Popeyes ghost pepper wings serve up the bland

ghost-pepper

I thought ghost peppers were spicy?

After seeing a poster for ghost pepper wings at my local Popeyes, I had to give these a shot. After all, according Guinness World Records, the bhut jolokia, ghost pepper is the hottest pepper on the planet.

It’s 900.5 times hotter than Tabasco sauce.

So today I tried Popeyes ghost pepper wings. First, take a look at this ad for the product:


It only implies that these wings are spicy. A marketing genius must have decided to target a portion of the population that likes to say they love spicy wings, but actually can’t handle anything hotter than vanilla yogurt.

I've had glasses of water spicier than this!

I’ve had glasses of water spicier than this!

After I ordered my six-wing lunch — including fries, a biscuit, and medium drink for $6.99, I had to wait about then minutes for my wings to be ready. When I got them, they looked like typical wings, batter-fried with a hint of red below near the flesh. My first bit tasted exactly like a chicken wing. There was not a hint of spicy. I’ve had mild wings that had more kick than the ghost pepper wings.

If you are thinking I’ve developed a tolerance to spicy food, I’d agree. Except spicy is still spicy. These wings were not spicy. I like Popeyes, but I suggest you stay away from the ghost pepper chicken wings. Apparently they mean’t “ghost pepper” in the figurative sense, not the literal. They certainly taste closer to a non-corporeal form than anything spicy.

Review: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies … Finale! … I mean FINALLY!

If you were disappointed that the "desolation of Smaug" part of the story never happened in the movie "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug," you be glad to know that seemingly unimportant event is dealt with in the first ten minutes of the new film.

If you were disappointed that the “desolation of Smaug” part of the story never happened in the movie “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” you be glad to know that seemingly unimportant event is dealt with in the first ten minutes of the new film.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is a lot like flirting with Evangeline Lilly, at first it’s going great, she smiles, and then Orlando Bloom walks up and cock-blocks you.

When I originally heard that Peter Jackson was going to direct The Hobbit, I had reservations. His Lord of the Rings films are great, but dark and violent. Jackson took advantage of every opportunity to add some PG-13 gore to those films. I would have preferred Guillmero del Toro’s take, which I would have imagined as being more whimsical and closer in tone to the book.

Then it was announced that The Hobbit would be two movies. That made sense. Even though the book is short, I could see it being split into two films.

But Jackson and New Line were not happy taking our money twice for an adaptation of a short story. The announcement of three Hobbit movies gave me pause. And I wrote a blog about it:

The Hobbit — Peter Jackson’s Cash Grab

I never reviewed the first two Hobbit movies, so here’s a quick look at them.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey starts off slow and spirals into stupidity. Jackson moves the story forward at a snail’s pace, yet manages take no time to truly introduce us to the characters. And everyone in that film is irritating.

Azog kindly leads moviegoers to the exit after a butt-numbing three hours of watching The Battle of the Five Armies.

Azog kindly leads moviegoers to the exit after a butt-numbing three hours of watching The Battle of the Five Armies.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug has more action, but, again drags on. And just in case you thought this was an adaptation of The Hobbit and not a Lord of the Rings prequel, Legolas arrives! The Smaug’s desolation is no where. Instead the film ends up being a very long teaser for the final installment. Evangeline Lilly arrives too since Jackson has no idea how to develop the dwarfs. The only payoff, Smaug.

The Battle of the Five Armies begins exactly where the last film ended. The desolation of Smaug has begun, and will be over before you know it. While the first two films had a lot of travel, with Bilbo Baggins and his dwarf companions meeting all manner of friends and foes, Five Armies keeps all the action within the confines of the Lonely Mountain. The film feels geographically constricted.

Without Martin Freeman, these films would be beyond saving. He presents Bilbo as a sympathetic character, someone who was very content in his own little village. There are hints that Bilbo now sees himself as part of a bigger world, but not much time is spent developing Bilbo.

As a matter of fact, for a film called The Hobbit, Bilbo is surprisingly absent from most of the film. He has a few scenes involving the Arkenstone*, but spends most of the film on the sidelines.

These films drag. And I liked Chariots of Fire.

