“Terrible Mothers:” Sarah Connor and Hippolyta

*****SPOILER ALERT for what is supposed to be a major spoiler for Wonder Woman, although it seemed pretty obvious. Also a bit spoilery for T2 but given that you are reading this that probably isn’t an issue at this point ****

One of the things that struck me about James Cameron’s tone-deaf rants about Wonder Woman, was that in the first one he said of Sarah Connor “…,she was a terrible mother, ….” This seems a bit odd as it certainly has nothing to do with comparing her to Diana who is not a mother. It does bring home the fact that James Cameron for all his claims of being Sarah and John“feminist” does seem to be a bit fixated on women as mothers. Especially as “terrible mothers.” Remember, he turned Ripley into a Terrible Mother who is guilt ridden over missing her daughter’s life and finds redemption in taking care of an orphan. This is just another problematic issue.

First, I don’t really think that Sarah is a Terrible Mother, as such, but rather she’s a mother faced with a overwhelming task to raise a child she knows must face absolute hell and who she also knows she must prepare him for it. This certainly turns her into a dysfunctional mother in many ways, she was not a warm and cuddly mother, at least by the time we see them in Terminator 2. Sarah is not gentle with John, she speaks harshly to him, a harshness she knows is nothing compared to what is waiting for him  She may well have never baked one fucking cookie out in the jungle. She might have at one time. She may have once tucked him into bed with a story, but she undoubtedly included stories of how he was the Savior of Mankind, rather than to convince him otherwise. She loves her child, but she knows the truth, she’s the only one who does, and it refocuses the way she raises her child.

Before T2 happens, Sarah decided she could not have her son face such a horror, nor could she let humanity face it if it could be stopped. She set out to try to stop Judgment Day before it happens. “She tried to blow up a computer factory but she got shot and arrested.” This, of course, means John ends up with another terrible mother as well as terrible father in his foster parents. It cuts Sarah off from John when she knows he is now being told that all she taught him was a lie and that he is even more vulnerable. She wanted to stop what was going to happen to him, but failing that needs to make sure he can still grow up to be the Savior of Mankind.

When they are reunited it is with Sarah’s greatest fear not only happening but walking right  into the asylum. Primal terror kicks in to her already high adrenaline drive and she doesn’t seem to register that her son, who she is so desperate to get to and protect, is walking right in with her nightmare and her first response is to flee. It’s only her son who can bring her back to the present and allow her to adjust to the actual information that this nightmare is there to save them and a greater nightmare is now after them. She never responds lovingly to her reunion with her son, his moment of hope that she might is actually a check for Sarah scolds John after checking for injuriesinjuries followed by scolding him for risking his life for hers. It’s her job, after all, to risk hers for him. She’s on overdrive, she’s still in primal instincts which now have returned to being about protecting her child and assuring he is so far okay. It seems cold, but, honestly, it’s also understandable to me. Apparently, not to James Cameron.

Of course, Sarah returns to the decision to stop John’s (and the rest of the world, all the other children) hellish future. She doesn’t make the greatest choice for that, but she moves forward immediately, leaving her son with a guardian she believes can protect him better than she could. She likely saw herself even more expendable now that a machine can guard him.

Everything Sarah does is to protect her child but also protect the world. He must be protected and prepared to save mankind if she fails, but she will do everything she can to try to keep him from every having to face doing that. She might not be a typical mother, but I don’t see that as terrible.

Hippolyta was charged with exactly the same task, raising a child, Diana, who is the Savior of Mankind. Rather than a time traveler sent back by her child the messenger and father is the God Zeus. Like John, Diana is meant to be trained and prepared for the task ahead and if she fails it could be the doom of humanity. Hippolyta deals with this mission rather differently than Sarah.

Hippolyta lies.

Hippolyta might not bake cookies either, but I’m sure she has a servant who does. Despite being queen, she does seem to be a warm loving Mommy who cuddles Diana and tucks her Diana tucked and and being told the storyin at night with bedtime stories. Bedtime stories are designed to gaslight this Savior of Mankind into believing she anything but. To lie to her about what the God Killer is. To try to convince her not to want to train to prepare for a battle she doesn’t even know she is supposed to face. Hippolyta tells Diana the story of the Amazons, of the war between the Gods, of Ares’ vanquishing but also that she, Diana, is made of clay with no father. And she speaks of the God Killer as if it were a thing, a sword wielded by the mightiest among them, “and that is not you, Diana.” She is gentle and is dooming her child and all of humanity through her gentleness.

Hippolyta lies. I am far from the only one who has noted that Hippolyta is one of the villains in the movie.

