I’m not the only one dissing the new Star Wars. Gavin McInnes has some pointed criticism, and he said it so well, I’m jealous. For those of you who don’t know him, he’s the Canadian expat writer who co-founded Vice Magazine and appears on the Fox News show “Red Eye.” In a recent article at Taki’s Magazine, he argues that The Force Awakens is part of the anti-white-male propaganda currently infesting pop culture. It’s the phenomenon that portrays TV dads as bumbling idiots while their wives hold everything together. I’m not going to argue that point, rather, I’ll discuss a related issue: the ascendancy of the kick-ass female in science fiction.
McInnes writes that he can only stand the feminist nonsense in movies by looking for the chinks in the armor, the rare times where traditional values are affirmed, or a man is portrayed in a positive way.For example, Luke Skywalker, a white male, seems like a Christ figure when he appears at the end of The Force. My strategy is different. I short-circuit the propaganda by being a sexist fan-boy (though, given my age, I should probably say “dirty old man.”) That’s because nerds like myself find the take-charge female warriors of sci-fi to be totally hot. If you don’t get it, watch a few episodes of “The Big Bang Theory,” where some of the actresses I list below make guest appearances.
My favorite kick-ass sex symbol is River Tam (played by Summer Glau) from the “Firefly” series. In the movie Serenity, she dispatches a room full of reavers (bloodthirsty space cannibals) all by herself. We accept this, because she’s a mutant genius, an emotionally-damaged victim of secret government experiments. Another is Kara “Starbuck” Thrace (Katee Sackhof), the whiskey-drinking blonde fighter pilot in “Battlestar Galactica.” Then there’s Sigourney Weaver as Ripley, who climbs into a robotic loader exosuit to battle the alien queen in Aliens, with the ferocity of a mama bear protecting her cub. Probably the best is recent years is Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen, who looks fantastic in both her “flaming” evening gown and her Hunger Games battle gear. If I were Peeta, I wouldn’t have wasted the last minutes of the movie snuggling. The trilogy’s biggest sin was to have such a wimp be married to the warrior goddess.
Bad-ass as these warrior girls are, they all have weaknesses and vulnerabilities, which makes them seem real enough to be sympathetic. That’s something that Rey (played by Daisey Ridley) lacks, which was my biggest problem with her character. Everything just comes too easily for her. As a consequence she’s more annoying than appealing, despite her fresh-faced athletic looks. The worst serial offender is Angelina Jolie, whose action-move-heroine roles frequently cross over into the ridiculous. It doesn’t help that Jolie’s body is too damned perfect, with her economy-sized lips and breasts. Remember the wet suit in Lara Croft : Tomb Raider that somehow manages not to flatten out, but to accentuate those awe-inspiring mammaries? I guess Croft is so tough that she doesn’t mind the added drag while swimming.
Sexual fantasies aside, it’s all about creating a good story with interesting characters, not about following some formula, whether feminist or traditionalist. Warrior girls need more than their good looks and killer moves to make them interesting. They need to be people we actually care about.
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