A thread I made on Reddit regarding stock (overaggressive) "strong" female characters

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by glutton, Apr 22, 2017.

  1. X Equestris

    X Equestris Scribal Lord

    No, they're saying it's a flaw in and out of universe. Part of why King's run has been so well received is because he's having Batman develop past it and let people in. You're acting like this character trait is the single reason for the high sales, rather than people buying Batman media in spite of his more abrasive traits. I shouldn't have to tell you that's fallacious.

    "Mary Sue" has never appeared in any Hollywood exec's justification for not making more female led action movies that I've seen, so I'll need a source for that. It all comes down to 1) historical attitudes about what women should be doing, and in the present, 2) the belief that women don't want to watch action movies and men don't want to watch female leads.

    TLJ came pretty close to TFA, especially when you consider that TFA was a massive phenomenon and sequels almost always perform more poorly than their predecessors. Tomb Raider and Ghostbusters didn't do as well because they were poorly made, not because they were female led.

    Talk about sticking heads in the sand all you like. Just remember that correlation doesn't equal causation.
  2. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Dark Lord

    Tomb Raider had its day... it passed. The Ghostbusters remake... damn, I don’t recall ever seeing a trailer in the theater that made me so certain I didn’t want to see a movie that I would normally say I’d like to see before said trailer. And from what I saw of the movie by accident, it met all the hideous promises made by the ads and trailer. And they managed that in about 2 minutes of viewing. Wow. Tortuous.

    Anyone in H’Wood that previewed that flick and thought they had a success on their hands was under the influence of H’Wood stupid cloud... see Rossio and Elliot’s discussion on H’Wood for an explanation of that... but, basically, groupthink. Delusion. heh heh.
  3. Ewolf20

    Ewolf20 Journeyman

    at first, i really did think people hating on female led works were a minority that had no effect in sales...but i was wrong.
  4. Garren Jacobsen

    Garren Jacobsen Dark Lord

    How so?
  5. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Dark Lord

    Personally, I hate bad movies. I don’t care who the lead is. Witness anything with Will Farrell as the lead.

    The original Tomb Raider was ok, Atomic Blonde I like.

    The lead’s sex doesn’t kill movies... most folks are even star power agnostic these days (which just burns H’Wood’s butt, can’t count on a name to cover a 200 million dollar flop) what kills is shitty story/humor/writing/acting, etc etc.
  6. pmmg

    pmmg Shadow Lord

    I am sorry, AK. I don't know that I am with you on that. And without seeing the conversations from which the samples were taken, I don't really know the context. I suppose I would say, if women are going to be fighting, at times they are going to get messed up, and if we are trying to be gritty and real, well...bosoms tend to be in the target zone. I've not really gone there in my own writing, but I would think it a likely occurrence in a medium trying to be 'real'. (Course, I would never want too see that happen to bosoms. WTH? I fear I would be defeated too easily if I was to battle women).

    Putting aside the examples, I think you are saying that Batman gets a pass as a moody capable loner because he is male, and a female character would not get the same pass.

    I am not sure this is true. I think the character sells themselves. I think what you are up against is not hatred of women in these roles, but the suspension of disbelief for women in these roles. I would find such a role unlikely for a female. While I have no doubt that Wonder Woman could kick Batman's fanny, and would do just fine as a moody loner type, her character has never really stepped into the that role. So, what's at stake here is not that I cannot buy that women can be tough characters, I am perfectly willing to believe that, its that I don't typically see women take on these roles, and would find it unlikely in a diverse society. So, if there is going to be one (or many), I have to be sold on how and why they become that way, and in their ability to be that way and continue to thrive.

    I have seen plenty of Batman where I go 'No way, Batman cannot do that'. Throw Superman for example. Without Kryptonite, I don't think there is anyway Batman could make Superman move even a fraction of in inch. But I am pretty sure Wonder Woman could. And the more they show Batman contending with Superman (being strong enough, being fast enough, being durable enough) they more I say Uh Uh. Batman's whole character is having thought ahead and always being prepared. So, I am willing to buy it a little if Batman is shown to be out playing him. But really...if Batman wants to hurt Superman, he'd do well to get Wonder Woman to help him.

    I've no doubt someone can write such a female character. Suppose Wonder Woman gets fed up with people and decides to put on the cowl? She could probably be a more believable Batman, than Batman himself--least with her, I can believe she can move faster than bullets. But if this is just about lets have a really tough and moody one and break the mold and make her female, meh...I'd rather just have a good character.

    But I think the issue here is we don't have characters in a vacuum. People become who they are in a world full of other people and other people also have notions of how things should be. So, while I can point to some instances in history where women took on the leadership roles, and even some where they were appropriately tough, I cannot point to many, and certainly not many when compared to males doing the same thing. And if a moody capable loner woman was to show up, I don't expect the male characters would be very accepting of that without convincing reason. So, its got be sold. And when it is, it will speak for itself. I think Xena pulled it off.

    Speaking for myself, I don't need to see women who can beat up the bad guys better than the males (get ready Thanos, Mrs. Marvel is coming). I need to see women being women. And like all the rest of us, contending against whatever trials without being something else.

