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Male Roles Vs. Female Roles in Fiction: Discussion/Analysis/Troperwank

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Aug 14th 2019 at 5:12:57 AM

So I talked before about superhero comics and the femme fatale problem. Well, I want to talk about an example of a character that was a femme fatale (or just relly had her fanservicey elements really played) but when I think about it, was better off if she wasn't - Knockout.

Knockout is a New God and a former member of the Female Furies, Darkseid's all-female elite fighting squad. She made her debut in the Superboy book from the 90s were she played a femme fatale role to Conner Kent. She displayed superhuman strength and exceptional fighting skills. She also worked undercover as a stripper using the alias Kay Fury.

So here you have a character who is a physical powerhouse and has a connection to one of the most amazing corners of the DC Universe. And her introdcution to audiences is as Superboy's equivalent of Catwoman. Oh and she's really into Interplay of Sex and Violence just to add to it.

Later, Knockout became a member of Gail Simone's Secret Six and was given a bit more depth to her, especially in regards to her relationship with Scandal Savage. Still that first introduction in the pages of Superboy is tough to wash off.

CharlesPhipps Author from Ashland, Ky Relationship Status: Lovey-Dovey
Aug 14th 2019 at 5:15:26 AM

Mind you, Knockout is primarily defined as Scandal Savage's Love Interest. She's a supporting character to her narrative and part of her Polyamory relationship.

Certainly, she was never a good fit for Superboy given, well, it was statutory when they were together.

But Gail Simone did do a good job with her. Just like she did Bane (albeit none of his traits from his time with her have stuck).

Edited by CharlesPhipps on Aug 14th 2019 at 5:16:56 AM

Author of The Supervillainy Saga, Cthulhu Armageddon, The United States of Monsters, and Lucifer's Star.
TobiasDrake Exposition Dragon from Colorado, USA Relationship Status: She's holding a very large knife
Exposition Dragon
Aug 14th 2019 at 6:11:04 AM

Knockout's name is a common term for "sexy woman I want to bang". I figured there'd be problems with this character from the moment I read that.

The greatest trick prejudice ever pulled was to convince the world it did not exist.
Aug 14th 2019 at 8:24:56 AM

Knockout also brings to mind another redheaded supervillainess from the Superman franchise named Maxima. She is the alien queen of the planet Almerac. Thanks to selective breeding, she has super strength, super speed, flight, optical force blasts, transmutation, telekinesis and telepathy. Sounds impressive? Well how about if I told you that her motivation was to marry Superman and have his genetically superior babies?

Like with Knockout, the character became a lot better when she moved on from that stupid motivation.

Aug 18th 2019 at 3:24:54 AM

A blog I visit had these two excerpts, each from an article about horror movies and t.v. shows.

Perhaps what we’re witnessing in horror right now is not a commentary on a single anxiety, but a culmination of all the anxieties that exist in culture—the shit that’s built up, affecting generation after generation, especially women. I don’t think it’s coincidence that the focus of Haunting of Hill House, Hereditary, Channel Zero: Butcher’s Block and Sharp Objects have been women—mothers and daughters—who’ve internalized the brunt of trauma for so long and are only now able to channel it. This collective rage shines through in Theo and Shirley at the end of Hill House when they have to save Hugh, and Steve and Luke, who embark on a Scooby Doo-esque adventure to torch the house. The rage that stems from internalizing trauma (while coddling men) also drips from nearly every scene in Sharp Objects, and is perfectly visualized by Toni Collette literally crawling up the walls in Hereditary.

This is what horror tells us—that in the collective unconscious of all women are psychic wounds so deep and raw that even to brush against them is to become a conduit for their primal violence.

The second article is specifically about women in horror in general.

CharlesPhipps Author from Ashland, Ky Relationship Status: Lovey-Dovey
Aug 18th 2019 at 5:52:28 AM

SHARP OBJECTS is an interesting story to bring up as a discussion of female trauma because men are irrelevant to the story. The protagonist is a woman who is suffering horrible PTSD from the fact her mother was horribly abusive and prone to Munchhausen By Proxy. The serial killer is her little sister who murdered other little girls because she was jealous and disgusted by them—also, got attention for her. She also prostituted her fellow friends. One of the central elements of the story is the fact that it is not necessarily the patriachy that is keeping the women of the book down but that it is the invisible female authority and relationships that can be every bit as controlling, abusive, and horrifying.

Author of The Supervillainy Saga, Cthulhu Armageddon, The United States of Monsters, and Lucifer's Star.
Aug 23rd 2019 at 2:49:41 AM

Anyone know of any works which deconstruct the Dragon Lady stereotype?

