From our magazine’s inception onwards, we have been stalwart in our appreciation of magical, tough…
The fictional crones who helped us power through this trash year
January 2, 2017 at 11:57 am
Before we truly stare into the abyss of 2017, we must take a moment to remember the fictional crones that guided us through a perilous and fearsome year. Through a year where we figuratively and very literally lost some of our most critical, important real-life crones, we looked to these wizened, fictional witches to rouse us from our sorrows when we needed them most.
Before we get started: we want to acknowledge that the fictional crone landscape of 2016 was a whole lot sparser than the unbelievable cronescape of 2015. But not to worry: we mined the depths of last year’s media to light a fire in your heart. So without further ado: we present our top 10 crones of 2016.
About Crones of the Year
Conventionally, the word “crone” is used in a pejorative context. But here at POMEmag, “crone” is the absolute highest compliment we could possibly pay anyone. Crones are badass oldies who don’t care what anybody thinks about them. Crones are fearless, dangerous, and have a style all their own. In a culture so fixated on youth, it’s rare to find examples of what you want your golden years to look like, especially if you are a young woman navigating this patriarchal pop culture hellscape.
Due to (obvious) representation issues in pop culture, our definition of “crone” is pretty broad. In our book, anybody can be a crone – young and old, broads and non-broads; cronedom is a state of mind that anyone theoretically can achieve. So we asked ourselves the following questions when determining our crones of the year:
- Would we mind being this person when we reach their age? How amazing of an end game would that be?
- Did this person do something badass in 2016?
- Did this person make us feel more powerful, like we’re gleaning a little bit of their magic while we’re watching them?
- Are we intimidated by and/or at least a little afraid of this person?
- How long can we describe this person before we JUST CAN’T HELP LOSING CONTROL OF THE CAPSLOCK
We assigned extra points for:
- Age – the older, the better
- Likelihood of actual magical powers
The Top 10 Fictional Crones of 2016
10. Queen Freya (The Huntsman: Winter’s War)
For a movie in which pretty much all of the characters are pawns in a game of chess Charlize Theron is playing against herself, Freya is ultimately the only worthy challenger. Freya is betrayed by the one she loved and trusted most of all, but she is able to start over on her own, to build a home and a kingdom for herself. Out of ice. She is literally the Ice Queen and she will not suffer a man to live if he dares touch a woman with lust in his heart.
ALSO! She rides a polar bear/snow leopard hybrid monster. That’s just how she gets around.
Queen Freya is a shining example of the fact that the family you create for yourself is often stronger than romantic love or accidents of birth; literally stronger — because you have trained them all to be terrifying killing machines.
Age: 18-42 over the course of the movie
Wizenedness: Little to None
Cackling: Too Cold and Hard for Laughter
Likelihood of actual magical powers: 100% Canonically Magical
9. Maria Kilbride (Injection)
Injection has become one of my favorite comics, and Maria Kilbride has a lot to do with it. She’s a mentally-ill professor who, along with four other geniuses, gave birth to chaos in the form of a folklore-obsessed AI, and now devotes herself to undoing the havoc it wreaks. What’s not to love and/or fear? Her red hair and cool demeanor may put you a little in mind of Agent Scully, which is never a bad thing. Kilbride, too, uses science to stare down the impossible and unimaginable, and she does it with a similar sense of irony. Her sheer force of will is enough to inspire any would-be crone: she can eviscerate a motherfucker with science, calmly walk away covered in blood, and have a perfectly thorough, dry report of the encounter on your desk first thing in the morning. Like all the best crones, she knows she looks crazy to the outside world, but she would never let that stop her. She has a job to do, a human race to save from extinction, and a horrible poison son-machine to show who’s boss – the least you could do is show her a little appreciation, for once.
Age: Vaguely middle-aged
Wizenedness: Fairly wizened. She’s been through hell and back and it shows.
Cackling: Minimal. She’s crazy but knows how to keep her cool.
Likelihood of actual magical powers: 50%, depending on whether or not you think science and magic are kind of the same thing
8. Emily Gilmore (Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life)
To be 100% honest with all of you: from the moment that Netflix’s Gilmore Girls revival was announced, your friendly neighborhood POME crones had mentally set aside a Crone of the Year spot for our eternally beloved Miss Patty (who is better than both sex and plums; a true living goddess). But Miss Patty got what, three lines? in the entirety of Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, so we couldn’t justify giving her that spot and good lord did we try.
And frankly, Emily Gilmore: Rich, Out-of-Touch White Lady Extraordinaire was harder to stomach when we were all freshly reeling from Trump’s initial cabinet appointments. However: along with the problematic elements that have always dogged Gilmore Girls, this is a subject for another time.