    I feel I should also point out that Batman is a really old comic and has come from the POW, BAM, ZAP, and 'Good Job Ol' Chum' period. He's not always been a moody loner and he did just fine. DC is evolving, and they keep selling cause they keep making something people want.
    Last edited: May 16, 2018
  7. Annoyingkid

    Annoyingkid Mystagogue

    "Women being women?" "Woman" is a noun not an adjective, therefore something they just are, so I don't know what "women being women" means in real life, let alone fantasy. Does it mean doing the cooking and cleaning, being sexual release for a man, only fighting when her children are endangered and then hitting enemies with a frying pan and rolling pin?

    Never heard people advocating for dicks to be ripped off in the name of "realism". It's the same rubbish as those who say a captured female hero would realistically get raped - they never ever advocate that for male characters. Despite the fact that if one includes male prisoners, more men than women get raped in real life.

    What role? A role that's clearly fantasy and doesn't exist in real life man or woman? The role of a realistic soldier, which objectively did, and does exist? Unlike things like trolls and orcs - which people have no problem including in fantasy in great numbers. See any of those around?

    No, they are saying it's a flaw IN universe. This dominant masculinity acts as wish fulfillment to his fanboys. King's run is not relevant at all. The fact is, when Batman is portrayed with such dominance, he is well received and not notably called a Gary Stu.

    I'm talking about the attitudes about what women should be doing. It's the reason why women who step into asskicking roles are much more likely to be denigrated as "Mary Sue" and passed over by Hollywood. Obviously Hollywood doesn't use the term itself, as it's an internet based term that isn't used in professional literary or creative writing theory.

    That's what you were doing by citing "sales and ratings" as evidence thats sexism is "fringe". So you argue against yourself here.
    Last edited: May 22, 2018 at 4:10 AM
  8. Vaporo

    Vaporo Mystagogue

    AnnoyingKid, it looks like you're going to be offended by anyone who doesn't wholeheartedly agree with you, but I'm going to throw my two cents in anyways.

    In this day and age, I doubt anyone but a few noisy internet trolls are actually against women taking main roles in action movies. I think that it's extremely unlikely that Hollywood, a place known to be extremely left-leaning, actively denies women these roles based solely on the fact that they're women. It's, as X Equestris said, because women are generally not thought to want to see action movies and that most people want to see characters that they can easily identify with. In this case, "most people" means "men," so producers tend to pick male actors for their roles. It's a business decision, nothing more. It may be a business decision based on faulty reasoning, but it's still just a business decision. (Note the word "may." It could be totally true that most women actively dislike action movies. Or not. I don't know.)

    Well, some writers actually do that. I recently read a book where a male character was forcibly castrated, then eventually went insane and went on a rampage through the countryside castrating any other man he could find. Horrible? Yes, but people write that sort of thing for the sake of being "gritty" and "realistic."

    Yes, people throw around the "Mary Sue" accusation far too often. Those people are usually just looking for some excuse to justify their distaste for a particular work and can be safely ignored.


    I think you know that's not what he meant. There are generally going to be behavioral differences between men and women, cultural or not. Are they consistent differences? No. Will I ever try to quantify those differences? No, but you have to at least acknowledge that they exist. You usually can't just swap out "he" for "she" and be left with a character that still makes total sense.

    An phrase that I've seen thrown around is "Instead of writing strong female characters, why don't we just write strong characters?" I think he means something along the same lines. It's good to write women where the fact that they are a woman is important (a la Ripley from Alien), but it's bad to write women that are women just for the sake of being women and being a "strong female character."

    Honestly, it seems like you're just looking for an excuse to be offended, and no matter what I say other than a total agreement you're going to get mad, so I'm just going to post this.
  9. X Equestris

    X Equestris Scribal Lord

    Don't presume to put words in the mouths of people I've talked to. Again, when that characteristic is brought up in fan conversations, it's consistently considered the most grating aspect of Batman OUT OF UNIVERSE. Many who don't like the character consider it a principal reason why.

    And to circle back to the very beginning of this conversation, there are some female characters who behave the same way, distrusting and pushing away allies. I named Jessica Jones as an example, and I've never seen anyone call her a Mary Sue. And the reason, for both of these characters, is simple: despite all their talents, their personal lives are absolute train wrecks. Nobody could consider that perfect.

    And why isn't King's run relevant? Because you say so? Your central argument is that this one characteristic (pushing away allies) is a driving force for the character's popularity. Rolling this back should negatively impact sales. But it hasn't. Batman (Rebirth) consistently tops the sales charts, and is financially outperforming Snyder's run during the New 52. The character has opened up to the point that he proposed to Catwoman; they're getting married. Contrast that with Hush, where Batman's distrust cuts short a budding romance between the two. Your augment would suggest this engagement and marriage plot would be unpopular; it has been very well received, to the point physical copies of issues focused on it sometimes sell out completely.

