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Old June 29 2013, 01:57 AM   #657
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Location: La Belle Province or The Green Mountain State (depends on the day of the week)
Re: Star Trek Into Darkness & The Bechdel Test

Maurice wrote: View Post
As I've said before, Bechdel aside the problem I have with many films is the the female characters are rarely acting out of personal agency...that is, what they WANT is typically tied to a man (relationship issue, daddy issue, etc.) and that women are often portrayed as using sex to get what they want, which is the whole Vamp stereotype that goes back a century. Where's the woman who gives up a relationship for a career? Where're the "no beach to walk on" female characters?
The vacillation between "traditional" and "progressive" ideals (in the US anyway) seems to be in sync (not perfectly, but broadly) with the general public's degree of anxiety in uncertain economic times. The late 50s to late 60s was a time of economic prosperity in the US and it was a period of transition away from "traditional" towards "progressive" ideas. Cultural time lag being what it is, that transition peaked in the 1970s (think of Mary Tyler Moore, Norma Rae, Faye Dunaway's character in Network, Maude) across a broad swath of the pop culture landscape. Not perfect by any means, but a major change from Father Knows Best-type perspectives.

The uncertainty of the 70s bred a step back to tradition which manifested in the 80s in many ways, though never as much as in the 50s/early 60s (two steps forward, one step back, rather than the reverse). Then, with the (in retrospect somewhat shaky) economic confidence of the 80s followed a surge in progressive women characters in pop culture (Murphy Brown, Designing Women, Thelma and Louise--again, hardly perfect, but still busting through against tradition). And so on. The 2000s, thus far, have been a long series of years of uncertainty--first with 9/11, the wars, the economic upheaval--so traditional ideals have made a come-back. By now, though, with half a century of tidal changes, the figurative seashore/landscape is different. Tradition may have its champions (quite loud, in some cases) but progressive ideas are not lying down without resistance.

Moreover, considerable progress has already been made and retained, such that some of the points that seem to be crucial in terms of championing progressive ideals, in relative terms (witness many of the exchanges in this thread), are, in absolute terms, rather small when compared to the mid-20th century. This is not to suggest that "success has been attained, no more need be done" but rather a reminder that, taken in the larger context, some of the points being fought over might not be worth the energy when there are still significant shortcomings in other areas that demand greater attention. Just something to consider.
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