Unlike Sarah, despite not wanting her child to face what she must, Hippolyta never chooses to try prevent it by facing Ares herself.  Unlike Sarah, Hippolyta refuses to train her child for Hippolyta and young dianawhat is to come. But fortunately, also, unlike Sarah she is not alone in knowing that Diana is the Savior of Mankind. All the other Amazons know it, but even her sister cannot turn her around, choosing to add to lies by training Diana in secret.

Even after Hippolyta catches them training and is then convinced to allow it, even while she does tell Antiope to train her to be better than even herself, she still does not reveal the truth to Diana. At every turn she claims that the more Diana’s ready to face Ares, the sooner Ares will find her. Even though the less Diana is ready, the more likely she is is to fail. She continues this even as Diana is leaving to seek out Ares not knowing she is the God killer or the real extent of her power.

Both these mothers have a horrible burden to raise a child who is meant to face horrors to save the world. Neither wishes this on their child, but it is their fate as well as humanity’s. Yet while Sarah does everything she can to make sure John is able to fulfill his destiny, then tries to prevent it by putting herself on the line to try to stop Judgment day; Hippolyta does everything she can to prevent Diana from fulfilling hers, yet never tries to take on the burden herself. Sorry, James Cameron, Sarah has nothing on Hippolyta when it comes to being a Terrible Mother.

James Cameron STFU!: Strong Women Do NOT Need Men’s Comparisons

Sarah and Ripley Shushing Cameron
By Axel Medellin –used with permission*

**Spoilers for both the first two Terminator movies and Wonder Woman….just in case you need them ***

James Cameron really needs to stop making feminist fans feel embarrassed to love Sarah Connor!

Because that’s what he’s doing with this tone-deaf attacks on Wonder Woman. Cameron apparently fancies himself to be Ares, as he sees Wonder Woman as his archenemy. Or more likely, he just thinks he’s God’s gift to “strong women” movies and just can’t take any competition, especially from a female director, while he’s apparently veiling for the Most Misogynist Faux-Feminist Male Filmmaker crown, currently worn by Joss Whedon

After that first attack on Wonder Woman in August, when Terminator 2: Judgment Day got a limited run in 3D format, Cameron was schooled by WW director Patty Jenkins. It’s clear he still doesn’t understand, as he double down on his statement a month later and got schooled by Wonder Woman (and Madame President) Lynda Carter. Never mind the absurdity that he is complaining about Wonder Woman being too sexual and an appeal to “….appeal to 18-year-old males or 14-year-old males…..” when he is promoting his future sequels that feature the females of a non-mammalian species as being half-naked with “tits.” Something he himself has said makes no sense but he felt was necessary, and very in keeping with the exploitative sexualization of native women which such White Savior Among Noble Savages trope movies like Avatar are centered on. Because, you know, at least it makes some sense that Diana has breasts, those weren’t just added in for those teen boys (many of whom seem to bitch that they aren’t big or shown enough….because, you know, for a costume based on the iconic strapless bathing suit, it’s pretty much Hoplite armor and there isn’t even any cleavage, yet you still recognize that its WW which was a great compromise and maybe one of the best things to come out this movie in the long run, as DC artist now are running with the idea)

To be honest, while I lost interest in Cameron’s work with Titanic, although my issues started with True Lies, complete with Jamie Lee Curtis’s character forced to do a strip tease, but I was won back by the underrated Strange Days directed by Kathryn Bigelow. But it was Avatar that completely made me lose any real respect for him. The racist, colonial, misogynist stereotypes are so blatant and so wrong that if we want to talk about steps backwards…well, he is the one actually running, blindly backwards. These are not the movies of the 21st century!

While he claims to want “strong female characters” he is making movies for those 14 to 18 year-old boys he thinks a pretty female lead in armor is meant to draw. T2 was really a fluke when it comes to him having female fans. And he’s losing us fast, here, because NEWS FLASH! a lot of female fans who are into T2 because Linda’s Sarah kicked ass and want to be excited for her return also enjoyed Wonder Woman and do not appreciate being told by some man that we are wrong to!

I was never really all that thrilled that he was involved at all with the upcoming Terminator reboot. Yes, I love the first two Terminator movies, but they do fall short of what they could have been and that, I believe, is completely at Cameron’s feet. I am glad he’s not hands on in this, but the problem is that he has instead built a team of all male writers, at least one of whom made a damn mockery of the character of Sarah Connor, a male director and left it to be run by two producers who also made a mockery of Sarah Connor, even though at least one producer is female. So while I’m glad Linda Hamilton is coming back as Sarah, I’d be much happier if it were with Gale Anne Hurd and William Wisher along with some female writers and a female director anxious and able to show that Jenkins success is not a fluke. I am really not hopeful this is going to be a remotely good movie. I hope she’s got an escape clause if she decides it sucks. Because with the team they have and talk of “passing the torch” I’m afraid it’s going to. I will watch it for her, right up until they kill her off.

