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Something Pretentious Invoking Galatea

Posted by Tufi Piyufi , Feb 07 2010 · 780 views

Random Ramblings
So you got yer fan-made groups of Toa, right. Doesn't have to be Toa, really, but that's what you're most likely to run into. And then, of course, there's the ever-so-delightful patterns Lego has set up. And then, because you're reading a Tufi blog entry, you know which one in particular I'm gonna mention next. It can range from two guys/one girl to five guys/one girl to seven guys/one girl or even six guys/two girls, if the creator is outrageously forward-thinking.

But wait! There's more numbers! There are so many numbers yet to come! From the rest of the group (because guys can be distinct and girls are just, to kick off an entry of trope-dropping, The Chick), you've got the leader. Or you've got the self-insert. Sometimes they're the same guy. For the ease of writing, and because there's no real difference in how the two operate in this phenomenon, we're gonna suppose they are in fact the same guy. He can range anywhere from a straight-up personality port with the occasional superpower and Stuish tendencies to full-on raging Gary Stu. You will always know him when you see him. He isn't necessarily the creator's explicit self-insert, but you will always know him.

Know also that there is a 94% chance the girl!Toa will be his girlfriend. 1% of the time, they'll be out-and-out married.

Alright, I'm fudging the numbers a bit there. Sometimes there's just really heavy romantic tension. And I haven't actually seen any that are married. But that's fairly irrelevant: all I'd have to do to correct it is change 'girlfriend' to 'some kind of romantic thing going on'. And maybe add that one percent back. To say 95% of The Girl Ones exist for some kind of romantic deal with the Self Leader Guy is an overstatement of mere thousandths of percentage points.

This is the Happy Funtimes List portion of the blog entry, and what I want you to do is take this with you next time you run across one of these My Bionicle Girlfriends. Take the list and a moderately-to-extremely caffeinated beverage of your choice. I do not, in fact, want you to incur liver damage.

Take a sip every time one of these is true:
  • She is romantically attracted to the Self Leader Guy
  • She is his girlfriend
  • It is even admitted she is based on a girlfriend or a girl the creator fancies
  • Every single word used to describe her that means attractive
  • Take additional sips at personal discretion if she is continually described as attractive throughout the given work/description/topic
  • She's the 'emotional centre' of the group
  • She's the wisest of the group
  • She's always supportive of Self Leader Guy's leadership
  • She's feisty, but never too spirited
  • She's 'mysterious' and may as well be a different species from the rest of her (male) group
  • She has a mask that serves no practical offensive purpose, barring the presence of mindblowing writing/mindrending writing
  • Three if she has an elemental power along the lines of 'love' or 'light' or 'spirit': five in addition (for eight total) if, god help us, it is love
  • She's got pink somewhere (most likely in non-MOC incarnations, naturally)
  • Despite all logic, she is the only one for miles (which is how long it'll take to find another woman, and surprise surprise...) with any sort of hair or hair analogue
  • Extra sip for a given point if it is described in terms that describe it as 'unlike the men' or 'better than the males' or other similar language

Once finished the given item (or if out of pop: this is a very real threat), start the stopwatch. The final score is how long it takes for the world to stop shaking, measured in hours:minutes:seconds.

Have I yet mentioned how incredibly likely it is she's gonna be Self Leader Guy's girlfriend? It is so very likely. Why, she might actually be based on his girlfriend in real life. But why stop there? Why not base her on who the creator would like for a girlfriend? There ain't no law. Might be kinda creepy, but ain't no law. You will know when the Bionicle relationship is not based on an actual relationship if the Bionicle relationship is utterly, crystal-perfectly idealized. Then there is the event horizon past which even an idolized crush has been raised to such a point in the work where she can only be said to be utterly fictional. It is as terrifying as it sounds. Lovecraft would have written about this, if it wasn't for his issues.

And she's always pretty. Or beautiful. Sexy? Alluring? Take your pick. It's been used. The key point is how the narrative describes her. A character or two going on about her atrractiveness is one thing. When everyone, even the narration, can't shut up about how mesmerizing she is or something, you got a whole other ball of wax. Clearly, in the Bionicle universe, there is only one option for female characters: attractive. Unless there's old women or more bestial races, but don't expect them to be spared from the lookswash. Bonus points if she's called on to use her sexiness for some end. And god help us all if the word 'wiles' ever hits the screen. Actually, at that point, we're beyond divine intervention.

