August 15, 2006

Purple Women in the Movies

Since starting this blog and conceiving of a book on the same subject, (yes, it is my book "baby") I have been necessarily obsessed with the state of being childfree. Not just here (I am in Canada currently), but in the world.

For some time now I have been seeking role models. I remember asking my friend's mother, our next door neighbor, "What do you do?" At first she was defensive, then she realized that I was truly asking what her life was like.

It was the early 70s and women were much in the spotlight, entering the workforce like never before and she was a stay at home mom. She may have felt out of step with the women's movement -- it's hard to tell. She proceeded to tell me what her typical week was like. My own mother worked outside the home; beyond that - she owned her own business. I was very proud of her for that, but at a certain point I realized that she was not a typical woman.

I don't think my search for role models ended there. I am always looking for women to admire and emulate, and my friends are among them. Role models often don't like to be called "role model", and they can be real or imaginary. It's hard not to look to Hollywood for some positive examples.

Here's my short list of Purple WomenTM in the movies whom I admire:

Ellen Ripley - Handles weapons and space ships with equal aplomb and knows what to do with evil aliens.

Smilla Jasperson - She is an accomplished scientist, knows more about ice and snow than the average person, she's kind to small children, and she once made a living tagging polar bears.

Catherine Banning - Drinks a strange green conconction for breakfast, likes fine art and the finer things in life, and when she sets out to catch a theif, she really goes all out.

Do you know what movies they appear in? (Answers next Tuesday unless you guess them first!)

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VictoriaM said...

Actually Ripley'd had a daughter which was revealed in "Aliens". Also the character of Newt as surrogate daughter was pretty blatant, as if Ripley needed that reason to fight the mama alien. An interesting juxtaposition! But Ripley is fantastic at kicking ass!

Tiara Lynn said...

Just another point about Ripley. I think the studios *loved* bringing out her maternal side. Not only is there the relationship with Newt, but Alien: Resurrection takes an especially intriguing look at maternal instincts with the things she does to protect her "baby". Ripley is a wonderful example of a strong, independent woman, but, like they so often do, the writers seem to jump at the chance to emphasize her maternal side, perhaps because they think that's the only way we'll not forget she is a woman.

Teri said...

Oh Dear, Ripley's not Purple! Darn. Well, I like her anyway. Aliens is about the only scary movie I can watch. Yes, I remembered Newt, the tiny little stow-away but as we've learned here...a step-parent can also strongly identify as a childfree woman. I had totally forgotten about Ripley having a daughter in a former (before space travel went wrong) life. Time to rent this again I guess.

Teri said...

This can't wait 'til Tuesday, besides I have a Part Two post all ready to go on that day.

The movies these dynamic Purple Women appear in:

Aliens (okay, I've been corrected, she's only Lavendar)

Smilla's Sense of Snow (a great who dunnit and an even better book if you can get your hands on one)

The Thomas Crown Affair (the original with Faye Dunnaway and Steve McQueen, more recently with Rene Russo and Pierce Brosnan...who is very yummy in it!)

Robin said...

Great stuff! I know I have a few favorite childfree characters but can't think of a one at the moment.