Unconvincing special effects mar the film. Instead of trying to create a fantastic reality, team Weta produced a bunch of scenes that look like cut scenes from a video game. At one point Legolas is jumping on stones as they crumble and fall. I haven’t seen such action since the Nintendo Entertainment System.

There just is not enough good for me to recommend the film. Freeman and a few good action scenes do not make the film worth the time or money to see The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.

*I believe the Arkenstone will return in The Avengers: The Infinity Gauntlet films.

©  Paul Anthony George and The Reno Signal, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Paul Anthony George and The Reno Signal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

 

A quick look at Bitch Planet issue 1

Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro's first issue of "Bitch Planet" was released December 10, 2014 by Image Comics.

Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro’s first issue of “Bitch Planet” was released December 10, 2014 by Image Comics.

With a title like that, how could I resist picking up the first issue of Bitch Planet by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro? If you are looking for a sexy, women-in-prison comic with lots of pin-up quality nudity, then this isn’t for you.

The basic set-up for Bitch Planet is that it’s the future and women are treated like chattel. When a woman is non-compliant, she gets sent to a prison planet. Issue One introduces three women. Penny Rolle, is a big woman. Honestly, you have no idea what I mean. Rolle is a woman who complains that her prison uniform is only big enough for one of her tits. Next, we have Kamau Kogo, who remains something of a mystery in the comic. Finally, Marian Collins, who is in prison because she objected to her husband having an affair.

They are in prison. The prison may not be what it seems. And there’s a plot twist that doesn’t allow me to comment much more on the plot. As a matter of fact, I had to go back and re-read Bitch Planet because the twist caught me by surprise.

Bitch Planet #1. Image Comics.

Bitch Planet #1. Image Comics.

This is a feminist comic from top to bottom. DeConnick writes a compelling tale, showing a future where women are punished for non-compliance. However, and this is only based on the first issue, are there any men of character in this universe? Future issues will tell. But the comic does seem to believe men are incapable of anything good. But there is a lot of clever dialogue and the premise is great. De Landro’s art exists to tell the story. It is raw and, at times, able to make the reader feel uncomfortable about the material.

When discussions of this comic pop up online, I keep hearing Quentin Tarantino’s name mentioned. While this comic has some of the vibe of a women-in-prison movie, the comparison to Tarantino is unfair. DeConnick’s dialogue is great, but it is there to drive the story. The two writers may share some similar influences, but that’s where the comparisons end.

I love the pulp-inspired cover!

Image Comics has impressed my greatly lately. Another title they recently introduced, The Autumnlands: Tooth & Claw, is a fantastic fantasy story. And for the same price as a Marvel or DC Comics, readers get 32 pages, no advertising, unless you count the “Hey Kids, Patriarchy!” spoof on the back of Bitch Planet.

For those reading this that still cling to the outdated, and wrong, notion that comics are for kids. Give Bitch Planet a try. I may have some issues its view of men, but it was compelling and I plan to check out issue two when it arrives.

Crash: The Collision of Cultures in America

2005 crash poster

Race is a dirty word in America.

We refuse to talk about it.

When we do, it is rarely an open dialogue, and it is almost never honest.

Paul Haggis’ motion picture Crash is a character study that tries to deal with the issue of race in America. Critics praised the film for its “brutally honest” depiction of race issues in America (Williams). In response to this acclaim, journalism professor Robert Jensen and documentary producer Robert Wosnitzer wrote an essay, entitled “Crash,” claiming that the movie minimizes the systemic causes of racism in the country. According to Jensen and Wosnitzer, the film is “white supremacists because it minimizes the reality of white supremacy” (Jensen and Wosnitzer). While the film’s main focus is the effects of racism on a personal level, Crash frequently addresses the systemic nature of racism in this country. Crash is an allegorical tale that uses archetypes to personify the various groups and institutions that promote white privilege in America.

The first words out of detective Graham Waters indicate that the characters of the story do not inhabit a real city. His opening monologue has the air of parable. After an automobile accident, he says “we’re always behind this metal and glass.” Frequently, people carefully guard their speech and attitudes, especially when race is involved. The physical crash in Crash represents the filmmaker’s attempt to remove those “metal and glass” filters and have the characters speak in open, honest, and unfiltered dialogue.

