Can men write good heroines?

This article gives the answer: A grudging “Um, oh, yeah, some can. Like, you know, Joss Whedon.” Only the writer’s a Brit so she says it a tad more eloquently:

buffy and that angel guy.tvwriter.comby Samantha Ellis

Can men write good heroines? Most of the heroines I write about in my book How to Be a Heroine are written by women. And most of the heroines I find most problematic are written by men. It’s very troubling to go back to Hans Christian Andersen‘s The Little Mermaid and find that it’s a story about a mermaid who gives up her voice for legs to get a man. And even as a girl, I was furious with Charles Dickens for letting Nancy get bludgeoned in Oliver Twist and, later, outraged that Samuel Richardson heaped pain and indignity on Clarissa and called her “an Exemplar to her sex” as though learning to suffer well made us exemplary.

It’s particularly distressing to see how male writers have punished their heroines for being sexually adventurous. Leo Tolstoy‘s Anna Karenina throws herself under a train; Gustave Flaubert makes Emma Bovary pathetic even before she poisons herself. It’s striking that when Erica Jong wrote about an adulteress inFear of Flying, she gave her a happy ending, in which she is reborn in a hotel bathtub, and summons her adoring husband back.

But men can write wonderful heroines.Shakespeare‘s Juliet is both bold and brilliant. She defies her parents, deceives her nurse, marries in secret, sleeps with Romeo, plots an ingenious escape and isn’t even fazed by death – all this and she’s only 14. It’s just a shame that Shakespeare didn’t give her a hero worthy of her – it’s fickle Romeo’s ineptitude that gets Juliet killed. But I still love her, and I’d go to the wall for the unruly, cross-dressing heroines of Shakespeare’s comedies.

Henrik Ibsen‘s Nora inspired many women to smash down the walls of their own dolls’ houses. Daniel Defoe‘s Moll Flanders is a shrewd, bawdy wonder. I have a lot of time for JD Salinger‘s restless, questioning Franny Glass. And Buffy the Vampire Slayer should prove, definitively, that men can write not just heroines but superheroines – famously, when asked why he writes strong female characters, Joss Whedon shot back “Because you’re still asking me that question.”

As for the much-maligned Tess, I think Thomas Hardy tied himself in knots trying to show the plight of a poor Victorian woman while also making her feisty enough to be interesting. The crucial scene in The Chase went through three drafts – in the first, Alec tricks Tess into a sham marriage, and consummates it. In the second, he drugs and rapes her. But in the final draft Tess isn’t duped or drugged or raped, she’s seduced. She’s complicit. And she faces the consequences bravely. She could hide her past from Angel, the man she falls in love with, but she wants to be honest. And Hardy paints him as a weak hypocrite for not respecting that candour. At the end of the novel, when she stabs Alec to death, Hardy makes his loyalty even clearer; he calls the bloodstain she creates “a gigantic ace of hearts”. He’s saying she’s a winner. The winner of the novel. He rewards her with a few pages’ grace, as she and a repentant Angel have the honeymoon they never had, and at the end she goes to the men who arrest her like a goddess.

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Do Anti-Piracy Practices Inevitably Lead to More Piracy?

…Or is the subject of this article just plain old greed (inevitably leading to more piracy)?

ABC’s 7 Day Streaming Delay Triggers Piracy Surge
by Ernesto

Two weeks ago ABC stopped offering free access to its TV-shows the day after they air on television. The TV-studio took this drastic step in the hope of getting more people to pay for their content, but this idea just backfired. TV viewers are outraged by the decision and have massively turned to pirated sources to watch their favorite shows.abc

One of the main motivations for people to download and stream TV-shows from unauthorized sources is availability. If fans can’t get a show through legal channels they turn to pirated alternatives.

This is one of the reasons why Hulu and Netflix drastically decreased TV-show piracy in the U.S. Viewers are happy with these legal streaming options, but not all studios see that as a success.

Starting last Monday, ABC began delaying the availability of new episodes on Watch ABC and Hulu. Viewers without a cable subscription or Hulu Plus account now have to wait a full week before they can catch up with their favorite show online.

With this move ABC hopes to generate extra revenue, However, at the same time they are boosting piracy of their shows, and not just by a few percent.

Research by Tru Optik shows that the number of BitTorrent downloads for Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s winter premiere skyrocketed.

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TVWriter™ Top Posts for the Week Ending 1/24/14

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Here they are, the most viewed TVWriter™ posts for the past week:

Kathy Sees Iron Man 3

Looking for TV Pilot Scripts?

