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October 27, 2014



"you'd be hard pressed to find a single movie where the reverse was true with a male character." -- Would you say that Kristoff in "Frozen" fits this pattern? Granted, I have only seen the movie once, and I found it hugely problematic for many reasons... But this seemed to strike true, for the most part. The difference here, of course, is that Anna "needs" him to lead her through the tundra. And though he's relegated to second string in a few ways, his importance and skills still outweigh Anna's.


I agree with Kristoff. He just stands there in the climax.
I see this a lot in historical movies. Because of the time period, most of the characters in action roles have to be male, so they throw in a wife or girlfriend to Be There and Be Female.

Kim Aippersbach

River Song. So much potential. So criminally wasted.


I think the problem is that a lot of characters fall into a certain 'confirmed love interest' zone after they and their counterpart have expressed or acknowledged their love. I think the authors trap the character in an idea that they are now just a supporting role and sort of moral conscious for the main character. They do exactly what a loving partner would do and say what a loving partner would say. Unfortunately this romantically ideal person ends up having the same characteristics as any other romantically ideal person ever written. Because the conflict between them and the main character are essentially over, their flaws just kind of go away. For example, I feel that they killed a lot of Astrid's character in HTTYD2 now that she wasn't rejecting Hiccup. She's a nice supporting role now, telling him to follow his heart and whatnot. But she went from being this substantial opinionated and dynamic character to the sporty girlfriend. Authors need to be aware that people are still people after they 'fall in love.' Supporting their counterpart is not their purpose in life- and if it is, they're faded and predictable. Each character has their own storyline, even if it's not the one being told.

Caitlin Vanasse (@CaitlinVanasse)

I haven't ever watched all of the Matrix and so for me, watching the Lego Movie, the hero's ineptitute seemed largely to be there to make the point that you don't have to be perfect.

I think it resonates with many of the research that is coming out about how gifted and talented programs/telling kids they're smart etc. is ruining them because they're afraid to make mistakes.

I think criticisms of Wyldstyle in the Lego movie are absolutely valid, and I think conversations about it are important, but I'm also willing to give it a bit of slack because the filmmakers have acknowledged the criticism and that they can do better. I also think the "it's a parody of the Matrix" defense is a pretty inadequate one.


I disagree that Fiona in the Shrek movies falls into the same category as Wyldstyle. I feel like she is one of the better female characters in animated movies. In the first movie, Shrek and Fiona seemed to be on the same type of journey - learning to accept themselves for who they are. You could argue that Fiona shouldn't have needed Shrek to like her in order to accept herself as is - but the same argument could apply to Shrek. Why couldn't he accept himself as-is without Fiona being attracted to him? The other movies have pros and cons, but it started out pretty great.

Julia Adams

A few weeks ago I realized something that has been right in front of me for a long time, but I've only just found the pattern. You know those shows, the ones we love with the brilliant but doesn't quite walk with the other ducks investigator, and his kick-butt lady handler, you know she's normal and explains how to interact with the real world, she's usually the one to wrestle bad guys to the ground, break in doors, all that jazz. We've all seen them, a lot of them are pretty good, others aren't. The Mentalist, Elementary, Psych, Finder, Castle (he's not a genius, but he is quirky with a different way of looking at things), Forever, they all fit the pattern. Then there are the ones where the woman is really there, just to help them with P.R. like Monk, or that new one, Scorpion. There's Sherlock (don't get me wrong, I love it), where his P.R. person is his friend John. Branching out from the crime shows, you have Doctor Who, or Pirates of the Caribbean, or Artemis Fowl (it's a book, but still). The female characters get to be intelligent within normal limits, very sensible, very strong, but you almost never seem to get one who gets to be whimsical or brilliant or goofy. They just fight the baddies and handle the copious amounts of paperwork that their consultant's shenanigans have left them with. Apart from the odd guest character who might just be a match for him, and is very seductive besides (e.g. Irene Adler) or an odd extra girl on the team (I believe the team of geniuses in Scorpion does have one girl.), the only exceptions to this that I can think of are Bones and Rizzoli & Isles.


Isn't this a little one-sided? Here you are discussing action movies with MALE leads. Why would the female support be THE hero in these stories?

I get what you're saying, and what the author of that article you linked to is saying, about female supporting characters often seeming as little more than props, only there to be a reward for the hero guy or to fill some "bad ass girl" quota. But some of the examples are just...baffling.

Mako in a Pacific Rim? Seriously? Perhaps you didn't see the same movie I saw. There is no way Raleigh could have saved the day without her at his side. She freaking cut the wings off that flying Kaiju for crying out loud! She isn't just waiting for him to come back from battle so that she can fall into his arms. She is fighting at his side. And in the end, Raleigh doesn't "knock her out" and cast her aside as was suggested by Tasha in her article. He saves her and heads off alone to finish the job, fully expecting to die.

I'm sorry, but I think Mako is a pretty awesome character who had a pretty awesome job to do in that movie.

I mean, what are you really asking for? If Mako's role in Pacific Rim wasn't good enough, what would have been? Would you rather the roles have been reversed at the end? That Raleigh pass out and Mako sacrifice herself to save the day? I dare say not, because it wasn't her story, it was Raleigh's. Would you rather have had Raleigh keep her there so she could die beside him? Or maybe she could have simply not passed out. She could have been awake the whole time and they could have faced the end together. A fitting end, I think. But it wouldn't have been as effective, in my opinion. Not as dramatic, not as edge-of-your seat. Same thing with the ending of Oblivion. Why are women wasting their time complaining about stories in which men act sacrificially?

Fiona certainly doesn't fit the role of "strong female character with nothing to do" either.

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