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From Days of Long Ago…

POSTED ON Jun 10th 2016 BY LESLIE LOFTIS UNDER Motherhood, Pop culture, storytelling

Today is June the 10th, when Netflix takes its shot at rebooting an epic tale. I have a little more faith in Netflix than Hollywood. They do more homework. Still, I did not wake up this morning and start binge watching Voltron, Legendary Defender. After the disappointment of The Force Awakens, I’ve lost faith. But the Voltron buzz sounds promising. So it seems a binge is in order for tonight, but I’ll likely end up reading fan fic by weekend’s end.

I dove into the reading fanfic rabbit hole a few years ago when I was looking for new shows for my kids and discovered what WEP had done to my one of my favorite fandoms from the 80’s, Voltron. Provided with a timeless tale of good vs. evil, loyalty, hardship, duty, and passion, WEP served up a music concert for the environment and peace. They obviously had no clue about what made the original cartoon successful, much less why it still had fans 20 years later.

I quickly learned that women had retreated into fan fiction to preserve epic stories and characters. (And un-PC as that sex observation was/is, it is no less true. Fan fiction is to women what sports radio is to men, one of the few places where one can hear them speak freely.)

Authors, screenwriters, and other assorted Hollywood powers that be have forgotten how to write myth. From a death of the blockbuster article:

They often start with a good premise, but then bend the story to tell a modern morality tale that they, the good little Relativists they are, believe morality to be. Any storyteller worth his salt should know that ‘there are fates far worse than death’ is one of the central themes of the Harry Potter books, yet the significant line was dropped from the film. The Twilight screenplays were penned by a woman who had difficulty comprehending the ideals of the hero and heroine; the lukewarm fan reception to Prince Caspian came out of TPTB worrying about the story’s religious basis. At least they learned the lesson for Voyage of the Dawn Treader, but then it was just to literally transpose Lewis’s dialogue to screen.

SupermanEnder’s Game—is there a franchise in which the Hollywood adaption got the story right?

I get particularly annoyed at the trashing of heroines. 

Hollywood writers don’t recognize what makes heroines iconic to the fans. They pay attention to the feminist formula for the Strong Independent Woman (TM) and write guys who happen to be female. They often modify women to give them mystical powers in order to explain why they can hang with the men in battle.

The heroine shouldn’t be too beautiful and certainly not sexy—unless she is going for empowerment sexy, a la Wonder Woman teaches men to submit style. And she can’t be dependent in any way or men. No rescuing. No romance. Either she does it all on her own or it doesn’t count.

Outside of Game of Thrones, the woman who doesn’t need a man like a fish doesn’t need a bicycle because a woman is just a man with boobs is everywhere. Pan from ‘don’t hold my hand, I can do this myself’ Rey to Wonder Woman as backdrop in Superman v Batman.

Such heroines are predictable and dull. They are also lies. They present young women with role models who overcome every and all hardship with a confident attitude, as if merely thinking you can is ever enough.

The Force Awakens is the worst offender. When we seen ‘new and improved’ Princess General Leia in TFA, she is a ruler without a planet, a daughter without parents, a sister without a brother, a wife without a husband, and a mother without her child. Any one of those could, and has, broken a woman. Any combo of two would see a real woman struggle. But carrying all of them, Leia is still quipping. Because that’s what we are told strong women do—endure everything, on our own.

And then we wonder why women are so exhausted. We do as we are told and chase the impossible with no option of grace.

I really, really hate modern heroines. They forge brittle women.

 

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