Fantastic Female Friday- Codex + Tinkerballa (The Guild)

The Guild was a webseries about a group of gamers who are members of the same Guild in an MMORPG who meet up in real life to help each other deal with their real life problems. The jobless, friendless, greasy haired Codex (Felicia Day) gets a drop in from Guildmate Zaboo (Sandeep Parikh) that she’s been in game flirting with and suggests that the whole team meets up. Including teenaged Bladezz (Vincent Caso), bald pennypinching Vork (Jeff Lewis), 

The uber tech obsessed and glittery girly Tinkerballa (Amy Okuda)

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who uses the hot nerd girl/loser nerd boy stereotypes to her advantage. She hates work and questions about her real life. She sees most men as marks and plays Nintendo DS between turns. She’s a flirt but she is actually a prude. “He only got to second base, and my second base is everyone else’s first.”

And Clara (Robin Thorsen)- 

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wearing her +20 intelligence thinking cap. Her avatar is called Clara, the mother of 2 has to use her real name since she previously used the pseudonym “Mominatrix” and her kids started calling her that. Her husband was not amused. Basically, gaming and drinking is her thing, she’s a breeder and her husband picks up the tab. She always has a ponzi scheme and her kids are usually covered in shaving cream and oatmeal. She ditched out on her sister’s wedding to get some “me time.” She’s an I Love Lucy-esque housewife cliche, but she’s funny, cheerful and she’s the only one who gets any play from the hot stunt guy.

 Notably, Bladezz’s little sister, (played by real life sister Tara Caso) Dena is always antagonizing him and kicking his ass and being cooler than him

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Codex, our main protag (played by series writer Felicia Day) is neurotic and weak stomached, she often relies on her avatar for her confidence. 

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After she ditches Zaboo, Zaboo falls for BDSM, bi-sexual, FPS obsessed Riley. Riley is tall, confident model hot but her personality is very demanding and ‘masculine” 

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Riley (Michelle Boyd) is a little much, she keeps Zaboo tied up in a closet and thinks The Game is stupid, but she was a confident and awesome addition to the gamer-girl fold. As was Venom (Teal Sherer), hot goth chick in a wheelchair from the rival Guild.

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Who touted a snarky dark and stormy attitude, took advantage of people’s preconceptions about her disability and her good looks and played them to her advantage, whether it was to get in line first at GameStop or to distract “helpful” people. Bonus points that the actress is actually in a wheelchair after a car accident when she was a teenager. 

This series plays up the nerd stereotypes and archetypes to infinite degrees. Teenage pervert, middle-aged loser, hot tease, attention starved, flaky mom, tough chick, neurotic social-phobe… they’re everywhere. The best part about it is that women show up as all sorts of side characters as well, from sassy waitresses to quirky bloggers to Masterchief bodyguards that beat up Kevin Sorbo.

Totally Badass. 

I had such a hard time picking ONE girl to single out as the greatest female character. I was immediately tempted to go with Tinkerballa (the former pre-med major turned costume designer is my kind of nerd) but with previous Fantastic Female Bernadette Rostenkowski I figured we had recently had a “Yeah, nerds can be hot-chicks, too!” fist bump. The same would go for Riley or Venom. And Clara. With the turnaround in later seasons with Codex coming out of her shell, admitting she loves the Guild as people not avatars, she saves the game at Mega-Game-O-Rama and gets a job working for the neurotic Game creator. She really gets her shit together and confronts social situations head on problem solving and sticking up for her friends. Tinkerballa gets a similar closure when she stops keeping her persona separated from her real-life self, tells her parents that she’s into gaming and fashion design and finds a guy she likes enough to buy dinner for. 

Meanwhile Clara still shuns parental responsibility in her quest to never stop gaming, Vork gets a sci-fi icon girlfriend but is still hugely out of touch and Bladezz is still a perverted teen looking to get internet famous. 

But ultimately I could decide between Codex and Tinkerballa

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If you haven’t watched you completely should, there’s a rainbow of personalities and nerd cookies everywhere!

