The Katie Hill revenge porn saga highlights much that’s wrong with our culture today, especially when juxtaposed against the Trump non-impeachment saga. I’ve watched both unfold with horror, reminded of how truly powerless we average citizens are. Of how powerless women ultimately are.
I don’t have the answers for how to stop revenge porn or Donald Trump and the Republicans. I mean, I do- enforcing the constitution and laws that are already in place would be a good start. So would treating women like the equal, dignified human beings we are. But more energetic, smarter people than me are working very hard on those crises. Sometimes the problems of the patriarchy seem intractable and like they’re only getting worse, no matter how hard we fight.
So today, I’m going to focus on the issue in a more individual way. I was struck by how victimized…
I’ve gotten some new followers lately, so, Hi and welcome! There’s something I need to say to everyone, before we go any further.
Currently, most of you are here to read Dark, a show we all love. But the character of Hannah is the target of so much misogyny it’s scary, on the show and in the real/online world. This pertains to other shows as well, with other characters who become the target for misogynists. On Altered Carbon season 1, it was Kristin Ortega. On Agents of SHIELD, it’s Daisy. Women who think and act for themselves, without regard to what the men around them want. Just like men do.
In the real world, women like Hannah, Kristin, Daisy and me (and you, if you are a woman) die every day because misogyny isn’t recognized, so, even though some of you would like me to, I won’t shut up about it. While racism is getting the attention it needs, the hatred and oppression of women, the other motivator for mass shootings, everyday killings and abuse, is largely being ignored, even though it was the motivator for the second shooting of the weekend of August 4, 2019, in Dayton, OH. Even though violence against women is on the increase, separate from mass shootings.
Racially motivated violence is described as being ideologically motivated, a label that gives it more weight and prompts calls to action to stop the white supremacists and white nationalists. Meanwhile, “experts” and law enforcement officials acknowledge the misogynist opinions and activities of violent criminals but refuse to acknowledge that misogyny is an ideologythat leads to living a violent, cult-like lifestyle just as religious and racial extremism do.
Yet we know that many of the most recent mass shootings have been perpetrated by misogynist extremists who identify as such, calling themselves by such names as Incels (involuntary celibates) or Red Pillers (anti-feminists). It’s time we started calling out extremist misogyny as the dangerous, cult-like IDEOLOGY that it is.
Because life is political, so is entertainment, and so is our blog. Because we know that the creators of the shows that we love can do better. If no one points out where the issues lie, how will they know where they need to improve?
We live in the real world, where mass media has an effect on people’s attitudes. It’s important to examine closely exactly what we’re being shown and what messages are actually being delivered. It’s the only way that change happens.
Whenever we start analyzing how a show is doing in regard to its male/female ratio and other forms of diversity, and compare how characters from different demographics are being treated, we are always met with the response:
But aren’t the male (and white) characters being treated the same way as the women?
This is where attention to detail becomes important, plus the ability to count, and the ability to distinguish between a named character and a background character. When we’re discussing violent acts, this argument is frequently made, because there will be so many more men running around on screen than women that, of course, in raw numbers, more violent acts are happening to men than women.
This is a photo of Paula, played by the incomparable Donna Lynne Champlin, as she sings a song from the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend season 3 finale about the glorious and joyful process of giving birth, to help Heather feel better about what she’s gotten herself into. The song sounds pretty, everything looks beautiful, and there are even laughs to be had. Champlin sounds like the talented, amazing diva that she is. But as the song continues the lyrics go off the rails, making birth sound more and more like an apocalypse on your genitals. It ends with Heather holding a fake, gray, dead-looking placenta in her arms instead of a baby.
That’s this season, and this episode, of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend in a nutshell. To write the song, Miracle of Birth, songwriter Jack Dolgen had the show’s female writers tell him their labor and delivery horror stories, then he and his cowriter Adam Schlesinger wrote the song in the studio in two hours, based on those notes. So, it’s a simplified, biased part of the experience, filtered 2nd and 3rd hand through the male point of view, turned into a rushed product. That’s season 3 of this show.
When episode 11 of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend opened with Dr Akopian in her bedroom, I had this joyous flashback to the early days of the show, when Rebecca and Heather broke into her house through the doggie door. My hopes were raised that the whiny, misogynist slog toward the finale would be interrupted by a fun, creative episode like the ones I fell in love with. But, no. That was not the case.
Instead, we got more of the pointless, endless “will they or won’t they” from Bex and Nathaniel, a huge amount of time spent on Heather realizing that being 8 months pregnant is no fun (solved by her taking a bath 🤦🏻♀️🤦🏻♀️🤦🏻♀️), and another Paula is a b*tch story, with a side of betrayal from former bestie Sunil, to teach her a lesson. We also had an 8 month time jump, to move the story and characters along. Except almost everyone was stuck in exactly the same place.
