He did something that couldn’t be undone and could not be forgiven. It wasn’t just because he used to be a Death Eater and god knows how many he killed back then and those he was forced to kill after he went undercover.

I knew Snape was going to die the minute he killed Dumbledore.

Sure, it was genius. And I loved it.

But did Snape HAVE to die? I mean it’s not bad that he did, but it’s predictable.

(I also didn’t really like the WAY he died. It was too convenient. I think it would have been much better if Snape actually had to explain himself to Harry in person. It would have made a much more powerful scene…but perhaps an extremely tricky one to write).

 

In fact, in all these and other examples, the deaths were predictable and that’s the biggest reason this law sucks.

Even freaking Boromir’s death from LOTR: Fellowship of the Ring was foreseeable the instant he tried to get the Ring for himself—even if the crime wasn’t even so bad. It was still unforgivable. All those who wanted the stupid Ring were punished. Even Frodo lost his finger for giving in to it when he finally reached Mount Doom.

…I feel like I got off track.

Where was I? Ah yes.

Right now, as I explained in an earlier post, I’m currently worried for a certain beloved angel character in the show Supernatural.

For the entire series, Castiel has been the goodest of goody-two-shoes. He always wanted to do the right thing, but I know that doesn’t mean crap in storyland.

As good and evil became more and more unclear as the show went on, Castiel started to bend the rules a little.

In the last episode, Castiel killed his friend and one of his brothers, the angel Baltazar. I’m praying to God that this act doesn’t count as something that crosses the line into heinous and unforgivable. After all, Baltazar was sort of a jerk and he did betray Castiel.  But now that Castiel believes he’s God and there’s an entire season to go, he has plenty of time to do some real damage and earn his inevitable death.

I hope not. But if he does, you now know why.

I actually hate this “law” and love it whenever I see it broken. I am interested in true redemption and forgiveness, no matter what the person has done. In fact, the worse the person did, the greater the redemption and sacrifice, the more I want to see that character survive.

The only exception I’ve seen this law broken repeatedly are in horror movies. But of course, they have to let the killer live if they want to do a sequel. Sometimes, here I’d like to see the opposite happen…except in Saw. That was perfect. True, he still had to die in the end (to me Saw ended with the third movie. The rest are just fanfiction), so in a way the law was still in effect…but with a twist since he still won in the end.

So I guess, I just would like to see people break away from formulas or at the very least twist them and make them interesting.

Next Week: Story Law #2 – The Third Wheel Must Die.

Supernatural

Supernatural Sam and Dean Winchester
Sam and Dean

 

As I said before, my obsession over stories spills onto other things. Such as T.V. shows.

I know this. That’s why I never wanted to watch Supernatural. I’ve heard of it and a friend of mine was into it, but I refused to get into it. For one, it’s about the adventures of two brothers. I have a BIG soft spot for brothers. So I already knew I was gonna love it…a bit too much.

So I refused to watch it.

Until, one night, my crazy-ass roommate at the time literally (and I mean literally) dragged me out of my bed by my foot and forced me to watch the first few episodes with her and her boyfriend. I have no idea why on earth she would want me to hang out with them well past anyone’s bedtime, but like I said. She was crazy.

The point is… I was right. I was hooked.

Supernatural is basically about these two brothers who fight supernatural beings. This includes, but not limited to, shapeshifters, werewolves, ghosts, jinn, demons, demi-gods, pagan gods, angels, and all sorts of other mythological creatures. They even face off a phoenix and a dragon in the newest season.

Not only do you get your weekly dose of the supernatural, you also get a full helping of hotness in the form of Sam and Dean Winchester, and then in the later seasons, the angel Castiel.

And it’s not even their physical attractiveness (which I have to admit is… probably the main reason the majority of the fan base is made up by rapid fans of the female gender, just saying). They’re interesting characters to watch. There is family conflict and inner conflict, which is probably why I love Dean the most.

Hot, funny and self-loathing characters are the best!  *cough*

However, I have to admit. I thought the show jumped the shark back in Season Four…which I’ll be the first to say was a huge frustrating let down at the end.

Then I heard Season Five would be the last season. I approved. The show had run its course. So I was okay with it ending. Since the storyline went into the Apocalypse, and every possible thing that can possibly happen to these guys already happened, what else can you do?

So it had to end.

Except it didn’t.

There was a sixth season.

A Sixth.

That was probably two seasons too many (did I mention I really didn’t like season four? I think I did).

But Supernatural surprised me. It did something I never seen before in a T.V. show, especially one based on magic and the paranormal.

