Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Batgirl: I heart Yvonne Craig

When I lived in my old place I was watching old episodes of Batman on the ME channel, I currently don't have cable, I can't afford it, so I haven't seen an episode in a while.  But I have to say my favorite episodes are the ones with Yvonne Craig as Batgirl.  Look at that picture to left.  Look at the fringe and the lace and those colors.  The episodes are terribly, terribly sexist.  One episode in particular is about a female activist, who is played as the villain, organizes the women of Gotham against the men.  Eventually the mayor gives into her demands, which include an all female police force and a female commissioner, because his wife hasn't cleaned his shirts for a week, and he's running low on laundry, his house is dirty and he hasn't eaten a decent meal in days.  Meanwhile the idea of a female doing anything beyond these cooking and cleaning duties is treated like some kind of preposterous joke.  Granted the men are shown be sort of hopeless and helpless but are also the ones in charge.  As the plot goes on the female police force allows a bank robbery to happen because the two bank guards are swapping recipes, one beat cop just painted her nails and another beat cop refuses to chase the criminal because she just got new shoes.  However that is not the crux of the evil scheme, the point of replacing all the police force was so that when the big bad released explosive mice the police would be too afraid to act and allow her to either destroy the city or hold it hostage.  That part is a bit vague.

  But I share that as an example, albeit an extreme example, of the kind of thing regularly happening in Batman '66.  This is the kind of madness they spew at you on a per episode basis.  But then there's Yvonne Craig as Batgirl and the way she handles everything.  In the above episode she's always there as the strong counterpoint.  She doesn't soapbox about women's right but dismisses the men as being ridiculous with how she converses with them or the looks she gives them.  More importantly she demonstrates, by example, why the men are being stupid.  She jumps in there and is just as competent and capable as Batman, sometimes even more competent and capable than Batman.  She is the frequently the bastion of sanity in this crazy ass universe that they've built and often it's simply through body language.  Rarely is it a verbal throwdown that makes her seem like a bad person, they don't portray her as "bitchy" or "preachy" but she comes off as THE ONE person who has a good head on their shoulders while the rest of the world is drenched in hammy, pastel lunacy.  That character, for its time, is actually a really well written female character.  You never hear her carrying on about boys or needing a man.  She lives on her own, she supports herself with a job as a librarian and fights crime without anybody's help.  She is a totally separate, strong entity that is also a woman and who acts as a counterpoint to the male chauvinism that occurs.  The only other strong female characters from that era that come to mind are probably from The Dick Van Dyke Show.  In that show you had Rose Marie and Mary Tyler Moore playing good female characters but Rose Marie is probably close to Batgirl in her level of independence (although I do remember Rose Marie being kind of man crazy and Mary Tyler Moore was kind of defined by her role as wife, but Mel Cooley was fucking hilarious).  Also probably Uhura, but I never like classic Star Trek so I know nothing about that role.  That's really all I wanted to say because I found that picture on a blog and it made me think of that and reminded my that I love Yvonne Craig for being Batgirl.

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