Helen Henny Was My First Female Role Model, But Did She Have To Be So Robotic?
By: Amanda Brecken
As a child, I idolized Munch’s Make Believe Band. My parents would take me to Chuck E. Cheese and buy me game tokens, but I would be so infatuated with the musical stylings of the band that I wouldn’t want to play games. Sometimes I’d just throw my tokens at the band’s feet and shout song requests. As a woman, I now look back and realize that Helen Henny was my first strong female role model and a positive guiding force in my life. That being said, did she have to be portrayed so robotically?
There were certainly positive ideals exuded by Helen. For example, she was fearless and unapologetically critical of the patriarchy. While she was the only female member of the band, she certainly didn’t sit in the corner. Ms. Henny took center stage and stole the show on many occasions. Her only downfall is that she moved in herky jerky motions that are so mechanical looking that it distracts from her message of female empowerment. The automated movements of Helen Henny are just a dark reminder of the societal gender roles that are engrained into our culture. She looks like a puppet of the patriarchy and that’s something I have to reconcile with as an adult.
Don’t get me wrong, we shouldn’t write her off completely as a positive role model for young women. Her redeeming qualities far outweigh her animatronic gesturing on stage. I just can’t help but think that were she to move in a more organic fashion that her fierce feminist agenda would be better received and retained by girls and gender nonconforming youths everywhere.
Her best song, a country ballad titled “I Don’t Wanna Lay Eggs No More”, was a feminist manifesto of sorts for me. It really provided a stark social commentary on how women are viewed as vessels for producing babies and how the government controls our bodies. With such an emotionally powerful allegory, it’s hard to believe that the whole thing could be ruined in my eyes by her moving in a motorized way, but it is.