The science fiction movie babes of the Fifties and Sixties had big hair, screamed a lot, wore scarily short skirts and got bugger all dialogue(e.g. Forbidden Planet). Nothing much has changed in that respect in later years. Women in science fiction movies today are supposedly tough, and get plenty of fight scenes, instead of standing around looking helpless - but really it's an excuse to dress them up in leather and get interesting views as they kick ass: still no dialogue. The new sci-fi movie heroines all look like a cross between Lara Croft and Teri Hatcher, with perfect bodies, big guns, sleek hair, a nice line in kung fu kicks and very little else. The Matrix, for example, had a perfect illustration of the type: its lead female character Trinity has amazing physical abilities and is handy with a gun, but gets very little to say, except at the end, where she gets to talk about - love.
"Oh Neo, you are the One!"
Pah.
Practically the only decent science fiction movie babe there has ever been, from a female point of view, was Princess Leia. She wasn't your average female character. She had guts, she had a sense of humour, she had a fine line in dry witticisms, and best of all, she was a short, average-looking, ordinary woman we could all relate to(well, apart from the hairstyle, of course). Whether swinging across canyons in the Death Star or standing up to torture by Darth Vader and the Grand Moff Tarkin, she was both tough and believable: as was her romance with Han Solo. She bitched. She sulked. He acted like your average bloke: "I love you"
"I know.."
Bring back Carrie Fisher, please (or someone like her, as I suppose it's too much to expect that we might get a cool female character over 40). Sex sells, they say, and therefore all females in films must be drop-dead gorgeous. Odd, then, that the first Star Wars film was so popular..

I have to disagree a tiny bit when it comes to Forbidden Planet. Anne Francis' character in Forbidden Planet got poor dialog, it's true, but so did everyone. Her character was, however, in control of many of the scenes she was in. It was the male characters in those scenes who got the most stoopid lines. Her character was clearly smarter than any of the men except her father. She was also innocent of all evil.

The overall point, that women in science fiction get second-rate parts, is valid, I think. A few TV series now in production seem to be trying to change that. The SciFi Channel's The Invisible Man has a credible female scientist, for example.

Movies, as a whole, have not treated women particularly well (as compared, say, to books or plays). Why this is, I don't know.

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