“Only My New Powers Can Save You, Padme”: Female Victimhood & Male Sacrifice

I was reading an article the other day about Kate Winslet. It was the usual sort of interview where the interviewer felt it necessary to spend half of the interview talking about Winslet’s weight and how much “slimmer” she is now and what an icon she is for non-slender women and blah blah.

In any case, it got me to thinking again about Titanic.

See, there was always something about Titanic that didn’t make sense to me. I mean, besides the silly dialogue. See, I was one of those Crazy Teenage Girls who saw it eleven times in the theater. It helped give me the courage to ditch my loser boyfriend and buy a one-way ticket to Alaska.

I mean, hey, Kate could do it. Why couldn’t I? I had that fire! That passion!

I completely understood why young women went crazy for that movie. James Cameron plotted the old cliché man-saves-woman from herself script, but with a twist. See, all the guy really does is tell her she’s cool, which she already knew, and then he dies. The rest, she pretty much does herself. If he lived, it would have been an entirely different movie.

And you know, a lot of people feel like they’ve got a script to follow, a perfectly coiffed fem life to live with the family-perfect boyfriend, when secretly, you don’t really want any of that bullshit at all.

At any rate, here’s what didn’t make sense to me:

Titanic blew up the box office and make a shitload of money. Now, when a movie does that, what happens afterwards is that a bunch of people usually make copy-cat movies to try and get in on the same audience Titanic found.

So where’s all the movies about a strong woman with real breasts who’s inspired by an aimless drifter hero to live a great big life?

After Buffy died, they’ve been trying wildly to figure out the formula and make another winning series: teenage girl with supernatural powers battles evil. Unfortunatley, Buffy was a little more than that, which is why stuff like Tru Calling and etc. keep getting cancelled.

But where are the Titanic ripoffs?

Now, I’m not talking about those men-sacrificing-themselves-to-save-women shows, like, say, Anakin going all nuclear cause he has to “save” Padme, when she would have been just fine in childbirth all by herself. I mean, that whole sacrifice thing always sorta bugged me, because it’s a “romantic” expectation that’s not good for men or women. It encourages men to “save” women who may be terribly toxic and encourages women to wait around to “get saved” instead of actually starting their lives (I’m a hopeless romantic, and was stuck with this idea for years). Ideally, I’d like to see a “romance” where two people bump into each other, improve each others lives, and then go on their way.

But hey, I’ll take a Titanic rip-off, too. I’ll take a movie where a gutsy heroine is shown the value and adventure and potential of her own life, and inspired to be better. It doesn’t even have to be a guy who inspires her. Under the Tuscan Sun is a great example.

So where are the gutsy heroines inspired to greatness? Or just bigger, better lives? Without immediate, traditional, romantic entanglements that turn it syrupy?

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