Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Let's Hear It For The Girl(s)!

Two sisters are separated for years simply because of a low down, dirty man.

It only seemed appropriate (yet unintentional) as a lead in to International Women's Day over the weekend  that I checked out the many powerful female characters in The Color Purple for the first time. Well, it was the first time I had watched the movie all the way through - what Oprah fan hasn't curiously checked out some clips while it was playing on TV?

Even having read the novel years ago did not prepare me for the emotional wreckage the movie would leave behind in my living room. Yeah, it's definitely a full on, smeared mascara, audible sob, ugly cry kind of night.

There is not many sights more heart wrenching than watching those young sisters, Celie and Nettie, being dragged apart, down porch steps and through a field, all while they are panicked and screaming. Sisters who have only each other at a time where they are continually beaten down (literally) by the men in an unfortunate world.

It's impossible to not feel inspired by what they overcame to grow into strong willed adults, guided by the influence of the already powerful women they knew, Shug Avery and Sofia (Oprah in all her perfect acting glory).

We all are lucky to have women in our lives - moms, grandmas, aunts, friends - who inspire us daily. I'm a lady who is perpetually seeking answers and motivation from any source I can, even the movies

Early on I was transfixed by any story with confident female characters more than anything else. Maybe they were people I wanted to be like or I just was drawn to their take on the world.

Stories with these types of characters can be found everywhere. I'm sure y'all have your favorites, because I know I've already talked at length about the everlasting influence of Jo March. Even if there is no way to mention them all, here are just a few that stand out in my mind:

Working Girl

Living in a house with Carly Simon and Joan Cusack loving parents, this story of a Staten Island gal hoping to move up the ranks at her office, one large hairstyle at a time, was probably my introduction into the doldrums of working at a job you hate.

Tess Mcgill pounded the pavement on her morning commute in dazzling tennis shows only to switch to heels, but that dedication wasn't enough. "Let the river run" she did - there may have been a couple of lies told in the process, but her wit and smarts is what lands her that promotion in the end.

True Grit

How can you not appreciate a strong willed youngster who seeks out help for avenging the death of her father?

Tough dudes come to her aide, but, just like the title implies, the mission wouldn't have even begun without her gumption.


When I think of a lady standing up for their beliefs, no other movie resonates more than this one. (I might just have the long list of great old McConaughey flicks fresh in my, it's definitely the Jodie Foster character.)

After discovering what is potentially the link to another world, the people of our own planet pressure Ellie to proclaim that she should instead embrace something other than science, a "higher power" if you will, but she doesn't back down.

It always surprised me that an "alien" movie developed into something more philosophical - that only makes it much more interesting to watch.

Peggy Olson Takes On The World

She's not from a movie, but this can't go by without a mention to one of the greatest female characters on TV right now and will be a lasting legacy.

Over the years Peggy went after what she wanted and moved up from a quiet secretary to a brassy, tough talking force in the advertising world, who doesn't take crap from nobody. Quite frankly - she's the shit.

The Women Of Kathy Bates

Kathy Bates, never the conventional leading lady, yet all of the characters she plays have real guts - not all actresses can say that. The unsinkable Molly brown! Towanda! The examples could go on and on, but there is one performance in particular that always made my heart break every time I caught it playing on cable. It's one of those I always remember seeing when I stayed home sick from school.

In A Home Of Our Own, Bates played a single mom who takes her bundle of six children on the road to start a new life. They find an abandoned house and spend the rest of the movie making it their own, one wall at a time.

It always struck me how tough this situation would be, but Bates, reassuring both the audience and her movie children at the same time, makes it all look like a breeze with a warm smile and twinkle in her her eye.

The Women Of Julia Roberts

Julia Roberts was on a roll of playing stand up broads. Her characters were always going after what they wanted and almost always succeeding.

By telling an alarming true life tale, she boldly stepped into the life and revealing clothing of Erin Brockovich, who played a large part in stopping a large corporation from hurting and killing the people of  a small town.

Then, in Mona Lisa Smile, she playing a professor who was big on women's lib in the 1950s. She encouraged her students to seek out jobs instead of getting married right away. This was one of the movies that made me excited to go to college and feel privileged to be living in a time when society had bigger expectations for me, and women like me.

Roberts can't be found as often up on the big screen anymore, but the smart, bold women she has played will never go out of style.


Critics loved and then quickly turned on this story about a pregnant teen. The kitschy dialogue may rub people the wrong way now, but remember the heart of the story!

This strong girl spends most of the film never doubting her situation, all while getting made fun of and judged. It's a movie filled with women who won't let the world take them down.  This is perfectly played by Allison Janney, as she rips a bitchy ultrasound technician a new one.

It's a movie to always appreciate for these merits alone.

There are plenty more bold characters and real life ladies that deserve a mention, so let's leave with name dropping some other cool chicks.

Harper Lee   Tina Fey   Jane Pratt  Neko Case   Diane Sawyer   Hilary Clinton   Jane Austen
Dorothy Parker  Jane Eyre  Emma Thompson  Kate Winslet  Tami Taylor  Bridget Jones
Lucille Ball   Eleanor Roosevelt  Amelia Earheart  Jenny Lewis  Kathi Goertzen  Robyn
Gwen Stefani   Sandara Bullock  Regina Spektor   Carole King  Dolly Parton  Debbie Harry
Cyndi Lauper  Patsy Cline  P!nk  Rachel Maddow  Meryl Streep  Julie Andrews 
Nancy Wilson Rachel Portman Amy Sedaris  Amy Poehler  Emmylou Harris 
Christiane Amanpour  Patty Murray  Michelle Obama  Nellie Bly  Sofia Coppola 
Judy Blume  Helen Mirren

Until next time!

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