Tuesday, March 07, 2006

You Can't Take the Sexist Idiocy from Me

Now I'm reading Finding Serenity, a collection of essays about the Firefly TV series. (It was a Christmas present from my sister, by the way. I don't know why it's taken me this long to get around to it, but thanks, sis!) I'm enjoying it considerably; there are some very perceptive and interesting essays. In fact, I hate to say it, but I think it's on the whole considerably better than the similar Farscape-related book I read a couple of months ago.

There are, however, a couple of pieces that would annoy the hell out of me if the way they're presented back-to-back didn't somehow make them incredibly amusing, instead.

The first one suggests that Joss Whedon made a mistake in marrying his science fiction show to a western if he wanted to be true to his feminist sensibilities. Because, apparently, the nature of westerns is such that women simply aren't allowed to be strong, independent characters in them. So, no matter how competent and powerful the women on Firefly may seem, in actuality they must be weak and submissive Tools of the Patriarchy. Because, you know, they're women in a western. (Actually, I must admit, when you reduce it to those terms, this thesis is rather amusing even on its own. Because I'm imagining Zoe kicking the author's ass for calling her "submissive," and it's vastly entertaining.)

The second one suggests that Joss had a problem when he married his western to a science fiction show, because the nature of westerns is such that they're supposed to be about Heroic Manly Men who follow a code of chivalry and protect weak and helpless women and children. And apparently the women of Firefly, because they think they're living in a science fiction show instead of a western, are making the men look all unheroic and unmanly by being strong, intelligent, powerful, smart, and generally not in any need of male protection. Which ruins everything, of course. But the author "charitably" suggests that, well, maybe Joss wanted to have his female characters barefoot and pregnant, but couldn't because modern audiences have trouble accepting that kind of thing. Which is also funny in its own right. Giggling-out-loud funny, in fact. Has this guy ever seen one of Joss Whedon's shows? Heard the man talk? Heard anything about him, even? I mean, yeesh. (Similarly, I wonder if the author of the first article and I are even watching the same show, or if she got some bizarre Mirror Universe version. The bits of dialog she quotes are recognizable, but, hey, maybe there's something in the acting or the directing or the context of the Bizarro World footage that suggests that what they're saying actually means something entirely different.)

Personally, I think both of these people are sexist idiots, but, hey, at least they get points for being entertaining, and for riling me up and making me think.

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