Hollywood's 5 Saddest Attempts at Feminism

Hollywood's 5 Saddest Attempts at Feminism

Hollywood has a dilemma. Its blockbusters are all written by men, but to make the real money, they have to sell some tickets to females, too. What to do? Let a woman write a blockbuster? Ha! Of course not. Just insert a feisty woman into the story who won't take any crap from men in a really formulaic way! That should please the feminists, right?

Well, when you look at the results, you see they probably shouldn't have bothered.

Eowyn (The Lord of the Rings)

Eowyn is introduced in the second film as some sort of princess. Actually, we're really not sure; we sort of drifted off when there weren't stabbings going on. But we're reasonably sure she is related to that crazy dude that was the King, and that makes her a princess in our books.

Supposed to be a Role Model Because:

In the movies we see that she's an able ruler, and a trained warrior. Eowyn is told to stay behind and help protect the women and children of Rohan while all the men go off to ride horses and stab things.

As girls are wont to do in stories like this, she instead decides to abandon her responsibilities and run off to play with the boys. She disguises herself as a dude, which we noticed is sort of the opposite of how Legolas operates.

The "You Go Girl!" Moment:

While in battle, she manages to catch the fearsome Witch King off guard and stabs him right in the fucking head. The exchange plays out something like this:

Witch King: No man can slay me! Mine is an evil laugh!

Eowyn: Behold my vagina!

Witch King: * dies *

Take that, patriarchy!

The Problem:

Aside from the fact that she ran off with the army because of her hots for Aragorn (who sadly only had eyes for the hobbits) thereby making her central motivation to get the approval of some filthy male, she rather quickly gives up her warrior woman ways and pretty much marries the first guy she sets eyes on after Aragorn gives her the "It's not you, it's me" speech.

Luckily for her, it turns out to be a poor man's Sean Bean, but it could've been the burned out husk of Denethor. We're just saying.

The lesson here, impressionable young girls, is that playing soldier is all well and good in emergencies, but you're not really complete until you land a husband. Any husband.

Padme Amidala (Star Wars Prequels)

Natalie Portman's Padme shows up in the Star Wars prequels as the Queen of some intergalactic backwater. Not only is Padme the youngest elected Queen in history (eh, we'll have to do another article on George Lucas's poor grasp of what a monarchy is) but she's a certified kicker of asses.

After three movies, we know she is stern yet beautiful, driven equally by her duty and her love for a whiney Jedi wannabe who's totally half her age.

"It's fine, we can just keep having picnics until you're old enough to drink."

Supposed to be a Role Model Because:

In The Phantom Menace we see her equally at ease arguing the finer points of Robert's Rules of Order on the Senate floor and personally leading a raid to bring down the brutal Gungun occupation of her homeland. In the second movie, we see her flying a jet and fighting off a brutal monster in some sort of alien gladiator contest. Plus, she's Princess Leia's mom, and we all know badassery is carried on the X chromosome.

The "You Go Girl!" Moment:

Anakin: You call this diplomacy?

Padme: No, aggressive negotiations!

*stuff blows up*

The Problem:

Padme does just fine as an ass kicker until she starts using her uterus. As everyone in Hollywood knows, a uterus makes women do crazy things. In movies, pregnancy makes a heroine into a useless, whining, fragile creature (ok, other than Juno).

The pregnant Padme spends most of the movie crying and wondering when Anakin will come home. After confronting her baby daddy about his experimentation with the Dark Side, she's injured and goes into labor. While giving birth to future ass kickers Leia and Luke, Padme decides to die.

Seriously, the movie makes it pretty clear: she just gives up. No serious injury, no difficult birth, no blood spurting onto the table.

What about the two children she has to live for? Nope. She'll have none of that. The uterus will not allow it.

River Tam (Firefly/Serenity)

In the Firefly universe, River is the genius kid sister of Serenity's ship's doctor, Simon. Lured away from her family at a young age with the promise of advanced schooling, River has been tortured and programmed as an assassin and possible psychic. Her abilities include mind reading, precognition, advanced weapons training and ballet.

Supposed to be a Role Model Because:

Since Firefly was created by Joss "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" Whedon, it's pretty much assumed that all the female characters will be ground breaking paragons of feminist virtue. Maybe this is because Whedon genuinely respects strong female characters, or maybe he's intimidated by a cult fanbase that demands every show of his have another Buffy in it.

River, with her acrobatic fighting moves and penchant for exsanguinations, would seem to be a perfect fit.

The "You Go Girl!" Moment:

After her brother is gunned down by bad guys, River proclaims "My turn", then proceeds to gleefully and gracefully mow down every last one of them with a mother fucking sickle.

The Problem:

Despite River's inherent ass-kicking abilities, she rarely uses them to the benefit of the crew. The character has been driven insane by her experiences, and therefore she spends most of her time saying crazy things and throwing up in her brother's bed.

