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A Rip-Roaring Feminist Hoedown

July 4, 2008

That’s how I’d describe “The Furies,” one of the films that Prof. Jeanine Bassinger says Joss Whedon programmed for the student cinema at Wesleyan. Because all the drama comes from a strong woman character trying to navigate her way through the patriarchy.

Its strength as a feminist Western — and the reason it might not be recognized as feminist — is that it does not idealize its protagonist, played by Barbara Stanwyck. It only turns from a good movie into a great one about halfway through, when she does something strikingly unheroic. (Which I won’t spoil for you here.) I wonder if this movie convinced the Demon Writer of TV that moral complexity makes good art, or if it just struck him as exemplary (as in “example-y”) of that principle, or if I’m just, per usual, imagining stuff.

I don’t know why it becomes a great movie, since moral complexity lends itself equally well to boredom. One symptom of its greatness: Some of its best dialogue is not in English, and I didn’t understand a word of it, but it moved me greatly.

IMHO, moral complexity is lacking in the Captain Hammer comic. We don’t feel Captain Hammer’s pain. He’s just a jerk. This isn’t really a correction of the simplistic good v. evil polarization in comic books, just an inversion of it. The good guy is a bad guy. A cardboard hero may be a variation on the cardboard villain, but he’s still cardboard.

You feel the pain of Joss Whedon’s best villains — The Mayor, Spike and Dru, Angelus (ambiguously, I admit), Glory and, above all, Faith. That’s part of their greatness.

  1. pointy07 permalink*
    July 5, 2008 8:11 am

    (Well, why not comment on my own . . . thing)

    Art thought: I don’t know Hegel from a hole in the ground, but I’ve heard of Thesis/Antithesis/Synthesis — and some antic neurons of mine connect that thought with what I don’t like about a lot of “alternative” art: It’s just antithesis. It’s the opposite of some moth-eaten thesis that duplicates the thesis’s (don’t try saying that) flaws in mirror reverse.

    It’s easy to get caught in the fight with some Big Bad Idea or other and to take a stand against it, rallying the other would-be rebels to your side, but in Animal Farm and Human World, such contests usually just changes who rules, not the way we are ruled.

    Science nerds, as far as I can tell, are having a grand time, getting into excellent schools, having interesting and exciting careers, and being lionized more than regular business people, possibly because they produce stuff of some easily recognized value — stuff that is often kind of cool. They may not get dates in high school . . . or they may. But life does not end with high school (at least for people with big brains, though it might end with high school for people with big arms). The brainy can be as cruel as the brawny. . . and after you reach a certain age (16, is it?) being cruel with your brawn is by and large illegal, while being cruel with your brain can be a career. What’s bugging me, you ask, assuming you’ve read this far? The Captain Hammer comic depicts the Captain Hammer as not only intolerant, but a bit dim. And living in an economy where brains matter a lot more than brawn, I’m not loving a comic book where the dumb guy is bad and the smart guy is more sympathetic. Typing as a lifelong member of the mentally-but-not-physically-imposing set, I don’t like being appealed to on this level.

    So what’s my synthesis? Love Pump. Open our hearts, artists, don’t close our minds. Smugness and narrow-mindedness plague all demographics. They’re a good enemy, because they’re everywhere.

  2. jaynelovesvera permalink*
    July 5, 2008 8:12 pm

    Pointy, I think your comment deserves to be a post in its own right. I can’t venture an opinion on the comic because I haven’t been able to read it. For some reason when I click on the comic nothing happens. I be fuddled. And now more desirous of reading it.

    But the return of “Love Pump”? Hooray!!

  3. jaynelovesvera permalink*
    July 6, 2008 3:35 am

    Having read the comic now I see what you mean. Is this a one-shot to pimp the musical, or are more comic installments planned? If the former, I hope the musical doesn’t portray Captain Hammer the same way. If the latter, perhaps Hammer and other characters will be developed more.

    Gotta say, the artwork is of a quality I aspire to. A lot of comics go overboard with the bright colors.

    Could you repost your Love Pump posts from Goners? I really liked those a lot. And all your comic and film reviews. I liked going back and rereading them. Inspirational, they were. And are. Please?

  4. pointy07 permalink*
    July 6, 2008 10:45 am

    You are a kind king. Alas, I lack files. All I have are the notorious Buffy S8 reviews, which I may revisit. I’m loving this run. I mean, season. I mean, the little arcs that add up to a big arc!

    I wish I had what I wrote about the art you chose/created for the banner, since that always awes me. The art, not what I wrote.

  5. pointy07 permalink*
    July 7, 2008 2:27 pm

    Looks like we’re going to get a peek at Captain Hammer’s soul:

    Prodigeek – What are your favorite lyrics for the show so far?
    Whedon – Oh, I don’t want to give them away. They’re mainly my favorite lyrics that I’ve ever written. They come in a Captain Hammer song. I wrote one verse that came together, very beautifully. It’s so much better to hear Nathan say it than me, so I’m just gonna have you watch for Captain Hammer’s inspirational song in Act 3.

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