Feminists keep trying to ruin TV shows I like.
By which I don’t mean that they do it by sinisterly infiltrating the entertainment industry and fiendishly turning it into a vehicle for the Liberal Agenda (TM) by shrinking the boobies and ruining the gritty realism of Star Wars by putting female characters into it. (you see, when a guy beats up twenty enemies without breaking a sweat, that’s realistic. When a woman displays moderate competence, that’s PANDERING TO SJWS!!!!!!) It’s possible that they have tried that, but if so they were doomed to failure from the start, because the entertainment industry, for all its flaws, requires you to create new things, and that is such a complete reversal of the feminist creed of destroying everything that a feminist, in order to successfully make an impact, must cease to be a feminist in any way that matters.
(people who aspire to be high-brow claim that feminist negativity is due to its heritage from the school of Critical Theory, which as the name implies is far better at dismantling existing things than at creating something new. Myself, having long since thrown philosophy out the window with a cry of “AAAARRGGGGHHH, TOO MANY WORDS!!!”, prefer to simply credit it to the fact that feminists are fundamentally broken people trying to make themselves feel better by tearing everyone else down. So kind of like me, only with social approval)
No, the feminists keep trying to ruin TV shows I like in a way that is far more suited to their slacktivist skill set, while at the same time being oddly out of character.
They approve of them.
I find that to be very unsporting. How am I supposed to continue liking a show after feminists have approved of it? It’s like hearing that the newspaper you read is the only one that Trump doesn’t think is full of fake news. Like, it could be that it’s just so good that even he can’t find fault with it, but it’s hard not to start going through the articles with a fine comb to try to find any pro-stupid-jerk sentiments that you might have missed up to now.
I try to console myself with the thought that they probably just like seeing shows that feature strong women. After all, feminists genuinely believe that they’re this:
Even though they’re really this:
(fun fact: when googling “whine” to find that image, I got an awful lot of pictures of Donald Trump. I really can’t imagine why…)
Still, even taking that self-delusion into account, I don’t understand how feminists can approve of shows that are about women who are strong yet flawed. It’s one thing for a feminist to like Brienne of Tarth from Game of Thrones (featured above, and looking especially dashing!), who is essentially the perfect knight, or Rey from the new Star Wars movies, who’s a sort of warrior saint. I can see how a feminist would like the idea that if only she could kick ass, she’d only ever kick the asses of people who really deserved it and she’d be beautiful and perfect and everyone would love her. But why do they like Rebecca Bunch from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend? Or Jessica Jones (of the series with the same name), for that matter?
For those benighted souls who don’t know, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is a brilliant musical sitcom about a New York lawyer who moves to California and tries to get back together with her teenage crush, who she’s decided is the key to her happiness, and…
… and COME BACK HERE, YOU COWARDS! It’s better than it sounds, okay? Yes, I know it starts off as Felicity (or so I’m told – I’ve never actually seen Felicity), but it actually subverts all those cheesy rom-com tropes and becomes a beautiful, irreverent study of mental illness, of self-worth, of the limitations of friendship and love, of the mutual temptations that lead people into unequal relationships, and, especially, of the fact that women are both capable of having flaws and capable of overcoming them.
That last part is hardly subtext. The third season, in particular, practically screams it: WOMEN’S LIVES ARE NOT DEFINED BY MEN. Rebecca’s entire character arc over the first half of the series is realising first that a man can’t fix her, and then that he’s also not the reason why she’s broken. And that she might just be able to fix herself.
If that isn’t simultaneously precisely what feminism should be, and a slap in the face of what feminism is actually like, then I don’t know what is. Listen to this part, from the start of the third season! And this part, from the end! Tell me that it shouldn’t make feminists flee shrieking back to their blogs!
For some reason, that doesn’t happen. Instead, we get such nonsense as:
“It deconstructs the sexist stereotype of the psycho ex-girlfriend and reveals that women are only crazy because men make them that way!” Uhm, yeah, it deconstructs it and shows how someone obsessing that much over a past relationship is a real and tormented human being with genuine problems, not someone we should laugh at – but it does that specifically by showing that the obsession with men is a symptom, that a healthy woman can’t be driven crazy by men failing to be perfect.
“It makes a powerful statement by having a woman perform music from traditionally macho genres like rap!” Er, or maybe Rachel Bloom just has a goddamn spine and will rap if she thinks it would be cool if she rapped, and to hell with whether it’s considered macho or not?