This week, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend continues its sob fest over men’s problems, and I mean that literally. After Dr Shin encourages her to spend her free time helping others, Rebecca decides to save an engaged man from a bad marriage, no matter the cost. Darryl continues to struggle with the ramifications of deciding to have a baby alone. Nathaniel and White Josh bond over their romantic break ups, because no one understands the problems of hot, sensitive guys. Josh joins the party for a while, because he has problems, too. Rebecca stays away from the ex-boyfriends, for now, but she does decide to rescue Darryl. I don’t think she’s quite gotten the message about this whole “Stop obsessing about men” thing.
The episode picks up with Rebecca and Nathaniel’s break up scene. Except Rebecca explains that it’s not a break up. She just needs to avoid falling into old obsessive patterns again, so she can’t see him any more.
This week, the women of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend are all about keeping the men happy. Rebecca is trying to make up for Nathaniel’s sad childhood and to prove that she’s still an A+ therapy student. Paula takes on Darryl’s babymaking decisions, because these things are just too complicated for a single dad to figure out on his own. Lourdes is kicking Josh out of her house, but she’s also making him grow up and stop being so lame. The mixed message here is that it’s the job of strong, independent, modern women to take care of men’s emotional and caretaking needs, at every stage of life, whether the men think they want it or not. Even if the men resent it at first, they’ll thank you for it later. Since empowering women through enforcing gender stereotypes doesn’t do it for me, this was another disappointing episode.
Lourdes is just about perfect in my opinion, so I don’t have much to complain about there. She’s starting up a home daycare business, and needs Josh’s bedroom for the toddlers. She has a muralist coming on Monday to paint dolphins on the walls, so Josh needs to clean out his closet and move in with Hector and his mom by Monday. Josh gets off to a slow start, fondling every memento and getting lost in memories. When he gets to his old Karaoke machine, it’s all over. He stays up all night singing every song.
This is the basic list of questions we ask ourselves while consuming media to help us determine if we’re seeing women being treated fairly or not. It’s not a yes or no checklist, or an easy, one sentence test, like the Bechdel test. But then, Alison Bechdel never meant for her test to become a widely used standardized instrument. This test requires some thinking about what you’re viewing. Misogyny is often subtle, and it’s pervasive. It’s easy to miss with one, casual viewing, but the message still gets into our heads and affects us.
That’s why these are guidelines, rather than a test. Some of these answers will be subjective, and reasonable people can disagree. We’re talking about art and the interpretation of art, after all. It also takes practice to start seeing things like camera angles and positioning, rather than letting it fly by. Hardly any of us can always spot gaslighting, especially when it’s being done by the writers and producers instead of the characters. These guidelines are just aspects of entertainment to keep in mind while viewing, to become more aware of what you’re seeing.
I (Metacrone) started working on this list in the late 80s, and it’s slowly grown. It’s still a work in progress, just like the entertainment industry. There are very few works that would pass every question with flying colors. Figure out how much you can live with watching, and the level that makes you take action. It’s okay to just watch and enjoy the show sometimes without feeling guilty, too. But, the more you can recognize the issues with entertainment and speak out, even if it’s only to one person, the more of an effect we all have on the entertainment industry.
On the roller coaster ride that is Riverdale, this episode is the lowest the show has ever taken us. Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa is echoing his old boss Ryan Murphy, and his old show Glee, with epic levels of character and plot inconsistencies, misogyny, sheer contrivances, and using audience manipulation in place of actual storytelling.
The Berlantiverse is known for many of those things as well. Just take a look at any character that the writers decide is mainly a love interest, whether it’s Mon El on Supergirl, Caitlin or Iris on The Flash, or Felicity on Arrow. Betty and Cheryl seem to be meeting the same fate on Riverdale, as their characters erode from the complex women that they were in season one into inconsistent caricatures.
This episode, Veronica and Archie continued their sexathon relationship the way it had always been, complete with sex montage. After a particularly romantic tryst in front of her parents’ fireplace, Archie, overcome with endorphins, told Veronica that he loved her. She conspicuously didn’t reply, so they did the discomfort dance and decided that Archie should leave.
Anyone who has actually listened to actresses and other women in the entertainment industry knows that the sexual harassment that’s currently creating a scandal in Hollywood and (hopefully) ending careers of powerful executives has been going on since the film and music industries began in the early 20th century.
BUT MEN DON’T GET IT.
10/20/17: There have been several new developments in this story. More after the jump.