Sexualized Saturdays: Man Tears, Female Desires, and Supernatural’s 200th Episode

supernatural sam and deanSupernatural hasn’t always had the best track record with its fandom. The show is about two cishet, white male brothers and their white-male-bodied, written-as-cishet angel friend, but its enthusiastic, mostly-female fandom has constantly reinterpreted the show as either a forbidden love story between two brothers (Wincest) or a star-crossed romance between an angel and a hunter (Destiel). This isn’t a unique problem—many shows with a primarily male ensemble cast have fans who ship one or more of the male characters together. However, the reaction to such shipping has been almost exactly the same across the board: discomfort verging on disgust. As New Statesmen writer Laurie Penny says of the BBC’s Sherlock, a show which is also about two white men:

The discomfort seems to be not that the shows are being reinterpreted by fans, but that they are being reinterpreted by the wrong sorts of fans – women, people of colour, queer kids, horny teenagers, people who are not professional writers, people who actually care about continuity (sorry). The proper way for cultural mythmaking to progress, it is implied, is for privileged men to recreate the works of privileged men from previous generations whilst everyone else listens quietly.

In short, it doesn’t seem to be fandom that these producers are uncomfortable with—it’s female fandom. Men can loudly proclaim themselves to be fans, geeks, and nerds in real life (J. J. Abrams, Mark Gatiss, Peter Jackson), and they can seek to recreate the stories they loved as children (Star Trek, Sherlock, Lord of the Rings). But when women want to recreate their own stories, they’re uniformly shamed for it.

Supernatural takes this general disregard for women even further—there’s hardly an episode where a (conventionally attractive) woman doesn’t die, and the main characters are misogynistic in both their dialogue and their actions. With this sort of background, it’s hard to believe that the 200th episode, meant to be an homage to the show’s fans, would be any good. Dean’s actor, Jensen Ackles, even gave an interview where he said “[The episode is a] bit of a throwback to the fans… some fans who may have had some interesting, objectionable ideas about the show, or maybe some complaints about the show, or whatever, might want to pay attention, ‘cause we might be calling you out on it.”

“Objectionable ideas” about the show? Given all of Supernatural’s history, it didn’t sound promising. Yet Supernatural’s 200th episode, “Fan Fiction”, succeeded in being an homage to its fans—and it also succeeded at legitimizing and celebrating female desires, something it has never done nor even shown the slightest desire to do in the past.

Spoilers for all of “Fan Fiction” below.

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Teen Wolf and Feminism Part 3: Rape Culture and the Female Gaze

MadameAce: If there was one thing to praise Teen Wolf for, it would be its treatment of rape culture, and this can be shown through the actions of Matt, Kate, and Peter. The show doesn’t condone their actions, though it doesn’t try to draw a large amount of attention to them either. Teen Wolf doesn’t do those annoying specials that other shows do, where they present a serious topic and devote the entire episode to giving a lecture on it. Teen Wolf instead presents rape culture as something that not only exists but often happens that people have to deal with.

Warning: Discussion of Rape and Sexual Assault Below!!!

Warning: Discussion of Rape and Sexual Assault Below!!!

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Theatre Thursdays: Magic Mike… the Musical?

So I don’t think this movie is even out in theaters yet (I have a hefty contingent of female friends waiting to see it with me when it’s released) but hey, the people at Rotten Tomatoes think it’s gonna be pretty good.

What does this have to do with theatre, you say? Well, before the first carload of folks attracted to a bunch of traditionally hot male figures has even piled into their local cinema, the people behind this move are in talks to make a Magic Mike the musical.

It wouldn’t the first time a show about naked guys has made it to the Great White Way—Naked Boys Singing has been Off-Broadway for ages, and The Full Monty has the honor of preceding Mike as a movie-turned-musical about male stripping. As one website I found put it, it’s less a matter of getting an audience and more of a matter of how many repeat audiences they’ll have.

Besides it being about a musical and therefore tangentially qualifying it for the theatre-themed post, what is the relevance of this news to a blog about feminism? Well, there are a couple things I wanna talk about.

First, although it might be slow and a bit hackneyed at first, this movie is somewhat of a breakthrough in terms of gaze—in that is it shot from and clearly marketed to a female gaze rather than the male gaze.  (What is the male gaze, you ask? Think about when you are shown a ‘sexy’ female in a movie, how the camera scans her body in the same way a heterosexual male viewer would.)

This, I think, is part of the market finally coming to terms with something women have known a long time: women are sexual creatures, too. Call it the only good thing to come out of 50 Shades of Grey; call it whatever you like. But there it is. Sure, we like sweet romance. But sometimes we like to go watch hot guys romp around while undressing, and that’s totally okay. America is finally coming to terms with female desire, and that’s a good thing. So hopefully this movie is a breakaway success, and we can all go see them do that some more in New York while also singing.