“Strong Female Characters”

Can a female character be a “brilliant, solitary, abrasive, Bohemian, whimsical, brave, sad, manipulative, neurotic, vain, untidy, fastidious, artistic, courteous, rude, polymath genius”? Well, I don’t see why not, and nor does Sophia McDougall at the New Statesman.

That a female character is allowed to get away with behaviour that, in a male character, would rightly be seen as abusive (or outright murderous) may seem – if you’re MRA minded, anyway – an unfair imbalance in her favour. But really these scenes reveals the underlying deficit of respect the character starts with, which she’s then required to overcome by whatever desperate, over-the-top, cartoonish means to hand.

Another essay on the subject comes from Carina Chocano in the New York Times.

“Strength”, in the parlance, is the 21st-century equivalent of “virtue”. And what we think of as “virtuous”, or culturally sanctioned, socially acceptable behavior now, in women as in men, is the ability to play down qualities that have been traditionally considered feminine and play up the qualities that have traditionally been considered masculine. “Strong female characters”, in other words, are often just female characters with the gendered behavior taken out.

So, what does a real “strong female character” look like? Well, here’s a snippet from Ana Mardoll talking about Disney’s Frozen.

The movie really brings home (especially through the song lyrics, which are just PERFECT) that this Good Girl / Bad Girl dichotomy is damaging to Elsa, and the only way she can really be free is to reject them both. She doesn’t need to be (and fundamentally can’t be) a perfect good girl, but she won’t find freedom by moving over to the bad girl stereotype offered to her by a restrictive society. She’s only free when she throws both of them in the trash.

Also amazing, and very rare: a cursed girl saves herself.

Strong female character? Perhaps.

“Let it Go” Lyrics.

Of course, I can never hear the phrase “Strong Female Characters” without thinking of the iconic strip from Hark a Vagrant (“sexism is over”). Looking for that, I also found a sequel.

TRiG.

Christian Horror Films: Horrific Christian Culture?

Any time people get worked up about a menace they believe in but can’t actually see – demons, Commies, jihadis, hordes of hoodie-wearing thugs — they’re likely to take it out on the weakest and most vulnerable people in society.
— Andrew O’Heihr, at Salon, reviewing the film The Conjuring.

And this is why I read Slacktivist, because he takes wonderful quotes like that and examines them.

This wholesome demonization of marginalized women is expected to “appeal to faith-minded audiences.” And it does.

Oops.

Here’s Fred Clark on Christianity, horror films, and conservative social roles:

  1. The Amityville Horror is not based on a true story.
  2. The Conjuring reminds us that the only way to stop Satanic baby-killers is to punish women.

This film is a pep rally for a witch hunt. Witch hunts do not lead people toward God. Witch hunts and witch-hunters lead people, instead, toward the lethal notion that it is their job to identify and destroy the enemies of God. The stories witch-hunters tell are never true stories, but the victims those stories produce are all too real. And there is nothing “wholesome” about that.

And so it goes.

TRiG.

Vi Hart, Spongebob, Fibonacci numbers, lack of bilateral symmetry in pineapples, and climbing snails

Yes.

Vi Hart announced that pineapples have Fibbonacci spirals, not bilateral symmetry, and therefore the pineapple house in Spongebob Squarepants is inaccurate.

And so the series designer, Kenny P., decided to redesign the set. Cool, huh?

Meanwhile, the snail which had appeared as a supporting character in Vi Hart’s Spongebob videos went on to a staring role:

And it only gets more epic from there:

(Even CGP Grey says it’s epic, in the comments.)

Meanwhile, back on the subject of Fibbonacci numbers (and Lucas numbers):

Simple rules: complex consequences. It’s wonderful.

TRiG.

The Princess Who Saved Herself: Book?

I’ve mentioned this awesome song by Jonathan Coulton before, when I linked to a video showing schoolkids’ drawings based on the song. And now there’s the wonderful possibility of an illustrated children’s book based on it. Yes!

One of the things I like about this song is that the princess is a hero while being feminine, or not, as she wishes. She never wore socks, but she did wear a silver dress. She did what she wanted to. The illustration for the proposed book shows her wearing a pink dress over torn jeans, which captures the spirit perfectly.

TRiG.

A Creative Catharsis

Ireland’s creative community got together to release a lot of pent up anger and sadness through the medium of the A3 poster, all in aid of Temple Street Children’s Hospital.

Ad creatives, designers, animators, directors, illustrators and more took time out to dress up their favourite worst feedback from clients, transforming quotes that would normally give you a twitch, into a diverse collection of posters.

The work was exhibited by the kind folks at The Little Green Café, Bar and Gallery. The exhibition ran from November
2nd – 7th, with A3 prints of all entries selling for only €10 apiece, with all proceeds going to Temple Street.

I rather enjoyed this collection of very snarky posters illustrating the strange things clients often say to advertising people and designers. The good folk at Buzzfeed had fun with them too, adding even more snarkiness in their comments on the posters. It’s the touching faith so many people seem to have in the power of Photoshop that gets me.

TRiG.

Penn and Teller: Cups & Balls

Here, master magicians Penn and Teller explain the workings of the Cups & Balls trick to Jonathon Ross.

Teller speaks! He was fooled by Egyptian magician with the Cups & Balls trick, and he loved it!

On “Fool Us”, magicians compete to perform on Penn and Teller’s show in Las Vegas. Anyone who can fool the duo can appear on their show. Gazzo tries with the Cups & Balls. It’s an old trick, and they know it well. They’re not fooled (of course), but they love the performance. And Gazzo gets his publicity.

http://youtu.be/xlwkHiuDNTo

And Penn & Teller aren’t the only people to play with clear cups. Jason Latimer, world champion of magic, does something absolutely extraordinary. It’s not the same version of Cups & Balls done by the other magicians in these videos. It’s strange. And it’s beautiful.

Penn & Teller in Egypt look up the history of the Cups & Balls, which dates back maybe thousands of years in Egypt.

TRiG.

Elemental Children

Small children singing Tom Lehrer’s song “The Elements“.

Well, that was the original idea, and then I got a bit carried away and added some older schoolkids doing it in class too. Anyway, enjoy! Interestingly, quite a few of the older ones sing along with a recording of Tom Lehrer, while the younger ones go it alone.

http://youtu.be/4pzJbFVz95s

And finally,

http://youtu.be/pGtWMrz0TMs

TRiG.