Monday, September 16, 2013
Half-Assed Musings: Gender Roles in The Dark Crystal
You probably don't care that 'The Dark Crystal' lately re-ranked as my 26th favourite movie, or that something different strikes me about it with each viewing. NONETHELESS!
A case can be made that the Skeksis and the Mystics symbolize the state and the church, respectively. All male, few in number, with either bad intentions dulled by selfishness or good wishes blunted by non-interference. When they have an impact, is it usually for the WORST!
The Mystics ARE peaceful, gentle, kind, well-meaning, sure. But it must be noted that 999 trine and 1 trine of virtual inactivity is not terribly helpful. Whatever magic they weave has not stopped the Gelfling Genocide, just for an example.
Looking up from their navel-gazing long enough to raise Jen, the last male Gelfling, the Mystics imparted to the boy three useful things: writing, music, and a sense of peaceful contemplation. Jen is otherwise totally ill-equipped to function outside of his valley! He has no understanding of his mission beyond what is laid directly in his path, an unfortunate side effect of a culture that respects self-worth more than any actual achievement. The most you can say in praise of Jen is the most you can say in praise of his guardians: they're not actively making things worse...
The Podlings who have suffered the most under Skesis misrule (unless you count all the roast nebrie) have managed to instill greater pragmatism, natural skill, bravery and gumption in the only surviving FEMALE Gelfling, Kira. Which is a good thing, because it is all too easy to imagine Jen without Kira: falling down over his own feet and never getting up again, let alone saving the world.
It is Kira who provides insight, transportation, trip planning, and saves herself from the essence-draining dungeon. It's a good thing the only phrase of Podling Jen knows is 'Thank You'.
Also, Thank You is more than Aughra gets, even though it is her study, foresight, and talisman-preservation skills that saved a fair chunk of the day. These ladies are the sort of thing TV TROPES refers to as 'Positive Discrimination'.
It is time and past time for Kiras and Aughras to set the standard as leaders. As our patriarchy crumbles or fades, either moving on to higher pursuits in another dimension or screeching and clutching their symbols of office on their filthy deathbeds, the time of the Great Conjunction has come. Change is here, and if you don't have wings like a girl you better know a pair or grow a pair.