Dangerous Curves by Jeffrey A. Brown (book review).

October 31, 2018 | By | Reply More

A quick word with the wonderful people at Eurospan, who import a lot of American university books into the UK and whose website you really should check out, and Jeffrey A. Brown’s ‘Dangerous Curves’ book arrives.

As I commented on Brown’s second book, ‘Beyond Bombshells’, I was curious to see whether or not he missed out on anything there, was covered in here instead. As this book was released in 2011, I won’t reference any strong female characters beyond that point because it would be unfair. Saying that, in historical context, even so, it does allow my mind to wander over historic characters he overlooked and to find out why. After all, there is a possibility that he thought that such subjects had been done enough in the past.

There is a lot of emphasis on Linda Hamilton’s role in ‘Terminator II’, but after the first film, she was already doing strong women roles in the likes of ‘Secret Weapons’ (1985) and ‘Black Moon Rising (1986)’, so it isn’t like she was just thrown into the position to train, she was already in that mindset of being an action heroine. For any actresses put into strong women roles, it’s always worth looking to see if they have history in such roles.

The same also applies with actress Jeri Ryan, who was playing strong roles like in the series ‘Dark Skies’ (1997) before she became Seven Of Nine in ‘Star Trek: Voyager’ (1997). If anything, it shows a little bit of typecasting but actresses who play strong roles do get more of them.

I’m glad ‘The Long Kiss Goodnight’ (1996) was covered here. There are some things I would take him to task with and this applies to either sex where a switch in personality. Unlike the mind, the body doesn’t suddenly spring back into the physical condition is was trained in and I suspect if it was outside of films, you would have all kinds of tendon let alone muscle damage.

His comment that Rogue of the X-Men steals a man’s psyche isn’t correct as her mutant ability will steal anyone’s abilities, especially those of mutants. The only time she held onto anyone long enough to steal their memories was one person, Carol Danvers. Oh, Colossus is not a cyborg as all his mutation does is change him into metal not gain mechanical parts. Victor Stone of DC Comics Teen Titans/JLA is a cyborg and even uses that as his codename. Considering that Brown announces he’s a big comicbook fan, he does make odd lapses by not distinguishing which characters belong to which company and chucks them all together.

I should point out that unlike his second book, Brown does acknowledge the 1970s ‘Bionic Woman’ and ‘Wonder Woman’ but not in much detail. Much of his reference to the British ‘Avengers’ is more to the ill-fated 1998 film than the original TV series.

As to the size of the bustline and that even actresses have extremes, he tends to overlook that Jaime Sommers actress Lindsay Wagner was actually an A-cup. Come to that, I think Sigourney Weaver and Linda Hamilton are B or C-cups. Comicbook heroines tend to have exaggerated figures but this is often an editor dictate more than the artists who draw them.

A pity he doesn’t look at the Helena Wayne aka the first Huntress who had both bust and leg extremes. Granted that there is a need for sex appeal, more so as there are more male than female comicbook readers, Brown doesn’t offer any other solution as to why the former would buy a comicbook with a female lead. Marvel certainly had other female led books like ‘Millie The Model’ or even ‘Night Nurse’ but I doubt if they garnered male fans.

Considering that the super-heroes also wear skin-tight costumes, you can hardly think it unlikely the super-heroines don’t do likewise, especially if they wear civvies on top. If you’re going into combat, you do want some element of free movement although I do have to wonder at the exposed navels and cleavage although if you want a male opponent to pause for a split-second to think they might be hitting a woman and for her to take advantage of it, then there is some sense in the exposure. It isn’t as though every super-heroine does that.

Brown makes an interesting point that his current classes have never heard of ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’. However, considering his own lack of or not acknowledging early leading female characters would make me raise the point that each generation has its own favourite female lead characters. They’ve never really gone out of fashion but it’s more a point of whether the studios wanting to do more with them and having the right calibre of actresses willing to play them.

When Brown looks at what he describes as ‘kinky vampires’, I do have to wave my hand in the air and disagree. Yes, early male vampires weren’t interested in normal sex, just out for blood and transforming ladies into vampires, but the current batch certainly don’t. Even Buffy and Spike had some rough sex but considering how strong they are, they could bring any room down. Rather oddly, he spends a lot of time debating whether Buffy has any lesbian tendencies and nary a word on her friends and witches, Willow Rosenberg and Tara Maclay, who were having a relationship.

OK, like with his second book, I’m still inclined to believe Brown hasn’t really dug deep enough. Like a lot of university books, there is far too much quoting what other authors have said on particular subjects than expressing his own opinions and people like me can take him to task simply by having watched most of the early shows and films. I would have liked to have known his opinions on ‘Fathom’ (1967) or even ‘Halloween’ (1978, etc) as Laurie Stride strove not to be a victim. It wouldn’t take long to pull over strong female characters from films and TV out of the bag that would have come out of research.

Something I would also have observed is the surprisingly low number of women writers or scriptwriters doing well for the members of their own sex which must surely tell something about the industry. Thankfully, things have been moving in the past decade. In many respects, there haven’t been many villainous females or at least running the cartels although I might raise the film ‘Madame Sin’ (1972) with actress Bette Davis in the lead role.

The empowerment of women still has to rely on a woman looking good or at least capable of doing what she is intended to do in the plot. With films and TV, looking attractive is deemed a star quality for any woman lead. Even ‘Ugly Betty’ star actress America Ferrera with her teeth braces on isn’t really ugly. The same certainly applies to male leads as well although there is a broader perimeter as to what can be classed as ‘handsome’.

Despite the criticisms above, this doesn’t mean I haven’t learnt anything from this book. I’ve spent some time looking up some of characters, films and books he mentions just to fill up some gaps I might have missed currently. What Brown does cover, he does inform well but in such a subject you have to be aware of the historical context and not that women empowerment started in the 1990s.

GF Willmetts

October 2018

(pub: University Press Of Mississippi, 2011. 269 page indexed enlarged paperback. Price: $48.60 (US), £30.50 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-61703-940-9)

check out websites: www.upress.state.ms.us and www.eurospanbookstore.com

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About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 15 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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