Jensen and Wosnitzer contend that Crash fails because it “directs attention away from a white-supremacist system and undermines white accountability for the maintenance of that system“ (Jensen and Wosnitzer). Throughout the film, various white power symbols are represented by characters in authoritative positions. District attorney Rick Cabot represents the political system that caters to non-whites for votes and public image opportunities. Jean Cabot symbolizes rich white privilege, which views all non-whites as subservient and a threat to its way of life. Television producer Fred typifies the entertainment industry, which continues to promote racial stereotypes for material gain. Officer John Ryan represents not just law enforcement, but the racial attitudes are ingrained in the law enforcement culture. Officer Tom Hansen, who is generally decent, ultimately gives into racial profiling. While the laws of the country are intended to be for all, we have created rules that intentionally judge people based on race. When viewed as an allegorical story, the white characters say a lot about white authority in America.

Many of the black characters of the film represent those who, while affected by racism, refuse to challenge the system. Detective Waters has a career in law enforcement. When confronted with the inherent racism of the system, he gives into what is best for the white authoritarian structure. His mother accuses him of abandoning his brother and his mother. He has been too busy pursuing a career. Rather than continuing the fight for civil rights and equality for all, Waters has become a member of the white authority structure. Cameron Thayer, a television director, is essentially a black man in “whiteface.” The white powers that be have continued to put a carrot in front of him, fame, and he has consistently given into their demands. When an officer sexually assaults his wife, he refuses to do anything about it because a report in the paper would upset his white employers. Lt. Dixon is a black police officer who readily acknowledges racism in the LAPD, yet he doesn’t want his position to be threatened. He has worked too hard to get where he is in the police department. Anthony, who touts various white supremacy conspiracy theories throughout the film, considers himself sort of a black Robin Hood. Since he only steals from white people, he feels he is fighting the system. He starts to realize that he is part of the problem as he sits on a bus. He may talk a lot, but he really isn’t any different than the minorities on the bus. When he steals a van full of Thai people who are being trafficked as slave, he realizes that he is becoming the very thing he has been criticizing throughout the film, an oppressor. Even Dorri, a second generation Iranian-American, has become more American, and therefore white, in order to be a successful doctor. The system of white supremacy, as discussed by Jensen and Wosnitzer, is clearly demonstrated in Crash. The message in Crash is clear, if a black person wants to be successful, they need to obey privileged white people.

Peter Waters spends most of the film as a sidekick for Anthony. However, he represents those who simply do not buy into the system. He and Anthony have very different views of what it means to be a black American. He constantly defies any stereotypes associated with black Americans. He likes country music, hockey, and is interested in Catholic theology, all symbols associated with white culture. Ultimately, he is killed for having an open attitude. The message sent by Crash is that the system will not tolerate the tolerant.

Guns play strongly in the film and represent power. Frequently, when a gun passes from person to person in the film, it represents the passing of power. When a white gun shop owner begrudgingly sells a handgun to an Iranian man, he sells the Iranian man blanks. Frequently, white politicians talk about the United States being a land of opportunity and equality for all. However, the system does not always deal fairly with everyone. Ultimately, just like blanks in a gun, the assertion of constitutional rights by immigrants is rendered impotent by policies like the Patriot Act and racial profiling. Anthony and Peter discuss their fear of being in white neighborhoods. Their fears are relaxed because they carry guns. When Anthony attempts to car jack Cameron’s automobile, they struggle with a gun. Cameron, who has been complacent and unwilling to assert his rights throughout the film is suddenly emboldened when he confronts the police. During the entire altercation, he has a gun in the back of his pants. When Cameron leaves Anthony on a street corner, he gives Anthony back his gun. He gives the power back to Anthony, who must now take responsibility for his future actions. Constitutional rights protect Americans and empower them, regardless of race. White authority views such power as a threat when put in what it considers the wrong hands.

