Tag Archives: women in media

Why The Men Were Silent At The Golden Globes (For Good Reason)

When I was in middle school, I had a particularly vindictive gym teacher one year who had a knack for breaking the spirits of pre-teens. If we forgot to wash our uniforms, failed to take our seats on time, or just farted too loud, we were given a choice. Either we had to run a mile or do 100 push-ups. We got to choose, but both choices sucked.

The real kicker was that if we didn’t choose, then the teacher would choose for us and would go out of his way to make that choice seem extra cruel. It was one of those situations where it really didn’t matter what we said or did. One way or another, we were going to suffer for our actions and inaction.

This brings me to this year’s Golden Globes. Bear with me. I promise that’s not as big a non-sequiter as it sounds. There’s a valid reason I brought up the story of my vindictive gym teacher and it ties directly into the ongoing social movement to combat the sexual misconduct of powerful men.

I’ve talked about this issue before and, to be honest, I wish I didn’t have to keep discussing it. I would much rather be telling sexy stories, sharing sexy thoughts, or discussing upcoming superhero movies. However, these issues surrounding sexual misconduct in Hollywood have an undeniable impact on the sexual landscape and as an aspiring erotica/romance writer, that’s not something I can ignore.

A lot has been said and done since the movement began in wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal. There has been a great deal of outrage, complete with protests and hashtags. Powerful men have fallen. Careers and reputations have been ruined. Entire movies and TV shows have actually been changed, as a result of this effort.

In some respects, it’s a good thing and I have pointed out the silver linings. Men harassing or abusing women is not something a just society should overlook. This isn’t one of those irrational moral panics, such as Satanic ritual abuse or the impact of violent video games. These instances of men abusing women have happened and some of the accused have confessed.

However, this ongoing crusade against powerful men, as well as horny men in general, has walked a fine line between a pursuing justice and demonizing any man who ever dared to admire a beautiful woman. It’s not quite at the level of an old-fashioned witch hunt, but it’s already in that dark territory where passions obscure reality.

What happened at the Golden Globes might end up being the most telling sign of all. Initially, the big news for this event was positive. Some of the most prominent women in Hollywood, including Emma Watson and Oprah Winfrey, came together in a show of solidarity against the sexual victimization of women. They all wore black dresses and got behind the newly-created “Time’s Up” movement.

Like other movements before it, the intent is good. This movement seeks to provide legal defense and resources for those who have been victimized by sexual misconduct. That’s an objectively good thing, but that wasn’t the most revealing moment of the Golden Globes. Instead, the biggest message came from what was not said.

It has been reported by more than one outlet. While the women at the Golden Globes were quite vocal in their ongoing efforts to clamp down on sexual misconduct, the men were mostly silent. Other than a brief remark from Seth Meyers at the beginning and some men dressing in black, Hollywood’s male stars were largely silent.

To some, this is already very problematic. I imagine it’s going to stir quite a bit of outrage among those trying to further the movement. However, when you take a step back and look at the situation in which these men were in, their silence makes complete sense. In fact, those same women who are determined to combat the Harvey Weinsteins of the world may very well have made it their only option.

To understand why, think back to my vindictive gym teacher for a moment. That teacher understood that to break the spirits of powerless pre-teens, it was necessary to put them in a situation where their choices mattered less than the ugly gym uniforms the school forced them to wear. By establishing just how powerless they were, it made any effort to speak up seem pointless.

These men, as powerful and successful they may be, were in a situation not unlike the one my hapless classmates were in that year. There was nothing they could’ve said or done that wouldn’t have been deconstructed, dissected, or misconstrued. No matter what they said or didn’t say, it would be used to label them as enemies of the movement and of women, as a whole.

If one of the men stood up on that stage and gave an impassioned speech condemning Harvey Weinstein, then his reputation would suffer. He would be labeled a virtue signaling white knight who was compensating for something. After what happened to Joss Whedon, those concerns wouldn’t be unfounded. He may even still face condemnation among women for not speaking up earlier or naming other harassers.

