rsadelle: (Default)
You have no idea how much I hope they're canceling this show. So we have this season-long mystery about the mysterious Alpha, and Spoilers. )

I'm also severely disturbed by the way the finale just dropped any pretense at dealing with the rape issue (which they haven't really been dealing with at all so far). Spoilers. )

The only thing I liked about this week's ep was Amy Acker. I love her, I think she's a good actress, and Spoilers. )
rsadelle: (Default)
This is the part where I talk about this entry.

To preface this entry: I don't know if this is everything I want to say, or even how I want to say it. This doesn't flow as smoothly as I wish I could make it go. This feels, to me, more like thinking via my fingers than the actual essay someone else might make out of the same ideas.

I also think I should note that I spent much of the morning being teary-eyed about Sarah Connor Chronicles. Just so you know where I'm coming from.

You should also know there are spoilers in this entry. I've put them behind a cut, but if you've come here via a link that takes you directly to this entry's page, you might not notice the warnings.

This is the part where I talk about women.

I've been saying that all my reading about race, racism, and anti-racism has resensitized me to issues of sexism, but that's not really true. My resensitization started before that, with Leverage's "The Stork Job." This part of this entry has Leverage spoilers. )

This part of this entry has Dollhouse spoilers. )

[ profile] norwich36 pointed me to a pair of [ profile] coffeeandink's posts about Sarah Connor Chronicles. This part of this entry has Sarah Connor Chronicles spoilers. )

I think it's worth noting that SCC and Dollhouse are both the brainchildren of men: Dollhouse is Joss Whedon's and SCC is Josh Friedman's. I skimmed the list of writers on IMDb's full cast and crew pages for each of them, and Dollhouse has more women writers than SCC, both by numbers and proportion. Extra interesting to me is that the two pieces of SCC fan fic that I've read that were absolutely incredible (I have to admit to not having read much, just most of the things at Yuletide and a handful of other miscellaneous things, and most of it tends to blend together) were both written by a man: "Cinderella, Made of Steel" and "Seven Sunday Mother-Daughter Mornings," both by David Hines. You can't end oppression without involving the oppressors. The Egyptians are God's people too. (Happy Passover.)

For me, in some very real ways, the season finale of SCC marks the end of this TV season. With that done for the season (or possibly forever), there isn't anything I'm going to look forward to in quite the same way. But I've also been busying myself with watching the first episodes of a bunch of midseason shows.

This is the part where I talk about lgbt people.

One of the shows I watched the first two episodes of was Cupid. I have vague memories of seeing the ads for the Jeremy Piven version, but I don't think I ever watched it. I thought I'd watch this version because I really like both Bobby Cannavale and Sarah Paulson. Then the first episode had both Sean Maguire (I had no idea he was actually British) and Marguerite Moreau, both of whom are pretty and I like. This part of this entry has Cupid spoilers. )

I've been thinking about characters who are retconned into being straight, both because it's one of the things that happens to the lgbt superheroes on Perry Moore's list and because [ profile] minkhollow brought it up in [ profile] brown_betty's book discussion. This part of this entry has Supernatural spoilers. )

This part of this entry has Kings spoilers. )

This part of this entry has Sarah Connor Chronicles spoilers. )

One of the midseason shows I watched the first ep of this week is The Unusuals. If I could choose only one midseason ensemble cop show about a rich kid who became a cop, it would be this one (over Southland, but I'll watch another ep or two of that because Ben McKenzie did sell it at the end and Regina King is hot), although that's not much of a rec. It's not as funny as the ads made it look, and Amber Tamblyn is the kind of cute-pretty that they should be doing something with (in terms of the character) rather than ignoring. This part of this entry has The Unusuals spoilers. )
rsadelle: (Default)
Two weeks ago, I said to [ profile] archivecats (in a forum other than LJ) in response to a comment she made about feminist Joss fans finding the treatment of women on Dollhouse problematic:
As a feminist Joss fan, I don't think the treatment of women is its biggest problem - it's certainly problematic, but Joss has said it's supposed to be disturbing, so I'm willing to entertain the possibility that it's going somewhere. The three biggest problems I see with it:

1. They haven't made me care enough about any of the characters to care very much about what happens to them. I sort of care about the doctor, but that's less about her and more about the fact that I adore Amy Acker.

