Sunday, January 12, 2014

That Pesky "Ripley" Again

This is shaping up to be one of those weird days when I find my supposed cleverness pulled out from under me and realize I've only reinvented some random wheel or another.

Given that I read quite a few webcomics, I've come across the so-called "Bechdel Test" several times. It sprang to mind recently while watching an antiquated episode of Dr. Who, one from the first few seasons. While the early episodes I've seen so far contain a fair number of scenes where a damsel in distress sits by screaming in ineffective panic while the man of the ship gets things done, I was also amused to see two women having a perfectly rational tete-a-tete on matters entirely unrelated to their male counterparts. It's a strange mix and a perfect example of the stumbling, wavering, disparate nature of human progress, when it occurs at all.

However, the weird bit came when I checked out that wikipedia reference to see where Bechdel sat chronologically in relation to 1965, which led me to actually read the posted strip which started the whole gimmick. What got me was the punchline. I've said for years that the movie Alien's protagonist is the best and possibly only major example of an action heroine in her egalitarian independence from gender roles. I doubt most feminists would see it that way as the feminist agenda is inherently chauvinistic and not egalitarian, and I have no idea just how feminist Dykes to Watch Out For was given that I've never bothered reading it, but The Test itself is certainly touted as a feminist staple and paid much lip-service.*

I wonder how many female fans of Dr.Who were gratified to see that little conversation in The Web Planet. Did any of them cite it over the years as progressive like I've cited Ripley's unisex monster-hunt, and did they find themselves usurped by comments made decades prior, much like say, a 1985 cartoonist's daily punchline?
Round an' round we go...

*Lipstick service? Chapstick service? Oh, I slay me.

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