The Animatress Pipeline

Filmmaking Adventures

Acting For Men Part 6: Zeus

The Sky Father God. The founder of patriarchal rule despite having the wisdom of his mother who is trapped inside of him. Zeus is the epitome of law, regime, rigidness, fatherly love ( so long as you see things his way and never different than he). He is also calous, punitive and a philanderer. As Neitzsche would put it, a Noble or Prey Animal. The latter is eponymous with the eagle who is Zeus’ messenger and enforcer.

Zeus and his incarnations in other cultures be it the Chinese Jade Emperor or Nigerian Thunder God are culpable that woman are eclipsed in society or reduced to sidekicks. Zeus is no great intllectual. Like every corporate CEO who takes credit for the wisdom of their female minions or wives, Zeus takes credit for this mother’s wisdom. Behind every great man is a better woman. Would the Disney have resonated so well with it audience under Mortimer Mouse? Probably not. We all should thank Mrs. Disney for suggesting the name of Mickey.

Thanks you Lillian Disney nee Bounds 🙂

Women have been conforming 2500 years. Success is elusive unless we use men represent our work. Even in the most famous women’s writings in comtemporary media feature male leads. Wendy Pini, J.K. Rowling, and Rumiko Takahashi all wrote about men. The only consolation is that because these stories are written by women, female characters are plentiful and Maiden, Mother and wise-Crone is represented and interchangable though all ages, shapes and sizes.
Hermione is a wise- Crone in the shell of the Maiden.

Despite Hermione prominent role in the series, she still stands in Harry’s shadow. Zeus’ mother Metis the wise Titan helped her son escape his father Cronos who swallowed the rest of her children in fear that one may supplant his power. In return Zeus swallowed his mother the instant he came of age. Metis continues to live inside him, so it is through her counsel that Cronos and the opposing Titans were defeated winning Zeus place as highest of all gods. Local boy makes good. Harry wouldn’t be able to find his own ass in the mirror with both hands without counsel from Hermione and his mother, Lily Evans, who lives in Harry’s psyche.

Women just aren’t prominent enough where it counts, such as higher office. Oh sure, there are exceptions, but they are few. England’s Queen Elizabeth I and II, Cleopatra and Eleanor of Aquitaine are examples.

No one seems to care unless a hero saves the world and female leadership is still rare. As rare as female leads in contemporary cartoons ( unless she’s a princess).

Zeus in Animation

Professor Xavier

Megatron ( as Zeus’ shadow in the dynamic between Starscream ( his would be usurper) and Unicron ( as Cronos)

King Triton (yes I know Triton in myth is one of Poseidon’s sons)

King of Point (The Law is the law. He made a very tough decision to sentence Oblio for banishment)

Goliath of Gargoyles

Jade Emperor of Furuba

Akito ( Zeus’ shadow and arguably Hera in Furuba)

Zeus in Live Action

William Walker of Brothers and Sisters

Tin Le of Himalaya

Yashvardhan Raichand of Kabhi Kushi Kabhie Gham

Big Daddy of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

The Great Ziegfeld

Gandolf the White

Sheikh Riyadh of Hidalgo

Zeus the far off enforcer and doting father.

The modern day skygod archetype is personified in the corporate founder or CEO. Alliances are his specialty and he surrounds himself with very loyal circle of the brightest minds. Although Zeus can be charming to his cronies and very nice to his children (the ones he likes) he has no real friends. Everyone is an associate. Therefore, don’t be fooled. Just because Zeus is charming and gives you gifts, keep looking over your shoulder, for everyone is expendable. Everyone is fodder to Zeus, even his family should they ever cease to be useful to him.

A great example of a Zeus character is Jack who is played by Alec Baldwin on NBC’s 30 Rock. The show is great analogy of Zeus and his favorite daughter Athena who’s archetype lives in Tina Fey’s character Liz Lemon.

There are 2 episodes (one not displayed) that illustrate my argument.

Cutbacks. Zeus has no problem firing “friends” and his darling daddy’s girl Athena winces for only a moment before complying to wishes. Athena is a female Zeus. Athena does have a mind of her and will seek other methods to achieve a solution. Lemon attempts to ease cutbacks in true Athena fashion. Athena will whore herself out for a greater cause.

However, at the end of the Lemon did fail and cut her losses. She saves by keep ing her mouth shut ( if she ever disagreed to begin with) when Kenneth was fired from his promoted post as Jack’s assistant.
My Artemis activist would’ve objected to the deicision. Executive assistants make 70-90k a year. That would have taken Kenneth out of poverty. I think Kenneth is worth training.

Yes, Kevin was not quite ready for the stealthy position of EA. You have to a but vindictive, socially savvy and has sharky as a litigator for that position and Kenneth is just too sweet and naive. The Apollo-Hephaestus character sees the world differently than what is appropriate for ruthless corporate America. To repeat, I am disappointed that “Athena” didn’t even flinch a gesture of remorse or offer to train Kenneth when Zeus struck him with a pink slip lighting bolt.

