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Author Topic: Female Characters and Trinity Syndrome  (Read 211 times)

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Offline Scrasamax

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Female Characters and Trinity Syndrome
« on: March 03, 2015, 01:49:55 PM »
First question, what is Trinity Syndrome
https://thedissolve.com/features/exposition/618-were-losing-all-our-strong-female-characters-to-tr/

If you read the article linked, you now know what Trinity Syndrome is.

I have been thinking about this for a while, it's been simmering in the back of my mind.

There are two things that have stood out, Supporting Character Role, and Half-assed attempts.

The latter is the larger problem, it has been rather traditional for the characters in stories to be white men, but up until recently, most of Hollywood was populated with just white men, and they made the roles, and everything else. The Half-Assed Attempt here is that the story tellers and writers and producers are making an effort to make better female characters, they are making Valkas, Dahls, Trinitys, and so forth, but they are still cleaving to the Hollywood standard of making the main character white/male. There is no reason that prevents Hiccup in How to Train Your Dragon from being a girl, no reason for the One of the The Matrix to have been Trinity, with Neo being the supporting character. It's the half assed effort, and it's changing, but you can see the drag.

More evidence supporting this observation:
http://www.cracked.com/article_19549_5-old-timey-prejudices-that-still-show-up-in-every-movie.html

The former is an unfortunate aspect of writing and storytelling. It is up to the main character to overcome the foe, solve the problem, and save the day, make the internal realization, and otherwise be the focus of the story, they are the main character, after all. The supporting characters come in to play their roles relative to the main character and the story. The mentor, the specialist, the badass, the token character, etc, they are all SUPPORTING. If Obi-Wan told Luke to go home, and went on to Mos Eisley without him, there's no story because Obi-Wan is not the main character. This is normally not an issue, but it becomes one through the lens of social justice. With the half-assed effort, we are seeing more strong female characters, more strong ethnic characters, but they are in supporting roles, and as such they have to be unable to resolve the conflict of the story.

Thus, when the strong supporting female character fails, the shouts are raised. When the ethnic supporting character is killed by the baddie, shouts are raised. If either character had been a hollywood standard white guy, no one would care.

How do we address this?

Admit the role of the supporting character is not to overshadow the main character. They are mentors, rivals, allies, friends, etc, not dues ex machine to win the day.

And write better. Don't punk supporting characters, don't cut them off 'just because', and when they falter, fail, or perish, while it is functionally to serve the story, it must never appear that way. If Princess Thundera has been beating up baddies alone for a while, and the MC shows up, she shouldn't fail just because the MC has decided to show up. There is too much of that in the movies as it is. Another prospect is to not be afraid to make leading characters not functionally white men.



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Offline Aramax

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Re: Female Characters and Trinity Syndrome
« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2015, 02:23:22 PM »
I'm gonna risk showing my age and my sexism here, but I have a very tuff time dealing w/ females in action movies without superpowers/magic/ or super science involvement. Ripley is my poster child for how a female action hero should be. Now I'm sure there are plenty of women that could kick my ass,I'm old.But in a world where women lack the upper body strength of a less than same weight male, I just don't buy it.Now my attitude also says that for the exact same reason ,we should replace all fighter pilots w/ women, they are lighter(more weapons and fuel carried) and they have better ability to withstand G-Forces. But Grunts ,marines or thugs, doesn't happen in the real world.Now the woman in Underworld,she was a vampire,cool.

As to most of the characters being white, as much as pc thinking is positive look at comics. The Black Panther is tied for first place in my book of superheros. The first 50 issues of the Christoper Priest run on his book was amazing, some of the best comics I have ever read. It found no audience.As much as I love the Panther he will always be a 'B' superhero, if amazing stories can't give him the popularity he deserves. It was this sort of thinking that lead to Will Smith being a secret service agent in the 1870s, you make engaging characters of color like Edward James Olmos on Battlestar Galactica or Wesley Snipes in the first Blade movie,I'm in.
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Offline Silveressa

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Re: Female Characters and Trinity Syndrome
« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2015, 12:23:21 PM »
Quote
But Grunts ,marines or thugs, doesn't happen in the real world.