    Hollywood's focus is on profits and little more. I already laid out their misconceptions about female led movies being bad for business. Interestingly, you made the same mistake they did, saying female led action movies failed because they were female led, rather than because they were just flat out bad movies. And this misidentification of the cause of failure happens in other arenas too. The failure of Ryan Reynolds's Green Lantern has made WB pretty skittish about any movie version of the character.

    I never said a thing about sexism in general. Don't strawman me. I was talking specifically about people who shout Mary Sue at every female character who shows a hint of being active, and you will see this if you go back and read my post. They are a fringe, even on the Internet, and I dare anyone to prove otherwise. If they weren't fiction like Hunger Games, an original IP with a female lead, wouldn't have been the literary and cinematic success it was. If they weren't a fringe, the little boycott they set up against Rogue One would've worked.
  10. skip.knox

    skip.knox Staff Moderator

    I remind folks on this thread that using "I" and "you" is characteristic of an ad hominem argument, which violates the rules of conduct for this forum. It's an objectionable argument in part because it's so often unnecessary.

    Stick to the issues of the original post. Violators will be issued warnings directly.
  11. pmmg

    pmmg Shadow Lord

    Well, I thought the role I was talking about was this one:

    Which I extrapolated from this comment:

    Fair enough if you want to say they are roles that do not exist in the real world, but I do kind of think they do. Maybe not so much as on display as with Batman, but...I think the issue is one of belief and disbelief. Even with orcs, I am still writing to be believed. And orcs are generally man shaped, and seem to have the same needs. So, while I admit my orc brain is entirely made up, I don't think it is really a stretch to imagine how a brutish culture full of wicked creatures might function. If I was to add genders to it, which has been done in many venues as well, I think there would still likely be gender roles within such races. They may be quite different. Do Orc's love their children too? Well if they don't, that leaves a lot of room to play. But if they do, well...I might start to extrapolate how Orcish parents might behave and how that might play out between genders. Could be what we come up with is very different from what we see in the examples around us, but it would still have to meet some level of reason, or it risks being unable to sell.

    Well, I have not heard it in such terms, and likely would not be reading something with such graphic efforts, rape of male prisoners and getting ones balls ripped off does come up more than one might think in conversations I have been in. I don’t see myself as advocating for more of it in media, but it has happened, and I can/could quite vividly name some instances of it. I don’t think rape is as likely for males in general, but in the context of a prison, well...I would expect it would be frequent.

    However, in the context of a story, where I am trying to capture the things I think real and likely in my efforts to capture a world that meets up with what I think a real world (albeit fantasy) would be like. I know I can write them in many fantastical ways. But even then, I still have to apply the likely differences as how I think those differences would most likely play out. If I invented a world where all the women were all 12 feet tall, well, that would make quite a different reality for our two beleaguered genders. Maybe some roles would change. But I if I change it in ways that just are not real, women are 12 feet tall, and can now flap their arms with enough force to fly, it just won’t sell.

    This is all about the suspension of disbelief. I am willing to suspend it up the to the point where I just don’t really believe it. And if the suspension of disbelief is lost, the whole story fails.

    So, I think, as I said above, what you are encountering is difficulty in suspending disbelief, and not hatred towards women in those roles. A moody loner woman character arrives on scene, what is likely to happen? If she appears and wins acceptance, however that happens, its got to be believed. I think most likely, if there is no reason to think otherwise, she will not achieve a leadership role without some challenge from other male characters. That’s just the nature of the beast. If she whoops all their butts, but I have no reason to expect that she could, I won’t buy it. Its got to be sold.

    Yeah...at any rate...

    I could have said 'Men being men', 'boys being boys', 'dogs being dogs', or 'bunnies being bunnies'. It all kind of means the same thing. There are differences between the genders, it is more than just physical, and often it shows. If you give me characters who are meant to show that somehow in this or another world that is not true, I will not likely believe it. And if we are asking the question, why does this not sell? then I am looking for an answer that is seeking to be true, it does not help to add extra baggage to it. No one has to accept what I take as true or not true. But when the question is posed, I am offering what I hope is an objective approach to arriving at a truthful answer. Truth is elusive, so...assess as you like.

    The comment I was trying to address was about Batman winning acceptance for behaving in a way that women would not win acceptance for. I still don’t think I agree with that statement. I think a moody capable loner type can be sold, you just have to sell it. I think a good example of this is Xena, who was kind of like Batman, only she wandered about more.

    Last bit, I think every character is a Mary Sue of sorts, and every character is better with flaws.
  12. Dark Squiggle

    Dark Squiggle Lore Master

    AK, I would run from a forum where people posted stuff like that.
    Yes, the public is sexist, and Hollywood (like everyone else) does what the public aka consumer wants.
    I have nothing against Mary Sue, and understand that she can be male.
    Male on male rape happens, but somehow does not get the attention as m on f. Why? I don't know. Usually victims want not to be known, but I imagine it's the same in all such situations. Maybe we need a male version of #metoo. For some reason, in our society, commenting loudly on a woman's sexuality is okay, even sometimes expected for a man. Maybe this is part of it?
    I'm not sure how rape counts as entertainment. I refuse to watch or read GoT because of this, but GoT hauls in nearly a billion dollars a year, so plenty of people must not be bothered.

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