Tag Archives: femme fatale

Jamie Chung to Return to Once Upon a Time

Fairy tales aren’t exactly known for their LGBT representation and so it was a surprise when ABC drama Once Upon a Time, a show based on classic fairy tales, appeared to allude to a queer romance.

In its second season we were introduced to Fa Mulan (played by Jamie Chung) and Princess Aurora (Sleeping Beauty, played by Sarah Bolger) with the two women quickly striking up a bond.


Although Mulan seemed to have the hots for Prince Philip, this quickly changed when Philip temporarily died after sacrificing himself to a wraith to save Mulan and Aurora.

Before he got offed by the monster, he asked Mulan to keep Aurora safe and so she does her best but is unable to stop some zombie-types from snatching Aurora’s heart, allowing them to control the princess’ body.

Mulan goes to get Aurora’s heart back (popping it in her chest in a strangely erotic moment), the two go on a quest to save Philip and so Aurora and Philip are loved up and happy as Mulan sits on the sidelines.

Mulan eventually gets an offer to join Robin Hood and co. but before she agrees, she says that she needs to talk to “a loved one”; Aurora. Mulan is heartbroken when she goes to see Aurora and right as she goes to confess her feelings…Aurora tells her that her and Philip are having a baby.

While that all sounds a bit complex (and some have seen it as queerbaiting), fans of ‘Sleeping Warrior’ (Aurora and Mulan’s ship name) were heartbroken when Mulan left the show, and even Jamie Chung said that it was “disappointing” to leave fans hanging.

Thankfully though, E! has revealed that Jamie Chung will be taking up her role as Mulan in a multi-episode arc this fall.

Unfortunately, it’s unclear whether or not Sleeping Warrior will be on, or if Aurora will be too loved up with Philip to care about her gal pal but E!, who announced Chung’s return ” exclusively”, makes several mentions of the two women’s relationship.

It would be usual for the publication to make such a heavy mention of Sleeping Warrior if the ship wasn’t going to be revived so hopefully more details will be revealed soon.

I *heart* Grace Jones – May Disco Live On

Some iconic celebrities remain set in their era, or reinvent themselves as they grow into the next. The compelling, iconic draw of Grace Jones is by no means subject to time or to passing fads. She was a striking presence as a model, with her angular face and her lithe body, she radiated self-possession. Jones embraced her androgynous beauty, wearing both women’s and men’s fashion alike so well and so distinctively that the influence of her image continues from the 1980’s and lasts until today. While widespread and much imitated, the style of Grace Jones remains unmistakable.

Jones’ celebrity status was not only a matter of looks. The multi-talented Grace Jones also had a memorable singing voice. Her silken belt could breathe life into disco and lounge jazz tunes alike. The diversity and versatility of her talents, in addition to her adventurous style, made her the right fit as a performance regular in New York’s famous Studio 54 multimedia night club. Well into her fourth decade of performance art, Jones continues to perform and tour the world.

When it came to action films with challenging stunts, Jones proved that she could hold her own amongst Hollywood werewolves, vampires, barbarians of sword-and-sorcery fantasy, and even James Bond himself. For the Saturn Awards, Jones had been nominated numerous times for her supporting roles in Conan the Destroyer and View to a Kill.

An autobiography of Grace Jones is currently in the works, slated for release in the autumn of 2014. Fans of the iconic Grace Jones can look forward to her fond memories of collaborating with famous artist Andy Warhol and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger. New fans can come to a deeper appreciation of the influential and irrepressible Grace Jones, and be taken back to a time where aesthetics and expression blossomed into a kaleidoscope of life. We can thank icons such as Grace Jones for both preserving this zeitgeist and keeping it alive—perhaps, even, creating it.

An autobiography of Grace Jones is currently in the works, slated for release in the autumn of 2014. Fans of the iconic Grace Jones can look forward to her fond memories of collaborating with famous artist Andy Warhol and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger. New fans can come to a deeper appreciation of the influential and irrepressible Grace Jones, and be taken back to a time where aesthetics and expression blossomed into a kaleidoscope of life. We can thank icons such as Grace Jones for both preserving this zeitgeist and keeping it alive—perhaps, even, creating it.

Bettie Page: Snapshot Sexuality

The pin-up girls of the 1950’s might seem too posed and polished to the modern eye. When it comes to displays of sexuality, the technical aspects of the medium, the willingness of producers to meet the demands of an audience, and the tastes of said audience, all take infinitesimally small steps to growing into the era and characterising it.

