Tag Archives: green eyes

Fictional Green Eyes, part 3

Ever since I posted my first collection of green-eyed fictional characters (and commentary about how a disproportionate number of them are “evil” characters,) many of my friends have been been helping to point out green-eyed characters that they notice, and I’ve noted a few more on top of that, enough to have posted a second collection of green eyes, and now a third.  I’m pleased that this third collection includes more positive examples, because, if you recall, my interest in green-eyed representation in fiction is fueled by the fact that my own eyes are green.  And I am not an evil/jealous character, (usually).

I can’t believe I forgot all about James Cameron’s Avatar in the previous installments of my green eyes series!  All Na’vi have blue skin and green eyes, and are cat-like and awesome.  I especially love fierce Neytiri.  This definitely counts as a positive, big-screen glorious 3D example of green-eyed character representation, although there’s no quality ascribed to the eye color for the characters in the film itself.  But it’s still cool!

All Na'vi have "rikeana menari" (or, you could say "menari arikean"); "leaf-green eyes."

To describe her own eyes, Neytiri would say  “rikeana menari” (or “menari arikean” since word-order is fluid in Na’vi); “leaf-green eyes,” according to the bit of nerd-research I just did on learnnavi.org.

The title character in John Green’s Looking for Alaska has green eyes, that are mentioned by the narrator several times, (because he’s totally in love with her and notices stuff like that.)  Here’s one such description, from the first day he meets her:

But even in the dark, I could see her eyes—fierce emeralds. She had the kind of eyes that predisposed you to supporting her every endeavor.

This is a tough one for me to categorize as a “good” or “bad” green-eyed representation, because it’s hard to categorize Alaska herself as a “good” or “bad” character.  She’s…fickle.  Impulsive.   Hot and cold.  I think in this case, though, her green eyes are one of the things that set her apart as “different” and “desirable” and “mysterious” to the narrator, and I’m certainly not going to complain about that.

Lena Duchannes, as described in the book Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, has green eyes.  Movie-Lena, played by Alice Englert, has dark brown eyes, which I actually think fits the whole “Is she going to ‘go dark’ and destroy the world or not?” thing better.  But as written in the book, it’s another example of green eyes being somehow sinister and associated with witches.  I mean, Lena finds the term ‘witch’ pejorative, but that’s essentially what Casters are.  So it’s not a fantastic green-eyed representation, but I might be biased because I really didn’t care for the book itself.

After I posted my first two green-eyed collections, a friend insisted that I should watch Big Trouble in Little China, a cheesy 1986 movie in which an immortal Chinese sorcerer is targeting women with green eyes as a key element to his plan to “please the god of the east” and regain his mortal form.  There were several great quotes about green eyes being awesome in this film, but I don’t know if I’ll be adding it to my personal DVD collection because it was ridiculously cheesy.  Maybe even gloriously cheesy.  Maybe I do need to own it…

“All I need is a woman, a special kind of woman with dragon-green eyes, and I can be whole again.”

-evil sorcerer Lo Pan

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

“She has green eyes, you know how rare that is, Jack?…Beautiful green eyes, like creamy jade.”

-Wang Chi, describing his soon-to-be-abducted fiancee.

Kim Cattrall as Gracie Law in Big Trouble in Little China.

Kim Cattrall as green-eyed Gracie Law in Big Trouble in Little China.

Another friend sent me a message to let me know she’d found another green-eyed character through her daughter’s love of Tinkerbell and friends.  As she put it, this is technically a “good” green-eyed character, but not necessarily the most admirable.

Rosetta, Tinkerbell's fairy friend.

Rosetta, Tinkerbell’s green-eyed fairy friend.

Although vampire Edward Cullen is mostly known for varying between golden/amber or black eye color, depending on how long it’s been since he last swallowed blood, when he was still human Edward Masen his eyes were green.  Bella learns this detail about the object of her obsession from Carlisle in New Moon, and of course she swoons over this fact like she does everything else about Edward.

“But [Edward's mother] Elizabeth was alert until almost the very end.  Edward looks a great deal like her–she had that same strange bronze shade to her hair, and her eyes were exactly the same color green.”

“His eyes were green?” I murmured, trying to picture it.