It got better.

But how? How could it be resurrected? How can any show that has possibly done anything and everything to its characters possibly get a second wind?

It gets a little spoiler-ish from here on, but I’ll try to keep it as vague as possible.

At this point, if you were a regular viewer, you’d be bored to death because you knew nothing new was gonna happen. They weren’t gonna die. They BOTH already went to Hell AND Heaven. Their mommy and daddy’s issues were resolved. The Apocalypse came and went. What else is there?

Ah. The writers then did something that was PURE GENIUS.

Okay it was kind of simple, but I still didn’t see it coming.

So you have two main characters, right? Sam and Dean. And they’ve been through it all, right?

Now what?

Simple. You turn to another character.

Castiel’s been gaining popularity ever since he first appeared as Dean’s “guardian” angel.

The last half of Season Six was all about him. And it was glorious! The show was fresh again.  Once more, I had NO CLUE, what was going to happen.

And while Sam and Dean are immune, Castiel isn’t.

Now that’s scary… especially since I love him so much!

Storytelling 101: Want your readers/viewers to keep reading/watching? Make them fall head over heels in love with a character, then put that character in danger.

This little trick is something I shall always remember and tuck away to use when a series I’m writing gets stale.

It works every time. I went from groaning at the news of another season to demanding, no BEGGING for a Season Seven!

I NEED to know what happens next. I need to know if Castiel will be okay!

September come already! I need you!!!!

And this is why I NEVER wanted to watch Supernatural.

Like the show? Hate it? Have no idea nor interest what I’m talking about? Recommend a better show?

Let me know.

I’m dying to learn new things from great shows.

Characters Say No When They Mean Yes.

If you’re a writer, then most likely you’ve heard the piece of advice saying something along the lines of: “Write what you know.”

When I first heard this Writerly Law, I resisted big time. Mostly because I translated that as write only subjects that related to your everyday life. I wanted to write about magic, and fight scenes of horse-riding, sword wielding knights against leathery, flame breathing dragons. Unfortunately, I’ve never even seen a real sword in real life, never rode a horse and I doubt dragons really exist today.

Luckily, I’ve come to realize that’s not what that means at all! And even if it did, it wouldn’t be too hard to research those things online or at a library, which is probably something a writer should do with anything they’re writing that they don’t know in intimate detail.

The saying means that you should, at least in my opinion, write what you observe.

So, where am I going with this?

I’m noticing something about my brother, something I’ve observed. A lot of times, he says one thing, but does another. I know, this is like obvious human behavior.

He says he’s not hungry. But if I cook and set the plate full of food in front of him, he will eat it and a second helping.

I know it shouldn’t be much of a surprise, but I’m socially retarded like that at times.

But the point is, characters should act the same way.

They should say something and mean something else. They shouldn’t know what they want on a conscious level, even if everything they do is obviously pointing to the specific thing they desire more than anything, even if they don’t know it.

I’m writing about this today because…I’m noticing my characters lack this. Or at least, in my novel.

They’re too vocal on what they want and they already know exactly what it is. There’s no deep, unsettling, unpleasant feeling you have when you don’t know what you want or what to do.

I suppose that is the difference, among other things, between a character created by a master and a newbie.

It is my personal definition that the best, most amazing stories are ones where you take something that is completely outside our realm of reality and make it seem as real as possible, the more fantastic the idea is and the realer it feels, the more amazing it is.

To do this you take the things of real life and integrate it into your story, even if it’s about fairies and unicorns.

Okay, I want real examples! Well more like need them cause I’m still learning and learning by example is the easiest way to learn.

Writers! I would be much honored if you would provide your own examples from your very own writing of either something that happened to your character or what your character did that contradicts what he or she has said and/or demonstrates some other human quality.

Or, if you’re a non-writer, what would you like to see more of in regards to characters in fiction?

Thanks!

My Disney’s-Princess-and-the-Frog-is-Kinda-Racist Rant

princess and the frog disney

 

 

Okay.

This one is gonna be long. And rant-filled.

You’ve been warned.

It’s been a few years since the movie came out and I initially thought it was a cute, okay film. But days and now even years later, there’s something about it that still bugs the hell out of me. So in order to get it out of my system, I give you why I think Disney should try again with the whole African American Disney Princess thing.

Also, I can’t be the only one who thinks this. And I know it’s a kid’s movie and I should lighten up. It’s a fine kid’s movie.

I just want an even better one that has a female black main character.

