He-ra? She-Him? The Fall of Femininity in Animation…


(Warning, there will be nostalgia present.)

Or how they are ret-conning lore to push a narrative…

sheraoriginal

This is the She-Ra I grew up with. Strong, powerful, beautiful and the epitome of “I am woman. Here me roar.” She is the twin of Adam of Eternia, separated at birth and trained by Hordak’s army to serve him as a soldier. Adam had to travel to Etheria to find his sister, convince her she was doing evil deeds in the service Hordak, and also tell her of a power she was capable of wielding. This was the pilot that led to a new cartoon that kept me glued to the television waiting for the next episode. Finally, a heroine, not that I didn’t like He-Man, but this was new to me. A strong woman who rebelled against the forces of evil and had the powers to turn the tide with the help of friends. She could heal, had telepathy to speak to animals, and her sword could do turn into whatever she needed to get the job done. It was awesome for a 12 year-old girl, me.

Fast Forward 30+ years…

sherareboot I heard in the wind months ago that there was a reboot in the works, and at first I was excited. I had seen the He-Man reboot, and the way they treated Thundercats in 2011. This had the potential to appeal to the old and the new. The first to leak was the artwork (left), and I started to get a little nervous. Today, I saw the screencap of the “new” lore:

story

and it made me shake my head. Why did they erase her family? Why did they change her whole backstory, and why did they change a strong woman into a 13-year-old androgynous-looking girl? You would think, in a world of fourth-wave feminism they would draw her like a woman with curves to further “body positivity” but not make her pudgy. I could even handle them turning back time and making her a teen, but even teen girls show some development. They are going through puberty, after all. They have erased her femininity. They have, for all appearances, erased the “she” in She-Ra.

Now, to further expound on this, I am a tomboy; I grew up a tomboy, but I have curves, like a woman and had curves when I was thirteen. There was no mistaking the fact I was female and the fact I chose to wear jeans, ballcaps, and play sports with the boys. I found it more fun to play football than play Barbie, but I digress.

For a “dress how you like” “progressive” movement, this is a complete departure from their narrative. She has biker shorts. The original sported a short skirt, which could arguably be for ease and freedom of movement, but again, the old art showed power and grace. Teens are awkward. Which leads me to some questions?

Will she be the Amercian-ized version of Sailor Moon? Clutzy? Awkward? Inept? That would surely take away from the original power and grace of the character as a whole. It scares me a little as to what they would do to her character development.

On the other hand, looking at it objectively, this could open up a story for us that the original fandom, from only having seen the cartoon, have never seen, therefore answering questions that were left unanswered:

How did she come to Etheria?
How did Hordak come to find her?
How was she trained?

Now mind you, it’s been 30+ years and my memory is fuzzy in terms of the old series, but I don’t remember these questions being answered, but if they answered the questions, they would, again, have to change the canon that is She-Ra. After all, in this version she’s an orphan, not a twin, even though it could be revealed she had one. She’s a girl who finds the sword in this version, and she was fully grown when Adam found her, with fully formed beliefs and the conviction that serving the Horde was just.

If they write a story of teen rebellion, it would be just another trope brought to life, and as much as this new wave of feminism complains about princesses and damsels in distress, why a princess at all, if they are going to change her history? Now, in case of the recent princesses, (Mulan, for example, who became one) I can see keeping her one, but wouldn’t that mean Hordak would have to have killed her whole family, eliminating the bloodline and preventing the rescue of the princess of the realm? If they write that into the story, why would Adora even serve someone who did that?

They would produce more questions if they went with this story line, but perhaps I am overthinking it. I am after all, an adult from a time where cartoons were simple, bad v good, but the characters and stories were, for the most part, pretty good.

So, I sit and wait for the first episode with trepidation. I wonder what they will do to my heroine of yester-year, my bad-ass, no-holds-barred She-Ra of old, and I hope they will not pepper with identity politics, even though a small part of me thinks they will.

Now, looking at it from a business standpoint, I am fully aware they are not targeting me, one of the original fandom. I can’t help but feel they are making a mistake in this. I have always been of the mindset that the old ushers in the new, and the old ones of the fandom are the metaphoric “gatekeepers” of lore and canon, and if we don’t like it, we will be reticent to introduce the new version to a new generation, but times are changing. Children are growing up in a world of instant gratification and technology most of us “relics” are having a hard time understanding. My only hope is they will watch the old She-Ra and then the new one and make their own choice in the end, which I have no doubt they will do.

Until next time,
Anissa “Maddy” Mathias



Categories: editorial

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