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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

AIO Article: Pound Foolish Wisdom #2 9/11/12

     Well, everyone, it's September 11th. 12 years ago, this would have seemed unimportant, but after the events of 2001, this is, of course, a day for remembering the loss of so many lives on that fateful day. But that's not what this blog post is about. I just figured I should commemorate the day somehow. Anyway, PF has an article on Liz for you today! I hope you enjoy it:

Pound Foolish Wisdom
Where AIO Characters Are Put Beneath the Microscope#2:  Liz
by Pound Foolish

Femininity exists only in the mind.
A surprising statement, yes. There is no intended implication here that certain qualities, talents, and traits are unique to woman and, or instead, more common in women. However, to be feminine, that is, to actively attempt to reach femininity as a goal, by definition, means to “act like a lady.”
Well, if a girl acts like herself, seeking to do what she believes she must, she must, then, be acting like a female. Women are different from one another, are they not? If women act like themselves, they must then act very differently, must they not? How, then, can we generalize femininity, and call it being “ladylike” or “feminine” or “womanly”?
Perhaps seeking to define humans, saying they need to behave certain ways to fit into their certain groups, qualifies as one of the most foolish things people do, (well, it might be in the top five billion, anyway.)
But it’s not just young women. Of course, they’re the first that come to mind. Yet, society obsesses with classification of the human race. Another toy of society is men’s identity. Men are supposed to be masculine, manly, emotionally reserved, and conquest women.
There is a great deal of bleariness in the political swamp of defining the male identity when it comes to politically correct gender identity. Why, for instance, is it that women can wear men’s clothes without anyone raising an eyebrow, but men are assumed gay if they don any female habits? In actuality, men in general have some rather feminine tendencies. I won’t pretend to be an exception. I enjoy chic flicks, my philosophy in regards to books is the more romantic the better, I enjoy gardening, and I’ve even, with some interest, hidden myself away to secretly read bits of one of my sister’s books on cosmetology! After all, both genders are humans.
Supposedly, culture is about not stereotyping, not classifying, letting people be who they want to be. Being tolerant, accepting different races, religions, and behaviors.
Truth is, modern culture practically revolves around the opposite of all that. Stereotyping.
Brave liberated divorced women. Cool gay guys in neat clothes who give women “manly” affection without the danger of attraction. Party-happy, oh-so-glamorous teen revolutionaries.
This isn’t anything new. Our culture has never been about all that, and hopefully never will be. We are America, and America means individualism, capitalism, be who you can be and all you can be.
Wonderful speech, Mister Deep and Serious. I know you’re extremely busy trying to be sophisticated, but how about giving us that stupid Liz character analysis!?
Okay, okay, patience, that was all leading up to it. Liz breaths fire into her episodes. Her snappy, confident, bold voice strides aside her sharp, biting attitude. Ah! Her voice and attitude. As so often happens in AIO, they are as pearls and an oyster.
On the other hand, all good characters must be flawed. And Liz’s flaws lead to interesting contradictions in her character. Liz’s assertive frame of mind leads her to see her brother’s new fiancée as a rival and the fiancée’s relationship with him as a power struggle, after feeling replaced by the new woman. Her bold newspaper reporting springs a trap on her own behavior in Lost by a Nose, and we see even Liz can be wiled by recognition.
Liz speaks out with an admirable boldness. She takes action with toughness and caprice.
Many characters behave in a way known as passive aggressive. That is, they are shy of direct confrontation. Liz stands as the opposite.
Indeed, she can be seen as the opposite of many of the other well-beloved AIO girls. Such as the sweet, gentle Lucy, mild if at times somewhat grouchy or plucky Robyn, or… interestingly enough, Liz’s closest friend, Mandy.
How does a brave, outspoken girl like Liz work so well with a friend like Mandy? People often say opposites make for the best friendships. The contrast remains curious, still… and interesting. How come AIO once tended to focus on all sugar and spice girls? Why is Liz’s fire balanced in so many of her episodes by Mandy’s femaleness and reasoning?
Were writers and directors in the past more hesitant about grrrrl characters than today? One feels tempted to believe so when one observes the biggest AIO girl of today, the forceful Emily Jones, and the also recurring Olivia, with her occasional temper. Admittedly, such characters then had nowhere near as much popularity as they do today.
But perhaps, rather than seeing Mandy as the feminine voice of reason trying to steady Liz’s un-girlyness, she plays more the role of caution alongside strength. Strength that constantly wants out.
Strength is not folly, nor caution strength’s master.
Yes, Liz has her moments of timidity. For instance, why oh why did Liz have to be so helpless in Hindsight? Couldn’t she have displayed just a little of her forcefulness when the thief appeared when she was behind the counter? However, that took place in Liz’s relatively early years. One may be tempted to think if the thief showed his face to the later Liz, he would have been the one worried about a hurt head.
But that is one aggravating kink in the armor of Liz’s character. We never see her in any real danger. She got left out of the Nova Com Saga, along with a few other characters, like Bernard for the most part, and no episode can be heard where Liz has to do any true heroics.
But perhaps she has no need to.
Perhaps strength lies in strength.
Perhaps Liz’s strength lies in her ability to be Liz.
She stands out through her belief in herself. Her ability to say what she thinks. Her fierceness. Her open love of God. Her kindness.
That she dares to be herself.
You can tell Liz doesn’t try to be more tough than she really is naturally. Nor less good than she can be. She strives to reach her potential. By the end of her run, she stood as a changed and changing character.
And she’s still Liz.
For, when she changes, she changes more into herself. Who she is meant to be. Who she wants to be. Who she can be.
…. Well, apart from the fact she seems to have dyed her red hair super dark brown.
She refuses to be stereotyped.

     I hope you enjoyed that fascinating and insightful article not only on Liz, but on women and feminity in general. Be watching for more articles from PF, possibly breaking out of the PF Wisdom realm. I'll try to get Installment 9 of AIC out very soon, but no promises.
     Thanks for reading!

2 comments:

  1. Oh goody! I just adore these in-depth articles about the characters. This one was no disappointment...you never cease to blow me away with your writing, Jeremiah, dear. I not only enjoyed what you had to say about Liz, but also your thoughts of femininity, as well.
    Wonderful post, as always!

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  2. Wow, you are so insightful! I love carefully you analyze each character and can sum them up so eloquently and precisely. I also enjoyed the first part of this piece. It's so right that men should be entitled to act a little like women without being ridiculed if the converse is true. And how are we expected to wrap up the whole female race, the whole human race even, into one way we think they should be?

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