Let me explain…

Differences I noticed between Princess and the Frog and the other Princess Movies.

  • The girl was a frog for most of the movie. She wasn’t an African American princess. She was green and amphibian for 80% (or more) of the movie. I know this is based off a book with that plot twist. And I wouldn’t really mind…if you know, this wasn’t the first (and probably only) Disney movie with a female African American main character.
  • She was working class and appeared to have remained that way for years after her “happily ever after.” I know it’s more realistic and a better message. But when are Princess fairytales ever realistic? Sometimes, the little kid in us just want a good old fashion they got everything they ever wanted without having to work hard at it or anything. Beautiful husband, castle and everything a girl could ever want…without having to do a damn thing.
  • The “real” princess in the story was white and rich. Tiana wasn’t the princess till the end of the movie. Her white, rich friend was first.
  • The movie was set in 20th Century America in New Orleans. I don’t know why they did this. Every single other Disney Princess movie was set in a fantasy land in Europe (Snow White, Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, etc) or some other country (Aladdin) or sure, even America, but not a specific place in America (Pocahontas). You know, “A Long time ago, in a faraway land…” Not, 1926, New Orleans, United States of America. It could have EASILY been set a long time ago, in a fictional town in fictional AFRICA. But…no. They didn’t do that. I’m African American and have never been to New Orleans and I haven’t been to Africa either, but I feel more connected to Africa than to New Orleans.
  • The movie doesn’t show white people to be in good light either. There are like only two white characters and they’re rich and stupid.

They could have made it like all the other Disney Princess movies. This is the only Disney Princess movie that is this different, and I’m not talking about race. I’m talking about the story.

All Disney Princess movies have these things in common:

  • They’re set a long time ago, in a land far away.
  • The Princess is usually near perfect and just placed in a bad circumstance. Being born into working class does NOT work.

(What I mean is Tiana was a workaholic. The whole movie was her learning to change that. None of the other princesses had that type of flaw—meaning they didn’t have to change their personality or way of doing things…other than realizing the people they trusted were actually are jerks and those who they thought were jerks were actually the good guys.

For example, in Tangled, Rapunzel was cute, adorable and only had the bad case of insecurity brought on by her stepmother that she overcame on her own and didn’t need an entire cast of secondary characters to teach her otherwise.)

  • In every Disney Princess movie, the Princess immediately entered Happily Ever After phase at the end.  They found their prince and now they no longer would have to suffer.

(In Princess in the Frog, this doesn’t work because if she was given her business, right after she got with the prince, it wouldn’t work. So, she still had to work for her dream. And apparently the only difference is now she has a man to help her. Cause ya know. She couldn’t do it herself. Cause she’s poor and lonely *cough*andablackwomanin192o’samerica*cough*).

Again, this is just one way of seeing things. Honestly, I wouldn’t have a problem with it normally. It’s cute. It’s warm and fuzzy.

It’s fine… If it weren’t the first and probably only African American Disney Princess movie to be made.

I feel it would have been a lot better if…

For one, Tiana’s goal didn’t have anything to do with starting a goddamn business. Let it be something better.  Ya know, like freedom…dignity…and love…

In fact, there’s a story out there that has those themes. It’s a Princess story. And it has a full African cast.

I’m talking about AIDA.

*hundreds upon hundreds of people shriek in horror at the idea of a Disney version of AIDA*

I know, I know. Hear me out.

Okay, sure. They’ll have to change the ending. They changed Hunchback of Notre Dame and that wasn’t so bad. And sure, they’ll have to add some songs and a talking animal mascot for comic relief. But if they stuck with the true essence of that story, it would still be good.

Or keep it the same. I have an AIDA picture book I read as a young seven year old learning how to read. The end wasn’t happy. I loved it anyways as a little kid.

But if not AIDA, then make it similar.

The Princess has REAL royal blood or at least some sort of princess/girly quality.

Make the entire cast black. Not a single white face. If it’s okay to have a movie without a single black face, then this should be okay too. Little kids wouldn’t care and parents shouldn’t care either!

Have it set in Africa, in a fictional town, a long time ago.

And finally, give it the Disney Trademark “Happily Ever After” ending with bells, whistles and raining flowers and ribbons.

Just because the main characters were African American, doesn’t mean it needed to have the special treatment. It doesn’t need to be set apart. Tangled fits PERFECTLY with the other Disney Princess Movies. Perfectly. And it came out AFTER Princess and the Frog. And I found it much more entertaining and hilarious. What’s the deal? Just because of their race it has to be different? It needs a different treatment? Why?