“Yes…” Carlisle’s ocher eyes were a hundred years away now.

It’s hypocritical of me to say that Alaska’s green eyes count as a positive since they mark her as unique and yet be annoyed with Edward’s original eye color being colored green by the author with a possibly similar intention, but the Twilight obsession with unique eye colors and with Edward being totally perfect and different and better than everybody in every way makes me resent this particular instance of a green-eyed fictional character.  Maybe it’s just that I don’t like his character (and the way he obsessively and unhealthily controls Bella and their relationship), and that’s why I don’t want to share eye-color attributes with him.

I recently stumbled across a gifset of Pixar’s How To Train Your Dragons on tumblr, and realized that all the dragons have eyes that are shades of green.  That movie is adorable and dragons are awesome (and in this case, not really villainous) so I’m going to call that another positive.

I’ve saved my favorite for last; the main character in the recent animated film Epic has green eyes, and I mean really green eyes.  They are fantastic; bright and dark, complex, sparkling with flecks of gold towards the iris, just like what I picture when I read a description of a character that says they have green eyes, or in my head when I’m imagining a flawless version of myself.  Seeing them on the big-screen was a delight.  Unfortunately, the character herself was kind of blah, and the story felt a little undercooked, but it did have a lot of imaginative world-building elements and some great animated action sequences.  I mean, warriors riding hummingbirds?  Terrific!  And there was green and green eyes everywhere, and this might be my new favorite green-eyed representation in fiction.  For now.

Mary Katherine "M. K." of Epic, with her epic green eyes.

Mary Katherine “M. K.” of Epic, with her epic green eyes.

1 Comment

Filed under Books, movies, nerd

More (Mostly) Evil Green

Since my post on the way green-eyed characters are often evil, I’ve collected several more examples of the portrayal of green eyes in film and on screen, and the correlation of the color green in general with evil.

Possibly my favorite example of green-eyed character representation ever is Ceasar in Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

“There have been absolutely no side effects associated with One-Twelve. With one exception; for some reason the chimp’s irises exhibit flecks of green.”

[...later...]

“I maintain my hypothesis that A; the green in his eyes indicates that the A-L-Z-One-Twelve has passed genetically from mother to son. And B; that in the absence of damaged cells that need replacing, the drug in his system has radically boosted healthy brain functioning. And he plays chess pretty well.”

-scientist Will Rodman (James Franco) in Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Green eyes that represent superior intelligence?  I’ll take it!  But, the virus that causes the mutation in the apes is fatal to humans and will decimate the human population…minor drawback…

Ceasar’s green eyes signify his advanced intelligence in Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

Then you have the Hulk.  He’s a superhero, but this isn’t really a 100% positive green example, since the Hulk form is monstrous, a bit like Jekyl and Hyde.   Bruce Banner spends a lot of time trying to avoid Hulking out or regretting his Hulk actions and telling people they aren’t safe around him.  His eyes are not green normally, but they turn green when he’s about to turn into this rage machine.  So , ultimately it’s still green eyes=jealousy, anger, out-of-control evilness, it’s just that it’s channeled to useful purposes most of the time, hopefully.

Edward Norton’s otherwise blue eyes change to a dramatic green whenever he is about to turn into a rage-filled, irrational monster in The Incredible Hulk.

In the Chronicles of Narnia book The Silver Chair, there is a villain known as “the green lady.”  The book doesn’t say specifically that her eyes are green, (it doesn’t say what color they are), but I assume they are since the color green is so associated with her, and she is always described as wearing it.  **SPOILER ALERT**  Later, she not only imprisons the rightful prince and attempts to take over the kingdom, but she turns into a slithery green serpent and tries to kill the protagonists, so, yeah, this is a solid example of the color green signifying that the character is evil, evil, evil! **END SPOILER**

“And there they rested till it came to high noon: and at noon Drinian looked up and saw the most beautiful lady he had ever seen; and she stood at the north side of the fountain and said no word but beckoned to the Prince with her hand as if she bade him come to her.  And she was tall and great, shining, and wrapped in a thin garment as green as poison.  And the Prince stared at her like a man out of his wits.  But suddenly the lady was gone, Drinian knew not where; and they two returned to Cair Paravel.  It struck in Drinian’s mind that this shining green woman was evil.”  -excerpt from chapter 4, “A Parliament of Owls,” The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis, (emphasis added).

