Hollywood is finally getting ready to give women superpowers. For decades, moviegoers only saw the likes of Batman, Spider Man, and Iron Man, but in recent years there's been a slate of strong female characters on screen. And there's more to come, including The Black Widow, Captain Marvel and the iconic Wonder Woman. This hour, we're talking about superheroines, in film and in real life.
Since her creation in 1941, Wonder Woman has become one of the most popular superheroes of all time, as well as an beloved icon of second-wave feminism. It also turns out she has a fascinating origin story that intersects with the Women's movement of the early 20th century, the lie detector, and even involves the founders of Planned Parenthood. Historian Jill Lepore tells Steve Paulson about these connections, and talks about Wonder Woman's eccentric creator.
Television is rife with shows about female spies, whether it's Nikita, Covert Affairs, the Americans, or Homeland. It really seems like spy girls are having a moment on TV, but how true to life are these popular depictions? We turned to former CIA operations officer Valerie Plame Wilson to find out.
How do you best portray a strong female character, either in TV or in film? That’s a question culture critic Tasha Robinson has been asking herself for a long time now, first during her 13 years as an editor for the A.V. Club and most recently as the senior editor of the movie commentary site, The Dissolve. She tells Charles Monroe Kane that it's relatability — not toughness — that defines a strong woman on screen.
For much of her early life, rock critic Jessica Hopper was an ardent fan of punk rock. But despite her passion, she never felt like she quite fit in. That began to change once she started seeing female fronted bands performing onstage. She says the experience convinced her that there was a place for her in music. The discovery set her on a quest to uncover the countless other ways women are excluded from music, which she writes about in her book, "The First Collection of Criticism By A Living Female Rock Critic." She spoke to producer Craig Eley about the various forms of sexism she encountered in her decades-long career as a music journalist.
Does death gives life meaning? You might think so, looking at the prominence of death and the afterlife in so many religions. For millennia, people have dreamed about immortality, and now transhumanists are trying to extend life by merging our selves with machines. Also, with so much of our lives lived online, how do we plan for our digital afterlives?
"I’m a different person when I’m in Nepal..." Jeffrey Potter has been documenting life in a village in eastern Nepal for 20 years. During a trip there in 2000, he was present for the death of a young man named Harka. In this story, he talks about how that experience that was both profound and unexplainable.
Zen Buddhist Abbot Joan Halifax has been sitting with dying people since 1970. She says the experience has been a profound gift. She says that she has no idea what happens after we die, and that she's comfortable with that mystery.
Pre-Modern hunter and gatherer cultures believed that dying was a kind of trial which didn't begin until you left your physical body and entered the supernatural world, according to sociologist Allan Kellehear. In these cultures, death is not the destruction of the body, but the annihilation of the personality and its transformation into something new.
What happens to your digital self when you die? Currently, Facebook lets users "memorialize" their pages, giving family members a virtual space to post rememberances. Religious studies professor Candi Cann believes new digital tools like these are changing the way we mourn, by letting anyone share their stories about someone who's died, and preserving social connections to departed loved ones.
In March 2014, hundreds of listeners sent us their science fiction stories as part of the 3 Minute Futures flash fiction competition. Though the story themes ranged from communications, to environmental issues, computing, and reproduction, digital immortality was by far the most popular theme. And, as Anne says, “no one seemed to think digital immortality would turn out very well.”
As we prepared the final hour of the death series, we decided to bring to life a story from listener Mark Pantoja's, called “Reset.”
Our series concludes with the final episode in the story of the end of Dan Pierotti's life. His wife, Judy, says she and Dan were both very open to sharing their story with To the Best of Our Knowledge. "I just think that this is a subject that needs to be discussed in our lives and in our world." And she's had some unexpected responses from people who've heard Dan and Judy's story on the radio, "People that I hardly even know are coming up to me, and hugging me on the street and thanking me for doing this."