Cameron’s insistence that he, and only he (and maybe these other men he’s gathered for TReboot) understands “strong women.” But, of course, his  mansplaining (because that is what it is) of “strong women,” only proves he does not understand women, strong or otherwise, fictional or real. A man who does isn’t going to go around telling female fans they are wrong for loving a movie that he just is not able to understand. And he obviously doesn’t.

Wonder Woman 1941
Wonder Woman in the beginning

Cameron doesn’t even seem capable of understanding that Wonder Woman/Diana is a this is a 76 year-old comic book icon that millions of girls and women have idolized all our lives. Some for 76 years even! That it’s a big deal that it took that long for the character to get a title movie or, for that matter, only got featured in a male-led DC movie just a few years ago. When Superman and Batman, the other two big name DC superheroes, have had many movie incarnations. That this movie was called a failure by many comic book movie fanboys long before it came out, on every conceivable social media forum. That we’ve been battling to get women-led comic book movies and told that they will fail, because Catwoman and Elektra, which were badly written crap (but so have been many male-led ones), failed so badly over a decade ago. That it was even under promoted until just before it’s release and yet it smashed records! Highest grossing action film directed by a woman. It is just $1 million shy of 2002 Spider-man for a comic book movie and is the highest grossing comic book origin movie of all time. That means no Batman, no Superman, not even Batman vs. Superman with Wonder Woman thrown in, has done so well.

And it is problematic that in 2017 all of this is newsworthy, is a big deal. It shouldn’t be and Terminator 2 should have led the way to change in the ’90s. But it didn’t. Perhaps in part because it was not a female-led action movie, Sarah Connor who was the protagonist Final Girl in the first, took a back seat in T2 to the story of a boy and his pet Terminator. There are no other strong female characters (“prepper” Jolanda is off hiding unarmed with her kids instead of teaming up with her husband to flank the intruders, which would make far more sense) or even any actually developed female characters at all.  This makes Sarah a Not Like Other Girls/One of the Guys trope (yes, a problem with WW after they leave Themyscira, too) The feminism of T2 is actually shut down by the badly written feminist rant that is, then, shut down by her little boy scolding her! While Sarah finished off the Terminator in The Terminator, she requires a last-minute rescue at the end of T2.

Don’t get me wrong, Sarah Connor’s arch from Final Girl to Warrior was an awesome thing. Obviously! I’ve been obsessing on Linda’s portrayal for 26 years, for crying out loud! But the movie wasn’t perfect and those imperfections make Cameron an utter hypocrite to say a single word about an actual female-led movie. Especially when there are things that are very problematic with Wonder Woman that are not the things he’s noting and things that he hasn’t done a remotely good job with. Like the Not Like Other Girls trope and lack of other, diverse, intersectional female characters after they leave the island.

It’s a big deal for there to be a blockbuster female-led action movie when female-led action movies in 2016 were at 3%, in a year that had a record-breaking, “huge” (sarcasm quotes) 29% of the 100 top grossing films being female-led, 37% over all.  Yeah, today, it’s still a big deal when women lead films at all, let alone action films. But, remember, Cameron did not make T2 female led. So….he has no business opening his mouth on this.

With such a small number of female-led action movies, we already do not have the diversity that male-led ones do.  But Cameron seems to feel that strong women only come in one type, that they should all be Sarah Connor knockoffs. This view is simplistic and one-dimensional, the idea that while male action characters can be, obviously, very varied (unless someone can find me where he said Superman shouldn’t be wearing that sexy, form-fitting costume), strong women must all be exactly alike. And, apparently, totally broken and mothers looking for redemption (he had to turn Ripley, a character he did not create, into a guilt-ridden abandoning mother who finds a second chance with an orphaned child). NEWS FLASH! the mother thing is the least interesting thing about either Sarah or Ripley for some of us.

What is interesting to me about Sarah is that she was a “normal woman” Final Girl who twisted the Final Girl trope at the end of the first movie by heading out to prepare for the future because she knows that the real monster hasn’t even been created yet. Whose arch into Terminator 2 show her as a determined survivalist. Here was a woman who had trained, prepared, organized to prepare her son for a horrible future, and then sacrificed herself in an attempt to keep him from having to face that. I fell in love and identified in many ways, sans the entire mother part, with Linda Hamilton’s Sarah. I thought both Linda and Cameron, as well as co-writer William Wisher and producer Gale Anne Hurd, were utterly awesome. I still have those feelings for Linda, Wisher and Hurd (and it doesn’t hurt that Wisher and Hurd both kindly supplied auction bling to help my chief Terminator Spotter get surgery! Thanks to The Terminator Fans. I am eternally grateful to all three! <3)

That Cameron is so focused on how beautiful Gal Gadot is has a certain creepy quality as he is comparing her to his ex-wife. But it is true that Sarah was not “dolled up.” That her hair got messy, that her clothing was practical from a modern standpoint (unlike the original bathing suit, Diana’s costume in the movie was, as I noted above, totally practical from an ancient Greek standpoint). She showed a lot of skin, though, for all the better to show the muscle (and, yes, I’d have loved to have seen more muscle on Wonder Woman, along with a beauty queen face as is standard in the comic today).

