Friday, December 16, 2011

"Oh Sure...NOW It's Cool." or How a Once Unpopular Slave Leia Sentiment Stormed the Zeitgeist...Thank the Maker!

Complaining about stuff. Will it make you popular? No. Will it maybe help to change things? You'd like to think that, wouldn't you?!

When I saw the following video (below the jump) I felt vindicated. The Slave Leia backlash exhausted me when everything first went down. I published an essay, first on Forces of Geek, then here, then it got picked up by a few websites, then I got like a million nasty emails and ten supportive ones.

Then, selfishly and unrealistically, I felt a little bit...intellectually ripped off. Prominent male writers were reblogging my thoughts in their own words and burying a link to my original essay in the end credits. It's more likely that there were a lot of us feeling the same way and I just kind of, bumped into that emotion. Because Star Wars feels sacred to so many of us, being overly critical of it isn't super common. I'm afraid I opened that door. Maybe a little too wide.

Slave Leia fatigue was circling in the zeitgeist, I think. For a long time.

But I think I'm the only nerd who really raged about it at the blog level way back when it got picked up by the Huffington Post over a year ago. I'm so embarrassed to even be trying to take credit. What a "misplaced geek rage" thing of me to do. But there it is. I said it. I feel a little bit better, if not like 10% more comic book guy-ish.

But I have more to say.

So what's my point? Talking about stuff, nay, even complaining about stuff, does make a difference. Mostly, I haven't been blogging here because I've been too busy. I had to leave the protective bubble of academia after finishing my MA and...gulp...get a full-time job!

"Freedom, horrible, horrible freedom!" 

Gone are the days when I could sit in my teaching office and spend my time writing about women in movies that I love and have it count toward my thesis.

I almost got a book of essays on action heroines published almost FOUR years ago. How can it be so long ago now? But in the immortal words of the great American poet Brandy, "Everybody knows, almost doesn't count."

I admit, part of me was just so tired of the backlash of being a critic. I saw work as a chance to escape from talking about things like Slave Leia just before it became socially acceptable in Geek World. I caught heat for it for years during my WFCC days, then had to watch as everyone else decided it was okay to talk about that stuff now.

But here we are, a couple of years later, and Kaley Cuoco (Who I love, by the way.) makes a hilarious video about the very same subject I ranted and raved about, and the world can kind of collectively laugh at it and go, "Yeah, that's totally true." 

Of course, the video also spoofs weirdos like me who get so wrapped up in film and pop culture that this stuff genuinely matters to us. But I can definitely take that in stride. That's fair.
Like most film-obsessed super nerds, movies to me are really about something else. I fixate on action heroines because there were times in my life when I was surrounded by some serious (and eerily dominant) male chauvinism
Action heroines blasting guns and dominating a movie screen seemed like the perfect counter-action to me in a world in which I was (I thought.) powerless. I mean, I just really like movies. The silly ones, the good ones, the ones so bad they're a collective joke to most people. 

What can I say? It's my thing.

But in fact, it's why I miss writing here so much. Because that's still even a debate about whether or not it's "okay" for me to like that stuff and still be feminist. Without naming names or getting into specifics, just this morning I couldn't sleep thinking about a conversation among several of my fellow female film critics via email I've been having this week. Or I've watched unfold because I've been too intimidated to chime in. 

One side says that Charlize Theron's character in "Young Adult" is a breath of fresh air because for once, a flawed and interesting three-dimensional character is onscreen doing something DIFFERENT. The other side says that unique female characters are portrayed so seldom that we shouldn't applaud it when they pop up as dysfunctional messes. I almost wish everyone who felt like fighting about it would just go out and make the kind of movie they want to see. That would solve everyone's problem.

"Young Adult" is a movie I've been dying to see (I have a lot of respect for Diablo Cody's writing.) and when I see it tonight or tomorrow, I'll be able to cast my own vote. I get the distinct feeling that I'll fall into the first category. The one that appreciates the performance and enjoys it. 

Like a lot of bloggers, critics, and fangirl feminists, I struggle with the doubts and insecurities of hanging onto what I care about as I get older. The, "Oh just shut up!" sentiments of the masses. The voices in my head are sometimes those of the nasty people lurking on message boards, the people that used to make fun of me in junior high or even some of the baffled adults who looked at me in grad school like, "You want to talk about WHAT now?"

Blech. I don't really have an ending to this. So I guess that's a firm sign-off from me with a big fat, "Turns out, I'm still super insecure!"

1 comment:

  1. I thought of your article, too, when I saw that video. I think you were expressing what a lot of people feel, but didn't want to admit. The backlash you got was, I'm guessing, more of a "shut up! We got a good thing going, and you'll screw it up!"

    Good you're working, though we do miss your blog.