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female characters

MPAA Statistics Break the Stunning News That Most of the People Who Go the Movies Aren’t White Men

Every year at CinemaCon the MPAA releases statistics (report here) on the previous year’s moviegoers: What percentage of them can be classified as “frequent moviegoers,” how 3D movies do across various markets, whether the average ticket price has changed. Stuff like that. And, of particular relevance to us, demographic breakdowns. You might have to sit down for this, because it’s shocking: Far more women and racial minorities see movies than there are women and racial minorities in movies. It’s almost like there’s not enough representation or something. I know. So weird.


Gender Bendery

In Praise of the Women of Elementary

Elementary is unique among the many recent retellings of A.C. Doyle’s famous detective, for better or worse depending on your tastes, because it takes familiar characters and story elements and places them in a completely new or reimagined context. While playing it fast and loose with what’s familiar might alienate some, one thing this freedom does allow Elementary to do—and do well—is give us more interesting, fun, and complex female characters to revel in.


Oh Hollywood

On Average, The Top Women-Led Films of 2013 Grossed Higher Than Male-Led Films

As we’ve previously discussed, of the 100 highest-grossing films of 2013, a whopping 15 featured female protagonists. This figure became popular knowledge through a report by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, which compares the percentage of women working behind the camera with those featured on screen. Unsurprisingly, the numbers correlate.

Vanity Fair’s Bruce Handy had some questions about those statistics. Given Hollywood’s focus on getting as many butts in seats as possible, surely they wouldn’t ignore the preferences of their audiences. Could it be that the lack of women on screen was actually reflective of a purchasing trend? If we treat blockbusters like Catching Fire as flukes, is there economic logic behind the comparative lack of female-led films?

Spoiler: No.


Oh Hollywood

Let’s Get Mad: Center for Study of Women in TV and Film Releases 2013 Findings on Female Characters

Just a couple months ago, the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film released their report on the gender ratios of Hollywood’s workers, discovering that the ratio of women to men in various behind the scenes roles such as editors, writers, cinematographers, composers, and special effects supervisors has not changed more than three percentage points in sixteen years. That was pretty disheartening, but theoretically, men should be just as able to craft female characters that don’t play to stereotypical tropes as women are at creating relatable male characters. So how did that go?


+2 Cha -2 Str

In Which A Game Developer Actively Tries To Avoid Gendered Artwork

When development studio QCF started their beta build of Desktop Dungeons, they knew that their female characters needed some rethinking. The team’s awareness about female representation in games had grown since they began the project, and they were eager to incorporate that into their work. However, the reality of avoiding common pitfalls proved more challenging than they’d expected. As they put it, “Thinking about stuff was one matter, doing it was another.”

In a recent blog post, QCF provided some fascinating insights into their attempts to create a more egalitarian look for their game. Through what sounds like a lot of soul-searching and cultural unpacking, these devs decided on an atypical approach: Blur the binary.



Witches, Wise Women, and Widows: A Cultural Look at Viking RPG The Banner Saga

There was a storm warning in Reykjavík the night I started playing The Banner Saga. As my computer booted and my tea steeped, I made the rounds in my apartment, securing the latches of my windows — double-paned, of course, to keep the cold out. Bare birch branches writhed eerily outside, and the sky, which had danced pink and green four nights prior, was coal gray. It was a good night for a Viking story.

I glanced at my watch as I launched the game. I had to start playing, but I was eager for my partner to come home. Most Icelanders I’ve met have a strong affinity for their heritage, but my partner is a cultural paladin. Our shelves are crammed with epic poetry, archaeological resources, and dictionaries of dead languages. When my mom came to visit last summer, my partner had a story (or a song) for every mountain and waterfall we drove past. There’s a single-handed battle axe resting against her bedside table. Y’know, just in case.

I didn’t want her to play the game with me. I wanted her to snark.


Wise Words

Neil Gaiman Has Some Thoughts On Strong Female Characters

BBC Radio recently did a special on Buffy the Vampire Slayer for the 10th anniversary of the Joss Whedon series airing in Britain. Naomi Alderman spoke with several people including Whedon and Neil Gaiman about the long-running series and discussed the…dun, dun DUN…strong female character.


If we got angry about this kind of thing we'd be angry all the time

If The World Treated Real Wives The Same Way The Internet Treats TV Wives

Send this video to the next dude you see calling Skyler White whiny on a forum somewhere.



The Last of Reviews: A Very Late Review of The Last of Us

I’m offering you a very late review of The Last of Us for a number of reasons. Primarily, because Naughty Dog reached out to us specifically to offer a review copy, not something that happens very often to The Mary Sue. More specifically, I’m offering it to you because our usual reviewer, Becky Chambers, does not own a PS3. Which is partially why you’re getting it so late, because I don’t usually have to factor in “playing a video game” to my job obligations. And since I’m not usually a game reviewer, and you’re not usually getting reviews from me on this site, lets get some expository information out of the way before I dive into the meat of explaining how The Last of Us is one of the strongest emotional experiences I’ve had playing a video game. And, you know, it’s pretty damn good with its female characters as well.



Bleed: A Plucky Action Platformer With A Running, Gunning Leading Lady

I was running around a dragon’s insides with a flamethrower when I felt a pang of guilt. True, the fleshy walls I destroyed rebuilt themselves quickly, but all the same, lobbing fireballs within someone’s gullet had to hurt. And honestly, had the dragon done anything to me? Had he provoked me in some way? Under different circumstances, might we have been friends?

I scoffed at myself. It was too late for all that. I had an upgraded arsenal and a college-ruled death list. I was on my way to becoming the greatest hero in the world. Remorse was for the weak.

I’m in favor of any game whose introductory mission is “Storm the Opulent Manor.” I’m also in favor of robots, monsters, explosions, getting dual pistols and a rocket launcher as starter weapons, and kickass female protagonists. Suffice it to say, I enjoyed Bleed.