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Killer Babes
The Requisite Woman of Power in Modern Science-Fiction
© 2014 James LaFond
JAN/3/14
Prequel: Leading Ladies in Westerns
I grew up watching westerns with my family just like you younger nerds grew up watching Star Wars and the Terminator series with your relatively debased elders. As a kid I always remember running for a soda when the hero would get hugged by the leading lady at some inappropriate point in the narrative, just so Mom would sit through the gunfights with Dad.
As I grew into a reader, I discovered that most of the adventurous men of the Old West generally only had contact with white women who were walking STD vectors, and that they tended to only have real relationships with Indians and Hispanic women. This was due to the very real logistical reason that hauling powdered Caucasian posteriors of the female kind across trackless wastelands was a total pain-in-the leathery ass of the manifestarian genocide jockey. But, in racist middleclass 1950s America you needed a white babe in a dress to draw couples to the theater, doubling your ticket sales and increasing concession stand sales.
The first movie I can recall that dealt realistically with Old West mixed-race matrimony was Robert Redford’s Jeremiah Johnson, in about 1972. A really ridiculous example of a writer blatantly honoring a commercially based editorial need for a love interest was Louis L’Amour’s Last of the Breed [reviewed on the blog page on this site] in which the author does literary back-flips to improbably place a beautiful English-speaking Russian babe into the Siberian wilderness as a love interest for a downed U.S. fighter pilot!
Serendipitous She
The one thing that we novelists do way too much of is employ serendipity to enhance our narrative. This is ironic, since I am writing this article based on a critique of my novelette Organa by a beautiful English-speaking Russian babe who improbably resides in the armpit of the American East Coast!
This jaw-dropping large-brained lady accused me of bowing to the current American science-fiction convention of inserting ‘a Woman of Power’ needlessly into the narrative. Science-fiction has largely replaced the western as family adventure entertainment, and has inherited all of the politically correct baggage of that venerable genre. It is not the same baggage, as it has been warped by the feminist agenda. It is difficult to recall a recent sci-fi movie without an ass-kicking babe who has replaced the matrimonial property of the conventional American leading man, with one’s presence in a realistic adventure being just as improbable as the other’s.
Let us not forget however, that women are far more powerful than they used to be, and with the advancement of [ironically]male-made technology, will continue to gain power. Therefore, as a character template, the Woman of Power naturally resonates in the heart and about the fringes of the feminist narrative that is so potent in our time. Killer Babes in fiction are dynamic window dressing for a society that is seeing increased interest among women for traditional male pursuits—such as combat sports—even as male interest in these traditional roles has waned.
On a gut level Killer Babes make sense. As a fighter and coach I can tell you that the most potent aspect of a combatant is their mind, not their body. As women adopt the will-to-power even as men are stepping away into fantasy and ennui, I see Killer Babes as increasingly probable. Sure, anyone with a brain knows that a 250 pound male fighter goes over a 140 pound female fighter once without much left over. But a 140 pound female fighter kills a 250 pound video-gamer in his easy chair every time.
Kill a Thousand Ninja Bills!
Perhaps the first notable instance of gratuitous Killer Babe inclusion was in the movie Conan The Barbarian. The moviemakers scoured Howard’s 21 Conan stories and found Valeria, the character in Red Nails, a murderess and mercenary, who was not quite the slayer she was depicted as being in the movie. They composited her with Belit, Conan’s psychobitch love interest from Queen of the Black Coast, Taurus, the ‘prince of thieves’ from the Tower of The Elephant, and Red Sonja, a character from Howard’s historic fiction.
Making a woman of this type central to the Conan character warped the entire storyline and essentially emasculated the lead character. It only worked in Queen of the Black Coast, because Belit was crazy and not a fighter, but a leader. Conan The Barbarian is essentially the watershed moment in the rise of the Killer Babe, which has been concurrent with the rise in female participation in sports and integration in the military, and is brilliantly tracked by the Aliens movie franchise in the character of Ripley.
