Monday, November 8, 2010

Evolution of the Female MC

I was watching some movies with my daughter over the weekend and they got me thinking about a few posts I'd read around the interwebs - about today's heroines. There seems to be a lot of concern over whether or not there are strong female leads in the books out today, and to be honest, I was surprised that a lot of people didn't seem to think there were.

Sure, there are the Bellas out there who spend more time getting rescued than kicking butt themselves, but it seems like every time I pick up a new book, there is a strong heroine taking the lead.

Case in point: Disney princesses. I know these are movies, but stick with me for a sec...

I'm the mother of a five year old girl...Disney princesses make up a huge part of my life (and, okay, they would even if I DIDN'T have a 5 yr old daughter...but I DO so I can blame it on her) :D

We watched Snow White this weekend. Meek, mild, gentle Snow White who wouldn't hurt a fly, fell in love with some guy who trespassed on her property and married him because he stumbled across her in the forest, and kissed her....while she was UNCONSCIOUS....with an entire woodland audience as witness.

And then we watched Princess and the Frog. Where the heroine has worked her tail off to make her dream of owning her own restaurant come true. Not only does she NOT fall in love with the prince at first sight, he irritates the crap out of her. And when the love bug finally strikes and they do the happily ever after thing, her happily ever after does not entail following him to his castle in the clouds. Nope. He follows her into the restaurant business.

And I cannot WAIT for Tangled to come out - Rapunzel looks absolutely hilarious pushing the stuck up prince around :D

Now, I know these are movies, not books, but I see this in literature too. Even Bella had her moment in the sun, flying off to Italy to rescue Edward. Hey, I was impressed. I'd be terrified to fly off to Italy to face off against a whole mess of angry super vamps. Give the girl some brownie points (oooo brownies....brb)

Anyhow, I'm just glad to know that my daughter is growing up in the age of Tiana and Katniss and Zoey from the House of Night series and all the other kick-booty heroines out there...not that I don't love Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, but I'd rather see my girl out there pulling some Princess Fiona moves instead of waiting for some guy to come accost her while she's out cold in the forest.

Just sayin'.

NaNo stats! Weekends are tough for me - I don't usually write on the weekends. That's family time. So carving out the wordage was a little more painful than usual. I'm hoping to get back in the power writing groove today! But, I still pulled a respectable (I think) 1583 - I'm just happy for the word cushion LOL (p.s. I'm not really as frustrated as my potato guy lets on....I'm just having fun playing with all his moods) :D


Rachel said...

Loved this! I have a 4 and 5 year old girl and totally agree :-) I had a bit of a cushion as of Friday afternoon--somewhere over 12k--so I was able to enjoy my family this weekend, too.
Happy Writing!

Vicki Rocho said...

I didn't see my first Disney movie until I was almost 18 (how sad is that?)

I COMPLETELY agree with you about the evolution of the princesses. Snow White is my least favorite Disney movie and I think it's because Snow White is a WUSS.

Seriously, some guy (she doesn't know he's a prince) shows up while she's singing at the well, she freaks out and runs away and THEN decides she's in love with him? PUUUUHHHLEASE.

Frog Princess was great. He WAS irritating in the beginning.

Angela Felsted said...

I admit I sometimes get annoyed with "strong" female characters. I liked Katnis, but sometimes authors write such strong characters that I can't relate to them. You know, what are their faults, their vulnerabilities? And how can they grow when they already start out so perfect. I like seeing growth in a story. That's one reason I like Megan Chase in the Iron King series . . . the girl doesn't start strong but she gets there.

Michelle McLean said...

ha! exactly Vicki :D And Angela, I totally agree. Some heroines are TOO over the top. I like them strong but they have to be human too. Which is why I liked Katniss and Zoey and other characters like them. They are strong but they have their flaws, big time. And they aren't super women out looking for a fight. Most of the time life throws them a huge curveball and they step up to the plate (wow, let's have some baseball metaphors *snort*)

Annnnyway, excellent point. The strength needs to be tempered with a little weakness to make it relatable - but I far prefer these MCs to, as Vicki puts it, the major wuss of Snow White. :)

Matthew Rush said...

I think you make an excellent point here Michelle. And as a father of two young women this is something I care about a lot.

Katrina L. Lantz said...

Awesome post! And awesome comments to follow!

I've noticed a lot of talk about this, too. I think the discontent comes from the fact that women, just like men, are all different. We're not all going to relate to Katniss or Snow White. Heck, I didn't relate one smidgeon to Madame Bovary. Her decisions made me feel ill. But I don't know if we're supposed to relate 100% to a protagonist. As long as they have what Gayle Forman calls generosity--what I'm more apt to call courage and loyalty--then the story will work for me. Even Snow White had courage and loyalty. She just happened to be wishing for the one she loves to find her, as well. And you gotta hand it to the girl for making her dreams come true while making all the men do the heavy lifting. Hee hee.

Mmm...brownie points.

WindyA said...

I so totally agree! The Disney Snow White is meek and mild and even at the emotional level, she's a little lacking. However, the Snow White from the Shrek movies? Totally kick's some butt.

I have a 5yo girl too, and I have to say, while she likes the Princesses, she'd much rather watch The Karate Kid. We've been lucky enough that she learned early on we believed she could do ANYTHING a boy could do and it's nice when she doesn't limit herself based on the main characters of movies being male or female.

keep up the nanoing!

Carolyn V. said...

I think we have some pretty rockin' princesses for our girls to look up to know. I'm so glad! =) Congrats on the weekend word count (it's so cool that you spend the weekend with your family!).

Colene Murphy said...

I agree with you. There are so many strong women in literature now! And honestly, I think the times of damsels are about dead. No one likes reading about the whiney girl who needs savin' anymore. And they are so fun to write, strong kick butt women!

Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) said...

I agree, there are some strong heroines in books now. I also like a character who can save the day but still be vulnerable. I guess that's the klutzy damsel in me. lol.

Elana Johnson said...

Good point, Michelle. There are so many wimpy princesses out there, and I like your example between then and now. :)


I think you're absolutely right. There's a world of difference between the wan, passive heroines of the 50s and 60s and 70s and the more recent children's films and books heroines of the present. This is a wonderful age to be growing up indeed. Thanks for your post. I really enjoyed it.

lbdiamond said...

Wow, great job with word count!

This is a great post--I can't wait for TANGLED either, LOL! :D