Next week, the first installment of The Mortal Instruments hits screens. Cassandra Clare, who wrote The Mortal Instruments series of YA novels, upon which the flicks are based, says that she purposely created an empowered female character.
I’ve seen and am a fan of Percy Jackson and Harry Potter and a million other of these books that are almost always about boys discovering that they are the chosen one – you know, the hero myth, that they have great power, and with great power comes great responsibility (laughs). And I was like, where is that stuff necessarily for girls? I mean, there’s plenty of books that center on women, and books that center on strong women. But I wasn’t finding that epic hero narrative about a girl, so that was a big part of the reason that I wanted to write the book.
The frenzy surrounding TMI is not quite as big as the chaos around Twilight, but it will be interesting to see if teen girls flock to the theaters in support of a strong female lead. Unlike some other female heros, TMI's Clary starts out fairly ordinary (kind of like Harry Potter). As Clare puts it:
We’ve got Lara Croft, who kicks ass but does it in skintight leather, and you’ve got Katniss, who is not sexualized but has been a powerful warrior since pretty much she was born. With Clary, I was like I really want you to keep that she is an ordinary girl in jeans and a T-shirt, in Converse high tops, and she lives in Brooklyn and she wants to be an artist. She could be any girl, and then she’s thrown into these extraordinary circumstances, and the question is, can she find it within herself to become extraordinary?
It's also notable that Clare made a very conscious choice to have her books be as empowering as possible — she even considered the Bechdel test:
I wanted to make sure that every book passed the Bechdel test – you know, are there two women in it, are they separately named, do they sit down and talk, and do they talk about something other than a guy? So I wanted to be like, yes, every one of these books passes that test. And I want the movie to pass that test, too, which it does – which I’m happy about.
Sounds promising! But still: Will the fans show up and turn this into a blockbuster, or do girls want romance more than empowerment?