The first weekend of the month is usually a news roundup post, but there isn’t much to tell this month. It’s been not a quiet, but a focused month, working on my latest draft as part of NaNoWriMo. I completed 55,564 words by the end of the month, and am still working on the draft. I also resubmitted Higher Ground after making some revisions.
So in lieu of anything interesting about me, here are some much more interesting women! A while back I did a favourite heroes post and said one day I’d do one for the heroines, so here it is. It’s not just about female characters, but rather female characters that I’d personally refer to as a hero, not a heroine.
Ellen Ripley of the Alien movies.
Ripley does less kicking ass – or carapace – than you might think given her reputation as a kick-ass-chick. What she mainly does is show backbone and get the job done when it’s needed. That’s shown in Aliens when she drives the armoured vehicle right inside the complex to rescue what’s left of the marine squad, and of course when she battles the alien queen at the end. But even when she’s not kicking ass, she’s showing she’s got more balls than most of the men around. Look at her in Alien when Dallas and Lambert return to the ship with Kane with the facehugger attached. Protocol says she can’t let them back onto the ship, since, you know, Kane has a freakin’ alien organism attached to his face! She refuses her Captain’s direct order to open up, as she’s got to put the rest of the crew first. And if someone else (no spoilers!) hadn’t overridden the airlock then everyone but Ripley and the cat wouldn’t have ended up chomped.
There’s a story that goes around that the part of Ripley was written for a man and then not changed at all when they cast Sigourney Weaver. I personally don’t believe it. The part does seem to have been written with the assumption it would probably be a man cast, but as for not changed after the casting. Hooey! No script is ever not changed. Scripts are in a constant state of flux. Also I read a bit in a biography of Weaver that said there was a sex scene scripted between Ripley and Captain Dallas, though it was never filmed. So either that was one very daring script to start with, or there were indeed changes!
And if we’re talking about Aliens, I have to give a mention to Vasquez, the toughest of the entire marine squad. User of a gun so big she doesn’t carry it, she wears it. Vasquez isn’t only one of the toughest fictional female soldiers ever, she’s one of the toughest fictional soldiers of either sex. And gets one of the best lines in the movie, when Hudson asks her if she’s ever been mistaken for a man. Her reply to him, “No. Have you?”
Sarah Connor of the Terminator Movies.
Remember in the heroes post, I talked about tea bag characters? You don’t know how strong they are until they’re in hot water? Well Sarah Connor is the definitive tea bag. She starts out as a totally ordinary woman. If Kyle hadn’t come from the future to save her she’d have been mincemeat as soon as the Terminator showed up. But as the film goes on she gradually finds it in herself to fight back. Like Ripley she displays courage and resourcefulness. She refuses to give up. By the second movie she’s become a trained killer, ready to take on whatever she has to in order to protect her son. But this isn’t just a simple “hey she’s all cool and kick ass now” story. Becoming this person has cost her a huge amount. She’s damaged the relationship with the son she wants to keep safe. She’s been branded a lunatic and locked away. She’s become a criminal. And by the end of the movie she comes close to losing her humanity entirely. She’s a brilliant character.
The women of Blakes 7
For those who don’t know, Blakes 7 was a science fiction drama on the BBC in the late 1970s, very early 1980s. It was not Dr. Who. It was never aimed at kids. Being the BBC the special effects budget was crap, so the stories often concentrated much more on character and drama than on things that needed a load of money to show. I’m surprised looking back now that I didn’t include the Avon character in my heroes post. He could have been the “Anti-hero who ends up barking mad.” Anyway, one thing that made this show stand out was its women characters. And all too often the writers had no clue what to do with them, because they’d never before written women characters who could kick ass and fly spaceships and run galactic empires with a ruthlessness rare even among men.
Ah yes, they weren’t just goodies you see, The show’s main villain was a woman, Servalan, who started out as the military commander of the evil Federation, and later became its president. She was a fascist dictator with the dress sense of a drag queen. Seriously, she wore ball gowns to work. Because if you’re ruling the galaxy, why not look fabulous while doing it? It just added more to the feeling that she wielded absolute power. If you can have people taken out and shot for even looking at you funny, then nobody is going to tell you that maybe you should tone down the fabulousness a tad.
Honestly, between Servalan ruling the galaxy on telly and Mrs Thatcher ruling the country in real life, during my formative years, it’s no wonder I can’t take the idea of a man as Prime Minister seriously.
Alex Drake in Ashes to Ashes
A more recent character who’s impressed me was Alex in Ashes to Ashes. She’s a bit of a divisive character, some people think she’s annoying. Actually, I think she’s kind of annoying too at times, but that’s okay, I like characters who can be rather annoying. It was not an easy role to make a success of. The series is a follow on from the Life on Mars series, so Alex had two big asks. One, to take the place of the much-loved Sam Tyler character, and maybe the bigger one, to be a strong enough character not to be overshadowed by the phenomenon that is Gene Hunt. I think she did fine. There was a great streak of posh eccentricity in Alex that I loved. She wasn’t just a bit crazy because she seemed to be trapped thirty years in the past, she seemed to have plenty of bats in the belfry before all that started. I adore her.
Juliet in Lost
Juliet is an odd one for me. In season 3 of Lost I didn’t like her, because I got the feeling the producers were trying to make me like her. They were telling me to like her and that made me resist. Then in season 4 they stopped doing that and just let her loose to do her stuff. To do cool stuff, sometimes mean stuff. Suddenly, I started to like her. By season 5 she was one of my favourite characters on the show. When she gets her snark on and gets a general “I’m surrounded by idiots” look about her then I love her. And the actress Elizabeth Mitchell is hilarious on the DVD commentaries and has the greatest laugh.
Trinity in The Matrix movies
Few characters of either sex reach the level of coolness of Trinity. She reaches Han Solo-like levels of cool in The Matrix. Then in The Matrix Reloaded, which is mostly awful, she gets on a motorbike and adds the level of coolness of Steve McQueen in The Great Escape to her character and she just goes off the charts. Impossibly kick ass (no, really, impossibly, running up walls and shit) wearing skintight black leather and shades, she’s my absolute favourite character in the series. (Morpheus is second. Neo is way down there. I like the Keymaker more than Neo.) And she deserved a better death scene.