Crash, the film, ends where it begins, with an auto accident. The final message of the movie is that, even if some of the characters changed their attitudes during that day, there will be others to take their place the next day. There will be another John Ryan to harass innocent citizens. There will be another black director so hungry for fame that he will do whatever he is asked by his producers. There will be another young black man stealing cars from white people. The film simply says that everyone is a racist and there’s nothing that can be done to improve the situation. “Crash,” the essay, contends that white America needs to be “forced” to accept the issue of white privilege in America (Jensen and Wosnitzer). Neither offer any practical solutions for the race issue in this country. The United States has made progress, but it has been slow. Laws have been passed to protect the rights of everyone in the country. However, well meaning laws cannot actually change racial attitudes in this country. Forcing opinions on others is a poor solution. People need to be given information and a variety of opinions on this vital issue. There needs to be an open dialogue where everyone, no matter their race, gender, or belief, has the opportunity to share in the discussion. If we can accomplish this, perhaps this country will be able to one day embrace its pluralism and grow stronger as a nation. Perhaps then, race will no longer be considered a dirty word.

©  Paul Anthony George and The Reno Signal, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Paul Anthony George and The Reno Signal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Originally written in 2009 for a class assignment.


 

Works Cited

Crash. Dir. Paul Haggis. Perf. Sandra Bullock, Don Cheadle and Matt Dillon. Lionsgate, 2005.

Jensen, Robert and Wosnitzer, Robert. “Crash.” ZNet Daily Commentaries 21 Mar 2006. 18 June 2009 <http://www.zmag.org>.

Williams, Kam. “Movie Review: Crash.” Black News 2005. 24 June 2009 <http://www.blacknews.com>.

Feminists in Space: Ellen Ripley and the Female Action Hero

Courtesy 20th Century Fox

Courtesy 20th Century Fox

Action Comics #252 (1959) introduced Supergirl. Courtesy DC Comics.

Action Comics #252 (1959) introduced Supergirl. Courtesy DC Comics.

Traditionally, the term “hero” identifies a male character, Odysseus, Beowulf, and Batman are identified by classic masculine traits: physical strength, success in combat, and great wit.

As the concept of hero developed into its modern form, more writers created female heroes, the vast majority of which were simply feminized versions of popular male heroes. Supergirl was essentially Superman in a miniskirt. Batman had a Batgirl. For the most part, these characters were in subjection to their male counterparts, not even receiving the designation “woman” in their names.

Conan the Barbarian’s counterpart, Red Sonja, was a tough red-headed warrior woman who wore a chain mail bikini. Clearly, she was designed for a male audience. In the motion picture adaptation Red Sonja, Sonja’s oath is that she would not have sex with a man unless he could defeat her in battle. Even female heroes, it appears, must be in subjection to men at some point.

Rather than letting her help save people, Superman insists that Supergirl go live at an orphanage. Action Comics #252 (1959). Courtesy DC Comics

Rather than letting her help save people, Superman insists that Supergirl go live at an orphanage. Action Comics #252 (1959). Courtesy DC Comics

As one feminist author commented, developing a true female hero would require a “move from the objectification of women as helpless victims (saved by the male action-adventure hero) or as seductive villains,” to a focus on “women’s emotional and physical strength, desire for empowerment, and relationships to strong women of the past,” (Helford 293). The motion picture Alien introduced Ellen Ripley, who appeared in all four films of the Alien series. Ripley is a female character who attains the title of hero by defining herself in female terms and challenging a male-dominated society.

Ridley Scott’s 1979 film Alien is a traditional monster-on-the-loose story set in a Gothic future. However, the way the creature invades the ship was original. Kane, the ship’s executive officer, looks over a large egg found on a crashed, derelict spacecraft. The egg opens, and a spider-like creature latches onto his face. It is soon learned that the creature impregnated Kane, and he dies as the infant creature bursts from his chest. The creature quickly matures and begins killing the crew. Historically, women have been considered reproductive bodies and throughout most of history, daughters were treated as a commodity (Barr 85). Chivalric tales, such the King Arthur legend, are full of stories involving rape and the treatment of women, especially wives, as little more than a means to produce sons. In the tales of Sir Tor, it is discovered he was the product of a rape. Since the rapist was of noble blood, it was considered a good thing (Mallory 73). However, in Alien, all humans are treated as a reproductive commodity, and the ability to choose is non-existent.