The DC villain Poison Ivy is another example of an “evil” (or at least untrustworthy) green lady; I assume she has green eyes in the comics, she’s often depicted with green skin, and she definitely wears green or green ivy all of the time– (sometimes she doesn’t wear much else).   But the plant she’s named after is green, after all, so I don’t really begrudge this particular representation.  Still, it counts as another example of green=evil.

uma thurmon as poison ivy, plus three drawings in different comic styles of same character

Various depictions of the Poison Ivy character.

The Lannister family in the Song of Ice and Fire books are another example of the “evil green eyes” cliche.  I still haven’t gotten caught up on the series, but within pages of reading the description in A Game of Thrones of how Queen Cersei, her brother Jamie, and her son Joffrey had green eyes,  my suspicions that they would turn out to be sinister characters were proved extremely correct when they **SPOILER ALERT** pushed a child out a window because he saw them having incestuous relations, which it turns out is how Joffrey was conceived, and oh by the way Joffrey is a psychopath.  **END SPOILER**

“A jeweled tiara gleamed amidst her long golden hair, its emeralds a perfect match for the green of her eyes.” -description of Queen Cersei from A Game of Thrones.

Going right along with the “evil green eyes” stereotype, Tyrion Lannister has only one green eye while the other is black, and he is the sole member of the Lannister family that appears half-decent.  (But only half!  He’s still a Lannister, after all, with one green eye.)  However, book 2, (A Clash of Kings), introduced Jojen Reed, who also has green eyes, but is not evil.  In fact, his ability to dream prophetic visions is known as “greensight,” so that’s actually a very positive green-eye connotation!  (It’s worth noting that Jojen’s eyes are described as moss-green, while the Lannisters are said to have emerald green or bright green eyes.)  I’ll call the whole series even on the green-eyed representation.  And to be fair, in book three (A Storm of Swords) Jamie Lannister’s character started developing into a decent human being, and he still has both of his green eyes, while I pretty much completely forgot that I ever thought Tyrion was “evil” when I read book 2.  The characters have moved beyond their initial stereotyped starting points.

I used a picture of Loki in my last post on this subject, but didn’t talk about him.  I guess the only thing to say is to point out that the god of mischief’s depiction in Marvel comic books and movies is not only green-eyed, but his entire color scheme and wardrobe is green as well.  Loki is often conflicted and not 100% evil, but he’s definitely a “bad guy.”

And finally, while not actually a character, kryptonite is green.  The infamous (fictional) element that is Superman’s only weakness, and it had to be green.  Of course kryptonite isn’t evil by itself, but it’s always being used by Superman’s enemies to hinder or prevent his ability to rescue earth and innocent humans, so it definitely deserves to be mentioned when cataloging examples of “evil” green connotations in film and literature.

Superman struggles in the presence of kryptonite.

Can you think of any more examples of “evil” green or green eyes?  Or more positive green-eyed examples?  I’ll continue to keep my own green eyes sharp on the lookout.

2 Comments

Filed under Books, movies

Green Eyes

I’ve always been annoyed by the treatment of green eyes in movies and books.  I have green eyes myself, and as a child I always hated that green eyes were supposed to be some sort of shorthand for villainous, jealous, or somehow evil characters. It’s like, blue eyes are for “pretty girl” characters, brown eyes are for “smart girl” characters, green eyes are for “crazy/jealous/evil or minor character girls.”

Green eyes in this movie poster let you know Loki’s the bad guy.

One of my favorite books growing up was A Little Princess, (which I would have loved anyway since it is a delightful story), but one of the reasons I clung to it was because the heroine, little Sara Crew, is repeatedly described as having gray-green eyes.  I loved Sara’s imagination, bravery, and selflessness, but most of all I loved that she was such a good character who also happened to have green eyes.

“Oh,” sniffed Lavinia, spitefully, “that is the way her shoes are made.  I don’t think she is pretty at all.  Her eyes are such a queer color.”

