I’ve always loved the movie Jumanji, although I’m definitely aware of its problems. And as always, I’m an eternal optimist when it comes to reboots—but I’ve already got a few concerns about this one.
As I recently read S. Jae-Jones’s YA novel Wintersong, I noticed something troubling. The book seemed designed to appeal to me: it was a fantasy romance with strong (really strong) inspiration from both the movie Labyrinth and my favorite poem, Christina Rosetti’s Goblin Market. However, something about Liesl, the main character, bugged me, and it took me a while to figure it out. Not because it wasn’t obvious, but because I thought that, in this, the Year of Our Lord 2017, we had done away with the “not like other girls” trope.
It’s a tale as old as time: a girl who’s just ~not like~ the other girls around her, against all odds, wins the day. These stories are appealing to us because these girls are framed as the outcasts; we can relate to their being bookish or plain or unpopular. But a problem that uniquely affects the female characters who fit these roles is that they often succeed or achieve victory at the expense of other women and girls, or by denigrating traditional femininity (or both). Liesl is an on-the-nose example of this trope: she is terribly jealous of her sister’s physical beauty, a trait Liesl lacks and constantly laments. Liesl is a genius composer, but her skills are downplayed or overlooked because of her gender. Meanwhile, it feels like her gorgeous sister is set up to be resented, as she at least can win men’s attention with her looks.
However, when offered a beautiful fae gown by the servants of the Goblin King, Liesl instead chooses a plain dress, and this is played like Indiana Jones correctly picking the right Holy Grail. But instead of just rejecting the wealth and majesty of the other dresses, it reads as though Liesl is casting a value judgment on the majority of the other women in the book, who did choose to wear frills and finery.
This is just the latest example of this issue, rather than the only one. Pop culture has a long and varied history of celebrating these not-like-other-girls, from formative Disney flicks all the way up to watch-at-your-own-risk premium television like Game of Thrones. These portrayals enforce a terrible message: that there’s only one right way to be a girl, and that it’s totally acceptable to tear down other girls who don’t meet those standards. Continue reading
Like many fanbases, the Bioware fanbase/playerbase is a trash fire at any given time. Said fanbase didn’t even let Mass Effect: Andromeda get off the ground before lambasting it for various graphical inadequacies and stilted line delivery. However, while there do exist some graphical glitches, weird bugs, and a disappointing character creator, ME: A is not that bad. Since I’m not even halfway through the game yet (no spoilers!) this isn’t going to be a full review, but rather a look at a troubling reaction by Mass Effect’s audience. After already being labeled as “SJW propaganda” by people who loathe anything that looks like a diverse cast, it’s absolutely no surprise that there’s such negativity surrounding a woman in charge; even less surprising when that woman is Black. While there’s absolutely fault on the fanbase for the unfair treatment surrounding her, in what I’ve seen and experienced I can only come up with one conclusion: Bioware set up Sloane Kelly to fail.
Spoilers beneath the cut.
Today’s topic came about from conversations I’ve been having with Lady Geek Girl. We both love Lucifer, the TV show which follows the devil’s shenanigans in L.A. and which just returned for its second season. I enjoy the show because I’m a sucker for procedural shows and I have a lack of immunity towards charming jerks. But today I want to talk about one matter that both intrigues me and worries me—how the portrayal of Lucifer’s masculinity relates to the fact that being near one specific woman makes Lucifer, who otherwise cannot be harmed by humans, physically vulnerable. What intrigues me is how Lucifer deals with the emotions this causes, but the potential messages of toxic masculinity and misogyny are quite disconcerting.
Some mild spoilers for the show below.
All too often when engaging with fantasy worlds, female characters are hard to come by. Sadly, when they are introduced, they’re often nowhere near as well written as their male counterparts. Female characters tend to have less agency than other characters, and their motivation and development as a result can be rather unrealistic. There are most definitely numerous reasons for this. One of them, though, is the use of misogyny as a background decoration. What I mean by this is that writers are often too busy including pointless misogyny to spend any actual time developing their female characters, because misogyny simply offers them an excuse to include gratuitous sexism without considering what message their story is going to send.
Trigger warning for rape and sexual violence ahead.
Today I want to tell you about a book called The Devil’s Intern by Donna Hosie. It’s the first book in The Devil’s series. Everything I heard about it was positive and my friends loved it. The premise sounds really cool too—a teen boy who died a tragic random death and went to Hell decides to travel back in time and prevent it. Don’t let the apparent morbidity of this fool you, though; it’s actually a very humorous book. With everything sounding so great, I started this book expecting to love it. But while the premise delivers and the dark humor works well, it’s so full of casual misogynistic tropes and so lacking in diversity that I couldn’t really enjoy it.
Spoilers after the jump!
Fire Emblem Fates has finally released state-side, to the joy of many and chagrin of many others. The translated and localized version unsurprisingly still suffers from the problems that it had in its original release, but I don’t believe those watching the game were that surprised with how it came out. While those problems deserve discussion, and talk of how the translated dialogue itself also deserves some scrutiny, today I’m not looking at any of those. (And probably won’t until I finish all three games.)
In the previous installment of Fire Emblem—Awakening—the player character had to help the royalty of their world to put an end to a war; not a particularly new theme to the series, but neither is it a theme that suffers from possible interesting and poignant takes on it. Again, in Fates, the player character must help to bring an end to a war that will devastate the world if allowed to go on. I don’t have a problem that Fates is using the same plot again—though I would say the writers added a sort of nuance to Fates that Awakening didn’t have—but I do have a problem that its catalyst for the characters getting “serious” is the same. That is to say, the war really only comes to a head over the death of a woman.
Spoilers for Awakening and Fates (Birthright and Conquest), and a trigger warning for suicide under the cut.