25 Stories That Reinvent the ‘Strong Female Character’

“Formation,” Beyoncé

OK, yeah, so Beyoncé is a Strong Female, not a Strong Female Character. That said, I think of music videos – good ones, anyway – as stories, and the artist starring in them as both storyteller and character, and also Beyoncé transcends genre and form and time and space and so I’m counting it. In my class, I spend a day on music videos. We watch “Bad Blood,” we watch “Bitch Better Have My Money,” we watch “Lookin Ass,” and we talk about strength and violence as performed by women as entertainment and the many excitements and complications therein. But when I saw “Formation,” I thought: Beyoncé looks stronger, tougher, cooler than any of the women in those other videos, and though her strength has a similar tone to theirs, she’s doing it without guns or violence. Would the Beyoncé of “Formation” be any stronger if she were holding a gun? I have to say no. I have to say it would be distracting, and completely besides the point. And I have to say that’s the precisely kind of reinvention I want for my strong female characters.