No, I’m not talking about the comic continuation of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or even a sort of metaphysical wondering. But we’ll get to that. Welcome back to the Hellmouth, gentle viewers.
You know the drill. If you navigate these demon-infested waters, be prepared…
(Possible spoilers for Buffy, Angel, The Walking Dead, The Vampire Diaries, and Supernatural.)
If you’ve been haunting the Twitterwebs this week, you might have come across this interesting article by Entertainment Weekly. After flipping through the pictures of the leading ladies in recent superhero films, I read a bit of the blogosphere’s reaction to it.
To sum up said reaction: “WE WANT FEMALE SUPERHEROES.”
It’s clear from stuff like this that people want to see well-written, compelling female superheroes. People are tired of tropes and damseling. People want to see women doing their own rescuing — and even rescuing others. Joey Paur of GeekyTyrant.com mentioned that the average amount of screen time for the female leads in superhero movies is 22 minutes.
That’s…not very many minutes.
Those minutes also tend to be full of damseling, falling for the hero, and crying/screaming. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t needed smelling salts since the 1800s or so, and even then it was probably more due to the tight lacing on my corset than falling over at the sight of blood.
People inevitably bring up Buffy when this sort of discussion begins.
But here’s the thing, gentle viewers, this month of Buffy-related posts is a celebration of the sixteenth anniversary of the show’s first episode.
Sixteen years have passed since we last got a female superhero to power her own show for seven years. And in the decade since the final episode aired, we’ve seen nothing hit the silver screens or small screens with her sort of power. Maybe Katniss Everdeen. This isn’t to say there haven’t been some phenomenal female characters in the last decade, but when they’re about to reboot Superman yet again, and Spiderman’s getting a new trilogy again, and we’re getting more Iron Man and more Thor and more Avengers (which is about 80% man-powered) — erm, what about a female superhero up in here?
And not Elektra or Catwoman unless they do it right this time.
Bohemian Geeky Girl voiced it pretty well: “Where’s Buffy?”
Well. The short answer is that Buffy ended back in 2003. And since then, I think we’ve all been waiting for the next Buffy. I know I have. Instead I’ve seen more of the same. More of female characters getting tiny amounts of screen time and sexual assault-filled backstories. More scanty outfits. What they lack in substance and great writing, they make up for in tropes and long-kicked stereotypical dead horses.
Here’s the part where there be spoilers for TVD and TWD and Supernatural…warning.
I’m waiting to see if this season’s Elena in The Vampire Diaries will step up and do some world-saving, anti-Silas heroing. I’m waiting to see if Andrea — strong, resourceful, enduring, intelligent Andrea — will be allowed to save herself or if they’ll send in hesitant everyman Milton to do those honors. Frankly, I expect the latter. And I’m also waiting to see if they’ll do what I expect and write Michonne into the nastiness Robert Kirkman made for her in the comics. I’m waiting to see if they create a female character on Supernatural who doesn’t die.
With EW publishing that very interesting article, it leaves me wondering. Buffy has moved on. Who’s going to take her place?
You and I and a whole lot of others are all wondering the same thing: when are we going to get the SuperWomen we desperately want to see? Why do we keep having to point backwards in time to the same example of Buffy? Where are the new show leaders? The new cult protagonists? The new female faces of the fantasy and sci-fi genres? I’m ready to see them. And I don’t think I’m alone.
I think Buffy would want to see that too. After all, the show ended with the message of thousands of others rising up to stand in her stead.
So where are they?
“I hate this. I hate being here. I hate that you have to be here. I hate that there’s evil, and that I was chosen to fight it. I wish, a whole lot of the time, that I hadn’t been. I know a lot of you wish I hadn’t been either. But this isn’t about wishes. This is about choices. I believe we can beat this evil. Not when it comes, not when its army is ready, now. Tomorrow morning I’m opening the seal. I’m going down into the Hellmouth, and I’m finishing this once and for all. Right now you’re asking yourself, ‘what makes this different? What makes us anything more than a bunch of girls being picked off one by one?’ It’s true none of you have the power that Faith and I do. So here’s the part where you make a choice: What if you could have that power…now? In every generation, one Slayer is born … because a bunch of men who died thousands of years ago made up that rule. They were powerful men. This woman is more powerful than all of them combined. So I say we change the rule. I say my power should be our power. Tomorrow, Willow will use the essence of the scythe to change our destiny. From now on, every girl in the world who might be a Slayer…will be a Slayer. Every girl who could have the power will have the power; can stand up, will stand up. Slayers … every one of us. Make your choice. Are you ready to be strong?”
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