From our magazine’s inception onwards, we have been stalwart in our appreciation of magical, tough old broads who don’t have time for anybody’s bullshit. Crones are an integral part of the POMEmag brand. Throughout this year, POMEmag editors have been taking note of the most magnificent, wizened aspirational fictional characters we obsessed over in the past year. Without further ado, we present our top 10 crones of 2015.
Conventionally, the word “crone” is used in a pejorative context. However, for us, “crone” is the absolute highest compliment we could possibly pay anyone. We know that in pop culture, crones are often scary old hags that lay curses upon protagonists and get tricked into getting baked in their own ovens. But crones are also (often) 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 (we mean, other than just Golden Girls. Stay golden, y’all), especially if you are a young woman navigating that kind of pop culture landscape.
Due to (pretty obvious) representation issues in pop culture, our definition of “crone” is pretty broad. 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 2015?
- Does watching this person make me 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 O HMY GOD
We assigned extra points for:
- Age – the older, the better
- Likelihood of actual magical powers
In our book, anybody can be a crone – young and old, broads and non-broads, humans and cartoon light shapes that take human form.
Without further ado:
The Top 10 Fictional Crones of 2015
10) Princess Carolyn (BoJack Horseman)
As both the youngest and possibly the least self-assured person on this list, Princess Carolyn is probably the least crone-y crone to crack our top ten. Throughout a lot of the first two seasons of BoJack Horseman, Princess Carolyn is a bit of a punchline. She’s a greedy, conniving business woman so desperate for love that she literally dates a guy who may or may not actually be 3 seven-year-olds in a trench coat. Worst of all, she spells her name “Carolyn” when she clearly goes by “Caroline,” — an unforgivably egregious character flaw.
But goddamn, Princess Carolyn can turn any failure into a critical success — even a steaming turd like BoJack. She runs Hollywoo Stars and Celebrities: What Do They Know? Do They Know Things?? Let’s Find Out! like a fucking champ. She beautifully, mercilessly shuts down Rutabega Rabbitowitz so hard that there isn’t enough ice in the world to help him get over her sick burn. To us, Princess Carolyn will always be a queen.
Age: Early to late 40s
Cackling: Constant and integral
Likelihood of actual magical powers: Unlikely, but it only makes her stronger
9) Rome (Magic Mike XXL)
There are so many great, amazing things about Magic Mike XXL: the friendship between all the dudes, the respect and worship the men shower on every woman they meet, and Channing Tatum’s insistence that God is a Woman. But Rome might be, by far, the best part of the film.
Rome is a business woman – she built her castle and now she rules it. She created a safe space for those who seek pleasure, for those who desire worship,and for those who wish to be risen up. And she doesn’t. Take. Shit. This is her world and she is the Queen and you will respect that or get the fuck out. We can all only hope to be 1/100th as cool and confident as Rome is someday. Also, her club is called DOMINA which is THE BEST. Rome is killing it all day every day and she knows it.
Age: Early to late 40s
Cackling: None, replaced with charm and charisma and confidence
Likelihood of actual magical powers: High. We are 100% confident that her velvety voice influences both men and the weak-minded.
8) General Leia Organa (The Force Awakens)
Even when she still went by the title of “princess,” Leia Organa was the best. She shoots blasters and makes out with scoundrels and fights for the freedom of the whole galaxy. But man is GENERAL LEIA ORGANA also not the best??? While General Organa at this point really inhabits more of the mother aspect of the triple goddess than the crone, she still finds a place on our list due to her unwavering solidarity with the Resistance and the Republic. Also, while her (very handsome and charming) space husband was running away from his problems by returning to a life of smuggling, Leia was still locking shit down in the struggle against the First Order.
Look, here’s the realness – Leia Organa, former Princess and current General, is Force-sensitive, is running a ragtag resistance leader against overwhelming odds, and never gives up on the people she loves. She’s witty and compassionate and fearless and she always has been and always will be the heart of the Star Wars universe.
