The Militarization of Femininity: Revisited

A while back, I blogged about how an image of Kristen Stewart as Snow White in armor from the upcoming Snow White and the Huntsman raised my hackles.  I’m not convinced I fully articulated my point, which meandered back and forth between defending Disney princesses, supporting the actualized woman warrior, and supporting a woman’s right to a more traditional (read: archaic and sexist) lifestyle.  I think the point I wanted to make was about the contrived nature of this version of femininity and why it’s not a solution to the problem of well-rounded female characterization.

In my original post, I was mystified: “My first impression was one of disdain; the last time I checked, Snow White was not Joan of Arc.  I don’t remember her having any martial inclinations or talents nor the socio-economic status to make such a transformation possible. The last time I checked, her enemy was one vain witch, not an entire army.

My second impression was one of conflict: I should be more supportive of this …modern expression of female agency. Shouldn’t a Snow White who can wield a broadsword be more awesomely great than one who prefers to spend her time cleaning up after 7 slovenly men before she gets food poisoning and largely disappears from the narrative?

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On Being a Purist (and How I Saw the Light)

Yes, Gentle Reader. I’m the obnoxious nerd harshing on your favorite reboot.  I’m the purist who gets off on leeching every last bit of enjoyment out of your viewing experience by pointing out all the ways the new version got the canonical version wrong. I’m the geek with the exhaustive knowledge of this particular fandom and will in fact, ask William Shatner for the combination to Kirk’s safe in Episode 25*.  That this is unfortunate makes it no less true for me and for others out there. I have, however, come to a point in my life where I have seen The Light, as it were, and feel compelled to both defend and attack my own outdated position.

To begin, let me say I believe there is a place for purism in fandom.  I believe that the deep love and respect for a particular work of media or literature invites a desire to maintain the integrity of said work. Too often we’ve seen good creations butchered in countless sequels, prequels, reboots, and remakes that indicate to anyone watching that Hollywood ran out of ideas ages ago. Apparently, they prefer to send a fandom’s loyal fans running for their Xanax as their favorite show or movie gets appropriated for summer blockbuster bucks. If the people did it correctly the first time decades ago, you’d better believe that some suit somewhere believes it can be redone for a new audience.  They want to make it hip.  They want to make it cool, edgy, nu!Wave, dare I say “modern”.  Spare me.

Oftentimes, in the attempt to modernize and repackage, they completely overlook the essence of the show in favor of more cosmetic updates.  Let’s give Superman a mohawk and some “S” tattoos! That’ll work!

My “nerdrage” hackles have been raised on numerous occasions.  As a fan of comic books, disappointment comes with the territory; superheroes will always be a hot property for TV and movie studios, now especially so, and there will always be some studios who get it right (Warner Brothers/ Christopher Nolan’s Batman, Marvel Studios/Iron Man) and some studios who fail miserably (X3, Joel Schumacher’s BatmanGreen Lantern (yes, I’m predicting already that it will suck. Ryan Reynolds is NOT my Hal Jordan.  Less abs, more personality, please.)**.

See what I mean? I can’t stop myself, even now! The movie’s not even out yet and already I’ve passed judgment! To me, Ryan Reynolds lacks the depth of character and range of emotion to play Hal, a complex character who has depth far beyond the surface flyboy persona.  If some amount of purism and respect for the original subject matter does not exist, all portrayals will remain just that: a superficial simulacra, soulless and meaningless. Continue reading