I’ve been meaning to post something about The Big Bang Theory for a while now but it’s taken me ‘till now to really understand what it is about the show that makes me uncomfortable. I’m not exactly a believer in the whole “only write about the things you like, don’t trash the things you don’t” trend which seems to be plaguing comments sections in negative articles lately, but I wanted to be able to really examine why I don’t like TBBT rather than just slagging it off. My main questions being - Why don’t I like this anymore? Why do I feel uncomfortable watching it? And why do I get so annoyed when I see people sing its praises online? The thing which really sparked this post was seeing a raft of comments on Facebook, below the last round of voting in Television Without Pity’s Tubey Awards, claiming The Big Bang Theory to be “the best comedy on TV”. This made me angry so instead of posting an impulsive comment calling out their bad taste which I’d probably regret later, I decided to really analyse why seeing comments like that made me so mad when previously, although I didn’t really love the show, I’d never considered myself as disliking The Big Bang Theory.
Hell, I even have season one on dvd, it’s sitting right between Battlestar Galactica and Bored To Death in my alphabetised collection.
And here, I think, is where my problem with The Big Bang Theory lies…
Templars: We have to crush this mage rebellion to keep them from killing everybody, help us out?
Elves: Yo, we are busy trying to survive when EVERYONE’S trying to wipe us out, no thanks.
Elves: And if you’re supposed to protect us then how come you never show up when humans come in to rape and rob and slaughter us?
Templars: Um OH LOOK AN ABOMINATION catch you later
Mages: The Circles are unfair, they want to lock us all up like criminals - help us overthrow the Templars?
Elves: Yeah we’ve been genocided almost out of existence and we’re still being enslaved and murdered right and left, how bout you help US out?
Mages: Sorry Mage’s Rights first, we’ll hit you later.
Elves: Screw all you guys REVOLUTION TIME
Chantry: well, shit.
Thedas: *explodes into chaos*
Flemeth: *cackles mysteriously*
I’ve hardly been online for the past few days and now my dash is buzzing with a multi-day old discussion about Tomb Raider and rape culture. Not appetizing…
After googling the official trailer video and sitting through it with a WTF look on my face, I’m pretty certain that my nostalgia for the Tomb Raider series will stay firmly planted in the 1990s.
Here are three quotes from the Penny Arcade by Ben Kuchera that speak to the WTF that is still on my face followed by ONE MORE QUOTE THAT MAKES ME WTF THE REVIEWER FOR DOING A ONE-EIGHTY AND FALLING FOR THIS:
The demo for the upcoming Tomb Raider prequel-slash-reboot shown at an E3 preview event was hard to watch. A group of journalists watched, drinks in hand, as a young girl was brutalized, beaten, almost raped, and this was done for our… entertainment? The game looks like it will be a bleak look at what it takes to survive when both the environment and other survivors want to kill you, rape you, eat you, or some combination thereof, but the content was a little uncomfortable in the context of a group presentation.
“It sounds like we’re watching porno out here,” another writer remarked to me as we walked around the event, listening to the kiosks showing the game. Without seeing the images on screen, the loud gasps, screams, and grunts as Lara is beaten sounded sexual.And…Ron Rosenberg, the game’s producer, also stated that they planned the content they’ve shown very carefully, and there was an “intentionality” to the way her suffering is shown. “We did a lot of research into survival and people who survived extreme situations. One of the recurring themes was that people who survived had this mantra of just keep moving,” he explained. … The idea is to take a human character, this very vulnerable young girl, and put her through immense suffering in order for her to come out the other end of the experience as a hero.And…There is something offensive about the idea that Lara Croft is beaten, sexually assaulted, and barely escapes with her life and it ends up being a good thing. If we consider Tomb Raider a prequel to the original games, the message is problematic: Don’t worry about being attacked, you’ll become a hero if you don’t die!Which sums up the big ball of WTF. But then Ben Kuchera has the nerve to say this (emphasis mine):
Gallagher pointed out that this isn’t a look into the history of the classical character, but a re-imagining of Lara Croft for today’s audiences. “I would say that the outcome is closer to something like Batman Begins or Casino Royale, where the character at the end is certainly Batman or James Bond, but not necessarily the one from before,” he said. “They share many traits so you can recognize the iconography, it’s the same character, but it’s a more modern version. It doesn’t necessarily lead directly into Tomb Raider 1, with hot pants and a braid.”