Sarah was also a “real person.” You know, as far as action film characters go. Like, say Kyle Reese. Wonder Woman/Diana is a comic book super-powered superhero, like Superman. Not even like Batman whose only super-power is that he’s rich and dysfunctional. In fact, while Superman is an alien, Diana is a fucking Goddess. Okay, the Goddess part is a recent addition to the character in the comics, but even before she was revealed as a Goddess she had been bestowed with “the strength of Hercules, the wisdom of Athena, the speed of Hermes and the beauty of Aphrodite.” So being Diana's battle-perfect hairbeautiful is a canonical part of the character, although how she was drawn did change with the ideals of beauty at the time. And as either supernatural Amazon or Goddess, if she wants to come out of a battle with perfect silky hair, she can and always did.

Being a supernatural super-powered superhero, her life story is also vastly different from Sarah’s. Sarah is, I think, far easier to relate to having some sort of vague average American upbringing in the original movies. Diana was born to save the world, in the version used in the movie. Actually, Diana is far more like John Connor than Sarah, born to save the world with a sort of “otherwordly” father, but their upbringings with this understanding were different even beyond one being supernatural and the other being Earthly paramilitary survivalist and if I were to compare Sarah with anyone in the movie it would be with Hippolyta. (Something I will probably do and have now done).

Now I am personally more drawn to Sarah’s “realness”…a mortal woman of our time who turned herself into a warrior and survivalist. Because that’s what I have tried to create in myself even before Terminator 2 came out.  Diana was someone I wanted to be back as a child. Hmm, actually at the time she didn’t have superpowers, but had lost them and took up karate, although I also had some older ones. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t enjoy the higher fantasy of Wonder Woman or understand that that might appeal more to other women. Especially with the great, if brief, Amazon training scenes at the beginning.

Bottom line is, many women are fans of both Sarah Connor and Wonder Woman. And Ripley. And The Bride/Beatrix Kiddo. And Furiosa, the Wives and the Vuvalini of the Many Mothers. And General Leia, Rey and Jyn Erso. And others still too few, and sometimes not all that great. And we want more. More Sarah Connor from Linda Hamilton. More Wonder Woman and not just DCEU version. More comic book super-powered female heroes. More down to earth and messy haired and variously flawed mortal female heroes…some who are butch, some who are femme, some who are women of color, some who are queer, some who are trans women…..

Yes, we want it all!

And we don’t want men telling us that we don’t fucking understand strong women. It’s insulting. We do actually know a bit more than you do about strong women.

We are strong women!

 

*Sketch of Sarah Connor and Lt. Ellen Ripley shushing James Cameron on behalf of Diana/Wonder Woman was drawn by Axel Medellin, who kindly granted permission for use here, and  was originally posted Tumblr 

The Real Sarah Connor is back!

Now don’t just kill her!

So, I was wrong about it being clear Linda Hamilton would not be brought back as Sarah Connor in the Terminator reboot. On Sept. 19, 2017 James Cameron announced that she will be back. I like being Sarah, heading outwrong about things like this, it’s one of the great things about tending to be a pessimist, I am pleasantly surprised more often than horribly disappointed. You might think I’m completely thrilled and you’d only be a little wrong about that.

I am. But, given my nature as I’ve just pointed out, I’m also only cautiously so. There are several things that make me feel this might not be as great as it could be. Again, I do hope I am pleasantly surprised…but I think there will need to be some changes from information we have for that to happen. It, of course, doesn’t help that for 26 years I’ve wanted this and can imagine what would be perfect….and perfect becomes harder to match once you’ve built it up that long. ~:p

So here are a few things that bother me and/or hopefully will be worked on.