Peggy Bechko: Cornering Your Character

Peggy Bechko: Writers Drawing The Line For Their Characters

Peggy Bechko: Giving Your Characters the Squeeze

And our most viewed resource pages were:

Writing the Dreaded Outline

Student Central

THE PEOPLE’S PILOT

The Teleplay

THE SPEC SCRIPTACULAR

Thanks for making this another great week here at TVWriter™, and don’t forget to read what you missed, re-read what you loved, and, most importantly, come back for more soon!

John Ostrander: Bad Boys, Bad Boys

by John Ostrander

Ostrander-Art-140119-150x181

I was watching perhaps my favorite new TV show of the season, The Blacklist, last Monday. James Spader’s Raymond “Red” Reddington exacts a fierce revenge on those who wronged him. Reddington has done terrible things throughout the series and yet I find myself drawn to him, even rooting for him. I doubt that I’m the only one.

It’s not the first time for me. There was James Gandolfini in The Sopranos and, to an even greater extent, Michael Chiklis in The Shield. Who is the real center of The Dark Knight – Christian Bales’ Batman or Heath Ledger’s Joker? It’s a tradition that goes back a long way – the most interesting character in Shakespeare’s Othello isn’t the title character but Iago, the great and cunning villain of the play.

I really enjoy writing the bad guys as well. My favorite Star Wars creation? Probably the rogue and con man Vilmahr “Villie” Grahrk. Over at DC, I had a whole series centering on the villains – Suicide Squad. My faves among them – probably Amanda Waller, Captain Boomerang, and Deadshot. It’s not hard to spot. Hell, even John Gaunt, GrimJack, is not a hero except maybe by default.

So… what is the attraction? I am, by most accounts, a nice guy. So where does all this come from? The bad guys have to come from somewhere inside of me. Why are all of us attracted by the Joker, or Hannibal Lecter, or Raymond Reddington and the others?

Going back to my acting days, it was always fun to play a villain. First of all, they usually had the best lines. More important, I think the villains do things that you and I have atavistic urges to do, but our own conditioning, our own morality, keep us from acting on those urges. By identifying with the bad guys, by emotionally investing myself with them and their acts, I do the crime without having to worry about paying the price. I get the thrill without having to worry about the consequences.

I especially enjoy writing characters like Captain Boomerang. Boomerbutt (as others called him) was remarkably well-adjusted in a rather reprehensible way. He knew exactly who he was and he was happy with it. No angst, no desire to make himself better. Nobody liked Captain Boomerang more than Boomerang himself; it might be safe to say that he was the only one who liked Boomerang at all. He was fine with that as well.

Another secret of villains is that they don’t think of themselves, for the most part, as bad. They may think that the rules don’t apply to them but they feel they have the perfect right to do what they’re doing.

I don’t like every villain. Simple thugs and bullies – not very interesting. Same goes for the megalomaniac who wants to rule the world. Usually they’re pretty one note. No, give me the guy or gal with intelligence or at least a low cunning, a sense of humor, a worldview of some kind, a touch of theatricality and who has no compunction about doing what they do. Ah, that’s a villain I can sink my literary teeth into!

Writers Sue Fox, Peter Chernin, WME et al Claiming ‘New Girl’ Is A Ripoff

It’s an unwritten rule of showbiz that every successful film and TV series must be sued – usually multiple times – by writers claiming that they’re the true creators of the project. This week, NEW GIRL proudly joins that high and mighty but not really so elite class:

by The Deadline Team

negirlIn Hollywood’s latest “you stole my idea” case, a pair of screenwriters have filed a lawsuit claiming the Zooey Deschanel sitcom was based on their work. Stephanie Counts and Shari Gold claim that Fox’s New Girl and their 2006 pilot Square Onecontain similarities “so numerous and specific that independent creation was obviously impossible.” They name as defendants New Girl exec producerPeter Chernin, creator Elizabeth Meriwether, director Jake Kasdan, WME and Fox parent company 21st Century Fox.

Weighing in at 90-plus pages, the suit filed Thursday in California’s Central District (read it here) claims a laundry list of “similarities between the shows’ themes, structure, setting, overall story and plot arcs, specific plot devices, interpersonal twists, dialogue, sequence of events, tenor, specific scenes and elements of scenes, character identities, character personalities, character relationships, character interaction, character development, character idiosyncrasies, and character names require the conclusion that defendant Meriwether not only knew of Square One, but copied Square One to create New Girl.”

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