Luckily, Kenneth’s former page position was still open. Of course my solution would derail the flow of the story, but it the laziness of modern corporate managers who refuse to train is an issue that really gets under my skin.

Poor, dear Kenneth. What a stressful day of ups and downs. Promoted against his will, his beloved bird was killed by clumsy pet sitters and no one noticed his leadership skills when he gave Tracey and Jenna an upbraiding that had an effect that Athena has yet to be able to bestow.

We are left with some hope, for Kenneth spirits were lifted with a gift of a flurry of pet ship birds in the closing scene. I for one would be too distraught over the death of my pet to find joy in my new feathered family. But that’s the vengeful Artemis in me. Don’t mess with my animals!

I am an Artemis-Persephone type and remember Artemis was also daddy’s little girl who received gifts like Athena. However Artemis recognized the need for women to be independent of men for not every woman can be Athena and see herself in Zeus or function in Zeus’ society, hence you have bevy’s like the Amazons.

Women have always been mysterious and in a man’s world there have been groups of women who chose alternative routes to leadership as opposed to direct competition with men in the patriarchal world. In exclusive groups, women have created societies of their own. It is not a circle of mysandry per say, but an alternative leadership. Men and women still share the world but until both sexes see other as more than a means of procreation, there will always be a need for a cult of Metis and Hestia’s and Artemis’ in this world.

Case in point:
In the entertainment industry Hestia is Martha Stewart and Metis is Oprah. Both programs are well respected but suffer a daytime programming stigma. In contrast, when in it comes to big budget feature film and television, women are pushed into the background as mere helpers of men in their adventures. One of the arguments I was told is that men’s stories are more universal. Bullshit. No one has considered a woman for a man’s role, that’s the problem. But despite the success of Xena, audiences refuse to accept a female protagonist lead in an action-adventure film. Persephone damsels in distress or pathetic attempts at emulate Artemis through Aphrodite are what audiences are spoon fed and it’s eagerly eaten up.

As strong as writers attempt to make female sidekicks she almost always ends up in service of man, otherwise she just isn’t considered likable. When writers don’t have to worry about appeal of woman, the favorite villainess is a Hera archetype who is usually done so well that she successfully holds a film on par with a male lead protagonist. Male writers may not be able to immerse themselves in the Athena mindset, but they know their ex-wives reeeealll well. Demona anyone? They are also haunted my emotionally volatile ex-grilfriends so represented as the dark side of Aphrodite; the femme fatale.

But what of the other 7 archetypes for female characters? Persephone is the dominant archetype of Disney heriones.

But why can’t the strong willed virgin goddess like Athena, Artemis and Hestia be done well consistently?

Artemis and Athena are considered unlikable and Hestia and Demeter are pushed into the subtext. Hold on though. This subtext can be used to to aid the cohesion of a script. Hestia likes being unnoticed but she is always subtlety controlling the strings while the dominant characters run around the screen skillfully distracting the audience. Hestia, the forgotten goddess of the hearth is a thematic character. She’s the unseen entity of Scarlett O’Hara’s beloved Tara and her shadow is in every haunted house film ever made. As for mothers, no one makes a Demeter mother archetype hold her own like J.K. Rowling! Perhaps the immediate need is more women writers, however it would be nice if more men practiced a conformity and gave it a try. Before I go on, I would like to thank make writers who wrote about women before. Thank you for Roman Holiday and Faster Pussycat, Kill! KIll! and Breakfast at Tiffany’s John Dighton, Dalton Trumbo, Russ Meyer and Truman Capote to name a few.

Wo: of ..Man. An eponym that renders women in service of men for ages to come unless someone humbles Zeus by reminding him of his origins. Who came first is arguable. Its similar to the chicken and the egg. Who ever heard of a men giving birth? To hedge the argument of what that statement may develop into, woman can not inseminate herself without a source. So neither sex is subservient to the other. A circle hasn’t an end for there is no beginning.

Zeus, youngest of his siblings owes his power to a woman. He is the victor of a successful coup of the Titan rule and is mightiest of the gods but the not the wisest and hides his insecurities with the veil of force. Dyu is fear being found out. Uneasy lies the head who wears the crown. What he doesn’t realize is that has less to fear of woman than the effects of his own paranoia and past causes, than the wise-woman inside him once she’s freed.

Bring on the balance that is Metis!

So there you have it. Twelve of the main Olympian Gods who in turn represent respective 12 aspects of the human psyche. I hope these analogies will help any animator who is stuck acing for a characters they can’t relate to or a writer pitching a script is who unable to describe the characters clearly. Nevermind that the characters described are Greek the archetypes are the source and that’ what’s important. For I truly no one will have to work with the vague description of: make her a young Sandra Bullock crossed with gee, gosh I don’t know, ever again.


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