In fact, protecting River forms the backbone of no less than five out of thirteen episodes, plus the theatrical movie. That's an awful lot of rescuing for a feminist hero.

Many fans noticed this, too, and expressed their outrage on their Livejournals:

"... I'm not sure that I will recover from the shock of watching the malicious way in which Joss stripped his female characters of their integrity, the pleasure he seemed to take from showing potentially powerful women bashed, the way he gleefully demonized female power and selfhood and smashed women into little bits, male fists in women's faces, male voices drowning out our words."

Holy crap! They make it sound like the movie includes a 20-minute montage of Whedon pimp-slapping every female on the set.

Catwoman (Batman Returns)

Selina Kyle is a frumpy personal assistant to Batman villain Christopher Walken. She has the misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time and her boss kindly shoves her out a window for her troubles. Fortunately, she is resuscitated by a group of stray cats in an alley.

At this stage, Selina is left with only one option: dress in a shiny black leather cat suit and become a super villain. Well, we suppose calling the cops or going to an emergency room were also options, but who are we to judge?

Supposed to be a Role Model Because:

In this film, Catwoman is a gorgeous yet cunning adversary for Batman. The character also isn't portrayed as outright evil, so much as she just abides by her own complex moral code. She eventually defeats her evil boss, who made demeaning comments about her earlier in the film.

The "You Go Girl!" Moment:

"I am Catwoman. Hear me roar."

The Problem:

Catwoman is a prime example of the femme fatale (literally "dangerous woman") stock character. It's an archetype that goes way back to probably the first male to ever write a story right after a nasty breakup.

You can see the mentality of the guy writing the femme fatale, since he has the character basically using sex as a weapon against men. Sharon Stone in Basic instinct is probably the most gratuitous example, but maybe the most famous is Cleopatra who, regardless of what actually happened, has always been fictionalized as having seduced the world with the sheer force of her boobies.

So basically the femme fatale was created by insecure males to represent the dangers of unrestrained female sexuality. In these stories she's always a corrupting influence for the male hero and is always eventually punished for it, usually with a violent death.

And, sure enough, the last we see of Catwoman is her "dying" from kissing Christopher Walken with a goddamned taser in her mouth. If that's not some kind of symbolism for herpes then we don't know what is.

Elizabeth Swan (Pirates of the Caribbean)

Elizabeth (Keira Knightley's character) Swan is introduced in the first movie as the governor's daughter who has a fascination with pirates and effeminate blacksmiths. Over the course of the franchise, she learns to fight, shoot, go to war, lead armies and give boring speeches.

Her and her one true love, Will (Orlando Bloom), endure many obstacles in their relationship and are rewarded when they are finally united in a thirty second Easter egg after the closing credits of the final movie.

Supposed to be a Role Model Because:

Elizabeth is intelligent and resourceful, and knows a lot about pirates. In between movies Will teaches her to fight and she performs marginally well against opponents with no names or dialogue.

She gets elected Pirate King and captains her own ship. Also, every leading man in the series falls in love with her at some point, leaving her the epicenter of a nautically themed love quadrangle.

She's everything a girl should aspire to, right?

The "You Go Girl!" Moment:

Elizabeth gives a rousing speech about freedom from oppression, to a bunch of rapists, killers and thieves. She then leads her rag tag fugitive fleet into battle against the evil forces of progress who are trying to stop them from raping, killing and thieving. You go, girl!

The Problem:

Tokenism. She's the female pirate version of the crusty black sergeant that threatens to pull the white protagonists off the case in a buddy cop flick. Elizabeth exists for the producers to point to and say "Look how enlightened we are!"

Elizabeth is the only woman in the series who isn't a gossipy chamber maid, nameless whore or crazy sea goddess. Why do all the boys want a piece of her sweet, boobless ass? Because she's literally the only woman available. It's either her or one of the members of the film's catering staff.

"It's either her or you, Bloom."

Not to mention that she only gets command of a ship because Chow Yun Fat mistakes her for the crazy sea goddess, and she only becomes Pirate King (And why not the Pirate Queen while we're at it?) due to some elaborate double crossing scheme by Jack Sparrow, and not any actual qualifications. She just sort of lucks her way into everything.

But the final straw is the Easter egg ending. After the day is saved and the pirates have won the freedom to rape and pillage across the seven seas, Elizabeth and Will are married, but must endure a long separation due to a curse.

No problem. We don't see exactly what she does for ten years, but from what we see after the closing credits, we can safely assume it was moping around waiting for Will to return and popping out his children.

Oh, Hollywood. You came so close on this one.

Jennifer is the chair of JordanCon, the first convention for fans of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series.

For more feminism, check out the boob-aliciousThe 6 Most Gratuitously Cleavaged Women on TV or once again feel the wrath of our moral outrage in The 9 Most Racist Disney Character.

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