Edited by windleopard on Aug 23rd 2019 at 3:46:59 AM

KazuyaProta Porky from A Industrial Farm Relationship Status: [TOP SECRET]
Aug 28th 2019 at 11:30:00 PM

Sadly, I don't know. I some of works that play them heroically but as deconstructing the archetype...IDK.

Watch me destroying my country
Aug 28th 2019 at 11:36:45 PM

[up]If you don't mind, could you list the works that play them heriocally and how they do that?

KazuyaProta Porky from A Industrial Farm Relationship Status: [TOP SECRET]
Aug 29th 2019 at 11:32:44 AM

I think on characters like [[Manga/xxxHolic Yuuko Ichihara]], who look and act like the trope but overall tend to be Guile Hero,likely with some amoral elements but overall, still in the "good side"

Watch me destroying my country
Sep 2nd 2019 at 5:02:43 PM

How female representation in the Transformers franchise been?

MorningStar1337 Aegroto dum anima est, spes est. from 🤔
Aegroto dum anima est, spes est.
Sep 2nd 2019 at 6:12:41 PM

[up] From my (cartoon-limitednote  and hazy experience) Its mostly Arcee or an analogue, in other words The Smurfette Principle, at least among the Autobots. I'm not sure if Animated had any besides Sari (and her being a cybertronian was supposed to be a twist) and I think a spider-themed one that I can't remember being a neutral party or decepticon. Human allies are more consistent but still has a SP problem.

Again, my experience is limited for all I know, IDW or the toylines could be more even with M/F/NB representation.

Edited by MorningStar1337 on Sep 2nd 2019 at 6:13:50 AM

Is Amphibia an isekai? "We're TV Tropes. We don't need bots to ruin people's lives.". -nightwyrm_zero
Darthwyn Mother Goddess from The void Relationship Status: You cannot grasp the true form
Mother Goddess
Sep 2nd 2019 at 6:13:36 PM

Ignore this brain seemed to have read transformers as Terminator.

Edited by Darthwyn on Sep 2nd 2019 at 11:13:49 AM

smokeycut Not Your Atom Bomb Baby from Rochester NY Relationship Status: In Lesbians with you
Not Your Atom Bomb Baby
Sep 2nd 2019 at 7:13:49 PM

It’s... complicated. The old show really just had Arcee and some background characters.

Then on the worse end of the spectrum, you have the Bay movies, which only had Arcee, who died by the end of the movie she was in.

Bumblebee was better, with the main villain being a female Decepticon whose gender didn’t matter one bit.

The Transformers comics (before the recent reboot) started out bad (Arcee being a male who was experimented on and made female iirc), but became phenomenal. From characters like Chromia and Windblade to Lug. Hell, Anode and Lug (and Arcee by retcon) are actually transgender women. They were born male, realized there were more genders out there in the universe, and had their bodies changed to match how they felt.

Everyone's favorite person
Sep 11th 2019 at 12:10:59 AM

This came up in the MCU thread but I thought I'd discuss it here.

With the fourth Thor movie coming up, there's been some speculation that Amora the Enchantress will appear as the villain. She's pretty much the only major Thor villain who hasn't been featured in the MCU. And her thing is that she's constantly trying to get Thor to marry her and is known for using her looks or magic to seduce men.

I honestly think if they this route it would be a huge step down from Hela in the last movie who was a powerful female villain without resorting to using her sexuality. I've pointed out before that superhero stories have a serious female villain problem with supervillainesses often coming in four different flavors: femme fatale, woman scorned, misandrist and female lackey. The MCU already wasted IM 3's Maya Hansen as a villain by turning her into a cross between the woman scorned and the lackey. They're really going to need to update Amora.

Edited by windleopard on Sep 11th 2019 at 9:21:49 AM

CharlesPhipps Author from Ashland, Ky Relationship Status: Lovey-Dovey
Sep 11th 2019 at 1:12:02 AM

Amora the Enchantress has also been a heroine in her own right. She's also been a powerful sorceress, illusionist, and formidable foe.

Mind you, I was neither particularly impressed or of the mind Hela was all that feminist given making a complex 3-dimensional character like Hela into a Generic Doomsday Villain is not something I'd call progress.

Author of The Supervillainy Saga, Cthulhu Armageddon, The United States of Monsters, and Lucifer's Star.
M84 Such heroic nonsense from Our little blue planet Relationship Status: Chocolate!
Such heroic nonsense
Sep 11th 2019 at 1:16:17 AM

It is progress compared to villainesses whose villainy revolve around their sexuality or vanity or being second fiddle to a male villain as windleopard mentioned.

