A pleasant corner of my subconscious circa 1985.
Last week's post got me thinking about how few positive female role models there were in the '80s for talkative young ladies.
I'm not going to include perky, unrelentingly upbeat, not-particularly-bright women, either. Women like Meg Ryan or Melanie Griffith, who bubble up and sparkle and giggle and probably wouldn't be resourceful and cold-blooded during a physical fight. I've decided they don't count for the purposes of this particular (one-sided) discussion.
I spent much of last week thinking about this, taking breaks only to watch The PBS News Hour and The Choice (Joe Jonas should have obviously have chosen Gwen Ifill). I was only able to come up with TWO positive fast-talking female role models, and one of them is the one I mentioned just last week.1) Jordan, Real Genius
Real Genius is one of the greatest movies ever made, and features a Val Kilmer who was still devastatingly attractive and not yet distressingly bloated. It was one of the first movies I ever saw that suggested that smart young people could have friends and kiss each other and both create and destroy space weapons. This photo captures Jordan (love interest of the other main character, Mitch) in a rare moment of not talking. She is a super-genius and doesn't sleep and spends her time while not sleeping thinking of serious scientific things and knitting sweaters. She really only talks so much because her brain is so full of smarts. 2. Amanda King, Scarecrow and Mrs. King I'm not even sure this character would still strike me the same way, because the last time I saw her get up to no good, I was eleven. It's possible she was actually perky and empty-headed, but I prefer to remember her as ballsy and irrepressible. There was one episode of this show (which featured Kate Jackson as a housewife who ends up becoming a spy, and Bruce Boxleitner as a handsome spy who ends up having to mentor and reluctantly fall desperately in love with her) that really affected me when I saw it at some point between the ages of seven and eleven. And I (inevitably) found a fan site on the internet that (thrillingly) somehow managed to scare up the print ad for the very episode that I'm about to talk about:
I can't remember whether the ruthless hit woman who looked exactly like Kate Jackson was supposed to be some kind of scientific-experiment-produced clone, or whether the fact that they looked exactly alike was supposed to be a kooky coincidence. Doesn't matter - either way, it was both dramatic and plausible. At the end of the episode, both Kate Jackson and ruthless-hit-woman Kate Jackson are hanging from the side of a building, having somehow managed to fall off the side of it simultaneously.
Bruce Boxleitner, whose courage and handsomeness cause him to appear in the nick of time, is forced to figure out which woman who looks exactly like Kate Jackson he should save. One Kate Jackson says something noble and reasonable and convincing. The other babbles indignantly about something and then babbles indignantly some more. Bruce Boxleitner, proving he sees with the penetrating eyes of a super-spy and the discriminating eyes of a lover, immediately pulls the babbler to safety.
It was a great comfort to me then to think that one day my compulsive chattiness might save my life. It was also a great comfort to me to think that if a suave, smooth-talking, sophisticated version of me ever showed up, she would turn out to be a no-good criminal and then promptly fall off a building.
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