Friday, February 27, 2009

It's All Comes Down to Cats

I have a confession to make. I don't actually like cats that much. So I've always been wary of the strange hold they have over the internet. LOLcats are one thing, but catblogging? Blech.

But I have finally realized that resistance is futile. That there is no problem to large or too rant-inducing that cannot be solved by cats.

Even this one.

That particular question seems to be on everyone's minds lately. And not just on the minds of a handful of idiots and the people who were unfortunate enough to stumble across such stupidity.

No, I even ran across it the other day while I was reading the sequel to Save the Cat!. Snyder's parting thoughts on Superhero movies was "why aren't there any movies about females superhero? C'mon, we can do better than that!"

(or something to that effect, I don't have the book in front of me.)

Snyder is smarter than he realizes, because he answered his own question earlier in the same chapter.

Snyder defines superhero movies in the original Save the Cat! as movies that have an "extraordinary person who finds himself in an ordinary world." (And yes, he uses "he", which explains why he couldn't see that he's already answered his own question.) The plot of such stories always revolves around being the misunderstood genius. In the sequel, he elaborates on that, clarifying that superhero stories are essentially stories about gods. More specifically, here in America, God/Jesus.

And everyone knows that God made Man in His image, not Hers.

This is in many ways one of the last impregnable assumptions about what makes men the default and women the Other in western (and I'm guessing most all) cultures. So I wonder if part of the reason why superhero movies about women always suck so very much is because people may be used to the idea - even like - women who kickass, but most are still comically uncomfortable comfortable with divinity as feminine. And so they sabotage their own great ideas without even meaning to. Because every time they are presented with the problem of who she is and where she came from and what she can do, they fall back on the kinds of things that are least likely to be godlike. Because a female hero is one thing, an all powerful Goddess is another.

Which makes the story and the character unsatisfying at best.

Take Claire, for example. She can not only regenerate, she's even crucified (which is why the scene works even though it's yet another sexual assault against a superheroine), but she not only remains anything but a leader of Heroes, taking charge of this often passive power results in her turning evil, if the hints of what's to come are any indication.

And this, I think, is the final proof needed for the argument that the whole root of the problem lies in culture's inability to accept a female Jesus - because anytime a superheroine accidentally gets powerful enough for the analogy to really work, her power threatens to destroy the whole world. And so she must be destroyed instead. It's like we're not just telling the Story of Christ, we are also retelling the story of the Church.

I think it's also why Wonder Woman works better (as a stand alone character) than any other female superhero, and we she is so timeless. Her divine origins are not only explicit, they are explained away. She is a Goddess rather than a god, but she is not of our world. Unlike Superman, she didn't even grow up here, among us. She may be a Christlike figure, but she isn't our Christlike figure. She remains in many ways, completely alien, and so doesn't directly challenge this particular argument culture makes about women being the Other.

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