Category Archives: Feminism

Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel Character Review: Anya Jenkins

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Read at your own risk if you have not watched one or both television series. In this series of character reviews, I will strictly be writing about the characters from the television series, not the 1992 film.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

Revenge is a dish best served cold, especially when a woman takes revenge on her cheating husband or boyfriend.

On Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Anya Jenkins (Emma Caulfield) was introduced in third season as a guest character. Though she was once human, the audience meets her as Anyanka, a demon that women call on when they want to take revenge on the men who have cheated on them. When Cordelia (Charisma Carpenter) catches her boyfriend, Xander (Nicholas Brendon) kissing Willow (Alyson Hannigan), she wishes that Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) had never moved to Sunnydale. This opens the door to an alternate reality where there is no slayer and the vampires control the town. Thankfully, Giles (Anthony Stewart Head), destroys her necklace (where her power comes from), returning the world back to normal and returning Anya back to human form.

Because she has lived for 1000 years as a demon, Anya is unaware of the social cues and social norms. This leads to uncomfortable moments within the Scooby gang and comedy for the audience as Anya says and does things that someone who is aware of social cues and norms would not say or do. She also has a will they or won’t they relationship with Xander, which leads to them nearly saying I do. But Xander is manipulated by someone from his soon be wife’s past and his growing anxieties lead him to break off the engagement just before the ceremony. At the end of the series, Anya becomes a martyr, sacrificing herself to save her former lover.

To sum it up: the woman taking revenge on her cheating significant other is a standard narrative. Anya makes the character more interesting by adding the comedy and the lack of awareness of what not say and do. This comedy not only lightens the dark mood of BVTS, allowing the audience to laugh and wanting to come back for more.

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Filed under Character Review, Feminism, Television

The Only Woman in the Room Book Review

There is a stereotype about women: their looks dictate their intellect. A pretty woman lacks in the intelligence department while an unattractive woman soars in the intelligence department.

Back in the day, Hedy Lamarr (b0rn as Hedwig Eva Maria Kieslerwas considered to be one of the most beautiful women in Hollywood. She was also incredibly smart, but given the era, her intellectual abilities were not exactly respected or appreciated.

The new book, The Only Woman in the Room, by Marie Benedict is Ms. Lamarr’s story from her perspective. The book starts when she is 19. It’s the early 1930’s in Vienna. She is a budding actress who catches the eye of a wealthy and powerful arms dealer. To protect herself and her family, she marries this man. While she plays the role of dutiful wife, she absorbs everything that she hears and sees.

When the marriage turns abusive and it becomes clear that her Jewish ancestry will put her in harm’s way, she escapes to Hollywood. In her new life and career, she is Hedy Lamarr, silver screen goddess. But she has a secret that only a few select people are privy to: she is a scientist. Her invention could possibly end the war and save lives, if those in power would give her work a chance.

I was shocked how much I loved this book. Before reading it, I was aware of Hedy Lamarr as a movie star and had heard that she was an inventor. But other than the basic facts, I was unaware of her complete story. I loved this book because it is the story of a woman who is clearly intelligent and capable, but is underappreciated for those qualities due to the era she lived in.

I absolutely recommend it.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Feminism, History, Movies

Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel Character Review: Dawn Summers

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Read at your own risk if you have not watched one or both television series. In this series of character reviews, I will strictly be writing about the characters from the television series, not the 1992 film.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

To be one’s little sister is not always easy. Especially when one’s older sister is the Slayer. On Buffy the Vampire Slayer, that little sister is Dawn Summers. Introduced in the beginning of season 5, Dawn appeared to be the average, annoying little sister. She adored her sister’s friends and wanted to be around them. But like any big sister,Buffy did not want to have her sister around.

But up until that point, Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar), was an only child.  But no one questioned Dawn’s existence. Then Buffy discovered that Dawn is the Key, a mystical object turned into human form so she can be protected from Glory (Clare Kramer). After Buffy defeats Glory, Dawn is accepted as she is. But then her mother dies and Dawn has to deal with the loss of her mother. In her grief, Willow (Alyson Hannigan) helps Dawn with a spell to bring her mother back, but that does not end well.

The sisters finally mend their relationship after Buffy’s bought with with depression and Dawn’s feelings of abandonment. During the final battle at end of the series, Dawn fights with the Scooby gang and earns her stripes as an ally of the Slayer.

To sum it up: The stereotype of the annoying little sister can be fun to play with as a writer. The character of Dawn is interesting because she is much more than the basic character trope. Beyond her magical conception and abilities, she is a fully formed character whom we love to hate because she is so annoying. When a character is memorable because they are annoying, the writer(s) have done something right.

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel Character Review: Spike

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Read at your own risk if you have not watched one or both television series. In this series of character reviews, I will strictly be writing about the characters from the television series, not the 1992 film.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

Change is a hallmark of the human experience. No matter who we are or where we come from, we all change somehow. When building characters, the key to a character’s success is to see them change somehow. On Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, Spike (James Marsters) transformed from a villain with a capital V to a good guy over the course of both series.

