Where To Turn When You Run Out Of Pam Grier Movies

By | Sunday, December 20, 2009 Leave a Comment
One of the S.O.'s heroes when she was growing up was Pam Grier. Like many young girls in the 1970s, the S.O. saw Grier as a supremely positive role model who embodied everything she aspired to. Grier, of course, is famous for her titular roles in movies like Coffy and Foxy Brown where she played a intelligent, fashionable, sexy, independent woman who kicked a lot of serious butt when she needed to. She was, in some respects, a female version of an Americanized James Bond. Men wanted her and women wanted to be her.

The fact that Grier was attractive and fit certainly helped, but that combined with her ability to get the job done was a powerful factor in her popularity. It wasn't so much that she was kicking ass in bar fights and gun battles, but it was the notion that, regardless of what was going on around her, Grier's characters were totally in control. She was dealt whatever crappy hand was possible, and she said, "Screw this; I'm going to fix this for my damn self!" It was very empowering to see a woman -- a black woman in the 1970s, no less -- stand up for herself and not take shit from anybody. (I think she's even got a line or two precisely to that effect.) The idea that she could still embody all the best aspects of femininity without ceding the self-direction and internal locus of control often thrust upon women is very appetizing.

However, when the S.O. and I started dating, she expressed a decided disinterest in comics. She said that everything she'd ever seen was decidedly more misogynistic and she couldn't see anything remotely resembling a positive role model for women. It was a hard claim to refute. But, to her credit, she's kept an open mind about the medium and has some appreciation that there ARE positive comics out there for/about/by women; they're just not in the mainstream. And while she's still not a fan of comics, by any real stretch of the imagination, she's more conscious of them now, I think, and can spot when there are good things to take advantage of.

Case in point: she caught and sent me a link to this article about Rashida Jones' Frenemy of the State. Five minutes later, she fires off another email to me: "So never mind about that last comic I sent you! I was reading the comments and someone pointed out NOLA, which judging by the cover, has about 300% more badassness!" She was, in effect, seeing a lot of what attracted her to Pam Grier in Nola.

That strong females like Rashida Jones and Rosario Dawson tie themselves to comics in any way is great, as it draws attention to non-mainstream comics. But those efforts tend to be more finite in scope (as in, limited series with little to no follow up efforts) so it falls to other folks to have other good stuff to act as follow-through material. "If you bought Frenemy because of Jones' name but still liked it as a comic, why not try these other titles by people you may not have heard of?" Using powerful names to lure people in is all well and good, but let's make sure there's more material to cater to their interests once they've stepped through the door!

Pam Grier is awesome, but where do you turn when you run out of Pam Grier movies?
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