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July 22 2007

No more heroines any more? Guardian TV columnnist Lucy Mangan considers, ahem, strong female characters and the lack thereof in light of the new James Bond novel by Sebastian Faulks, and drops a certain name at the end.

Hmm, Bond never really went anywhere, there've been authorised Bond novels written since Fleming died all through the 80s, 90s and 00s (ironically, in fact, given the article's thrust, there are also authorised spin-off novels centred on Miss Moneypenny though i've not read any of them).

Not sure if she has a point or not, over the last few years I can think of several bestsellers (not just "chick-lit" either) with female protagonists though clearly they're thinner on the ground than male heroes. Someone should ask a bunch of novelists what makes them not write strong female characters ;).
Yes! saje, that should indeed be the question, and much more so for film & TV. Only one more season of BSG will leave us (here in the U.S. anyhow) totally without said strong female main characters on TV. Unless Holly Hunter's new show, Saving Grace, fills the bill (crosses fingers).
Only one more season of BSG will leave us (here in the U.S. anyhow) totally without said strong female main characters on TV.
I think, actually, this upcoming season could look pretty good in that regard. THE SARAH CONNER CHRONICLES, WOMAN'S MYSTERY CLUB, and the new BIONIC WOMAN series could all be showcases of strong female characters, from what previews and articles I've seen/read. At the very least, there seems to be a push for female characters who are action-oriented and not overly "sexy" ala DARK ANGEL, which I think is a very positive move.

The article itself was, um, "hunh", to quote Mal. :) It's no secret the slate of female "serializable" heroes is thin on the ground, esp. prior to the 80's. I'm not certain the author is making any especially insightful point, except that BUFFY really kicked the idea of the female action hero into the mainstream. Although that's somewhat of a debatable point, with XENA's popularity hitting a bit earlier.
In the author's defense, I'm not certain what the UK had in her time period as well-known female-centric media; I know I'm thinking of NANCY DREW, for one. Even so, it is true there weren't that many role models...and that things, although far from perfect, are better.
Heck, they had to reboot Bond to get people back to the theaters; it only shows there's room for more, and newer, characters all over media. No reason those characters can't be female...
It's either too early for me or that column was very insularly British (which makes sense it being in the Guardian and all). I didn't follow it so well.

So, Bond male characters are being fleshed out and she is lamenting the fact that there are no similarly fleshed out female characters in pop lit right now. Right?
Not really sure to be honest TamaraC, it felt a bit muddled to me (though kind of funny and light I suppose). She talks about re-invention but of course, Bond hasn't been re-invented, in fact 'Casino Royale' is probably truest to the original "book-Bond" character yet (and there's no reason to assume that Sebastian Faulks' take on Bond is in any way revising or re-inventing the character either - though hopefully it'll be better written than most of the novels, given his pedigree).

If she purely laments the lack of re-invention of female characters well a) as mentioned, not many male characters are re-invented either - excepting parodic piss-takes like 'Starsky and Hutch' and b) if you go back a few years you have a whole raft of re-invented classical lit. characters shifted into contemporary settings (e.g. 'Clueless', 'Ten Things I Hate About You' etc.).

If she means the relative scarcity of "serious" contemporary female characters in general, well, I guess she has a point (though i'd contend she doesn't make it that well). Or maybe she dislikes the types of 'heroes' women are generally written as ?
I'm glad it wasn't just me that found that article hard to follow or maybe just not very clear. Thanks, Saje.
A couple more series to be aware of, though the "strong-woman" quotient isn't genre-related (but who cares), it's just nice to see:

Glenn Close in her first starring role on television in Damages, begins next Tuesday on FX.

Lili Taylor in State of Mind, the debut of which I caught part of last night (it wasn't bad - time will tell).

Article Which Mentions Hunter, Taylor and Close

[ edited by Tonya J on 2007-07-22 23:44 ]

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