Age: Late 50s / early 60s
Wizenedness: Moderate, more regal than wizened
Cackling: Less cackling, more cutting remarks tempered by queenly dignity
Likelihood of actual magical powers: High! Leia, while untrained, is Force-sensitive AND NOBODY CAN SAY OTHERWISE
7) All of the Crystal Gems (Steven Universe)
A lovely group picture of Garnet, Amethyst and Pearl
While the picture above is of Alexandrite (the fusion of Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl), I think it exemplifies why the Crystal Gems belong on this list: they are fucking terrifying. Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl are friendly enough (okay, maybe not Pearl), but when push comes to shove, they can always turn into a giant woman and wreck your shit.
You might be a little skeptical: the Gems are magical, sure, but are they really crones? Let me lay out some evidence for you:
- They live in a magical sort-of-castle shaped like a majestic giant woman
- They live in isolation from the human populace around them. People seek them out to ask for a boon (ie: saving the world / Beach City from imminent destruction)
- They’re pretty much ageless, immortal beings
- They are three magical women living in a house together. If that’s not a coven, I don’t know what is.
Yes, the Gems are aliens made out of light. But who’s to say that aliens can’t be crones? (Not us).
Age: Just under ∞ (with the exception of Amethyst, who’s probably only a few hundred years old)
Wizenedness: Usually none, with one exception:
Amethyst: A little
Pearl: Whenever possible
Likelihood of actual magical powers: This one might seem pretty obvious, but they are aliens, so who knows? All of their magic is just as likely to be ~space science.~ On the other hand, they are essentially an infinity-years-old adult magical girl squad. You can be the judge.
6) Mayumi Nanjo (Atelier)
A lot of you might not be familiar with Atelier, a Japanese Netflix Original Series released earlier this year. Atelier follows Mayuko Tokita, a young “fabric geek” country girl who moves to Tokyo to work for Emotion, an incredibly upscale lingerie store. Look, there’s a lot to love about Atelier: that its name on Japanese Netflix is the English word “Underwear;” that it follows women who genuinely love their jobs; that the plot sometimes hints at crushes but never hinges on a romance; that the lingerie is pretty and the characters are interesting. But Nanjo, the Boss Lady, is the goddamned best. Aside from one minor insane, dramatic subplot that we will ignore and sweep under the rug, every single scene and situation featuring Nanjo is golden and perfect in every way.
You might be tempted to think that Nanjo is just a ripoff of Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada, but you couldn’t be more wrong. Priestly might be tenacious and harsh, but she’s also deeply insecure and uses that harshness as a shield to deflect pain or criticism. Nanjo, however, exudes unwavering grace and confidence in the face of failure, upheaval, and betrayal. Nanjo keeps a tight grip on where she wants Emotion to go as a company, and doesn’t mince words when she thinks one of her employees is wrong. She’s precise, dedicated, and sometimes downright cutting with her words. Nanjo is also the absolute most gracious boss anyone could ever have. When her employees majorly fuck up, after an initial dressing-down, she’s quick to forgive and strives to understand. She completely owns up to her mistakes and takes responsibilities for her actions. Also, her taste in high-waisted pants and ability to power-clash her prints is On. Point. I’d be remiss for not saying that people often point out how her look seems to purposefully mirror Anna Wintour’s. There. I told you. Now look at this picture of Nanjo sitting in a chair like it’s a goddamned throne:
You will never be this self-possessed and confident. Look at your life. Look at your choices.
Age: Mid 60s
Wizenedness: ABSOLUTELY NONE BECAUSE SHE’S A GODDAMNED IMMORTAL
Cackling: Too dignified to cackle outwardly; probably does a fair amount of inward cackling
Likelihood of actual magical powers: I want to believe
THE CRONE THRESHOLD
Everyone above this point may be a beautiful, magical, adult woman, but those listed below are the most powerful, beautifully scary, bonafide crones. Dare we say, the crone-est crones of all.
