|The Damsel's Journey|
|– or —|
|What makes a DiD-scene a DiD-scene?|
|Firmly rooted in the
of Melodramatic Action/Adventure (& much older than The Car
Chase, or even Blowin'
Things Up Real Good), the stereotypical
Damsel-in-Distress scenario entails
a mandatory DiD-cast performing a
of mandatory DiD-steps. We will discuss these elements, with an eye
Theory of DiDs.
Take notes. All of this will be on the final exam.
a.k.a. the good guy, the hunk, "Mr. Right," etc.
a.k.a. the bad guy, the "despicable cad," etc.
a.k.a. the babe, the skirt, etc.
the HERO is the protagonist, the prime mover of the
plot. The VILLAIN is the antagonist, the embodiment of the adversity
HERO must overcome to demonstrate his virtue. ...& speaking
of virtue... The DAMSEL is a mere
linked to the HERO, little more than a means of establishing that
dramatic element of all such dramas—JEOPARDY.
She is also a reward for
the HERO's virtuous actions, melting into his manly arms at the final
Please note that the above is a description of the classical (& sexist) roots of the DiD-melodrama. I am not implying that the HERO is or should be the focus of the modern DiD-melodrama. I'm sure almost everyone reading this page is much more interested in the DAMSEL. I know I am. After all, which would you rather watch, some burly hunkazoid trying to get his rescue act together, or something like...
|ANYhoo... MODERN DiD-melodramas are much more
are as many variations & permutations on the classical DiD-scenario
as there are unproduced screenplays.
To note just a few:
|The HERO may be a SHERO, maybe even a Warrior Princess!|
|The HERO & DAMSEL may be one in the same (i.e. Nancy Drew).|
|There may be a SHERO/DAMSEL CADRE (Charlie's Angels, Charmed) which in a continuing series presents the charming possibility of the Damsel du jour.|
|The plot may require the HERO to temporarily adopt the role of the VILLAIN & perform VILLAINOUS ACTS (like Indy not untying Marion in the first tent scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark).|
|The VILLAINESS may be the DAMSEL (or may be posing as the DAMSEL, or may get herself captured) ...in which case tying up the plot may involve tying up the VILLAINESS/DAMSEL as well!|
|Etc., etc. I'm sure you can think of many more. So, we have our cast. Let's give them something to do.|
|IMHO the DiD-dance can be broken
into SEVEN MAJOR STEPS. Of course, any actual DiD-scene
may not show
all of these steps, but they all have to happen to give us a
I have one set of DiDcaps that quite elegantly captures (so to speak) nearly every step: The Misadventures of Micki the Lovely Nurse (Mareike Fell) from the Deutsche Soap Opera Geliebte Schwestern.
|1||The STALK —The VILLAIN prepares to pounce.||
One of the more "neglected" of the steps, the STALK is often little more than a gloating smile or remark by the villain. ("I think we should pay Ms. Lois Lane a visit," etc.) I see one MAJOR VARIANT:
|1a||The SKULK —In which the DAMSEL is the major player...|
the Nosey Reporter investigating
the suspicious warehouse, the Secretary rifling her villainous boss'
|2||The CAPTURE —The VILLAIN pounces.||
Chloroform: the Villainess' Best Friend.®
Brute(s) force, booby- (so to speak) -trap, a simple grab (with or without a hand-gag), chloroform, kung-fu, lasso, etc., etc., many methods are used, & the DAMSEL's reaction to her CAPTURE varies on a continuum from meek "surrender to the inevitable" to being "dragged kicking & screaming".
|3||The RESTRAINT —The DAMSEL is secured.||
Also a neglected step. We very rarely get to see the DAMSEL actually being restrained. (For example, in DAMSEL Micki's case, all we see is the VILLAINESS stealing her clothes, stuffing her in the dirty laundry, & spiriting her away.) Perhaps a better name for this step is The PREPARATION, 'cause it's really just the setup for...
|4||The PERIL —The DAMSEL is placed in||
"Sorry Micki, but I used all the hot water washing my undies."
You can't have melodrama without jeopardy. This can be just the threat of a hostage situation, or as involved as The DEATHTRAP!, in which the DAMSEL is placed &/or abandoned in deadly peril, like next to a bomb, in a burning building, a runaway vehicle, ye ol' sawmill, or something really elaborate, like making her the victim of an actual torture device (rack, wheel, iron maiden, bathtub, etc.).
|5||The GLOAT —The VILLAIN toys with the DAMSEL.||
"Oh Micki... is it good for you too?"
An excellent excuse for exposition, character development, for the VILLAIN to explain to the audience exactly what that complicated thing with all the gears, wires, & flashing lights is supposed to do, & that may be why we get to see it so often... not that I'm complaining! (I really love a good GLOAT. J)
|4, 4, 4...||Lather, Rinse, Repeat... Writhe, Struggle, M'mpfh...||
"(Does the damn cold water have to splash right there?)"
Very often The PERIL goes on for a while... for a long while... for quite a long while... to build... (wait for it)... SUSPENSE! (Of course! Construct & dress a set, pay to have some DEATHTRAP prop designed & built (or in Micki's case, have the plumbing connected), bind & gag the female talent... then NOT do an entire series of shots showcasing the helpless DAMSEL as her hideous demise draws ever nigh?? Get serious!)
|6||The RESCUE—The HERO defeats the VILLAIN||
"Micki, darling! (Nice undies!)"
...&/or the VILLAIN's plan. I see one possible VARIANT (...or not. It's more of a SPECIAL CASE, actually):
|6a||The ESCAPE —The DAMSEL rescues herself.|
|7||The RELEASE —The DAMSEL is set free.||
"Here, let's get you out of those wet things."
Another excellent excuse for exposition & character development, for the HERO & DAMSEL to decide what to do next, for the DAMSEL to impart information gained from the VILLAIN during The GLOAT, for the DAMSEL to make her feelings known to the HERO, for the HERO to whip out his... cell phone & make a call, etc.
Okay, but choreography alone doesn't make a show. How does it all fit together?
|Unified Theory of DiDs|
The Devil's in the Details...
...& quite the sexy little devil she is, I must say. J
...& the details are exactly how & with what the DiD-cast are performing the DiD-steps.
Consider a hypervolumetric DiD-space bounded by DiD-dimensions. Now, consider a system of DiD-variables & DiD-equations... or not. Let's take a somewhat less rigorous approach.
Different things may be important to different people, like:
So, if different variables are weighed differently by different DiD-aficionados, & the bounds of Optimal DiD-space are complex & interactive... is a Unified DiD-theory even possible? In a word: ...no. We ain't gonna find a closed form solution for this one. (...Bummer. L)
Hmm... but if we take a Discrete Methods approach, & assume linearity... J
|Hmm2...||If Nikki Cox ever appeared as Batgirl, was captured by Musetta Vander as Catwoman, & Nikki was bound, gagged, & subjected to an elaborate rack-like torture device involving feathers, vibrators, & numerous kittens licking heavy cream from her bare feet... would a rift open in the DiD-Space/time Continuum? J|