2. It's not funny. I can't understand why Joss would make a show without humor.

3. It suffers in comparison to Sarah Connor Chronicles. I actually liked this week's ep a lot better than any of the others, but I think that's less about the ep itself and more about the fact that I wasn't home last night and watched it this morning, while I'm saving SCC for this afternoon.
Last week's episode was better, this week's episode was even better, and next week's episode looks to be really good. Part of what made the last two episodes good was that Joss finally started writing them, and they were consequently funny. The Spoilers ) were the funniest things I've ever seen on this show, and Spoilers ) nearly made me do a spit-take all over my keyboard. The humor helps with the comparison to SCC, too, because it means there's enough of a shift in tone that it's not such a direct comparison. They still haven't made me care about anyone, though, and that's a real problem.

I also have an issue with how they've handled the set-up/payoff of Joss writing. There have been interviews and whatnot for weeks saying, "Well, it really gets good with the sixth episode where Joss takes over." To me, this reeks of petulance: "You won't let me do what I want, so I'm going to give you a crappy show until you do." It's also a little cultish in how it treats the audience: "WHOSOEVER believeth in JOSS shall be REWARDED with a quality TV SHOW."

Of course, the downside for Joss of the show being better in other ways is that my focus is now free to pay attention to the problematic treatment of women. I've been reading a lot of discussions/resources about race, racism, and anti-racism recently (partly because I was leading my [all white] writing group's craft chat about writing race/ethnicity and partly because of a the link to [ profile] debunkingwhite I followed from the discussion on [ profile] hederahelix's post about anti-racism work and white allies), and, to attempt to connect oppressions without playing Oppression Olympics, it's having the side effect of resensitizing me to issues of sexism. I'm having a real problem with violence against women as entertainment. Part of it is that I don't have the stomach for violence I used to. (Although Supernatural's violence and gore doesn't bother me at all. I think it's because it's kind of cartoonish in my mind.) But part of it is specifically about violence against women.

Dollhouse is, in some ways, all about violence against women, so why is the violence bothering me so much? There are two specific instances from the last two episodes that I'm having the biggest problem with: Spoilers ) In both those instances, the violence is presented as-is, with no commentary in the text and no sense that it was anything other than just another plot point. If Joss is trying to make some point about violence against women, he needs to make it instead of dragging out instances of violence across episodes. I'm also troubled by something I remember reading in a women's studies class long ago (so long ago I don't remember specifically which class and don't have a reference for it) that cited a study that found that people with racist views/actions found any portrayal of racism/racist acts on TV (I think; possibly TV and movies), even in a clearly negative context, to reinforce their racist belief/conviction that their racist act was okay. This is what's in the back of my head, making me cringe, every time I see Joss (or anyone else - a recent local theater production is also a grave offender) just showing us violence against women.

In a more subtle bit of problematic treatment of women, the creepiest line of dialogue in this week's episode was Spoilers ) It's the kind of line that, in the right context with the right delivery, could be romantic/sweet, but came across to me as seriously creepy, especially since Spoilers. )
rsadelle: (Default)
I've now had two email conversations about this week's New Yorker, even while the issue sits on the desk in front of me so I can write about it, so I clearly need to just make a post about it and be done with it.

Ariel Levy's Lesbian Nation (abstract only available online) is one of those articles that I might have read anyway but definitely remembered to read based on the fact that there was a Jezebel post about it. The article is an interesting look at the history of the Van Dykes, lesbian separatists who traveled around the country from Women's Land to Women's Land in the 70s. It reads much like any other similar story: a charismatic leader inspires a revolution, a new idea comes in that divides the community, eventually the community falls apart and people go their separate ways, and the charismatic leader ends up leading a relatively everyday life in the current day. Specific interesting points from this article:

  • The first expert she quotes is a man, Todd Gitlin, author of The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage.
  • "The feminist Ti-Grace Atkinson went so far as to claim that her brand of celibate 'political lesbianism' was morally superior to the sexually active version practiced in her midst. Atkinson was not alone in this martyred line of reasoning; a 1975 essay by the separatist Barbara Lipschutz entitled 'Nobody Needs to Get Fucked' urged women to 'free the libido from the tyranny of orgasm-seeking. Sometimes hugging is nicer.' This argument was never particularly compelling to the lesbians in the movement who were actually gay."
  • Lamar Van Dyke, the charismatic leader in question, says, "If you look at me, there's no question about it: I'm a dyke. I am gay. If you don't think so, there is something really wrong with you." I'm really bothered by this, and I'm not sure exactly how to articulate why. It's something about you can't know that about people just by looking at them. I think it's also part of the generational difference. "'Your generation wants to fit in,' she told me, for the second time. 'Gays in the military and gay marriage? This is what you guys have come up with?' There was no contempt in her voice; it was something else - an almost incredulous maternal disappointment."
  • The new idea that divides the community is BDSM. I'm actually surprised The New Yorker went there. I think of them as being fairly staid, but maybe they're not so staid as I think of them being.
  • Lamar now works for Speakeasy in Seattle, "and she had just bought the first new car of her life, a black VW bug. Van Dyke also owns her house, but she doesn't use credit cards. That would cross some kind of line. 'I don't want to be a capitalist pig,' she explained."
  • The article is an interesting historical counterpoint to a Jezebel post about lesbianism as a political choice from earlier this month. The most striking thing missing from the history lesson that shows up in the modern discussions is the way these kinds of communities look down on and exclude trans folks. The other thing that gets left out that I saw in the Jezebel article and discussion is the idea that men are half the population of the world; any solution to the world's problems needs to include them.
The second interesting woman-focused article is Rebecca Mead's profile of opera singer Natalie Dessay (abstract only available online). I particularly like the way she treats the push and pull between acting and singing in the opera world - increased theatricality bringing in more money versus the wish to keep opera pure to the singing - and her acknowledgment that opera plots are notoriously thin. I also like it that Mead mentions the way Dessay's job keeps her away from her family - "she can sometimes go a couple of days without even talking to her children on the phone" - without going into any kind of hysterics about her being a bad mother, or even, really, much more detail about it. The focus is on Dessay as an artist, not Dessay as an example of motherhood, good or bad.

The third interesting woman-focused article is Nancy Franklin's TV column about Dollhouse and the DTV transition. My mom said the article "adds nothing to the chatter, but Nancy Franklin writes well." She's right on both counts. Franklin says, as the rest of us have been saying, "Only people who are willing to cut Whedon endless slack could find anything much to draw them in to this show . . . at the core of the series is an unpromising performance by Eliza Dushku." She also says of Eliza, in my favorite part, "the primary qualification that Dushku brings to the part is that she graduated with honors from the Royal Academy of Cleavage." Quite frankly, I think Eliza, or at least the folks at NBC Universal, know this; the best part of Eliza's Hulu ad is the part where she says, "eyes glued" just as her movement focuses your attention on her breasts. I also very much liked what Franklin has to say about actresses in general: "In terms of gender studies, it is notable that Dushku's demeanor as a zombie is much the same as the demeanor many actresses her age resort to when trying to project an image of themselves as unthreatening and 'feminine': a slouchy walk, a bobbly head, and ever-parted lips. Would someone please show these actresses a movie starring Katharine Hepburn, Barbara Stanwyck, Irene Dunne, Bette Davis, Cate Blanchett, Meryl Streep, or Judy Davis?" Both [ profile] norwich36 and I were struck by the inclusion of Cate Blanchett in that list. Like many people, I'm sure, I first saw her in Elizabeth, where she just blew me away. It turns out I've actually seen her in five other things and I have a number of her other movies in my queue. The only bad things about Franklin's column is that it makes the writing in Denby's movie reviews on the next page seem particularly uninspired in comparison.
rsadelle: (Default)
Sarah Connor Chronicles rocked my socks off! I'm in the habit of watching each episode twice before the next one airs (I was doing that with SPN, too, but I kind of lost some of my interest in the Winchesters), and I'm totally excited to watch it again before next week.

Dollhouse is another matter. If it weren't a Joss Whedon show, I would have stopped watching halfway through the episode, and even with it being a Joss show, it only gets another couple of episodes to convince me it's worth watching. There was an interesting comment on an io9 Dollhouse post where the commenter was proposing that Joss ought to do a show that doesn't really exist - there could be spoilers and reports of trouble on the set and controversy without there actually being a show - and so far Dollhouse might have been better like that.

Both shows, however, were made extra enjoyable by real-time emailing with [ profile] norwich36. It's been a long time since I watched something with someone over the internet, and I'd forgotten how fun it is! It was also hilarious when we sent nearly simultaneous emails mentioning how much the Summer Glau-Eliza Dushku promos they kept showing suck. Seriously, they almost made me not want to watch either show.


rsadelle: (Default)
Ruth Sadelle Alderson


RSS Atom


Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags