Fictional Friends.

Last week, Alissa Warren on MamaMia listed her top five fictional friends. You know, people you’d be friends with… “if they were real.”

Let me know in the comments who you’d be fictional friends with but, until then, here are my top picks:

Elphaba Thropp, Wicked.

It’s no secret Elphaba is my favourite fictional female: someone you can look up to, who rises above hatred and discrimination, and who will stand up for her beliefs no matter what. Plus, she’s a witch! Galinda wouldn’t be too bad either…

Elle Woods from Legally Blonde.

She’s fun, she’s quirky, she’s got a cute little dog and an awesome wardrobe. And underneath it all, she’s not as ditzy as she seems. Awesome friend material.

Cher Horowitz, Clueless.

Again, someone who seems carefree and Clueless on the outside, but whose heart is in the right place. Maybe she’ll let you come over and program your wardrobe into her computer. Just think of the outfit-planning time you’ll save.

Gus Bailey.

The fictional version of the late Vanity Fair columnist and man about town Dominick Dunne, Gus Bailey, would always give you the inside scoop, and probably feature you in his gossip columns! Anonymously, of course. You’ve got to keep up appearances.

Blair Waldorf/Dan Humphrey, Gossip Girl.

I’m not sure which one I’d like better as, personality-wise, they’re pretty much the same person. They exchange emails and phone calls whilst ploughing through their identical Netflix queues. They enjoy art, foreign films, being “in” with the “in crowd” and bygone eras. You could borrow Blair’s clothes, but Dan’s nice to look at… I can’t choose!

Kat Stratford, 10 Things I Hate About You.

She’s everything I’m not. She’ll shun the prom (but actually ends up going!) due to its patriarchal confines. She’s musical. She loves the riot grrl scene. She ploughs through feminist literature whilst listening to Spiderbait. And she don’t give a rats what anyone thinks of her. Total. Feminist. Icon.

Heather Mooney, Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion.

Anyone who openly tells people they don’t like to “fuck off” is someone I want to get to know! Plus she’s hilarious despite her best efforts to come across as cold and callous.

Scout Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird.

Sure, she’s a little young to be best buds with, but maybe I could be her babysitter?!

Related: Women in Fiction: My Favourite Fictional Females.

Women in Fiction: Are Our Favourite Fictional Females Actually Strong, or Stereotypes?

It’s All About Popular… Lar, Lar, Lar, Lar.

Strong Female Characters in the Land of Oz.

Pop Culture Power Women.

So Misunderstood.

Pop Culture Role Models.

In Defence of To Kill a Mockingbird.

Another City, Not My Own by Dominick Dunne Review.

Images via Freewebs, IG Style, Abhishek Tiwari, USA Today, TV.com, Inspired Ground, Flickr, The Hero Construction Company.

It Don’t Matter if You’re Black or White… Or Green.


From “The Theme of Good VS. Evil” in Wicked: The Life & Times of the Wicked Witch of the West on Shmoop:

“Good vs. evil really is the ultimate (and original) theme of Wicked. But the twist is that the theme doesn’t focus on a showdown between a hero and a super-villain. Rather, the focus is on good and evil residing within the same person (which Nietzsche would probably approve of). No one is simply good or evil here. Not surprisingly, evil often trumps good in the book. Or at least a philosophical concern with evil gets the spotlight more often than any musings on goodness. The book is about a Witch after all.

“Ultimately, neither good nor evil is clearly defined or clearly separated here, which may be precisely the point. If the people and places of Wicked are not black and white, why should huge concepts like good and evil be anything other than hard to grasp and gray [Scarlett Woman note: or rather, green]? Goodness is seen as something elusive or hard to find, while evil is depicted as much more complex than a cackling green witch in a pointy black hat. In the end, evil may be nothing more than the absence of something else: awareness, constraint, goodness. Goodness requires intent and consciousness, but evil can be done subconsciously and even unwillingly; it’s a sort of default setting in people, witches or not.”

Related: Idle Hands.

Strong Female Characters in the Land of Oz.

The Wizard of Oz VS. Wicked.

It’s All About Popar… Lar, Lar, Lar, Lar!

Women in Fiction: Are Our Favourite Fictional Females Actually Strong, or Stereotypes?

Women in Fiction: My Favourite Fictional Females.

“With a Gun Between Her Legs” Take 2.

“With a Gun Between Her Legs”: Why “Strong” (AKA “Sexy” Whilst Being “Strong”) Female Characters Are Bad For Women.

Elsewhere: [Shmoop] The Theme of Good VS. Evil in Wicked: The Life & Times of the Wicked Witch of the West.

Image via Picky Nikki.

Idle Hands.

 

From “Good VS. Evil Quotes in Wicked” on Shmoop:

“‘But maybe there’s something to what you say,’ said Elphaba. ‘I mean, evil and boredom. Evil and ennui. Evil and the lack of stimulation. Evil and sluggish blood.’

“The idea of evil as some sort of emptiness, or lack, recurs a couple of times in this book. Elphaba here seems to have taken on some of her father’s religious ideas. The connection between boredom and evil is reminiscent of the maxim that ‘idle hands are the devil’s tools,’ which dates back to Chaucer. The moral here is to be careful the next time you’re bored, or you could become evil. Or a Wicked Witch.”

Related: Strong Female Characters in the Land of Oz.

The Wizard of Oz VS. Wicked.

It’s All About Pop-U-Lar.

Women in Fiction: Are Our Favourite Fictional Females Actually Strong, or Stereotypes?

Women in Fiction: My Favourite Fictional Females.

Elsewhere: [Shmoop] Good VS. Evil Quotes in Wicked.

Image source unknown.

Strong Female Characters in the Land of Oz.

 

From Wicked: The Life & Times of the Wicked Witch of the West—Theme of Gender” on Shmoop:

Wicked is all about strong female characters: Elphaba, Glinda, Nessa, Sarima, Melena, Dorothy, Nanny, Nor, Morrible, Princess Nastoya… This legacy actually comes from L. Frank Baum himself, as [Gregory] Maguire explains:

“‘It was Baum who set up the powerful princesses of Glinda, the witches, and Ozma as the real wielders of power in Oz, and the Wizard was just a sham. Baum was an early and ardent feminist, as anyone who has read his biography knows. I think he’d have been delighted that Elphaba and Glinda (both in the musical Wicked and in my novels) are figures of power to admire, to emulate—and yes, as in any powerful figure, to question.’”

Related: The Wizard of Oz VS. Wicked.

It’s All About Popular… Lar, Lar, Lar, Lar!

Women in Fiction: Are Our Favourite Fictional Females Actually Strong, or Stereotypes?

Women in Fiction: My Favourite Fictional Females.

“With a Gun Between Her Legs” Take 2.

“With a Gun Between Her Legs”: Why “Strong” (AKA “Sexy” Whilst Being “Strong”) Female Characters Are Bad For Women.

Elsewhere: [Shmoop] Wicked: The Life & Times of the Wicked Witch of the West—Theme of Gender.

[USA Today] Wicked Author Gregory Magurie Casts His Spell.

Image via Johnny Jet.

The Wizard of Oz VS. Wicked.

Many of my friends ask how I can love Wicked, yet hate the musical it was spawned from, The Wizard of Oz. Easily.

The Wizard of Oz is creepy, clichéd and fairly boring. Wicked is innovative, original (or as original as a semi-spinoff can get) and riddled with “underlying meaning”. Sure, Wicked tells the story of what happened “before Dorothy dropped in” and runs somewhat parallel to the events of The Wizard of Oz, but is a stand-alone story that blows its predecessor out of the water.

There are so many similarities and differences and storyline quirks to put into words, not to mention those between the book and the stage show, so I’m going to attempt to unravel some of them in a pictorial format. Feel free to join the discussion and change my “wicked ways”.

The Wicked Witch of the West VS. Elphaba.

In The Wizard of Oz, the Wicked witch is the epitome of Hollywood villain and has the appearance to match, whereas in Wicked, Elphaba’s friends are able to find beauty in her despite and in spite of the colour of her skin.

Glinda the Good Witch of the North VS. Galinda.

There are more similarities between the film and musicals’ versions of Glinda/Galinda than the “wicked” witches, as they both come across as superficial and somewhat ditzy, but their intellect and ability to see the good in people come out as both stories progress. Galinda, however, is far more three-dimensional than her Wizard of Oz counterpart.

The Scarecrow VS. Fiyero.

In Wicked, Fiyero goes undercover as a scarecrow in order to run away with Elphaba as the angry mob comes after her. In The Wizard of Oz, the Scarecrow accompanies Dorothy in search of a brain, which is echoed in Fiyero’s performance of “Dancing Through Life” in the play. The song deals with Fiyero’s depreciation of school and that the students of Shiz should follow his lead and dance “mindlessly” and “brainlessly” through life, thus harkening back to his transformation into the Scarecrow.

Boq VS. The Tin Man.

The Tin Man is an underdeveloped character to say the least, as is Boq in the musical. Boq is in love with Galinda, who doesn’t give him the time of day, so settles for the disabled Nessarose, who goes on to become the Governor of Munchkinland. Nessarose becomes so upset when Boq threatens to leave her that she casts an ill-fated spell on him which causes his heart to shrink. Elphaba, coming to the rescue, is able to save him, but he will never have a heart, and thus becomes the Tin Man.

Dorothy and the Cowardly Lion.

The two principle characters in The Wizard of Oz are merely extras in Wicked, with Elphaba saving the lion cub from an experiment at school, and Dorothy “dropping in” on Nessarose and killing her. While Dorothy’s appearance in Wicked stays true to the storyline of The Wizard of Oz, Elphaba’s act of kindness in saving the cub contributes to his cowardice in later life.

The Wicked Witch of the East VS. Nessarose.

As previously mentioned, Nessarose is wheelchair bound and later assumes her father’s role as Governor of Munchkinland. She is also Elphaba’s sister and dubs herself “The Wicked Witch of the East” after condemning Boq to a life as a tin woodsman. The famous ruby slippers don’t turn up til later in the play, when Elphaba enchants them to give Nessarose the ability to walk. Then Dorothy ruins it all by crash landing her house on Nessarose.

The Wizard of Oz VS. erm… the Wizard of Oz.

In both the film and the musical, the Wizard of Oz is revealed to be a bumbling fraud. In The Wizard of Oz, he represents the finish line of the metaphorical journey the four musketeers embark on to get their respective wishes granted, whereas in Wicked, the wizard is a puppet for Madame Morrible and is revealed as Elphaba’s birth father.

While The Wizard of Oz is a story of the comforts of home, the oppression faced in small country towns, and the politics of 1890s America, Wicked hits much closer to home with its themes of beauty, racism, acceptance, good and evil, and friendship. Perhaps Wicked is a new story for a new generation that isn’t so concerned with the “fairytale” offered by last century’s The Wizard of Oz?

Related: Women in Fiction: My Favourite Fictional Females.

Elsewhere: [Wikipedia] Political Interpretations of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

Images via Michael Boykin, Lisa Galek, Andrew Garvey, Daddy Catchers Realm, Culture Guide, Parody Files, Aussie Theatre, Centre Portal, Christopher’s Mark, Courier Mail, Acidemic, Persnickety Penelope.

It’s All About Popular… Lar, Lar, Lar, Lar!

From this weekend’s Good Weekend in The Age, in an article by Tom Ballard entitled “Too Cool for School”:

“If Footyheads are the oafish kings of high school, Popular Girls are assuredly the vapid queens. Deemed ‘The Plastics’ in the 2004 film Mean Girls, this clique is made up of attractive females who are attractive and wear make-up and are attractive and giggle and are attractive and fully hot.

“The members of this group are often the first among their peers to produce any inkling of breast and to discover foundation. Their classroom catch cry“So, like… what are we doing?”is well known and feared.

