I watched the first two episodes of Space Force recently. It was funny and sharp and took the royal mickey out of the unnamed POTUS. But… I couldn’t believe for a show made in 2017, at least the first two episodes fail the Bechdel-Wallace test. Maybe it will get better?
Is it not enough that all the billionaires are making rockets that look like dicks?
The scenes set in the Command Control Room show a group of scientists spit balling how they are going to save $1billion piece of space equipment. There is a wonderfully racially diverse cast however, there is only one woman in the group of about ten actors.
There is the teenage daughter character, and the general’s driver, who I believe will reveal herself to be a very interesting character and that one scientist but other than that the only other female character as far as I can see is Lisa Kudrow who is playing the wife of the Steve Carell‘s 4-star General.
Did the writers of Space Force miss the #metoo movement?
In 2006, the Me Too Movement was founded by survivor and activist Tarana Burke. The group focused on creating a space for survivors of sexual violence to find resources and healing.
This from their website.
In 2017, the #metoo hashtag went viral and woke up the world to the magnitude of the problem of sexual violence. What had begun as local grassroots work had now become a global movement — seemingly overnight.
So for a major 2017 production to keep women characters to the margins is either boorish and eye-rollingly typical… or were they making a statement? Am I being too kind?
I only wonder if this is supposed to be intentional because the female scientist is actively ignored by the General but then he ignores everyone in favour of his own hair-brained schemes. So the room could have been half women and it wouldn’t have impacted that particular theme.
I still need to find out why Lisa Kudrow is in prison so I’ll keep watching but they’ve got a couple more episodes to impress me.
I’ve been watching True Blood on and off for weeks now. It’s mad and definitely not something I would have watched in the past but here I am, loving it. I am halfway through the 5th season and they’ve only just turned one of the major characters into a vampire. About bloody time. (see what I did there…)
It passes the Bechdel Wallace test with flying colours and has a fairly diverse cast, not bad for a series that premiered in 2008.
I recently had a new cover made for my second book Alia Henry and the Ghost Writer. I am very proud of the original one I made but the new, professional one is lovely.
When my sister saw it, she was convinced Alia had blonde hair but I had always seen her as having long brown hair even though I don’t mention her hair colour anywhere in the book. Until I made this cover, she could have had any colouring at all. The only elements of Alia’s appearance mentioned are that she is quite tall and has long hair. She loves cigarettes and booze and teams short shorts with flowing kimonos.
I am mindful of the representation of women in my own writing and it’s easy to apply the Bechdel-Wallace test to any piece. All of my books and even most of my short stories pass easily but until now I haven’t actively included anyone with a disability in any of my stories. Hotel Deja Vu has elderly characters who have some health issues to consider but age isn’t a disability.
It’s not difficult for writers to take a bit of time to think about the diversity of our characters but it is important to research and make the effort to write every character well. No one is asking us to write what we don’t want to write but thinking outside the square a little can be a great challenge for us as writers.
I’m not a big fan of describing my character’s physical attributes. I like to think that our physical appearance is not only one of the least interesting things about us but is often used far too metaphorically. The heroine is beautiful and long-limbed and almond-eyed while the villain is often physically… weird… in some way. Look at most of the Bond Villains. They all had some kind of deformity.
I’ve said it before, I just can’t relate to all these perfect heroines! You know that scene where she walks through the room and all the heads turn. Puh-lease…
But times are changing. I hope. Especially with publishers making it their business to seek out work from a more diverse pool of writers including those with disabilities and from marginalised communities.
I’m writing a character now who has mostly recovered from a stroke. She is inspired by a school friend who had a stroke at the age of 42. My character is a retired Olympic swimming star and her rehabilitation was greatly helped by her previous training. But she deals with pain. She gets frustrated because she forgets things. She likes her own company where she was once the life of the party. And she is still reeling after her husband hooked up with her best friend while she was recovering.
But my character Hannah Woolf is not my school friend in disguise. She has overcome many of the same challenges my character has had to face but her husband has been an absolute rock!
I’m also writing a memoir about my childhood with foster adoptive siblings who had a rainbow of disabilities so that will be interesting especially dealing with a character who could be manipulative and through some poor choices, wound up leaving our loving home. We have to mindful of making blameless angels out of flawed humans regardless of their physical appearance.
“I am not my body” applies to all of us.
Here are some great articles I’ve read on writing diverse characters.
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