5) Olenna Tyrell (Game of Thrones)
Olenna Tyrell, Game of Thrones’ beloved, sniping old dame, might be the only relief from this season’s incredibly leveled-up anti-woman atmosphere. If you used Facebook at all during the show’s fifth season, you probably read about a certain event that pushed audiences a bit too far and alienated viewers who object to graphic misogyny. I’m not saying that Olenna’s presence even remotely negated the nasty places Game of Thrones took us this year. I’m just saying that Olenna’s tenacity is such a joy to watch that if possible, we’d like to just watch her scenes, please.
While the Tyrells took some serious losses this year, Olenna’s adept manipulations brought her toe-to-toe with the neckbeard widely considered to be the show’s puppetmaster / frontrunner in the (titular, barrrrf) Game of Thrones. And like everyone else in her path, he needed to shut the fuck up and do her goddamned bidding.
Olenna inspires us by cackling at very dangerous enemies and insulting them to their faces. She says exactly what she thinks. Against all odds at this point, people underestimate her and pay dearly. All hail the Queen of Thorns.
Age: Very Old
Wizenedness: Pretty wizened
Cackling: Probably sustained on cackling alone
Likelihood of actual magical powers: She’s like Batman, if Batman used blackmail and sarcasm instead of martial arts — no magical powers, but she’s probably more likely to get shit done than anybody else anyway
4) Maz Kanata (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
First and foremost: there is not enough Maz Kanata in The Force Awakens. But that said, what we do see of her makes her 100% worthy of this crone status. Maz Kanata is a business woman and capital-M Mentor, dishing out sage advice to wandering galactic travellers for an eon. She meets all of our criteria for maximum crone-itude – indefinite age, with wisdom etched into the lines of her face and ingrained into the kilter of her voice, as well as a sensitivity to the mystical forces of the universe that bind all living things. She’s also got just the right amount of smarm and no-bullshit attitude to go with her role as advice-giver and wookie-wooer. It’s unknown as to whether or not Maz Kanata will be returning in the subsequent Star Wars movies, but we fervently hope to see her reprise her role as cool-lady-who-owns-the-watering-hole-and-guides-the-heroes-on-their-noble-journey as soon as possible.
Age: At least one millenia
Cackling: Not so much cackling, but more sage advice and shrewd looks
Likelihood of actual magical powers: She’s no Jedi but she knows the Force
3) Flemeth (Dragon Age Inquisition)
Let’s get this out of the way: Dragon Age Inquisition was released in late 2014. However, Bioware dropped a bunch of Inquisition DLC all throughout 2015, so, we’re good. (Besides. It’s Flemeth.) We’d give you a spoiler warning about her appearance, but have you ever played a Dragon Age game? If you’d care about Flemeth showing up, you probably already know it was an inevitability anyway.
Flemeth shows up for about ten, maybe fifteen minutes max and she’s still by far the best character in this game (and possibly in the entire series). First of all, let’s talk about her aesthetic. Sure, she sported a pretty similar magnificent getup in Dragon Age 2, but her increasing wizenedness just completes the look. The pointy crown. The snow-white hair. The magnificent cape of feathers (from birds she probably crushed with her bare hands, I mean, come on). Her hair-horns even put my Qunari Inquisitor to shame. Just drink this in:
Flemeth, Dragon Age Origins:
Flemeth, Dragon Age Inquisition:
We’ve come a long way, baby.
Everything about Flemeth’s actual actions in the game edge too close to spoiler territory for comfort, so all that we can say is that she embodies the “surprise, bitch” meme from a few years ago. As a Seemingly-Immortal Witch God / Part-time Dragon, she couldn’t be any more beautifully terrifying (in our books). I mean, if you’re going to live forever, living forever as Flemeth would be the best possible way to do it.
Age: ∞ ?
Likelihood of actual magical powers: Is water wet? Does a bear shit in the woods? Is everybody in Dragon Age Origins an ugly peasant with disturbingly long arms? (obviously, 1000%)
2) All the Vuvalini (Mad Max: Fury Road)
As some of you might have noticed, the authors of this article are very into the Vuvalini. A group of older women who band together to survive the wastelands and work to create a society that’s safe and prosperous for them and theirs? With a vaguely female-reproductive-system-themed name? We could not be more into them if we tried. The only thing more dangerous than a crone is a crone on wheels. We need more movies with hardened babes roving the desert to come to us in our time of need and show us a better way to live. What’s more, we really need an entire movie (or three) about the Vuvalini.
