Saturday, November 22, 2008

Something besides a man

The Hathor Legacy

Paul Taylor, one of the artists on The Cownt, was recently interviewed for the Hathor Legacy site about his popular webcomic Wapsi Square. It's a cool article with some great insight into Paul and his work, but I'm also linking to it because it introduced me to the Hathor Legacy site itself.

I haven't browsed much yet to see how much our specific tastes and opinions align, but I love the concept and the tag-line, "the search for good female characters." You can read their mission statement here and catch up on the conversation here. What I can't seem to find there is any mention of who Hathor is, but a quick Google tells me that she was the Egyptian goddess of love, music, and beauty.

The Bechdel Rule

One of the things the Hathor Legacy mentions is Alison Bechdel's famous movie test. It's an easy test to remember and sets up some great criteria that more writers should implement. To pass it, a movie just needs to have 1) at least two women in it who 2) talk to each other about 3) something besides a man. The Hathor Legacy adds that the women should be named characters, which I suppose is an okay amendment, but it's worth noting that it's not in the original comic strip that the Rule came from.

Also not in the original strip is any sort of suggestion about what this Rule should be used for. It's in the context of one woman sharing her personal preferences with another woman and it's never said that all movies should have these elements. I don't see that suggestion in my initial look-over of the Hathor Legacy either. What I'm getting - and what I totally agree with - is simply that more movies should be that way. The Hathor Legacy also includes TV shows, books, and comics, but admits that this is less of a problem in those formats.

I'm looking forward to finding out what the Hathor Legacy writers are into and what they think should be better. In the meantime, NPR also recently had this discussion and came up with its own, short list of shows that meet the Rule's criteria (giving special mention to The Middleman, yay!).

Did you know NPR had a pop culture blog? How have I been missing that?

Okay, on to other stuff that may or may not meet the Bechdel Rule, but that's okay too...

Kitty Hawk

I started reading this webcomic expecting a typical action/adventure story, but it's a lot more than just that. Sure there are jet packs and robot pilots and mysteries, but there's also a beautiful, quiet story about a young woman trying to figure out where she fits into the world around her. And the art's amazing. Start here and click Next.

Atomic Robo and the Sparrow

I'll have more to say about Atomic Robo's awesome Sparrow character later, but for now, you can see what her creators have to say about her here, including how she was initially going to be a dude until it became apparent that a lot of Atomic Robo readers are girls. Very cool.

Miss America

Pappy's got a Golden Age story about everyone's favorite teen super-heroine from the '40s.

Lost: Season Five

Gettin' excited! (Thanks, /Film!)

Courtney Crumrin and the Prince of Nowhere

Newsarama talks with Ted Naifeh about the latest installment in his awesome series of charmingly spooky graphic novels.

Resident Evil 4

It's coming. I'm nervous about it, but I liked the first two enough that I'm still excited to see more. (The third one was okay.)

Amber Atoms

Coming in February from Image Comics.

story, art & cover KELLY YATES

Blast-off with the newest sci-fi adventure heroine Amber Atoms! Follow the ongoing adventures of this modern day "Flash Gordon" as Amber dreams of leaving her mundane life, but not exactly how she imagined. Mercenaries and aliens suddenly invade Amber's world as she learns that her family history could decide the fate of the galaxy.

FEBRUARY 18 - 32 PAGES - FC - $3.50

CBR has more info here.


Lisa said...

Wow, you've given me a lot of food for thought in this post. Amber Atoms looks interesting.

The Hathor Legacy is a great site. I have to credit them with informing some of my Danger Gal articles.

Also, the Bechdel Rule is a great criteria to evaluate media, but it's harder than it may seem to satisfy. For instance, let's say you have two female neurosurgeons talking about the best tactics to implement in an upcoming brain surgery. If that patient is male, the conversation fails the Bechdel Rule criteria.

IO9 recently talked about this topic and suggested renaming it the Ripley Rule.

Michael May said...

Ooh! Thanks for that i09 link. I'd missed that.

The only thing I don't like (and NPR did it too) is the dismissal of Grey's Anatomy. Obviously there's a lot of talk about sex on that show and most of it involves men, but this season has focused a lot on coversations between women about sex with each other. And there's always been plenty of talking about saving the lives of other women.

Not that Grey's is a bastion of feminism necessarily, but I don't get the rationale behind i09 and NPR's completely writing it off.

Sorry to vent in response to your comment, but that had bugged me in the NPR article and seeing i09 mention it too got me going again. :)

Lisa said...

I see what you're saying about Grey's. Unfortunately, those conversations about women and sex will stop now because the network nixed the relationship storyline b/c it was too controversial. Which is sad.

I watched the first two seasons of Grey's, but lost interest when it seems like Meredith and McDreamy were going over the same stuff over and over again.

Michael May said...

I know what you're saying. That's usually when I give up too, but something kept me going this time (Bailey, probably) and I'm glad it did. They've finally moved on to other stuff.

Anonymous said...

I'll have more to say about Atomic Robo's awesome Sparrow character later...

I'll hold you to that!

Aviva DV said...

Thanks for this post about Hathor and the Bechdel Rule (you can't tell from my Blogger username, but I'm part of the Hathor team, so, really, thanks). I was especially interested to see the NPR blog article and the other "Ripley Rule" article linked--fascinating discussion.

I think that, when it comes to the Bechdel/Ripley rule, it only makes sense to apply the rule in regards to the context of the show/film. For example, with a show like Grey's Anatomy, where romance is one of its main tenets, it's hard to get too up in arms if the women often talk about men (and vice versa); rather, like you said Michael, we have to recognize that female characters in that show also talk quite a bit about each other, about their patients and about myriad other things that have to do with their lives and careers. On the other hand, if you have an action film with two female characters and all they do is talk about (or fight over) the male protagonist, that's a big fail in the Bechdel/Ripley department. I definitely don't think the characters can't ever talk about men for a show/film to qualify, but if that's all they ever talk about then the only point of female characters is to highlight the male character(s), which is ridiculous. At least that's how I see it.

Michael May said...

I'll hold you to that!

*gets crackin*

Michael May said...

@fourth wave:

We're totally eye-to-eye there. Thanks for the clarification. :D

Unknown said...

Also from THL, though I haven't posted recently...

I have to say that two female neurosurgeons talking about their patient *as their patient* rather than as a man would not be a fail to me, although I'm not sure whether I'm saying it wouldn't fail the rule or just wouldn't in general bother me. ;-) I guess the idea of TWO female neurosurgeons in the same scene just sounds really cool to me. ;-)

And whoo! I didn't know another Resident Evil was coming out.


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