But while Emily Gilmore has always been prickly and heavily resistant to change, she was the only character in the revival that had a defined character arc, ending the series a stronger person than she was when it began. A Year in the Life takes Emily to some unexpected places, but she never feels out-of-place — by the end of the revival, Emily has rolled back a little of her natural prickliness, first through letting Berta stay on as her maid and later as she allows Berta’s family to surround her with love. Emily drinks! Emily wears jeans! Emily KonMari-s! Emily teaches a room full of terrified children how to properly harpoon a whale to death! Emily travels through grief and finds her humanity within it. So while Emily sadly did not become the late-in-life lesbian we hoped she’d be, she inspired our hearts and minds anyway.
Age: Eternally in her 60s imo
Wizenedness: Much less wizened than you’d expect, all things considered
Cackling: Definitive. Transcendent. A good cackler.
Likelihood of actual magical powers: Unless supreme passive-aggressive guilt tripping is an actual magical power, 0% chance.
7. Mama Mabel (Netflix’s Luke Cage)
Netflix’s Luke Cage tells the story of Mama Mabel entirely through flashbacks, but Mabel is the series’ best mastermind villain, the kind of Boss Woman Bad Guy the series’ dual antagonists (her grandchildren) aspire to be. Roughly half of the shitty things that happen to Luke throughout the series are an end result of Mabel’s machinations as her grandchildren continuously try (and mostly fail) to live up to her legacy. And what a legacy: Managing Harlem’s seedy underbelly in true Matriarch Antagonist fashion! Running the most badass of badass nightclubs!! Cutting off dudes’ fingers with rose clippers in her own living room!!! The Marvel Cinematic Universe’s wiki lists two of Mama Mabel’s known aliases as “Dusty Old Bitch” and “the Devil’s Ex-Wife,” respectively — and aren’t those labels we should all aspire to?
(But don’t get us wrong: we know that Mabel is an unrepentant villain and willingly traumatizes young Mariah and Cornell (especially Cornell). We understand that she is quite obviously A Bad Guy. But if you’re going to be The Bad Guy, doing so as a stylish old lady who can unblinkingly cut a dude’s finger off with rose clippers is really the right way to do it.)
Age: In the flashbacks: probably in her 60s.
Wizenedness: More distinguished than widened.
Cackling: Rare, but we’d bet she almost certainly gets in a little private cackling.
Likelihood of actual magical powers: Just the power of Fear.
6. Lady Hideko (The Handmaiden)
Lady Hideko is the mastercrone in The Handmaiden or Ah-ga-ssi, AKA the feel-good misandrist cinematic experience of 2k16. Park Chan-wook, a South Korean director, created this masterpiece, the only film adaptation of Sarah Water’s 2002 novel, Fingersmith; so, if you weren’t sure whether or not it was about lesbians, the title FINGERSMITH should be pretty illuminating.
This movie is FAN-TAS-TIC, due in largest part to Lady Hideko; she and her lover/handmaiden Sook-Hee orchestrate their mutual escapes from the wills of men and enter into a free world full of love and scissoring (note: this is one of the very few wlw narratives that ends with both women alive and happy and together, and all the male characters gruesomely disfigured and/or killed by their own toxic masculinity). And Lady Hideko is really the beautiful and conniving brain of the operation. She is full of nothing so much as righteous ire and cold, cold blood.
Lady Hideko teaches us that really, for real, in actual fact, your life/physical-mental-emotional wellbeing is more important than a man’s feelings about his own dick (or the dicks of other men); you are in no way obligated to give a single shit about men and/or their plans for you. Be your own prince, and also be the prince of that cute girl you like.
Age: Early to Mid-20s
Cackling: Musical and dignified, but certainly just as satisfied in the act of disrespecting men.
Likelihood of actual magical powers: Unlikely, unless you count the ability to make literally everyone fall in love with her.
5. Alba (Jane the Virgin)
Alba Villanueva has long been our favorite TV abuela. She’s always been a fiercely loving mother and grandmother, rising to meet the challenges of supporting her family with surprising grace and flexibility. Over the years we’ve watched her survive a murder attempt; accidentally woo a gay priest; shake down a rollerblading, coke-dealing beach bozo; and overcome decades of fear and stigma to obtain permanent residency in the U.S. But this was the year we got a closer look at Alba’s past, and learned more about what makes her a truly complex and fascinating person.
