Here’s a video fo Katee Sackhoff and Jamie Bamber, actors of Battlestar Galactica fame, discussing sexism in Hollywood and the television industry. You don’t have to watch the entire video:
“We expect women not to age, which I find offensive to me.”
“And how roles just disappear for women when they approach 40, and I think that is a problem.”
“I was told I was overweight and needed to lose weight from the day I got to California.”
“And I’ve always kind of wondered if I had lost 20 lbs would my career would be here [motioning to higher] rather than here [motioning to lower].”
It is also kind of telling how prevalent this kind of sexism is, when you hear a part of the crowd start to applaud Katee for saying that she has been the same size since she was seventeen. Somewhat amusingly it apparently became obvious to some of the crowd that wasn’t something to necessarily cheer about.
The past is full of unfortunate events. Actions taken with little to no experience, wisdom, and certainly no hindsight to guide them can have profound effects. We can, at least, hope to learn from them however. Let me take a moment to discuss a controversy, which is still settling, called Penny Arcade’s dickwolves.
First some context, back in 2010 Penny Arcade posted a comic which mentions rape, now infamously known as the dickwolves comic. Now rape is a serious issue and our society has problems with addressing it and many other female related social issues. However when the comic began receiving criticism focusing on the mention of rape and not the intended commentary on moral ambiguity in games, Mike Krahulik, more well known as Gabe and co-creator of Penny Arcade, responded by mocking the critics, claiming attempts to censor his work and an issue of free speech. This was the start of the actual controversy as fans and detractors angrily attacked each other vocally. The issue exploded further after merchandise referencing the comic was released. Ultimately the merchandise was removed, despite Mike Krahulik public protests, and the entire sitaution settled, until recently when Mike mentioned his regret over the merchandise being removed at a recent PAX 2013.
This issue is very complicated and I covered it in a very broad manner above. I did so because I wanted to share the following links that cover the issue from various viewpoints that hopefully will let us all learn from this. I provide the following links to inform people regarding various viewpoints of the controversy.
The first is a personal post on tumblr by someone claiming to have attended the 2013 panel. The post is effectively anonymous and can’t be verified, but that isn’t the point in sharing it. It’s the tale of a rape victim, who met her raper at PAX and despite the negative associations, continued to attend PAX, that is until she heard Mike’s comments about the dickwolves. The article is a powerful chronicle.
The point of linking to this article is two-fold. One to understand why the original criticisms of the dickwolves comic was raised. What effects including rape in a joke, even if the joke wasn’t about the rape, can have upon people. The topic of why it perpetuates rape culture is left for another time. The second is to understand why Mike just mentioning the comic has rekindled this controversy. Why people would consider not attending PAX any further.
Because many people are, and not just attendees but companies as well. Many people have been posting about how Mike’s and the reactions of some of Penny Arcade’s fans are wrong. One such response has been from Wired.com’s Rachel Edidin.
Rachel Edidin covers the controversy very quickly, providing commentary as to why this event is holding gaming as a culture back and why people should just leave PAX behind. Which I feel is a sad statement to have to make. PAX is well-known for claiming to be for everyone, but if what Rachel and the above blogger say, it is only giving lip service to this ideology.
So why is Mike behaving this way? One of the prominent figures of the gaming community mocking critics and inciting bully behavior in his fans?
MovieBob, creator of The Big Picture, The Game Overthinker, and other web series, provides what I feel is a very fair and gamer centric viewpoint of the entire situation, with particular insight into why Mike might be having this way. Warning this is a long article and it rambles a little, but it covers the entire situation and is well worth reading.
Ultimately what Movie Bob is trying to say is Penny Arcade was not wrong to post the comic but at the same time criticizing it for how lightly it uses rape was also not wrong. Neither side was necessarily wrong in this situation. Mike Krahulik’s response to the criticism however, was completely wrong.
Instead his mocking responses very indicative a mentality one might have had in the 80s and 90s. When comics and gaming were often attacked by people wishing to censor it for various ignorant and unfounded reasons. This may have been his reasoning for his actions, even if they still wrong. What is worse his actions inspired unconscionable attacks against critics of the comic by many fans of Penny Arcade. Some of these fans did it out of loyalty, and sadly some did it because of the still pervasive and ignorant misogyny that pervades gaming culture.
Thankfully the tale has something of a happy ending.
Mike has apologized for all of his actions after the initial strip. I particularly like Mike’s comments about PAX, which I hope is enough to make people reconsider their calls for boycotting the convention.
I sort of see PAX like I see my children. Yes I helped make them and yes they have a lot of me in them but they can be better than me. They can take the good stuff I have and leave out all the bad. Like my kids, PAX makes me want to be better.
At the very least all of us can learn from this controversy. Take the time to learn the difference between criticism and censorship, of the reasons why people become offended, and what can be done to fix the problems of rape in our culture, rather than attack the symptoms.
If you’re interested in other reactions to this entire controversy, one blogger has taken it upon themselves to archive this from 2010 and beyond at the this tumblr, in two large link based posted.