Having served in the Army National Guard alongside other women, and gone through basic training with an entire barracks full I can tell you with certainty female grunts int he military are a reality, and upper body strength has little to do with being able to be "a hero" or not, even in the more literal sense of being "tough/strong." Muscles don't have to be large to be strong, they can also be lean and well toned. More than just pure strength however, skill, along with the courage/will/dedication to fight is what makes a soldier succeed more than raw muscle. (There are more than a few lean/small framed female MMA competitors that will attest to this as well.)

The modern Israeli military is also comprised of a large number of female soldiers, many of which are in the typical "grunt" role, and hold their own alongside the men with equal capability as soldiers and many even serve in the Israeli special forces "Karakal" units along side male soldiers.

Quote
Now my attitude also says that for the exact same reason ,we should replace all fighter pilots w/ women, they are lighter(more weapons and fuel carried) and they have better ability to withstand G-Forces.

I'll agree with the g force constraints, however the difference in body weight for male/female pilots is negligible (about 20-70lbs tops?) which in the over all fuel to weight ratio and ordinance payload weight restrictions isn't going to be even noticeable in any modern combat aircraft.

While the majority of female and male heroines in Hollywood being Caucasian is still the "norm "(Although some big names like Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez and the Rock are proof this is changing) I feel this is largely due to the script writer/director whatnot also being Caucasian more than reflecting any actual reality of race when it comes to real world heroism and females/ other ethic groups.

Times are still changing on this front however, like you mentioned with Battle Star Galactica, the r-iminaged series had a much more diverse ethic crew than the old 70's/80's series did, and over time this multi racial representation is likely to grow more prominent as the newer generation comes of age and fill the roles of script writers and popular actors/actresses, and fewer of the older generation remain who clearly remember segregated toilets, drinking fountains and buses as a reality rather than read about it in a history book.

A hundred years from now people will (hopefully) be suitably skeptical of the idea that skin color and gender were ever a barrier to what a person could achieve in life.


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Offline Scrasamax

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Re: Female Characters and Trinity Syndrome
« Reply #3 on: March 04, 2015, 12:47:32 PM »
The Fast and Furious franchise has done a lot of positive work on the ethnic front without resorting to forced diversity. They remain somewhat light on the female side, with Gal Gadot (Israeli) and Michelle Rodriguez, but this isn't surprising in a high action testosterone car series. They have Latino, black, non-english speaking members, women, and the white guy, Paul Walker, is almost the token character.



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Offline Aramax

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Re: Female Characters and Trinity Syndrome
« Reply #4 on: March 04, 2015, 01:52:36 PM »
Let me give a real life example of why I think this way

I took a very bad fall at work. I fell from about 12 feet on to Large TVs( a huge one I was holding on to as I fell) As I laid there in pain 2 VERY TINY female paramedics responded. From the way they were talking and how I felt, There was a very real possibility that I had damaged my spine. They were unable to get me on the stretcher! I was forced to roll /crawl on my own to get on to the stretcher. Once I was on the stretcher they were unable to pick it up.I was bumped ,shaken and rolled by 2 people that were compleatly UNFIT FOR THE JOBS THEY HAD! If I had a spinal injury they would have made it much worse.
Eventually both of them took one side of the strecher and my burly co-worker took the other side. From that day on my attitude about females in "male " jobs compleatly changed. No to female paramedics, No to female cops and No to female soldiers
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Re: Female Characters and Trinity Syndrome
« Reply #5 on: March 04, 2015, 02:12:26 PM »
Absolutely you should be mad that people who were unfit to the job had the job, but don't fall into the trap of blaming their being female for them being unfit. I've seen female paramedics and nurses here that could certainly pick me up physically - I'm a 200 lb male. They were probably as big as well.  Here in N.B. we have lots of heavy people, and I can't image small wimpy paramedics would last long.  Also, all Canadian military branches are open to women, provided they meet the physical requirements (which is the same for both genders).  Including front line combat in Afghanistan.

Frankly, I don't think it is a healthy attitude to hold, and I do not believe saying one is old is an excuse for holding on to such beliefs. 


   
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Offline Aramax

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Re: Female Characters and Trinity Syndrome
« Reply #6 on: March 04, 2015, 02:33:56 PM »
Oh and I forgot to mention them saying"You go first" No, You go first, No You go first, until my co-worker yelled at them.

As for not having a healthy attitude. I am very political> I did volunteer work for Secretary Elizabeth Dole when she was running for president, and for state Senator Diane Allen here in NJ. I LET my wife pretty much run the household. I raised 2 strong willed independent daughters. .I had several female bosses I was very fond of. I like working with women over men. I am sexist in an extremely narrow way. And I am set in my ways!