We have many generations of readers reading concurrently. More of our readers are female than male. To be a popular writer one must entertain the female reader, either with a romantic story hook employed in the traditional manner, or by writing a female character as the new Woman of Power.
Tina and Tyra
Tina and Tyra are two creations of mine. They are two of a murderous pod of genetically engineered bisexual female quadruplets manufactured by the human fabrication corporation Black Geisha International. While looking identical and having the same abilities, their psychology is diverse and complimentary, as they were designed to function as a unit. Tina is primarily a manipulator, who comes off as a girly girl—smiling arm-candy. One female reader of Of The Sunset World stopped reading before the halfway point, because she did not like this ‘decorative’ female character. She did not read long enough to find out the Tina was a murderous black widow of a control freak. I had provided hints in the narrative that Tina was much more than what she seemed to be. But a novel without a romance and no overt Woman of Power did not appeal to this reader, as, I believe, it would not appeal to most female readers. It is a very male work, with no hope of popular appeal.
Another reader, who was a more traditional woman from the more traditional society of Russia, took issue with Tyra as a gratuitous Killer Babe in the novelette Organa. She also did not like the fact that the male protagonist, Tray, was not interesting. He was written that way, because, in a world policed by Killer Babes like Tyra, interesting men would have a very short life expectancy!
Believe, me, I know. Because I am a painfully interesting man, and if half of the women in my life could have killed me they would have!
Based on all of the Killer Babes in sci-fi and cinema out there, I completely see her point about Tyra seeming like a needless insert to hold female readership, like old Louis L’Amour’s editor calling him up and reminding him to put a love interest in his next novel or there would be no Hollywood movie deal. Unfortunately, I constructed a setting that called for Killer Babes as assassins and security supervisors, in a world where grunt level security and law enforcement is still primarily a heterosexual male province [currently the only place in civil society outside of sports where a man can still pursue a traditional masculine role], and military force is provided primarily by incestuously monogamous homosexual male twins.
Yes, feel free to reread that last line. I think a future with law enforcement and military force profiles like that is not only possible but likely. Recall though, that I am a crackpot. Many people I know think I’m strange to the point of criminal insanity. A woman recently asked me out. I asked a mutual acquaintance—a real Woman of Power—if it would be wise of me to accept, as I have been stalked by crazy women before, and they scare the mess out of me. She responded, “Oh, she’s just weird. But you’re weird too. You two should get along fine.”
This is a corporate force structure which leaves low level enforcers vulnerable to the wiles of the seductive female killers that oversee their activity, while insuring that main force military units are immune to the methods used to control and subvert law enforcement personnel. Tina cannot very well seduce her more powerful male counterpart who is a committed homosexual.
As a science-fiction writer I believe it is probable that complex high-tech—and probably corporate—human social structures will be best policed, and their police kept in compliance, by bisexual female and homosexual male operatives. This thought is largely based on my reading of ancient history and military history. Unfortunately, this deeply considered, if bizarre, structure, on the face of it, smells like Kill Bill 2335.
‘Grow Up And Get A TV’
So much is written today, and has been written before yesterday, that I can no longer be bothered with trying to write around other writer’s material. Most good writers, or at least those who wish to be good, try to avoid being too derivative of others’ works. We cannot avoid it though. We are influenced by what we read. My method for avoiding being derivative is to read four times as much nonfiction as fiction, and instead of keeping in touch with the rest of humanity by watching TV, doing so through actual human contact.
I just had a heated conversation with a female friend who literally attacked me over the phone for 20+ minutes for not having a TV. She was horrified that I did not know the names and works of certain Hollywood writers, producers and directors. She demanded that I get a TV and ‘keep up on things’ if I was to be able to keep up with her on ‘pop-culture based’ topics. This lady accused me of being ‘ignorant’, ‘bricked-up’, ‘having the perspective of a twelve-year-old’, and failing to ‘educate’ myself because I refuse to own a TV and view regularly, in order to keep up with what she views as the apex of human achievement: American pop-culture.
