Over the last couple of years, my interest has increasingly become more and more focused on strong female characters or protagonists (sometimes even the antagonist). I cannot pinpoint when this interest or rather focus on femininity in fandom and popular culture began or rather became significant/apparent, but I can trace it back to at least 2010. However, when I think back, the interest of the female characters has always been there in all my fandoms, but they have sort of been lurking in the background.
It has been an underlining, but constant, interest and fascination of mine, its root dating back to the mid-90s. It is not before 2010 that it became more conscious for me and I began actively looking for these types of characters in any fictional universe.
Let’s get this in perspective and establish a timeline:
Power Puff Girls
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Tomb Raider (Games)
Tomb Raider (movies)
Jem and the Holograms
Game of Thrones
Once Upon A Time
DC Legdens of Tomorrow
Naturally, some of these fandoms have changed status through the years, in terms of how active I am as I fan.
For me, in a way, it all began with Buffy Summers. She is the earliest example I can think of, in terms of strong female protagonists. She definitely holds the strongest impression and one of the longest running constant of characters in my memory. Next to her, or rather after her, we have Lara Croft and Princess Leia. All of these characters were just before or in the beginning of my adolescent, and that has certainly had its impact. I related mostly and best with Buffy. We were the closest in age, social status and place in society. Her world also seemed most relatable. I use most here, very abstractly, because I certainly never met any vampires or monsters in my life (that I know of). I would say that I was too young to really appreciate these characters and truly reflect on the experience of experiencing these worlds, and that is why Buffy stood out the most. She stayed within my memory and became the root of this fascination.
As I got older, Buffy stayed with me and I would re-watch the series many times, (I still do these days) and to join her in my private club of most awesome female heros/characters, were Hermione Granger.
From one of my biggest fandoms, the Potter-verse, comes this Muggle-born girl, who got to be a part of this wonderful magical world. I do not find myself having much in common with Hermione Granger, but she got to try something I always wanted to try myself: To truly become and escape into a world of fantasy. She holds many qualities that I would like to have. Where Buffy had introduced me to the whole of the fantasy genre and that these type of characters exists, Hermione introduced me to practices of exploring the characters and world they are a part of, on my own as a fan. She is the root for my textual poaching; as Henry Jenkins would say (I will get back to this in another blog post).
Next to join the club is: Lara Croft. Even though she predates Hermione Granger (I might think even Buffy Summers), she did not really come into her own, before I was old enough to understand her as a character on my own. My first introduction to Lara Croft was watching my brother playing Tomb Raider on PS1 (streaming IRL), so I had no active role in this experience; I was just an audience. Therefore, for a long time, she was a tool to connect to my brother. She was a medium between us. Then around the time as the first movie came out n 2001, I dove back into this world briefly on my own. It did not feel the same without my brother so the visit was brief. However, the character of Lara Croft finally took shape in my head and I have since, from time to time, reentered this world. She was a completely new type of female protagonist, because I could suddenly take control of her and in a more real sense become her. I had not experienced this with Buffy or Hermione, so that is why she is on the club. She added something completely new to my perception of female characters.
Next in line we have, Max X5-332960073452 (Dark Angel). This character is from one of my many cancelled tv-series. She is an anti-hero and one of the few, who actually made it into the club. Furthermore, she is one of the characters who never got her story finished, as the tv-series was cancelled after only 2 seasons. Exactly because of this reason a big impression was left with me after having watch the whole tv-series. There was suddenly a need that was never satisfied and never will be. I had to come up with my own ending to this story, to really get to know these character that I had gotten to care for. This was a new sensation for me and it once again opened the door to textual poaching. I made the characters my own, because there was no one left to present them to me. (On a side note: I do know that there are books, which somewhat finished the story. i just have not gotten the time to read them. If anyone can recommend them, let me know)
Last, but certainly not least, we have Supergirl. Together with Buffy, they are the two pillars of this club of mine. They are the beginning and (current) end/latest of this timeline. Supergirl has many of the same qualities like Buffy did (for me) and does still. The significant difference here is the age of the main character as I began watching each TV series. Both characters were both close to my actual age of viewing and where I was in life (granted I was not hunting vampires or aliens, but socially and culturally it was significant close). Supergirl presents a new perspective, which surprisingly coincides very well with where I am in my life currently. I am just out of college and trying to find my footing in the adult world (scary), much like Kara Danvers finding her way and place as Supergirl. Supergirl makes me optimistic and feel certain that I will find my footing eventually. She is the female heroine of my adult life, where Buffy was the same of my adolescent. I think very differently between the two heroines socially, but very similar contextually.
I am always looking for Buffy, that first pillar. She is the foundation of all female character that I end up follow in various media. Much like the Ubiquitous Bunny, I am looking for the female heroine.