(Oh and I have a 'thing' for female singers and comedians)
« Last Edit: March 04, 2015, 03:10:52 PM by Aramax »
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Re: Female Characters and Trinity Syndrome
« Reply #7 on: March 05, 2015, 02:07:29 PM »
I really like this guy's take on how to get diversity: http://dndwithpornstars.blogspot.com/2012/02/hire-women.html

He's talking primarily about comics and gaming (IIRC) but I expect the same argument would hold up in other contexts.
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Offline MysticMoon

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Re: Female Characters and Trinity Syndrome
« Reply #8 on: March 05, 2015, 02:11:59 PM »
Also, I can't find it, but I read an article awhile back claiming that the reason My Little Pony became such a smash was because it did the unthinkable and introduced a range of female character types rather than just having them fit the same tired, old tropes. I have my own dislike for MLP (loathing is not too strong a word) based on the rabidness of its fans, but I wish that basic idea would spread to other genres.
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Re: Female Characters and Trinity Syndrome
« Reply #9 on: March 05, 2015, 05:26:24 PM »
I think the TV series coming out of Montreal all show lots of strong, interesting female leads. Ever since Stargate SG-1, Amanda Tapping has played all sorts of excellent female characters, a far cry from the generic damsel in distress.

Also Ripley, like someone else said here, and yes, the other characters. Ripley is realistic. Not a warrior like the others, but a survivor unlike no other.

Trinity was a huge disappointment, but even Morpheus came up short against the agents in that series. Of course had Morpheus turned out to be the romantic interest of Neo, it would have been another movie completely.

I like strong female leads, and I'd like to see a TV series or TV film with more female leads.

Another example of a cool female lead is Kiera Cameron in Continuum.
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Re: Female Characters and Trinity Syndrome
« Reply #10 on: March 06, 2015, 12:27:45 AM »
I am rather obviously a brony, a fan of MLP: FiM (see the avatar)

And I agree with some of what MysticMoon says about the bronies in general, they are a rabid fanbase and there are a few 'broken birds' among them that have taken to the series with a fervor that is just patently disturbing. I am not one of those fans.

Why do I like My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic?

1. Non-Sexualized female characters - as cartoon horses, the main characters do not have breasts, or hips, or asses in the human sense, and aside from a 'Valentine's Day' episode, the stories do not revolve around dating, romantic interests, and other tenets of pair bonding behavior. The main characters have faced dragons, lovecraftian-esque cosmic horrors, Q from Star Trek: the Next Generation, genocidal maniacs, and other epic foes.

1A - Point of contention with the fanbase: I dislike the anthropomorphization of the main characters, as this turns point 1 on it's head. While they retain a specific style of animation, they are humanoid and have human sex characteristics. This basically morphs almost immediately into Rule 34. The majority of fanfic that I have been exposed to is 'shipping' and since the majority of writers are male, and majority of show characters are female, the candy colored horses are all lesbians. Facepalm, then double facepalm.

2. Quality Writing - cartoons and shows generally geared for girls typically suffers from appalling writing, one dimensional characters, and situations that are pink and dumb. This extends to shows that share the same general timeslot as MLP, featuring non-existant villains, and even when there is a rivalry it's incredibly weak. MLP has dynamic storytelling, the characters change and grow, things within the show change, and each season in many ways is it's own arc.

3. Robust characters - In my opinion, the 6 main characters each epitomize a different female archetype. We have a Nerd, a Jock, a Diva, a Wallflower, a Spaz, and a Farmer. Within these six roles, we see their strengths, their weaknesses, and we see them shine, and more importantly, we see them lose their s**t. The Nerd is borderline obsessive compulsive, the jock is an arrogant ass, the Diva is an attention hog and so forth. We see they are developed, they have their foibles and charm. Each fan has their own 'Best Pony' argument. (Word to the wise, the broken bird fans really seem to flock around the Wallflower, Fluttershy)

 


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Offline MysticMoon

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Re: Female Characters and Trinity Syndrome
« Reply #11 on: March 06, 2015, 01:28:53 AM »
Ok, it's unfair of me to paint all fans with the same broad stroke.