I defended myself by pointing out that I had so much history and literature to read [A stack of 27 unread books sits by my desk as I tap away ignorantly—without my TV—at these keys.], and that I reserve TV viewing for combat sports, as this permits me to view the pure non-derivative combat arts about which I write. She was not willing to forgive my pop-culture sin of not watching movies and TV in the 1980s and 90s when I was working 2 to 6 jobs at a time. My defensive motions were brushed aside as the pleading of a man so ignorant by virtue of not keeping up with pop-culture, that I finally struck back, “How many UN Troops are currently in Afghanistan? How Many Mercenaries on U.S. payroll are currently in Afghanistan? How many U.S. troops are currently on deployment in Afghanistan?”
[Mind you, we had been discussing her sci-fi writing topic, which is ‘military conspiracy’, and she had been going on about the importance of the swing in the Bond movie series from ‘male fantasy adventure’ to ‘military conspiracy’, and how crucial this was to understanding pop-culture, all of which I had noted myself without owning a TV, by virtue of simply viewing the movies in the context of internet and print news reports on military affairs and interviews with military operatives.]
She responded, about two hours ago, “I don’t know these things, as I am not writing on that subject. You are getting off-topic. The point is the cutting edge importance of pop-culture, of American pop-culture where there is such a rapid pace of change. Pop-culture is not the evil mind-control construct that you believe it is.”
I responded, “No, it is what keeps us occupied, at the Heart of Empire, while our military kills a million Iraqi’s. Bread and Circuses—remember Gibbon on the Decline and Fall?”
The lady grew quietly angry and backed away from her lengthy harangue about my blatant and self-perpetuating state of ignorance, and eased out of the conversation with the quite dignity that is her usual way.
Plea of the Guilty Defiant
I suppose that was for the better, because I was poised to mention the fact that I actually interview men who have been involved in military conspiracies, before I write about them, as opposed to viewing the latest Hollywood masterpiece on the subject. If what I write, based on a person’s actual experience, plots out like the latest Hollywood offering, so be it. It does not make it derivative of fiction, but of reality, which is my aim. I read other fiction writers to learn their techniques. As for the actual stories I tell, I attempt to write as if I am the first fiction writer to address the subject—supremely arrogant, that is—and trust to my strange alienated perspective to distance the tale from those written by my social betters.
If the readers of today are a village, My TV Lady is the priest at the church door, and I am the witch squatting before my twig hut. Talk about serendipity. In terms of authorial perspective I—a real nasty blood-and-snot fighter—have now taken on the role of the dissenting cautionary voice, and my female counterpart stands Kipling-like before the world, ennobling America’s pop-culture burden. How much more lucky could a writer get, than to have one woman serendipitously take him to task for his gender-bending conclusions, and another, serendipitously call him while he was writing the article inspired by the original accusation, only to have her take on the traditional male role in the conversation and excoriate him for insisting on seeing the world through an alternative prism?
In nonfiction, this is what we call ‘gold’, like the homeless man that recently defecated in front of me on a city bus while I was trying to come up with another Harm City article. Thank you, ladies. Don’t worry Man Cave readers, just to insure a case of terminal manginitas does not set in I promise to go out in the ghetto on this wintry night, as soon as darkness falls over the jagged brownstone horizon, and flash my wallet in front of some corner boys, just to make sure Robert E. Howard’s ghost will permit my lesser shade a seat at his table in hell.
I write what I write with zero expectation of popular appeal for my work. Hell, I don’t own a TV. How can anything I am interested in possibly appeal to someone for whom TV is an important ‘window on the world’? When I open my mouth at family functions my own flesh and blood run for the comfort of the TV just to drown out the blasphemies I might pour into their whitebread souls.
I prefer to peer through the windows which are not calibrated by The Man Behind The Curtain, who, though I see him, is never-the-less not there, for he does not appear on the TV.
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