giandujakiss: (festivids)
[personal profile] giandujakiss

*pulls tape off mouth ... ouch!*

Keeping my mouth shut all this time was tough! There was so much I wanted to say about everything but I was afraid that even things only tangentially related to my vids would give it all away.

The first thing I wanted to say was that I personally have been calling this the Bechdel Test Festivids. There were plenty of vids that focused on awesome individual female characters - a Losers vid that focused on Aisha, a Colombiana vid, a Maid Marian from Robin of Sherwood vid, a Mattie vid from True Grit, Audrey from Haven, Cha Song Joo from Capital Scandal, Ma Joad from Grapes of Wrath, and that's only for starters - there are plenty more. But I particularly noticed what felt to me to be a large number of vids that were about women's relationships with other women - Birds of Prey, two Charlie's Angels movies vids, a Charlie's Angels tv show vid, three(!) League of Their Own vids, a Bletchley Circle vid (I never heard of this show and now I want to watch! But all of the *ahem* links at the *ahem* places are expired!), Sense & Sensibility and Lilo & Stitch vids that focused on sisters, two Chak De! India vids, a Daria & Jane vid, the women of Parks & Rec - and that's also really just a small sampling. I mean, I didn't do a scientific comparison to prior years' Festivids, but it felt to me like there were a large number of women-centric - and in particular, women's relationship-centric - vids this year. Let's just say that if VVC ever does another Bechdel-test themed show, they won't be hurting for potential vids to include.

I apparently was caught in the zeitgeist, because both of my vids were about (scantily-clad) women who kick ass -- and, to a lesser extent, about their relationships with other women: Lady Marmalade (Cleopatra 2525) and Titanium (Wonder Woman).

So, Cleopatra 2525 was created by the same people who made Xena and Hercules, which tells you something about the style, and also about the actors - it's basically a Hercules/Xena cast reunion. It ran for about the equivalent of a season, and unusually, most of the episodes were only a half hour (it was paired with another half hour show by the same creators, Jack of All Trades, starring Bruce Campbell, but I digress). At the end of its run, they expanded it to an hour, but that was really for only a few episodes.

Sadly, it's possible that the final two episodes of Cleopatra 2525 are lost forever, at least as far as DVDs go. It appears there was an error when the DVDs were issued, and the final disc doesn't play properly; I know because after I found the malfunction, I bought a replacement DVD set and the same error popped up again. So. If anyone does have the final two episodes, please, hook me up :-).

Anyhoo, the show was a cheesy futuristic sci-fi trifle that reveled in the trashiness of its own premise. To wit: A stripper from the year 2001 (Jennifer Sky) goes to get breast augmentation surgery and somehow winds up cryogenically frozen, only to awaken in a dystopian future where humanity fights sentient machines for its survival. She joins a team of two other scantily-clad women (Gina Torres and Victoria Pratt) and together they fight crime robots, with laser guns. There is a lot of laser gun fighting. And scantily-clad women; frankly, Victoria Pratt's abs should have gotten their own screen credit. And I was so amused that someone actually knew about and requested this source - and that I owned the DVDs - that I felt obligated to make a vid. (I cannot tell you how tickled I was whenever I got a comment from someone who had actually seen the show.)

That said, upon rewatching, I was surprised at how despite the really blatant, intentionally over-the-top cheese, it's actually pretty fantastic in terms of character development of the three women, and developing their relationships with each other. It's so off-the-charts as far as women's relationships go that it leaves the Bechdel test in the rear view mirror, and what's interesting is that there were basically no (het) romantic plotlines - maybe like half of one, depending on how you count, that lasted part of an episode. There was no question that these women were interested in (het) sex, but they just, you know, had other things they were doing and that occupied most of their attention.

What's particularly impressive is that the show was able to develop these characters and relationships considering that (1) as I said, most of the episodes were about a half hour long, which, accounting for commercials, means roughly 22 minutes of actual show, and (2) at least half of every episode was devoted to fight sequences. What they really sacrificed, actually, wasn't characterization, but exposition - you got the sense that there really was an idea for worldbuilding behind all of this, but the explanations were only barely there; it made things seem more incoherent than they actually were, and it was very disorienting if you were trying to figure out what was going on.

