"There is difference and there is power. And who holds the power decides the meaning of the difference." --June Jordan

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Feminist Insight While Watching Heroes:

Upon the introduction last night of Angela Petrelli's sister, Alice, as a new character who makes it storm when she gets upset, Dan remarked: "Why are so many of the female heroes' powers tied to their emotions?"

I can't believe I didn't notice it myself, but he's totally right. Remember how when Maya got upset, she accidentally killed everyone in the vicinity? Or how Nikki's multiple personality thing would act up, giving her no choice in the matter? Or even if they aren't tied to their emotions, most of their powers are passive in some way, like Claire's healing ability and Angela's dreams. Or they are completely unable to control the powers to the extent that their powers hurt or victimize them, a la Elle, Tracy, and Claire's biological mother whose name I can't remember. Even though she was never my favorite character, I liked that Daphne could run really fast -- until they killed her off. And the girl from Season Two who could mimic anything she saw was pretty cool, but she just sort of disappeared. Sigh.


Chelsea said...

I don't even remember the girl from season two who could mimic anything she saw! At all! I might have to watch it again, just to see that.

Good blog, btw. :D Came here from Shakesville.

plumpdumpling said...

Same with many female superheroes throughout comics, right? Just think of all the ladies of X-Men. Even when Jean developed crazy-super-duper powers, she couldn't control them and had to be offed.

Tracey said...

Chex: Her name was Monica, and she was somehow either related to or friends with Micah. She was played Dana Davis, if that helps.

Katie: You're probably totally right, and I'm sure we're not the first to notice. I don't know much about X-Men, but it makes sense that the female mutants would be that way. It's like writers really can't handle letting women have active powers that they use deliberately for their own gain.

Nadine said...

I watch Heroes religiously but am more and more dismayed by the way women are portrayed. I agree with what the blogger pointed out here and also agree with what Ava and C.I. pointed out at Third Estate Sunday Review last February:

Niki had an alternate personality. Her dead sister. When she would use her superhuman strength, she'd black out due to some trauma and become her alternate personality. Did you follow that? It's not very difficult unless you're a man working on Heroes.

What's the problem for Niki?

It takes a real SEXIST PIG -- one scared of any strength in women -- to argue Niki's problem is her super powers. But that's exactly what the show argued. They had her working to do away with her powers. Niki and her sister were beaten as children by their father. He would eventually beat her sister to death.

Niki's super powers were not her problem. Even Jessica (the alternate personality) was not, in and of itself, a problem. Jessica was a coping mechanism for Niki. And it's really strange that instead of offering a story where Niki tries to integrate the Jessica personality into her own, the 'problem' is suddenly that Niki has super powers and all of season two must be wasted with Niki trying to get rid of them via various drugs.

The cover story is that they couldn't go any further with the character of Niki. Go any further with the character? They never took Niki anywhere. ("They" being the writers. We're not referring to Larder who has played poorly written characters better than they deserved to be played.) As for the claim that it allowed them to tell an 'origin story,' that crap might have played as believable in October when the new episodes were just starting to air; however, those episodes have now aired and there was no origin story for Tracy. In dialogue -- passing dialogue at that -- we learn that she was 'genetically modified' (like monster corn?) and that's how she has powers.

oleander. said...

I think its definately a trend in most superhero universes that men have powers that are physically while women are always mental/emotional and often related to the earth. I think Claire is probably the only female character who's power isn't tied to her emotions but she is such an overdramatic, impulsive character that it doesn't really matter...

And I miss Monica too. I'm a bit behind on the show but I think they brough Micah back so many Monica will be reintroduced soon too ^.^