If that same man stood up and tried to give an impassioned speech on the importance of confronting the issue responsibly, then he would likely have suffered condemnation similar to that of Matt Damon, who dared to question whether all harassment should be treated equally. Even hinting at such nuance would’ve earned that man the toxic label of a misogynistic victim blamer.

Essentially, the men at the Golden Globes knew they couldn’t win either way. No matter what they said, it would’ve been used against them or undermined their career, somehow. These men, as powerful and successful they may be, are still human, despite what Tom Cruise may claim. They want to protect their jobs and their reputations. They can’t do that if they get slapped with these toxic labels.

In the end, silence was their safest bet and that, in and of itself, reveals the extent to which this crusade against sexual misconduct has gone. It’s past the point where people can have reasoned arguments about the issue. Now, it’s all outrage and hyperbole. Either you’re completely on board with that outrage or you’re just as bad as Harvey Weinstein. There is no gray area.

That lack of gray area means men have to be silent, which is the exact opposite of what the women in the movement are trying to achieve. It’s ironic, but understandable. These men aren’t going to garner much sympathy. They’re rich, handsome, and successful. There’s only so much sympathy they can inspire, due to their position.

Silence is the only way to avoid the added scrutiny that would undermine a career. Silence is the only way to avoid saying something that might offend, enrage, or upset a public that has shown in recent times an uncanny unwillingness to ruin lives and reputations. It’s actually worse than censorship, when you think about it, because it is self-imposed rather than coerced.

The fact that the men didn’t speak up at the Golden Globes may or may not represent a tipping point, of sorts. If the anti-harassment movement has created an environment that’s so frail that silence is the safest recourse, then that same movement lacks a critical component it needs to succeed.

Like it or not, men need to be part of the conversation with respect to sexual misconduct. Silence on their part means the crimes, the culture, and the attitudes that fosters such misconduct won’t change. Moreover, their point of view cannot be discounted as virtue signaling or “mansplaining.” The fact remains that if people feel helpless, then they won’t care enough to make the effort.

Like the broken spirits of my old gym class, if the men don’t think their words matter or may be used against them, then it makes perfect sense for them to remain silent. Outrage, awareness, and condemnation alone is not going to inspire meaningful change in the dynamics between men and women.

Both sides actually have to listen to one another and feel their words actually matter. It’s only then when silence will no longer be the most preferred and logical recourse.

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Filed under Celebrities and Celebrity Culture, Current Events, gender issues, sex in media, sex in society, sexuality

Comics, Milkshakes, And (Failing To Fight) Internet Trolls

Before I say anything, I need to make one thing clear. I am extremely reluctant to talk about an issue that’s still fresh, so to speak. In general, I prefer to wait until he uproar has died down and/or the angry masses of the internet have tired themselves out over an issue. I usually find it easier to sift through the rubble after the storm has passed.

This may very well be the most hesitant I’ve ever been to talk about a particular issue. Think about that for a moment. I’m someone who has talked about sex robots, awkward boners, and his own circumcision. If I’m reluctant to talk about a topic, then it must be pretty nasty.

Well, don’t adjust your gag reflex just yet because it’s not that kind of topic. This isn’t something that just sparks revulsion or passionate disagreement. This is the kind of stuff that just brings out the worst in everybody. It’s like licking the shit stains on a toilet before they’ve dried. It just makes a bad topic that much worse.

However, I’m willing to suck in my gut, brace myself, and ignore my reluctance because I feel like this is something that needs to be said while certain people are still listening. Plus, it involves comics and the comic book industry. Other than the erotica/romance industry, few are quite so near and dear to me.

Even those who don’t follow the industry probably noticed an unusual hashtag trending in the news recently. It involved an incident with some of Marvel’s editorial staff. When I first saw it, I had no idea it was a controversy. I thought it was some new promotional effort. Marvel, and most comic companies, do that all the time.

For once, I’m sad to say that this had nothing to do with an ad gimmick. The hashtag in question was #MakeMineMilkshake and it was inspired by this innocent-looking tweet from Heather Antos, who happens to be an editor at Marvel.

