Sexualized Saturdays: Something Something Lord of the Flies: When An All-Female Reboot Just Doesn’t Work

After several decades of hemming and hawing in the face of the evidence that movies about female heroes and/or starring more than one woman can be financially successful, I suspect that Wonder Woman finally was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Before Wondy, we had the moderately successful Ghostbusters: Answer the Call; coming next year, we will be #blessed by Ocean’s Eight. However, the thing about the latter two films, both reboots of previously all-male franchises, is that they are movies where the gender of the protagonists is incidental. That’s why it’s possible to reboot them with women; there’s no reason a lady can’t bust a ghost or rob a casino as effectively as a dude.

Or suffer on the MTA (via People)

But of course Hollywood can never get it quite right, and now The Powers That Be have predictably got ahead of themselves by confusing incidental and intentional gendering in lady-led reboots.

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Sexualized Saturdays: Fionna and the Ice King—Toxic Masculinity in Adventure Time

It seems in recent years as though a dam has broken and the notion of what is “acceptable content” for a kids or YA show thankfully now has an ever-increasing flow of support. While themes of inclusivity and equality have been a staple of the genre since the early days of Children’s Television Workshop, recent examples like Steven Universe have dealt with gender identity and sexuality in ways that would likely have been vetoed by the networks even a decade ago. One show that, in many ways at least, was at the forefront of that charge is Adventure Time. While by no means perfect, it gives us numerous examples of gender equality and represents a fairly wide range of gender, sexual, and romantic identities that fall outside the heteronormative narratives that many of the genre’s examples, even the best ones, have traditionally retold ad nauseum.

Fiona and Cake Fist Bump

Grab your friends, we’re going to very distant lands. (screengrab from Adventure Time)

While Adventure Time does this in numerous ways and through numerous characters, there is one example that is among the most direct and the most enduringly popular: Fionna and Cake. In looking not only at these characters specifically, but also more broadly at what they show us about the Ice King and toxic masculinity, we can see one of the best examples of these themes being presented in subtle and complex ways that are accessible to the target age group and, ultimately, further that tradition of inclusiveness.

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My Mom Doesn’t Know “Mr. Blue Sky” and Other Things I Had Feelings About During Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Well, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 sure was a thing I watched.

I should start with a positive, right? It had a great soundtrack. (Although I was shocked to discover that I recognized some of the songs and my music aficionado mom did not.)

Also, I’d definitely argue that it was better than its predecessor. If you’ll recall my review, I left Vol. 1 deeply disappointed, and I felt like this movie offered a lot of the character beats and emotional high notes that I wished the first film had hit. It also improved the representation on the team by giving us the first MCU team-up with some semblance of gender parity.

That said, I’m not sure what this story adds to the overall Marvel Cinematic Universe worldbuilding, and being a band-aid for the previous film’s issues isn’t necessarily a good look for a sequel.

Spoilers after the jump!

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Sexualized Saturdays: Letting Boys Cry

One of the first things Yuri Katsuki does onscreen is cry. His establishing character moment is him weeping uncontrollably in a bathroom, the picture of vulnerability and hopelessness, after doing badly at the Grand Prix. And he doesn’t stop crying, either—his tears, and his anxiety, return time and again over the series, and while he eventually learns to handle this anxiety as his confidence is nurtured, the narrative never really presents this emotion and his expression of it as a bad thing or a weakness. Yuri is a highly expressive, emotional young man, and the show he’s in lets him be that. And that’s quite a rare thing to see in fiction, let alone from the protagonist of a sports anime—surely one of the most manly genres out there, given that they’re all about feats of physical prowess!

It seems paradoxical to have the protagonist of something in the action genre—be it sports or superheroes—cry, because crying is, well, such a non-masculine and non-heroic trait. Journalist Ben Blatt recently released the findings of a study on word use in books, which found that, among other things, women were commonly described as “sobbing” but men almost never were, especially when the novel in question was written by a man. The study suggests that “Male authors seem, consciously or not, to hold that if ‘real men don’t cry,’ then ‘fictional men don’t sob’.”

And yet there’s Yuri, sobbing—and not the only man to do so in that show either. Granted, a lot of Yuri!!! on Ice plays with and strays from what we would consider “manly” (dancing, themes of love, throwing away strict conventions of gender presentation with Viktor’s long hair and flower crowns, etc.), but this departure from gendered expectations is still worth noting. Usually, the perception is that boys don’t cry. Crying is a sissy thing to do, an unmanly thing to do, a girly thing to do, and society says the accepted and desirable alternative is to bottle up your feelings or project them outwards onto other people. This is one of the neatest examples of toxic masculinity you can find: being emotional is somehow feminine, and, of course, that that makes it bad.

Content warning for discussion of suicide after the jump.

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Sexualized Saturdays: “The Book of Geordi”, an Examination of Geordi LaForge’s Evolving Masculinity

When I first watched Star Trek: The Next Generation as a kid, I was struck by how strongly I connected to the characters. For many of us, I think, it was one of the first shows to really inspire. Not only as a bold continuation of Roddenberry’s vision for the future, but as role models for how to live our lives. Picard, Data, Dr. Crusher, even Wesley all served as early examples of what we aspire to be and how to start living up to that aspiration. But as I grew older, I realized that one character in particular was causing me to think about gender roles and romance in ways I wouldn’t fully understand for years: Lt. Commander Geordi LaForge.

geordi-portrait

“Oh crap, Picard’s got that ‘I need you to violate the laws of physics’ look on his face again.”

In rewatching those episodes, I have come to understand the character of Geordi LaForge as, among other things, a parable about how easy it is to fall prey to toxic masculinity and how genuine confidence and respect rather than bravado and entitlement are the keys to avoiding it. This was something that takes years for many people to understand, and fortunately, we have years worth of TNG to see Geordi’s masculinity evolve as he begins to understand these things as well.

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Sexualized Saturdays: Even the Devil’s Masculinity Isn’t Safe from Women

luciferToday’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.

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Reality into Dreams, then Back Again: Paprika and Male Entitlement

Paprika and ChibaPaprika is one of my favorite films of all time. The 2006 Satoshi Kon film is well known for its stunning visuals, trippy story, and amazing music. Honestly, just trying to wrap your head around the idea of dreams within dreams (insert Inception sound bite here) and dreams invading reality is enough to keep your mind occupied. However, as with all films, especially Satoshi Kon films, there are a plethora of other themes floating around to play around with. The protagonist, Doctor Atsuko Chiba, is an especially interesting character, but one of the most interesting things about the movie is how she is viewed by the men around her. As she and Paprika maneuver through their respective worlds, they become the lens through which the audience experiences the extent of how male entitlement has flourished, even in this one small research facility.

Warning for mentions/images of assault below the cut, and spoilers for those who haven’t seen the film yet. (Although I highly recommend watching it!)

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