• Miller

    Excellent points. The wise woman trope is making me think of a Firefly contemporary, King Of The Hill – in the first season, Hank is pretty dumb (and violent!) and Peggy is the voice of reason. This becomes more balanced quickly and arguably goes too far by the end – Hank is pretty much always right about everything and Peggy is insane and frequently incompetent – but making Peggy flawed was a great move, especially since her greatest flaw was overconfidence, a prime comedic driver.

  • The Voice of A Gnu Generation

    Male writers writing female characters are never going to get it exactly right, ditto female writers writing male characters. The old expression “Write what you know,” applies here. Whedon will never know what it’s like to be a woman so the best you can hope for are female characters that don’t fall into the stereotypical damsel in distress or Madonna/whore archetype. Ideally women characters would have all of the same human failings that we all do, being that they are human and all.

    By the way, I’m just talking out of my ass here because my only exposure to Firefly was the movie Serenity.

    • Son of Griff

      The codes and conflicts that define masculinity are far more identifiable in film, so women can do a fine job in identifying and playing with the tropes of typically male action films. Kathryn Bigelow comes to mind as someone who understands the attractiveness of ecstatic nihilism of genres that deal with physical and violent conflict, and who expands the genre from working within its traditions. Since the post WWII, the preponderance of “women’s” pictures has declined both in numbers and critical esteem, and where we often find feminism is mainstream cinema is in genre films where female agency resists masculine impulses in terms of male values. Women in action films tend to reflect male perceptions of what strong women are, which often exposes their own insularity to the values that women might contribute to the world’s they imagine.

      To reiterate a point I made on Monday in @lgauge’s review of THE SEARCHERS, is how perceptive that movie is to the erasure of female agency in the memory of those whose wander in pursuit of fulfilling a masculine promise. Wayne pretty much fails at his mission, but the civilizing forces of women drive the action and weave the tapestry of its mythic grandeur in ways that are obvious but obscured by the romance of adventure. It’s a subtle masterpiece of genre deconstruction, and I think miles ahead of what Whedon has accomplished.

    • Babalugats

      I don’t know. I think that’s true of a certain, more intimate, type of writing. But I think as broad jokey space adventures go, this stuff isn’t that difficult. Write your characters as complete people, and trust your actresses to fill in the gaps.

      I think where Whedon ran into trouble (and plenty of people would argue he didn’t run into trouble at all) is that he wrote his male characters as complete people and his female characters in order to demonstrate a point. And that he has some sexual hangups that I’m not sure he’s entirely aware of. Although, if Twilight has taught us one thing, it’s that female creators aren’t immune to that sort of thing either.