Tag Archives: Love

Female characters: The Enigma of the Writing World

Time to take a break from Disney bashing and take the opportunity to discuss female characters.

While slaving away at SPSS (a stats software), during my breaks where I’m allowed to experience what sunlight feels like I’ve abandoned that privilege for something better: I’ve been catching up reading A Song of Ice And Fire book 4, A feast for crows. Recent chapter-character perspectives and my Disney Princess bashing posts, I got to thinking about female characters.

The sole purpose of my existence: To read all the books!

The sole purpose of my existence: To read all the books!

In Game of Thrones, we are presented with several female characters. From the typical all girlie and all “princess-y” Sansa Stark to Asha Greyjoy “Man with breasts”.

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asha-greyjoy-game-of-thrones-30919471-600-902

The problem with most media is that female characters are often on two extremes of a spectrum. We got the Sansa side (Disney Princesses, Welcome) and on the other side Asha Greyjoy (one of my favorite characters). A while ago I mentioned there are very few female characters I’ve seen that have managed to be strong and yet retain their femininity without forgoing their individual strength.

Growing up, the media taught me women’s strength (no matter the character development) were the following:

  • Beauty: Duh. 
  • Sex: Cersei Lannister is currently teaching this lesson.
  • The Love interest: What? He’s a badass dude who has loads of superpowers? You don’t need a silly thing called inner strength dear. You got a MAN!
  • Innocence: Yes, this is a weapon. Allow me to explain, throughout certain types of media and even in real life, women have known the value of acting (or not) innocent. The writer will protect her and in the real world, the dudes fall for this tactic.
  • Intelligence: More recently, the ‘nerdy’ girl has been showing up. Cunning and all that jazz is creeping up too but still underplayed.

No wonder there’s no ‘real’ character role model for young girls. As a child, I always preferred the male characters (which made my parents question why wasn’t I like other little girls) because they were more developed, independent and dealt with their faults. Female characters, on the other hand…

Meh, Tiger.

Meh, Tiger.

Don’t get me started with inner conflict issues. Donald Maass wrote inner conflict for a character is important to set them apart and such. Most female characters’ inner conflict deals mainly, on a general level, with the ‘romance’ issues or body/confidence issues. Yet, there’s a variety of literature and other media outlets probably showing every type of inner conflict imaginable.

Yet, every now and then someone wrote a real female character without polarizing the spectrum.

360px-Elisa_Maza Samantha-Carter-samantha-carter-2511923-518-76813307445717974931683.jpeg___1_500_1_500_cb94de6a_

The problem with female characters is its a sort of Pandora’s box of extreme characterizations (Sansa Vs Asha). The other won’t be caught dead dressing or acting like the other. Occasionally  we get the fem fatale type character but that’s used more of the whole sexy but dangerous angle (and again reinforces certain issues about female sexuality). The problem with staying in the middle is that writers’ often write a great female character until Mr. Love Interest shows up.

This has often been the case in society if we think about it.

I’ve seen many young women have all sorts of dreams and goals, but everything gets tossed in the wind when “Mr. Right” shows up and relationships need their dues (compromises) paid.

There was even a research article I came across stating how female scientists’ goals and ambitions change when romance strolls into the lab.

With this in mind, its obvious that the media still wants to cling onto its ‘construct’ of what women want and what will make them happy. Then people watch, get influenced by the media, and the cycle continues.

Rinse. Repeat.

My washing machine has more originality than this. It has lots of buttons for so many options (and breaks down to keep things interesting). Wait a sec…I don’t think that metaphor is right….

Why do we do this? Because its safe, its known, its-

R-E-A-L-I-S-T-I-C!

R-E-A-L-I-S-T-I-C!

Happiness, goals, and ambitions cannot be generalized. According to the media and ‘construct’, as a little girl I would’ve wanted to be a princess and have a handsome prince to come to tea or something.

Instead, my parents got a kid who wanted to be a Beast Wars Transformer (I wanted a Fox for my beast mode) or be part of the SG1 team and kick some serious ass. Funny enough, I did own a few Barbies but my sister and I made them part of this magical kingdom (with our other toys) that was always under threat from evil monsters. Their adventures required tactical espionage, using decoys (what the Ken doll was for), breaking defensive positions and I think we even cut off the bad guys’ supply lines at one point.