In the world of erotic photography, nobody has taken larger strides than Bettie Page. Her career was longer than most models could hope for, and the influence of her work from that time can be seen today, on as broad a swatch as that between Katy Perry and Dita Von Teese. Page was uninhibited and unforgettable, whether posing as a sultry and no-nonsense dominatrix, or roped into submission. The arch of her eyebrows gave her a devious ferality, while a simple smile could turn her into the image of the girl next door again. The coquettish way she coiffed her dark hair, and wink a startlingly clear blue eye, had become a trademark of a seductress that few can do better.

Page might well have reclaimed female sexuality for an entire generation, and even, perhaps, for herself. In her early years, she was a victim of incest and molestation and lived in an orphanage for a year, tasked with the care of her younger siblings. She was a debater, and voted in her high school graduating batch as “Most Likely To Succeed”. As the 1950’s drew to a close, Page found herself drawn to the fellowship of born-again Christianity, and retired from erotic photography. She might have been an unwitting herald of the free love generation of the 1960’s, and the 1980’s saw a renewed interest in her tamer modelling—an interest that she remained unaware of.

In 1998, Page stated in an interview for Playboy magazine that, concerning her career in erotic photography, she “never thought it was shameful. I felt normal. It’s just that it was much better than pounding a typewriter eight hours a day, which gets monotonous.”


Source – http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7778963.stm 

Sleeping Warrior – Recap of ABC’s ‘Once Upon A Time’

On October 13, 2013 family network ABC aired the Once Upon A Time episode “Quite a Common Fairy”, so I’m a little late publishing my observations on an aspect of that specific episode that is relevant to this blog.

Once Upon A Time is a retelling of various fairy tales. The show-runners received dispensation to show characters patented by the Walt Disney company, which rose to fame in the past several decades with their own fairy tale re-telling. Sleeping Beauty, named Princess Aurora in the 1959 animated Disney film, is brought to life in the TV show by the delightful Sarah Bolger. The woman warrior Mulan, more a legend than a fairy tale in China where this heroine’s story originated, was portrayed in the 1998 Disney film as an awkward misfit who struggles to find her place in society. Jamie Chung brings honor to us all by playing the cool, mature and formidable re-interpretation of this character in the show.

Neither characters were part of the regular cast. Their own story arc appeared at first to be a love triangle between Princess Aurora, Prince Philip, and Mulan. When Prince Philip is spirited away, the barely-acquainted Aurora and Mulan must contend with the main characters of the show who caused his apparent demise—and then with one other, and their shared history with the lost prince. Fans refer to the relationship between these characters as Sleeping Warrior.

In a world where heterosexual romances are ubiquitous in media, it would have been a great subversion already just for these two women to grow to be friends rather than in competition for something—success, reputation, or the love of a man. By the end of the previous series, this does appear to be the case: Prince Philip has returned, although we aren’t shown how, we can gather that Aurora and Mulan teamed up to get him back from whatever mysterious other dimension in which he was trapped. He is, after all, Aurora’s prince, and Mulan’s comrade-in-arms.

“Quite a Common Fairy” isn’t an episode that focuses on the three of them. They are the sub-plot of a sub-plot, again made merely supplementary to a more regular member of the cast of characters. Mulan is given the advice that, “If you love someone, don’t hold it in.” This leads to the following scene (unofficially transcribed by yours truly.)

  • Castle gardens. Aurora waters the plants as Mulan stands some way off.
  • Aurora: (smiling as she turns to see) Mulan?
  • (Mulan returns the smile of elation. They walk towards each other.)
  • Aurora: How long have you been there? What are you doing?
  • Mulan: Just gathering my courage.
  • Aurora: What’s going on? (Aurora takes both of Mulan’s hands in hers.) I am so glad you’re back!
  • Mulan: Is Philip here?
  • Aurora: No, no. Shall I get him?
  • Mulan: No, that’s unnecessary. It’s you I want to talk to, you see, I…
  • (Aurora grins)
  • Mulan: Why are you smiling at me?
  • Aurora: I can tell you are busting with news, but so am I.
  • Mulan: You are?
  • Aurora: Philip and I are expecting a baby!
  • Mulan: (appears thunderstruck, then politely smiles) That’s excellent news.
  • (Aurora embraces Mulan, and doesn’t see Mulan’s expression change from thunderstruck to devastated)
  • Aurora: It’s like a dream come true! (releases her embrace, steps back) Now please, please tell me your news.
  • Mulan: (pauses) I’m joining Robin Hood’s band.
  • Aurora: What? (smile fading) You’re…leaving us?
  • Mulan: (nods) Yes. I’m afraid so. Goodbye.
  • (They embrace. Mulan turns away, eyes filled with tears. Aurora watches her leave, and shakes her head miserably.)

