Butterfly Cauldron

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Depowered Woman, or Why I Hate Heroes

They killed Elle.

Not only did they kill her, but they made her a victim of domestic violence. Her boyfriend killed her. Granted, said boyfriend was a murdering bastard anyway, but Elle was one of the few people he'd ever shown any fondness for. And why did he kill her? Not to take her power -- that at least would be understandable and in character. No, he killed her (or so it seems) because he could.

So, let's review: Elle, the only female character on Heroes who seemed to relish her ability and use it without fear, is killed by her boyfriend. Not only is she killed, she doesn't even fight back. She could certainly fight Sylar off -- she'd done it before. And I'm not buying any argument that she was weakened by being shot. Screw that. Your boyfriend is trying to kill you and you have the ability to fight him off? You use it. (Understand -- I'm not judging RL victims of domestic abuse. They don't have the ability to electrocute people. If they did, we'd have a hell of a lot fewer causes of domestic violence.)

This tendancy to kill off or write off women with genuine power on Heroes is killing the show for me. (Note: I'm writing this under the assumption Elle is genuinely dead. They left that bit somewhat hazy last week, but previews for next week show Sylar burning her body. So, if she's not dead now, she likely will be soon. And what the hell? Burning your girlfriend's body? Because killing her father, taking her ability, making her think you cared about her and then slicing open her head isn't enough? Really?)

First, we had Nikki. She was wicked strong. She was also suffering from a serious mental disorder. (I'm sorry, but Dissociative Identity Disorder is NOT a superpower. It's an illness, generally caused by some sort of childhood trauma. It would have been an interesting story to explore how Nikki's ability was tweaked by the murder of her sister. It always seemed obvious to me that Nikki's inability to protect her sister when she was young channeled her physical abilities into her alter as she got older. Nikki was 'weak', the ability was strong. Nikki's mind, damaged by the trauma of her sister's murder, couldn't integrate the strength, so it created Jessica to handle the ability. Fairly classic DID, with superpowers on top. But they never explored that. They just said that having an alter was a special ability. *sigh*)

Anyway, Nikki -- for all her strength -- was always somehow a victim. First, she didn't realize she had the ability. Then, she used it to kill people and steal money, which got her husband sent to jail. And got her indebted to Linderman. She had some good moments at the end of Season One, but then she ended up getting her husband killed, leaving herself and her son to rely on the kindness of his family. Then, she finally seems to be getting some control of her life and her ability -- and she ends up dead.

We also had Monica -- a character I really liked and want to see more about. While a bit freaked over her ability at first, she took to it pretty quickly, trying to use it to help those around her. She was a genuinely good person, with a really useful ability that she was learning to relish. And what happens to her? She gets in over her head (which, granted, I don't object to. You gotta have some conflict or there's not story) gets rescued (but hey, at least she wasn't rescued by a man!) and then...gets written out of the show.

Next, we have Claire. Admittedly, she's a bit whiny. But I give her a pass for most of that, because she's only 18 or so. (I'm assuming 17/18, because she's clearly not going to school this season. They seriously messed up her age.) Anyway, she's fricking indestructable. She can heal anything, is likely never going to die and what are they doing with her? Nothing. No one is teaching her how to fight or sleuth or any of the things she wants to do. (Yes, I realize there have finally been what, two? attempts to teach her things. But come on, how long as the girl been demonstrating her desire to learn? Yeah.) She's gotten the hang of her ability, she's made her peace with it and -- she's being treated like a fragile, breakable thing. I understand that coming from her parents -- they're her parents. But everyone else? Please. She's doing stupid things because she's young and inexperienced -- and can't find a fricking teacher to help her out. (I totally want Claude to come back and take her under his wing. She'd be the craftiest, sneakiest, morally gray character around.)

