Yeah, there's an interesting debate to be had about Buffy and co. Would a female superhero created by a woman be noticeably different?
And I think it sucks that women are so marginalized in the entertainment industry. I am sick of being fed boys-own fantasy. I don't want Bruce Willis in a vest or Stallone in a vest or Brad Pitt in a vest. I want stories in which the women are more than the vest-wearing hero's fashion accessories. Tarantino may be doing it for all the wrong reasons- who knows?- but he has now made three films in a row with a woman doing the heroics. At the very least, it's refreshing.
And it would be even more refreshing if there were female writers and directors making comparable films.
I think Tarantino is motivated by the success of depicting women doing heroics, that people regardless of gender identify easily with The Bride, for example, is a demonstration of precisely how far we've come in terms of how we are willing to see women portrayed. It is worth noting that until recently, nearly the only woman not portrayed in some stereotypical role was Joan of Arc and in many ways she is the literary archetype of the "strong woman." Whether or not Tarantino is serving the goals of a hypothetical feminist movement is ancillary, he has created a rather unique heroine from all I've seen....
There is a sentence that I'm trying to write over and over again, in order to maintain an intellectual air. I think this, which I've heard from a lot of boys whose parents actaully let them see the movie:
"I wish I could kick butt like Uma." And so on to that effect. She's not seen as a model for women, for strong women, or any of that. She is now a model of non-gender, universally acceptable, vicious-yet-merciful, heroic-yet-flawed strength. Period. That she is in fact a "she" almost never plays into it.
Two other women I can think of in this vein are Sigourney Weave in the Alien movies, and Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2.
Is it only science fiction where we see this?!
Detective fiction has some cool classy female characters and, yes, some of them are created by women. I'm thinking particularly of VI Warshawsky- the Chicago p.i. created by Sara Paretsky, and Inspector Jane Tennison (Prime Suspect) the TV policman created by Lynda La Plante and played by Helen Mirren. There are others.
These characters escape from their frames. They become available to everybody. Peter Pan, Dracula, Sherlock Holmes, Superman, and now- the Bride. It hardly matters who authored them. They exist. They speak to our needs. Arguing against them is like arguing against the human race.
In the past almost all these archetypal figures were male. It's a sign of the times, and a hopeful sign, that some of the ones who are coming through now are female.
I videotaped "The West Wing" a couple of weeks ago, and I'm just now getting caught up. At one point, CJ Craig, the 6 ft tall press secretary gets promoted to chief of staff. One of the younger guys congratulates her "on behalf of men who have WonderWoman fantasies". I thought it was funny, and it reminded me of your comment.
Ah yes, Wonderwoman. She was always a little too cute to be quite convincing.
None of those facts need to play into people's overall perception. I'm reminded of other instances, such as Charlemagne and Baligant from the the Song of Roland, who are precisely the same except that Charlemagne gets help from Gabriel at the end of the battle. That fact never seems to play in either. So while the facts of what is going on may be undeniable, that does not mean they are actually recognized or truly assimilated. Let's not forget that the overwhelming majority of the audience probably remembers more about the fight choreography than the plot line.
what would also be refreshing is if films were created and marketed to a unisex audience.
with most media, "the viewer" is generally assumed to be male (unless the medium in question is romance novels or something of that sort). so while uma thurman may kick butt as the bride, she also has to be sexy uma thurman to appeal to the "male gaze". i guess the best example of this is lara croft from tomb raider. i would say linda hamilton from terminator had one of the most progressive female roles- because she was tough and determined and survived- and yet also had a sexual relationship without (in my opinion-- but then i also havent seen it in several years) really having her sexuality exploited for the audience.
also: when i imagine myself as a protagonist, i imagine myself as a dude. however, i think this has more to do with the fact that we're all conditioned to regard male-ness as neutral, and female-ness as something different.
Sexy AND young.
It irritates me that Sean Connery is still playing action heroes at 70 while most women get stuck with little old lady roles by the time they're 50.
Why can't we see Meryl Streep hanging off buildings or wielding a light sabre?
or in a similar vein, BUST magazine made the excellent point that when a movie script calls for an ugly fat dude, producers hire an ugly fat dude. but when the script calls for an ugly fat chick, we have charlize theron gain weight and make herself unattractive. can you imagine brad pitt gaining fifty pounds for a part that should be played by jack black? no. but somehow we can only stand to have an unattractive female protagonist if we know that it's a disguise.
And the parameters of beauty are so narrow. Most of the actresses who succeed in Hollywood conform to the same long-leggedy, high-cheek-boned type.
or, it's not so much imagining myself as a protagonist. i just have little interest in writing about female characters. maybe i dont find women as interesting, because i am one.
That's also a factor in my preferring to write about women- the fascination of the "other".