Age: A little old to very old (varies)
Wizenedness: Mostly pretty wizened
Cackling: Minimal onscreen cackling, 1000% chance of offscreen cackling
Likelihood of actual magical powers: Unlikely, but definitely possible
1) Granny Weatherwax (Discworld)
With Terry Pratchett’s passing earlier this year, the long-running Discworld fantasy novel series also came to a close. While Pratchett had originally indicated that his daughter, Rhianna Pratchett, would continue the series after his death, she declined and decided to let the series end. The Discworld series is comprised of many miniseries, including both adult and young adult books about the witches that live on the Discworld’s Ramtop Mountains. The final book in the series, The Shepherd’s Crown, was released posthumously this summer and concludes the young adult Tiffany Aching witch miniseries. It also marks Granny Weatherwax’s final Discworld appearance.
As much as I hate to spoil these books for you, if you have been following Esme Weatherwax through the years, I am sorry to inform you that her appearance on our list is also our obituary for her.
CC here: Granny Weatherwax was my first crone, and the first badass old lady in fiction that I ever obsessed over. In my early teenage years, I poured through every Discworld book I could get my hands on. Granny Weatherwax was one of my two very favorite characters. Any book she made an appearance in became one of my favorites, and I’d read them over and over again in rotation on band trips and throughout long, lazy summer vacations. I watched her challenge Death to a poker game and win, deflect a sword with her bare hands, and verbally slice through the ignorant and the corrupt with her words alone. Granny believed that “good” isn’t the same as “nice,” and that you didn’t need a grand display of magic to change the world. Subtly crafting herbs and tending to the sick was a magic all its own. Granny subconsciously taught me about tenacity and courage, and about how to laugh at impossible odds (quietly, to yourself, all dignified-like).
Rather than tell you anything more about why Granny Weatherwax was the greatest crone of all time, let me show you in her own words:
Now that’s what I call magic—seein’ all that, dealin’ with all that, and still goin’ on. It’s sittin’ up all night with some poor old man who’s leavin’ the world, taking away such pain as you can, comfortin’ their terror, seein’ ‘em safely on their way…and then cleanin’ ‘em up, layin’ ‘em out, making ‘em neat for the funeral, and helpin’ the weeping widow strip the bed and wash the sheets—which is, let me tell you, no errand for the fainthearted—and stayin’ up the next night to watch over the coffin before the funeral, and then going home and sitting down for five minutes before some shouting angry man comes bangin’ on your door ‘cuz his wife’s havin’ difficulty givin’ birth to their first child and the midwife’s at her wits’ end and then getting up and fetching your bag and going out again…That is the root and heart and soul and center of witchcraft, that is. The soul and center!”
-From A Hat Full of Sky
And from Granny’s best friend, Nanny Ogg:
“The end of times?” said Nanny. “Look, Tiff, Esme tol’ me to say, if you want to see Esmerelda Weatherwax, then just you look around. She is here. Us witches don’t mourn for very long. We are satisfied with happy memories – they’re there to be cherished.”
-From The Shepherd’s Crown
Age: Old, but sadly, not immortal
Wizenedness: Discretionary — from her Wiki page:
“Despite her best efforts, she still has perfect skin, not a single wart and all her teeth, although she has picked up a penetrating stare and plenty of worry lines.”
Cackling: Only when the situation calls for it
Likelihood of actual magical powers: Even if you don’t count “headology” as a magical power, she’s still as dangerous as a lightning storm, but mostly because she can trick you into bringing about your own undoing if she needs to. However, the most amazing thing about Granny is that even if you know how powerful she is, she can still talk you into underestimating her. How someone so powerful convinced so many people that she was a helpless old lady is, in itself, a power all its own.
The crones of 2015 scared and inspired us, struck fear into the hearts of their enemies, and dominated our screens and pages. We will follow their wise, weathered leads into this bright new year, and we hope that 2016 holds even more wizened old witches to kindle our crone aspirations.