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Innerbrat
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All the logic says I shouldn't be filled with glee at every episode. 
7th-Nov-2007 09:50 am
heroes
Oh, Heroes.

Just to sum up what happened to women that weren't feudal Japan this week, and the lessons we can learn from them.

Claire was ignored and mistreated by her 'boyfriend', who it turns out is not actually working for the Company, but is in fact that much of an asshole. (Stalking is not romantic: the last boy she kissed tried to rape and then killed her. You'd have thought this would have some effect). She's apologising for him (West, and Noah, FTM). She's apologising to him after he crosses every line she draws. More importantly, it feels like we're supposed to feel sympathetic for her guilt, and not angry at the men who are refusing to listen to her.
And now she's been restored in the plot as a damsel and a prize for the boys to fight over.
Women cannot be given the choice of what to do with their own bodies.

Niki, who was reduced at the end of the last season to a prize to grant Peter powers, has now been depowered because she has been told over and over again that she's too mentally weak to be trusted with them.
This was annoying in X3, when it was Rogue's destructive power she was giving up. but then it was only annoying when presented alongside the hideous Phoenix storyline and Storm's impotence as supposed 'leader'. I quite like the idea of powers not being a good thing for everyone, and I'd like to see the storyline of people feeling conflicted over their power when it's a nominatively 'positive' power (Rogue's killing touch is a bit too unambiguous) . But not like this. Not backtracking all the progress she'd made by the season 1 finale.
Women do not have the mental strength to handle physical strength and power unless they have a man to support them.

Caitlin's romance with Peter is now explained - she had to be put in a refrigerator. Right. I can forgive Molly's use as a damsel, because she's a very cute one.
Women make great motivators to get men to do things.

Angela may be awesome, but only when she's helping the True Hero find himself. See also: Sandra.
Women are at their best when they're mothers.

Monica wasn't in it. And there was no direct reference to her except as a plot device for Mohinder. And as she doesn't yet have a story of her own, it seems we won't see her until it's time to revisit Micah.
Chromatic women don't matter.

Maja was also not in it.
Yaaaaaaay!

The trouble is, I really enjoyed the episode. Damn my Takezo-love.
Opinions 
7th-Nov-2007 10:06 am (UTC)
Does it matter that I don't think the men are faring much better? And that the clumsy and careless treatment of womena and minorities - including Hiro the cute little sexless Asian - is part of a larger inability to let anyone actually gain control over their lives for more than one week?
7th-Nov-2007 10:09 am (UTC)
It probably does matter, yeah.

But even Matt the incompetent was being competant,and I never once yelled "oh shut up, Mohinder!" at the screen.

This episode was just a bad example.
7th-Nov-2007 10:46 am (UTC)
Women are at their best when they're mothers.

You know, this is one of the problems I have with The Sarah Jane Adventures, as much as I enjoy the heck out of it, because now all of a sudden in order to be a whole and complete person Sarah Jane Smith needs a kid to look after. Yes, it's a children's show, and children can't relate to a woman pushing 60 no matter how awesome she may be, but seriously, does she have to have a son in order to get through the long and lonely days without the Doctor? It's really rather dumb. I keep getting images of moronic television execs sitting around a table, brainstorming for this new Doctor Who spin-off, and light bulb goes off over one's head right before he lets out the brilliant idea, "I know, let's give her a son!"

OK!
7th-Nov-2007 11:07 am (UTC)
I agree with everything except the Claire conclusion; I don't think West is 'stalking' her, as much as I dislike him, he's been portrayed as a bit of an anarchist since he appeared, and that apparently extends to the seemingly senseless rule that he not meet Claire's parents. I think he just wants to be in her life. And he definitely gives Claire the choice of what to do with her body - when she expresses that she's uncomfortable after kissing he apologises for moving too fast and tells her moving further is her choice (though of course, that wasn't the issue.) I think their relationship is being handled very clumsily, but I think Claire's importance to the series despite her bratty teenage ways emphasises girl-power, instead of detracting from it.

As for Niki, the fact remains that she did recover from her mental instability, and her power was taken away from her not because she's mentally unsound, but because it was the only thing she could think to do to get Matt's dad out of her brain. Obviously it also works as a plot device to show how the virus works without compromising Mohinder's righteousness, and discover that Mohinder's blood isn't a viable cure anymore, but there are a lot of 'plot devices' in Heroes and I think essentially they're necessary for the flavour of the series?

Monica and Maja's treatment makes me displeased, however. And I don't care about Caitlin, but the fact that I don't care says, I think, a fair bit also; since she just doesn't interest me (unlike the case with a lot of my friends, who despise her in that 'she's dating Peter, how dare she' sort of way.)
7th-Nov-2007 11:22 am (UTC)
West's 'relationship' with Claire has involved:
- standing around her PE class when he didn't seem to have a business thereof her own.
- coming into the gym after PE class with even less reason to be there, apparently just to find her.
- spying on her in her own home.
- hassling her in class and trying to catch her out.
- refusing to take 'no' as meaning no about dating him.
- refusing to take 'no' as meaning no about meeting her parents.
- bringing up further physicality in a passive-aggressive way when she wasn't even thinking about it.