I actually saw this on my Twitter feed. I thought it was a nice moment. It put a smile on my face. It involved milkshakes, comics, and cute girls in the comic book industry. I honestly can’t think of something more appealing to me without adding pizza, the beach, or free tickets to a football game.

Then, some asshole internet trolls, of which there are many, had to look at this happy little moment and mess it up for everyone. They did this by replying to the Tweet with a bunch of crude, vulgar comments. I won’t get into the substance of those comments because they’re not worth spreading. I won’t even make an assessment over how bad they were. I’ve been to the many toilets of the internet. I know how bad it can get.

However bad it was, it created a hashtag that has spread like a wildfire and burned away any faith you might have had in humanity, comics, or peoples’ ability to discuss an issue rationally. Like other hashtags before it, #MakeMineMarvel has become a catalyst for two sides of a pointless debate to whine and moan endlessly about how right they are. It’s a debate that nobody can ever win.

The hashtag, which I doubt Ms. Antos intended to start, has created this rage-filled rant on toxic sub-cultures like comics. On one side, you have those claiming that it’s full of angry young men who don’t want to see women screwing up their favorite toys. On the other, you have those who feel like they’re being demonized for comments that just a few idiot trolls made. Again, nobody wins that debate.

It was frustrating to me because, being a man, it made me feel like I’m being lumped in with the same group of assholes and I want no part of that. I didn’t respond to Ms. Antos’ tweet. I didn’t respond to anyone who asked me to respond. This was just a hornet’s nest that I didn’t want to poke.

An abandoned hornet's nest my dad found in his shed that he hadn't been in for a couple years. The head is apart of a wooden statue it fused with.

Then, the hashtag kept trending and people at Marvel and DC, two rival companies mind you, began responding to it. They even made milkshakes into counter-protest, of sorts, using it to fight against internet trolls and toxic subcultures. Considering some of the other protests we’ve seen this past year, I think that’s a fairly innocuous method.

However, the mere fact that this is even a thing speaks to a much larger issue. It’s one of those things where neither side, be it Ms. Antos or those who now despise her, can see the forest from the trees. After it started trending, Ms. Antos posted this tweet and understandably so. There are just certain parts of the internet and certain people who use it that completely warrant that sentiment.

Now, here’s where I start saying things that I know will rub certain people the wrong way. I’m going to try and be very careful with my words here.

I don’t want to start a new hashtag or anything. I also don’t want to get blocked because I follow people like Heather Antos on social media. I’ve said enough dumb things in the past and I’m trying to limit that, especially in these sensitive times we live in. I’ll do my best to be polite about it, but I’m not going to shy away from the truth. I’m just going to add what I hope is meaningful context.

With that in mind, I’d like to send Ms. Antos an important message that I doubt she’ll never read. That same message should apply to others who supported her since #MakeMineMilkshake started trending. Here it is and excuse me while I brace myself with an adamantium shield.

“The trolls have already won. You’re letting them win with every word you say about this issue. PLEASE change the way you fight them.”

I’m going to keep that adamantium shield up just in case, but I know this will probably take some uncomfortable explanations. I’ve talked about dealing with internet trolls before. I’ve also talked about professional trolls who go out of their way to start digital shit storms like this for their own benefit. What I’ve seen with #MakeMineMilkshake is basically a case-study in how not to respond to trolls.

Now, that’s not to say that Ms. Antos’ intentions are misguided. I don’t doubt for a second that she responded to the comments she got in the best way she thought possible. Maybe she didn’t intend for it to start trending. Nobody can really know whether or not something will become a thing, especially if it doesn’t involve cute animals.

Even if #MakeMineMilkshake didn’t start trending, though, Ms. Antos’ response would’ve already ceded some form of victory to the trolls. Like punting on third down in a football game, she didn’t adapt her game plan. Given how quickly this unfolded, I doubt she thought she even needed one.

The problem with turning her response into a hashtag, albeit indirectly, is that doing so gave the trolls exactly what they wanted. With every retweet, response, and cute quip, they get even more. That’s because trolls don’t deal in the traditional currencies of shame, sorrow, and basic human decency. They only understand one form of coin and that’s attention.

