Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Pursuant to Previous Entry

The following came out of an offline discussion that I'd like to open to all:

Name a single female fictional pop culture icon from the last 100 years that was both progressive AND created by a woman...

I just thought of four, though I'm curious to see what people mention.

22 Comments:

At 7:00 AM, Blogger rob said...

Oops...my last entry wasn't from the last 100 years.

How 'bout Ramona Quimby, Thelma, Louise and "Tewanda"?

 
At 10:20 AM, Blogger JJisafool said...

Ahh, Beezus and Ramona. Hadn'a thought of them in a long time.

Does it have to be solely created by? I think Dora the Explorer should count. Show was produced by a woman (with a couple dudes) and a chick PhD did most of thecraetive heavy lifting.

 
At 10:22 AM, Blogger JJisafool said...

Interested to see what we eventually come up with. Women spending much of the last 100 years on the outside of lit canon and media production won't make it any easier.

 
At 10:57 AM, Blogger the beige one said...

Not familiar with either Ramona, or Tewanda, but great call on Thelma and Louise...Dora could count, don't see why not.

I've got Bitchy Bitch, Mary Tyler Moore (the sitcom) and the Gilmore Girls.

Women spending much of the last 100 years on the outside of lit canon and media production won't make it any easier.

Kind of the point, really.

 
At 11:26 AM, Blogger OldMotherHubbardSharesAll said...

Tewanda is from "Fried Green Tomatoes"

Veronica Mars?

 
At 11:36 AM, Blogger Christopher said...

- Ruth Handler created the Barbie Doll in 1959

- Margaret Mead's Scarlett O'Hara could probably today be considered a pop culture icon

- Geraldine Doyle, the true-life model for "Rosie The Riveter". Although she didn't "create" the icon, it's her face and image that have become associated with it, and certainly she should share a portion of the credit for its creation.

- Ruth Atkinson, creator of "Millie The Model", one of the longest running comic book titles in the history of the industry.

 
At 11:56 AM, Blogger the beige one said...

Veronica Mars was created by a guy, sadly...

 
At 12:42 PM, Blogger the beige one said...

Chris, I'm going to ask you to speak forth on some of your choices. It may be 20/20 hindsight that keeps me from seeing Barbie, Scarlett and Millie as progressive.

Should Barbie be forgiven for further instilling impossible body ideals, and the surface pleasures of consumerism because she's been a lawyer, banker, doctor, etc?

Take away the majority of the issues around GWTW that I have, and Scarlett still remains a whiny, vindictive, jealous and manipulative little bitch...

And Millie...Well, she was a rich single gal, I guess, but she did so based on her ability to exploit her looks.

I'm not looking to crucify here (I'm saving that for JJ, later on when we meet in person)...I'm willing to buy that they were progressive for their time, etc. I just need to have that clarified a bit.

 
At 1:26 PM, Blogger JJisafool said...

Wha..? Crucify moi? Porque?

The point is that women as creators were left out of canon creation?

Maybe we just limit the discussion to the last 30 years, to make it more reasonable. Do we really want to dwell on the fact women were marginalized in the 50s? We know that.

And it doesn't have to be towering icon, just a character of some import, right?

 
At 1:44 PM, Blogger rob said...

Nancy Drew.

 
At 2:16 PM, Blogger the beige one said...

who created Nancy Drew?

JJ, I'm just gonna crucify you for the good of mankind...and my sanity. That's all.

What's a little harmless crucifixion between friends?

Point taken about marginalization, though. My take on Scarlett stands.

 
At 2:24 PM, Blogger keda said...

ooh nancy drew! i loved that shit as a snottylet. how about mary poppins? she was cool...and more recently princess smartypants (books by babette cole)is pretty good.

though it is very very hard to find any others. i actually wish i hadn't realised this. now i'm going to have to start making up stories at my daughters bedtimes with fabulous heroines instead of just reading other blokes stuff which was easy. dammit. more responsibility as a woman and mother. ugh!

 
At 2:45 PM, Blogger the beige one said...

Hurrah! Mary Poppins counts! PL Travers, aka Pamela Lyndon Travers, aka Helen Lyndon Goff was her original writer.

Also, Nancy Drew gets by because, even though the series was created by Edward Stratemeyer, it was often ghostwritten by Mildred Wirt Benson in the early years. Stratemeyer's daughter, Harriet Stratemeyer Adams, also wrote for the series.

I wanna give a shout out to popular fave JK Rowland, even if Hermione Granger is a secondary character in her series.

more responsibility as a woman and mother.