Fantastic Female Friday- Joan Watson (Elementary)

There are 1,000 reasons why Elementary is a show better than Sherlock. At the top of my list for reasons that this is inescapably true: Moffat can only write one character at a time, Sherlock gets called out on his irrational bullshit -his actions have repercussions!, and Lucy Liu as Watson.

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(Semi-)Recently Liu discussed being typecasted because of racism and stereotypes in Hollywood. In the interview she mentioned how she is always given the roles of “emotionless Asian woman,” this trope currently rears it’s ugly head in Agents of SHIELD with Ming-Na Wen’s character, and this has been following Liu since the mid nineties with her role on Ally McBeal. She discusses her favorite roles, including one of my all time favorite movies Lucky Number Slevin. In that film (which was a snappy dialogued conspiracy-riddled action flick) she played Josh Hartnett’s love interest. And I remember leaving the theater thinking “Wow, I didn’t know Lucy Liu was so cute. She was adorable.” 

And she was, she babbled on about nonsense and wore pigtails and cute sweaters and was not a “tough chick” or an ice queen. She fell for Slevin Calebra hard. And she did a great job. And the only reason I was surprised was because I’d only ever seen her as a butt-kicking babe (not that I’m anti-action-chick by any means). Charlie’s Angel’s, Ballistics: Ecks vs Sever, Kill Bill, Ling Woo on Ally, Domino… fierce. But not much range. Her role as Lindsey the neighbor who stops in to borrow a cup of sugar and ends up embroiled in a con in which Slevin seeks revenge on mobsters for the death of his father changed that. She was sweet, she thought it was a game, but she was scared. No Matrix action scenes, no impossible stunts. Just smart and sharp behavior. Just a plot twist and a crush.

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And so when I heard she was going to be playing Watson. I ran the whole Watson is a woman? Watson is a woman of color? Holy shit, awesome. I’ve read a Sherlock adaptation where Sherlock is a woman (and didn’t care for it in that case), but even Watson as a woman in a Sherlock Holmes adaptation for a major network… MAJOR. Even better still when I started watching.

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It doesn’t have the same style, flair and effects budget as BBC’s Sherlock (it also has more than 3 episodes in a season). While it’s written more like the procedural dramas that CBS is known for cultivating well, it doesn’t lack character development. As Joan Watson progresses into helping Sherlock with his consulting work, she tries to keep up the boundaries but stumbles into it naturally. When she shows Sherlock how doing squats will help him stay awake and focussed I started to become impressed. She’s making a new life for herself but she isn’t burdened with psychosomatic disorders or self doubt. She gave up medicine because she second guessed herself, but she takes pride in the work that she’s found and where it leads her.

She also doesn’t put up with half the shit that Martin Freeman’s John Watson does. Freeman’s Watson is constantly dragged around Sherlock as if he has nothing else to do, he counts Sherlock as his friend and it seems to be enough that he is basking peripherally in his greatness. For Joan, this is not the case. She has her own intentions, first to keep him sober, then to learn investigative skills (because it’s still helping people). As the season 2 progresses, she starts choosing cases on her own, whether or not Sherlock is on board. We get inside to her motivations with becoming a sober companion- her father was a drug addict. She still loves him, he had an untreated mental illness and this doesn’t defeat her, it envigors her to help others (and still keep an eye out for him). In last week’s episode, she investigated a doctor that she used to work with who may have undertreated a murderer. Sherlock found something he felt was more important to do. But she did things her own way, proving that she doesn’t exist to orbit around Sherlock Holmes and bask in his glowing aura of pompousness and arrogance. 

And Elementary‘s Sherlock is arrogant. his pushy investigative style got an ex-con on his last chance fired from his job. The man, in turn, went to shoot Sherlock and Detective Bell got caught in the crossfire. She doesn’t sugar coat it for Sherlock that he caused this.

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And she doesn’t back down when he hooks up with her friend. She even pranks him into thinking that he impregnated her. She goes along with small shenanigans (like dressing up the turtle) but that’s about it. 