It may very well be the most important currency of the digital age. It may even be more than just a currency. It could very well be the life force with which trolls need to sustain themselves. Like Galactus, devourer of worlds, the hunger is never sated. Lacking heralds or The Power Cosmic, these trolls must resort to the lowest lows of the internet to feed their hunger.

With #MakeMineMilkshake, they basically got a free buffet and a complementary desert. I guarantee that once this hashtag started trending, they didn’t cower with fear, dread, or remorse. They’re probably still grinning and twirling their fake mustache. If they could make a collective statement towards Ms. Antos and everyone who came to her defense, this is what they would probably say.

“Ha! I did it! I got under her skin. I made this person who is more successful than I’ll ever be cry out for help, play the victim, and seek validation. They can call me a racist, bigoted, sexist pig all they want. It doesn’t matter. They just proved they’re a bunch of thin-skinned, hyper-sensitive snowflakes. Now, thanks to the hashtag, the world knows it! They know it and it’s all because of me! Mwhahahahahahaha!”

I concede that the evil laughter might be an exaggeration, but since this involves comics, I think it’s appropriate. Internet trolls are the closest thing most of us have to villains. Other than former child stars and the IRS, it’s hard to think of anyone more devious.

It pains me to say it, but the trolls won this round. Ms. Antos, whatever her intentions might have been, gave them what they wanted. She gave them attention and they’re using it. They’re already turning this misguided hashtag into Round 1,283,285,206,809 of the angry alt-right versus the bossy progressive left. It’s a fight that never has any winners.

Again, I know Ms. Antos is never going to read this post. I’m not successful enough or smart enough to have that kind of audience just yet. I’m working on it, but Ms. Antos is so far ahead of me that I can totally understand her not responding to every aspiring writer who tries to add his thoughts to an overly-complex issue. She’s an editor at Marvel. She has far more awesome things to do with her time.

If I could send her a message, though, I would offer her a simple bit of advice. When dealing with trolls, you have countless ways to lose and only a few with which to win. Anything that gives them the slightest bit of attention, no matter how negative, counts as a victory for them and a defeat for you.

To defeat the trolls, the best thing you can do is ignore them. Don’t just instinctively block them, though. Let them whine, yell, and complain with the worst digital drivel they can come up with. Either they’ll get bored or they’ll make an ass of themselves. In either case, you’ll save yourself the frustration and not embolden those who would frustrate you.

If ignoring them isn’t possible, then the second best thing you can do is fight them with kindness. I know that sounds cheesy. I know that sounds like something Superman, Captain America, or Spider-Man would say in an after school special. It still has merit, though. Your capacity for kindness, even to those who insult you, shines a brighter light on the kind of person you are while also exposing the kind of person the troll is.

The worst thing you could do is take what these trolls say and turn them into a rallying cry, of sorts. That doesn’t just give the trolls even more attention. It gives them a larger target to hit. It’s the digital equivalent of Newton’s Third Law. For every action, there is an equal an opposite reaction. With respect to trolls, poking them just makes them poke back harder.

If Ms. Antos is still with me at this point, I thank her. I know there are some who have already decided to block me at this point. I’m hoping I can still reach those willing to listen so here’s my final thought.

Trolls, in whatever form they take, should never be used as a basis to judge larger swaths of a population. Using these trolls to condemn all men, comic book fans, and Twitter users is a huge mistake. It’s basically a bonus to the trolls on top of the attention because it means more will identify with the trolls than their victims. That’s the last thing you want and the last thing the internet needs.

I don’t doubt for a second that there will be other misguided hashtags like #MakeMineMilkshake. I suspect there will be far worse trolling down the line. That’s because people are always going to say stupid shit, both online and in real life. It’s just part of the package that is the human condition. It’s how you react to it that determines whether you’ve saved the day or aided a Skrull agent.


Update: Well, I wrote this post under the assumption that Ms. Antos, or anyone else who is many times more successful than me, would ever read it. I was wrong and I’m more than relieved to say that. Ms. Antos did actually read this post. As a result, there’s something I need to clear up. Several hours after I posted this, Ms. Antos issued the following tweet.