  1. It seems that Cameron is using the phrase “passing the torch” an awful lot in regards to bringing back both Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda. He noted an (oddly phrased) “eighteen-something” actress being sought for the lead during his announcement that Linda was coming back.
    While it’s awesome to have another, even more than one (preferably more than one, really…female action characters are still often token even when they are leads still,) new female character, this sounds an awful lot like Sarah will make a brief, probably Swan Song, appearance and then be done. Or at the very most kept way in the background.  But, yeah, killing her off somehow seems likely with the whole “passing the torch” emphasis. This is not what we want!
    I can’t speak for all SCCS members, but I’m sure that most want what I want which is to see Sarah centered in this new trilogy, in the entire thing. Yes, with other strong female characters…and some show of diversity. He’s taking about the importance of a older seasoned warrior, but needs to remember that doesn’t mean it’s time to kill that older seasoned warrior. We want new characters and Sarah!
  2. Where are the female creators?
    At this point we have production designer Sonja Klaus and producer Dana Goldberg, a Genisys producer appear to be the only women behind the scenes.  There is not a single woman in the writers room! Not one! So still far from a balance and the number of those involved in horrid sequels that need to be forgotten is higher to.  “…no, not like that!” And still all men in the writer’s room.
    We have two female characters mentioned, hopefully more and not one female writer? I can tell you that without input from women female characters tend to fall flat. Yeah, even Sarah Connor could have been better written, although I think Linda’s ability to play her fixed much of what could have gone sour with a weaker actress, in the first place. That Cameron doesn’t even really get women is clear in his assessment of Sarah as a “terrible mother” instead of a mother whose need to protect might have made her less nurturing that he seems to think mothers should be. And he sort of missed the other arch, where she and John find each other again.
    If you are going to get another male writer how about William Wisher?
    But along with some women!
    Seriously, get some female writers! And while you’re at it….
  3. Get rid of Josh Friedman!!!! Now!  I mean, fine, let him “Dance with Smurfs” there’s nothing there for him to damage it’s a bad, racist idea all around, but get him away from Sarah! What he did to the character of Sarah Connor was horrific and yet not surprising from a man who said “The flinty heroines played by Sigourney Weaver and Linda Hamilton in the Alien and Terminator movies were well done, but they’re outdated. They’re the first evolutionary step in the female-action genre. I want to see women respond to danger and solve problems differently than men. Otherwise, what’s the point.” (Philadelphia Inquirer June 14, 1995) He should never have been allowed near the character and certainly should not be again!
  4. I also do not want to see all the strong women who are prominent in this be white. Also let’s not have all the writers be white either (I do not know all of these men, so I don’t know whether they are or not at this point, but some WOC are needed to write WOC).
  5. Cameron’s comments about Wonder Woman also bring up concerns which relate directly to the issue of there being no female writers and Friedman believing all women should think the same way and that that is different than men. And that is any idea that all women should be the same ….specifically all “strong women” should be the same… even if these two men are somehow working together while having opposing views of how all women should be. Let Sarah/Linda be Sarah as she’ll have evolved. Let other women be themselves.
    Get some women to help figure out how women might actually be rather than what men think they should be.
  6. On the flip side, don’t pit different strengths against each other. Cameron’s WW rant also makes me concerned that we’ll see the “women can’t get along with each other” trope as well. With Friedman involved, maybe even make it about how a woman “who is strong in different ways than men” is better than the “flinty” Sarah.
    Just do not fucking do that!
  7. Give Sarah and other female characters a lot more depth than Cameron indicated, in his WW attack, he can understand women have.  Sarah wasn’t a “terrible mother” she was a mother focused on protecting her child rather than on nurturing him because of the extreme circumstances. Again, give Sarah a lot of fucking screen time to develop her and ….hire some female writers to help you out with that.
  8. Just don’t forget that there of the multiple fanbases for the first two Terminator movies women who are focused on Linda as Sarah Connor are a strong and loyal one. Many of us were waiting for a hero like her back in our 20s and 30s and found her an inspiration. We still want a hero like her, well,we want her, our age or older now that we’re middle age. We still know we can kick ass and we want to see someone like us on screend doing so.  Younger women start to figure out that they will get older, too, and love to see older women kicking ass so they know the always will be able to.
    Many of us loved the Vuvalini of the Many Mothers in Mad Max: Fury Road. We loved Robin Write as Antiope and other middle aged (although younger than some of us) Amazons in Wonder Woman, which we’re not happy Cameron felt a need to diss. And we were overjoyed to see Carrie Fisher back as General Leia in the new Star Wars movies, I mean, words just can’t express it (especially now, having lost this not only talent actress but a outspoken, ass kicking woman all around).
    But we don’t want to just be cheering briefly for such characters and see them mostly fade into the background and, often, die (of course, most of us want a respectful and heroic death for Leia, but wish fervently that she could have lived through the end of the trilogy). We have no intention of fading into the background ourselves, so we want to see Sarah Connor centered in these three movies.
    Kill her off and most of us will not be back for the rest of the movies. It’s that simple. Sarah Connor is the only reason some of us are fans.

Seriously, this could be the greatest thing in movie history for me. Or it could be a shit show.  Without women having direct input from behind the scenes, I think it’s likely to end up the latter, even with Linda.

