Thursday, February 11, 2016

Femslash February Friday: Antiheros

The antihero, the dictionary tells us, is "a central character in a story, movie, or drama who lacks conventional heroic attributes."  Wikipedia currently tells us that conventional heroic attributes include "idealism, courage, and morality." TV Tropes tell us the antihero leans toward the cynical side of the so-called "Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism."

I like that.

However, the truth is, however we define them, I'm of the opinion that the line between hero and antihero is a thin, subjective one. Is there any hero who is the perfect archetype of hero?   Every hero has their weakness, their lapse in judgment, their mistakes.

To me, I know an antihero when I get the feeling (a) they might be, at any given moment, on the verge of going rogue; and (b) they engage in questionably-moral actions for what is perhaps a noble purpose.

Mostly, I appreciate the antihero because they remind us that good v. bad is not always (or even often?) clear cut. That is not to say that all morals are relative, just that life is fucking complicated.

Perhaps because I too gravitate toward cynicism and have a strong appreciation for dark humor, antiheroes are some of my favorite characters in TV/Film.  I especially appreciate the female antihero as contrasted with the female character whose responsibility is to be perky, upbeat, and a moral compass of the show, however that is defined in the particular 'verse. It is a real life trope for women, as men's "opposite," to be morally responsible for keeping others, men especially, in line. The female antihero subverts that. She keeps no one in line. She barely keeps herself in line.

And, relevant to the Femslash February Friday theme, people, and by people I mean me, also love shipping the antihero.  Specifically, the damaged, cynical, brooding antihero with a more traditionally-noble hero.

Here are some of my favorites:
  • Faith (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
Faith was, in some ways, Buffy's shadow character.  Buffy had a Scooby Gang who supported her survival and kept her sane. Faith was a loner.  Bitter and alienated, she was a legit villain at times. Even as a slayer, seemed to genuinely enjoy killing foes in a way that Buffy did not.

But, I'm a sucker for a redemption story, and Whedon a company delivered it in the final season. Faith continued to have questionable judgment, of course, but ultimately joined forces with Buffy in defeating the final big bad. 

Did you know that Faith/Buffy femslash is one of the top pairings at A03 in the Buffy fanfic archives? It is second in femslash pairings in the Buffyverse only to Willow/Tara.  Also, people are super into Xander/Spike, another antihero pairing.  

All of that is five by five with me.
  • Tamsin (Lost Girl)
When Tamsin entered the Lost Girl 'verse in Season 3, I assumed she was being brought in as a competing love interest for Dyson, one of the main male characters. I was pleasantly surprised to find that  she was actually more interested in competing for Bo's interest, with Dyson and Lauren being her competitors.

Like many an antihero, Tamsin lends the appearance of giving zero fucks about most things or people while in reality her sensitive feelings are covered under a thick veneer of acting rude, carefree, and smart-assy.  She's the woman who'll tell someone to "eat a sack of tits" one day, and then the next wrap herself in a bow and give herself to someone for their birthday.

(Let's just re-imagine that scene for a moment, shall we? Or better yet, re-watch it):

Preferred ships include: Tamsin/Bo (#Doccubus) and (even better, in my opinion) Tamsin/Lauren (#CopDoc).
  • Indra (The 100)
Now, I've watched The 100 since the beginning of the series and, I have to admit, until around mid-Season 2, I mostly thought of it as "teeny-bopper."  However, (Spoiler Alert), shit got legitimately real when Clarke killed Finn, the characters started making a ton of morally-questionable choices, and queerness became maintext.

Indra stands out to me as antihero for her decision to (Spoiler Alert) follow Lexa in abandoning their previous commitment to Clarke and the Sky People near the end of Season 2.  She was faced with an unenviable moral choice of (a) obeying her commander and breaking a promise versus (b) disobeying her commander and keeping a promise.

Perhaps we are all the antihero when faced with such choices. Perhaps I exaggerate.

Nonetheless, preferred pairing: Indra/Octavia.
  • Jessica Jones (Jessica Jones)
Simply put, if an archetype exists for antihero, she is Jessica Jones.  She drinks too much, swears too much, and will legit smack a dude down if he barks at her to "smile" (and can we all watch when that happens?)  

Unlike (ahem) some male superheroes, there are no playboy mansions, butlers, or batmobiles. It's just Jessica, living in a hovel, not giving a bag of dicks what kinky shit other people are into as long as they're into it quietly.

Preferred Femslash Pairing: Jessica/Trish for the bad/good dynamic. Jessica/Hogarth for the bad/bad.

Add more antiheroes in the comments!

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