I love the fact that there are such eager stereotypes that women in [the media] are thrown into. In my opinion, it boils down to three or four distinct types that are essentially broad generalizations, if not outright Tropes. There’s the Princess, the Sweetheart, the Diva, and the Punk.
I find that these broad generalizations happen regardless of what you’re doing. You’re a woman, you’re in any form of media and you’re pretty much typecast. There are probably a hundred variations and sub-classes but for now, I want to focus on these four major stereotypes.
First off, there’s the Princess. This is the golden child, the royalty of the media world. This is the girl who can do no wrong, and if she does, there will be another chance, another book, another film, another sex tape, etc ad nauseum. I find that this is where the up and coming stars fall once they “make it big”. Kirsten Dunst, Reese Witherspoon, Lindsey Lohan, Drew Barrymore and so on and so on. They have all been in this spotlight at one point or another. They are (or were) the royalty of the silver screen for a time. These are the women who make headlines and are on the cover of every rag mag forever — regardless of what sort of crazy fabricated drama is happening — and are still making movies/books/music whatever. The Princesses are the cash cows, the golden calves, the most sought-after young talent who will annoy you forever. The Princesses will go one of two ways, typically: they either stay in Royalty mode, appearing to make headlines when they get another deal, or the turn into Divas. Princesses who remain Princesses are the women who will show up in a major blockbuster five years after we’ve forgotten about her without the typical downward spiral that we (as an audience) come to expect. Scarlett Johannsen is prime example of movie royalty. Emma Stone is a current Princess as well, in my opinion. They are sought after by movie executives and producers and star in amazingly big roles consistently without the drama of a drug binge or whatever sort of drama you’re likely to see on the internet or in the rag mags. Very much royalty in that sense.
Then there’s the Sweetheart. These are women who are very much like the Princess, but are generally super bubbly and cute. Some people call them “Manic Pixie girls” which I can now understand. Zooey Deschanel is the biggest perpetrator of the Sweetheart stereotype. I use the term stereotype as there is no better way to describe this. I’m sure all of the women I mention are decent humans, but for the sake of argument, these are all stereotypes that we’ve been given to digest. Sweethearts are the ones who show up on talk shows and are all manners and soft spoken or bubbly. Exactly what you think a ‘Sweetheart’ would be if you called your friend that. These are the women who are expected to be super nice all the time forever and who rarely hit tabloids for fabricated drama (unless there’s a divorce/romance involved) and even then, it’s usually fabricated or blown out of proportion.
Divas, on the other hand, are the women who you EXPECT to be on the cover of tabloids. Any Princess can turn into a Diva by having a fit. Diva is not used in the old-school term here, more in the way that they will throw a fit if everything isn’t perfect. These are the women who can’t handle the Princess lifestyle and tend to end up photographed drunk, doing drugs and generally being bad for publicity. This is not to be confused with Punks, which I will get to in a moment. I find that anyone who falls into the Diva category is someone who either shouldn’t be famous but still is, is only famous for being rich/having a sex tape/ etc, or is so over the top that you can’t help but allow them to be famous for whatever they’re doing. You can figure out who’s a Diva int his sense on your own.
Finally, we have the Punks. These are women who stand up and out and will not be conformed by wearing pink and relying on men/fate/whatever to dictate their shit (within reason of remaining in their current profession.) Although, I suppose that with today’s technology and things like Kickstarter, the true Punk women are taking a lot more control over things. My biggest examples of successful Punk women are Amanda Palmer and Avril Lavigne. These are women who do what they want, when they want and give a big ol’ middle finger to the expectations of the media and have made a successful career for themselves.
Having said all of this, I get to the overall point of this rant.
I find that women who fall under the Princess or Sweetheart category are typically more successful than Punks. Divas are successful for reasons beyond my worldly comprehension and I assume black magic is involved with anyone who ends up like Lindsay Lohan or Britney Spears.
I can respect the women who fall under the Princess or Sweetheart category. I really can. In my opinion, some of my favorite female actors fall into one of those two categories. And I applaud their success.
Now the question is: do you HAVE to start out as a Princess or a Sweetheart to make it anywhere these days?
I’m definitely not a Princess. I’m a genuinely nice person in real life, but I do very much appreciate the word “fuck” in everyday conversation. Does that make me less of a Sweetheart? Probably. I love action movies. I love fight scenes, I love “guy” movies. I love to read books that involve adventure and fighting and pillaging. I’m turned off my chick lit or chick flicks or romance. Hell, I don’t even read erotica. I listen to punk music, and heavy metal, and I will happily drink beer over a Cosmopolitan any day and yet, I can cook, clean, sew, crochet and generally run a house like any good wife should be able to do.
But what I write is definitely not what you’d expect from a Princess or a Sweetheart.
I march to the beat of my own drum (and that drum typically sounds like a rowing beat on a Viking longship) and I don’t let the opinions of the general public get to me. I wear my hair short and would rather pull on a pair of jeans than a dress and flip off the camera instead of blowing a kiss to the photographer.
But is my Punk nature going to make me second fiddle to the literary Princesses? Is my Vikings-versus-Aliens intentional B-movie going to be rejected in exchange for a Sappy Romance Drivel B-movie?
I’ll never know until I try, but right now, it feels like there’s very little hope for women who refuse to play the Tropes,
Never afraid of a bit of controversy, Kai lives in Canada in a stuffy room with her laptop and too much caffeine. She spends her days performing menial and mundane tasks that her so-called real-life demands and spends her nights not sleeping due to chronic insomnia.
Kai is also a contributor to Zombie Training Magazine. http://www.zombietraining.com
Kai loves to chat (and she loves a challenge). If you wanna get in touch with her, you can do so at the following places: