On being Batman as a girl


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When I was 6 and we’d just immigrated to America, I started watching the Batman cartoon, thus validating the entire reason my parents left behind their friends, family, culture, and whole way of life to move across the world and provide for me a climate in which I could be free economically, politically, and watch the animated antics of Batman and Robin.

Here’s the opening sequence:

I used to LOVE this cartoon.  I would watch as much as was on and then pretend to be Batman.  Even though Catwoman was always in the cartoons, I never wanted to be her, and relegated the role to my older cousin, the way some people would relegate hanging out with lepers to their friends.  “You can be her, I’ll be Batman,” I told her.  “But what do I do,” she asked.  “You just flail your whip at stuff, I’ll do the actual crime fighting and shoot people,” I said, and put on my Batman mask.

Since we were poor, just having immigrated, I didn’t have an actual mask because my parents didn’t love me, but I did make one by drawing on paper and cutting it out, then having my grandpa attach strings so I could tie it around my face.  Then I would run around the apartment kicking things and pretending to shoot stuff until my parents came to pick me up and my cousin, annoyed at me trying to kick her in the name of justice for Gotham City, left.

When I became a little older, The Lion King hit BIG.   I was obsessed with Lion King.  I had pictures in my room.  I watched the movie twice a day. I created fan fiction before fan fiction even existed as a dirty word on AOL forums.   And I always played Simba. Whenever my friends came over, I would always relegate them to the role of Nala, or if I didn’t like them at the moment, Zazu.  Some of my older friends became Serafina.   We would always start by reenacting this song:

Then, at age 11, I discovered Star Wars.  I slept, breathed, and ate everything Star Wars.  I knew all the TIE figher models and the fact that TIE actually stood for Twin Ion Engines.  I wrote my own parody called “Car Doors” that involved poorly-placed clip art of Buicks in space. I had trading cards.  I knew the difference between a Bothan and Mon Mothma.  And I wanted to be Luke Skywalker so bad.   I never wanted to be Leia.

I was watching Return of the Jedi today and remembered how I wanted to be Luke and to be able to train with a lighstaber and wondered why it was that when I was growing up I always wanted to play the male heroes in the movies that I watched, and my friends never did.   In retrospect, maybe this should have worried my parents and probably annoyed my friends to the point where they staged an intervention and told me that if I wanted to be Simba one more time they would bust me like the hyenas and never come back to my house again, pinky swear.  But, it’s because I don’t think there are any really good strong female heroines in movies out there for us to follow.

The best example is Princess Leia.  She was always the sex symbol.  Even though in A New Hope she is all delivering messages to Obi Wan and shooting stormtroopers and stuff, the minute she meets Luke and Han, she is relegated to second place as helpless and beautiful.  We don’t even need to talk about the bikini scene in Return of the Jedi.  Luke is always the strong, serious one, the one who gets stuff done.   Even later in the books (yes, of course I read all the post-movie books,) she has three kids with Han and settles down, her use of the Force relegated to bringing the baby bottle into the next room.  Lame.  Luke is, of course ,the one who gets to go on cool missions for the New Repulic and explore worlds and hook up with hot ghost chicks in battle stations and stuff.

So, why do we not have any females as strong lead roles that can be admired?  Anne Hathaway in The Devil Wears Prada doesn’t really count.  I guess there’s Mila Jovovich in Resident Evil (even though I hated this movie when Mr. B made me see it, I am starting to see some merit in her kicking the shit out of everyone.) And MAYBE Kate Beckinsdale in Underworld.  But not really, because she has to wear leather in the whole movie.  Apparently this is a prerequisite in killing werewolves.   And, seriously, Erin Brokovich doesn’t count either.  Now that I come to think of it, I’ve seen very few movies that make me want to admire and want to be the main female character in the movie.  Please come up with some so I can redeem my faith in femanity.  And no, this does NOT count.

As a sidenote, I will probably still want to be Luke Skywalker.