Fear Of Whales

Tales of a reluctant minister

iZombie is the Feminist Hero we Waited For

with 2 comments

Geek Culture get’s a bad rap in my not at all humble opinion. It seems popular now to characterize comic book, computer and gamer culture as a male-dominated “neckbeard” stronghold. We have our blind spots to be sure such as Gamergate and the Fappening, and those are embarrassments to our culture, but a large part of the reason they are embarrassments is because we made them public and openly criticized them from within. The reality is that over 50 percent of gamers and 50 percent of comic readers are female, and that number is growing. It’s easy to see why. Geek culture is all about empowerment. It’s about people which society has tended to look down on being proud of who they are…


Pictured: Not Feminism

So I get just a little defensive when I talk about my love of Superhero movies and the first response out of someone’s mouth is “no female leads”.  As if that weren’t a problem with every genre of movie and the superhero genre was below the curve rather than above it. Yes, misogyny and racism is a problem in this culture, and comic book movies are not immune to it such that most of the big-name heroes are Aryan-looking athletic 30-somethings with “Man” prominently in their title, and that IS a problem. We have only made 2 comic book movies about a woman and a handful of ensemble pieces featuring women, and I would like to see that number go up. Still, I’m loathe to twist the knife in myself by being too critical of a community that I believe is part of the solution.

”So when are we making the Wonder Woman movie?”

That’s the solution I most often hear presented. We need to support the development of a franchise starring the most famous DC Comic heroine, and if you don’t want that, you are sexist… Well… I’m hesitant.

Here’s the thing. As a comic reader, I have no idea what Wonder Woman arc is good enough to make a movie out of, and as a Superhero Movie fan, I have no confidence in WB to pull it off and start a franchise with it. She’s just a pretty bland character that works well for Justice League (which is how anyone who knows her knows her) and DC is a pretty bland studio which has been two steps behind marvel for years.


Pictured: Also Not Feminism

Also, as a feminist (if I can claim that) and a champion of the geek community to push in a progressive direction. I don’t think Wonder Woman is the ticket. She is a sex symbol invented by a fetishist whose powers are about strength and violence when they are not about being tied up.  She is not exactly the sort of role model we want to be sending to empowered young women about their potential

All that together tells me we could be looking at another “Catwoman” by the time that film hits theatres. And I’d like to avoid that.

“Well isn’t that convenient, Ryan? So you will watch a woman in theory but in practice you are full of excuses” I recognize that to someone who is not already a comic fan that discrediting Wonder Woman sounds a lot like discrediting the only good female superhero. but that just isn’t true

”Fine then, what bankable woman do you want to see lead a franchise” Is the next very fair question. And it’s a good one. There are plenty of woman out there in comics, but those that would hold up good movies are a smaller pool, and those that would do so in a progressive way even fewer.


Pictured: Not Quite

“Thor” for instance, is a woman now, which was a super bold move on Marvel’s part especially after Thor started making waves on the big screen as Chris Hemsworth. But to make a female-led Thor in theaters only serves to perpetuate the tendency to think of female heroes as off-brand counterfeits of their male versions. And there is a myth there. Thor is about the middle stage of life, when the immature and destructive child is behind you, but the responsible king is still in the future and you are free to explore the world on your terms. It’s clearly tailored to male adolescents, more than female adolescents who tend to mature faster, and then deal with external resistance to power ascent rather than Thor’s temporal resistance. It’s not that women can’t relate with Thor (they can and they do) they just do so through a particular lens.

Of course we are getting Captain Marvel. I’m excited about that, but it won’t come out until 2018. Jessica Jones, same story. Agent Carter is okay, and it deals with sexism directly by placing it in the 1950s but the character has always been second-fiddle material.

What we really need is an original female hero, who was written that way with no male counterpart, who has powers and mythos that are uniquely feminist, not an imitation of the patriarchy. We need her to be complex: tough but not manly, feminine but not girly, and likeable but not another sex-object. Most of all me need it NOW.


Pictured: Now We’re Talking

Meet Olivia, the hero of the new CW show iZombie. Brought to you by the same people who made Veronica Mars. Olivia was a brilliant Medical Student on track to becoming a physician when she undied, now she has to work at a coroners office. What’s that? You say that sounds exactly like the career path of every millennial after the crash of 2008? Why what a coincidence!

Now a Zombie, Liv eats the brains of the corpses to survive, but finds that she gains some of their memories and personality when she does so, so she uses this newfound ability to solve murders.

Also, if she is threatened she goes into what she calls “full on zombie mode” with glowing red eyes and rips everything to shreds within a 30 foot radius.

To review: She’s smart, she’s empathetic, she’s a little creepy, and she kicks ass. She is now showing on Hulu so give her some love with your AdBlock turned off to show the world we are ready for this kind of hero.


Written by RyanGaffney

April 15, 2015 at 12:24 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. It’s not a matter of feminism / misogynism in any of the movie genres. The simplicity of it is that they will make big budget movies with strong female leads when the audience wants it. If the audience wanted big budget movies with strong female leads in any genre – there would be more of them made.

    Why don’t they spend more ad revenue promoting the WNBA and female college sports? It’s simple. No demand for the product. Movies are the same way.

    Box office Mojo – live action movies with a female lead – all time worldwide

    #38 Hunger Games 2
    #41 Twilight 5
    #55 Maleficent
    #59 Hunger Games 3
    #66 Gravity
    #68 Twilight 4
    #69 Twilight 2
    #73 Twilight 3
    #75 Hunger Games
    #96 Mamma Mia

    Only 10 and the top is number 38. It’s not a misogynist thing or a genre thing. It’s a revenue thing.


    April 15, 2015 at 3:26 pm

    • Sure but why is there not a market? Some people think it’s just rampant sexism in society and that’s possible, but I’m inclined to believe it has more to do with how female lead stories are written and to what degree they conform to the universal themes of life. Relatable characters tend to be men, when directors want a character to become a surrogate for the audience, they tend to cast an uninteresting white man. When they cast a women they are making a statement.

      Here I argue that women like Olivia who are relatable as women can draw the same market that relatable men usually do. Whereas Malificent… not so much.

      You do have a good point though, which is that comics culture (particularly in paper comics) is well ahead of the curve versus the rest of the movie industry

      Ryan Gaffney

      April 16, 2015 at 11:22 am

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