In the end Whistler is right, those “moments are gonna come, you can’t help that. It’s what you do afterwards that counts. That’s when you find out who you are.” So who are we?
Ok, so I skipped my Top 5 in February, but I give you my belated “Top 4” for March.
1.)Charlie McDowell: I’ll be honest, I’m still a bit unsure about Twitter. I can’t get on board with constant “tweets” about when a person is on a lunch break, what they’re eating, who they’re eating with, etc… Listen people, I know you think your life is interesting, but if you’re tweeting about it more than once a day/everyday then it probably isn’t that great.
I have an account, and I occasionally/rarely update. Ok, so most of them are “@s” to celeb tweets with the hopes that ONE of them with respond to me(sadly, this has yet to happen).
Thanks to one of these celebs(Alyson Hannigan, of Buffy the Vampire Slayer/How I Met Your Mother/American Pie-fame) I discovered the brilliant tweets of Charlie McDowell. The majority of his postings are dedicated to the girls living in the apartment above him. If you’ve ever had an obnoxious roommate or neighbor, you’ll be able to appreciate Charlie’s electronic post-it notes to those girls. If I didn’t know better I would think the girls above Charlie were my two ex-roommates from when I was 20(they were the least self-aware people anyone could meet, and they were each others #1 fan). This is the one time I wish Twitter had existed 5 years ago, that way I could document my “pain” and share it with the world.
2) Freedom Writers: I’m a sucker for films about good teachers connecting with and inspiring students that have been ignored by the public school system. I like it even more if the movie/novel is based on a true story. In Freedom Writers, we’re introduced to Erin Gruwell, a first year teacher assigned to a freshman English class filled with at-risk students. While most teachers would be eager to assign busy work, counting the days until they could pass these kids off to the next grade, Erin takes the time to get to know them and introduce them to a world they didn’t know existed. She cares about who her students become, and she wants the best for them.
3) TRANSform Me: It’s part of VH1’s “Beauty’s on the inside” hour, except it’s way better than its lead in show–Jessica Simpson’s “The Price of Beauty” (seriously, skip that one!). It may seem like your typical makeover show, but I’m impressed with the message this one sends out. First off, the person who wants a makeover submits the video; there’s no secret footage, no moment where the host jumps out from some bushes to inform someone they are a fashion DON’T, and their family and friends are embarrassed to be seen with them. (Now, I like those shows, but I know lots of people who don’t). Second, our three lovely hosts (Laverne, Jamie and Nina) understand what it means to undergo a major transformation since they are male to female transsexuals. I think this adds a sincerity to the show, that others lack. They understand it’s not about what is on the outside; if a person doesn’t feel beautiful or confident from within, then appearances really don’t matter because then they lack depth.
4) Her Stories – African Amerian Folktales, Fairy Tales, and True Tales: I stumbled across this collection when babysitting the other night. I have to say Virginia Hamilton has compiled a wonderful collection of stories, including one of my childhood favorites “The Talking Eggs.” While this book is aimed at children, there are some fun facts for adults to read at the end of each tale. It’s a difficult book to put down, as each story seems better than the next. Leo & Diane Dillons’ beautiful illustrations add to the stories.
During the holiday season I re-watched the first and second seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Back in the day I was a huge Buffy fan. Actually I was a fan of any woman who could kick ass and save the world. Recently I was discussing Buffy with an acquaintance, when she complained about the lack of heroines on television today. I pointed out that Ziva David from NCIS was a powerful woman. She argued that Ziva often acts “like one of the guys,” and therefore wasn’t a good example of a modern-day shero.
Unfortunately the conversation ended soon after, so I couldn’t really explore her statement. I started wondering if our heroines need to be “girly” in order to be role models. Is being “one of the guys” some how admitting that femininity is weak? Can a heroine be extremely feminine, have mostly masculine qualities, or is she easier to relate to if she has a mixture of the two?
I look back at Buffy, who throughout the show epitomized the idea of a girly girl. Joss Whendon admits that he based the character of Buffy on the idea of the hyper-feminine girl in the horror film who ends up being killed by the monster/serial killer. He decided he wanted to turn that idea around, have the girl fight back, and even defeat the big bad.
When we meet Buffy, she’s not exactly the girl we would pick as our crime fighter(if only the title hadn’t given her away). She’s not a dominant force like Xena traipsing through Greece in a leather ensemble with a metal breast-plate, and a multitude of weapons. Nor is she Wonder Woman, transforming from unassuming girl with a day job into costumed female capable of heroic feats. No, Buffy enjoys cheer-leading, she’s stylish, she cares about breaking a nail and she’s boy crazy. To bring the point home, in the first season finale she killed the Master in her prom dress (and heels).
At the time of Buffy‘s début, it was refreshing to see someone with her characteristics fighting the forces of evil. However, there were multiple times when Buffy represented negative qualities associated with being female. Take her romantic relationships, whenever she started seeing someone new, she was willing to sacrifice her friends (to a dangerous extent) in order to have a boyfriend. In the second season after her vampire boyfriend loses his soul and goes on killing spree, she wants to restore his soul primarily so she can get her boyfriend back. This pattern is later repeated in her relationships with Riley and Spike. She’s occasionally called on it, but never really hones in on the actual problem. Buffy takes the criticism as her friends being jealous they can’t spend time with her, instead of what it really is; she makes bad choices so she can keep her “steady.” In fact it’s rare (after the 1st season)to see Buffy happy when she doesn’t have a boyfriend. I understand this makes Buffy a flawed character(and therefore accessible) but she never really learns, or grows as a person in that respect. So while it’s great that she can defend herself from a gang of vamps, her sense of self leaves a lot to be desired.
Ziva has also made bad decisions when her love life became entangled with her work. Take the fiasco with Michael, she repeatedly ignored Tony’s concern that Michael wasn’t who he appeared to be (which apparently was a rogue Mossad Officer). However, Ziva had to come to terms with her big mistake.
I suppose in some respect I can understand how my acquaintance found Ziva to be less feminine than other heroines; she is rarely openly emotional (but I don’t know many women who would want to be in the workplace), and isn’t easily shocked by DiNozzo’s pervy comments/behavior (which usually ends with her making fun of him). Granted I don’t think this makes her any less of a woman, instead it acts as a reflection how woman have evolved socially throughout the decade. Just because she and Tony bond over Maxim, doesn’t mean she can’t have “girl talk” with Abby. When it comes to her fighting ability and being able to handle dangerous situations, these characteristics do not come into play. So does it make her less of heroine because she prefers trousers over dresses? I seriously doubt it.
At the end of the day, there are still plenty of independent women being represented on television. There’s one gem I suggest you look up, Castle‘s Kate Beckett. She’s pretty much everything you could want in a shero; she’s smart, funny, observant, compassionate, capable of taking care of herself (and others), she makes mistakes, and learns from them. As for the superficial side of things…she’s one hot–stylish mofo.