The 'smells like waffles' text was as creepy as flying outside her window. Inviting himself into her home while she's in bed is an invasion of personal boundaries she had already put up.

The Niki wants to get rid of her power thing, though, had been an ongoing plot. Just because at that moment she was trying to escape Mr. Parkman, it doesn't mean that the general themethis season with her is that she wants rid of her strength, and it was only D.L. giving her support that let her use it in a positive way.
7th-Nov-2007 12:21 pm (UTC)
The thing that's really annoying me so far in season two is Peter- whine, whine, moan, bitch, i don't know, i don't understand, I don't want to know, Caitlin, Caitlin etc etc Where's his "Come on Nathan we're HEROES" attitude gone? I know he's lost his memory and all but that doesn't make him a big ol whiny wuss!

Just because Monica wasn't in this episode doesn't mean we won't see her again- there've been several episodes with Petrellis, Hiro and Niki missing.

Even the episodes and characters that bug me are still awesome. I haven't <3'd a series this much since Buffy!
7th-Nov-2007 12:44 pm (UTC)
there've been several episodes with Petrellis, Hiro and Niki missing.
Except they have stories in their own right we've seen them return to, and know they will return. Monica's story was first 'Micah's cousin', then 'Mohinder's conscience', but she doesn'thave a story of her own to return to. I hope they will, but it's not as open ended as say, Sylar and the Wonderkids.
7th-Nov-2007 12:33 pm (UTC)
I never see misogynistic or racist undertones in fiction until other people point them out to me.

I still don't see most of these.

Perhaps it's just my desire to ascribe the best possible intentions to people, but I don't look at any of what you describe and see marginalization of women.

I see Claire acting like a teenaged girl - I was a lot like that not so very long ago.

I see Niki being a hallucinating nutcase who takes away her own powers because, well, she's insane and doesn't know what she's doing. The fact that she's a woman doesn't really impact that for me. She's utterly bugfuck and thinks her dead husband is talking to her.

I see Caitlin being, exactly like the rest of the Guys With Fake Irish Accents, a device used to explain just how much of a dolt Peter really is. Again, the fact that she's a woman doesn't come through to me as this being a comment on women. So far all she's motivated Peter to do is shout a lot and act really confused, which... is standard Peter behaviour and would still have happened whether or not he'd had a disappearing girlfriend.

Angela Petrelli is awesome for every single second of her onscreen time. End of story. The fact that her awesomeness happened to express itself in this episode as giving Peter back his memories? Ehh. A lot of characters didn't show up much here. Give her a shot; she'll be kicking ass and shouting "GET OUT OF MY HEAD!" again by next episode.

Monica: Yeah, they left one of my favourite characters out. They also left out Sylar, my other favourite character. Again, they'll probably be back next week.

Maya - yeah, I got no argument here. :D

*shrug* Just, I guess, offering a more benign interpretation. Mine isn't necessarily correct; it's just how I think. (Except for the part about Angela Petrelli being awesome all the time. That, my friend, is cold hard fact.)
7th-Nov-2007 09:17 pm (UTC) - two cents
I think the writers have good intentions. I don't think they sat down and said, "Since we have trouble imagining a story about a physically powerful female character who is sane and in control of her own life, let's be totally sexist about how we write Niki," but they still made the woman with superstrength -- the only adult female main character in a cast of at least ten -- a mentally ill stripper whose plot through both seasons consists of being horrified by her power, and giving up control of herself. (The other female main character was a kid. Both of them were pretty much introduced with sexual assaults. See also: Maya, Caitlin.)

I think it is about Niki being a woman. Niki has deliberately used her ability exactly once over the entire course of the show so far; Peter has used it more. The writers have done at least three subplots about Niki giving up her control of herself in fear of her power -- why do their imaginations give out there? "She's a hallucinating nutcase" only explains so much -- the writers decided to make her a hallucinating nutcase.

Angela Petrelli is awesome for every single second of her onscreen time.

I think Angela is awesome. That doesn't change the fact that her role in this episode was all about Peter. Or that (or example) when she was attacked by Maury, the show focused on her terror and whimpering, as it did with Niki -- and unlike with Matt, who broke out of his with shiny new confidence and with his issues dealt with. And no tears. And no depowering death sentence, for that matter.

but I don't look at any of what you describe and see marginalization of women.

My guess would be that's because it's very much the standard on TV (and not just TV). It looks like business as usual because it is business as usual, and that's part of why it keeps happening; it's hard to break out of a pattern you don't even see happening.