Spike was originally introduced to the Buffyverse as the villain of the week in the first season. Like any villain, he wanted to be the one who would finally do away with the slayer. But Spike is not your grandparent’s vampire, he is all rock and roll. Cockney accent, bleached blonde hair, leather jacket and bad ass in every shape and form. But he didn’t start out that way.In the late 19th century, he was a young man who just wanted to be a poet. Then was transformed into a vampire by Drusilla (Juliet Landau) and joined Drusilla’s gang of vampires. During this time, he and Drusilla become and item and stay together for many, many years.

After Drusilla dumps Spike, he starts to realize that his feelings for Buffy go deeper than the typical villain. Buffy also starts to contend with those same feelings and they play the will they/wont they game for quite a while. This game continues until the series finale of Buffy, when Spike sacrifices his himself to save the rest of the Scooby gang. The next thing he knows, he is in LA working with Angel (David Boreanaz). Despite their shared past and ex-girlfriend, Spike works with Angel to save the world once more.

To sum it up: Change is the spice of life and the backbone of any writer’s toolbox. Characters, especially major characters must change, in one form or another.  The transformation that Spike experiences over the course of both series represents the ideal change that a writer puts a character through. That transformation is why over twenty years later, fans of the Buffyverse still adore Spike.

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Thoughts On the Abortion Comments During the State Of The Union

During the State Of The Union on Tuesday, you know who spoke of multiple topics. He appeared to sound presidential, mature and professional, but as usual, the ten-year old schoolyard bully still made his presence known.

One the topics he spoke of was abortion.

It’s not surprising that he chose to spew lies about abortion.

While I respect my fellow citizens right to religion and speech, I cannot stand idly by while they force their world view on others who believe differently.

I want you to image the following:

You or a woman you love who is of an age to bring a child into the world (your wife, your sister, your daughter, etc) receives a heartbreaking diagnosis from her doctor partway through her pregnancy. The pregnancy is not going as expected. There are two options and neither are ideal. The first option is to end the pregnancy and try to conceive again sometime in the future. The second option is to carry the pregnancy to term knowing full well that the child, if they survive the birth, will not have an easy life.

I’m not a mother, but I can only imagine the heartache that goes with making this type of decision. The only comfort in making this heartbreaking decision is legal abortion allows the mother, if she chooses to end the pregnancy, to do so in a way that is safe and will not potentially kill her.

It’s not up the politicians (especially the male politicians) to decide when and if a woman should have an abortion. It is up to the woman, her doctor and her significant other/family.

No one should be forcing their views on others and no one (especially a man), should be telling a woman what she should be doing with her body and her life.

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel Character Review: Angel

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Read at your own risk if you have not watched one or both television series. In this series of character reviews, I will strictly be writing about the characters from the television series, not the 1992 film.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

Since the beginning of storytelling, there has always been something about the brooding bad boy or girl with a romantic streak.The audience knows that this person might be trouble, but they also fall for the softer side of this character. In Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, this character is Angel (David Boreanaz). Angel makes his first appearance in the Buffy pilot. He appears to be the older, romantic bad boy who often appears in movies or television shows that focus on teenage girls.

But Angel is more than that. He is completely aware of who she is while hiding his own secret. He is vampire who is cursed with a soul. After Buffy and Angel sleep together (and he has a moment of pure happiness), his soul is gone and he reverts to his previous identity, Angelus. Angelus gets off on torturing Buffy until his soul is returned and he must come to terms that his relationship with Buffy is not meant to last.

After leaving Sunnydale, Angel opens his own supernatural detective agency in Los Angeles. Initially aided by Cordelia Chase (Charisma Carpenter) and Doyle (the late Glenn Quinn), Angel works to protect the city from the darkest of supernatural forces. He also becomes a father and continues to fight against evil while protecting those he loves.

To sum it up: While the bad boy with the romantic streak may initially sound appealing, the reality is that the relationship may not last. But then again, not all romantic relationships are meant to last forever. As a character, viewers (myself included), fell in love with Angel. We watched him grow from a Heathcliff type character to a character who, in spite of his past, becomes a hero. That is why nearly twenty years later, fans still return to vampire bad boy turned hero of their younger years.

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Filed under Character Review, Emily Bronte, Feminism, Television, Wuthering Heights

Thoughts On the Anniversary of the Publication of Pride and Prejudice

It has often been said that first impressions are lasting impressions, even if they do not tell the whole story of the person we have just met.

First Impressions was the initial title of Jane Austen‘s immortal classic, Pride and Prejudice.

Today is the 206th anniversary of the book’s initial publishing.

Elizabeth Bennet is far from the simpering, fainting “save me” heroine who is waiting for a version of prince charming to sweep her off her feet. She is lively, intelligent and not afraid to share her opinion. Unlike other women of the time, she is not going to just marry the first man who asks her because it is her only option in life. Marriage in her eyes is about compatibility and affection, not someone’s income or family connections.  But even with her strengths, she is thoroughly human and learns that judging someone based on a brief first impression is not the best way to figure out who someone is.