To make your characters more memorable and realistic in their world and life, you have to find out what will make them happy not what a template says.

The good thing is we’re seeing an emergence of strong female characters based on their individuality, history, family background and circumstances (a quick thank you to GRR Martin and several other writers out there). However, there’s still a long way to go before the playing field is equal.


Accurate Story Titles: The case with Disney’s Princesses Part 2

In the game of creating-accurate-story-titles-for-your-audience-to-read, you either

meme

Make them laugh or be lame!

The latter is pretty much death on the internet. Just much slower and more painful than loosing your head.

Let’s see, we’ve cover Mulan, Little Mermaid, Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderalla…

Who’s next?

Wait…You. So we meet again.

My mortal Enemy

My mortal Enemy

From the dawn of my existence, your theme song played in the background of my home whenever you saw the opportunity, like your cousins the sirens when they saw new ships with young sailors, to tempt the women in my family to have a ‘girls’ movie night’. I was forced to watch treacherous ill gotten stories which neglected the very fabric of healthy relationships.

It nearly drove me mad. But I survived, persevered even because I knew one day, I shall have my vengeance upon you.

Then, you decided these taunts were not enough to thrill you in our game of TV remotes. You recruited countless radio stations and music stores to promote, sell and replay what only your most loyal of banner-men  or..um women, to sing your theme song over and over again. Along with that Titanic song I still believe you were one of its main architects.

I thought patience was the best way to go about my plans, but then you did the unthinkable.

You infiltrated my ‘real book’ of saxophone sheet music.

Tonight, I shall unveil to the world your true tale.

Prepare yourself!

This is our final battle!

Alright, Beauty and the Beast is one of those classics that will probably haunt humanity until we’re extinct or be a treasured artifact in  a post-apocalyptic zombie world where alien archaeologists are trying to figure out what happened.

A tale of Stockholm syndrome, forced redemption and re-enforcement of certain stereotypes

A tale of Stockholm syndrome, forced redemption, re-enforcement of certain stereotypes and how you can change your man with your love!

At the beginning of the film, the narrator tells us of a spoiled and selfish prince who was unkind. Hey, he turned away an old woman during a storm! That’s just extra points on the ‘typical-bad-guy-meter’.

Hmm, selfish, unkind to the poor, appreciates beauty, only apologized when there’s a bigger more powerful fish in the kingdom, you know he’s just an incestuous lineage and headless main character away from being-

Joffrey

Joffrey.

But Joffrey being a powerful beast would not be good. Tyrion Lannister won’t be able to protect us.

Anyways, Belle sings how boring her life is and she doesn’t want to marry the village quarterback. Funny thing, in the end she just ends up marrying the ‘changed’ prince and lives happily ever after. What’s the difference between that choice and marrying the quarterback? Both of them had their failings and issues. The only difference is one is rich and a prince!

At least Arya Stark knew she wanted something different and she wasn’t afraid to say what it was. And that’s a princess who knew what she wanted and what to sing about if she broke out into a musical number.

So let’s cut the plotline and get straight to it, she plays hostage trade with the beast. Then, begins a love story of stockholm syndrome.

Firstly, the beast gets pissy and actually orders the servants to let her starve (this sounds like something Joffrey would do). It seems like the time spent not being a human prince with everything didn’t teach him any humility.

If anything, just enraged him.

The enchantress that cursed him is obviously not an accredited psychologist. We need to alert the Enchantress Psychologists Board about malpractice and proper certification of a certain someone. Seriously, if I was an enchantress and wanted to teach him about inner beauty and humility well, there’s a whole bunch of recycled plotlines I could use that would fit better! Make him ugly and a peasant, then he learns his lesson, etc etc etc.

Okay, so the beast starts becoming nice and all lovey dovey with Belle because love changes you! This of course is one the major assumptions about relationships in today’s society. Kiddies, you can’t make people change. You can help them but the whole causality is wrong.

Also, it takes steps. A long process to get a person to change. I’m not saying people can’t change but….

Have any of you watched Gargoyles?

One Disney character (I'm still in shock) that tells you the hard truth

One Disney character (I’m still in shock) that tells you the hard truth

 Do you remember what Goliath told Angela, his daughter, about her mother’s actions in season 3 (Generations)? Well, I can’t post a direct link to the speech, but it sums up everything I want to say about changing a person:

“To truly change or redeem oneself is terribly difficult. Some work their entire lives and never manage it. “

-Goliath

I read that in Goliath’s voice….Anyways, Demona didn’t really change even in the face of her own beloved daughter’s pleas.

