Thursday, July 12, 2012

Feminism vs. Tropes vs. the Internet

I'm going to start this blog off stating the obvious that is being ignored: Life is recursive, repetitive, and is filled with patterns. And people seem to like the recurrence of certain motifs and themes in story telling. And yes, I can fully agree that some of these are pretty sexist and send the wrong messages to our youth, but that doesn't mean all of it is.

Before I go any further, I want to make it clear that it's not OK to treat someone with an apposing view uncivilly. It's not OK to make a video game where you virtually beat in the face of the feminist blogger / YouTuber you disagree with, and it's not OK to threaten and harass people just because you can get away with it. Specifically, I'm talking about the way Anita Sarkeesian has been treated. It disgusts me. Here you are wanting to prove that you're not misogynists by acting misogynistic. And outside of being tactless hypocrites, it's just stupid. No one should listen to anything you have to say on the matter.

Now, I remember seeing her videos and dismissing them mostly because I found them annoying. The narrative was very monotonous, and her points were so redundant and belabored. I also highly question the use of the word trope. I'd say her issue is mostly with cliches — which I also have an issue with, however, the revealed connections with sexism seem forced.

For instance, she claims to have a problem, in fiction, with women using their sexuality to lour men to their doom. On the flip side, how many times are introverted, intelligent men portrayed as creeps, serial killers or stalkers? A lot of writers are flying on autopilot, and I can agree that they're churning out crappy stuff. But I think it has less to do with sexism and more to do with the public's obsession with microwaveable entertainment. They just want stories and characters they can instantly identify and understand — no deep thought required.

But there is genuine sexism in all creative mediums. And I don't think it's a lost cause speaking out against it; video games being one of the worst example of this. It seems like the goal of many companies is to give their target audience, males between 12-25, constant boners, which I do find pretty creepy. And it's a trend that seems to be getting more extreme as video games evolve and our moral zeitgeist continuously shifts toward sexual carelessness.

However, this puts me into a position where I have to question the end game. We live in a flawed world because people are flawed. Stereotypes exist because people want to act the same way. Art is an imitation of life. It would definitely be a good thing to back away from the shallow side of things. And I can get behind that sort of movement, but that's not what these feminist arguments are about.
This is about the media influencing the way we view women. And I don't see it occurring on the levels described in the "Tropes vs Females" videos. I don't see a weak female character as representing all of womankind. I don't see an evil seductress and think seduction is evil. And I don't think most people could read that much depth into a character or even subconsciously absorb these alleged sexist allusions within various cliches. And this feminist premise needs to be proven to compel me, or anyone else, into thinking that Starbuck getting her ovaries harvested by Cylons was sexist writing.

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