 

20 years since Judgment Day

Today, when I start this (but likely not when I post it), is the 20th anniversary of Judgment Day.  On Saturday we went to see Terminator 2: Judgment Day in 3D, a rather big deal as the theater was 4 hours away. Also cushy with recliners.  And nearly empty so it was almost like having a private viewing with the only awareness of the handful of others a few rows behind was their laughter during quiet funny scenes.   I felt the 3D effect was well done, but then I am a big fan of 3D….it does help get my ADHD brain focused, it seems.  Something that might have helped given that I’ve seen T2 hundreds of times by now,  and usually watch while working out rather than lounging in a comfy recliner.  It was a memorable event.

Unlike, it seems my first viewing. Which seems odd for a movie I am so obsessed with. I realized this last year, when I thought about writing something for the 25th anniversary of the movie. It is one reason I didn’t, although the greater one was my focus on trying to save my dogs which meant I wasn’t writing much of anything. It seemed odd. I saw it several times that summer, but I don’t remember the first. I don’t remember if I saw it alone or with someone, although I remember seeing it with several other people at various times.

Mind you, I remember the first time I heard about the movie.  A few years ago I wrote this in my personal blog when examining the influence Sarah Connor had on my spiritual path, in the context of discussion going on in the Pagan blogosphere about pop culture in Paganism.

Never having seen The Terminator, I didn’t pay much attention when a friend, a mentor on the warrior path, and his roommate were talking about the second movie about to come out. I seem to remember them focused on Arnie and machines. *yawn* Later that day, I was a bit surprised when I visited other friends (at the time) who were not, AFAIK, Arnie fans anymore than I was, to find that they were all excited about Terminator 2 as well.Then they showed me her photo in a magazine (remember those things? ah, yes, tell me the machines aren’t taking over, after all). Linda Hamilton, dressed in black and with all that muscle.

You know how you don’t know you were looking for something until you find it? Yeah, one of those moments. Or rather it built, I sought out the first movie, got to the new one the first chance I got. The first moment when Sarah is on the screen doing chin ups was probably when it really hit. This was something I was looking for, I just hadn’t known it.

An Morrígan and Sarah Connor: Pt. 2 Warrior Cults and Charm Schools

I was into fitness before I saw the movie, working to become as strong as I could, walking a warrior path that I still strive for. To see real muscle on a female character in an action film blew me away….before I saw the movie. So just learning about it apparently superseded the actual first seeing of it….which then gets blurred with all the others. The chin-up scene is inspiring, every damn time, so the memory of the first…it just got lost in there, I guess.

Sarah's ionic chin upSeeing the scene in 3D, especially after so many viewings on my poor ancient TV that is in the gym, and the poor ancient VHS playing the poor ancient tape that I bough used as soon as it was available after renting it so many times (yup….the DVD player is in the living room….but it might get moved as the T2 tape really is on its last legs…and I do have two different DVD editions) was amazing, all the same. And from there it almost felt like it was the first time….except that I do know it line for line.  ~:p

26 years later and Sarah Connor remains my ultimate pop culture icon to this day. When it came out I did think we were about to have a great influx of physically strong female action leads in movies on a similar vein. And we really didn’t. We got a few, but most were not as relatable for various reasons.  We had super powered Buffy, corny Xena, potentially fun but not what I was looking for (tbh, the Buffy from the alternate reality appeared like she would have been much more appealing to me). We had quirky Tank Girl, which I liked but didn’t become fanatical about. It wasn’t until recently when Mad Max: Fury Road gave us not just the kick ass Imperator Furiosa but also the Vuvalini of Many Mothers who she came from and also allowed the “victim” wives to reveal their own strengths. And, of course, the new Star Wars movies offered more, including showing the strength Leia which was somewhat overshadowed in the first trilogy despite Carrie Fishers own strength and talent.

Looking back, T2‘s Sarah Connor really should have been more of a step than it ended up being because we needed to move forward from it. I love it, I love both Sarah and Linda Hamilton….but even before seeing it so large and 3D, I knew the movie itself failed its potential as far as the character could have been. Largely this is due to the need for Schwarzenegger to be the hero. While The Terminator, in classic Final Girl fashion had Sarah start off helpless but be the one to kill the monster in the end and then twist the Final Girl formula by showing her having already started the journey to become a warrior and heading on to continue it, T2 ended with her falling short of saving her son and herself and the T800 needing to come in to save them. To be honest, I think T2 without Schwarzenegger might have been far better, to have the Terminator who helped them not be top billed, not be the hero at the end. Sarah should have been the actual lead, but was not.

The movie also fell into the Not Like Other Girls/One of the Guys trope. To some extent as this was a sort of “nuclear family unit” (you can take or leave the obvious pun in there as you wish) thing that is understandable. However, it could have been circumvented a little by more background women in roles that were not so “motherly.”  Oh, you have the security guard, but other wise you have Janelle, not a good mother but still considered by the authorities to be better than Sarah, obviously, you had the nurse and you have Jolanda.

