Archive for August, 2010

Princess Valhalla: postfeminist superhero

August 24, 2010

Not too long ago I posted a link to a rather odd video called Princess Valhalla Hawkwind. For readers who don’t know the television series The United States of Tara, the youtube clip would have made absolutely no sense. I awarded it a ‘postfeminist heroine of the week’ prize, but without explaining why. So perhaps it’s time to try put Princess Valhalla into context.

First, let me explain a little about the series. Don’t worry, there won’t be spoilers. In Australia the ABC is screening Series 2 once a week. (Except it has been rudely interupted mid-season by The Chaser’s election show. Boo!) You can also watch the series online via iView, but only one or two episodes are ever up at one time. The series is executive produced by Steven Spielberg, written by Diablo Cody (of Juno fame) and features Australia’s Toni Collette in the lead role.

Toni Collette is absolutely fantastic in this. So good that she has won Emmy and Golden Globe awards. She plays Tara, wife to Max and mother of teenage kids Kate and Marshall (perhaps my two favourite characters). Toni Collette also plays several other characters, in the form of Tara’s “alter egos” or Alters, because Tara suffers from dissociative identity disorder.

I’m not a psychologist so I don’t know how accurate a portrayal of the condition this is. But this is television, and as a piece of drama, it’s fantastic. I really love it. The acting is brilliant, the scripts are moving and hilarious and the relationships between the characters always strike me as believable. Each character copes with Tara’s mental illness in different ways, painting the complex story of a family in all its quirks, its tensions and its humour.

So where does this whacky Princess Valhalla Hawkwind character come in?

I’m glad you asked. Princess Valhalla Hawkwind is a fictional character within the series. We first come across her when Kate (in her new job as a debt-collector) has to track down a woman called Lynda P. Frazier. Lynda turns out to be an artist, and the creator of a comic-book featuring feminist super-hero Princess Valhalla. Kate and Lynda quickly become friends, hanging out and smoking pot. Kate becomes fascinated with the Princess Valhalla character, and in one episode she raids Lynda’s wardrobe to dress up in full Princess Valhalla costume.



Feminists don’t let friends vote for Tony Abbott

August 6, 2010

With a Federal election campaign in full swing, one that is a contest between Australia’s first female PM and one of the most sexist and racist party leaders we’ve seen in a long time, it seems weird that I haven’t written much in this here blog.

Perhaps my lack of blog inspiration is due to my disappointment in Gillard, or perhaps it is because Abbott has the tendency to send me into such a despondent rage that anything I write about him or the election tends to be inappropriate for a public forum…

I think Wandering Person pretty much sums up the way I feel about the election campaign so far. She writes:

it’s been banal, completely lacking vision or inspiration. gillard and abbott are so busy trying to race one another to the centre they have both completely lost touch with reality. abbott’s grasp on the concept was tentative to begin with, but i guess i expected and hoped for more from gillard. not just because she is a woman, but that is a large part of it. i really do believe, and maybe i’m naive, that there’s something good and worthy underneath the partyroom warpaint, but it took her approximately one week to disappoint me with the lindsay-inspired bigotry of insisting that people who were worried about boatpeople weren’t racist or narrow minded and they had a legitimate point of view. i don’t care how expedient that is and how good it makes all the redneck cowards out there in the electorate feel, it’s just plain wrong. there are a few really crucial issues on which politicians should be leading the public not following their lowest common denominator bleating, and this is one of them. how about standing up and saying ‘we are a country built uneasily, but built nonetheless, on generations of migration, we have the space and the prosperity to accommodate people who are fleeing violence and persecution, it is our humanitarian duty to do so and i call on australians to take a good hard look at the utterly selfish motives underlying any desire to abrogate that duty.’

So while all this electioneering has been a little bit ho-hum, I am still continually angered by Tony Abbott, his comments and his policies. He’s trying to appeal to the “woman voter” but scratch the surface and it becomes clear how un-woman-friendly he is. To help assuage my anxiety and dread at the prospect of Abbott as PM, I’ve finally written something. The links below illustrate just a few reasons why the Mad Monk is not suitable PM material. Please leave further examples in the comments.

Some Further Reading (or Why you shouldn’t vote for Abbott):

Cox writes:

“It sounds good: six extra weeks and at replacement salary, not the minimum wage. But it’s not as good as it sounds. For a start, it entrenches sex discrimination as it doesn’t replace the carer’s pay unless they are the mother. This means it is not a real workplace payment and will do nothing to shift the current gender imbalance of parenting by encouraging more sharing of roles.”