Often her medical expertise saves the day, her interpersonal skills keep them out of more trouble. She’s the perfect companion, the perfect sidekick, and a great friend. She’s always willing to help short of running headlong into danger, she’s not reckless, she’s not broken. She’s just trying to do what she can. A life in progress. But nothing about her character is bogged down. Joan Watson is a very positive and driving force for Sherlock, not the other way around.

CBS has some love connections on their procedurals (Deeks and Kenzi NCIS-LA, Ziva and Tony NCIS) But thus far they have not touched that with a ten foot pole (because women and men can just be friends! hooray!) as Liu said in an interview on CBS This Morning, “Maybe in ten seasons, when we’re out of ideas.”

Elementary was recently renewed for season 3. They’re well on their way!

Fantastic Female Friday: Lorelei

(Marvel comics, Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD)

From the Agents of SHIELD episode “Yes Men” it was easy to gather that Lorelei had feminine wiles that would cause “men” to go to endless war. She’s used to commanding armies, she’s used to demanding the finer things. But to her… they aren’t men, not really anyway, they are soldiers… they are ants. 

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Lorelei made her first appearance in Thor #337  in 1983. The story that she falls into is one of unrequited love, she’s always getting at Sif for liking Thor (since the 80s!), Loki likes her and Lorelei can have any man she wants… well almost, she can’t seem to get Thor. There’s lots of convoluted trickery including spells, potions, dragons and fake names. Amora, her older sister, tricks Lorelei and Loki into falling for each other. In Loki:Agent of Asgard #2.. this is still somewhat the case. Although, it’s more likely that he feels a fondness for her because of their similar status in their families. Lorelei gets in over her head enough, from wreaking small havoc on the love lives of her cohorts to teaming up with Pluto and spawning Valkyries.  

She’s a little much. 

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But look at the way people are all captivated by Hiddleston, there’s no reason to hate on a female version of Loki.

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But Lorelei’s not a knock off.. she’s her own personality evolved out of a similar experience. She might be a “tramp” and a “hussie” but let’s face it: So? She knows what she wants and she knows how to get it. And that’s hardly the only weapon in her arsenal. She has sorceress powers, can turn men to stone and she’s skilled in combat.

So when she is set free in Thor: the Dark World and debuts on the small screen taking over a biker gang’s empire in the middle of the desert -did anyone recall that Odin was being impersonated by Loki at the end of that film?! So did Loki want his lady friend back? …think about it.

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While I’m not a fan of her role in reinforcing the gender binary (her power only works on men… doesn’t leave a lot of wiggle room… also no mention of gay men or lesbian women… erasure is a dick move, this should be retconned by now.. shit.) and despite the fact that her powers aren’t limited to coercion she’s seen relying heavily on her feminine wiles.. I’m still a fan. It is tropes on tropes. But we live in a world where people do infact have “good looking” privilege. Lorelei takes that to the next level. And that’s one of these times when I want to remind everyone why “conventional gender roles” are bad for everyone: Is it really her ‘fault’ that men will all fall on their swords for her? They were taught to look out for beautiful damsels in need… she just eggs them a bit further. It’s that specific reason that I can justify that it is only ALL men influenced regardless of orientation. Male privilege. Society said that men are heroes who fight for women. And this is the result. She’s manipulated a broken system to her will. 

Fantastic Female Friday: Bernadette Rostenkowski-Wolowitz

Jewish comedian and actress Melissa Rauch became a regular on The Big Bang Theory in the show’s 4th season playing the smart and sweet Bernadette Rostenkowski. The other female regulars include “every-girl” Penny (Kaley Cuoco) and the frumpy genius Amy (Mayim Bialik). Bernadette is the whole package (and a small package at that -Rauch is only 4′ 11″ like me).

She’s casual cute, low maintenance pretty. She’s super blonde, perky and buxom. In the TV world characters like that are a dime a dozen, but added in that she works in the biotech/pharmaceutical field and is super smart and has a career in a very male dominated field… yeah, busty blondes with baby voices don’t usually get to go down that path. She’s successful in a male dominated field and she still gets along well with women, she takes her work seriously but is always down to party.

