Monday, August 3, 2009

...a little off topic

Pictures from Comic Con 2009

That’s the link to my photo album for San Diego this year. It’s on my Facebook page also, but I don’t think many people, if any, clicked the link. Hope you will, although I have to apologize up front for the quality of most of the photos.

Yeah, yeah - I know I've not posted anything in awhile. Sorry. Mother's Day brunch at Angus Barn just wasn't as compelling a reason to post as I thought it would be. However, an interesting thing happened at the San Diego Comic Con this year and I wanted to share it. Wish I could say that it was me winning the lotto for the Batmobile...but, I didn't.

First, let me say I am not a bra-burning, femi-nazi - not by any stretch of the imagination. I do, however, feel that even with all the improvements to the condition of women in this and other industrialized nations, the fact remains that we still are paid at $.76 cents for every dollar a man makes for the same work. The "glass ceiling" still exists for professional women in corporations and law firms, and women are still not taken seriously as producers or directors or writers in Hollywood. With all that said, an interesting stream of thought kept cropping up in the panels I attended this year and, without any real agenda or purpose, I just wanted to share it. I'm probably just blithering again, but I hope it's an interesting blither.

The first panel I attended was the “Wonder Women” panel where women who play strong female characters discussed their roles and how they feel women are faring in the entertainment industry as a whole. On this panel were Sigourney Weaver, Eliza Dushku (who plays Echo in Joss Wheadon's Dollhouse), Zoe Saldana (who played Uhuru in JJ Abrams Star Trek movie) and Elizabeth Mitchell (who plays Juliette in LOST).

I've posted links at the bottom where you can see some of the wonderful panel discussion, but the parts I especially want to talk about are quotes from Weaver and Saldana.

Weaver stated early on -

“In regard to the "challenge" of writing good female characters — "The challenge that some writers take on very well . . . they're not trying to write a woman action figure, they're creating a character that has a certain drive and . . . ferocity. . . . I never thought about being 'a woman,' I was just playing a person. . . . There's a hero in each of us."

I found this sentiment echoed in the panel, Spotlight on Gail Simone, who is the current writer of Wonder Woman and Secret Six and past writer of Welcome to Tranquility and Gen 13. When asked how she felt about being the most successful female writer of comic books to date, Simone replied that when DC approached her to write Wonder Woman, she was not at all thrilled. She didn’t want to be “the chick who wrote chicks”. But after digging through the archives and reading past issues of Wonder Woman, she realized that it was a challenge she’d love to take on. The historical struggle for writers of Wonder Woman has been to show her as the empathetic, compassionate person she has historically been and not just the powerful, super-woman who has man-issues. And as long as writers live up to the challenge of writing compelling people, the gender issues will work themselves out.

Before writing Wonder Woman, Simone took on the daunting task of taking a misfit group of C and D list DC villains (The Secret Six) and developed them further by adding missing layers to their personalities – Ragdoll has serious sister issues; Scandal lost her lesbian lover, Bombshell, in a horrific way; Bane, understanding Scandal’s pain, has become very protective of her – all of this adds depth and perhaps even moments of grace to an otherwise stereotypical group of previously expendable background villains. They have become, under her thoughtful pen, beautifully complex people who tend to fall on the darker side of the gray area of morality, but for them it makes sense. They all tend to struggle with a desire to do the right thing but when pressed, fall back on doing the easy thing.

An interesting aside about how Wonder Women intersected on both of these panels - Joss Wheadon has written a script for a Wonder Woman movie and was on board to direct. All the fan-bois were going nuts speculating on who would be chosen to play her. Problems occurred and Joss backed away from the project. It remains on hold. Interestingly enough, when a question was asked of the Wonder Women panel members about why there hasn't been a Wonder Woman movie made yet, Zoe Saldana had some interesting things to say about that (below is a quote I grabbed from a blog that I linked at the bottom):

When an audience member asked why they have to cast Megan Fox as Wonder Woman instead of someone older and more regal, she replied, "I happen to have a huge crush on Megan Fox, I'm not hating on that possibility" but that "60-year-old men want to see tiny 25-year-old little girls and . . . those are the ones who cut checks."

She further said -

"Everything starts with education, and instead of fighting against a room full of men and try to convince them that I should wear pants (she was talking about fighting while wearing a mini-skirt in some movie scenes) . . . you have to learn how to fight these battles and it's all through education and putting them in our shoes."

And while I’ve been writing about how women characters are written, there was a sense that the entertainment industry as a whole has a long way to go still in regard to treating women and men equally behind the camera as well. In the Bones panel, creator Hart Hanson and lead actress Emily Deschanel talked about how co-lead actor David Boreanz has directed past episodes. Deschanel said she’d like to direct an episode. Hanson replied in a way that some could interpret as condescending, “How many hours do you work as an actress on the show? And how many hours does Boreanz work when he’s directing?” Hanson seemed to indicate that he didn’t believe that she would put in the time necessary to produce a quality episode. Deschanel protested and they agreed to talk more about it later. While the handling of Deschanel's request to direct may be indicative of her personal situation with the creator of the show she's on, it does seem to support the general feeling that Hollywood still does not take women seriously, which Saldana mentions in the links below.

Based on Weaver’s statement that good writing (whether it’s in genre movies or TV or comic books) has to do with the multi-dimensionality of a character and not whether a character is male or female, one would hope that the days of pigeon-holing people and their reactions and responses to situations based on gender is over (I hope)! Although, it also seems that in the production side of Hollywood, women still struggle to be taken seriously.

And now, the links I promised you. Hope you have time to read them -there's good stuff here.

Here’s a good blog post that has 4 video clips of each of the women discussing their views:

with Video Clips of the Wonder Women panel

Here’s a fan blog for Zoe Saldana that captures pretty much everything she said on the panel. I post this because it’s the only post that actually shows the sparkling intellect that Saldana brought to the panel. All the other posts I managed to find online have pretty much cut out what she said.

Fan Blog of Zoe Saldana

And, here’s another really good write-up of the panel. Unfortunately, it’s one of the ones that left out all the wonderful things that Zoe Saldana talked about in regard to education and the struggle of women in all roles in Hollywood to educate others on how women should be treated in movies, TV, etc.

A good synopsis of the panel discussion