Friday, September 05, 2008

12 Fictional Females Who Don't Take Crap From Anybody! Day 3

Rita, "Educating Rita"

WHY SHE RULES: I'm delving deep into obscurity with this pick but for the book nerd in me, Rita's always been a fictional hero. Based on a play by Willy Russell, "Educating Rita" earned an Oscar nomination for its star Julie Walters (Mrs. Weasley to the Harry Potter fans) who portrayed a young hairdresser weighed down by her job, her home life and a husband who either wants her to have a baby or pack her bags and leave. Rita's goal, though, is to get an education. She goes to night classes taught by an embittered drunken literature professor, and over the course of the film, not only saves him but learns to find her own voice. Rita's not a flashy character -- she doesn't shoot any guns or fly any space ships -- but her struggle to achieve individuality is intensely moving. She sacrifices everything -- her husband, her family, her friends and for a while, her identity -- just to learn. She fights for a chance to understand literature and in turn, understand herself. For women who are too often told that being pretty is more important than being smart, a character like Rita is all too rare.

Sarah Connor, "The Terminator" series

WHY SHE RULES: No list of no-nonsense women would be complete without Sarah Connor who not only ruled the roost in an entire feature film series but also has new life now on the FOX's show, "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles." I remember seeing "Terminator 2" when I was a kid and thinking, "Holy shit, I'm glad she's not my mom. She'd gun me down for Oreo crumbs on the comforter." Sarah Connor is pretty much the epitome of gun-totin', ass-kickin' chickness. She defeated Arnold Schwarzenegger, fought a liquid metal Robert Patrick and overcame the most horrifying enemy of all: 80s hair. Oh, and she saved the future of humanity. But mostly, she defeated the hair, the kind of feathery mess that would've made a lesser women cry and drown herself in gel. Sarah's no quitter though, not even when the naked Schwarzennegger robots come knocking. Yikes.

Starbuck, "Battlestar Galactica"

WHY SHE RULES: Okay, putting two BSG characters in the same list might seem like cheating, but it's not my fault this show does hard-nosed ladies so well. Starbuck is an awesome character because she never gives in on anything. Ever. As scary Admiral Cain once asked her, "Do you always get what you want?" The response? Pretty much, yeah. If not, she'll shout and scream and point a gun at Adama's special lady friend. In the end, though, she gets people to listen to her and respect her despite her flaws. And wow, does she have flaws - the drinking, the insubordination, the carrying on with the married gentlemen who aren't her husband - but she's a passionate character who almost always puts the well-being of others before herself and ends up saving everyone's ass at least once or twice in the course of a day. In short, this female Starbuck wins out over the sad, sad male version in the original series, hands-down. Sorry, Dirk Benedict, but it's true: Starbuck version 2.0 makes your original flyboy look as butch as a Malibu Barbie...riding a unicorn...covered in sparkles.

Ellen Ripley, "Alien" series

WHY SHE RULES: Well, one, because she told Bill Paxton to shut up in "Aliens." Two, because she told Paul Reiser to shut up and three, because she puts on giant robot suits and blasts acid-dripping, people-eating monster alien mothers into space. You have to admit, it'd almost be worth an alien invasion just to try that once. Ripley is pretty much the perfect female sci-fi character: she's tough, she's smart, she's reluctant, she's been resurrected once or twice, she's misanthropic and yet, she's still got her feminine/maternal side: remember when she saved that whiny child in "Aliens?" Plus, she loved her cat. As far as I can tell, Ripley has only one flaw: a penchant for removing her clothes at the drop of a hat for absolutely no reason what so ever. Which is fine, except I'd think it would be a real time-sucker when it comes to planning a day of going to the salon and shooting aliens and whatnot. Beyond that though, from the moment Ellen Ripley made her debut in 1979, she's been a sci-fi legend, breaking and setting the mold for many, many more competent, tough and entertainingly trigger-happy women to come. Plus, seriously, she told Bill Paxton to shut up.

Honorable mentions: Any girl in a Miyazaki film, Lucy from "Peanuts," Buffy from "BTVS," and Zoe and River from "Firefly." Who would you add?


Josie Thames said...

I love that you included Lucy from Peanuts. She is, by and far, my favorite Peanuts character. As a kid, my dad constantly compared me to Ms. VanPelt, what with her crabbiness and bossiness.

I'm surprised that Buffy only received an honorable mention, though.

Amy said...

