Tag Archives: rise of the planet of the apes

Annihilation and Female Scientists on Film

Marisa
Gripes

Marisa

There are contrarians, there are iconoclasts, and then there is SportsAlcohol.com co-founder Marisa. A contraiclast? Her favorite Springsteen album came out this century, so she is basically a controversy machine.

Also, she is totally not a dude!
Marisa
Gripes

Latest posts by Marisa (see all)

In Annihilation, a group sits around a table discussing the people who will be heading on a dangerous mission into a logic-defying mystery box they call The Shimmer. There’s Anya, a paramedic; Josie, a physicist; and Dr. Ventress, a psychologist. “All women?” someone asks. “Scientists,” one corrects. Yes! And they’re unlike any other female scientists in films I’ve seen—not just because they carry guns, but because they work as a team of all women.

This post started, as most things do, with a complaint. The object of my ire was another recent sci-fi outing with a female lead: The Cloverfield Paradox. There was much discussion about the movie after it made its sudden Netflix debut following the Super Bowl. Most of it centered on the marketing: Was it a shrewd move of Netflix to generate buzz with an unexpected release? Or was it another case of the streaming platform burying an acquisition that should’ve been given a theatrical run?

Instead of weighing into that fray, my post-Paradox reaction was this: Oh, great, another female astronaut with dead kids.

There were dead kids in The Cloverfield Paradox. There was a dead kid in Gravity. There were dead kids in Arrival. And, if female scientists weren’t motivated by children (either the desire to have them or the grief over losing them), it was absent fathers (think Contact, Twister). Meanwhile, when Capa sends his last message back to Earth in Sunshine, he sends it to his sister, and talks about saving the world.

Of course, when I brought this up on Twitter, people started chiming in right away with more examples and counter-examples. So I tried to be semi-scientific about it, and collect data points that either prove or disprove my hypotheses about the portrayals of female scientists in film. Who is allowed to save the world for altruistic reasons, and who has to be motivated by a dead kid or dad or spouse? Who are the engineers and physicists, and who are the biologists and language experts?

Continue reading Annihilation and Female Scientists on Film

Team Zira

Marisa
Gripes

Marisa

There are contrarians, there are iconoclasts, and then there is SportsAlcohol.com co-founder Marisa. A contraiclast? Her favorite Springsteen album came out this century, so she is basically a controversy machine.

Also, she is totally not a dude!
Marisa
Gripes

Latest posts by Marisa (see all)

Dr. Zaius gets the coolest songs from The Simpsons.  Caesar gets all of the respect. But, if you ask me who my favorite ape is in the Planet of the Apes series, there’s only one possible answer: Zira.

Zira — actually, that’s Dr. Zira — is a chimpanzee, a scientist,  a pacifist, and half of the husband/wife team of Cornelius and Zira.  Still, even though she’s closely associated with a partner, she’s her own ape, and she’ll let you know about it. Here are reasons to be Team Zira.

She’s Basically Right About Everything

 

In Planet of the Apes, she figures out everything pretty quickly: That Taylor is intelligent, that he can talk, and that he must prove that apes evolved from not-mute humans. She does this through the awesome power SCIENCE! (And, uh, human lobotomies.) A lot of talk is thrown around in that first movie about what makes someone intelligent, and Zira shows by example, taking in the evidence around her and drawing a conclusion that makes sense, even if it changes her worldview.

She’s Braver Than Cornelius

Or at least more outspoken. In Planet of the Apes, Cornelius is afraid to unearth his discoveries in the Forbidden Zone, fearing they’d be charged with heresy. She pushes him into it. In Escape From the Planet of the Apes, she also urges them reveal the truth about where they come from while Cornelius is being wishy-washy. She doesn’t just understand the truth, she advocates for it.

She Becomes a Feminist Icon

ZiraPantsuit

And wears a pantsuit. And gets drunk. Pretty much everything she says and does in Escape From the Planet of the Apes is amazing.

She’s Played by Kim Hunter

Kim Hunter

Aka Stella Kowalski from A Streetcar Named Desire.  She’s an Oscar winner, y’all.

Where’s the Next Zira?

Cornelia

Like everyone else, I was extremely pleased with Rise of the Planet of the Apes, especially the way the climax of the movie seems to go on forever. If there’s one disappointment, it’s that there wasn’t a Zira equivalent. There were hardly any female apes at all, really — one, Cornelia, was pointed out, but didn’t get to do anything — let alone one as strong and confident as Zira. Cornelia is listed in the IMDb credits for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes — played by Judy Greer, no less — so let’s hope she’s cast in the Zira mold.