I'll add, by the way, that I've never been much of a Gina Torres fan - she's certainly appeared in a lot of shows I love, but I could always take or leave her personally. But when it comes to Cleopatra 2525, I actually kind of love watching her for her. For some reason, on this show, her character really clicked with me.

So, the upshot is: If you're the kind of person who likes incredibly cheesy, corny, cliche-ridden, exploitative sci-fi action shows that occasionally feature surprisingly good female character development, you should check it out.

Wonder Woman!!

There was so much I wanted to post while making this vid and I couldn't and it was painful! Like, I wanted to post that I watched the 2009 animated Wonder Woman feature, with Nathan Fillion voicing Steve Trevor, and I almost had to ragequit at the part where Steve - who is established as a male chauvinist pig and spends half the movie making crude sexual jokes about the Amazons - lectures Wonder Woman about how she's just too sensitive about sexism and she should be less defensive - and the movie positions him as being correct! And I wanted to post about how excited I am about the CW's new Wonder Woman-ish show that's in development! I even wanted to post a link to a mashup that I really liked that included the song Titanium:

...but I was afraid even that much would be too close to revealing my identity! (I love that mashup so much, you guys!)

But anyway. There were two big challenges in making this vid. The first is that the Wonder Woman television series actually spans two time periods. The first season takes place in 1942 and Wonder Woman chiefly assists the American military in fighting the Nazis. In the second season, the show changed networks and was essentially rebooted to take place in modern times, i.e., the 1970s. There was a single continuity - we were told that Diana returned to Paradise Island after WWII and then came back to America thirty years later - but the look of the show was completely different, and Diana's characterization (and even her costume) were entirely revamped. I didn't want to limit myself to clips from one time period, so it was a struggle trying to integrate the them.

The second issue was how to balance the incredible cheesiness and ridiculousness of the 1970s-era special effects and fight sequences with the very genuine, sincere love that I have for the character and the important role she played both for me personally and I think for a lot of other little girls generally. And I didn't want to sacrifice one in favor of the other, because I love and treasure both aspects of the show. (Those two aspects are at war with each other within the show itself, it should be said; the creators were obviously very uncertain as to how much they wanted an Adam West-Batman style parody, and how much they wanted a Charlie's Angels-ish action show. The tension is particularly acute in the second and third seasons, and, as a result, the tonal shifts are pretty jarring.)

In the end, though, I did end up losing some of my favorite insane moments from the series, including the painfully fake invisible jet, the full panoply of variations on the Wonder Woman costume (there's the miniskirt version, and the cape, and the diving outfit, and the one where she's a skateboarder with knee pads and a helmet - all of this in addition to the motorcycle outfit and the "casual" red shirt-white pants thing she had going in that one episode, both of which I did manage to get in), the episode where she wrestled with a gorilla, the episode where it turns out that Wonder Woman is also a physics genius who scribbles out The Crucial Formula on a scientist's blackboard, the episode called Mind Stealers from Outer Space (it's a two-parter - 'nuff said), the many, many times she physically carries an unconscious Steve Trevor out of danger (cradled in her arms), and all of the really glorious moments where Steve Trevor is obviously turned on by watching her lift heavy objects.

On the bright side, I managed to get in (twice!) one of my favorite moments from the series, i.e., when Wonder Woman examines a table filled with Wonder Woman paraphernalia. (I also used that scene in A Different Kind of Love Song, because, so much love.)

And now, I must take this and every opportunity to remind people that Wonder Girl was played by Debra Winger.

Finally, I feel the need to mention - that blonde girl that Wonder Woman trains at the end of the vid? She's from an episode called The Girl From Ilandia. I don't have any firm information on it but the entire episode feels very much like it was created as a test or a pilot-ish kind of thing for a new spinoff, which, I am quite certain, could only have been pitched to the network as "Little Orphan Annie, with superpowers." I am not even kidding. Sadly, the network must not have liked it, because no such series ever existed, more's the pity.

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