America s quest for female heroes
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America’s Quest for Female Heroes. NOT the same thing as a “lead” or protagonist who is simply the focus of a story A hero and her/his story embodies the values of a society. What is a hero?. Definitions of Hero. Sacrifice self for the greater good

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What is a hero

NOT the same thing as a “lead” or protagonist who is simply the focus of a story

A hero and her/his story embodies the values of a society

What is a hero?


Definitions of hero
Definitions of Hero simply the focus of a story

  • Sacrifice self for the greater good

  • Embodies a system of values and protects those values

  • Overcomes fear/obstacles to succeed


Carl jung and the collective human subconscious
Carl Jung and the collective (human) subconscious simply the focus of a story

  • Archetypes

    • Heroes

    • Mentors

    • Male and female

  • Based on dreams myth and religion


Joseph campbell the hero with a thousand faces and the hero s journey
Joseph Campbell: simply the focus of a storyThe Hero with a Thousand Faces and The Hero’s Journey

  • The hero is called but often refuses the call

  • The hero acquires a mentor

  • The hero acquires a quest/cause

  • The hero sets forth

  • There are setbacks and the hero may die more than once along the way

  • The hero must face his shadow self

  • In the end, the hero returns with his/her knowledge to right the wrong


The hero s journey is the story of life

We are born simply the focus of a story

We resist this

We have parents, teachers, and other mentors

We set out to achieve goals

We face great obstacles

We must face and control our own weaknesses

At the end, we ‘return’ with our own family, and start the process again.

The “hero’s journey” is the story of life



America s hero traditions
America’s hero traditions culture

  • The cowboy hero

  • The soldier hero

  • The police hero

  • The medical hero

  • The legal/business hero?

  • The superhero and comics

    • Women heroes?


But what happens when the hero is a woman or a girl
But what happens when the hero is a woman (or a girl)? culture

  • Strong women are usually evil

  • And even when they’re not, they still get burned at the stake

  • The West has very few female heroes in history or popular culture

  • Japan has a lot more, especially in popular culture



Trying to find a female heroic archetype

But they didn’t; they just charged in with Xena who was originally just a male hero in a woman’s body

TV show attracted a large audience

The character of Xena was modified during the show

First show 1995

Trying to find a female heroic archetype


Xena portrayed as a strong character
Xena originally just a male hero in a woman’s body portrayed as a strong character


The buddy sidekick motif

But was Gabrielle a buddy/sidekick? originally just a male hero in a woman’s body

Or a mentor?

Or a co-lead?

Or a lover?

The buddy/sidekick motif


Xena originally just a male hero in a woman’s body

  • What kind of a character?


And then came buffy

A “realistic” modern setting: High School originally just a male hero in a woman’s body

Metaphors for teen issues

Buffy is the sole hero, but surrounded by a group of friends

And then cameBuffy


How should a girl act buffy s boyfriends

Two sides of Angel originally just a male hero in a woman’s body

Accepting Buffy for herself

Unable to accept a weaker role in the relationship

How should a girl act? Buffy’s boyfriends


The hero buffy was called she resisted the call
The Hero (Buffy) was called originally just a male hero in a woman’s bodyShe resisted the call

  • Mythic heroes are always reluctant, but seldom this reluctant…or this fashion conscious

  • Preserving old ideas about femininity?

    • Allows for greater identification

  • Reinforcing patriarchal values?


Buffy the vampire slayer
Buffy the Vampire Slayer originally just a male hero in a woman’s body

  • Huge following for the TV shows, movies, and comic book

  • Buffy studies: journals, books, conferences

    • Analysis of Buffy’s influence on culture and how it is a reflection of culture.


Analyzing buffy
Analyzing Buffy originally just a male hero in a woman’s body

  • New Women

    • Feminist themes?

  • High-school life

    • High-school hell

  • Emerging Adulthood

  • Life & Death

  • Christianity


Buffy
Buffy originally just a male hero in a woman’s body

  • What kind of character?


But buffy far more than xena conformed to a hero s story
But Buffy, far more than Xena, conformed to a hero’s story originally just a male hero in a woman’s body

  • With some changes needed because of her gender to include:

    • A larger group of friends

    • Greater importance for the mentor

    • Greater importance for lovers

    • Greater importance for nurturing/child care

    • Greater importance for magic and intuition

  • Almost everyone in Japan already knew about those changes


HW originally just a male hero in a woman’s body

  • Analyze 2—this handout: think about e, f, g.

  • Blue Sheet—your character

  • Read (quickly) the “Joseph Campbell” handout—underlying social values.


The love interest is a major character almost a co lead
The love interest is a major character, almost a co-lead originally just a male hero in a woman’s body


Even rejected suitors become friends and sidekicks
Even rejected suitors become friends and sidekicks originally just a male hero in a woman’s body


Female friends are even more important. Female heroes are not loners. But since they’re flakey, there’s almost always a smart, nerdy friend


And someone to handle the psychic stuff, although a not loners. But since they’re flakey, there’s almost always a smart, nerdy friendmiko has fewer negative connotations than a witch


The older sage or teacher remains fairly true to type although sex and even species may vary. S/he tends to stick around longer for female heroes though.


Nurturing is such an important theme that time and space get distorted to provide young heroes with “children” to nurture



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