Our beloved Villanueva matriarch hasn’t had it easy. It turns out, for example, that for all her insistence on the importance of abstaining from sex until marriage, Alba herself had had a sexual relationship with a hot rando before marrying her true love, Mateo. In the past, she cut off her family of origin over their vicious reaction to her sin. In the present day, she struggles to deal with the consequences of having both hidden and passed on the burden of her shame to her much more sex-positive daughter, Xiomara. The conflict seems to crop up again and again: Alba soon finds herself having to mitigate her need to have zero contact with her family with her granddaughter’s wish to know more about them. Even later, Alba is forced to reckon with her feelings over Xiomara choosing to abort an unplanned, unwanted pregnancy.
What makes Alba special is not just the very real conflicts she has with her family, her faith, and herself – conflicts that hit especially close to home for a Catholic Latina from Miami such as I – but the truly inspiring way that she always puts love first. Alba owns up to her mistakes, and is unwilling to let her personal ideology or disapproval tear apart the family that she has spent her life protecting. The only thing left to say is: Gracias, Alba, for single-handedly holding down the abuela crone crown.
Wizenedness: Moderate, she’s got style as well as sass!
Cackling: None, replaced by an arsenal of disapproving eyebrow raises
Likelihood of actual magical powers: Very unlikely, Alba herself would disapprove of the idea
4. Jane Foster (The Mighty Thor)
During the first arc of Mighty Thor, when everyone was still trying to figure out who the new Thor’s secret identity was, I really wanted her to be Jane Foster. It seemed completely out of the question: she had long been struggling with a pretty severe bout of life-threatening cancer, but also, how the heck would Jane ever gain access to Mjolnir’s resting place on the moon? I was genuinely shocked and completely delighted when it turned out she was the new Thor after all!
Jane’s adventures as Thor have continued to surprise and delight me endlessly in 2016 (which is no easy feat for a Marvel comic, to be completely honest). This broad gives a whole new meaning to the “second shift” – when she’s not undergoing hellish radiation therapy, she’s flying off with Mjolnir to save Earth from exploitation by sadly-relevant overpowered energy CEOs, AND to save Asgard from an even more sadly-relevant tyrannical patriarch, AND to represent Earth in a strange mystical Congress of Worlds. She even finds the time to become world-savings besties with her ex’s current crush. Oh, and about that radiation therapy? It’s completely undone every time she transforms into Thor, Goddess of Thunder, so she’s knowingly marching closer to death with every heroic act. I cannot think of anyone truly more worthy of an Odin-blessed hammer or of her spot on this year’s list of top crones.
Age: ??? This is Marvel Comics, my dude, how are we supposed to know?
Wizenedness: Vacillates between frail and bald to LUSCIOUSLY RIPPED
Cackling: Rare, prefers sick Norse burns
Likelihood of actual magical powers: 100% in possession of powers-bestowing magical hammer
3. Ana (Overwatch)
Ana Amari is a 60-year-old Egyptian sniper who was introduced as a character in Overwatch after it launched in May 2016. Not only did Ana have a cybernetic eye that enhanced her sniping abilities, it was also SHOT OUT OF HER HEAD by an enemy sniper and now she just has a cool eye patch, depth perception be damned. Ana is also woven beautifully into the lore of the game – a founding member of Overwatch, she still participated in combat missions well into her fifties (before the eye-shot-out-of-the-head incident). Her daughter, Pharah, grew up around the original Overwatch team and dreamed of becoming a hero like her mother someday (which she totally did and is also a playable character in the game, how cool is that). Now that Ana’s returned to the sniping game, she wields a Biotic Rifle that does damage to enemies and heals her allies. So not only is Ana a cool mom and a savior of global peace, but she’s also a versatile support character that uses her weapon to either heal or destroy you. A true model for moms everywhere.
Wizenedness: She’s killed people, and you can see that weight in her EYES
Cackling: More like a loving mom-laugh
Likelihood of actual magical powers: Extreme marksmanship isn’t TECHNICALLY magic, I guess
2. Madam Satan (The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina)
In the newest, spookiest incarnation of the Sabrina the Teenage Witch comics, Madam Satan is the spurned lover of Sabrina’s father, Edward Spellman. She takes her own life and spends years trapped in a lower circle of hell until two naive witches inadvertently summon her back to this mortal plane. Now an undead witch with an axe to grind with the Spellman family, Madam Satan sets out to be the best worst self that all her arcane masteries can enable. Oh, and she has teeth for eyes. Her appearance varies from dark-haired beauty to the decaying and tortured flesh that (one assumes) is her true form. When she arrives in Sabrina’s town, she does the only thing a revenge-seeking witch who’s been raised from the nether realms by unholy means can do – she becomes Sabrina’s high school teacher.
