Sunday, June 04, 2006

Why, Teela?

By Marcy

(I will warn our fearless Hack readers right now – this post is riddled with geekdom. Read at your own risk!)

When I was a kid, I was the only girl in my class who liked He-Man and Star Wars. At recess, I always got to be either Princess Leia or Teela, depending on what the boys wanted to play that day. All of the other girls hung out at the swing sets - not me. The jungle gym was the Millennium Falcon, or Castle Greyskull. And I was the token female. It was the good life.

Princess Leia was my absolute idol. She was feisty, fearless, and a cosmic beauty. I still want to be her every time I watch the Star Wars Trilogy. (There’s only one trilogy in my book. And there’s no such thing as Midichlorians, and Greedo most CERTAINLY did not shoot first. But I digress…) And Teela was the coolest too - she fought along side He-man and Man-At-Arms. She kicked butt with a staff, and a sword, and a blaster. She was the red-head captain of the guard in underoos and a tiara, who never backed down to Skeletor and his goons.

Or so I thought.

Fast-forward to this weekend, with birthday money well spent on the whole first season of He-Man on DVD. I’m re-living my childhood as I’m sketching out my own graphic novel from the comfort of my couch. And as the shows progress, it comes to my attention that Teela – the ass-kicking chick of my memory – is a complete fraud!!

Yes, she’s strong-willed. She trash talks Skeletor and Beast Man. She never obeys when Man-At-Arms or He-man tell her to stay put. But when there’s a fight – she does nothing!! My childhood self remembers her being more like Xena, or Leia – fierce with a weapon. In the frey of every battle. But having watched the first two discs (there are twelve total – 68 episodes!!) of this first season collection, I’m feeling like Teela has let me down. Every fight she’s been in so far, she’s been disarmed, and she spends the rest of the fight on the fringes with a worried look on her face, yelling “He-Man – look out!”

Granted, this is early ‘80’s animation. The backgrounds are looped, and lets get real for a second: He-Man wears fur underwear and rides a cat with a saddle. I am fully aware that the show is dated and doofy. But it holds up for me in entertainment value, if sentimentally. I still can’t help but feel, however, that Teela has let me down after all these years. Hopefully I will be proven wrong in the next few discs.

Maybe this letdown is because I started reading Tamora Pierce’s “Protector of the Small” books, in which the heroine is a ten-year-old girl who stands her own ground in training to be a knight. I can’t help think what Teela would do in Kel’s situation…stand on the sidelines and cry for He-man? Food for thought, as I continue to watch the DVD’s and read book two of the “Protector of the Small series.”

Which leads me to ask this question of our Hack fans (if any) – as female readers, what is it you look for in a heroine? And what heroines from your childhood still hold up for you today? Let me know in comments on this blog.

Over and out.

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