As we wade into the tumultuous waters of 2018, let’s take a look back at the fearsome and magnificent crones that inspired us through the hellscape of 2017. In spite of the constant shrieking void that we lived through last year, we looked to these crones to guide us onward and upward through everything. So without further ado: we present our top 10 2017 Crones of the Year.
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 2017?
- 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 2017
10. Impa (The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild)
Impa is a classica Zelda character who has taken many forms over the years: badass bodyguard, buff nursemaid, wizened sage with long hair, wizened sage with a cool hat. In Breath of the Wild, she might be at one of her croniest forms as the elder of Kakariko Village and the person who puts Link down the path towards herodom. Impa fits all the criteria of a good crone, except I think that in this iteration she’s too friendly and well-respected to really strike fear into the hearts of mortal men with threats of froghood. And while she doesn’t display any overt magical powers, she does KNOW an awful lot, which I think counts for something. Knowledge is power, right? She also has a GREAT aesthetic, so Impa deserves her place on our 2017 Crones list.
Age: Probably 130-150ish
Wizenedness: Extremely, but in a comfy way
Cackling: Less likely to cackle than her sister Purah, but I could still see it
Likelihood of actual magical powers: Probably more mystical intuition than actual magic
9. Mildred Hayes (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)
The transition from Mother to Crone is a sacred and, often, joyous occasion. But for Mildred Hayes, that transition was violently forced upon her by the very true evils of men.
Mildred’s emotional journey throughout this movie really accurately summarizes what I think many of us experienced over the course of 2017. She began full of righteous action, publicly shaming men/police. About halfway through, everything caught fire. And by the end, I think both Mildred and I were full of self-doubt and uncertainty for the future.
But Mildred, bless her, does not let the fire raging around her and the doubt growing inside her halt her righteous action. Mildred remains steadfast, if not in her conviction, then in her commitment. Through her unbending performance, she provides a sense of clarity, and of objective, absolute justice. And who better to dispense that justice than Mildred herself? She is a strong, capable woman, and she will shame and/or murder men into proper action.
Mildred Hayes is full of important life lessons. To wit: Men can’t be trusted with civil rights. Set fire to the police station. Kill all rapists. But seriously, everyone doubts themselves from time to time, but that doesn’t mean their motivations are invalid.
Age: late 40s–mid 50s?
Cackling: too dissatisfied with the world for self-satisfied laughter
Likelihood of actual magical powers: low, but who’s to say
8. Susie Meyerson (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)
Although she is, perhaps, a little younger than your traditional Crone, there is no truer Crone’s Heart than that of Susie “Who’s that man? Don’t trust men!” Meyerson.
Susie Meyerson is ambitious, in a world that is not receptive to that ambition. After so many years of trying to exist outside of mid-century American gender performance standards, Susie is familiar with the pitfalls for women in the male-dominated career of stand-up comedy, and is therefore all the more defensive of Midge, the comedienne whom Susie represents and whose talent is constantly being hijacked by useless men.The circumstances of Susie’s life, combined with the social environment of the times, leave Susie justifiably wary of men and any claim they may make of being useful in some way. Susie knows that men are useless; Susie knows that women can survive, and even succeed, without them.
Despite landing at #8 for Crone of the Year, Susie is our #1 Misandrist of the Year, and a true inspiration for those of us who may have forgotten: women are brilliant and capable; we do not need men in order to succeed.
Age: older than you think
Wizenedness: her face is relatively unlined, but she is WIZE to the dangers of men
Cackling: derisive and sarcastic
Likelihood of actual magical powers: unlikely, but wouldn’t that be a grand twist
7. Log Lady (Twin Peaks: The Return)
Her log has a message for you — and isn’t it so good of her to let you know, you ungrateful skeptic? In Twin Peaks: The Return, the Log Lady, aka Margaret, offers Sheriff Hawk and his officers cryptic, but nonetheless valuable guidance in their investigations. Why does her log know so much? How can she understand it? Such mysteries are not for the frail minds of young non-crones like ourselves, and if Margaret has an explanation for them, she’s taken them with her to her grave. Her final message to Hawk, telling him of her own coming death, is heart-rending enough on its own; watching with the knowledge that Catherine Coulson died mere days after shooting her last scene as the Log Lady, it takes on a transcendent quality. May her legacy as an eyewear fashion icon and a lovable enigma endure always.
