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FIRST YEAR RESEARCH JULIE BENSON Representation of the Female Action Hero in Multi-Platform Narrative.

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Presentation on theme: "FIRST YEAR RESEARCH JULIE BENSON Representation of the Female Action Hero in Multi-Platform Narrative."— Presentation transcript:

1 FIRST YEAR RESEARCH JULIE BENSON Representation of the Female Action Hero in Multi-Platform Narrative

2 Purpose of Research To explore how female characters transfer from original platforms to other media forms, with reference to platform conventions and restrictions. To analyse audience responses to female characters to inform own experimentation with current conventions and models for creation of a new female action hero (PAR).

3 Methodology Mixed methods Empirical approach Textual analysis Pilot focus group Virtual ethnography Script for TV drama series and other text (PAR)

4 Existing Studies Empowering & liberating (Innes; King & McCaughley) Re-working gender systems (Hill; Brown) Re-enacting masculinity (Tasker; Clover) Is their sexuality controlled (Brown) Objects for voyeurism & sadism (Clover; Herbst)

5 MARVEL’S BLACK WIDOW AKA NATASHA ROMANOFF Textual Analysis

6 Comic Book Characteristics Highly sexualised Large body shape, big breasts, big buttocks Sado-masochistic Bondage scenes In control

7 Film Characteristics Femme fatale Bondage scenes Sado-masochistic Slim body shape In control American accent

8 Game characteristics Marvel Heroes: Choice of 4 x costumes Sexualised Violent Russian accent Lego Marvel: Long eyelashes Unzipped suit Cute Ultimate Alliance 1: NPC Practical costume Ultimate Alliance 2: In control (voice command to team) Sexualised Large body shape Russian accent

9 Ultimate Alliance 1 & 2

10 Character Summary of Black Widow Sado-masochistic Violent Sexualised In control, fakes being powerless 3 x roles (on-duty, off- duty, under-cover) 3 x identities? A key team member Motivated by duty, not compassion Recurring theme of repayment of debts Expert marksperson Skilled combatant

11 Transferable Elements Across the Platforms Sado-masochism In control Sexualised body & costume Background/history Skills and abilities

12 Sado-masochism (actions & dialogue) Sexualisation (costumes) Background/history Skill set Recognisable conventions of the character Conventions become the brand of each platform

13 A Semiotic Approach Marvel Entertainment is a parent company owned by Disney Its products/brands are synergised across multi-platforms Black Widow is recognised by the conventions of her character Conventions become the brand If branding gives meaning to an object, then what meaning is implied through the presentation of Black Widow?

14 Pilot Focus Group Audience Response to Black Widow 8 x mixed gender (5:3 M/F) Aged 17-27, Level 3 education, existing group Responding to: Iron Man 2 - fight scene with Black Widow & Happy Avengers Assemble - interrogation scene Marvel Heroes game play Ultimate Alliance 1 game play Ultimate Alliance 2 game play

15 EXAMPLE OF GROUP DATA Do you like Black Widow's character? Most frequent response was yes. Would you choose to play her as a game character? Most frequent response was no. Is character, story line or platform most important to you? Most frequent response was story line. Is Black Widow character of value to society? Response split equally between yes and no. Do you prefer Black Widow in comic, game or film? Most frequent response was comic.

16 Q 6Are characters like Black Widow of value to society? Gender Participant IDResponses M1 "Girls, women, nowadays, it's less stereotypical, talk to a girl who's into this kind of stuff and then it's easier for them to relate. They have a strong female character for them to relate to as well. Whereas most men, their favourite character will be a man, probably" M1 "Yes…earlier on in the comics…most of the main heroes were all men, there weren't that many [women]" M5 "Role models, I suppose" F3 "It gives girls something that's not the typical housewife sort of image to look at" F4 "Not really cos she's a character. She hasn't actually done anything big. She's just been in films, comic, games" F3 "And the way that she's drawn and the actors they get to play her, they don't help as well" F3 "They create an image that everyone's got a perfect body and that's just not true" F8 "I think women can find it quite offensive as well" F4 "Some women can find it quite sexist. The fact that you boys are going, oh boobs, boobs, boobs, omg she's perfect, sort of thing. No, it's not always perfect, it's not all about the appearance" F4 "They always make women wear skimpy outfits and stuff and tight clothing for sex appeal cos sex sells"

17 Practice as Research Experiment with conventions of traditional female heroes Explore whether non-traditional hero is acceptable to mainstream audience Creation of new female hero to feature in drama script (TV series) Experiment with character across the platforms

18 New Female Hero Red Dragon, a fire- breathing acrobat in the Circus of Freaks, embarks on a journey of revenge. A non-traditional female hero in terms of both appearance and characterisation. Realism in skill set and levels of violence. Involves issues of mental illness and female sadism. The heroes of the story are outcasts in society.

19 References Avengers Assemble (2012) Directed by Joss Whedon [Film]. United States: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. Brown, J.A. (2011). Dangerous Curves: Action Heroins, Gender, Fetishism, and Popular Culture. Black Widow [Online]. Available at: se (Accessed:: 5 June 2014). Black Widow [Online]. Available at: (Accessed 6 June 2014) Black Widow [Online]. Available at: (Accessed 5 June 2014). Clover, C. (1992). Men, Women and Chainsaws. Princeton University Press

20 Gazillion Enterprises (2013) Marvel Heroes [Online Computer Game]. Secret Identities Studios. Jenkins, H (2007) Transmedia Storytelling. Available at : (Accessed 28 May 2014). Herbst, C. (2004). Lara's Lethal and Loaded Mission: Action Chicks. New Images of Tough Women in Popular Culture. Palgrave- MacMillan. Hills, E. (1999). From Figurative Males to Action Heroines: Further Thoughts on Active Women in the Cinema. (Screen.oxfordjournals.org) Inness, Sherrie A. (ed. 2004) Action Chicks: New Images of Tough Women in Popular Culture. Palgrave-MacMillan.

21 Iron Man 2 (2010) Directed by Jon Favreau [Film]. United States: Paramount Pictures. King, N & McCaughey, M. (2001 ) What's a Mean Woman Like You Doing in a Movie Like This? Reel Knockouts: Violent Women in the Movies. University of Texas Press. Marvel Ultimate Alliance [Online]. Available at: Marvel Ultimate Alliance [Online]. Available at: Raven Software (2006) Ultimate Alliance 1 [video game]. Activision. T T Games (2013) Lego Marvel Super Heroes [video game]. Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment. Vicarious Visions (2009) Ultimate Alliance 2 [video game]. Activision.


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