Don't get your hopes up over any real subgroups of Bionicle Girlfriends: they're all basically the same character. Imagine, if you will, a control board. The biggest feature on this board is 'emotional sensitivity'. To the left is the label 'tough but with a chewy, care-y centre'. To the right is 'absolute pacifist who's more in touch with life and things than those barbarian men'. You quickly find that the left label is a sterling example of an informed attribute and, if a work goes on long enough, blatantly lying about the toughness. There are more things wrong with the right label than you wish to consider at the moment. Cringing a bit, you check out the rest of the board, whisking your gaze away like children in the wrong place.

The 'wisdom' slider. You find quickly it will not go below a certain value of 'wise'. Squinting to read the words carefully, you see 'far more enlightened than the males of the group' at the top. You recoil a little bit, wondering if you didn't just leave behind the section on antiquated notions of gender. Maybe the one next to it is better?

'Assertiveness'. Yes. Here we go. You feel hope once again. On the one side, 'totally passive'. On the other side... 'Sometimes She Says And Does Some Things, But This Is Not To Be Mistaken For Actual Independence Or Spirit Or Any Of Those Uncomfortable Things'. The board does not survive its encounter with the trendy brick wall. It became all-too-apparent that the Bionicle Girlfriend occupies a neat little role as 'accessory'. 'Sidekick'. Not quite on equal footing with Self Leader Guy. We need to maintain those gender roles, you know. It also becomes all-too-apparent you picked the wrong day to stop playing caffeine drinking games.

Speaking of, here's a bonus round for artwork. Extra sip if she's portrayed all snuggly or fawn-y with Self Leader Guy. It's hardly mandatory: inclusion in the game proper is probably going to push you to dangerous levels and/or tax your drink reserves. And in that same vein, be ever-wary of toa!Huki/Maku art. Ever wary.

And then, Narrator preserve us, there's the little issue of her powers. It is where you cry 'what kind of a lame power is heart, anyway', but never conclude that 'heart is an awesome power'. There's her mask, typically something mental in nature. The telekinesis is never used to awesome ends. Or sometimes she's saddled with the just plain useless ones. It's never anything offensive: apparently, the shapes of those aren't nearly as 'feminine' enough as the fandom might like. And oh, the things I could go on about there.

But what about her element? But what, indeed. Usually, it's something from the scant handful of 'female' elements. Sometimes, someone has the guts to stand up to canon (I like to think my being Empress means canon will never rule in BBC) and give her another one of the standard elements. There is a third option, though, and it is far more common. Apparently, having people tell you 'but fire is for boys' is far more dreadful than freaking spirit or 'light' or love sweet Jason people make love an element with a straight face.

Ahem. Never forget the old gods. That said, the third option is woe-inducing. It's always something so blandly, sterotypically 'feminine.' Like 'spirit'. Or 'light'- but not the normal light tribe. Oh no. It's usually more angelic in nature, because blah blah purity (another one!) blah blah too good for this wicked planet blah blah angels. And then we get to the unspeakable horror that is Toa of love, and I just puked in my mouth a little. I'd like to think that says it all. Please. Please tell me that says it all.

All these things and more (so, so much more) combine to make Bionicle Girlfriends. And they're everywhere. There's no escape. Even the rare 'second girl' has a 70% chance of falling into this category, though generally with another character. While maybe not fitting the classic definitions of Relationship Sues, there's no mistaking what they are in form and intention. So yes, guys, we did in fact see what you did there. And you can't see it through the Internet, but we're cringing.

Or you could, you know, not do this and just make good characters that happen to be female. That's always been an option.

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Jonah Falcon
Feb 07 2010 11:27 PM
Dangit, Tufi, you made me go through my family's entire Soda Stash.
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Queen of Noise
Feb 07 2010 11:27 PM
Tufi, I don my cheerleader skirt and pom-poms to cheer you on.
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Kevin Owens
Feb 07 2010 11:28 PM
Tufi, what did my liver ever do to you?
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I could feel myself wanting to simultaneously laugh and vomit at many of the ideas presented in this entry.
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You may not conscientiously doing this, but inadvertently, you're expecting quality from fanwork.

How long have you been on the internet?

Sarcasm aside, I think it's several factors. First, what boys know of girls generally stems from two sources: their girlfriend if they have one, and the feminist kick-butt-yet-still-girlish figure that is so cookie cutter in every movie. What else do they know to write of?