Age: The lifespan of witches greatly outlasts that of us mere mortals, so it’s hard to say how old she was exactly when she died the first time. We’ll go out on a limb and say she’s been around for a while, though.
Wizenedness: In high-school-teacher-form, pretty not-wizened. In decaying-flesh-teeth-for-skulls-form, pretty horrifically wizened.
Cackling: This lady takes some GLEE in her quest for revenge. If she hasn’t cackled openly, it’s only because she’s cackling in her heart (or the place where it used to be).
Likelihood of actual magical powers: As an undead witch risen from Lucifer’s domain, and with a name like Madam Satan, magical powers are a goddamn guarantee.
1. Gramma Tala (Moana)
You might have noticed that a lot of the cronely characters that inspired us throughout this hot garbage tire-fire of a year were villains — I mean, #2 on this list is literally Madame Satan. Sometimes, we find inspiration in ~evil witches~ because everything feels broken and wrong; in the face of injustice and fear, there are days where we all need a good revenge story or a hearty cackle of solidarity just to emotionally make it through.
But Gramma Tala is a world apart from these antiheroes and misandwitches. Gramma Tala is a hero and a source of inspiration for the kind of fierce, funny, brave, loving oldie we sincerely hope to become.
Tala, the grandmother of the titular Moana from the recent Disney film, knows everyone thinks she’s crazy but is a kickass old lady who doesn’t really give a fuck. As viewers, we watch Moana look to Tala as she’s deciding who she wants to be when she grows up; as adults, we look to Tala ourselves to figure out who we want to be when we’re older still. In Tala, we see that taking what others say about you seriously is a choice, and we learn how to encourage others to listen to the still, quiet voice that cheers us on. In Tala, we see how to protect, to live in our own skin, to simply be.
Essentially, Gramma Tala is Moana’s Obi Wan, but kinder, funnier, and with better clairvoyance about what awaits her in the afterlife.
Age: Gramma Age
Wizenedness: Gentle wizenedness
Cackling: affable, kindly cackling, but definitely gets in a good cackle every now and then.
Likelihood of actual magical powers: Gramma Tala is literally a benevolent ocean crone with bonafide magical powers.
Holly (The Nice Guys)
The Nice Guys is a good movie where Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe are terrible detectives who are lucky enough to have a preteen girl on their team who proves more capable than either of them time and time again. Holly March (Angourie Rice) is a smart girl eager to do what’s right and solve the crazy mystery that her bumbling father (Ryan Gosling) has been pulled into. This middle-school kid gets these silly adults out of sticky situations over and over, while also pulling out the best side eye I’ve seen on a 12-year-old. Despite her accomplishments, Holly gets honorable mention status for several reasons: 1) Her heart is too pure, and 2) her face is too unblemished by the ravages of time and sorrow. We’re confident that given her extraordinary sleuthing abilities and fearless demeanor, this kiddo could grow up to become a real grade-A crone. Until then, we recognize her potential and bestow her with an Honorable Mention.
Unlike “a dude made me tell you that I imagined a story where I’m not the damsel” Dolores, Maeve doesn’t have time for Dude Feelz or loyalty or regrets. Maeve is the best kind of fictional robot character: a badass murdering robot lady who is over it and also over us (humanity). Frankly, my only real issue with Maeve inheriting the earth is that it isn’t a worthy dominion for her reign as Robot Murder Babe Queen. While we’re not going to question how a self-aware robot still suffers from a biological imperative or knock Maeve’s Crone Points for the fact that as a robot, she’s pretty unlikely to achieve that True Crone Wizened Glow, we’re going to bestow upon her this Crone of the Year honorable mention. Maeve is a beautiful Robot Murder Babe Queen, but she seems like she’s still feeling out her cronely attitude so we’re just going to have to see where Westworld Season 2 takes her.
Madame President (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them)
What a goddamn wasted opportunity. Did you see all the work these poor costume people put into this woman and for what!??! I would have happily traded at least twenty minutes (if not more) of watching that freckle-faced Abrasax bumble around New York City for just a little backstory on her! Maybe even more than like four lines????!? Maybe!?!
She does spend what little screen time she is actually allotted being mysterious and majestic; she really appears to be a very capable and poised leader with an unshakable will — a great role model, probably (though who can say for sure when we’ve seen and learned so little of her!). But also! especially in a movie that was just SO FULL of white people, Seraphina Picquery, a black woman president in 1926, deserved more and better. Carmen Ejogo deserved better. We all deserved better.
Happy New Year, POMEs! We wish you a year of glad tidings, even wrinkling, and increasingly wizened role models to help us all through 2017.