Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Feminists are entertained by villainy and murder

After writing about rape jokes and whether or not references to rape are bad, a thought came to mind.

If someone spends a night at a comedy laughing at jokes about people being brutalized, they might be a deranged, demented individual. Additionally, the comedian may be doing something entirely unethical by making money "crossing the line".

However in our society today there is a word for someone who watches hours upon hours of violence, rape, theft, murder and other criminal behavior.

They're called HBO subscribers. Or perhaps Netflix addicts.

Yes, even the 'feminist' 'queen of snark' (PZ's words) Rebecca Watson watches Game of Thrones, and found it worthy of a blog post about its misogynistic themes.

Some excerpts:
This is just one example of many in Game of Thrones in which a losing proposition is directly related to sexist and patriarchal thinking. Some progressives may find the misogyny of the show too much to handle, but I love it because it’s not presented as just an unavoidable aspect of the society or as an excuse to give all the important roles to men and keep the women as silent and useless eye candy. Instead, it’s used to highlight the evil that exists in the characters and in the society at large, as with Frey; it plays a pivotal role in the downfall of certain characters, as with Robb; and it gives the dynamic, three-dimensional female characters agency, something to work within and fight against.
Misogyny, while a major theme, isn’t the only character flaw that leads to upset and tumult. Obviously there’s also revenge and pride and other vices at play, and so I don’t expect Daenerys’s feminist porn ways to continue much longer, something I’m quite happy about because seriously, it would get boring if she just collected all these freed slaves, marched into King’s Landing, murdered Joffrey with a giant, sharpened Venus symbol, and proceeded to turn Westeros into an egalitarian utopia. I mean, it would be very, very satisfying to watch, don’t get me wrong. But boring.
I’m excited to see where all this goes. So excited, in fact, that I may go ahead and start plowing through the books after next week’s episode, since I’ll have too long of a wait until Season 4.

PZ adds a comment, and might be a voice of reason here:
It’s a very optimistic perspective to think of the misogyny in GoT as “used to highlight the evil that exists in the characters and in the society at large” — I just worry that it’s not being seen that way by a large number of viewers. It’s always a risky game to try and portray violence in excess in hopes that it will wake people up to it’s evil…because some people will just think, “That’s cool!”
Rebecca responds:
I agree, but I think that’s a risk with every kind of nuanced portrayal/examination of societal ills. There are, without a doubt, people who non-ironically love GoT for the tits, but if we want interesting media, we have to put up with that. Otherwise all progressives would have to enjoy would be obvious and boring moralizing tales. This is why I’m hopeful that Dany’s story doesn’t continue to be such a cake walk.

Now, FTB and Skepchick may not be as hard-line as other critics of "rape jokes", PZ himself making a strange "rape joke" in a video,  but it is telling where priorities are and what reasonable "entertainment" is presented to be.

Remember, "rape jokes", as we are told:

  1. Are usually made in poor taste
  2. May trigger someone in the audience and make them feel bad
  3. Generally don't make any point about society
  4. Are unethical profit making from portrayals of victimization

Meanwhile, HBO, Game of Thrones, etc are:
  1. Somehow, cerebral commentaries on today's realities
  2. Filled with graphic depictions of murder and violence, even violence against women, which probably contributes to rape culture, but it makes for a good story
  3. Filled with tits and objectification of women, but progressives need to just "put up with that" because the alternative is bland moralizing fictions

In this weird and wonderful world view, being curled up on a couch watching someone being abused in a completely fictional context is somehow normal human behavior. One can apparently ponder, relate, and generally work things out. 

But as soon as things get a bit comical, a parody of the situation perhaps, then we're on the approach to the zone of laughter. We could say someone might be triggered, however they would be triggered watching the 'serious' drama as well. What we're ultimately concerned about is that someone may feel that there experiences are being trivialized or laughed at. 

It could very well be that a very studious watching of films like Schindler's List does the subject of genocide more justice than a series of holocaust jokes.

That said, Game of Thrones and plenty of HBO shows are in many ways vapid entertainment.

Are you watching insightful commentary or a soap opera with swords?

Are you actually developing in some way or simply being titillated?

Maybe what is ultimately distracting about online 'feminism' is the role of media critic.

The focus primarily lands on ne'er-do-well comedians, violent video games or video games supporting stereotypes about gender.

Presumably, these are the types of entertainment that buttress patriarchy, rape culture, and make the all the boys in the yard lose their bloody minds. They are soft minds ready to be molded by popular culture.

Meanwhile, what about that hit show about a deadly patriarchal fantasy land, or that blockbuster movie franchise about a vampire and a werewolf trying to get with a teenage girl?

What kind of rationalizations could we hear that would defend these popular shows as we've heard rape jokes being defended?

"But <insert popular show here> is not a train wreck rape porn snuff film - it's a period piece! A portrayal of societal ills!"

Bad entertainment is "triggering", "offensive".

Good entertainment is "gritty", "real".

It's a reminder of a particular definition of obscenity - "I know it when I see it."

What can perhaps say conclusively?

Don Draper is one sexy beast.


1 comment:

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