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eris


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In which we revisit females in entertainment.
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eris
This is a follow up on a prior entry in which we discussed a Grand Unified Theory of Female Presence.

Recently in my local IRC channel a question was posed, or rather a challenge; to name a piece of SciFi/fantasy/speculative fiction in which the lead character is a mother. I posed this to the ama community but I didn't elaborate properly and several people missed the point. But I wasn't about to jump all over that because of the aforementioned lack of elaborating, and because there is absolutely value to discussing the presence of a definite mother character in any entertainment in any role (as in lead vs supporting/member of ensemble cast).

I shall now elaborate. The point being the character not just be a mother, but it is an integral aspect of her character. Not just tacked on to further the plot or to add angst points.

A great example of a male gendered version would be a movie I recently saw because I'd never see it all the way through and the lead's recent passing made me aware. Hook. The fact that Peter Banning (Pan) is a father is absolutely integral to his character and the story. As much as I loved the film, it is a terrible example of female/mother characters in the supporting roles. Peter goes back to Neverland, risking his life to save his kids. Mother simply wilts and mopes whilst they're away. This is rather faithful to the source material in style though, so it's all right. But I digress; the point being that if Peter had been female, this would be a good example.

I'd LOVE to accept Ripley of the Alien franchise, as she's an amazing strong female lead, but the fact she's a mother is throwaway backstory and doesn't inform her continuing life.

The TV show Once Upon A Time is a good example which was mentioned in comments to my ama post regarding this. I hate that it is simply out of spite, because I think they're shitty mothers. But yes. Whatsernamme's entire purpose of being in CrazyTown was to find her son. Additionally the evil queen being said son's adoptive mother is also an integral part of her character.

On a logical level I understand this disparity in female representation as a parent simply being part and parcel of the disparity in strong female roles being in existence as compared to the glut of such male roles. However it boggles me in that females are the ones who (usually) contain the damn baby factory. Dramatic fiction often uses this to portray a stronger relationship between mother and children than with their fathers, but when the woman character is fully developed and/or an ass kicker, the mother factor drops off to near non-existence.

I haven't a particularly good way to end this except in that I think this is a valuable addition to said grand unified theory, and it will definitely be something that I will be noticing/looking out for in future entertainment consumption.

I'd LOVE to accept Ripley of the Alien franchise, as she's an amazing strong female lead, but the fact she's a mother is throwaway backstory and doesn't inform her continuing life.

No way. Her being a mother was an enormous deal in Aliens (she'd lost her daughter while in hibernation, had nothing to lose, and agreed to go LV-426). She then becomes a parental figure to Newt in a way she might not have (or would have been less meaningful) if she hadn't recently be stripped of her role as a mother.

In Resurrection, she was the primary villain's mother, which was quite a large part of the movie.

Also, it's more horror or supernatural thriller than Sci-Fi, but the main character in The Ring is a mother. Does she count? If so, Rosemary's baby might count as well!

Surely the enormous deal for Ripley is that she is no longer a mother. She feels like Newt might almost be able to make up for the time lost with her own daughter. That she WAS a mother is thrown in as an aside at the beginning (which I think was actually missing from the original theatrical release).

It always annoyed me that she was the only character that connected with Newt - because she's a woman.

In "Resurrection" her description of herself as a mother is not exactly accurate. She's only figuratively given birth to the aliens. Most human beings who become victims of the aliens are (briefly) mothers to the aliens. Ripley is more accurately part-alien, so it's more like she's one of them than their mother. (Though yes, she is figuratively a mother to the aliens since the queen came from her.)

I'd say the protagonist in "The Ring" would definitely count as a mother figure. All through the film the decision of the mother and her ex-husband revolve around what they both need to do for their child, so that is vital to the story and not throw-away. Don't think it's sci-fi. Not sure what counts as speculative fiction. It's only fantasy if fantasy means 'involving the supernatural' rather than 'swords and sorcery'.

Yeah. As much as I love the franchise and Ripley, there are a few instances, iirc, in which her motivation is credited essentially to BECAUSE FEMALE. I feel like with a lesser actor than Weaver it would have been significantly less realistic of a character.

I feel like we can apply a sexy lamp or gender twist sort of logic here in that if the fact she is a mother was removes would that change the story in any way? And I don't think it would. It'd be easy to insert a similar motivation initially and I feel like they'd simply chalk it up to female behaviour in general with her protection of newt. She behaves in a very similar way about the cat after all. HOWEVER, I am speaking from a platform built on shitty memory and this seems like a brilliant excuse for rewatching.