I don't blame guys for not writing of Toa teams with many girls. For one, girls can be just straight boring. Personal opinion injection, but honestly, that paired up with guys' lack of knowledge about what an 'interesting' female character is makes for a pretty clear indication that there won't be much use for very many girls.

As for the girl being romantically involved with the main guy, you can't blame them for that either. Doesn't that happen in every chick flick? Doesn't that happen in almost every movie and thing related to stories? The most important character in the story is the one we care about - why have a girl hook up with someone in a story if it's not going to be the one we focus on? And if there is self-insertion, can you blame them for writing about what they hope for? Writing is for enjoyment, not for preparing this stuff for publishing. Let them write what makes them happy.

Not to mention that I have little faith in the existence of a 'good female character' in action stories. But that's just female-cynical me.

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Queen of Noise
Feb 07 2010 11:41 PM
I question, Kayru, what makes you think that guys have to be oblivious to the countless women in this world, surrounding them every day. Fictional women and a possible girlfriend are really the only interactions guys have with women?

Well, tell that to all my friends who are female - many of whom are members of this site! Tell that to my mother and my sister and my aunts and grandmothers. Tell that to all the girl classmates I had throughout my education. Tell that to my boss. Tell that to my female professors. Tell that to the ladies that works in the restaurant down the street, the woman at the bank, my doctor, the engineer at my dad's office, the mothers of all my friends. Tell that to the women I don't know but see every day, strangers in the grocery store and on the street and everywhere.

If a guy's only experience with women is through movies, then he clearly has constructed a quite impressive bubble in which to reside. wink.gif
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Sorry, I'm referring to the younger people in this forum. No, those aren't the only interactions, but they're the ones that they glean the most information from about the younger female race. I doubt many would inject experiences from their mother ino a contemporary action character.

I don't think you'd doubt that people form more of an opinion of what a female action character should be from the ones in the movies than the lunchlady in the cafeteria or the clerk at the bank.
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Queen of Noise
Feb 07 2010 11:49 PM
I'll concede that's common, Kayru, but I think part of the point of Tufi's essay here is to encourage people *not* to have that narrow and misguided mindset.
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Then what would you, and she, suggest as qualities of someone so uncommon?
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Queen of Noise
Feb 07 2010 11:58 PM
QUOTE(Kayru @ Feb 7 2010, 11:55 PM)
Then what would you, and she, suggest as qualities of someone so uncommon?

Rather simply to not glean gender perceptions from stupid stereotypes, I'd say.
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That's what I'm saying. What qualities? Specifics. Because I have yet to see a woman in any action-centric media that I've found to be uniquely different from the rest, and I'd be interested in hearing what she's like from those who claim she exists.
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Queen of Noise
Feb 08 2010 12:19 AM
QUOTE(Kayru @ Feb 8 2010, 12:04 AM)
That's what I'm saying. What qualities? Specifics. Because I have yet to see a woman in any action-centric media that I've found to be uniquely different from the rest, and I'd be interested in hearing what she's like from those who claim she exists.

They are certainly few and far between, which is the exact problem being addressed here. Tufi is encouraging people to start making a difference and *not* aligning with that unfortunate trend.

To give you some of the examples you crave, I feel the various Star Trek series have always done a fairly good job of having both a good frequency of women characters and an equal weight put on the characterization of people of both genders. Lots of good, fleshed-out, female characters in The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine and Voyager, all different, all capable, all strong in their own way despite some not even being fighters. And each had their own idiosyncrasies and failings alongside their positive uniquities and strengths. You know, like real people, and just like the male characters on the same shows. There are bad female characters in the shows as well, particularly in the original series, but once Roddenberry's influence ceased, things got a lot better.

I also admit a special fondness for Princess Leia from Star Wars. Handy with that blaster, but human underneath the gruffness. She certainly was doled out for fanservice plenty though, so she's not a particularly great example.

So there, a few examples for you. But like I said, I believe the point Tufi is making is that these positive portrayals are rare, and that that should change.
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I do not think they are as rare as you believe. For example, Samus Aran was both a kind and caring mother figure to a gelatinous blob of goo, and also a nearly-emotionless warrior who went in single-handed to take out a planet's worth of defenses. She wasn't described as pretty for quite some time (in fact most people thought she was a boy) and there was NEVER any mention of a boyfriend, or even a guy she liked.