Reproduction is a central theme in Alien. According to Marleen Barr, much male-oriented science fiction presents the ideology that men are better at creating life than women (88). The crew’s orders come from Mother, which appears to be a central computer that controls the ship and gives orders. The crew is expected to follow Mother’s orders. Ash, it is revealed, is an artificial person, complete with semen-white artificial blood. These man-made creations attempt to improve on the natural reproduction of women. However, they are male creations and lack any moral compass. Mother want the alien creature to exploit it for military purposes. When questioned, Ash express his admiration for the creature as a “perfect organism … unclouded by conscience, remorse, or delusions of morality.” The creature is different than the male human, so a male-dominated society is only interested in exploiting the creature.

As the crew is killed off, Ripley takes a dominant position on the ship. Eventually the crew listens to her. She decides to destroy the ship. Everyone except Ripley dies before reaching the escape ship. Ripley escapes, but the alien stows away on the escape vessel. For Ripley, there is no knight or warrior to save her. She is alone with the creature. In a traditional horror movie, the female character would have never made it to this point of the story without the help of a male character, let alone defeat the creature by her own wits. However, Ripley also defeats Mother’s plan to exploit the creature as a reproductive commodity.

“Get away from her, you bitch!”

Aliens, the sequel, opens with a salvage crew finding Ripley in suspended animation on the escape ship. Fifty-seven years have passed and she finds herself feeling alienated. She discovers, at least in director James Cameron’s longer version of the film, that her daughter died at age 66.

Motherhood is the dominant theme of Aliens.

From Aliens. Courtesy 20th Century Fox.

From Aliens. Courtesy 20th Century Fox.

When Ripley explains the events of the the first film to commercial and governmental officials, her story is trivialized. These nine people include only two women, wearing male clothing, including neckties. Really, she is being trivialized by a male-dominated leadership. The women on the board get their authority by acting masculine.

Soon she is on a military space vessel heading back to the planet where the original creature was found. She serves as a consultant for a military operation that needs to find out what happened to a human colony on the planet. From the time she awakes from hyper-sleep, Ripley is ignored by the military crew. When she tries to explain what happened to her crew, the marines make jokes. The other women on the ship are tough, muscular marines. Ripley finds her opinions are not wanted.

The masculine marines use their technology and weapons to fight the aliens. However, they continue suffering losses. As the story progresses, the soldiers being to respect Ripley more and involve her in the decision-making process. Instead of letting the marines protect her, Ripley asks one of the soldiers to teach her how to use a rifle.

As the marines explore the deserted colony, they find a young girl, nicknamed Newt, whose family was killed by the creatures. Ripley and the girl latch on to each other, and Ripley spends much of the film protecting the girl. When Newt is taken by the aliens, Ripley enters the nest of the monsters. She shows fear but continues pressing forward. With only a few weapons, she descends deeper into the alien have and saves Newt from being raped by one of the alien face-huggers. As Newt clings to Ripley, they enter the chamber of the alien queen. The rest of the movie is a series of fights between Ripley and the queen, who exists to produce eggs, which will infests hosts and create more progeny. Nothing has any value to her except for reproduction and survival. She is pure nature. Ripley, however, is clearly willing to risk her life to save Newt, who she is not physically related to. She does not want Newt to suffer the horror of the alien reproductive cycle. Ripley represents motherhood as nurture.

Ripley’s fear transforms to anger as the the Queen to save Newt. After the creature is destroyed, Newt hugs Ripley, calling her “mommy.” By putting motherhood in the context of nature versus nurture, the film reveals Ripley as a hero mother. She achieves the designation “hero” because of her emotional strength as a woman.

“I keep telling you I want to die!”

Courtesy 20th Century Fox

Courtesy 20th Century Fox

Alien3 begins with Ripley, in yet another escape ship, crashing on Fiorina 161, a prison planet. Newt and Hicks, the only surviving soldier from Aliens, die in the crash. Ripley is the only woman a a planet populated with convicts. Soon her head is shaved and she is stripped, not only of her motherhood quality, but her outward femininity. Everyone on the planet has a unisex look, and the setting of the film is constantly dark and oppressive in visual and thematic tone. Many of the prisoners have joined a religious group and have made a vow of celibacy.