“She isn’t as pretty as other people are,” said Jessie, stealing a glance across the room, “but she makes you want to look at her again.  She has tremendously long eyelashes, but her eyes are almost green.” (–Sara’s first day at boarding school, from chapter 2 of A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett)

Then of course Harry Potter came along when I was a bit older, and throughout seven glorious books the boy who would save the Wizarding world again and again was the proud owner of a pair of green eyes, just like his mother.

Harry had a thin face, knobbly knees, black hair, and bright green eyes.

“Las’ time I saw you, you was only a baby,” said the giant.  “Yeh look a lot like yer dad, but yeh’ve got yer mom’s eyes.”

-(from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, by J.K. Rowling, chapters 1 and 2)

Of course, the movie adaptations of Harry Potter feature a blue-eyed star, (and inexplicably his mother has brown eyes as a child), so needless to say that was a disappointment.  And in both of the Little Princess movies that I’ve seen, the main character had blue eyes.

What sparked this post was the release of the first image of Angelina Jolie as Maleficent in her latest project, a live-action version of Sleeping Beauty.  The first thing I noticed were the eyes.

The accompanying article in Entertainment Weekly describes her image by saying:

There’s a kind of vampire quality to the tipped back head and slightly parted, blood-red lips, and of course the glowing eye — pure nasty.

I know they aren’t outright saying that green eyes are nasty.  But it still feels a little personal, that the costume designer went with glowing green eyes and not blue or brown or some non-human color like purple or red, and especially because my eyes actually have rings of color similar to this rendering of Maleficent; green on the outside and then brown and yellow in the center.  (I would post a picture, but I’m paranoid about the personal information that I put online, and what if iris scanning becomes a thing?  You’ll just have to take my word for it.  Some might classify my eyes as hazel, but they are predominantly green and I’ve always self-identified as a green-eyed girl.)

I’m just so sick and tired of my fellow green-eyed people being negatively stereotyped onscreen!  Or, more often, completely absent from the screen.  Thank goodness for books, where my imagination’s casting director never has a hard time projecting characters that actually match their written descriptions.  I recently came across a new book with a green-eyed heroine for me to admire, the main character in Matched.

“Greenspace, green tablet,” Grandfather said, and then he looked at me and smiled.  “Green eyes on a green girl.”

“That sounds like poetry,” I said, and he laughed.

“Thank you.”  He paused for a moment.  “I wouldn’t take that tablet, Cassia.  Not for a report.  And perhaps not ever.  You are strong enough to go without it.”

I close my eyes and think of Grandfather’s poetry.

Green tablet.  Green space.  Green eyes.  Green girl.

-(Matched by Ally Condie, Chapter 10)

The movie rights to Matched have been sold, but I won’t hold my breath for accurate eye-color casting.  With the exception of the Twilight films, contact lenses and digital re-touchings seem to be too much bother for film producers to concern themselves with.  Just look at The Hunger Games, where the books describe Katniss and Gale as having gray eyes and Peeta as blue, but they cast blue-eyed actors for the former and a guy with brown eyes for the later.  And they didn’t bother with contacts.

Until Rapnzel in 2010’s Tangled, I don’t remember encountering an on-screen princess with green eyes.  None of the Disney Princesses have them.  If I had still been a little girl when Tangled came out, I probably would have idolized her.

You do see green eyes in Disney movies.  It’s just that they’re always the bad girls.

Then of course there are neutral portrayals of green eyes, like how the Earth Benders in Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra tend to have them.

And while we’re on the subject of Legend of Korra, I have to give a shout-out to Asami Sato, a non-bender who holds her own in combat, drives race cars, stands up for herself and is on team Avatar.  You go, green-eyed Asami!

In conclusion, I guess I feel like I can relate in a very small, insignificant way to the frustration that other minority groups might feel at being under-represented, sidelined or negatively stereotyped in film and literature.   There’s just something about having a hero you can admire and say, “Hey!  They look like me!” that resonates.  I can only imagine how much more it would matter if to me if I were talking about skin color or cultural background.  Eye color is relatively trivial by comparison, but I will still always keep a (green) eye out for positive green-eyed representatives.

15 Comments

Filed under Books, movies, philosophy