Jolanda was, actually a poor portrayal from a survivalist stand point. The oldest child was old enough to hide with the others and be ready to defend them if his parents were taken out.  Jolanda should have flanked the three intruders when Enrique confronted them. That alone would have been a huge step. Or, you know, at least have her come out from hiding securing a long gun.

A few obviously female cops might have helped. It looked like there might have been a couple in the stand off outside Cyberdyne….but all recognizable cops were clearly male. There really were female cops in 1991.  Hell, there were in 1984 but it was made clear that all the ones in the station in The Terminator were “men with families, children.”  Given no real substantial female roles other than Sarah, I feel it fails the Bechdel Test although it’s been given a disputed pass.  After all, “Open it or I’ll pump him full of this shit!” is still talking about a man and the guard doesn’t seem to be named.  I don’t think “Get on the floor, bitch. Fucking down now!” really counts either. Her greeting with Jolanda is kind of “to the side” and not really a conversation but is the closest thing to giving it a pass.

Of course, despite Jame Cameron’s attack on Wonder Woman (something I may or may not comment on more at some point), it’s been made pretty damn clear that Terminator 2 was never about Sarah Connor lately. Even more so than it always has been. This is an Arnold movie, all following movies were Arnold movies including the one he wasn’t in at all. Sarah was incidental. The only time I have seen her character brought up while all the talk of the 3D release and Cameron’s upcoming reboot of the series has been, yeah, when it was used to attack an actual woman-led movie directed by a woman. Otherwise you’d think Sarah Connor wasn’t even in the damn movie. She certainly won’t be in future ones, instead Cameron is making sure that Arnold is in the first to pass it on to new characters. We certainly never will get anything like the once hoped for William Wisher script bring Sarah Connor back and “closing the loop.”

There are multiple Terminator franchise fandoms, really. I think the two that are hardest to reconcile are the ones focused on Future War and the one, such as the SCCS is part of, that focuses on Sarah Connor/Linda Hamilton as the real lead of the first two movies. We clearly dreamed, when we still had dreams of good sequels (something some FW fans still might dream of, but I think those of us who are only in it for Sarah and only as played by Linda have given up), of far different sequels. Sarah’s story was best told in a continued battle with time trying to reset, with pushing the date of Judgment Day further into the future but still having to fight to keep it from happening. We did get a few okay, if not great sequels in that vein in comics and novels. We got one really horrible TV series attempt.  It’s clear by omission that Cameron has no interest in this sort of future for the franchise.  Of course, the reset is needed to be considered….we’re now closer to the date when the Terminators and Kyle Reese came through than we are Judgment day.  But no Sarah. No Linda.

Coming back from seeing T2 again on the big screen, 26 years older than i was when I saw it the first time. Still in awe of Linda’s strength, inside and out…and feeling a bit old, to tell the truth …I remember a long time debate with myself about the alternate ending showing Grandma Sarah 30 years after a Judgment Day that never happened.  Of course, I question the possibility of a Senator John given his mother’s felonies and his own involvement….I suppose it’s possible, he would have been seen as a kidnapped child.  But given the blame likely to have fallen on Sarah not just for what she did do with reason but also for murders committed by the T1000 and by the police (Miles Dyson’s death would be put on her and her vanished accomplice, obviously), would she ever be free and not in hiding?  Well, that might be workable.  We’ll never know.

First I was glad it wasn’t used, it could have been used to end the franchise and I had hoped for at least one sequel not long after T2 with Sarah fighting to keep the Future War from happening. And, yes, one without Schwarzenegger. But, well, we know what happened instead so. …  Then I wished to Gods they did end it there. But now I see how much of that was caught in my relative youth. Wanting to see this in my 30s with a 30something Sarah, because by 50 we’d both have withered away, right?   ~:p

So thinking about this now, just 10 years from that ending, I can’t help but think how utterly awesome it would be to have had this ending and ….go from there! To have all this “it’s completely over, all is peaceful(ish)” and then time starts to finally try to reset. And Grandma Sarah and Senator John have to find their inner warriors, and we probably find out that Grandma actually has kept prepping and kept fit all along, and fight Terminators from the future.  After all, now that I am over 50 and I am still prepping and still training, I so damn much want to watch 60 something Sarah kicking ass!

But, i can guarantee you that James Cameron is not waiting for my advice on this.  Not that he seems to be someone who listens to anyone, anyway.  But…damn…yeah, this is the sort of thing that is my total fanon now.  So I am going to leave this at that thought.  I hope those who want to see this and haven’t are able to…in the US some AMC theaters are running it tonight and tomorrow.