I would add Jane Eyre, from the novel of the same name, who in a time that demanded she marry as well as possible walked away from a marraige that was HUGELY advantageous and beneath the dude she was marrying despite the fact that she loved him because he was already secretly married, and because she wanted to be financially independent before they got married. And THEN walked away from another marriage to her cousin because it wasn't what she wanted. And THEN went back to her original beau once she heard his wife was dead and he was blind and Jane had her own money, and tricked him until he realized it was her, and refused to let him be morose or sorry for himself or spoil her in any way. Man I love her.

On a more current train of thought, I'd add Dr. Temperence Brennan from Bones, who has the brains, friends, and interests of a nerd, commands with as much attitude as Adama from BSG, and also can kick anyone in the show's ass, including her buff CIA sidekick. When he tells her to stay back, she rolls her eyes and says "yeah right". Sometimes the show treats her a little bit like a woman though, with the rescue-needing etc, and even though it's usually two ways (she at least partially rescues herself and him, and he rescues her) it's still a little formulaic, so I can see why she wouldn't necessarily make the list.

CaucusRace said...

Ripley should totally top this list so good job there but come on, Newt isn't whiny. She barely speaks and when she does it's to say things like, "Casey [her doll] doesn't have bad dreams because she's just a piece of plastic." Plus she totally survives when her house is over-run by aliens that eat her whole family. I believe the word to describe Newt is not whiny but shiny.

Trey said...

Hrmmmm....Red Sonia.

Roxanne, from Cyrano de Bergerac. Not only is she extremely well educated (especially for the time), but she runs the Spanish blockade to bring her man's regiment some food. She refuses to leave when action begins. Later, she chooses to remain unmarried and poor, even when she's pursued by a wealthy man who loves her.

Wonder Woman. Enough said there, really.

Amy Rose said...

I'm also surprised Buffy isn't higher up on the list.

I have to nominate Rose from Doctor Who. She kicks so much Dalek ass in the first season. (And later as well)

elizabeth said...

i'd have to add brenda from the closer. i can also relate to her chocolate addiction. ;)

Anonymous said...

....Where's Dana Scully??

(Okay, in season 9 the character sucked rocks, but -- seriously.)

Anne M. Archibald said...

Cordelia Naismith, from Lois McMaster Bujold's "Barrayar" (and other books). She doesn't take any shit from anyone, for any reason. She's tough without being macho or butch, and she takes control of her own destiny in a thoroughly sexist society.

Trey said...

Aaaahhh....Cordelia. So, so seconded.

If we're going with books, Honor Harrington deserves a mention.

Liz said...

Josie, I thought a lot about Buffy and ended up being on the fence about her. She was definitely tough and bucked the system, but she seemed to end up bowing to the pressure of a lot of different people over the years, including Spike toward the end. I waffled on her...

Amy, love the Jane Eyre idea. Definitely should have had her on the list. Bones would have been good too.

Caucusrace, I was probably a bit too harsh with Newt. I think Paxton aggravated me so much it rubbed off on everyone else. :)

Trey, Amyrose and Elizabeth, all good picks, too.

Queencallipygos, I thought long and hard about Scully too -- and don't get me wrong, I love Scully - but she was always, always letting Mulder push her around and that used to drive me crazy. That was kind of my rationale for leaving her off the list. She took a lot of crap from Fox.

Trey and Anne, I'll have to check out this Cordelia character. These books sound intriguing.

Anonymous said...

Hello??? Xena... warrior Princess... hahahah! Really though!

Tank Girl

Scully from X-Files

Laura Croft

How could you miss so many!? :P

Great list BTW.

topazsfp said...

Thank you so much for saying Cordelia! I adore that series.

Michael said...

Esme 'Granny' Weatherwax from Terry Pratchetts Diskworld series.

Oh, and Eowyn from the LotR, who I had a crush on long before the films.

Anonymous said...

As several have already mentioned, Buffy should be on the list since she "saved the world and stuff" also Grace from Saving Grace (TNT) is a great example of a female who doesn't take crap from anybody, even Earl, her angel.

Anonymous said...

Strong women who should be on the list:

1. Agent Clarice Starling
2. Agent Dana Scully
3. Agent Sara Sidle
4. Det. Olivia Benson
5. Dr. Erica Hahn
6. Dr. Maggie Doyle
7. Dr. Cristina Yang
8. Nikki Wade
9. Idgie Threadgoode
10. Atty. Ellenor Frutt

Raquel said...

I would definitely add Aeryn Sun from Farscape.

Sam said...

What? No Dr. Hahn? Just because her character couldn't withstand AB frickin C doesn't mean she wasn't badass.