A lot of people say they love “strong female characters.” But what exactly does that mean? What makes a female character “strong”? It’s an important question for the characters in Weird Girls.
Charlie Jane Anders is one of my favorite writers over at io9 and she posted a great piece about this topic that references a New York Times piece by Carina Chocano called “A Plague of Strong Female Characters.” That thread has led to a TON of comments that are really worth your time to read. Seriously … go to io9 and read that thread now.
Here are a few highlights from a few linked blogs and what it all means to me and the characters for “Weird Girls:”
First off, a simple quote from Anders says a lot about the “problem” of strong female characters.
“Cardboard characters are cardboard characters … Cochano sees bland characters and decides this is a matter of gender, rather than bad writing—even though the men, too, are often bland and badly written in these films.”
The problem isn’t that in order for a female character to be strong they have to be rugged, tough, distant, etc. The problem is that these characters aren’t developed enough to be real. It’s bad writing, regardless of gender of the character.
This leads me to another response to the NYT article by Mur Lafferty that Anders points to. I love the way Lafferty closes her post:
“Strength is taking charge of your own destiny and not waiting on others to do so. You don’t have to swear and drink and beat people up and slay monsters. You’re allowed to cry and take care of children and cook and get your heart broken and dress up and date and get pregnant. But when decisions have to be made, a strong character makes them and doesn’t wait for someone else. When a monster is chewing on your true love, you hit it with a stick (or pick up the sword that’s RIGHT THERE.)”
A strong character takes action. That’s the very definition of a hero. That actually reminds me a little about Chocano’s original article. She closes with this:
“You know what’s better than … a propulsion engineer with a sideline in avionics whose maternal instincts and belief in herself allow her to take apart an airborne plane and discover a terrorist plot despite being gaslighted by the flight crew? A girl who reminds you of you.”
“A girl who reminds you of you.” Love it. I don’t think Chocano and the others are really that far apart on this.
So what does all of this mean and how does it affect the characters in Weird Girls? It’s obviously an important discussion in a show where the 4 main characters are all female. (You listening Zack Snyder? … and for the record, I didn’t think it was THAT bad … it was just bad.)
From day one, the characters in Weird Girls were meant to be relatable. These characters should remind you of yourself or someone you used to know or know now. That means they have their own personalities, goals, flaws, and quirks. They are at times socially awkward, resentful, irrational, impulsive … you name it. They’re human.
But when push comes to shove, they buckle down and do what has to be done. They take action to acheive something bigger than themselves. They work through all their flaws to become heroes. And they just happen to be girls, too. In my mind that makes them “strong female characters.”
There’s something about seeing a character that you relate to achieve something heroic. It’s hits you in your heart. It’s one of the reasons we watch TV, go to movies, and read books.
Because what’s better than a hero that reminds you of yourself?