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The Princess Scale 2: Leia Organa

January 21, 2012 6 comments

The second princess up for our consideration is Princess Leia from Star Wars. (For our purposes I’m going to consider the three movies she appeared in and not any novels or comics which may or may not also be part of any canon.)

Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan
Fictional Source: Star Wars trilogy

Is she really a princess? Well, she legitimately has the title, but I don’t get how. Her father isn’t a king, after all; he’s a senator. 0 points here.

Beauty. Well, no offense to Carrie Fisher, but I wouldn’t call Leia a great beauty. She looks perfectly nice, but, especially when you adjust for the fact that she had to be attractive enough to get cast in a movie, not unusually so. That’s 1 point.

Usefulness or awesomeness. Leia is extremely competent, routinely volunteers for the most dangerous jobs, is an effective leader, never backs down from anything, doesn’t break under torture, and was shooting holes through stormtroopers in a movie made in the 1970s. And could someone please get this walking carpet out of my way? The movie doesn’t even start without her. 3 points.

Skills. Yes, sorta. See above for most of them. I guess she also has diplomatic experience although, uh, you’d never know it. Not a lot that you can put your finger on, really. Say 2 points.

In The Empire Strikes Back it turns out that she and Han Solo love each other. And mostly it works. One thing this relationship has in its favour as far as Leia’s portrayal is concerned is that Han is won over to Leia’s cause and not the other way around. The Star Wars trilogy is more Leia’s story than Han’s and their relationship helps attach him to it. So ordinarily I’d give her 0 points for this category but in this case I’ll give her 0.5 of a point. It also doesn’t hurt that Leia and Han are about equal in terms of whether they’re major characters in the movies*.

For things I haven’t taken into account yet… well, she’s got some kind of Jedi potential. That’s worth something, I guess. Give her another 0.5 of a point.

Overall Score: 7

That seems a lot more like it. Leia’s our high-water mark for princesses and I think it’ll be difficult to find too many who surpass her.

Rankings:

Princess Leia Organa (7)
Princess Buttercup (-3)

* Talk amongst yourselves. Luke:Leia:Han::Harry:Hermione:Ron. Discuss.

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Top 7 Pumpkinheads of All Time

January 4, 2012 Leave a comment

You may not have known that you needed this list.

7. The sun* (from the song “Marshmallow World,” written by Carl Sigman and Peter DeRose)
6. Pumpkinhead the hip-hop artist, aka Robert Alan Diaz
5. Pumpkinhead the series of horror movies
4. Merv Pumpkinhead** (from Sandman comics by Neil Gaiman)
3. The Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow (from the story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” by Washington Irving)
2. Peter Pumpkinhead*** (from the song, “The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead,” by XTC, also covered by the Crash Test Dummies)
1. Jack Pumpkinhead (from the Oz books by L. Frank Baum)

Did I forget any?

* Shining so your nose don’t freeze.
** Your worst nightmare…
*** Made too many enemies of the people who would keep us on our knees.

The Princess Scale 1: Buttercup

January 1, 2012 5 comments

My next list, I believe, will be a survey of fictional princesses. Because, see, on the one hand, I don’t like the whole princess thing, what with this and this and this.

On the other hand, I do like a lot of the books and movies and comics that feature princesses. So what I’m going to do every now and then is feature a princess character and rate her according to how well she refutes the princess stereotypes I dislike. Let’s do one now to explore how the system works.

Princess Buttercup of Hammersmith
Fictional source: The Princess Bride (novel and movie)

The first question is, is she really a princess? The daughter of a reigning king or queen, who officially holds the title of “princess”? See, if she’s just some girl, then who cares if she explodes the stereotype? It’s not meant to apply to her anyway. In Buttercup’s case, she’s a farm girl who has a BS title bestowed upon her so she can marry Prince Humperdinck. No points there.

Second. Is she beautiful? If she’s just normal beautiful, then that’s neutral; so many fictional characters are. That would be no points. But Buttercup is described by Goldman, or Morgenstern, as the most beautiful woman in the world, so she gets a minus 1.

Third. Does she do anything useful or awesome in the story? Quite the opposite! She screws everything up. She lets Vizzini capture her, she pushes Westley down the hill, she catches fire in the Fire Swamp, she sells Westley out to Humperdinck and later almost spills the beans to Humperdinck about how weak Westley is. I don’t know why Westley puts up with her. Another minus 1.

Fourth. Does she have any actual skills? I guess she must be good for something around the farm. She can ride; that’s one thing. But nothing ever comes of any of those skills so I’m going to say no she doesn’t; -1 points again.

Fifth. Does she avoid being the love interest of some male major character? She does not; in fact, she’s the love interest of the hero, so that’s -1 again. However, she is herself the main character of the story, arguably, so that gets cancelled out by a +1, for a zero overall in this category.

Sixth. Does she have anything else going on, not already touched on, that’s worth taking into account? Not that I can think of.

Overall Score: -3

So it seems to me that Buttercup is part of the problem and not part of the solution. All she’s got going for her is her looks, and that’s no way to live. Our next candidate, whoever it turns out to be, has an easy bar to clear.

If anyone has any ideas for how to refine the scoring, feel free to let me know in the comments.