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Does anyone remember that stuntmen show from the 80s with Lee Majors? No? You have missed nothing then.

I was a little kid when I watched it and barely remember anything from it. But I remember its title sequence, showing off all three major actors. The two guys were doing action-y things in their title card, the woman, blonde, beautiful walked through a door in a small bikini.

My childhood was full of cool stuff, too. Pippi Longstockings, for example, who was physically strong, rich, independent and smart. And a child.

When I was a kid, I thought that those weak princess fairy tales would one day end and all the adult stories would be full of Pippi Longstockings because once you're a grown-up there is nothing that can stop you from being strong, rich, smart and independent. No parents, no adults to hold you down.

Yeah. No, that didn't turn out to be true. The bikini should have told me this.

Now, you can say that there are - if not many - some Pippi Longstockings in grown-up fiction. Action girls like early Ellen Ripley, Sarah Connor, The Bride, Buffy, Starbuck, blah blah.

Except one day you wake up and face the hard cold fact that the action girls fit in the extremely narrow box of young, attractive, physically strong or at least extremely talented when it comes to weaponry use or computer hacking skills, riddled with "angst" or just straightforwardly superhumanly perfection. And when you get really lucky you get something like Angelina Jolie's character in Salt - a female character who's a re-gendered male character. (This is most obvious in Salt because it used to be a Tom Cruise project but this way of writing female action heroes is not all that unusual.)

And when women are not action heroes? Sucks to be them then. Because they'll either shuffled off to play some supporting role or the love interest (this is not really funny if they're actually supposed to be the protagonist.)

You know what's so telling about Donna Noble? That in any other story - even in any other season of Who, she would be the Molly Weasley, the Jackie Tyler - the screechy, nagging not-twenty-something woman who in a moment of grace might get to do one awesome thing that's supposed to make up for an entire characterization of tired cliches.

Donna Noble has nothing that sets her apart from the rest of humanity but superior typing skills and compassion. No superhuman strength, no fighting skills, no idea which side of a gun is the right one. She is not young starlet material. Damnit she's not even straight-up Mrs. Robinson material. She's not sexy, but she's not asexual or a man written as a woman. She's normal, she's flawed and her accent is probably an acquired taste. She's human.

And yet she's the protagonist, the audience avatar, the hero of an entire series of a sci-fi genre tv show. And not just any hero, but an extremely capable, smart, compassionate, sympathetic, funny, and heroic one. She's fantastic at saving the world.

There's something incredibly gutsy about placing a character like Donna so much outside the box. And not just outside the box but inside the box that is people by female character so unlike her. And make it work.

I know people dislike Rusty's work on Who a lot but for Donna I'll forgive the man everything. Even though I suspect a fluke.

Date: 2010-08-18 02:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eolivet.livejournal.com
You know what's so telling about Donna Noble? That in any other story - even in any other season of Who, she would be the Molly Weasley, the Jackie Tyler - the screechy, nagging not-twenty-something woman who in a moment of grace might get to do one awesome thing that's supposed to make up for an entire characterization of tired cliches.

That is so true. Also this:

Donna Noble has nothing that sets her apart from the rest of humanity but superior typing skills and compassion.

I feel Rose was sort of the same way, at least in the first season. But after the second season, she took on superhuman qualities. I liked her best as an ordinary girl who only the Doctor found extraordinary. In a way, I feel like Donna was Rose's "do over," if that makes any sense. What Rose (and RTD's Companions) should have been, before the whole Mary Sue mythology took over.

(Another reason that Amy Pond sort of bugged me: she was supposed to be extraordinary, and yet the entire season showed her as nothing more than an ordinary girl. It almost felt like bait-and-switch...just a bit.)

Date: 2010-08-19 06:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] para1.livejournal.com
(Another reason that Amy Pond sort of bugged me: she was supposed to be extraordinary, and yet the entire season showed her as nothing more than an ordinary girl. It almost felt like bait-and-switch...just a bit.)

Moffat is many thing but not many would argue that he's exceptionally good at writing female characters. He's a fan of the tell-not-show thing (remember River Song's introductory eps? Where we told that she's awesome but all we got were deus ex machina awesome. Yikes.)

Amy is suffering from that type of characterization and what's worse is that I begin to think that she's a remodelled Sally Sparrow.

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August 2010

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