I sincerely thank her for her response and I apologize for the impression that my post had given. In reading it over again, I realize I had implied that she was the one who started the #MakeMineMilkshake hashtag. She did not. I never thought she did, but I implied otherwise. For that, I sincerely apologize. Apparently, I was not careful enough with my words. I’ll try to be mindful of that in the future.

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Filed under Comic Books, Jack Fisher, Superheroes

Jack Fisher’s Top 5 Female Characters That Make Men Hate Women

Let’s face it. There are some fictional characters that are so detestable, so irredeemable, and so shamelessly mean that even a devout nun would want to punch them in the jaw. From King Joffrey to half the cast of “Friends,” there are plenty of characters we just love to hate and hate to hate.

Within that long list of depraved individuals, there are plenty of female characters. Women are just as capable of being that infuriatingly detestable. That’s one of the few things that both radical feminists and men’s rights activities can agree on. Some of these women don’t just give their gender a bad name. They act as a legitimate reason to roll back gender equality.

There are a lot of utterly detestable women in the real world and not just Lena Dunham and Ann Coulter types either. There are plenty more in the world of fiction and they do plenty to channel the inner Archie Bunker in all of us. It doesn’t matter how politically correct or how many gender studies courses you’ve taken. These characters inspire a special kind of hate.

When I compiled my list of great underrated female characters, I knew I would be contrasting them with women like this. The spectrum for female characters is pretty broad, despite what those behind the Bechtel Test may claim. On one end you have Furiosa from “Mad Max: Fury Road.” On the other, you have Regina George from “Mean Girls.

In the spirit of balance on this blog, I’m going to explore the other end of that spectrum. That means I’ll be tapping into some of the sinister sentiments I’ve explored before, namely those of misogynistic men. As always, I feel compelled to disclose that I do not support such sentiments. I am not here to start a gender war. I want this blog to remain funny and entertaining.

That said, I’m going to turn off my politically correct filter and dig into this den of detestable female characters. Just as before, I’ll stick to fictional characters with this list. Feminists, radical or otherwise, may want to brace themselves here. These are Jack Fisher’s top 5 female characters that make men hate women.


5. Lucy  Van Pelt (Peanuts Comics)

There are so many lovable characters in Charles Shultz’s iconic Peanuts comic strip. Seriously, how can you not love someone like Charlie Brown, Linus Van Pelt, or Pig Pen? Unless you’re a sociopath, it’s a challenge at best.

Then, there’s Lucy Van Pelt. If lovability has to be balanced with frothing hate, then it’s safe to say that Lucy does plenty to tip the scales. It’s not just that she never lets Charlie Brown kick that damn football. She’s coarse. She’s greedy. She’s manipulative. She’s constantly belittling others and telling them what to do, often with her firsts.

She may be a kid, but she embodies traits that kids and adults adults despise. She embodies the kind of callous cruelty that men often find in women who betray them. Lucy Van Pelt is very much a proto-Regina George, but she’s willing to punch people. That’s a dangerous and abhorrent combination.


4. Black Cat (Spider-Man)

When it comes to female comic book characters, I have a soft spot for self-proclaimed vixens. Throughout the history of comics, there have been many. From Emma Frost to Starfire, they embody the raw sex appeal that puts a smile on my face and a boner in my pants.

Now I understand there are certain uptight, overly PC folks who see vixens as an overt objectification of women. Most of the time, I just roll my eyes at these remarks. These are the same humorless asshats who claimed Wonder Woman was too sexy to be a UN ambassador for women. These people deserve no credibility.

That said, some characters do way too good a job of making those humorless asshats seem logical. Most female superhero vixens at least try to develop some sense of personality and depth. Even Jessica Rabbit had some moments of growth. For Felicia Hardy, also known as the Black Cat from the Spider-Man comics, there are no such moments.

She’s sexy. She’s cunning. She’s coy. Those are all basic traits of a vixen. However, Black Cat rarely uses her sex appeal for good. She’s a thief, a con-artist, and a liar. Unlike Catwoman, who will at least try to balance out her deviant habits, the Black Cat makes no effort.

