Analysis: Blond Ambition

5 seconds ago, the audience finds out she has super-powers like the title character. This was supposed to be an “empowering moment,” but is nothing but the same old story.

This actually came to me while watching (and being thoroughly repulsed by) Hancock.  When you look at this particular sub-genre of multimedia productions, one thing you might notice is that blond-haired women are not only super-powered, but often their powers will place them at or near the top of the power pantheon – in the service of good or the service of evil.  Often times, super-blonde will be more powerful than the male hero – or they make it clear that the super-blonde can defeat the hero, even if he is more powerful than she is.  And, in the midst of all of this, if the previous conditions aren’t met, the super-blonde’s powers will prove to be central to the struggle between “good and evil” within the story.

The inspiration for this post came from this one I saw online months ago.  I promised myself that I would write this then, but never finished it until now.

Example:  My Super-Ex Girlfriend

When Jenny Johnson finds her magical genie that gives her the cheerleader body she always wanted, she goes from being a brunette to a glowing blonde.  Of course, this was on top of her getting powers like those of Superman.  Not to be outdone, Hannah Lewis, who already starts out blonde, gets superpowers of her own – although she gets a very bad redhair dye job in the process.

Example:  Generation X (The Movie)

This is perhaps the most pernicious example of the bunch.  This made-for-TV movie was supposed to launch a new series.  Except that Generation X’s only White female character was Emma Frost, during her Heel/Face turn where she breaks away from Sebastian Shaw and Magneto.

For Hollywood, this is not a problem – if one (White female powered character) does not exist, we’ll create one out of whole cloth.  She’ll be blonde, “attractive,” and have the usually gauntlet of “Super-Girl” powers:  The ability to brush off punches from the strongest of men and hit them harder, as well as super-speed.  And we’ll call her “Buff.”  No, really.  That’s her “Generation X” name.

Did I also mention that there was already a young woman on the team that had Super-Strength (on Wonder Woman/Superman levels), and Invulnerability?  And that she had a number of other abilities that would make her an asset on any superhero team, including Intellect and Memory that rivals any imaginary ultra-supercomputer AND telepathy?

The problem, however, is that she is a Woman of Color.

Example:  The Sentinel

Right around the time when the show began to flounder, we get introduced to a woman named Alex Barnes who is experiencing a strange medical condition.  She unwittingly runs into Blair Sandburg, an anthropologist who diagnoses her problem:  She has “superpowers” that enhance all of her senses (touch, sight, hearing, smell, and taste).  These powers match the ones that Blair’s partner Jim Ellison (the hero), although she uses her powers to commit crimes.

[Note that Alex Barnes is played by Jeri Ryan.  During the time that this showed aired, the UPN Network used Jeri Ryan to boost flagging ratings in many of their shows after her addition to Star Trek: Voyager provided a modest -albeit brief – turnaround in viewership.]

This list is very restrictive, but the one thing to remember is that you can find more “Blond Ambition” both inside and outside of the Superhero genre.  It really comes down to all of the attention given to (and praise lavished at) blond women within the story itself (example: Claire from Heroes, or Sookie Stackhouse from True Blood).  I’m also not touching Whedon’s TV and movie ventures, even though you see elements of Blond Ambition in Buffy (and not just the title character).  When you look at the franchises where powers are demonstrated on a regular basis, the number of blond-haired women with upper-level powers (or extra-ordinary abilities) is pretty high.  And when one doesn’t exist within a franchise, one can (and will) be created.

Thus, Blondes have more fun.  And more powers.

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5 Responses to Analysis: Blond Ambition

  1. To add to your list

    Once a Thief did this too by introducing a char named Jackie who was ridic too good and could match up w/ all the chars -_-

    Also, adding Ami Angelwings to the comics blogosphere.. >_>

  2. Also, I know I get yelled at whenever I bring this up… and I have to say DC is pretty crafty to use Steph knowing that ppl are alrdy so thankful she’s back and she has so much cred… but I disliked how they made ALL of the girl big 3 (Batgirl, Supergirl, Wonder Girl) blonde white girls >:| And of course she just seems natural to so many ppl too, since I mean, blonde hair on a female hero pretty much seems default sometimes :\ And it feels like whenever they introduce somebody’s daughter, she tends to be blonde regardless of the hair colour of her parents… >_> I don’t have any scans atm to substantiate it, so it could be confirmation bias, but it feels a lot to me that there’s a lot of fictional families with brown haired men (father, son) and blonde haired women (mother, daughter) -_-

  3. Of course, a lot of super power blondes are really brunettes in disguise.

  4. Pingback: Movies That Hate You: Catwoman | Loose Cannon

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