Adrienne’s Ramble

We didn’t have well-defined role models when I was growing up. We were the in-between generation. Girls graduating with me were unsure of the future. Only a handful went on to university and those who did, I’ve learned, ended up getting married soon after and their degrees went on as a pipe dream or if they did acquire that piece of paper, it went unused. It all starts as young girls. The seed is planted then. Our mothers had large families and women’s roles were well-defined. My mom did it all. She raised six children with an absentee husband AND worked part-time in the afternoon and evenings. We did lose out. We had money, however and that was very much needed. But we came home to an empty house. My impression of a woman’s role in life was hard work and little reward. My mother was exhausted all the time. She was not someone whom I could go to to talk about anything remotely related to a young girl growing up. I had no idea how to go from A to B to C. So the day after graduation I boarded a train with a friend and we went west. Maybe I would find my answers there.

Gloria Steinem was prolific during that time. But she was too remote and too controversial to affect me and my friends. She was forging ahead fighting for our rights for equal pay, pro-choice to name a couple. There wasn’t anyone in film who really influenced us. We had I Dream of Jeannie and Bewitched on TV. Dumb blondes catering to men.

But the world has really changed. Girls are being brought up in what many consider to be a pornographic society. Music videos depict women as sexual objects for men. Girls are being fed through the media what it means to be female. And most of what they see is a lie. There is a backlash, however. Take a look at the films that are raking in the millions for movie studios.

Few of us who have seen the following movie will ever forget Lisbeth Salander. This shocking trilogy seemed to jump start this genre:

At a theatre near you, Hannah hit the big screen. This is a film about a kick-ass heroine, a lean mean fighting machine. Shocking to see this female kick and punch and kill her aggressors.

And now we have a new film that just opened on the weekend, ‘The Hunger Games.’ Katniss Everdeen uses a bow and arrow with expertise whether it is for food to feed her family, or to kill an aggressor in the ‘games.’

Who can determine what these strong influences in society will do to alter a young girl’s perception of who she is and what she wants in her future? Who will she aspire to be? Victim (as in music videos) or Heroine (as in recent films)?

I care so much about feminine issues. Safety, equality, etc. I think about young girls growing up and what they face. Girls (and boys) are maturing so quickly, perhaps due to hormones in our food. There is a huge controversy about this: girls menstruating at nine years of age and under! Is it only a minority of them who are affected by social pressure to dress provocatively and be whatever boys want them to be? I suspect not. From my observations, newspaper articles and documentaries, girls are being lead astray by the media. Models are anorexic-looking, music videos show them as sexual props and their friends at school are sexting (sending sexually explicit messages or photographs usually through a mobile phone).

But what role models did you/we have growing up? What heroines were there in books or films or real life that we would look up to them and think, ‘that’s what I want to do when i grow up!’ There weren’t any female astronauts, for example.

There were great writers.

We didn’t have women to look up to really. Girls do now and only very recently. I never thought films with female heroines would be successful or popular, but I was dead wrong. Box office sales are proving that. It pleases me greatly.

I saw the film, The Hunger Games, mostly out of curiosity. The woman who wrote the novel (and 2 sequels) also wrote the screenplay. I wanted to know the story. The visuals were great, the film had the audience enraptured. Through most of it you could hear a pin drop. I thought it was a captivating story. It was funny, there was a love interest, a love triangle, and it transported the viewer into another world. Just as Harry Potter films/books do, the Twilight series, to name a couple of stories that went viral. All three of these series cater to a younger crowd, but adults tend to get swept into them a well. It’s that age group (adolescent and teens) who will buy the books (be obsessed with them) and will pay to go to a theatre to see the film, unlike adults who will now wait for the DVD, or download off the internet.

This is what the New York Times has to say about this novel and another along a similar genre. For all of us here who aspire to publish take note: these novels are hot! Or should I say they’ve gone ‘viral.’

nytimes.com/2008/11/09/books/review/Green-t.html

This portion of the New York Times review stands out to me as to why this novel (The Hunger Games) is so riveting:

Nor is there anything spectacular about the writing — the words describe the action and little else. But the considerable strength of the novel comes in Collins’s convincingly detailed world-building and her memorably complex and fascinating heroine. In fact, by not calling attention to itself, the text disappears in the way a good font does: nothing stands between Katniss and the reader, between Panem and America.

This makes for an exhilarating narrative and a future we can fear and believe in, but it also allows us to see the similarities between Katniss’s world and ours. American luxury, after all, depends on someone else’s poverty. Most people in Panem live at subsistence levels, working to feed the cavernous hungers of the Capital’s citizens. Collins sometimes fails to exploit the rich allegorical potential here in favor of crisp plotting, but it’s hard to fault a novel for being too engrossing.

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Human beings are constantly evolving. But never before have we been so influenced by the media as we are now. Doesn’t matter whether we think it’s a positive thing or not, it’s out of the box and truly out of our control. Sitting in the audience amongst so many young girls was every writer’s dream. Their reaction as we all streamed out of the dark theatre was ecstatic! They loved it. They can’t wait for the sequel!

I like this heroine; she’s strong and brave, but has a sensitive side, just like most real women do.

Thanks for reading.

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