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Unlike Amy who is unfulfilled in her relationship (she wants a more physical relationship than the asexual Sheldon can fathom), Bernadette makes it clear with Howard what she wants from the relationship (like for him to move out of his mother’s house). And she’s not a snob, she gets along well with everyone in their social circle… mostly..

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In a recent episode, Leonard was talking about his work saying “no one goes into science for the money” and Bernadette responded, “Speak for yourself my company both invented and cured restless eye syndrome last week. Cha-ching you blinky bastards!” And in the end, it’s not her relationships with a variety of women for a variety of reasons, her fortitude to ask for a true partnership with her husband… it’s that -that she isn’t saving the world, and she isn’t an ego maniac, but she will think like a boss…

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And she will armwrestle her friends for who gets to be Cinderella when they go for Disney makeovers. And maybe you’d agree with Mayim Bialik who *doesn’t understand princess culture and think wanting to be the rags to riches, shoe losing princess is foolish, but when she yelled “My car -My rules!” I was sold. Nevermind that she never feels out of place in the comic shop whether she takes an interest to have something to discuss with Howard or if she’s popping in after she burns a Batman comic with her curling iron.

*Can I side note? I have every reason to like Mayim Bialik. A feminist neuroscientist who advocates for attachment parenting. She’s even vegan, VEGAN for crying out loud. And I still don’t. And I want to. But the post about the Disney Princess scene …and let me be real, I’ve been disliking since she said this in TWOTHOUSANDELEVEN to CNN in an interview with Kari Byron:

Bialik: I was on the floor at Comic -Con and there as a gorgeous, five-foot-nine, busty woman in a teeny, tiny Ewok outfit with tattoos and her belly out, and she wore a button that said “I love nerd girls.”

And this is my bias, you know, but I thought, “You don’t look anything like a nerd girl. You’re stunning, you have an awesome stomach, you’re wearing an Ewok bikini, you’re busty, you’re tall.” And I’m thinking, wow, how much the image has changed.

She was at least ten years younger than me. And I was thinking, its like the 3rd wave of feminism, I’m really a second wave feminist, but 3rd wave is like “I can look however I want, you still have no right to challenge me about my intellect. But it was just so funny because that would never have been my image of a geek. But it’s shifted so much. I feel like an old hag next to her. I’m a true nerd girl! Come on!
 Da fuq? Parts of it sound worse than I think was intended. But REALLY? and to say that in front of Kari Byron (Who will probz get an FFF someday. I was Kari for Halloween once, I love her so freaking much) who is an attractive woman and is constantly fighting the bias that she’s just a “token hot girl” and Mayim busts out with the “You don’t look like a nerd girl” / “I’m a true nerd girl” GO HOME. I have actually been mad about that for almost 3 years. You can read the whole thing here, but this is Kari Byron’s response:

Byron: I’ve noticed sort of a backlash against attractive girls that happen to be nerds or gamers, almost constantly challenging the fact that’s they’re nerds or geeks as if there’s no way that’s a possibility, and I don’t know if that’s a generational thing, or you just need to always hate beautiful girls for something!

EXACTLY

And that’s why I picked the unabashedly attractive, bossy, saucy, hard working, capitalist, martini sipping, flirty, sweet, big breasted Bernadette

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Because let’s face it. Intellect +career +income +social skills +fashion sense +compassion +wit +drive +decisiveness? 

the heck else do you want?

Fantastic Female Friday: Lily Munster

Lily (Dracula) Munster, Countess of Shroudshire, is the matriarch of the Munster family. Unlike many of her 1960’s TV contemporaries; Lucy Ricardo, Samantha from Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie; Lily was more likely to be playing responsible adult while the antics of her husband, Herman, got them embroiled in zany schemes.

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While technically Lily Munster is a “sandwich maker”

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The outspoken Lily is very protective of her family -even defending the house with cannons after Grandpa accidentally sells it to a demolition crew intent on turning their haunted mansion into a parking lot. She never forgot where she came from, doing charity work collecting donations for her home country of Transylvania. The (usually) Stay at Home Mom is very involved in the lives of her son, Eddie, and her “hideous” niece, Marilyn.