There are plenty more, but my brain is too full of Prince of Egypt to care right now.

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Mneh. I never found any women from Star Trek to be particularly interesting, personally. Leia's not a good example either. Samus is, though - good one, Janus, that made me think.

I know what the point is, Smeag. I understand just fine. I think it may be a bit counterintuitive to ask the rare to be more common, though.

It may be a false assumption, but I do have a hunch that many BZP writers write with the story at far higher priority than character development. Not in the story, just in general. It's a bad thing, to be sure, but I can't blame them. If I write, it's generally because I want to portray a tale, not introduce a person. And how unique can you get, really, especially in short stories...

Yes, I know it's possible. I just don't find it that practical of a request.
Jeez, I'm intensely cynical today. My apologies. >>;
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And what's wrong with 'Love' being an element? After all, these are supposed to be the forces that make up the world (which is why Psionics is dumb dumb dumb).

Why are you afraid of love?!
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Hahli Husky
Feb 08 2010 12:50 AM
QUOTE(Kayru @ Feb 7 2010, 10:45 PM)
I think it may be a bit counterintuitive to ask the rare to be more common, though.

Honestly, though, it never hurts to ask and see what happens. Even if only one person reads and takes better consideration in their story because of this, it will have done -something-.

DV: Loooooove makes the world go 'rounnnnnnnnnd. biggrin.gif
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Queen of Noise
Feb 08 2010 01:01 AM
QUOTE(Kayru @ Feb 8 2010, 12:45 AM)
Mneh. I never found any women from Star Trek to be particularly interesting, personally.

*shrug* I'd question your definition of 'interesting,' then, but different people have different tastes. Many of the women in Star Trek are well-developed and realistic characters.

It may be a false assumption, but I do have a hunch that many BZP writers write with the story at far higher priority than character development. Not in the story, just in general. It's a bad thing, to be sure, but I can't blame them.

Yes, but that's bad storytelling. The characters are the heart of any truly good yarn, I think most literary critics would agree. It's not the events of a tale that provides the weight of a story and the interest of its plot - it's how the characters react to them.

I know what the point is, Smeag. I understand just fine. I think it may be a bit counterintuitive to ask the rare to be more common, though.

Yes, I know it's possible. I just don't find it that practical of a request.
Jeez, I'm intensely cynical today. My apologies. >>;

I understand you think that. You understand that I don't, ja? So leave me alone in my crusade; if you think it's folly, just keep your peace.
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DV: Love wins, right? So there's not much suspense in that. :b
Just jokin'. Love as an action figure element does seem kinda fruity though.

Smeag: No one's attacking anyone. Calm down.
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Queen of Noise
Feb 08 2010 01:15 AM
Did I imply there was any attacking? o___O I don't think I'm the one who needs calming.
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Hmm. I'd like to think my stories are more detailed than those described above, but the one major female character I created was a smart scientist who was kidnapped and really lacked the skills to find a way to fight back, and the main character falls for her. lookaround.gif But they were all Matoran, so that makes it better.

Anyway, three years ago, I wouldn't have thought this would be a big problem and I would dig up examples of good work that contradicts this... but I haven't been reading alot of fan fiction recently, so I got no clue what's out there now... annoyed2.gif

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The Stories Themselves

Listed in order of continuity, from earliest events to latest, because continuity is sacred.

Le-Metru Story*
Sir John-story
'Kihnok'/'Bohrok Rumble'**
(The whole Pokebattles sequence has been struck from continuity both officialy and within the continuity itself. In both cases, this has been performed through the magical process of 'we don't ever talk about that'. If it were in continuity, however, it'd be Nerra-Torr > Matt > Jason > Deb > Immortus > Valkyrie. Just for the sake of things. Still totally not in continuity.)
Puffins Metru-story
Cage Match
A Festivus Story
Original Clikits Story
Kacie's Inspection
Villevule-clikits Story
Ninjo Pharus-story

*Technically, this one doesn't really belong anywhere. May as well put it with the pre-BZP saga.
**It was uploaded into the folder 'BohrokRumble', but posted in Artwork as 'Kihnok'. I kinda prefer 'Kihnok', but hey, whatchagonnado.
***Oh, why not?
****A romp, yes. That's Matoro for ya.
*****Heh heh, get it? A-polo?... Oh, it wasn't funny the first time I used it, all those years ago. I'm sorry.

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