Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Dollhouse Is Feminist (Part 11: 1x09)

(Written for the video version)

The ninth Dollhouse episode “A Spy in the House of Love” is a partially nonlinear story following the four main Actives in separate storylines that intersect with each other. The first part is a set up that doesn’t follow anyone specifically.

It starts out with Echo as a dominatrix talking to Boyd about her job. I have issues with the portrayal of BDSM here, but I’ll leave that to the previous post “S&M Barbie”. I’ll just point out that Echo’s outfit is incredibly revealing and even though she’s supposed to be dominant, she comes off as just a sex object for the male gaze. Anyway, she talks to Boyd about the importance of trust and how it’s beautiful when a submissive trusts a dominant enough to submit to her. Boyd talks about how it’s dangerous to trust people, and it has the implication that the Dollhouse can’t be trusted and he feels bad for lying to her. Trust and specifically misguided trust is the theme of the episode.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

My Thoughts on Supernatural 7x08 "Season Seven, Time for a Wedding!"

Considering all the hits I've been getting from Supernatural fans looking at my post on the Wedding Crashers male rape scene to compare it to the latest Supernatural episode "Season Seven, Time for a Wedding!" (thanks to whoever started sending that link around, by the way), I thought I'd write a post sharing my feelings on the episode. This is that post. "Season Seven, Time for a Wedding!" is a problematic episode involving obsessed Supernatural fan Becky giving Sam a love potion, and they become a cutesy couple until the potion wears off in the third act... and it's still too cutesy.

A lot of feminists think Supernatural is misogynistic, but I generally don't see it. The main complaint is that female characters are often killed in a way where the camera lingers over their pain and/or to hurt Sam and/or Dean in a women in refrigerators situation. Well, it's a horror story featuring gruesome deaths all around. The focus is on two male characters and everyone keeps dying around them, anyway. They even liquified Castiel (though possibly not for good). That said, there are a few things here and there that annoy me as a feminist, like practically the entire episode of "Season Seven, Time for a Wedding!".

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Dollhouse Rape Issue

A lot of feminists complain about Dollhouse being a big display of rape without anyone ever acknowledging it. I think it is acknowledged through the shorthand of "prostitution" and "human-trafficking", but I can understand people not recognizing it. I think rape does happen in the normal operation of the Dollhouse, but it's hard to say how this rape exactly occurs given the weird science-fiction element of the show. The problem is that we are just not used to conceptualizing of this kind of thing because it never happens in the real world, and we want to think about this kind of fantasy scenario in the way normal life operates where a person is both mind and body simultaneously and indistinguishably, but that's not accurate to these scenarios. I have some thoughts on how to conceptualize identity in these scenarios, breaking it down to three distinct parts.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Feminist Analysis of Halo Wars

(Written for the video version)

Halo Wars is a real-time strategy game made by Ensemble Studios. This was the first venture outside of the first-person shooter genre and with a company other than Bungie Studios. The writing is cornier than ever, though the dialog never quite tops Halo 3’s “to war”, and despite involving epic things like a Dyson sphere contained in a planet, it’s actually a very simplistic story. It’s a prequel to the main trilogy, set twenty years prior to the events of Halo: Combat Evolved.

It starts out with Captain Cutter of the ship Spirit of Fire narrating about how hard it’s been to reclaim the planet Harvest from the Covenant. Despite the UNSC feeling they own it now, they’re still fighting Covenant off the surface. He then talks to the ship’s AI, Serina, about preparing for dropping troops.
Serina is probably my favorite character in the game, an aloof and sarcastic AI who lampshades some of the cornier aspects of the plot. Her avatar design is much less sexual than Cortana’s. While Cortana’s a naked hologram, Serina wears a normal outfit. She comes off as just a woman, a digital member of the crew, in contrast to Cortana’s appearance setting her apart from the others, though they considered Serina’s clothes having a similar style at one point.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Feminist Analysis of Halo: Combat Evolved

(I wrote this specifically for a Going Rampant video)

The Xbox first-person-shooter Halo: Combat Evolved, made by Bungie Studios, became one of the most popular American games after its release in 2001 and spawned the long-running Halo franchise. A revamped version of the game will be released this November, what we all recognize as a desperate grab for cash but what Halo fans will get anyway because we’re just that geeky. While the success of the franchise encouraged Bungie to appeal to women in later games, the first one was centered on the generic male market with a lot of homages to their mostly male established fanbase. Even though this is the future where all the countries have combined, it looks pretty much like modern day America in space.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Bechdel Test is Flawed

The Bechdel test, used for determining female presence in movies, is flawed. It wasn't started to be a concept for serious feminist film analysis; it was just a joke in a one-shot comic where a lesbian character describes her rule for seeing movies. Because it wasn't defined in a sufficiently thorough way, it becomes difficult to use it for analysis.

The original Bechdel test (actually written by Liz Wallace, so it should be called the Wallace test) had three rules:
  1. The film has to have at least two women in it
  2. Who talk to each other about
  3. Something other than a man
The character then notes that Alien passes because Ripley and Lambert talk to each other about the monster.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Buffy vs. Dracula

(See the video version here)

Count Dracula: classic movie monster. He ruled with tyranny over the Romanian people for centuries before making his move on England. With dark sex appeal, his power over characters Lucy and Mina fueled women’s rape fantasies for over a century.

Buffy Summers: symbol of girl power. Her superhuman strength and excellent fashion sense enables her to effectively protect the denizens of Sunnydale from the vampire menace with style. With wit and attitude, her subversion of classic damsel-in-distress imagery provides a feminist twist to the horror genre.

What would happen were these two characters to meet and interact?

Dracula: “I am Dracula.”
Buffy: (starstruck) “Get out!”

The first episode of the fifth season “Buffy vs. Dracula” allows for a contrast between the classic vampire fiction of Dracula and the modern ‘90s’ Buffy the Vampire Slayer. While generally looked down upon for having absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the season, I think it’s an entertaining standalone episode offering a contemplative look at the implications of the series and how it relates to vampire fiction overall. The title is simply a reference to the goofy crossovers common to horror movies, but it can also be thought of as Buffy, the series vs. Dracula, the general story.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Eli's Gender (LTROI)

For the past few weeks, I've been surfing the "We, the Infected" forums for Let the Right One In, and no topic seems to be as persistent as Eli's gender or possible lack thereof. While only briefly touched on in the Swedish film and blatantly ignored in the American remake Let Me In, the novel Let the Right One In plainly reveals the apparent vampire girl as an androgynous boy. People don't know what to make of this. The following is a summary of the information and points raised by users. Because Eli's gender identity is hard to ascertain, I will be using gender-neutral pronouns ze and hir.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Goa'uld and Yeerk Sexuality (Stargate/Animorphs)

So, I’ve watched all of Stargate SG-1, and I’m confused about the sexuality of the Goa’uld (and Tok’ra, which I’m just going to call Goa’uld because it’s easier1). How do they reproduce? Do they have genders? If they do have genders, how are they distinguished? This confusion is worsened by exposition that seems to change the nature of the Goa’uld physiology over the course of the show, retroactive continuity change that isn’t clearly resolved, specifically in regard to the Goa’uld queens.