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This has been genuinely enlightening. Last week, I asked fans for their thoughts on what fondly-remembered media properties ought to be the X-chromosome's answer to Hollywood's current love affair with toy, comic and videogame characters of the recent past. On the forums and by email, I got a lot of great feedback - plenty of suggestions, lots of reminiscing, and also some very well-reasoned thoughts on why there hasn't been a "lady equivalent" to Transformers or G.I. Joe on the big screen as of yet.
One of the things we forget here in the 21st Century, where the breakdown of traditional gender and family structures is such a prevalent theme in popular culture, is the fact that much of the post-industrial age society (particularly but not exclusive in The West) was heavily invested in making sure women "matured" as soon as possible. Men were expected and even encouraged to retain a certain amount of boyish traits like rowdiness and imagination so that they could be channeled into masculine virtues such as war-fighting and stuff-building.
Women's duty, on the other hand, was to be stable and grownup so as to provide incentive for men to check themselves. As a lot of people's great-grandmas would've put it: "Women were supposed to civilize men." Society's message to girls: "Get down to business, kiddo! We're counting on you to keep our all-important males happy, well-fed and relatively in-line!"
This is probably why, up until recently, the world of female-targeted games, toys, geek material and entertainment in general shrinks down to near-nil once you hit the early-teen zone; couldn't have girls missing valuable domestic-training because they were busy with "frivolous" things. And while society as a whole has, mercifully, gotten over much of this nonsense, vestiges of the compulsion to domesticate young women by enforcing superficial maturity remain - often enforced not by men or "the world" but by other young women ... hence the "mean girls" phenomenon.
And yet, perhaps as a (positive) sign of the times, I got more than enough suggestions to compile a working list of what the Women of Geekdom just might be ready to line up for as the Next Big Thing. Here's just a sampling of what you all came up with - in no particular order and with links to examples where possible:
Premise: Short version - "What if Hannah Montana was Batman?" A music company heiress uses a hologram-projecting supercomputer to adopt the titular alternate persona: a fictional pop megastar whose earnings and side adventures financially support a home for wayward girls and other philanthropic pursuits. All while battling a rival music-executive and his less-scrupulous rival band, natch. And, why, yes, she is stuck in an awkward Clark/Lois/Superman love-triangle between herself, her clueless boyfriend and her own made-up second-self. How'd you guess?
Prospect: Really good. The number one thing I learned from this experiment, is whoever currently owns the rights to this property is apparently missing out on a fortune by not jumping on the nostalgia-chic train with it. This is easily the most-nominated thing I kept hearing about in the feedback, and also one of the few with a readily-workable premise that's probably more relevant than ever in a world of Lady Gaga and the aforementioned Ms. Cyrus. Hasbro made the original dolls, and they've got a full-time film division, so if they aren't making this already they probably ought to be. It looks like a big hit waiting to happen.