So, let's see...who else do we have? Oh! Daphne. At the moment, she's the only one I'm holding out hope for. Yes, she's got a bit of 'victim' in her background. I can deal with that. At least no one is trying to put her in a little box. (Matt? I'm looking at you -- do NOT try to control your girlfriend or I have a brick with your name on it, got it? You almost got one when you read her mind without permission. Grr.) The revelation that she had cerebal palsy is. . .a post for another day, actually. But it's at least different. It seems she had a decent childhood. Her father clearly loves her and they seem to have a good relationship. And her thing with Matt, while the 'I Love You's came too fast, at least feels like it's becoming genuine. His total acceptance of her is really good for her and she's good at bringing him down to earth.

Which means that the rumors of her being killed off next season are likely true. Screw you, Heroes. I'm tired of all the strong women being killed off.

Which brings us back to Elle. *sigh* I loved Elle, because she was so totally herself. Yes, I know, she was a bad person. I'm ok with that -- women can be bad people. We're not paragons of virtue. Despite all that was done to her to warp her into a sociopath, she never seemed to be a victim. When she found out what had been done to her as a child, she didn't collapse into a pile and beg for someone to save her. The knowledge colored her actions, yes, but she got on with her life. She fucking 'saved' herself.

And so, they have her boyfriend kill her. Just when she seemed to be truely freeing herself from her past, just when she seemed to be ready to become herself.

Seriously, Heroes, fuck you. Just fuck you. Call me when you start randomly killing off your male cast. How about when Saundra sticks a knife in Bennet's heart for being such a giant asshole? Or when Claire bricks Peter over the head for being such an overbearing, patronizing, whiny little emo bitch? Maybe when Sylar gets his head cut off by an Eileen Wurnoes wanna-be he picked up at a truck stop because she reminded him of Elle? Oh, not going to do that to your big manly cast? Yeah. Fuck you.

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posted by Zan at 11:06 AM

6 Comments:

What do you think of Daphne's new disability? I'm reserving comment, till I see where they are going with all of this.

With all that damn CARRYING ON, Claire has been on my nerves since day one. :P

1:19 PM  

I think they're pretty much going to ignore her disability. Eclipse is gone, she can run again, woo hoo. I think it's going to be like Nikki's DID, just something they throw out there and never touch again.

Well, Claire is spoiled. Part of her problem is no one ever really lets her deal with the consequences of anything she does. I mean, if the puppet man had made her shoot one of her mothers before she got the upper hand? That would have been something. Everyone is always trying to protect her, denying her her own agency. They need to step back and let her fucking FAIL sometimes, ya know? How else is she gonna learn?

1:25 PM  

Also: Maya. Her power was out of her conscious control, too. She was desperate to lose it and shock horror she eventually did rather than the standard comic book trope of "learns how to use her powers, commences kicking arse." I suppose we should be glad she didn't end up dead too...

7:13 PM  

She's not dead YET. She had a two second cameo last week, so that means she's still up for the killing! Actually, I was surprised they didn't kill her off last epi. Arthur knew Mohinder wanted to get to her, it would be just up his alley to let him find her dead body. *sigh*

I'm just waiting for next epi, to see Arthur get his. Making Peter the trigger man is going to play havoc with him -- or make him more emo, I can't tell.

7:29 PM  

I think Daphne's disability is good for her character. If you notice, the powers tend to coincide with traits that characters either have or want. (Not always, but often--like, Nathan was ungodly ambitious, "high-flying," so he flew, and Hiro, who was enamored with science fiction and samurai legend, moved through time.) It's not subtle, but it doesn't have to be subtle.

Claire works my nerves, too. I think if she'd really wanted to learn to fight, she would have. I hate how stunted, how damsel-in-distress, her character is.

I like Tracy better than Nikki, but not by much. The "ice queen" thing annoys me. (See first para.)

And I really, really, really wish Monica was still there!!! I liked her, and I liked her power. They squandered a great character and tons of great potential storylines.

Oh, and why is it that female characters are about the only ones who *stay* dead? The butch mechanic with super-hearing, the waitress who could learn quickly, the shape-shifter, Nikki...they've all stayed dead. But Nathan and Peter have more lives between them than an alley full of cats.

10:11 PM  

Interesting point. I hadn't really thought about that, that the abilities seem to mirror what the characters really want. I shall have to ponder.

And it does make you wonder just what it is that Mohinder is about then :)

2:08 PM  

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