Thursday, June 10, 2010

Mama, don't let your girls grow up to be cowboys.

You know what I really want?

I want there to have been at least ONE WOMAN on this list.

I have this whole dissertation about why all of our classic heroes these days are anti-heroes, and how that relates to Vietnam -- specifically, the massacre at My Lai 4 -- and how the American dream has a desperate need to parody itself in order to reaffirm that no, really, we are the good guys, despite all the evidence and dead Vietnamese civilians to the contrary.

The short version says that, well, all our classic heroes these days are anti-heroes. To not have ONE woman on that list is either a strong indication of the list-maker's bias, or our ongoing inability as a culture to see women as something to be admired, something heroic.

I mean, hello, STARBUCK??? If they're going to put Mal on there, then where the hell is Kara Frakking Thrace?


  1. Hi Rachel,
    I absolutely, positively agree with you that Starbuck was a classic anti-hero, and while Dirk Benedict was my favourite character in the original (child of the 70s) I lurved her re-imagining more than any other character on the new series. She absolutely rocked the antihero role. However, the top eleven spots were limited to current shows (24 was still running when we wrote it,) and BSG was long since over.
    I had three distinct purposes in mind for the honour spots...
    1) highlight Vic Mackay...still the best/worst ever.
    2) express delight that Torchwood is coming back. Captain Jack Harkness IS Torchwood, and without him there is no Torchwood. She deserves the antihero tag as well.
    3) to curse Fox for their sudden but inevitable betrayal. I'm a dyed in the wool Browncoat, and acolyte of the Whedon.
    I hope I don't have bias, but I'd be a fool to discount it, since I did include Jethro Gibbs but not Ziva David. What other female roles on current shows do you think are antiheroes? There may be some that are absolutely deserving of the distinction, but I can't think of any on shows that I watch...and maybe that is the ultimate bias in my post...there are plenty of shows out there that I don't watch, so would not have considered their female antiheroes.
    Ed (co-author of that list)

  2. Hey Ed, thank you for dropping by.

    Female anti-heroes from current TV shows:
    1. Gemma from Sons of Anarchy. Her husband might be the president of the motorcycle gang SAMCRO, and her son the VP, but Gemma is the power behind the thrones, and rules her tribe of murderin', gun-runnin' gangsters with an iron fist.
    2. Jackie from Nurse Jackie. Snarky, adulterous nurse with an addiction, who is nonetheless absolutely devoted to helping people. The female version of Dr. House.
    3. Fiona from Burn Notice. Trigger-happy ex-IRA assassin, with a massive arsenal and a love of violence. Oftern, though, she's the only person that Michael Westin can count on.

    And some past female anti-heroes, for good measure:
    1. Starbuck, natch.
    2. Sarah Connor and Cameron, from The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Both of them are more than willing to kill anyone who threatens the life of John Connor. Oh and there's the whole thing where Cameron is a reprogrammed killer robot.
    3. Faith from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I think an argument could be made for Buffy, too, but Faith is the more obvious option.

    Also, just for the hell of it, how about an anti-hero of color, which wasn't on your list, either:
    1. Ronon from Stargate Atlantis. He has a KNIFE hidden in his HAIR.

    I don't think that you have any conscious bias -- like, I sincerely doubt you sat down and thought, "every person on this list will be a white dude!" But that is what happened. I do believe that a huge chunk of it comes from the fact that there AREN'T many female anti-heroes (or hell, female HEROES) out there. (Or heroes of color.)

    Which goes back to my original point, that we're trained by our cultural construction of the cowboy to only recognize certain people -- male, white -- as capable of being heroes, or heroic. Thus, that's all people write, and all that viewers see on their TV sets. It sucks, and it's something that I'd dearly like to change.