Thursday, April 2, 2015

On Childhood Heroes

Emma Peel - childhood heroine
My uncle gave me a picture of my favorite character from The Avengers for Christmas. Not your Marvel Avengers, The Avengers British TV show from the 60s.

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, you can watch the series for free on Hulu. It's possible you might read something about a movie that was made in the late 90s. Just ignore that, just like you ignore the movie version of Avatar The Last Airbender.

My dad was a teenager when his youngest brother was born, so he had a giant impact on introducing his sibling to all of the genre shows that he eventually got me hooked on too. My uncle occasionally gets me gifts that show that shared connection. It's one way we remember him.

The Avengers was a quirky, action-packed show about espionage and plots against the people and the need for agents who work outside the usual rules.

John Steed was the picture of Edwardian style. His female counterparts embodied the spirit of the 60s. I started watching the Cathy Gale episodes (starring Honor Blackman) and she kicked ass. The lighter tone (and still badass) Emma Peel episodes, however, quickly became my favorite.

I totally wanted to be Emma Peel. Confident, smart, capable, she quickly joined Leia, She-Ra, Romana & Velma as my childhood heroines. I also wanted her wardrobe and for my hair to do that flip thing at the ends.

As I remember many of the shows, movies and books my dad introduced me to, there generally was a strong female presence (at least one, and as we all know, sometimes that's all you get). A few years before he died he gifted me with a box of Tanya Huff and Kelley Armstrong books, ones he had discovered, enjoyed, and knew that I would like as well. As usual, he was spot on. I'm trying to do the same with the kids, having available shows, movies and books with diverse characters and situations. I'm still building it, and having a hell of a good time doing so.

I've had a lot of fun introducing the kids to Doctor Who. I think it's time to try The Avengers. Of course, the show is from the 60s so I'm sure the rewatch will have more than one cringeworthy moment. We can deal. Those are teaching moments.

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