SO I'M GOING TO DO A SERIES. It will probably take a while to complete - I'm internet-less between September 13th-26th due to a mix-up at Sky and moving into my new house - but I thought I'd start it off now because why the blazes not.
And the title of this exciting new series?
POP CULTURE CHARACTERS WHO ARE FLAWLESS*
*IN A PARTICULAR WAY WHICH I WILL SHORTLY OUTLINE
Essentially, I'm a pop culture whore. I watch, read and listen to it. And then I dissect it to death. I read other peoples' dissections. I'm fascinated by meta discussions based on GIFs of one tiny blink of an eye which apparently reveal the innermost thoughts and feelings of a fictional character. I ship obscure ships just because I think they might work together. And occasionally, in the middle of an otherwise mundane task, I will remember just how fuming I am that the main character of an otherwise excellent Nickelodeon cartoon somehow is allowed to steal someone else's boyfriend, and it's morally totally okay.
But more about that later, I promise.
When I say flawless, I don't just mean attractive, or funny, or successful, or badass. It's kind of hard to pinpoint, actually...maybe it'll flesh itself out as we go along. But mostly, I'm just saying I love this character for a variety of reasons. They make me want to simultaneously hug, high-five and bake a cake for them. I want to live with them. They are good people.
Hopefully that's enough to be going on with!
Anyway, our first entrance to the Flawless Pop Culture Characters comes (naturally) from the Whedonverse - Kaylee Frye of Firefly fame.
For the uninitiated, Firefly is a space-western mostly set aboard Serenity, a firefly-class spaceship. Kaylee is one of the team of smugglers/all round good guys that live on Serenity. If you're weirded out by the concept, good. Watch it anyway. It's a stunning show.
But Kaylee Frye? She is perfection. As you can see from the picture, she's feminine - she likes frilly dresses and parasols and speaks in a kind of girly voice. She's also a mechanic. This kind of masculine/feminine juxtaposition isn't really uncommon in television, particularly with Joss Whedon - think Buffy, who's also pretty, feminine and kills demons on a regular basis. Don't get me wrong, it's a good thing - upsetting the norms, challenging gender dynamics, blah blah blah. I always felt that Buffy ran the risk of feeling just a tiny bit tokenistic - look at me, I'm a strong independent woman, how new and important to make a big deal out of! Whedon himself makes no secret of the fact that that's exactly what Buffy is - a reversal of the "blonde girl in a dark alleyway trope." I feel that less with Kaylee - her masculine/feminine dichotomy is very subtly introduced and not really commented on, which is a good thing. I always felt like Buffy was slightly punished for her 'masculine' side - the fighting and the sex, particularly with Spike - but with Kaylee, it's a whole new world of totally fine, as if it ever wouldn't be.
Which sort of brings me on to Part 2 of Kaylee is The Best - the sex. Again, to bring it back to Buffy, sex was almost always coded as a bad thing - particularly with Spike ("Last night was the most perverse, degrading experience of my life.") but also with Faith, bad girl extraordinaire and big fan of casual sex; Angel, the good vampire who turns bad when the sex thing happens; even good-guy Riley - remember the crazy haunted-house-fuelled-by-sex episode? And don't get me started on the whole penetration/blood drinking/sex parallels* Meanwhile, Kaylee enjoys sex. It's as simple as that, and there are no repercussions. And again you have that unexpected dichotomy, the pretty princess who's open and upfront about just how much she likes sex. Unexpected. And fabulous. Two of my favourite Kaylee lines:
"Kaylee Frye: Goin' on a year now I ain't had nothin' twixt my nethers weren't run on batteries!
Capt. Malcolm Reynolds: Oh, God! I can't *know* that!
Jayne Cobb: I could stand to hear a little more."
Girl has needs and she's not ashamed of it. Kaylee has none of the (traditionally female) pretensions about talking about sex and I love her for that.
Dr. Simon Tam: In all that time on the ship... I've always regretted... not being with you.
Kaylee Frye: With me? You mean to say... as in sex?
Dr. Simon Tam: I mean to say.
Kaylee Frye: To Hell with this. I'm gonna live!
This whole exchange is hilarious, mostly because Simon is being so ridiculous about it all. And instead of going for the heartfelt declarations of love as Simon does, Kaylee's like...damn, I'm going to shoot some reevers now.
All of the women in Firefly are excellent...just excellent. To the extent that I feel bad splitting the cast down the middle, into women and men, because they all embody different aspects of humanity rather than gender, which is a beautiful thing to see. But Kaylee is by far and away my favourite. Not just because of her gender and its representation, but also her relationship with River, with Wash, with Mal...she's just a fabulous person. Which is why she's included on the list. So there.
*I think it's fairly obvious, but I could actually write a dissertation on sex and sexuality in Buffy. In fact, I really, really want to do it at some point. Watch this space.