“Look how Rebecca keeps commenting on how her lovers are good in bed! What a searing indictment of the way men constantly crave praise!” Yeah, because it’s not like a woman would have any other reason to want to fantasise about being with men who are capable of satisfying her, right? Jesus, next you’ll tell me that the way all women in books written by men are beautiful and sexy is in fact a harsh criticism against female beauty standards…
“Can we ever hope to be like the men on the show?” What, you mean a bunch of addicts, man-children and insecure jackasses? Not that I want to bash the male characters that much, they are all fallible but ultimately sympathetic human beings just like the female ones, but the idea that they’re any sort of role models is absurd. What the question means seems to be, can we ever hope to NOT be the sort of rapey misogynistic emotionally dead ogres that man-feminists love to pretend that all men but themselves (and to some part, even themselves! Sob! It’s true! They’re bad! They’re so bad! They’re trying to do better, but no matter how much they scrub, that Y chromosome just won’t come oooouuuuuuut!!!) are. Frankly, I’d say that the male characters on CEG might be a tiny bit more touchy-feely than the average man in real life, and that’s about it.
I tell you, it’s amazing how feminists can see something entirely different from what’s actually right in front of their eyes. Not that it’s unique to feminism, I suppose. I have spent enough time in opinionated subcultures to know that every piece of media must always be secretly on their side or secretly trying to destroy them, so since CEG spends too much time making you root for an sympathise with a woman to be framed as being anti-woman, everything in it is clearly some sort of coded support of feminism.
(for the record, I’m not saying it has any sort of anti-feminist agenda either. Feminism, when it comes up in the show, tends to be treated as something slightly dorky but essentially good-natured, like saying your evening prayers – do it if it makes you feel better, and it does you some slight credit that you aspire to be modern and progressive, but it won’t explain the world to you or magically turn you into a better person. If the show presents anything as having all the answers if only we would listen, though, it’s arguably psychology and therapy. Which I can live with, as those are things I believe strongly in myself)
And then there’s Jessica Jones. Which makes a little bit more sense. The first season is after all about the heroine fighting an evil rapist all while dealing with the mental scars of what he’s done to her. There’s a relationship that starts out benign but gradually turns abusive. And of course, the show dares tackle that most horrific of misogynist hate crimes: men telling women to smile!
(to be clear here, I’m conflicted about the whole issue of smile abuse. On the one hand, I absolutely 100% agree that you shouldn’t go around telling people to smile. They’ll smile if they damn well feel like it, okay? Being in a foul mood is a basic human right, and there are a lot more things in the world to scowl at than to smile about! On the other hand, it’s one more piddling little annoyance that feminists have raised to the level of a national crisis, and since feminists overstating harm is what has driven me out of human society, I also don’t want to encourage or enable it in any way. (and don’t get me started on the fact that telling strange women to smile is a show of exactly the sort of good-natured cockiness that tends to be seen as attractive in a man, even though this one particular example of it has for some reason become a feminist bugbear. If feminists want men to not tell them to cheer up, they are free to start expressing approval for gloomy and introverted men any time!) All of which makes me want to go out on the street and tell any woman who passes by to scowl – you know, just to spite absolutely everyone involved)
But all that said, the show also stabs at the very heart of feminism by delivering the following message: just because you’ve been victimised, it doesn’t give you an excuse to be an asshole. The show delivers it through practically every single character, all of whom have some sort of trauma that fuels their bad behaviour and all of whom are ultimately taken to task for that behaviour. And at least some of them – Jessica in particular – manages to rise above it and be the people they want to be, not the people their traumas would turn them into.
I think that this is a powerful and necessary statement. To be victimised is to be made into an unperson, a passive object to be acted upon. To recover from victimisation, then, means reclaiming your agency, and as part of that your moral responsibility. If you hurt others because you have been hurt, then you’re not a person, just a conduit for the abuse. It’s only when you say, “no, I will do what I think is right” that you truly beat your victimiser.