Amora's primary motivations in the comics have either been seducing Thor or lashing out at women who threaten her status as World's Most Beautiful Woman. She's gained some depth...usually to contrast her with her even more shallow younger sister Lorelei.

That Generic Doomsday Villain is still kind of a step up for female villains really highlights the problems with a lot of past female villains.

Also, I wouldn't really say that MCU Hela is generic. She's a living embodiment of Asgard's past as an expansionist colonialist empire. "Where do you think all this gold came from?"

Edited by M84 on Sep 11th 2019 at 4:25:31 PM

Disgusted, but not surprised
CharlesPhipps Author from Ashland, Ky Relationship Status: Lovey-Dovey
Sep 11th 2019 at 1:37:36 AM

The Hela in the comics is the goddess of death, Loki's daughter (sometimes), and the ruler of the underworld who is both an appointee of Valkyries as well as Black and Gray Morality figure.

And frankly, I'm not sure "mass murderer" is a step up. One-dimensional murderer evil from sexy one-dimensional evil is a lateral move in my opinion.

Edited by CharlesPhipps on Sep 11th 2019 at 1:39:39 AM

Author of The Supervillainy Saga, Cthulhu Armageddon, The United States of Monsters, and Lucifer's Star.
M84 Such heroic nonsense from Our little blue planet Relationship Status: Chocolate!
Such heroic nonsense
Sep 11th 2019 at 1:50:25 AM

[up]Like I said, she's not even really one-dimensional. The movie very clearly has a lot of themes concerning colonialism and immigration and such. Hela being an embodiment of colonialism is part of that. It's not a coincidence that this movie had an indigenous director.

Mary Sue article on how Hela embodies imperialism.

And yes, the fact that the female villain's motivation doesn't revolve around her sexual behavior is progress.

Besides, a villain whose motivation is to Make Asgard Great Again (even has the right letters for the acronym) in a movie with a lot of immigration themes is just a tad relevant in these times.

Hela doesn't just want to kill a bunch of people, goddess of Death notwithstanding. She specifically wants to restore Asgard's "glory" by bringing it back to its colonialist ways. Forget Nine Realms — she wants all the Realms.

Edited by M84 on Sep 11th 2019 at 4:58:07 PM

Disgusted, but not surprised
GoldenKaos Free as the flame from Ynys y Cedyrn - Europa Relationship Status: Tongue-tied
Free as the flame
Sep 11th 2019 at 2:06:09 AM

I do think Enchantress can be done better than "uses sexuality to gain power" and she's such a classic villain/heroine I think she deserves a reimagining. Shame she couldn't have paired up the Executioner for old times sakes, but he got his (weaker) Gjallberu moment, so I guess it ain't so bad.

Probably should be working.
M84 Such heroic nonsense from Our little blue planet Relationship Status: Chocolate!
Such heroic nonsense
Sep 11th 2019 at 2:15:13 AM

One way to tackle this is to play up Amora and Valkyrie's rivalry. In the comics, Valkyrie hates Amora because Amora once stole her soul and pretended to be her.

Edited by M84 on Sep 11th 2019 at 5:16:26 PM

Disgusted, but not surprised
Sep 11th 2019 at 2:22:20 AM

Speaking of Valkyrie, have she and Sif ever had any stories together?

Euodiachloris Relationship Status: Is that a kind of food?
Sep 11th 2019 at 2:43:00 AM

There is one way to have an obsession with Thor that changes it up a notch: be it not actually about him. Or even Odin.

He's Frigga's son. You know, the Frigga — mistress of illusion, genuine baddass, medical miracle-worker without peer. That Frigga — she's gotta have the son of her idol (or, to be more accurate, the blades the illusion-vulnerable eedjit might have inherited and definitely doesn't know how to fully use).


Eww... what do you mean there are two sons? Loki doesn't count! Unless... did he get her daggers? If so — outrage! Only a true enchantress is worthy! (Dammit: trying to trick him into getting Sempai's daggers wouldn't be as much fun.)

I'd also Shaggy Dog this kind of thing. Hard. After all the shenanigans... turns out, Hela picked them up while she was busy wrecking home.

Edited by Euodiachloris on Sep 11th 2019 at 10:53:42 AM

Sep 11th 2019 at 4:29:42 AM

I don't remember Frigga's blades doing anything special. But otherwise not a bad idea at all.

Edited by windleopard on Sep 11th 2019 at 4:45:17 AM

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