Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Supplemental Post #4: Everyone's Favorite Swordswoman

On Sunday night, Game of Thrones returned to the small screen and continued the adventures of all our favorite characters including a loyal swordswoman sworn to defend House Stark. Gwendoline Christie's portrayal of the stalwart Brienne of Tarth has been heralded as a feminist icon by the press. Christie also played recently in two blockbuster films, The Hunger Games: Mocking Jay - Part 2 and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. In the Bazaar article "Women Who Dare: Gwendoline Christie", she suggests that she's become something of a cliche, an analysis that not too far off the mark. Her role as Brienne has become so iconic that it seems to have infected her other roles as well. In her role in the most recent Star Wars film her character design, chrome stormtrooper armor, is reminiscent of the chainmail she sports in the medieval show. Christie has described herself as feeling "genderless" because of her size (the actress is 6'3") and has pushed for roles that don't necessarily conform to traditional femininity. She sees this as an important step forward in female representation in media, not simply portraying a strong action hero but also maintaining control over the representation of her body. The sci-fi and fantasy genres are full of "strong" female characters, girl warriors and wizards, who do battle dressed in armor that looks like lingerie and has no practical protective value. Christie deliberately positions her image as a star in opposition to this trend, opting instead to wear practical, cumbersome armor that doesn't emphasize her body as a sexual spectacle. She insists in interviews that it's still possible to tell that there is a woman in the suit and her characters, while often embracing androgyny, self-identify as women. The reception that Christie has received from the fan community and the press has been phenomenal and suggests that everyone's favorite swordswoman is having an immense impact on the media landscape.

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