So, basically…nothing happened. Nothing. Tierney Bricker on TV Scoop interviewed actress Jamie Chung to find that Mulan’s growing care for Aurora in previous episodes had been “an ongoing inside joke between Sarah and I, and … there was this conspiracy online, like, ‘Mulan loves Aurora!’ and I’m really glad that the writers listened.” While Chung went on to suggest that “I really do think that’s what they—” that is, the showrunners “—planned from the beginning” because the writers are “all about twists”, I’m more inclined to think that the creative team only went in this direction when the fans voiced their receptiveness to an onscreen lesbian relationship. More than receptive, fans were enthusiastic.

I reiterate that, in the scene above, absolutely nothing happened. The scene was suggestive of a possibility of lesbian characters, but not overt. Why? Is it because this is a family network? In the tenth episode of the previous series, episode title “The Cricket Game”, the main character Emma Swan and her twelve-year-old son accidentally catches Emma’s parents (Snow White and Prince Charming) naked in bed about to—or in the middle of—having sex. This is executed as a moment of comic relief. This demonstrative contrast between how celebrated heterosexuality is, and how overtly it can be portrayed and still considered acceptable, provides a stark contrast to the portrayal of the suggestion of the possibility of a homosexual relationship. I don’t believe the scene above earns the writers any applause for working towards equality, when there obviously is no such equality.

There was some push-back by a minority of viewers at this the slightest of suggestions that people can have relationships with genders other than their opposite. However, I’m personally uncomfortable with the way this was handled for several other reasons. First, it was gimmicky. Chung’s sentiment that the writers were “all about twists” is spot-on. This scene could have been written for shock value alone, with the unfortunate implication that simply being homosexual is shocking, exciting, deviant—nothing to do with normal romance experienced by normal human beings as a normal human experience. It’s a twist! Oh, what a twist! I continue, sarcastically: Mulan’s love must remain unrequited and tragic, too, of course—homosexuals don’t get happy fairy tale endings, or even hope for one.

With that sort of sensationalist approach, I almost wish the show had never presumed to represent lesbian characters at all.

Even if that were neither the intention nor the effect, I also consider it irresponsible not to examine the tired, overdone, clichéd tropes when it comes to media representative of homosexuals. Gender and sexual orientation are two different concepts that combine in many different ways—except in most entertainment media, where homosexual men are feminine, and homosexual women are masculine.

The writers of Once Upon A Time have been very good about portraying different ways to be a woman that makes their female characters human—this is a lot rarer than it should be! However, when the time came to reveal one and only one of their female characters as a homosexual, it was the one female character that pursued a masculine manly position. Of course, many female characters in Once Upon A Time are also formidable warriors, but that is not considered gender-bending within the story’s setting—it’s taken for granted that women are able to fight just as well as men, not that by fighting they become men. Only Mulan has stated that, in stepping up to battle, she stepped into a man’s role, and she is the only lesbian character. That sends quite an unfortunate message about the creativity and social responsibility of the show-runners. If there were just one other character in Once Upon A Time who was a homosexual woman that broke or blurred the stereotype that homosexual women are necessarily masculine, then I wouldn’t be getting this irritatingly ignorant message that this is the way it always is. As of now, lesbianism has become Mulan’s defining trait as a character. That’s unfortunate.

The character of Princess Aurora returns in the last half of the third series, so perhaps this storyline will see further development than the disappointing way it was handled earlier this series.

Once Upon A Time has given male roles to female characters before. Their version of Jack, as in the one who climbed the magic beanstalk, was a femme fatale by the name of Jacqueline. While Julian Morris, who plays Prince Philip, does the character every bit of stalwart dashing justice—if handling this relationship triangle had the least bit more care, Aurora would have paired up at the end with her beloved lesbian partner Philippa. In the Disney film, Mulan’s love interest was the young General Shang. A product of the conditional love of his strict and judgmental father, Shang is eager to show good form, discipline, and unwavering devotion to the codes of conduct—but he must learn to disregard these in order to do what is truly right and honorable, by Mulan. I’d like to see Once Upon A Time swap the gender of that complex sort of character.

Alternatively, I could just forget about all this and let it be. I wouldn’t call this brush with controversy “courageous” but, for the writers, I’m sure, it was a new endeavor in unfamiliar territory as individual storytellers, held perilously accountable to producers and audience members alike.

Earlier, I mentioned that I almost wished the writers had never presumed to represent a lesbian relationship at all. Almost. Instead, now, I look forward more confident, mature, and respectful representation of lesbian relationships between characters that are established to be complex, interesting, and have a profoundly dynamic relationship with one another.

Basically: Swan Queen, please.