Oops, I wanna welcome Keda and OMH to the commentariat, hello.

And Keda, it sounds like you're holding up your end of the bargain handily as it is. Getting them hooked on books and stories in general is great.

 
At 6:44 PM, Blogger Missuz J said...

Uma Thurman was, I believe, given at least partial credit for the creation of "The Bride" in Kill Bill.

Also, I hate to mention "Cathy" because, well, I hate it, but it fits the category.

"Bridget Jones," created by Helen Fielding can't go without mention.

Oh! Oh! Anne of Green Gables! L.M. Montgomery. I love those. They're so god damn, well, lovely.

 
At 7:43 PM, Blogger Kate said...

Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
Laura Ingalls by Herself

 
At 7:48 PM, Blogger Kate said...

Okay, so Laura is a little over a century old.
Wonder Woman was created by Sadie Hollaway Marston, but she gives half cred to her husband.

 
At 8:02 PM, Blogger Kate said...

And of course, leave it to the sisters. Zora Neale Hurston, Maya Angelou, Alice Walker and Toni Morrison all had protaganistas.

And what about Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

 
At 11:05 AM, Blogger Christopher said...

"Should Barbie be forgiven for further instilling impossible body ideals, and the surface pleasures of consumerism because she's been a lawyer, banker, doctor, etc?"

I'm not sure about the details, but one thing I recall from an interview Handler gave a number of years ago, was that one of the reasons she pushed for development of the doll was due to her frustration at not being able find a similar type of doll for girls to role-play with. I guess in the mid-'50's, pretty much all the dolls were representative of babies or small children, and she felt it would help improve young girls self-esteem to actually be able to play with a doll that was more representative of an "adult" figure and presence.

So, while Barbie has certainly become a cultural icon, and while in many people's minds the association may have become more pronouncedly negative over the years, at the time of its inception, Barbie was intended (and as you say, for the time, considered) to be a very progressive figure.

"Take away the majority of the issues around GWTW that I have, and Scarlett still remains a whiny, vindictive, jealous and manipulative little bitch..."

I was really thinking more of Mitchell's (I think I said Mead above, which of course is totally wrong!) depiction of Scarlett in the novel, rather than in the film. In the book, she does exhibit many of the qualities you attribute to her, but at the same time, she also presents a decidedly "independent" (again for the time period) spirit; she is strong-willed and outspoken, she becomes a competent business-owner and manager; she nearly single-handedly saves her family from penury; and throughout the course of the story repeatedly challenges the established social and gender orders of her time.

"And Millie...Well, she was a rich single gal, I guess, but she did so based on her ability to exploit her looks."

The thing about Millie (and again this has to be taken in the context of the time period in which the comics were published), was that at the time she first appeared in 1945, she represented a new phenomenon on the American Scene: the single, independent, post WW-II career woman. With hundreds of thousands of women suddenly relinquishing their war-service jobs to returning fathers, brothers & husbands, Millie for her time represented the notion that a female could still maintain an independent sense of self, not relying on the support of a man for either income or self-image.

Ironically, it wasn't until the early 1960's (coinciding with the birth of the Feminist Movement) that the comic series shifted away from its humor-based story-telling to a more traditional (and therefore character-limiting) romance style.

 
At 11:55 AM, Blogger the beige one said...

Thanks for the contextualizing there, Chris!

 
At 12:10 PM, Blogger JJisafool said...

9 Chickweed Lane - daily comic strip

 
At 12:36 PM, Blogger the beige one said...

For Better Or Worse, too...Sally Forth?

Cathy...I'd put an asterisk next to Cathy to denote Family Circus levels of crapadiliocious badness. "Laundry? AAACK!" is not a punchline.

 
At 12:19 PM, Blogger thelyamhound said...

I'm actually quite a fan of 9 Chickweed Lane, JJ; that's a good call.

Interesting discussion. My first thought, being (perhaps paradoxically) both a "rockist" and a "poptimist" by nature, as well as being a more a postmodernist to a greater degree than I like to admit, was that if we expand our definition of "fictional" to include stage personae (after all, were Andy Kaufman or Andy Warhol real people, or fictional ideas held forth by real people?), Madonna and Siouxsie Sioux are both fascinating, female-created icons. PJ Harvey is a little too directly confessional to qualify as a fiction; I'm a little torn on whether the narratives presented by Marianne Faithfull or Missy Elliott constitute true autobiography or personal mythmaking. Poison Ivy Rorschach, of seminal psychobilly demigods The Cramps, is an obvious fiction (created by Kristy Wallace).

 

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