Rosenberg agreed. “One of our goals is that she’s not a 2D character portrayal. When you get to the end there, are some things that are positive, and some things that are scarring, that she still has to deal with,” he said. The experience will have changed her in a positive way, but what she has gone through will have left a mark.
While I was initially bothered by how close some of the images and scenes come to torture porn, or the idea of putting a young woman through such graphic hell as a way to amuse a male audience, after talking to the Gallagher and Rosenberg I’m now looking forward to playing the full game. They’re exploring some uncomfortable spaces with the game, and taking the character down what looks to be the beginning of a very dark journey.
Sorry Ben, I’m not buying it and I don’t think you should either. Just because people survive terrible situations by repeating the fight-or-flight mantra “just keep moving,” that does not mean they are changed in positive ways by the experience.
I know survivors of horrific situations. As much as they “kept moving” during the horror, none of them were changed in positive ways. The people I’m thinking of now live thousands of miles and a cross-continental/cross-oceanic flight away from those prior horrors. Guess what? They don’t want to talk about it. It didn’t make them stronger or better or turn them into super heroes. Horrors like these gave them nightmares.
So, you want know what I have to say to people like Producer Ron Rosenberg? White American men who have almost definitely led safe, comfortable middle class lives really need to think twice about glorifying torture. They need to check their privilege cards. They need to get real. If they knew better and didn’t live in their
imperialistbubble, they would know that this isn’t entertainment.
Anyone who knows me will know that I do not have problems with stories that take a “very dark journey,” but I do have a serious motherfucking problem when the darkness of those journeys is not properly honored. Gratuitous glorification does not honor pain, suffering, loss, hostage situations, rape, violence, and death.
Oh, and reviewer Ben Kuchera, let me tell you something: if it looks like Torture Porn it probably is Torture Porn. Be honest about what you are looking forward to. And, no, I am not impressed.
I don’t apologise for my blog temporarily turning into a very angry place. This needs to be discussed. This needs to be condemned. This attitude is very very frightening and very very prevalent. Spot on, Vieralynn. Terrifyingly so.
I wonder if those guys have ever seen Deliverance…
Wow. Just … wow.
That is some Male Gaze/Rape Culture bullshit right there.
The problem that needs to be fixed is not kick all the girls out of YA, it’s teach boys that stories featuring female protagonists or written by female authors also apply to them. Boys fall in love. Boys want to be important. Boys have hopes and fears and dreams and ambitions. What boys also have is a sexist society in which they are belittled for “liking girl stuff.” Male is neutral, female is specific.
I heard someone mention that Sarah Rees Brennan’s THE DEMON’S LEXICON would be great for boys, but they’d never read it with that cover. Friends, then the problem is NOT with the book. It’s with the society that’s raising that boy. It’s with the community who inculcated that boy with the idea that he can’t read a book with an attractive guy on the cover.
Here’s how we solve the OMG SO MANY GIRLS IN YA problem: quit treating women like secondary appendages. Quit treating women’s art like it’s a niche, novelty creation only for girls. Quit teaching boys to fear the feminine, quit insisting that it’s a hardship for men to have to relate to anything that doesn’t specifically cater to them.
Because if I can watch Raiders of the Lost Ark and want to grow up to be an archaeologist, there’s no reason at all that a boy shouldn’t be able to read THE DEMON’S LEXICON with its cover on. My friends, sexism doesn’t just hurt women, and our young men’s abysmal rate of attraction to literacy is the proof of it.
If you want to fix the male literary crisis, here’s your solution:
Become a feminist.
Right okay so here’s the deal: strong female character? Is an awesome, awesome term when it means “strongly written female character.” Please assume, for the duration of this post, that that is what *I* mean when I’m using it; I don’t know what everyone else means, and maybe I missed some kind of memo or something, but as I am getting the impression that I would have torn that memo up if I had received it, it’s probably for the best.
Here are some things a strong female character NEEDS to have:
- Consistent characterization
- A personality/life purpose that is not hinged solely on furthering the plots of the men around her
- THAT’S IT
Here are some things a strong female character CAN have, but does not NEED to have:
- A vagina
- A sex drive
- A take-no-shit attitude
- A gun fixation
- The tendency to tell dudes to go fuck themselves
Here are some things a strong female CAN’T have:
- [Data not found]
Here are some things we need to stop doing, as a population of human beings:
- Defining people, for the positive or negative, solely based on their genders
- Determining what women “can” or “cannot” be in order to be considered “strong”
- Shaming each other for our behaviors, opinions and actions instead of contributing to change
THAT’S ALL, THE END