Laurie Penny on the diversity of the new Star Wars, and the shifting cultural grounds in general:
“Let’s not get carried away here. These stories and retellings are still exceptions. Women are still paid less, respected less and promoted less at almost every level of every creative industry. For every Jessica Jones there’s a Daredevil, whose female characters exist solely to get rescued, provide the protagonists with some pneumatic exposition, or both. For every Orphan Black there’s Mr Robot and Narcos and you know, sometimes I wonder if perhaps I watch too much television. The point is that what we have right now isn’t equality yet. It’s nothing like equality. But it’s still enough to enrage the old guard because when you’ve been used to privilege, equality feels like prejudice.
The rage that white men have been expressing, loudly, violently, over the very idea that they might find themselves identifying with characters who are not white men, the very idea that heroism might not be particular to one race or one gender, the basic idea that the human story is vast and various and we all get to contribute a page – that rage is petty. It is aware of its own pettiness. Like a screaming toddler denied a sweet, it becomes more righteous the more it reminds itself that after all, it’s only a story.”
The ancient Greeks had Medea and Antigone. Shakespeare gave us tons of admirable and strong females (granted, they were played by young men but that’s another post). So I’d pick the nit that there really is something uniquely reactionary about sci-fi and fantasy and geek culture in general. But I do agree wholeheartedly that the future is a bright one for non-conventional heroes and heroines within Western pop culture.