What annoys me is that what you describe should be used more widely, not just in a kid's show. Which is probably the source of your original point

Edit: Removing a statement a member took as inappropriate. My apologies.
« Last Edit: March 09, 2015, 12:14:42 PM by MysticMoon »
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Offline Scrasamax

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Re: Female Characters and Trinity Syndrome
« Reply #12 on: March 06, 2015, 01:37:34 AM »
Ok, it's unfair of me to paint all fans with the same broad stroke.

What annoys me is that what you describe should be used more widely, not just in a kid's show. Which is probably the source of your original point

There is a degree of truth to it, there are a number of members of the fanbase who unsettle me. If you can fap to candy colored horses, you have some serious problems, but I digress.

MLP is really how more shows, books, etc need to be done.

« Last Edit: March 09, 2015, 06:14:41 PM by Murometz »


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Re: Female Characters and Trinity Syndrome
« Reply #13 on: March 06, 2015, 05:02:42 AM »


Quote
Absolutely you should be mad that people who were unfit to the job had the job, but don't fall into the trap of blaming their being female for them being unfit.

Working in the E.R on a (nearly) daily basis I agree 100% with this, I have seen more than a few scrawny and "weak" (physically) men, both on the table, and working alongside me to treat the patient on the table.

Let me ask you this Aramax, if the two paramedics that arrived to put you on a stretcher turned out to be short, under muscled men (or fat un-muscled ones) would you then have a bias against men being in the field?

I think at the root of it you don't have an issue with women per se, but actually have an issue with people who aren't physically capable of doing a job being allowed by society/their boss/circumstance, to be in a position to do it anyway, and often, doing it poorly which can (and often does) put other peoples lives at risk. I can agree with you completely that those without the right physical fitness to perform a job shouldn't, and the mandatory yearly physical fitness exams for such jobs need to be rigidly enforced for the safety of all concerned.
« Last Edit: March 09, 2015, 06:15:11 PM by Murometz »
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Re: Female Characters and Trinity Syndrome
« Reply #14 on: March 06, 2015, 07:58:33 AM »
People should be fit to do their job in all fields of work.

I have met paramedics who struggled like hell to carry me, but they managed. They were both burly men, but not very fit ones. I had to walk down a flight of stairs myself, and then down on the stretcher. They barely managed to lift me into the ambulance. Not very impressive for two men, even though they looked big. More blubber than muscle I guess.

But the same goes to other fields of expertise. Working as a software developer I have met my share of people that simply doesn't do a very good job. I have also met my share of people who are good at it, but are so egocentric and arrogant, they are insufferable to be around.

So, basically, what it all boils down to is this:
The parameters for qualification are universal and not gender specific. Either you got it, or you don't.

As for bronies: I am amazed at how they took a children's product and managed to get a partially adult fanbase. A bit of marketing genius going on right there, I think.

I wish I had half the marketing savvy of those guys.

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Offline Murometz

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Re: Female Characters and Trinity Syndrome
« Reply #15 on: March 06, 2015, 02:24:36 PM »
My suggestion for seeing/experiencing better written female characters is to step out of the fantasy/sci-fi tinged brand of entertainment.

Helen Mirren in Prime Suspect. She is a person. A-Z. Hear her roar.

Robin Wright in House of Cards (!!)

Frances McDormand in Olive Ketteridge.

Etc...

There are so many great examples of well-rendered, realistic, powerful female roles. I'm just saying, searching for them in fringe genres seems weird to me.
« Last Edit: March 06, 2015, 03:58:58 PM by Murometz »
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Re: Female Characters and Trinity Syndrome
« Reply #16 on: March 06, 2015, 02:52:39 PM »
Erhm, let me add a line to that. I just find all the examples to be strange in this thread. Matrix trilogy, Fast and Furious, Star Gate, etc...

These are vehicles of mindless entertainment. By mindless I don't mean that they're "bad" (who doesn't love Matrix!) I just mean they're pure, unadulterated fantasy, where the writers/creators/producers don't give a rat's ass about the things discussed here. They're creating eye candy.

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Triumph of the Dungeon Master!

Ah, how I have come to love that sense of accomplishment and victory that I get when I pull the wool over the eyes of a clever player character. What DM Triumphs have you had?

Some of mine:
1. Finally killing an incredibly powerful, lucky, annoying player's character.
2. Finally achieving a TPK (Total Party Kill)
3. Finally achieving a TPK using only traps
4. Finally working out how to make it so that d**n wizard doesn't steal the spotlight all the d**n time.

-Captain Penguin