She eagerly takes advantage of Spider-Man’s gullibility. She often uses her sexiness to manipulate others. She never makes any effort to grow or improve herself. She is a walking worst-case-scenario for a female vixen. She uses all her sex appeal for selfish indulgence and never for the greater good. She’s the epitome of irresponsibility and yet Spider-Man still wants to bone her. That says just as much about her as it does about Spider-Man.


3. Lois (Malcolm In The Middle)

There are any number of overplayed archetypes for male heroes. There’s the ladies man, the nerd, the jock, the rebel, and the token black guy. In every movie or TV show, you can usually find a couple of these characters.

For women, there are plenty of archetypes as well, but they’re not always as easy to identify. Most female characters tend to avoid the extremes of a given archetype. It’s not always balanced, but it’s rarely overt.

That’s what makes Lois, the temperamental mother from “Malcolm In The Middle,” such a frustrating character. She doesn’t try to avoid the extremes. She embraces them. She is, by every measure, the ultimate ball buster. She’s bossy, if not downright tyrannical. She’s callous, going out of her way to crush spirits and make everyone as miserable as her.

She embodies the kind of woman who takes over a home and runs it with an iron fist. Lois’ husband, Hal, is exceedingly submissive to her and not in a fun way. On top of that, nothing she does makes her deranged kids any less deviant. So not only is she a ball-busting tyrant, but she fails to realize that her methods don’t work, have never worked, and never will work. She’s the kind of woman that give men nightmares.


2. Peg Bundy (Married With Children)

Lois from “Malcolm In The Middle” isn’t the only sitcom that takes female archetypes to an infuriating extreme. Before there was Lois, there was another female character who inspired a special kind of dread in all heterosexual men. Her name still evokes fear in those who are thinking about getting married and for once, it’s not the name of a divorce lawyer.

Her name is Peggy Bundy from the classic Fox show, “Married With Children.” She embodies a different archetype than Lois, but one that’s every bit as detestable. She’s not the angry, ball-busting tyrant as much as she is the parasitic, soul-crushing, self-absorbed bitch who opts to bust balls indirectly. Given the many pathetic moments Al Bundy endures throughout the show, her methods work ominously well.

At least with Lois, she tries to better her family’s situation. Peggy makes no effort whatsoever. She doesn’t cook. She doesn’t clean. She doesn’t support her husband or family in any way. However, she still expects her husband to earn enough money to support her heavy shopping habits and her love of snack food.

She’s less a spouse and more a leech. The only reason Al married her is because she got him drunk. She represents the ultimate fear of men everywhere, a woman who exists solely to leech off their hard work and contribute nothing to the relationship or the family. As a female character, she is the ultimate cautionary tale for men seeking marriage.


1. Quinn Morgendorrfer (Daria)

This is just too fitting. When I made my list of the top five underrated characters, I made it a point to highlight Daria Morgendorrfer from the classic MTV show, “Daria,” as a likable, compelling, well-developed female character from an era that was just starting to develop those kinds of characters. On top of that, Daria didn’t even have to look good in a bikini to pull this off.

In that same show, however, there was another character who highlighted all the reasons Daria was so likable by being the complete opposite. Her name was Quinn Morgendorrfer. She’s Daria’s sister, although she spent nearly four-and-a-half seasons denying it.

Quinn, despite her bubbly persona, is the worst of the worst with respect to female characters men love to hate. At least with every other woman on this list, they’ll acknowledge their ego and narcissism to some extent. They’ll even joke about it. With Quinn, however, there’s no humility whatsoever.

For men, Quinn is one of those characters that just makes you want to grit your teeth and punch brick wall. She’s shallow, boring, self-centered, manipulative, uptight, whiny, and crass. It’s not just that she’s everything Daria isn’t. More than any other character on the show, she goes out of her way to avoid being likable or respectable in any capacity.

Quinn rarely, if ever, sees anyone as anything other than obstacles or opportunities. She doesn’t date men for any kind of emotional appeal. She just uses them for social status. The same goes for her female friends. She’ll ingratiate herself to them, but only because it helps her popularity. That’s what it’s all about for her, being popular and looking cute.