Fitzwilliam Darcy is equally imperfect. I have to admit that there are moments in the first few chapters when I just want to smack him or call him a very unladylike name. But the genius of the character is that as the book goes on, Elizabeth and the reader learns that Darcy is not a snob. He is responsible for many people’s happiness and security, especially his much younger sister. He also finds large parties and social gathering difficult to maneuver socially. There are some people for whom they would rather stay home than go to a party where they know almost no one.

The thing that strikes me every time that I read Pride and Prejudice is that Elizabeth Bennet is a modern heroine. In a time when women had no rights, no voice and were basically chattel to the men in their lives, Elizabeth Bennet is not afraid to stand up for her rights. She is caught between a rock and a hard place. In Jane Austen’s world, marriage was more often about family, status and income than love, companionship and affection. She could remain single, but given her meager inheritance, she would likely be beholden to the generosity of others. She could marry her cousin, Mr. Collins and stay in her childhood home, but that marriage would be extremely unhappy.

I keep going back to Pride and Prejudice not just because it is one of my favorite books, but because I find reassurance and comfort in the book. When I am feeling down or unsure of my voice, Pride and Prejudice gives me strength to move forward. For that reason, among others, I keep coming back to this treasured masterpiece.

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Books, Feminism, Jane Austen, Politics, Thoughts On...., Writing

Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel Character Review: Rupert Giles

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Read at your own risk if you have not watched one or both television series. In this series of character reviews, I will strictly be writing about the characters from the television series, not the 1992 film.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

Every hero needs a mentor, especially when the hero is in the throes of adolescence. On Buffy the Vampire Slayer, that mentor is Rupert Giles (Anthony Stewart Head). Though he looks and acts like a mild-mannered school librarian, Rupert (refered to as Giles) was strategically placed at Sunnydale High School. He is a watcher, responsible for guiding and supporting the slayer as she protects the living from the undead. But Giles is much more than just Buffy’s (Sarah Michelle Gellar) watcher, he becomes a father figure to his charge and her friends. He also provides the historical background of the baddie of the week and home base (the school library) for the Scoobies to do hang out and do research before Buffy does her work.

Though he may look like and sound a proper Englishman, Giles was quite the rebel in his youth. His vices were dark magic and rock and roll. That is, until a life changing event forced him to change course and follow in the family tradition of being a watcher. After the high school was destroyed at the end of season 3, Giles felt like he had no direction in life. Then he takes over as owner of The Magic Box and Giles had his place in the world back. He also began to feel like Buffy needed to stand on her two feet, his presence in her life was not helping her grow as a human being. By the end of the series, Giles is able to move on with his life, knowing that Buffy no longer needs her watcher.

To sum it up: Being a mentor, especially when your men-tee is a teenager can be both gratifying and heart breaking. It is gratifying because you can shape a young mind, but it can be also heart breaking. At some point, your men-tee will no longer need you. As a character, viewers remember Giles because he is not just the adult mentor, but he also has a heart. He was also a young once and experienced his own rebellion, adding a layer of understanding to the adult that the audience thinks they know.  This combination endeared Giles to the audience and allowed the young audience to see him not just as an adult, but as someone who we can relate to. For that alone, Giles will forever be a memorable character.

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Why Are We Still Fighting Over Roe V. Wade?

Today is the 46th anniversary of Roe V. Wade.

It should be a day of celebration. Instead, we are reminded that a woman’s right to control her own body and her own life is a concept that is not exactly universally understood.

While some states (including my home state of New York), have legally affirmed that women are perfectly capable of making decision in regards to their health and their future, other lawmakers in other states believe that they, not the female citizens of their state, have the right to control a woman’s health and future.

The way I see it, it comes down to the fact that for most of human history, women have been seen as less than men. They had no control over the bodies, the health or their lives. This idea that a woman is perfectly able to decide if and/or when to have a child, to take control of her own destiny is an idea that is relatively new to human beings. When an idea is new, it is often considered to be radical, dangerous or just plain weird.

The good thing is that times are changing. Slowly but surely, women and men are waking up. A woman’s right to choose is essential for her future and no lawmaker, male or female, has the right to take that away from her.

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Thoughts On Kamala Harris’s Joining The 2020 Presidential Race

This morning, another name was added to the list of nominees for the 2020 Presidential election: Kamala Harris.

Senator Harris (D-California), from my perspective, is the ideal candidate to go up against you know who. She represents everything that this country stands for and what is represents. She is the daughter of two immigrants, a woman of color, a litigator whose career has been focused on fighting for injustice and fighting for the underdog.

Looking back, I can see why Hillary Clinton alienated certain voters during the 2016 Presidential election. There is nothing worse than an unlikable woman, especially in the arena of politics. It taints the idea that a woman can succeed in the political arena.  Senator Harris is professional, intelligent, well spoken, but also warm and easy to talk to. She understands the struggles of the average American.

It makes sense that Senator Harris would make her announcement on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. While only time will tell who goes up against you know who next fall, I hope that come 2020, I will be able to refer to Senator Harris as Madam President.

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Filed under Feminism, National News, Politics, Thoughts On....