Concerning Female Protagonists

Last summer, I joined a casual summer workshopping group. We met at a coffee shop near campus every other week with one goal in mind: be productive. Write. It was last summer that I came up with an idea for my big grad project; a nautical story about a girl who searches for a way to bring the sea back to her decaying town (because, of course, the sea up and left one day). I remember typing up the first chapters like I had a fever. I couldn't wait to have it looked at. My main character was rather passive, unsuspectingly quiet and weird. 

And apparently, that became a problem. Real fast. 

We sat around the table, wiping the sweat off our drinks, and a discussion started about where I failed with my character. Because I was told that she couldn't possibly hold the story together as she was. She needed to be strong, loud, and snarky. She had to kick butt. 

I went home for weeks, revising those chapters, trying to please because I fell under a lethal spell. Thinking too much about what other people want and expect our of books. The trends. Ohhh, the trends. And I lost the simple desire to write the story I wanted to tell. 

I lasted the whole summer with that story, but it broke like glass as soon as school was in session again. I couldn't touch it, for fear I'd slice open my fingers with the boring setting, lackluster love interest, and mediocre lead female. If I tried to piece it back together again, it would splinter further into something unrecognizable. 

This had never happened to me before while working on a project. It scared me and I think I was haunted for a while by the metaphorical ghosts of what to write. 

I bring this up for a few reasons. With the end of the school year on the horizon, my imagination is soaring again. Ideas are attacking me on the daily drives to and from work. I rush home to boot up my computer and type up notes. 

The story above that I thought had been lost forever came back to me, glowing with hope. I've been plotting it out for a rainy day, when I have time to work on it, but I'm loving the revamp so far. A new love interest and new goals. The missing sea is wilier than ever. But one thing hasn't changed. My female lead is still herself. 

And I'm proud of her. 

I recently saw the movie Mirror Mirror and basked in the lovely, wild adventure of seeing Snow White on screen. Snow White has always been one of my least favorite fairy tales, but I've been blue lately and the cheer that oozed off the trailers captured me utterly. I had to see the movie. And it was glorious. 

Movie reviews, when I attempt them, are pretty sloppy. So I'm not even going to pretend to try. But I can honestly say that a part of me will be humming with impatience for the DVD release, so I can immerse myself in Mirror Mirror all over again. It's just what the doctor ordered, haha. 

Tarsem Singh was the director, having filmed other such movies as The Cell and The Fall (both movies displayed proudly on my shelf). I hadn't realized straight away that he was the one working on Mirror Mirror, until, of course, I saw the opening sequence. Ohhh. Woah. I can't even. 

But here's where things get ugly. 

Like anyone who's ever enjoyed a good film, book, or whatever, I went searching for images. And what I found, to my utter horror, was a ton of movie reviews written by bloggers that pretty much flayed the movie alive. I was shocked. Good thing I had been sitting down at the time (though I nursed a nasty stomach ache for some time, just thinking about what those reviews said). 

What disturbed me the most pertained to the character of Snow White and how imperfect she was as a "good" female lead. Which I totally didn't get. Sure, Snow wasn't loud, but she was snarky (just not annoyingly so), strong and kicked butt (did I mention she saved the prince and the dwarfs a few times?). Her quiet intensity in the face of danger was what captured my attention - and made me really like Snow as a character. She wasn't puffed up to be a hyper super heroine that people seem to demand these days. She didn't have to be tough and masculine in order to beat her stepmother. In fact, in the ending scene, her final words to her stepmother are jarring and powerful. Gave me the shivers. 

I also read quite a few times that it was "wrong" that Snow ended up marrying the prince at the end. That she essentially went from "one prison to another."


How bleak is that? 

A few reviewers even suggested that Snow should have gone off to travel the world on her own, leaving everything behind. Hi. Where you not watching the movie? In the very beginning, and all throughout, it's clear what Snow cares about most: the kingdom. She wants to protect the people from harm (especially after the stepmother's tyranny) and rebuild the kingdom to be a place of peace and laughter. It would be irresponsible to run off on hyper super heroine adventures, especially since her heart is with her people. Having met and fallen in love with the prince is just the icing on the cake, haha. 

Yep. Icing. On the cake.

While I am looking forward to seeing the other remake of Snow White, this is the one I was rooting for. And I'm glad that Tarsem didn't back down from making the version of Snow White he wanted to tell. I think it's brave of him, and very admirable, to stick to his guns, haha. 

It reminds me to keep faith in what I believe in: that the world consists of all kinds of people and they all have stories to tell. Some girls (for the purpose of this post) are role models and others give us lessons to learn. We need to read about Bella Swans and we need to read the Katniss Everdeens. Whether loud or quiet, snarky or taciturn, girls of all kinds have inner strength. They can all be brave.