(the observant reader might also notice a certain correspondance with this blog’s mission statement…)
Compare this with feminism, the eternal cry of which is, “PATRIARCHY JUSTIFIES MY HATE! PATRIARCHY JUSTIFIES MY COWARDICE! PATRIARCHY JUSTIFIES MY SELFISHNESS! PATRIARCHY JUSTIFIES MY WEAKNESS! I can’t be expected to play fair with people, I can’t expected to show the same compassion to others that I demand of them, I can’t be expected to do anything but whatever soothes my horrible, horrible pain! Don’t blame me for stabbing you in the back, blame the Patriarchy for forcing me to stab you in the back by being so evil and hurting me so much!” Jessica would take one look at any of her feminist fans and turn away in disgust. (with a snarky one-liner, of course)
There is also the fact that, irrespectively of their excuses, this is a show where women behave badly. You’d think that if anything would drive away feminists, whose standard narrative is that no woman has done anything wrong in the entire history of forever. The show is absolutely uninterested in making Jessica look sympathetic, or even dignified. She’s a crass, abrasive, over-cynical mess of a woman, and all the more awesome for it. And then there’s Hogarth, who I will love forever for being a woman in power who acts precisely like a man in power, including by cheating on her wife with her secretary. (and then in the second season sits down after holding a stereotypical rah-rah-girl-power speech and complains to her colleagues that the secretary was leading her on by dressing provocatively)
Oh, but Kilgrave (the evil rapist villain of the first season) is supposed to be a metaphor for Rape Culture! Jessica has to fight to make the system acknowledge his existence! Yeah, except at no point is the system portrayed as being malevolent or unreasonable for not taking Jessica’s word that there’s an evil mind-controlling sociopath on the loose. Most of the first season consists of Jessica trying to prove, not that Kilgrave did what he did, but just that he has the power to do it. Even Jessica, who’s a cynic who complains about everything, never blames people for not accepting an exceptional claim without proof that the claim is, at least, plausible. There seems to be not the slightest hint of the kind of implicit bias that feminists claim is everywhere.
Now, if you said Kilgrave was a metaphor for rape, that’d fit better (except he also literally and unmetaphorically rapes people), since it’s a crime that’s very difficult to prove and which a lot of criminals therefore get away with. But the feminist position isn’t that practical reality is unfortunate that way, but that this is a flaw in our society that would be fixed if only everyone would become feminists already. And that position the show does nothing to support.
(I did in fact see one feminist whine that the show “pretends to solve Rape Culture by punching one particular rapist.” First of all, as I’ve said, I fail to see how the show pretending to do any such thing. Secondly, the difference between Rape Culture and individual rapists is that the latter actually exist, and we can all pretty much agree that they deserve to be punched)
As for the show after Kilgrave, I winced with great force at feminist gushing about how great it was that every single episode of the second season was to be directed by a woman (seriously? They didn’t see the problem with that?), but if I was worried that this would lead to the show becoming pure feminist propaganda, then I should have had more faith in my own beliefs – in particular, the belief that most women are if anything more critical of women than most men are. The second season is if anything far less feministic than the first, which did in fact have an evil, eeeeeeeevil man at its center; it goes into great detail about women behaving badly, and also deals more heavily in shades of grey and spends a lot of time on showing that it’s not so easy to just point at a relationship and declare it to be abusive, since all relationships are unique and none of them are perfect. Great stuff, from a philosophical perspective… though I also note that my belief that a mix of male and female viewpoints is best also held true, because the second season is also quite frankly not as much fun as the first one. Kilgrave is irredeemably evil in a way bound to delight feminists and which isn’t strictly speaking realistic, but he is also a lot of fun; all the angsty imperfections and no-win situations in the second season may be artistically superior, but sometimes you just want to see the heroine punch the villain in the face and feel good about it, you know? The season might have been improved by a little less feminine nuance and insight and a just the tiniest pinch of masculine let’s-fix-the-world-by-punching-bad-people dumbness.
It is of course possible that the writers meant for the show to be a feminist screed. But then they had to create actual characters for it, and those characters had to have motivations and – because the writers are pretty good at being writers – those motivations had to make sense and be possible for a reasonable person to sympathise with. The world of feminist thought is a world of strawmen, where regular, sane people genuinely do things for reasons such as “durrrrr, I really hate women!” The writers had to choose between being feminists and being writers, and made the correct choice. This is one more reason why I am willing to cut actual creators some slack, even when their personal opinions are ones I find abhorrent – the act of creating art often enobles even a mind steeped in toxic ideology.
All in all, you’d think that the sort of person who wails about microaggressions would be put off by shows full of women who are too tough to be bothered by microaggressions and in fact are prone to delivering some macroaggressions of their own… but no, annoyingly enough they insist on thinking that they’re being praised even as they are being taken to task.
But then, I suppose it’s not that strange. Feminists are already projecting their twisted, self-pitying worldview onto reality itself, even though anyone who’s been alive for a while should have noticed that women are neither inherently weak nor particularly noble, and that men, for all their common flaws, are not universally a bunch of sadists who despise women on principle. Given that, I guess it’s no surprise that they can project the same nonsense onto the considerably smaller space of a television screen.
But I still wish they could keep away from shows that are actually good and insightful.