Being in the Main the Mouth of Olde House Rules

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Who You Gonna Call (The Ladies, Duh)...

The new Ghostbusters movie is out, and we haven't seen it yet, although much controversy has preceded it.  I can understand being skeptical of a remake.  But to decide a film is going to be just awful before you've even seen it?  That's a bit of a reach, and so is whining that it's somehow ruined your childhood... 

Uh, guys, no one can ruin your precious childhood.  It was over a long time ago, and you can keep it forever and buy the original movie in Blu-Ray ANYWHERE!  Our favorite films are GONNA be remade, and remakes pretty universally suck hard!

But this DOES raise the issue of strong female leads, and it violates reason and common sense to say that there hasn't been some pushback against the idea from certain circles.  No, everything ISN'T sexist (as some would assert), but misogyny DOES exist, and in sufficient numbers for the collective whine to be heard...

Now, role-players should have no problem with stronger female characters, because we've been playing them for decades in our own games, although I have to say, its better to have ACTUAL females playing these characters, and maybe more CREDIBLE.

So in this spirit, here's the recent movie heroines Robyn and I liked best, and our take on their so-called controversies:   

MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was a fine movie, although I think I liked it better than Robyn, who isn't all that into Car Wars (although she's playing Fallout 4 as we speak).  My only complaint was that the movie plays up Max's PTSD and then sort of drops the ball, making it useless and distracting as far as plot devices go.

Two worthy heroines right
at home in gaming (by Gabriel Jardim)

Now some have complained that Furiosa steals the show, but that's really not a problem to me.  The Mad Max universe is allowed to expand, and that means more characters who aren't window dressing for the franchise's main star - and this fits the bill!  Others have derided the film as "feminist road" and even complained that Max wouldn't take orders from some female...  

Bruised male ego, anyone?  We both thought Furiosa was a great character of the sort we play in games all the time, and there's no good reason for the sort of resistance some have offered.

More importantly, anyone familiar with the FIRST movie should understand Max as a pre-war family man comfortably responsive to the various women in his life.  You see this in the earliest chapters and again in the awesome Beyond Thunderdome.   

STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS has the standout heroine, although being a lifelong Star Wars fan helps!  Now Abrams has been accused of pandering.  But if females (1) exist, and (2) are going to be represented in fantasy, is EVERY instance of female leads pandering, or just the ones where the girls aren't helpless?   

Others maintain that Rey is a classic "Mary Sue" and TOO GOOD at everything she does.  We're mixed here, although Robyn and I agree that her skills match her fictional background, and that she's definitely NOT the adult in the room...

At least not once Leia and Han Solo enter the picture!

Women enjoy gaming and geekdom
for the same reasons men's FUN!

Compare this to Wesely Crusher, who inexplicably rivals more seasoned Star Fleet veterans.  If you've complained about HIM first, you can gripe about Rey being a Mary Sue character.

Really though, Rey grew up on a hostile desert world, where her survival depended on toughness and the ability to find, operate, and repair valuable salvage.  She learned to pilot spacecraft using a simulator (not addressed in the film, but canon) and owes a lot to her youth and simple tenacity, which women CAN possess, guys.

But thrust into the confusing world of adult affairs and political intrigue, she's out of her depth - and it shows!

That said, Robyn and I both agree that Rey BETTER start facing greater challenges - and failure - in the next movie or she risks becoming the Mary Sue she's accused of being already. 

In truth, Rey feels like the sort of character we'd create in a point-based system, since these characters tend to start out having impressive skill sets (something like Hero System).  This carries over nicely in the movies, and that goes for Furiosa too, who would be quite at home in the games we've played.

Simple test: If the heroines in fantasy/sci-fi movies are doing what they've always done in your RPG's, they're good to go...

There was something insular and moribund about all-male gaming groups that played powerful female characters without having actual women present.  This was more a matter of circumstance than any deliberate misogyny, and I'm happy to have converted Robyn over to the hobby we now both love.  But geekdom is appealing to more and more women because THEY LIKE FUN TOO, and these folks naturally want to see themselves depicted in the genre - and that's a GOOD thing!


  1. "There was something insular and moribund about all-male gaming groups that played powerful female characters without having actual women present."
    - I think that's a little unfair. How often did we have a choice in the matter? Most role players I know have stories of the hard times they had finding other players. If a girl had shown the slightest interest back in rural Kent of 78, she'd have been in!

    1. We agree, which is why I followed up with: "This was more a matter of circumstance than any deliberate misogyny".