“Popular Girls enjoy chewing gum, looking vacant and protesting about the confiscation of jewellery. They feed on expensive formal dresses. They’re really, really popular.”

Examples of the Popular Girl in Popular Culture include, as Ballard mentioned, the Plastics in Mean Girls; Cher Horowitz of Clueless, who sees the light in the end; Louise from ’80s cheese fest Teen Witch, who gains popularity from a supernatural amulet; and “good” witch Galinda from Wicked, who tries to make over the self-conscious and “green” Elphaba during the musical’s “Popular” tune, from which the title of this post was derived.

Related: Women in Fiction: My Favourite Fictional Females.

Women in Fiction: Are Our Favourite Fictional Females Actually Strong, or Stereotypes?

Women in Fiction: Are Our Favourite Fictional Females Actually Strong, or Stereotypes?

I’ve been wanting to write a post on Overthinking It’s “Female Character Flowchart” since I saw it on both Jezebel and Musings of an Inappropriate Woman about two weeks ago, and the time has finally come I’ve finally gotten around to compiling a list of my favourite fictional female characters and whether they qualify as “strong” ones.

Without compromising the quality of the image, I wasn’t able to enlarge the chart, nor add my own annotations as per the below characters of my choosing. Instead, I’ve reproduced their equations below, as well as Mean Girls’ Regina George, who appears on the chart, and Blair Waldorf, whom Rachel Hills believes is a “girl Hitler”, but who I find to be much more of a genuine strong female character.

Regina George (Mean Girls): Can she carry her own story? YES. Is she three dimensional? NO. Villain? YES. Sexualised? NO. (I would argue yes. Hello? Have you seen her Halloween getup?) Over 35? NO. Is the protagonist male or female? FEMALE. Is this a rom/com? NO=Mean Girl.

Blair Waldorf (Gossip Girl): Can she carry her own story? YES. Is she three dimensional? YES. Does she represent an idea? NO. Does she have any flaws? YES. Is she killed before the third act? NO=Strong female character.

Belle (Beauty & the Beast): Can she carry her own story? YES. Is she three dimensional? NO. Villain? NO. Is she mainly a love interest? YES. Do they get together? YES. Is she only interested in her man? NO. Is she in a committed relationship with a protagonist? NO. Changes her man or is changed? CHANGES. Are they from different cultures? YES=Nobel Squan, whatever the hell that is! (Looks like something out of Avatar, though.)

Scout Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird): Can she carry her own story? YES. Is she three dimensional? YES. Does she represent an idea? YES. Villain? NO. Is she mainly a love interest? NO. Is she part of a team/family? YES. What is her main role? LEADER. How does she feel about babies? NOT RIGHT NOW. Does she get pregnant? NO. Is she in a horror story? NO. Is she violent? NO. Is she nearly perfect? NO. What is her flaw?=sassmouth, which I guess is true, but Scout is so much more.

Elphaba (Wicked): Can she carry her own story? YES. Is she three dimensional? YES. Does she represent an idea? YES, many. Villain? NO. Is she mainly a love interest? NO. Is she part of a team/family? YES. What is her main role? ROGUE=wildcard.

Elle Woods (Legally Blonde): Can she carry her own story? YES. Is she three dimensional? YES. Does she represent an idea? YES. Villain? NO. Is she mainly a love interest? NO. Is she part of a team/family? YES. What is her main role? LEADER. How does she feel about babies? NOT RIGHT NOW. Does she get pregnant? NO. Is she in a horror story? NO. Is she violent? NO. Is she nearly perfect? YES. Is she older? NO. Should the audience like her? YES. Who likes her more? WOMEN=Mary Sue.

Related:  Women in Fiction: My Favourite Fictional Females.

Elsewhere: [Overthinking It] The Female Character Flowchart.

[Overthinking It] Why Strong Female Characters Are Bad for Women.

[Jezebel] Flowchart: Know Your Female Character Stereotypes.

[Musings of an Inappropriate Woman] Flowchart: Know Your Female Character Stereotypes.