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Sultry and always confident, Lily tells Marilyn of the importance of being self assured and ambitious. While Lily usually ruled the roost at 1313 Mockingbird Lane she also had several jobs during the series: a welder, a palm reader, a model, she even notably opened a salon with Marilyn which went under after she gave everyone monster makeovers. Like I said, the uberconfident Lily sees herself as the ideal of beauty, who wouldn’t want to look like this:

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When neighbors or fellow country club members behave rudely towards the Munsters she takes offense but she never wavers in her belief that it’s their problem and not hers. She’s always eager to socialize and is polite even if she doesn’t understand their taste in fashion. While the other Munsters take it more personally when people don’t like them she assumes that it’s their problem and they are snobs. She’ll do anything to spare her sensitive husband from criticism from rude people. Don’t knock housewives, and never mind that on top of wrangling a coming of age woman, a young boy, a stuck in his ways father and an accident prone husband she also has a science lab in her basement and a monster under her stairs.

She’s the daughter of Sam Dracula, married to a Frankenstein’s monster, sister and mother of a werewolf.. I’m not entirely sure how genetics work on this show… Funfact: Lily’s claims dress is lined with pure unborn centipede.

Here’s Yvonne De Carlo as Lily singing “Look Away”

Fantastic Female Friday: Dixie Kong

In honor of Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze for Wii U being released today- and being awesome! Today’s Fantastic Female Friday shout-out will go to:

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The Donkey Kong Country games were always my faves, and of the three that were released for SNES, Donkey Kong Country 2 was my most favorite. That one starred the cartwheeling Diddy and the well coiffed Dixie Kong. Dixie is undeniably, and apologetically girly. Well accessorized, dressed in bright bubblegum pink -and her best feature is her hair ‘do. But Dixie’s hair isn’t just gorgeous: it’s lethal and lifesaving. She’ll whip her hair back and forth and take out an enemy or she’ll spin like a helicopter and get ahead. She was just what Diddy needed to help him rescue his Uncle Donkey… and it wasn’t long before she stepped up to the spotlight.

In Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble, Donkey and Diddy go off on adventures and leave Dixie behind to babysit Kiddy. Donkey and Diddy get kidnapped and Dixie manages to take care of the tumbling tot and save their bananas. Just like a lady.

Responsible, playful, never one to be left behind: Dixie made appearances in the Donkey Konga games, Mario Superstar Baseball and Mario Super Sluggers, Mario Hoops and Diddy Kong Racing DS and in the Banana Day 24 comic strips …which are in German.

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I was raised on Nintendo. Super Nintendo was my first video game system. Growing up it was rare to see a badass female character. Peach was great in Mario 2 for regular Nintendo, but the sometimes playable character princess is usually a damsel. Dixie flipped that stereotype on it’s head, she stepped right up to save her boyfriend and a grown man (err.. gorilla) from Captain K Rool. Dixie was never a victim or a token. Although, Dixie and Peach have more than a bubblegum wardrobe in common- they are both great jumpers. In fact, so good that they had to get Diddy a jetpack so he could keep up with Dixie’s natural talent. Aside from her babysitting gig, gender roles were out the window for the Kong fam.

So I am PUMPED to see Dixie back after 5 years! 

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze sees the Kong family’s home island infiltrated by Viking-esque animals who try to freeze their tropical paradise. The levels are gorgeous and expansive. And whenever I’m given the choice, I always pick Dixie (best way to grab those bananas in the bonus levels. This game also gave a chance to another character -throwing ageism to the wayside as well- Cranky Kong gets to show his stuff, too.

Dixie was originally supposed to appear in Super Smash Bros. Brawl but was scrapped and she isn’t going to be in the upcoming Super Smash Bros. 4 either. It may be a while before Dixie gets a chance to show her stuff again, but I’ll enjoy this while I can.