“The center for disease control says that men’s violence against women is at epidemic proportions, is the number one health concern for women in this country and abroad.”
“I need you[men & women] on board. I need you with me. I need you working with me and me working with you on how we raise our sons and teach them to be men — that it’s okay to not be dominating, that it’s okay to have feelings and emotions, that it’s okay to promote equality, that it’s okay to have women who are just friends and that’s it, that it’s okay to be whole, that my liberation as a man is tied to your liberation as a woman.”
Happy New Year
Extremely well explained points from a thirteen year old girl regarding some of the sexism women still receive today. Watching this video reminded me of a sitcom I was watching last night where the “walk of shame” was used as a comedic bit. As it happened in this show, the gender roles were reversed and it was the woman making fun of the man for coming home late wearing the same clothing and the context was different so it is actually a bad example, but the fact that I can say “walk of shame” and you likely thought I meant a woman, means that this kind of prejudice still exists.
Regardless of your gender, as long as you are human, willing, and able how much you want to have sex and how much sex you have is you and your partner’s business.
Movie Bob delves into a reason why feminism takes issue with modern popular video games.
I admit while I knew about the problem of the portrayal of women in video games, the specific why is never something I’ve tried to analyze, making this video something of an eye opener. I also more or less agree with Bob that feminism seems to have a significant and rather undeserved stigma among male gamers. Hopefully the above video let you understand the female perspective a bit better.
If you go look, you can find the original source of this image, which was a comparison between this set of female character sand those of the female characters that are seen on prime time television dramas and comedies that are not specifically related to speculative fiction. Arguments aside about whether medical mystery shows are speculative fiction or not, I think it was something of an unfair comparison, as we can find well rounded female characters in those types of shows just like we can find flat, sex and relationship obsessed female characters in science fiction shows.
I would like to see a factual study done, that does a genre comparison of female characters in speculative fiction over traditional drama and fiction, just to see where it does fall but in the mean time lets simply celebrate how awesome science fiction and fantasy is from a gender equality perspective (chainmail bikinis aside).
I stumbled upon this video I felt like sharing.
The speaker is Jean Killbourn and she has been talking about the subjects regarding the image of women in mass media for years. It seems to be a topic that is “well-known” but has no traction when it comes to people wanting to solve it which is understandable. It is both an issue that is hard to see, easy to ignore, and has so many roots in our society that simple and easy fixes can’t work.
It is not like we can make laws outlawing the digital manipulation of people for advertising purposes. It is a nearly impossible to enforce such a law and could be easily abused, not to mention first amended right issues. Other solutions might be education and counter-advertising but these are just small pushes at trying to effect a change on a societal level.
But every change begins somewhere. So education it is. Hence my sharing of the video above. Do you agree or disagree with anything she said? Can you think of personal experiences related to use of over-idealized female images in advertising? Or do you think the effects are being overblown?
I’m not sure what I am supposed to tell you here. There has been a lot of talk about the movie Sucker Punch. I’ve heard glowing reviews from friends, bitter numbers from critics, and helter skelter from the internet. All of this was second-hand. I didn’t even really elicit these snatches of commentary before going to see the film but here is what I can say.
I very much enjoyed it.
With that out-of-the-way let me provide some context and clarity as to why everybody is so confused and sharply divided about this film. It’s marketing department pulled a fast one on us. They showed us the glitter, the special effects, we all went ‘oooh’, then gave us a teaser of what the premise was: hot women in an insane asylum and we let our imaginations run wild.
And honestly we did exactly what the marketers thought we would. We assumed a pretty but light action flick with fetishistic costumes. Instead what we got was a film that explored from a female perspective the struggle for freedom of choice in one’s life under an inherently overwhelming force.
I haven’t reviewed The Social Network, not because I didn’t like it. I consider it a movie on par with Scott Pilgrim, and we all have seen how much I blogged about Scott Pilgrim, and definitely a better movie, in a certain way, than Inception.
As some of you may know, both films, Scott Pilgrim and The Social Network, are sometimes poked at for having primarily misogynist views of women through out the film. Aaron Sorkin, the writer for The Social Network, has supposedly commented on the his film’s misogyny via a blogpost which I will share in the following link.
I can’t verify if this was indeed Aaron Sorkin, but the blog writer believes so.
Sp having read it, I wonder if similar points could not be made for Scott Pilgrim. Although realizing that Scott Pilgrim is a completely fictional world. And unlike what Aaron constantly tries to reassure us, the manga it is based off of portrays women in a very realistic light, rather than a mostly negative or non-human perception. So I am not so sure but perhaps a little bit? In Scott Pilgrim we have two main characters, Scott, who gives us our primary vision of the world, and Ramona, who is explained to be somewhat soul searching, throughout the film, as we discover her past through her “evil”-ex’s that Scott has to fight, which is why she is portrayed as being hesitant throughout the film, well except for in her sexuality.
I guess it comes down to the old point of: When do we allow for misogyny themes/view points in fictional and semi-fictional worlds and when do we not?
What do you guys think?