(Also: I was a teenage girl not long ago too, and when guys acted like West, it was really bad news. But I'll stop here, 'cause this is getting closer to my 25 cents than my 2 cents.)
7th-Nov-2007 11:03 pm (UTC) - Re: two cents
Okay, Niki. What about Jessica? She is in control of herself. She might be a crazy bitch, but she has a heart (as proven by the S1 finale), an internally consistent moral system (again), and she doesn't take shit from anyone. And I'm pretty sure Niki doesn't fear her superstrength even slightly. She fears Jessica using her superstrength to, y'know, kill people. Which in my opinion is legitimate. If I had superpowers and a bloodthirsty murderer living in my head, I too would tend to err on the side of locking myself the fuck away from society.

I don't think it's about Niki being a woman. I can't look at a character and see nothing but a - body with certain characteristics. Yes, the writers decided to make her a hallucinating nutcase. But I'm pretty sure that's because hallucinations and superstrength combine amusingly, not because she has boobs.

The only character who was attacked by Maury and didn't react with terror and whimpering (or personality-appropriate analogue) was Matt. Because the whole Maury thing was about Matt. You could just as easily say the show marginalizes men because the only character who honestly stood up to Linderman was Jessica (Hiro and Nathan, as examples, more or less had to scuttle around in his shadow and/or bend over backwards for him).

My guess would be that's because it's very much the standard on TV (and not just TV). It looks like business as usual because it is business as usual, and that's part of why it keeps happening; it's hard to break out of a pattern you don't even see happening.

No, it's because I look at people and see who they are, not what. I am not built to categorize by external attribute (*cough* other than hotness). *shrug* It makes it very hard for me to see marginalization (as this comment thread might indicate), but I'm hoping it also makes it very hard for me to participate in it.

Hey, I'm all for hearing your 25 cents. :) I find these sorts of discussions interesting. - And yeah, I'm not saying guys like West aren't bad news. I'm just saying it's realistic for Claire not to notice. I sure as hell never did when I was that age. :D
7th-Nov-2007 04:53 pm (UTC)
I would say that Monica does count as her having her own story, even if they've chosen to connect it to other people's stories right off the bat. But her situation in New Orleans and discovering her power would be a compelling story even if Micah wasn't there.

I just wish they would tell her story better, because after liking it a lot at first, they let me down extremely one week and then had her missing the next, and I doubt she'll be in the flashback episode at all. *grumps*
7th-Nov-2007 05:04 pm (UTC)
I can't see them leaving a power as cool as Monicas unstoried though- you can do sooo much with it. Way more than with Micah!
7th-Nov-2007 06:44 pm (UTC)
As opposed to Peter, who is lost and confused and becomes more of both when he loses his girl.

As opposed to Hiro, who is willing to destroy history in the name of kissing a girl he can never be with.

As opposed to Nathan, who reacted to saving all of New York by becoming an angry drunk.

As opposed to that Mexican jackass, who is too busy masturbating to his own sense of morality to figure out that they can use Maja's power just to knock people out.

As opposed to Peter's dad, who abandoned his wife and kid so he could go off and be a fat balding supervillain.

As opposed to Adam, who either has Peter's power or waited over three hundred years to get petty revenge on the kid who kissed his gurl.

As opposed to Bennett, who lies constantly to his family but busts out the moral indignation when it turns out his family has been lying right back.

As opposed to Sylar, who is.. well, he's fucking Sylar.


They're all faulty in their own ridiculous ways, and very often in ways centering around their relationships with others -- especially romantically. They're just people. I think that's rather the point of the whole series.
7th-Nov-2007 06:46 pm (UTC)
Wtf. Peter's dad? Parkman's dad.
9th-Nov-2007 05:00 pm (UTC)
Its annoying that they're doing the "save the cheerleader/24 hours to save the world" story again. However she is the only one (apart from Adam- who probably isn't going to be cooperative) with innate healing. (Could Peter do it? Possibly, but possibly not.)

Agreed with Niki- yes I'd have wanted at least one character to be desperate to be rid of their gift, especially an ambiguous/positive one. I don't think Niki was necessarily the right character to choose, they could have taken her much further. Maya's power is certainly too unambiguously bad unless she's got her brother around. (Which says exactly the same thing about women with power.) The supertwins would have been much more watchable if their genders had been reversed.

I do have issues with Molly as a damsel in distress. Mostly they come about because of the way these things play out in the real world- witness the circus surrounding the disappearance of Madeleine McCann and the media silence regarding "Adam" the black boy's torso in the Thames. Caitlin/Peter I put down to lazy scriptwriting (as with many cases of refrigeration). But then I dislike Peter nearly as much as the supertwins.

Its a pity Monica hasn't done anything interesting yet, but we aren't yet a quarter of the way through this season, and there are all sorts of interesting things the writers could do with her. I'm not going to get my hopes up though.
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