Well, everyone, this is our last post before our summer vacation! We’ll be off for the next two weeks or so, but in the meantime, Game of Thrones is back on the air, and I don’t think many of you will be surprised to learn that I still hate it and question everything that’s happening. As such, I figured it was time to take another look at a minor character who has always stuck with me: Shae. Shae’s book and show counterparts couldn’t be farther apart. But if I’m being honest with myself, it’s another change from the books that I somehow actually enjoyed in the show. Part of that is because I doubt the show could handle Shae’s book storyline well because it’s consistently proven itself incapable of treating its female characters with any kind of respect.
Trigger warning for victim blaming, rape, sexual abuse, and murder up ahead.
Lady Geek Girl: Recently Blackout (one of our former writers), Ace, and I all went to see Suicide Squad, a movie that had already received someof the worstreviews ever even before it hit theaters. This was a movie that the three of us were very much looking forward to. We loved all the characters and wanted nothing more than to see this movie reignite the DC Extended Universe. So how do we feel about this movie now that we’ve seen it?
…It didn’t exactly go as we had hoped. DC Comics seems to continually want to let us down these days. Each time we get excited and think that maybe this time we will get something good, something worthy of the characters we love—and each time thus far we have been colossally disappointed. But this movie takes the cake when it comes to bad DC movies. Not only does the movie’s plot make little to no sense, it also succeeds in being both racist and sexist.
Rereading Harry Potter as an adult certainly changes my perspective on many different scenes and characters. Like most people, I hated Petunia and Vernon Dursley—the two of them are horrible, abusive bigots who deserve all the derision fans levy at them—and I still hate them to this day. And, like most people, I also used to hate Dudley just as much. As an adult, though, my hate for him has turned into pity. When we are first introduced to Dudley, he’s an awful bully of a character. Dudley is a spoiled little brat with a huge sense of entitlement, and the way he treats Harry is awful. However, like Cinderella’s stepsisters, he is an abuse victim and his treatment at the hands of others, both his parents and wizarding kind, should also be condemned.
I recently enjoyed my honeymoon (which I had to wait a year after being married to actually go on). Because of our current lack of funds, my partner and I didn’t go anywhere, but rather stayed at home and enjoyed each other’s company. One of the things that we did decide to do while on our honeymoon was marathon Disney movies. And so naturally, after years of not having seen it, I re-watched Cinderella. And while the movie still is very problematic, I have to admit that I’m starting to think that maybe feminists (myself included) give Cinderella a little more shit than is really merited.
“It’s okay to enjoy problematic things!” This has become a rallying cry in fandom, and I’ve seen it crop up most recently amongst the Star Wars fans. Fandom wars have already flown into full swing shaming people who ship Kylo/Rey, and while it is admittedly a very problematic ship (and will be more so if they end up being related), it’s also people’s prerogative to ship what they want as long as they understand the canonical issues with their relationship. Each person who participates in a ship or a fandom has to weigh the good against the bad, and the final call—is this something I’m willing to accept with its flaws, or is this too much for me—is a deeply personal one.
Unfortunately, unlike fandom, where The Discourse rules all and people tend to err on the side of policing the problematic aspects of fanworks, the Powers That Be seem to have a mentality along the lines of “this sold well; people must want more of it” that precludes the possibility of refining the product in any meaningful way. Basically, when something problematic becomes popular, there’s such a rush to cash in on that popularity that, while fans are having discussions of how to improve the original work, those who create and propagate the media are popping out clone after issue-laden clone, replete with all the problems of the original. And nothing is quite as emblematic of this issue as the cultural phenomenon that is Fifty Shades of Grey.
Massive trigger warnings for rape, abuse, and mutilation up ahead.
With the possible exception of Cersei’s penance walk, the Jeyne-Theon-Ramsay storyline in A Dance with Dragons was both one of the best and also one of the worst reading experiences I’ve suffered my way through. The whole thing is incredibly uncomfortable. I can think of very few villains worse than Ramsay, and his treatment of both Jeyne and Theon is so appalling that it’s difficult to imagine anyone so evil.
