Monday, September 20, 2010

Greatest Hits 8! The Heroine's Journey

This post is genuinely my favorite,  It really summed up 2009's blog-related-journey. It is the answer for the question I originally asked and the ones I hadn't come up with yet. It applies to multiple media platforms and is still the post with the most comments on this blog. 

Thanks for joining me for this Week of Greatest Hits, I promise you new material soon, a fantastically vague and utterly confident... soon.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Heroine's Journey: Women and Myth, Technology and Storytelling

Joseph Campbell's Monomyth (seen above, click to enlarge) is an attempt to describe the Hero's Journey present across time and culture in mythology and storytelling.

Since I began writing this blog, I've been trying to find a gender-neutral illustration of this concept and finally, here it is.

In my search I was able to find "female hero's journeys" which are helpful (here & here) but I just couldn't bring myself to write about them and here's why:
While there are some differences between a hero's and a heroine's journey the core of the journey's progress is the same.
Sure, the differences are important to each specific story; but they are just as different from hero to hero as from hero to heroine. A narrative is not male or female, nor is a method of storytelling.

I've talked about this before, and frankly I think it's what I end up talking to people about the most: stories are not inherently gendered, the characters within them have genders. Girls in stories can kick ass and it be enjoyable for men and women to watch and not unnatural to the state of being a girl: fairies can be male or female: and creating a property for boys definitely doesn't mean that a female character will send your audience running for the hills.

I am a Transmedia Producer and have worked for 6 years at Starlight Runner Entertainment; often when approached by people new to the concept of Transmedia Storytelling I find myself answering questions about whether or not Transmedia Storytelling can be applied to girls' properties. This is a little like being asked if spoons can be used for lunch as well as dinner. The answer is a jubilant YES! if your franchise has a story it can tall that story across many platforms.

That story can have a male lead, female lead, be based on reality, be total fiction, be a documentary, be about humans, aliens or meerkats and if it is rich enough in story and setting to tell a few related tales you can have a successful Transmedia Franchise. There are obviously some intervening steps but that's the truth.

The innate barriers to creating franchises, films, games, etc... for women and girls are the same as creating franchises, films, games, etc... for men and boys: a compelling concept, a well-considered narrative, a rich story universe and the means to execute it.

I hear similar gripes from friends and colleagues in the Entertainment Industry (which to me includes video games, toys, online works...) and especially in younger industries like video games where there haven't been amazingly epic franchises built for women, or that really celebrated a more nuanced female character than Lara Croft, there is a perception that because there haven't been any really legendary projects for girls or women, for some reason there can't be.

So here is the take away: there is no greater reason that there shouldn't be more franchises for Girls and Women, ones that have different more interesting stories. The only reason there aren't more girls franchises out there, is because you and I haven't made them yet.


  1. This is exactly what I found so fascinating about Salt: the lead is a woman, but almost nothing is made of that fact in the story. She is a female action hero who is an action hero first, rather than the (usual) other way 'round.

  2. Absolutely true. The casting of that role (which was originally occupied by Tom Cruise) shows an important decision that was based in no small part in service of a character and not a actor/actress type. The fact that it was possible for a woman to take over a role that was originally cast for a man is HUGE.

    It is a little strange to me as a child of the 80s/90s to see it that way but the Entertainment Industry is pretty slow about changing its mind about things, so any time you can see that happening, it pays to yell loudly and repeatedly THAT IS A GOOD IDEA.

    I am going to write about Salt when it finally comes out on-demand I didn't get to go see it in theatres because I had a baby, but I enjoy spy movies of all types and am hoping to be able to add a postscript about the conversations that occurred around its release.

  3. I'm a UK writer and I have some thoughts about female heroes - a specialty of mine - and the blog in general, more suitable for a private message if possible. I've requested you to connect with me on Linkedin. Failing that could you mail me on:
    o2 (not zero 2)
    dot co dot uk

    Many thanks,

    Mark Leyland