Age: 90s, and closer to the Veil than any of us could hope to be
Likelihood of actual magical powers: extremely likely, as she is the only one who can interpret her log
6. Olenna Tyrell (Game of Thrones)
Olenna Tyrell is once again on our Crone of the Year list, though we add her with a heavy heart as we say goodbye to our favorite Game of Thrones Crone. At the start of Season 7, we hoped that Olenna would be the strong, wizened role model Daenerys so badly needed. But even after losing everything (let it be said: due to men making mistakes and not through any fault in her machinations), Olenna exited the show on a boss ass power move meme’d across the world. Let’s all pour one out for Lady Olenna — but just make sure somebody else takes the first sip.
Age: Well, she lives in a medieval hell-world so for all we know she’s 59.
Wizenedness: Olenna set the standard for dignified wizendness.
Cackling: Internally; externally, Dignified Evil Chortles are more her style.
Likelihood of actual magical powers: Sadly, her only magical power was ethereal sass and not immunity to all known poisons.
5. Madame Gao (Marvel’s Iron Fist; Marvel’s The Defenders)
Marvel’s Iron Fist and its lowkey sequel Marvel’s The Defenders* both disappointed fans by spending entirely too much time on Danny “Namaste, My Dude” Rand. But every moment these shows spent on nightmare murder grandma Madame Gao was a moment well-spent. Madame Gao’s preferred method of conflict resolution involves mildly smiling at people and sipping tea as they brag (or yell) at her. Then, she lands a well-placed word or phrase that influences her target to burn down their own life — an inspired confrontation method if ever we’ve heard one. Gao repeatedly laughs in Danny Rand’s face, gives him condescending advice, and openly plots to murder him. All of those actions put her squarely in this editorial crone’s Good Books. Spoiler warning: theoretically, Madame Gao did not survive The Defenders Season 1, but we didn’t see her die so we’re rooting for her continued pursuit of Danny Rand’s all-too-timely death in Iron Fist Season 2.
*While The Defenders is supposedly a show about Iron Fist, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Daredevil, we kindly suggest rewatching that sad trombone solo of a season before @-ing us with corrections.
Likelihood of actual magical powers: 100% imbued with evil magic powers
4. Sivagami (Baahubali and Baahubali 2)
First things first: if you haven’t watched the epic Tamil movies Baahubali and Baahubali 2, which arrived on Netflix this year, get started right away. They’re extra-long but feel like a breeze to watch, thanks to beautiful production, riveting action and musical scenes, and delightful characters, not least of which is our beloved Queen Mother, Sivagami. Powerful, compassionate, and unafraid of breaking with tradition, this woman spends several glorious hours staring death in the face, telling a bunch of very powerful men what to do at every opportunity, and chopping heads off in the name of “statecraft.” While 2017’s release of Baahubali 2 features Sivagami in a long prequel episode as mostly a younger woman, it is clear from her sometimes wise, sometimes ego-driven leadership and steely resolve that she was born truly Crone to the Bone.
Age: grandmother in the first movie, mother to adult children through most of the second
Wizenedness: admittedly minimal
Cackling: none, instead employs powerful Death Glare
Likelihood of actual magical powers: unlikely, but she makes up for it by killing motherfuckers without blinking an eye
3. Agathe (Beauty and the Beast)
Way back in March, this Literal Fairy Tale Witch strolled into the ridiculous live-action Beauty and the Beast remake to remind us all that perhaps we do have some agency in this hellish world. We CAN rage against these shitty white men who use our tax dollars to sustain their extravagant lifestyles.
Agathe, the enchantress, is a witch in the most traditional sense. She lives in the woods with her owl familiar, and she protects the innocent and the wrongly persecuted; she serves her town by cursing the ostentatious tyrant, leavening the financial burden of feudal oppression. In a world full of truly backwards, Gaston-esque value systems, Agathe’s moral compass never fails to point true. HOWEVER, it would seem that her constant action in the best interests of her community is of no consequence! Because she is a spinster, because she is an unmarried, independent woman, how is she repaid?? With scorn! and mistrust!
Yet she persists, because she knows it is right to do so.
No matter how bleak the future (and the near past) may appear, Agathe’s lesson bears remembering: eat the rich; or, barring that, concoct an elaborate curse that will force them to learn a little compassion, god damn it.
Age: she is Eternal; she is a being apart from time.
Wizenedness: Negligible to Severe, depending on her mood
Cackling: no more than a self-satisfied smirk
Likelihood of actual magical powers: 100% canonically magical
2. Mamá Imelda Rivera (Coco)
If Disney’s Coco were a human body, Miguel would be its heart, while Mamá Imelda would — pun 100% intended — be its skeleton, providing structure and strength in ways no one thinks about and everyone takes for granted. Even from the Land of the Dead, Mamá Imelda guides the Rivera family, protecting them as fiercely as she did in life. Her pride and stubbornness cloud her ability to empathize with decisions she doesn’t understand, but as a single parent (and business owner!) Mamá Imelda needed that pragmatism and clarity to be the rock that others relied on. Her rigidness is entirely built on love.