Game of Thrones’s fifth season attempted to tackle this subplot. Unsurprisingly, it failed. The show was also incredibly offensive in the process. At face value, this seems like an odd thing to say. What happens in the show is nowhere near as bad as what happens in the books. In Game of Thrones, Sansa replaces Jeyne, Ramsay rapes her, and the whole thing is rather senseless. In the books, Ramsay does a lot more than rape Jeyne. He threatens to mutilate her—her body is covered in his bites marks—and he forces her into acts of bestiality. On top of all that, he rapes Theon by proxy, since he also forces him to help in Jeyne’s torment as well. It’s worse than I just made it sound. Significantly.
Yet A Song of Ice and Fire does not treat this subject matter the same way Game of Thrones does. What happens in the books is awful, but it’s not just for shock value. The storyline tells us a lot about a person’s identity and autonomy, about rape culture, and about the monsters who hurt us. There’s a lot to unpack here, so for this post, I’m going to get into Theon’s issues with identity and then talk about Jeyne and rape culture in a second post.
It’s almost Halloween, which means it is time for me to over-analyze spooky movies!The movie The Nightmare Before Christmas came out in 1993 and became an instant holiday classic. Recently I was re-watching the movie and was struck in particular by Sally and her relationship with Dr. Finklestein, her creator. Sally has very little say in her own life and is constantly poisoning Dr. Finklestein so that she can leave and be able to go about the town and participate in daily life. Dr. Finklestein created Sally to be his companion and insists that she needs to do what he says because he created her and gave her life.
This conflict is just played off as funny in this kids’ movie, but it’s an interesting question on a variety of levels.
How many of us wanted to learn magic as a child? Magic is just so… magical. And let’s face it: if magic were real, the world would be so much more fun to live in. One of the reasons Harry Potter was so captivating was because of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. I didn’t know a single person growing up who wouldn’t have rather have had an education there than at a boring Muggle school.
Reading about Harry’s adventures at Hogwarts was one of the best parts of my childhood, and I will always love the series for that. After all, Hogwarts has moving staircases, talking sentient pictures that exist to serve the people who painted them, household slaves who’ve internalized their subjugation, a class system that encourages segregation, and a student mortality rate that can rival a Game of Thrones episode. Wait, what?
Yeah, looking back, Hogwarts is nowhere near as wonderful as it first seemed. In fact, it’s actually a really horrible place. The professors, most notably Albus Dumbledore, did not implement magic in a way to be beneficial for any student’s safety. And all the horrible things that happen at Hogwarts could have been avoided had magic been used more responsibly.
Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey are two of the most polarizing books that I have ever been unfortunate enough to read. It’s important to remember that it’s all right to enjoy something with problematic material. You just need to be aware of why it’s problematic. I’ve read and liked a lot of stories about abusive relationships—even recced a fic or two—but the biggest difference between reading fanfiction with glorified abuse and the Twilight and Fifty Shades books are that these fic authors are actually aware that their stories feature abuse and use disclaimers accordingly. Fanfiction is also often less about telling a cohesive story and more about expressing interpretations to already preexisting works of art. It’s not the same as writing for cash and putting a copy of their work in every bookstore out there. Stephenie Meyer and E. L. James don’t seem to realize the abuse they wrote, and what concerns me about their novels is that they do trick real people into believing that abuse—sometimes even rape—is a sign of love. Both these stories are incredibly misogynistic. They mistake abuse for love, sometimes even use love to excuse abuse, while also encouraging male entitlement and female submission.
Spoilers for both Twilight and Fifty Shades below, as well as a trigger warning for suicide, abuse, rape, and unhealthy relationships.
It is now only a couple weeks until the monstrosity of a movie Fifty Shades of Grey hits theaters—which has gotten me thinking about a lot of different “love” stories we’re fed that are actually abusive. Of course, probably the most famous, and even my personal favorite, is Beauty and the Beast. We had a post on this quite a while ago, but I figured it would be best to go over once again what about this relationship makes it so bad, especially since so many people seem to be unaware of what abuse actually is. I also find Beauty and the Beast interesting because by the time the movie ends, the relationship between the two titular characters could be seen as healthy. Sadly, it doesn’t start off this way, and the movie never feels the need to address the abuse their relationship was founded on.