 

Saigh’s bio

Meeting Our Icon

(For those who have seen it already, this is an edited version of a post from my own Championing Ourselves Blog, but I thought it would kick this off. I may repost other Terminator related posts)

Last August I went to Chicago ComicCon for a secret meeting with “Sarah Connor” who was undercover as the actress Linda Hamilton. ~;p I also got to meet her tragically late roommate
“Ginger” Bess Motta, the Termatrix Kristanna Loken.
Kristanna Loken
The first of these kickass actresses I met was Kristanna Loken. While you all may know Terminator 3 was not may favorite movie, I did become a fan of Loken when she was in the television version of PainKiller Jane, a very different version from the comics, but with a lot of power and, yes, ass kicking. Loken’s passions are evident in her work with several charities, especially involved in helping children. Among recent movies she has made Darfur and is currently working on Love Orchard that confronts the issues of migrant workers whose families are often torn apart by current laws. Fans can become involved in this movie through the Kickstart link on Kristanna’s website as well as find information on her charities and other activities. Kristanna obviously doesn’t just play strong women in movies and TV, she lives it.
Bess "Ginger" Motta
While we then waiting in line to meet Linda Hamilton, she went on break. Others in the line were gracious enough to let me slip out to meet Bess Motta, who was Ginger, Sarah’s roommate, in The Terminator. She was also one of the 20-Minute Fitness instructors in the 1980s, and is still a fitness instructor today. That she’s keeping up that part of her career is quite obvious, as she’s probably as fit or fitter than she ever was. She was a delightful person and seemed to be having a great time at the con herself.

The favor we got was paid, um, backwards as the women who were behind us and saved our spot had theirs saved by those behind them while they went to see Michael Biehn. I’d been warned that fellow fans in these lines might be nice during what may be a long wait.

Okay, so yeah…..here we go! Trying to describe meeting Linda. OMG! I can’t. It was amazing. As I was picking out photos and paying for the autographs with her assistant, he has commented on the shirt (the shirts got many comments, actually…including one guy who did ask if I had more than one on Sunday, which I did, btw). Linda quoted the “siempre como culebra” and explained to him that it was from T2 and what it meant. After that, it’s sort of a blur.

As the shirt was already brought up, I babbled a bit about The Sarah Connor Charm School, of course. And the prerequisite, “what an inspiration you were” stuff. When I noted the purpose of the SCCS, which is also the purpose of this blog, to pass on inspiration to other women to find their own strength, Linda said, “In the end the only thing we have is our own strength.” Gods, mine pretty much was gone, but I managed somehow to stay upright, get the Linda hugautographs and some photos with her. Oh, there was also a bit of “looking so forward to seeing you on Chuck” and her saying she was excited about doing the show too.

I also told her that I’d be back because I had a gift for her. This being my first con, and with some of the things written up, I wasn’t sure if this was okay, but she was open to it. The next day I did see her, Bess and Kristanna along with Michael Biehn very briefly as we went through for our professional photos which I still need to scan. We also went to the Terminator panel, with Linda and Michael, which was delightful. They were very open about not liking the later two movies all that much, he especially did not mince words. A number of fans seemed thrilled to know that the love scene in the first film was uncomfortable because they did have feelings for each other and spouses who knew it and were there. But for me, I was touched by several other women who told her how much Sarah Connor was an inspiration of strength, especially one who told her that she helped her through a really difficult time in her life. This reflects what I wrote earlier. This is why these roles are vital to us, we need role models.

I did learn a few very important things to keep in mind if I go to a ComicCon again. The most important is stick to the panels and avoid the floor on Saturday. That’s when most people are Michael "Kyle Reese" Biehnthere. Yet, I did have a professional photo with a different photographer, on the floor (the Terminator ones were where the panels were) with Lindsay Wagner and Richard Anderson of the original Bionic Woman. And the Terminator actors were all across from William Shatner and other Trek stars, so between the two the aisle there was jammed packed. We did manage to get back to see Bess and to see Michael Biehn. So, yes, I did get photos and autographs with two men, so see I’m not sexist because I have token male representation here! *snerk* Bess even asked us to pose with her for a photo for her FaceBook page!

But, of course, the highlight was again seeing Linda, this time with the certificate from the Sarah Connor Charm School to present to her. She even remembered how I spell my name, for when she autographed the group Terminator photo she noted that Michael Biehn had spelled it wrong. (Bess noticed too!). I showed her the certificate and she seemed thrilled by the words, saying that she’d treasure it for ever.

Giving Linda the award
It reads:

Certificate of Appreciation
Linda Hamilton
The Sarah Connor Charm School
thanks you for your inspiration to women
to be strong, prepared and save ourselves, our loved ones, the world

And then:kiss

Do I even need to say there are no words?