I’ve previously mentioned my love of all things Alice, from Resident Evil. She opens a can of whoop-arse every time she encounters a zombie. The girl is a super star.
However, she seems to be an exception to the female super hero rule. I recently watched “The Incredibles” for approximately the 5th time, and it annoyed me as much as it did the first time. Sure, it’s funny, and clever- but the story line is so very, very, very cliche.
For those of you who haven’t seen The Incredibles (uh, all three of you….) it’s a story about super hero parents having super hero kids, and then Daddy Super Hero gets into trouble, and so Mummy Super Hero has to rescue him, and the Kiddy Super Heroes sneak along for the ride. Entertaining, yes? Cliche? Absolutely.
The four main characters- Mum (Elastigirl), Dad (Mr. Incredible), Violet (the daughter), and Dash (the son)- were gifted with boringly predictable powers. Let’s break it down a little further, shall we?
Incredibly strong (lifts cars, gigantic statues), and has a heightened ability to resist pain. Not all that smart, loses his temper often- in summary, what the cinemas what like to call a typical frustrated male.
She can, uh, stretch? And transform herself into useful things like parachutes, and boats? All so she can save her children. Nice one, pixar. Elastigirl pretty much spends the entire movie going between “nagging wife” to “protective mother”. Never mind the fact that her flexibility is sold to the audience as a cheap sexual joke within the first 5 minutes of the film.
Oh great, a strong female character who can uh…..turn invisible? And create a shield?…Lame.
I mean, I get the need for a few characters to have defensive powers. Just ask Bella Swan, who’s greatest achievement in life was learning how to ‘shield’ her loved ones from the Volturi. Nothing else- just shielding. She can’t attack things, for God’s sake- she’s a WOMAN!
Ahem. Back to Violet. Again, are Pixar deliberately trying to comment on the fact that women’s role in society is to be uber sexy and flexible, and also invisible? Whilst being able to shield others? It’s so frustrating to see yet another cool female character get the shit end of the super powers stick.
Oh look, a male with athletic prowess! How extraordinary!
You know what WOULD be extraordinary? If all these characters swapped super powers! For example, if we had an Elastiboy (yes, he would still be called ‘boy’ even when he’s mid 40′s, just like bloody Elastigirl did….) as the husband who stayed at home and looked after the kids, a Ms. incredible with super strength and bulging muscles who gets fired and suffers an identity crisis, a daughter who can run incredibly quickly, and a shy young boy who can turn invisible and create shields to protect the people he loves.
Defensive abilities aren’t necessarily (IMO) negative- I would never say that a desire to protect one’s children is a bad thing.
What annoys me is how these roles are continually allocated in the same fashion. Women are cast as having the protective, ‘defensive’ skills, whilst men have the ‘attacking’ skills. For me, I don’t believe in the idea of promoting “gender stereotypes”- and that includes what you say are the “feminine attributes” of wanting to defend oneself and ones children.
I believe that defensive and attacking abilities are equal- but I’d like to see the gender roles changed once in awhile. Of course men and women can be given equal value- but when you say “typically feminine characteristics” I don’t agree that these are necessarily “defensive and nurturing” ones.
All I wish for is for the roles to be mixed up once in awhile, and for a few more females characters to come along that have the powers to attack- along with a few more male characters that have the power to shield, and nurture their children in what you say is a typically ‘feminine’ way. I don’t agree with the concept of gender stereotypes in any sense. Women should be able to have whatever role they want, and all I’d like to see is a slight increase in strong females who can do something other than shield or nuture other people.
Now that’s a movie I’d want to see.