Mary Robinette Kowal’s column over at AMC this week takes a hard look at good queens in fantasy film. The gist of it is, you can’t be both good and powerful: if you’re good, you’re a child and/or tiny and/or sick and/or married to someone else who’s holding the reins. If you’re powerful, you’re evil.
(Before somebody else points it out: yes, I think she missteps a bit with Galadriel; sure, Celeborn’s around, but even if you’re looking solely at the movie, it’s pretty obvious that Galadriel’s much more central and important than her husband is. And if you know the books, he’s her appendage, not the other way around.)
I think the situation’s much better in novels, if only because the data set’s so much bigger. But still, I think the underlying structure that produces the result Kowal describes isn’t entirely gone: “women with power” is a concept our culture as a whole still isn’t quite comfortable with. (See: the response to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.) That idea’s scary, and scary =/= good.
An interesting column. I’ve been enjoying reading them each week, but this is the first one that’s really made me go “hmmmm.”