Disney has officially released a teaser trailer for Maleficent, the live action take on the classic Disney version of Sleeping Beauty from the perspective of the villainess. If you haven’t seen the teaser, here it is:
For a thoughtful analysis of the trailer and speculation on what the film is about, check out “Maleficent Speaks” from Witches Can Be Right . I agree with the post that it could be an interesting take on the Disney version of Sleeping Beauty, and that they don’t make Maleficent too sympathetic. Her name is Maleficent. Her job is to be evil.
However, reading the post and watching the teaser got me thinking about the portrayal of powerful women in Science Fiction and Fantasy. I’m not talking about Ripley from the Alien franchise, who runs around with a big gun and kicks booty. I’m talking about women who take on political positions of power, whether as queen or rebel leader, as villain or heroine.
If you are asked to portray a powerful queen, sorceress, enchantress, ninja princess, etc, here are 5 stereotypes to follow:
1. Speak in a stilted, deep voice (preferably in a British accent)
Everyone knows someone with a proper British accent is more classy and powerful than someone with a more colloquial dialect. Imagine if Princess Leia spoke to Grand Moff Tarkin with a Bronx accent. (Actually, I could see Carrie Fisher doing that.)
The accent alone, however, is not enough. In order to convey power, apparently a woman must deepen her voice.
Is this a way of masculinizing her?
2. Make sure to YELL.
Every rousing speech to inspire your followers, or minions, should include yelling.
3. Wear appropriate headgear: The bigger, the more likely it is to channel your awesomeness.
4. Dress fashionably: Headgear alone is not enough. You must look gorgeous while commanding the entire cosmos.
5. Sharpen Your Cheekbones: This evokes a sharp intellect and cutting wit.
While many of the above are often used by male characters with power (see below), I think they are more noticeable in the few women of great power portrayed.
With strong females like Maleficent and Katniss leading their own movies, there will hopefully become a greater diversity in their portrayal.
- What do you think of the Maleficent trailer?
- Do you have examples I missed?
- Are you going to work on upgrading your fashion so you too can become powerful? Isn’t it said you should always dress for what you want to become? (This can apply to men too).