While the story features another alien on the loose, the subplot is more relevant to the discussion of Ripley as a hero. Ripley learns she is pregnant with an alien queen. The company, which continues to show interest in the creature as a bioweapon, is en route to the planet. As the movie progresses, Ripley feels the creature growing. After defeating the alien that was loose in the prison, she is confronted by a member of the company. She earns the loyalty of the prisoners and some are killed protecting Ripley from while she transforms into a savior hero by throwing herself into a foundry while embracing the baby alien queen as it bursts from her chest. With this act, the alien lineage is destroyed. From Barr’s feminist prospective, Ripley is now empowered to make the choice to terminate the pregnancy.

“I’m the monster’s mother”

Killing the hero would normally announce the end of a series, but Ripley returned in Alien Resurrection. Elyce Ray Helford, in her essay “Postfeminism and the Female Action-Adventure Hero,” complains that Ripley is sexualized in Alien Resurrection with leather fetish clothing and Goth green nail polish. She says that Ripley is “no longer the heroic standard for women in the action-adventure genre,” (Helford 296).

Feminist writer Patricia Melzer disagrees. She explains that the film is about the feminist cyborg. In the cast of Ripley, she is cloned from a blood sample left on Fiorina 161. This Ripley, however, has some of the alien DNA combined with her own. According to Melzer, Ripley is a cyborg because she is now a “woman and a construct” (Melzer 109). Genetically modified, Ripley shows signs of being more sexually aware and physical traits, like dark fingernails, remind views that she is no longer completely human.

Courtesy 20th Century Fox

Courtesy 20th Century Fox

However, like the other films in the series, the aliens are only the surface enemies. In Alien Resurrection, the true enemy is technology. The organization in charge of the operation is call Father, indicating a patriarchy. Cloning is man’s next step in trying to highjack what women naturally do. The goal of the experiments in the film is to create an alien queen out of Ripley’s DNA. They succeed. As one of the scientists tells Ripley, she is simply a “Meat by-product.” Eventually Ripley discovers a chamber of horrors where seven other attempts to separate her DNA and the alien’s failed. Still living, one of the deformed Ripleys begs for Ripley to kill her. The view presented is clear, even in the far future; male interests will continue to view female reproduction as a commodity.

Due to the interference of the masculine drive to out-perform women in creating life, the new Ripley finds her loyalties split between the aliens and the humans in the film. No longer do we see the nurturing Ripley of Aliens or the savior hero of Alien3. Instead, she is a mostly acting out of nature, like the alien queen she defeated. Yet at the end, she saves humankind and develops a strong friendship with Call, a female android. Ultimately she arises as a hero by allowing her humanity to survive even though she is treated as a “meat by-product.”

The four films featured different writers and directors. Each group brought their own ideas to the films. Yet as a series, this films work as a study of the feminist hero. Ripley, the only character to appear in all four films, changes from film to film. In each film, she displays the characteristics of a hero. However, she also rises as a true female hero, fighting against an oppressive male-dominated society while maintaining her female identity.

©  Paul Anthony George and The Reno Signal, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Paul Anthony George and The Reno Signal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Originally written December 9, 2010 for an English literature class.

Works Cited

Alien. Dir. Ridley Scott. Perf. Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, and Ian Holm. 20th Century Fox, 1979, DVD

Aliens. Dir. James Cameron. Perf. Sigourney Weaver. 209th Century Fox, 1986. DVD

Alien3. Dir. David Fincher. Perf. Sigourney Weaver, Charles S. Dutton, and Charles Dance. 20th Century Fox, 1992, DVD

Alien Resurrection. Dir. Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Perf. Sigourney Weaver, Winona Ryder, and Ron Perlman. 20th Century Fox, 1997. DVD

Barr, Marleen S. Lost in Space: Probing Feminist Science Fiction and Beyond. Chapel Hill: the University of North Carolina Press, 1993. Print

Helford, Elyce Rae. “Post feminism and the Female Action-Adventure Hero.” Future Females, The Next Generation. Ed. Marleen S. Barr. New York: Rowman & Littlefied, 2000. Print

Malory, Thomas. Le Mort d’Arthur. Digireads.com, 20098. Print

Melzer, Ptricia. Alien Constructions. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2006. Print

Red Sonja. Dir. Richard Fleischer. Perf. Brigitte Nielsen, Sandahl Bergman, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. MGM, 1985. DVD

A Few Good Chicks: The Modern Woman and Salome

 

The Defence of Saragossa by David Wilke.