Quinn is the ultimate manifestation of what men don’t like about certain women. She uses and manipulates their emotions for her own personal gain. Even when she tries to do good, it’s often only because she wants to better herself and no one else. She doesn’t care if she breaks hearts or annoys others. She just wants to be cute and popular.


I hope this list and the one I posted before offers some insight into what makes quality female characters. I also hope it serves as a guide for men and women alike. Guys, if you’re looking for an ideal woman, stay away form the Quinns and Peggy Bundys of the world. Ladies, if you want men to be more understanding of women’s issues, then don’t be like Quinn or Peggy Bundy. We’ll all get along better as a result.

 

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Filed under Jack Fisher's Insights

Jack Fisher’s Top 5 Most Underrated Female Characters

When it comes to great female characters in pop culture, there are plenty of obvious choices. Contrary to what radical feminists believe about massive patriarchal conspiracies, our culture has created some pretty amazing women, real and fictional alike. So if there is a patriarchal conspiracy, they’re doing a piss poor job.

The best of the best, when it comes to female characters, are difficult to dispute. In the world of fiction, there’s Wonder Woman, Storm of the X-men, Captain Marvel from the Avengers, Supergirl, Sarah Conner from Terminator, Ripley from the Alien movies, Leslie Knope from “Parks and Recreation,” and Furiosa from “Mad Max: Fury Road.”

In the real world, we have just as many amazing women that raise the bar for both genders. We have Senator Elizabeth Warren, Madonna, Oprah Winfrey, Emma Stone, Maralyn Munroe, Lady Gaga, Janet Jackson, Malala Yousafzai, Michelle Obama, Taylor Swift, and whoever manages Taylor Swift’s public image. In either case, men and women alike have a great many choices in admirable female icons.

As great as these female characters are, however, there are still some characters that get overlooked and under-utilized. They’re still great characters in their own right. They just tend to get lost in the vast, chaotic, and constantly-shifting landscape of popular culture.

The same thing happens to male characters, but for better reasons. While they’re are plenty of great men in pop culture, there are a few too many that are blatant rip-offs of Superman, John McClane, and Batman.

So with that in mind, I’d like to acknowledge some of the overlooked, under-appreciated female characters that help make our culture great in their own unique way. For the sake of keeping this post brief and concise, I’ll focus on fictional characters. I find it’s a lot harder to ignore a real person these days when the media landscape is so vast, broad, and prone to strange memes and piss poor fact checking.

Since fictional characters can’t raise their voice, create a hashtag, or get thrown in jail for violating their probation, I figure they need this acknowledgement more than most. So without further adieu, here are Jack Fisher’s top 5 most underrated female characters.


5. Elaine Benes (Seinfeld)

This one may be a bit controversial because Seinfeld is a sitcom from a very different era. It’s also a show that gets constantly criticized by the politically correct crowd, but these humorless assholes only serve to undermine a female character who is balanced, compelling, and every bit as broken as the men.

In a show that has so many memorable characters, including Soup Nazis, Elaine still stands out as a great female character that brought out the best in actress, Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Elaine was an ex-girlfriend of Jerry Seinfeld, but that was never the primary emphasis for her character.

Elaine is smart. She has a distinct personality beyond just being the only woman in the main cast. She’s also every bit as quirky. In a show that has someone like Cosmo Kramer, that’s an accomplishment. On top of that, she can dance like no one else.


4. Berta (Two And A Half Men)

I’m not going to deny it. “Two and a Half Men” is as dirty a show as they come. It’s crude. It’s vulgar. It contains some of the least likable characters this side of South Park. I can totally understand why the same politically correct assholes that whined about “Seinfeld” would whine about this show.

Despite all the crude vulgarity, this show still had Berta. Played by Conchata Ferrell, she was one of the best parts of this show. Even though she played the role of a housekeeper, she was one of the few who really stood up to Charlie and Alan Harper throughout the series. Those two can disrespect and denigrate all the women they want. However, they never dared to disrespect Berta.