I feel like they were trying to be modern or feminist, but…no.

Just didn’t work for me.

Character Sacrifices = Greatness

I’ve noticed this often and have said it a few times, but never in detail or on this blog. Mostly because I was too chicken to use what I think is the greatest example of what I’m about to talk about. And what am I about to talk about?

Sacrifices.

But not personal sacrifices, which I also think are a big part of the writing journey, but sacrifices in stories and movies.

Has anyone noticed that really amazing stories have characters that make a huge sacrifice in the end? And the bigger the sacrifice, the better the story?

The following contains some spoilers to really awesome stories.

You have been warned.

In Lord of the Rings, we have Frodo’s sacrifice of, well, his sanity. Also the other hobbits sacrifice their innocence, and Gandalf sacrificed his life in the first book/movie (yeah, okay, I never finished reading the books), and so forth.

In Harry Potter, we have…well we have a whole ton of sacrifices, but for me what really hit home was Snape’s sacrifice. What did he sacrifice? Read/watch to find out.

In Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, my favorite of the three, Jack Sparrow was sacrificed in the end (okay true, it didn’t look like he had a choice, but I think he was fine with that end).

In the Night Angel Trilogy’s third book, Beyond the Shadows by Brent Weeks (well okay, not so famous, but I think it’s AMAZING), Dorian, Kylar, Durzo, Elene, etc made sacrifices in the end. And Dorian, my favorite character, made the biggest sacrifice*. Coincidence, I think not!

In Ptolemy’s Gate, another personal favorite and the final book of the Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud, Nathaniel makes a huge sacrifice at the end. I bawled like a baby at the end of that story.

And the list goes on.

But there is one character, one story, one sacrifice that could be considered the greatest ever.

Two words.

Jesus Christ.

Now, for the record, I’m not debating whether or not it’s fact or fiction. I’m not even Christian, but still believe the possibility of it being true. But that’s not the point. The point is, this story has been around for thousands of years. It may not be the oldest story, but I would definitely bet it’s the oldest most famous story of all time.

And why? Because if you actually do think it’s true, if you actually believed that this guy, who was absolute good, was tortured and murdered to save the world, that it ACTUALLY happened and with your knowledge/experience of how everyday people actually are….

It becomes one of the biggest sacrifices in history. An overwhelming sense of love and gratitude for this person washes over everyone. A whole religion is built around this sacrifice and people buy his book by the billions.

That’s what sacrifices can do.

Why do you think Gandhi, John Lennon, Martin Luther King and the many others who have sacrificed time, energy, reputation, dignity and/or their own lives for worthy causes are so loved long after their untimely deaths? For their great achievements of course, but they made a difference because they made monumental sacrifices for what they believed in.

Now we humans are often….well, lazy, selfish cowards. I know I am.

So we only see these great acts of sacrifice once in a blue moon, which probably makes them even more attractive. So we get our fix of these sacrifices from fiction and maybe this is a good thing. Maybe these stories can inspire real people to come forth and make personal sacrifices (like time, energy, reputation, personal pleasures, sense of security, etc) to make this world a better place (and hopefully next time we can appreciate their bravery and passion BEFORE we kill them and you know…NOT kill them).

So I encourage all writers and screenwriters, do your worse to your characters! Make them self-sacrificing heroes! Rape them, torture them, and kill them for the greater good!

It makes one hell of a story.

*About Beyond the Shadows: Big Spoilers here because I want to rant for a bit about this story. STOP READING NOW IF YOU WANT TO READ THE NIGHT ANGEL TRILOGY BY BRENT WEEKS.

You have been warned.

Dorian’s was the biggest sacrifice because he didn’t HAVE to do anything and he lost EVERYTHING.

Kylar had no choice, Durzo was all emo giving up the ka’kari and then dying, Elene gave up her life (and that of her unborn child) way too happily.

Meanwhile, Dorian pretty much saved the world for absolutely NO GAIN and he didn’t have to do CRAP. Hell, a heroic death would have been preferable. Or he could have just stayed far far away from all this insanity, but NO he felt he had to use his power for good and pay for what he did, despite what happened HAD to happen (If he hadn’t become the next Godking, then how would all the armies be at the right place at the right time?).

And what did he get in return? Insanity. He’s a drooling idiot now and no one will ever realize the extent of what he did save for a tiny few. He can’t even enjoy the world he helped save. I love him so much! SEE! We love SACRIFICES! We’re masochistic, sadistic bastards!

And I love it!

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