The Defence of Saragossa by David Wilke.

“Oh those base invaders of my country, those oppressors of the best of its patriots; Should the fate of war place any of them within my power, I will instantly deliver up their throats with my knife.” – Agustina de Aragón (1785-1857)

According to Oscar Wilde’s play Salome, women are vicious, self-centered and lack inherent goodness.

And that means they are equal to men in every way.

The role of women in Western civilization has always been based on normative views. According to society’s norms, women should be inherently motherly and naturally submissive to men. Nineteenth century novels such as Jane Eyre began to question what a woman’s role in society was. In Salome, the princess Salome is frequently alluded to when the characters refer to the moon. The young Syrian describes the moon as “a little princess who wears a yellow veil, and whose feet are of silver” (1). Herodias’ page views the moon as “a dead woman” (1). Herod, who has a sexual interest in his stepdaughter, describes the moon a naked and wanton (28). The prophet Iokanaan predicts that the moon will become like blood, suggesting blood-guilt (44). Salome herself describes the moon as “cold and chase…a virgin” (11). All of these qualities are demonstrated by the princess in some form within the story.

Herodias, Salome’s mother, is the only character to provide a positive analysis. She says “the moon is like the moon, that is all” (28).

At the time of the writing of Salome, women were asserting their rights in the United Kingdom and the United States. However, with equal rights comes equal responsibility. Women were viewed in Victorian culture as the angels of the home. They were to be quiet, raise children, serve the needs of their husband and, ultimately, behave exactly how society dictated they should act. The princess Salome, however, asserts her power and requests the head of Iokanaan on a silver platter.  Her desire for Iokanaan’s head, whether out of possessiveness, jealousy or revenge reveals a woman who defies the values of the day. The audience, whether watching the play or reading it for an English literature class, is shocked by Salome’s actions. Yet many find it more offensive because Iokanaan’s death is caused by a woman.

Being viewed as equals in society is important to both sexes. However, it creates difficulties that society has not always been prepared to face. Due to the view of women as angels in the home, society has had trouble realizing that, given the opportunity, women will act a lot like men who have enjoyed same freedoms for centuries. While one woman may be the traditional mother and wife, another may decide to have a career. While a woman in Victorian times had little choice but to stay home and be quiet, a free woman can stand up and speak out for or against anything she believes is important. And some, like Salome, will kill.

As part of the 588th Night Bomber Regiment, Soviet pilot Irina Sebrova engaged in more than 1,000 bombing sorties against the Germans during World War II.

As part of the 588th Night Bomber Regiment, Soviet pilot Irina Sebrova engaged in more than 1,000 bombing sorties against the Germans during World War II.

While history books are content to focus on the supportive wives of presidents, actual history is filled with women who were not afraid to break rank with polite society and be themselves. Julia Agrippina, Anne Bonny, Augustina Zaragoza Doménech (Agustina de Aragón), and Irina Sebrova are all excellent examples of historical women who would be viewed as heroes if they had been men. Yet most people have no idea who these women are. While children are taught of the bravery of King Leonidas’ stand against the Persian horde, they are never taught about Tomoe Gozen, a young female samurai who, when confronted by a rapist, decapitated the man. Women are never declared as heroes equal to men because the established normative thinking is that women are heroes by breeding heroes, not by direct action.

In the case of Herod, he discovered that Salome was not the adorable sexual object that he wanted. Repelled by her actions, he realized that she needed to be treated, not as an innocent child, but as a monster (66).

While the fight for equality is hardly over, great progress has been made. Equality can be about equal wages or the right to vote. However, it can also be about the right to sow one’s own field of life and reaping from it, good or bad. And maybe that is what women really want, the opportunity to freely make decisions, and be judged, not by long-established rules of gender, but by their own merits.

Originally written May 2, 2011 for an English literature class.

©  Paul Anthony George and The Reno Signal, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Paul Anthony George and The Reno Signal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Works Cited

Wilde, Oscar. Salome. New York: Dover, 1894. Print.