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Fantastic Female Friday: Abernathy (Death Proof)

Rosario Dawson is one of my faves. The Puerto Rican/Afro-Cuban/Irish American actress has played in-genre fatales such as Gail in Sin City (and the upcoming sequel Sin City 2: a Dame to Kill For), Maya in The Descent, Roxane in Alexander and Mariana in the Rundown in 2008 she starred in and executive produced the show “Gemini Division” playing an undercover cop who stumbles on covert genetic exeriments perpetrated by the government. She’s clearly no stranger to getting her action-chick on. And one of the her go-to confidence tips is “Standing like Wonder Woman” (More notable since she voiced the character Artemis in 2009’s animated Wonder Woman), she created her own comic book miniseries (“Occult Crimes Taskforce“- which at one point was being considered for a film adaptation) Need more to love about Rosario? Probably not, but there is plenty more.

But I’m actually, not here to fangirl Rosario Dawson.

I’m here to shout out my favorite character from one of my all-time favorite movies.

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Abernathy from Death Proof.

Before we get to “Why Abernathy?!” Let’s talk about “Why Death Proof?!”

Because I hear this all the time, “There’s too much talking,” “it’s so long/slow” “That movie where the girl rides on the outside of the car?!”

Why Death Proof?

I hear you. I have mentally logged every complaint of this movie. Even Tarantino said it’s his worst film. And I’m telling you that you are wrong. And he is wrong. Kill Bill part 2 is his worst film. Anyway, the plot. After dispatching a group of girls who take Wild Turkey shots and pull outrageous dares on each other, namely radio personality Jungle Julia (played by Sydney Tamiia Poitier) setting up a challenge that any man who recites a poem to “Butterfly” (played by Vanessa Ferlito) gets a lap dance from “Butterfly.” The butt of this joke is the first to realize that Stuntman Mike isn’t just a hillbilly has-been and that he’s a nefarious dude. Stuntman Mike gets his kicks stalking show-biz types (he’s out of Hollywood seeking revenge on the industry that left him scarred up through rising stars -unluckily for Jungle Julia, she just got her first billboard). B-scream queen Jordan Ladd and Rose McGowan’s characters get caught in the collisions as well.

Only after that are we introduced to Kim (Tracie Thoms), Zoe (Zoe Bell as herself), Lee (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Abernathy.

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They’re picking up Zoe from the airport when Stuntman Mike starts his stalk. They’re working on a film together, Lee’s the lead actress who just got her first cover, Abernathy does make-up and Kim and Zoe do stunts.

And for all the complaining about dialogue: come on, this surpasses all movies ever for the Bechdel test, and the POC Bechdel test. You can’t have it both ways. And for me it’s not just that they talk, it’s what they talk about. Which is anything from Italian Vogue to John Hughes/classic action films to Gun Control.

All Zoe wants in the whole world is to drive a car like the car in Vanishing Point and play “Ship’s Mast” she sees her chance. While their stunt driving, they run into Stuntman Mike. No, literally, he runs into them with his car.

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So why Abernathy?

So we have 2 bad ass stunt people, Zoe “The Cat” and Kim whose preparedness was essential. Why Abernathy? Abernathy isn’t an action chick. She does make-up, she likes European Fashion mags, 16 Candles and has lefty views on gun control that if Kim shared would have doomed the lot of them. She’s a mom. And that’s why. Be honest with yourself, how many Molly Ringwald movies have you seen? Are you an action chick or a sandwich maker? Why do we treat it as a deficit when a character behaves like a regular human being? Abernathy is the one who convinces the hick to let them take the car for a drive. Zoe and Kim try to leave her behind, but she’s all “Hell, fucking no, I’m as cool as you” and she is. When it’s time to go after Stuntman Mike she stays strong and sticks with her girls.

And let’s talk about these bangs:

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I try to cut mine like that all the time and I look like a child who shouldn’t have scissors. For serious.

In short, she’s a real girl who defends her girliness like when Kim says “Of course you haven’t seen Vanishing Point, you’re a girl.” and Abernathy responds, “Excuse me. And what the fuck are you two?” But when it counts she’s down for her friends. Proving you don’t have to be an action-chick with “no sense” to make it to the final scenes.