When her seemingly good-for-nothing husband abandoned her family to chase his dreams, Imelda pushed up her sleeves and built a life without him, cutting him out of her heart as best she could. When her great-great grandson rejects her and stumbles into trouble in the afterlife, she jumped on her badass spirit companion’s back to find him with no hesitation. And most inspirational of all, she did it all with a scowl that could cut through glass. Imelda inspires us to be firm when we need to, but to find it within ourselves to be flexible, too — whether that means forgiving someone, or upstaging a murderer by singing and dancing in front of hundreds of thousands of rowdy spirits.
Age: While dead, she’s probably roughly 100 years old.
Wizenedness: Not wizened, but only because she no longer has skin.
Cackling: Definitely, but sadly not onscreen.
Likelihood of actual magical powers: Realistically, her magical powers are limited to those wielded by any other ancestor in the Land of the Dead — but on the other hand, Pepita tho:
1. General Leia Organa (Star Wars Episode VII: The Last Jedi)
In this year of great loss, one of the absences we most keenly felt was that of our Princess. Seeing her on screen at the end of 2017, almost exactly a year after Carrie Fisher died, was a bittersweet experience. We delighted at our Princess General’s extraordinary resilience, poise, and unparalleled wardrobe, and it felt like a prayer answered. But it also felt like a long goodbye we weren’t ready for, even after a year’s preparation.
Carrie Fisher spoke from time to time about the blending of her and Leia’s identities, which enables us to have a little fun imagining our princess drinking wine in a trash can, or telling a talking head that she “doesn’t think of men as people.” Princess Leia is absolutely everything to so many little kids and grown-ass women, it seems we just can’t stop telling stories about her, or about our relationship to her. We know that while this year brought us her last on-screen appearance, we look forward to the stories that will be told of her courage, convictions, and unstoppable badassery for years to come.
Age: early to mid-fifties
Wizenedness: Moderate wizenedness, paired with Above Average fierceness
Cackling: too skilled in diplomacy to cackle in public, but her excellent smirking will satisfy us on this score
Likelihood of actual magical powers: 100%, thanks to THAT SCENE (*extremely General Organa voice* suck it, haters)
Caroline Hubbard (Murder on the Orient Express)
This description is going to contain some SPOILERS for Murder on the Orient Express because the only way to really appreciate Caroline Hubbard is to know the whole deal. Caroline Hubbard boards the Orient Express as a wealthy American woman out to catch a husband, but IN REALITY she is Linda Arden, a famous actress and the grandmother of Daisy Armstrong, a girl who was kidnapped and killed a few years prior to the incidents of the movie/book. The man who killed her, Samuel Ratchett aka Lanfranco Cassetti (played by Johnny Depp), was never caught, so Linda FOUND where he was, CONTACTED a bunch of people whose lives he had ruined by murdering Daisy, and PLANNED the whole dang murder!! They each took turns stabbing Ratchett/Cassetti/Depp to collectively take their vengeance and obscure the murderer’s identity!! Also, she had one of her co-conspirators STAB HER IN THE BACK to throw Poirot off the scent, HOLY SHIT. Linda Arden might not be the most croney or the most magical, but she’s a vengeful woman with purpose and that easily gets her an honorable mention.
Crone Zorya (American Gods)
American Gods delivered a few A++++ crones this year, but Crone Zorya brought her best Class Crone A-Game to the series when she negged Wednesday into buying her good vodka and then drained the entire bottle in one sitting. While Crone Zorya was a bit too Generic Crone to compete with the more dynamic entries on this year’s list, she still brought cackling and levity to the Shadow-and-Wednesday-sausage-fest that marred the early episodes of the season. Despite some heavy competition, Crone Zorya remains our favorite American Gods crone. Sure, Bilquis can absorb people into her vagina and Easter can throw a kickass party for a room full of Jesuses — but neither of them had the opportunity or desire to make Ian McShane stop yammering on through one of Wednesday’s insufferable monologues. For this reason, we owe her our eternal gratitude.
Interested in our previous Crone of the Year offerings?
We wish you a year of charms, blessings, and curses against your enemies in 2018 — and all the increasingly wizened role models you need to light your way through this new year.