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Whedonesque - a community weblog about Joss Whedon
"Given that you're a raping scumbag one tick shy of a murderer. I can't recall, do you take sugar?"
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December 07 2010

Ellen Ripley Saved My Life. Some interesting ruminations on the nature of the Strong Woman Action Heroine using several familiar examples.

Wow, that was quite the article, it was so moving that she included her own evaluations and so much personal back story. But her breakdown of those women, even Marti Noxon, really connected with me. While a staunch anti-S6er, she made me see some merit in the way it progressed. Although I hadn't heard some of the comments against MN before this, I'm kinda ashamed of the fellow anti-6ers for saying things like that.

But her love for Summer Glau and her beat down of the Sarah Connor character was so true. I hated that scene, SC comes across as a crazy woman and the 10 year old BOY is her sanity in male form as only sanity can be portrayed! Sheer madness!
A really interesting article!
One line that really stuck out to me:

All that love, just for a woman in the act of surviving.

Pretty much the essence of fascination with female heroes in scifi and fantasy. Love it.
It always makes me feel less like a freak when someone else admits to having been saved like this.

change some the details and that right there - pretty much how I deal with the world being scary.

(long time watcher, first time writing)
What a read! And what a woman who can tell it like it is. I have so much in common with her it's... it's... hmm, no real words at the moment. Just, wow.

I discovered Buffy at a time in my life when I wanted nothing more than to just die. Simple as that. Joss Whedon didn't just entertain me. He saved my life.

You are in more like-minded company than you know, asaneism.
Excellent essay.
And regarding yet another Whedon creation, her awesome ending reminded me of Dollhouse's Briar Rose. "The prince was her dream. She made him. She made him fight to get her out."
As a scientist, I was interested in her observation about the researchers trying to study her "genius" when she was younger. They isolated her, which they probably thought made it simpler to understand what is influencing her. But the isolation itself affected her, to the point that she stopped being creative so they would leave her alone. That was one message that I admired in the Buffy series: right or wrong, all actions have consequences.
I love, love, love this part:

This is another thing about Strong Women: We like them considerably more when they're fictional, rather than, say, running a TV show. And we don't like them to complain.

So true.

And, yet again once more, my Grand Unified Theory of BtVS Strong Female Characters kicks in: I strongly feel that Buffy's greatest strength wasn't her literal strength, but her capacity to unify, inspire, and overcome... her power didn't stem from the creepy original watchers raping her with a demon, it came from saying, "You're not the source of me..."
I dunno how much of a responsability was Noxons really, but both season 6 and 7 felt pure Joss to me since, well... ever.
Sady's a wonderful writer, and I love this essay. I'm going to save it for my (now) 13-year-old daughter to read when she's older. I think it will really resonate with her. Right now it might be too much.
Buffy's greatest strength wasn't her literal strength, but her capacity to unify, inspire, and overcome...

I'd say two out of three. Her greatest strength was definitely an inner strength that allowed her to both inspire and overcome, even when everything had been taken from her.

But to unify... Im not so sure. She could act the general, but if it hadn't been for the sense of loyalty from the Scoobies it would have failed. And fail it did, several times. I would have loved to have more of a Arthurian knights of the round table kind of approach where everyone was considered an equal, but Buffy did on several occasions point out that non of the Scoobies was her equal. And that is perhaps on of the few flaws I can find in the BtVS show.
I greatly enjoyed this as I have done Sady's other writings at Tiger Beatdow. I too am firmly in the camp of Joss Whedon's work offering me a lifeline as a teenager.

I was also pretty shocked to read the quote against MN. I wasn't around on the net when S6 went down but it makes me ashamed of other Buffy fans, I hope they feel ashamed of themselves too.
Good stuff. BtS season 6 being my favorite, I loved this:

"What actually happened in S6 was that the show stopped being about a perky audience identification figure and started being about a girl who faced things that could break her"

She also nailed the problem with Sarah Conner. Although I loved the TV show, Sarah herself was the least interesting character, to me.

I'd love it if she wrote about Caroline/Echo and the other women in Dollhouse.
asaneismRnuTs, welcome!

First off, I really liked the essay. But I disagree with her assessment of Sarah Conner (in T2 anyways) and here is my less than eloquent explanation of why:

Feministically speaking (That should be a word, right?) the bit with John never bothered me. I never interpreted it as "disgraceful" because:

1. John was the person he was, because Sarah raised him that way. This includes his respect for human life. He was not just any ordinary ten year old boy. He was the ten year old boy she had trained for years to think tactically, handle explosives and firearms, hack into computers, make decisions, etc.

2. T2 wasn't Sarah's hero story. It was John's. In the revised final shooting script of T2, there is a bit that never made into the theatrical release. In the middle of the scene where Sarah is removing the bullits from the T-101, she and John disagree about whether to turn on the T-101's "learning" function (his position) or just smash it's CPU right there (her position). John ends up saying:

Look, Mom, if I'm supposed to ever be this great leader, you should start listening to my leadership ideas once in a while. 'Cause if you won't, nobody else will."

Maybe the movie would have been clearer and stronger if the scene had been left in, because this was definitely intended to be the moment when Sarah passed the responsibility for the future to John. Sarah stepped down from her position as the "officer in charge" and began to transition to his NCO, the person who backs up the officer, "gently" leads them when they are pursuing the wrong path, trains them to be a good officer, but also in the end follows the officer's lead.

3. I'm not sure why deferring to someone who either has more knowledge, is capable of preforming an action, or is supposed to be in charge is a bad thing. I personally take it as a sign of Sarah's maturity. Maybe it is "uninteresting" though in the way it was portrayed in T2 if you wanted the story to be focused around her. But, hey, it's John's origin story. *shrugs* So that moment when she shuts up because John brings her back to the situation at hand? Didn't bother me. To me she wasn't "weak." To me that was Sarah staying on mission, the mission she accepted for herself.

The way I figure it, she'd been out of Pescadero for maybe two days, tops. She's a soldier having lived and functioned under years of combat stress. She's had nothing to do for some time except to plot how she was going to get out of there, brood on the coming apocalypse, and wonder if she was doing enough of a good job with her son to ultimately save the existence of the human race. So she loses it for a moment when she comes face to face with one of the important dominoes in the chain that is responsible for ruining everything, including the life of that carefree girl she used to be. I really think she resents having to bring up her son like that. She wants to be the carefree smiling mom in her dream with her son playing at the playground, not the one who has to watch them all burn.

But she's not so far lost in her anger that she can't in the end continue to focus on the mission at hand, her mission, her son's mission, the mission that's been driving her every action since the moment she believed Kyle Reese. The mission was to prepare her son to fight the machines and become the great leader of men that he has to be. She stays on mission. She lets her son begin to try and lead. I mean, she's already made sure that by age ten he can "blow shit up." I don't think it's weird for her to step back and start to let her ten year old begin to lead.

Oh, and I wouldn't know about the show, I haven't seen it. (Bad fan.)
Yeah I never really thought that bit was bad in T2, Sarah was clearly having some kind of emotional breakdown. I don't really think it's anything to do with patriarchy that John tried to stop his ranting, slightly out of control mother from shooting some people.

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