How can you expect the Prince to change?

This only re-enforces two stereotypes or tropes in romance media, (1) Stockholm = love and (2) your love can change him!

Here’s another issue, the woman is always beautiful. The man can be ugly. If its ever reversed, the woman is actually a flower waiting to bloom and turns out…wait for it…she’s actually beautiful!


Nostalgia Critic best sums up Twilight

A blogger discussing Twilight these days is as old of tale as “Once a upon a time, an internet troll started a flame war”. It’s a dangerous risky domain for any blogger to enter.

Proceed with Caution

I made this sign 😀 I’m so proud!

But if you’re a MANLY blogger, you have to go. You have to get your numbers up. You have to piss off half the internet at one point in your blogging life. This doesn’t mean you can’t proceed with caution.

1001 things to do on the internet before you die: Contribute to the One does not simply Meme. CHECK!

1001 things to do on the internet before you die: #24 Contribute to the One does not simply Meme. CHECK!

Sooner or later I was bound to write about it and contribute to the discussion without sounding like the two most popular arguments:

I couldn't find a 'good' argument pic for Twilight

I couldn’t find a ‘good’ argument pic for Twilight. I don’t want to try too hard.

The only argument I can find for the ‘good’ part is the usual escapism stuff.

Yes, we know, we know:

Twilight is popular and the sales figures speak for themselves.

Twilight is bad because it sets women back 100 years (I agree).

All these arguments have been said and written, discussed and fought over long before a certain blogger decided to enter the scene.

Before I go on, I’d like you to watch Nostalgia Critic’s short editorial piece on Twilight

I’ll just…help myself to avoiding my PhD work in the meantime.

How to avoid PhD work

Done?

I agree for the most part with the Nostalgia Critic. He mentions towards the end of the video that (I’m paraphrasing here) ‘for every moron that believes Twilight represents what life is, dozens are moving on’.

I don’t agree there Mr. Nostalgia Critic.

Last post I linked everyone to a certain book which discusses how media does affect young people.

Yes, people do move on and do change, however, people unconsciously believe what the media portrays there is some underlying truth applicable to their life.

Maybe you don’t believe me. Fair enough. So I’ll ask you this, just observe the people around you and yourself. Especially when it comes to their love life.


Attention all writers: Before making your characters fall in love, first learn about Stockholm syndrome

There’s a reason why I don’t like most mainstream romances.

Its not their impracticality.

Its not their perfect endings.

Its not the unrealistic sex scenes everyone wants to try out.

Its the (in)direct applications of psychological issues.

How many movies/books have you seen where the girl is kidnapped by the ‘hero’ and after a few days of impromtu-togetherness-time they fall in love?

I expect to be killed by school girls and nostalgic young women tomorrow

“Blogger killed by Disney school girl fans and nostalgic young women” is tomorrow’s headline

A while back I published on this blog the ultimate writer list which had two rules I’d like to follow up on:

“22. Stockholm syndrome does not mean its true love.

23.When writing a romance piece, I will pretend that the male character is not in love with the female and if he sounds like a stalker/murderer/rapist, then I will rewrite the story.” (Myself, THERE APA! HAPPY? YOU WILL NOT HAUNT ME HERE)

Stockholm Syndrome happens when hostages express positive emotions, empathy and sympathy towards their captors/kidnappers. This syndrome has been widely discussed in media and stats show that a majority of victims do not associate with their kidnapper/captor. Despite the criticisms and stats of Stockholm syndrome, I think its important for any author to keep a mental note of it.

Objectively speaking, stories are generally about the exceptional characters in sometimes exceptional circumstances in whatever world the author has built. Many ‘romance’ stories have been built using the trope of kidnapping someone and then falling in love. By definition, these characters are the exception to the rule.

And most likely to suffer from Stockholm Syndrome.

If you think tropes like these (among several others) are harmless, think again.

Before writing any romance genre, please read this first.

Before writing any romance story, please read this first.

References and other links to look at:

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1920301,00.html

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AbductionIsLove

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Love-Romance-Mass-Media-Communication/dp/0805848320


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