Buffy and The Powerpuff Girls versus Pink and Ally McBeal:
February 3, 2002 7:28 PM   Subscribe

Buffy and The Powerpuff Girls versus Pink and Ally McBeal: Can the modern women become anymore difficult to understand? Makes me yearn for Mary Richards.
posted by treywhit (15 comments total)
Mary Richards was A-OK, in my book. And, of course, she had *spunk!* On a slightly more serious note, one thing that has bothered me for years is that in almost any kind of commercial involving husband/wife or boyfriend/girlfriend, the male is inevitably cast as the "wrongdoer", or the klutz, and the female is cast as the all-knowing, omnipotent being. Kind of like the TV show "Home Improvement," where the male lead, ostensibly an "expert" on home repair, wound up screwing up his life while his wife maintained a calm, superior attitude. Interesting.
posted by davidmsc at 7:39 PM on February 3, 2002

The modern woman? Or modern fictional representations of women? As long as we're worried about Ally McBeal, I say let's deal with those dancing babies before we get too worried over women who have sex like men.

davidmsc: advertisers know that women control more domestic spending. It is in advertisers' interests to portray us as dolts.

Whether the portrayal is inaccurate, I can't say. But maybe we shouldn't object too much: the klutzy, lovable males in those ads end up getting laid and looked after by their adorable tolerant wives, so the message isn't all bad...
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 7:45 PM on February 3, 2002

I have seen something similar in the workplace. It's acceptable for women to comment on men's thinning hair and "spare tires" but don't even think about returning these insights with remarks on sagging breasts or expanding bottoms. Unless you want early retirement.
posted by treywhit at 7:47 PM on February 3, 2002

Klutzy because loveable, or loveable because klutzy ?
posted by elpapacito at 7:47 PM on February 3, 2002

Addendum: I notice no increase in reports of women committing acts of violence on men attributable to media depictions, whether as justified retribution or otherwise. Until I feel in danger when a woman walks behind me in a dark alley, I couldn't care less about the "disturbing" trend identified in the article.

Although arguably, by portraying wholly imaginary images of women using sexual and physical power over men, the shows described in the article threaten to derail sensible discussion of violence between the sexes by confusing stories with reality.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 7:58 PM on February 3, 2002

The Pink video that Goldberg mentions is for "There You Go," not "You Make Me Sick." The video was released in 2000, not 2001.

It's Lara Croft, not Laura.

"Details Anka" should probably get her last name (Radakovich).

(Aside: Might "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" creator Whedon's status as a gay man inform his heroine's attitude and perspective toward male characters? It wouldn't excuse the possibility of sexism outright, but it might make for an interesting extra couple of paragraphs.)

And to the point: As long as women are modern, they'll be no more comprehensible -- or easily reducible for the benefit of soundbite/article digestion -- than men.
posted by allaboutgeorge at 8:33 PM on February 3, 2002

I blame rampantly running erotica for the whole situation.

In my group of friends (all of us single women), the way we look at guys goes from one exteme to another. I have some friends who will take a guy on the complete head trip, others are as giving and tolerant as can be.

It's not because of media images or schizoid anger from trying to have sex like a man would, it's based on our past experiences and our general personalities. Just like it is with guys.

Though once you take away all the psychobabble, I'm pretty sure all men are dogs. Except for my dad, of course.
posted by Salmonberry at 9:18 PM on February 3, 2002

davidmsc: And here I always thought that in the olden days, the situation comedies were about men who always get their way, like Ralph Kramden. Or would it be more accurate to say that from the very beginnings of the medium, the situation comedy has been about the foibles of the main character, such as Lucille Ball?

Good points, George. Alternet writers need editors like you.

Something the author seems to have missed is the extent to which Buffy, Lara, or Pink represent fantasy personas that women can put on like masks while retaining their basic identity. It's not that many years ago that people were worrying about what Glenn Close's character in Fatal Attraction (or Demi Moore's in a whole string of movies) said about women in general, where those caricatures were seen as representing the essence of women in the culture.
posted by dhartung at 9:23 PM on February 3, 2002

Where did the rumor come from that Joss Whedon is gay? As far as I know, he's a card-carrying heterosexual man. "Card" meaning "marriage certificate," of course. Maybe three of his umpteen posts at the Bronze fail to mention his wife, of whom he seems ridiculously enamored.
posted by grrarrgh00 at 9:49 PM on February 3, 2002

Women are Evil - Men are Stupid.

That's the whole thing in a nutshell, pretty much.
posted by Perigee at 10:18 PM on February 3, 2002

I was wrong: Whedon is a big girly-man, but he's not gay. *points finger at Google and its cache of a corrected PopMatters story*
posted by allaboutgeorge at 10:48 PM on February 3, 2002

The article also fails to mention Buffy's sadomasochistic relationship with Spike, or the sexpot Glory, who was the main villain of last season, or even the anti-Buffy Faith, who fucks like a man and let her super girl powers get out of control.

On the other side of the coin, there's the rather obvious Freudian stuff with the absent father and the recently deceased mother.

The interesting men in Buffy's life do tend to be monsters of some sort or other, but their monstrosities are part of what makes them attractive to Buffy or others: Angel's dark past, Spike's dark past and his ability to physically hurt Buffy (but no other human), Riley's association with the paramilitary "initiative" (an ultimately misdirected group led by an insidious but well-meaning matron), and Oz's werewolf nature that balances out his usual taciturn side.
posted by bingo at 12:55 AM on February 4, 2002

the article references buffy's relationship with riley as happening last year. which was, i think 2 years ago. so i don't think that it was really that accurate in terms of fact-checking.

i think that there is a big difference between buffy and other girl-power-men-drool shows. i can't really put my finger on it though. dark angel has a totally different feel than buffy. it's not just because buffy is really well written. buffy is a girl we can relate to, but she can take care of herself, if she is attacked, which is more than we can say for ourselves. she's weak though, in many of the ways that i feel week, possibly in some of the ways that alley mcbeal is weak, but she doesn't claim strength to cover her weaknesses, which is what i think a lot of women like susie bright, annie sprinkle, katie roiphe, susan faludi(now) do. buffy is like me, a girl in the world who is trying to do the right thing, and make it through the day.

oftentimes walking home alone at night after watching buffy I felt really really safe, which i can't say really happens after watching sex in the city.
posted by goneill at 7:16 AM on February 4, 2002

And the writer missed the point that the Powerpuff Girls aren't at all alike: Buttercup is headstrong and loves to jump into a fight, Blossom is brainy and wants to strategize first, and Bubbles is sweet and girly and open to peaceful solutions.

Note that though the show's villains are mostly male, they're a diverse bunch as well; and the most horrible of them all is the peculiarly effeminate entity known only as... Him.

And while the infantile, illiterate, male Mayor dithers, the City of Townsville is run by his secretary, Sara Bellum — whose va-voom physique is shown only from the neck down! The show's only competent intelligence lives in the never-seen head attached to a pointedly objectified male fantasy of a woman's body! It's brilliantly subversive I tell you!

What? I watch them while I work out. I am Mojo Jojo! Oh, leave me alone.
posted by nicwolff at 7:35 AM on February 4, 2002

"Excuse me sir, but can you direct me to the location of where I can locate some eggs for I would like to purchase them so that I can take them home with me and I can eat them today.

And maybe tomorrow."

Mojo deserves more.
posted by MUD at 12:07 PM on February 4, 2002

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