Given the nature of the show and the very public meltdown that accompanied it, Berta definitely deserves credit for standing out. In a world with personalities like Charlie Sheen, that’s also an accomplishment.


3. Maria Hill (Marvel Comics)

In the world of Marvel Comics, there are dozens upon dozens of powerful female characters. From heavy hitters like She-Hulk to lovable underdogs like Jubilee, there are so many iconic characters who have a strong place in comic book lore.

Then, there’s Maria Hill. She’s not a super spy martial artist like Black Widow. She’s not a sexy assassin like Elektra. She’s not even a side-kick like Batgirl. She’s the director of SHIELD and often the right hand of its one-eyed visionary, Nick Fury. The fact she doesn’t have superpowers and is in such a high position of authority in the same comic book universe that has She-Hulk says a lot about her.

She’s not just a hardass authority figure, although she can be at time. She’s not just someone who’s every bit as determined and capable as Nick Fury either. She commands respect in her own way. She has a personality that’s distinct and tough. She could easily be a CEO or a drill sergeant. Whatever she is, she’s someone others eagerly follow. For any character, male or female, that’s pretty awesome.


2. Samus Aran (Metroid)

Video games tend to be a hot-button issue when it comes to women, thanks largely to some whiny, asshole critics who go out of their way to piss people off. I won’t get into all the inane bullshit surrounding that issue, but I will concede that in the early days, women were basically the same as Disney princesses. If they weren’t being rescued, they were often in the process of being kidnapped by some giant lizard monster.

Then, Samus Aran came along. In the early 8-bit days of gaming, she set herself apart by being a badass female bounty hunter at a time when other characters were either elves, plumbers, or GI Joe knock-offs. Her ability to kick ass in games was so surprising that some gamers didn’t realize that she was a woman until the very end.

Samus was, and still is, a breakthrough character who tends to get overlooked in an era where more emphasis is on outrage over female characters rather than whether the character is actually awesome. She fought, kicked ass, and looked damn sexy while doing it. What more could you want out of a female character that doesn’t involve a bottle of lube?


1. Daria Morgendorffer

Some concepts are just too ahead of their time to have the kind of impact they deserve. The same goes for certain characters. Sometimes, a character comes along in a certain era that embodies something that doesn’t become truly meaningful until years later.

For Daria Morgendorffer of the classic 90s MTV show aptly titled, “Daria,” she’s one of those characters who would’ve been a much bigger deal if her show was on today. Daria is not your typical female protagonist. She’s not overly sexual. She’s not overly charismatic either. However, what she lacks in overt femininity, she more than makes up for with a distinct, memorable persona.

She’s dry and sarcastic. She’s coarse and brutally honest. She’s also caring and understanding when she needs to be. She’ll say what others are afraid to say and not give a damn who gets upset in the process. She never comes off as an overplayed trope or cliche. She’s very much her own person.

She’s also got an emotional side. Her feminine side isn’t completely subverted. Throughout the show, she has multiple love interests, including one that becomes a steady boyfriend. As a character, she feels both unique and real. She’s someone that men and women alike want as a friend and a companion. Few characters, female or otherwise, can make that same claim in modern TV show.

For me, personally, Daria has a special place in my heart. She was, and still is, one of my favorite TV characters in the 90s. I feel like TV has been missing something since her show ended. While she may have been ahead of her time, her words of wisdom ring true in any era. With that in mind, I’ll leave everyone with this:

Um, thank you. I’m not much for public speaking. Or much for speaking. Or, come to think of it, much for the public. And I’m not very good at lying. So let me just say that, in my experience, high school sucks. If I had to do it all over again, I’d have started advanced placement classes in preschool so I could go from eighth grade straight to college. However, given the unalterable fact that high school sucks, I’d like to add that if you’re lucky enough to have a good friend and a family that cares it doesn’t have to suck quite as much. Otherwise my advice is; Stand firm for what you believe in, until and unless experience proves you wrong. Remember, when the emperor looks naked, the emperor is naked. The truth and a lie are not sort of the same thing. And there is no aspect, no facet, no moment of life that can’t be improved with pizza. Thank you.

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