Over at SF Novelists, Marie Brennan talks about why ‘competence is hot,’ about the portrayal of various careers/jobs in fiction, and which ones work better than others. She also talks about wanting more heroines who get to be good at their job instead of merely hot.
Which is true, absolutely true, that there aren’t enough of those women in TV and especially movies. It reminds me of how excited the internet got about Women Fighters in Reasonable Armour and, in fact, that if you take a very attractive actress and put her in a practical outfit, and make her good at her job, she’s actually still going to be very attractive, in many cases MORE attractive than the glamorpuss in the tiny, implausibly unprofessional outfit, because it doesn’t look like she’s trying so hard.
In other words, you can have hot women on TV who are also fantastic role models for women, merely by putting more clothes on them, and treating their characters seriously. Who knew?
Some examples of iconic women in science fiction and fantasy television who are, in fact, awesome at their jobs:
Uhura (Star Trek) who may have mostly sat there and pushed buttons, but always looked like she was taking her job as communications officer seriously. Her aura of professional competence was impressive considering she was often given little to do in the script, and that’s down to the gravitas of the brilliant Nichelle Nichols, who gave a generation of African American kids hope that there was a place for them in the future. One of my favourite things about the movie remake of Star Trek is how they added weight to the job that Uhura (now played by Zoe Saldana) did – how much education she was required, and why she in particular was qualified for that really important position on the flagship. (in comparison, Kirk crashed into his job on a wing and a prayer, and seems to have been picked for “leadership qualities” that include “being a complete tool”).