4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A fantastic introduction to feminist pop culture studies,
This review is from: Ink-Stained Amazons and Cinematic Warriors: Superwomen in Modern Mythology (Paperback)
As I read Ink-Stained Amazons, I found myself relapsing into grad school behaviors. I read with a pen in hand, annotating and underlining constantly. And I found myself wishing that I'd had this book while I was still in school, because Stuller's astute observations about tough women would have worked perfectly in the last paper I wrote, an examination of Zoe and Kaylee from Firefly as feminist heroes. I've even written about Hollywood's version of the tough woman on my blog, and no matter what your stand is on the matter, I think it's important to be aware of the history and the issues at play when Hollywood and the comic book industry creates these superwomen.
Stuller's book serves as an excellent introduction to superwomen throughout entertainment's history, from Wonder Woman's early comic book days to television's relatively recent tough chicks, like Sydney Bristow and Dana Scully. Along with the useful history are a series of chapters about common issues in the portrayal of superwomen: redemption, collaboration, and compassion; superwomen and their fathers; and the maternal, filial, and mentoring relationships between women.
The idea of collaboration between women is of particular interest to me. Most of the male heroes we see are loners, but many of the women work within a team. Female superheroes are often members of teams, but you also have collaboration and female friendship featured prominently in some fandoms such as Xena and Buffy. I wrote about this in my Firefly paper: all four of the women of Serenity depend on each other as well as the male members of the crew as a family unit. As Stuller says, this kind of collaboration is common in the female hero "not because she is incapable of succeeding on her own, but because she is more successful when she recognizes, encourages, and utilizes the talents of others" (92). The crew of Serenity and the Scoobies stick together because they love each other, and they work better as a unit than they would as loners.
The third section of the book, "The Mythmakers," deals not only with female creators of popular culture and modern mythology, but also with fans stepping up and demanding better portrayals of women, such as the creation of Project Girl Wonder and Gail Simone's "Women in Refrigerators" observations.
This is a wonderful book if you're looking to dive into analysis of female characters in pop culture. I'm actually thinking about expanding my Firefly paper thanks to Stuller's fantastic book, though I haven't the foggiest idea what I'd do with it, heh.
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