Sunday, October 23, 2016

Let's challenge gender portrayal in pop culture

One of my favourite things to do while watching a show (or commercial) is to switch the gender of the person, I've done it a lot on Bones, everything about them stays the same they just get the opposite gender. Most of the time I come to the conclusion that the character would work in the opposite gender and sometimes I even think it would be more interesting that way.

For example the other day I saw a commercial about a man driving a car and he was singing/rapping along and I imagined him as a female instead. Normally we don't let women be so natural and most of the time we don't even let a woman drive the car in a commercial so I thought to myself that I would have found the commercial so much more cool if it had been a woman - gone against the gender stereotype you know, instead of the classic white dude.

Right after was a commercial for chocolate which of course had a woman being sensual with a piece of chocolate and I re-imagined it as a male sitting there with closed eyes holding the piece of chocolate between his fingers. Most people would immediately feel that is weird, that it must be a parody because we cannot see a man in that position (unless of course it's a parody or to show the gender disparity in media). Why? Because basically it's stereotypically more feminine and it's based on the male gaze.

It's not unheard of though to switch a male character to a female one. I think the most famous one is Ripley in Alien which at first was written for a male character but then switched to a female one without them changing anything about the character. It is however more common to go male to female, I don't even know a single character that have gone from female to male - if we don't count the numerous roles that goes to men overall.

That is why when I write I try to pick the other gender than what I, by instinct, chose for a minor character. For example, I needed a head guard and when I wrote it I thought a male character since it's so ingrained by society to be a male occupation but quickly changed to female to challenge the stereotype for both me and reader. Another example: I mentioned a gossipy store owner at one point and in my head it was a female since that is what we naturally think of when we think of a gossipy person so I changed it to a male store owner.

I think we need to challenge this more. Traits and behaviour aren't female or male, they don't come with a gender stamp on them so a character can be either or, but we just need to allow ourselves to see beyond the tiny box we give genders.

We especially need to broaden the possibilities for female characters to be more goofy, funny, caricatures and you know like the characters men have played forever in sitcoms. It has started to broaden, for example Amy Schumer comes to mind, but we need more on the mainstream media.

With that said, male characters also need to be broadened, especially into sensitive areas and traits that are usually seen as female without it being ridiculed or looked down upon. Why not an FBI agent who likes to knit or stay at home dads or men who help out at home without being called pussy whipped every time.

Also, it would be nice to throw out the trope of the lazy, mediocre looking, rather dumb dad who cannot do shit at home while he's married to a smart, gorgeous woman who does basically everything while he's doing crazy shit which she always forgive him for, my best example: the TV-series According to Jim.

If you know any good shows or movies that challenge genders and stereotypes send them my way, I'd love to see them!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Favourite characters on Bones

1. Caroline Julian
I love her, she's amazing. She tell it like it is and she doesn't back away from anything, she's bad ass and she's there when you need her.

2. Dr Hodgins
I love how dedicated he is to his field, how much he loves all kinds of slime and dirt, it's inspirational to see someone get excited by a bug. He also seem like a great guy, Angela really took the jackpot there.

3. Dr Sweets
He gets a lot of shit for his profession but he seems quite good at what he does, especially later when he's not a fresh newbie. I like that he's an onion that you peel and get to know more and more, like him being a bad ass chess player.

4. Wendell Bray
Don't you just want to hug him?

I had planned to have five characters but I cannot decide on a fifth one. I liked Angela in the first seasons but now she's rather dull, her character doesn't stand on its own two feet anymore but is just support to Brennan. Cam I want to like but she's just all right in my book. Maybe Arastoo or Fisher but hm... nah. I guess there will be only 4 for now. Maybe I will change my mind when I have finished the series.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Female vs male squinterns and the character type possibilities

Has anyone thought about how all the male interns have different distinguishable personalities but the two female ones (Ms Wick and Ms Warren) are rather similar with talking fast, getting reprimanded for saying things they shouldn't, being know-it-alls and craving dr Brennans approval plus interested in Sweets?

It struck me in s9ep23 when we first get to be acquainted with Ms Warren, it immediately struck me how similar she was with Ms Wick. The only differences I noticed is that Ms Warren seem to be smarter and more forward than Ms Wick who is slightly more nervous type.

The male interns however...
Dr Addy - genius, awkward, probably autistic
Mr Nigel-Murray - fact spewer, slightly awkward, a bit anxious
Mr Fisher - quirky, depressed, melancholic, funny in a dark way
Mr Edison - uptight, organised, structured
Mr Bray - calm, well rounded person, nice
Mr Viziri - a mix between Mr Edison and Mr Bray*
Dr Wells - smart, knows a lot, can be a bit of a douche
Mr Abernathy - southern, warm, friendly, smart

I do hope they will separate the two females more the more we see of Ms Warren. I also feel it's a shame there are so many male interns when there are three strong women leading the way at the Jeffersonian: Dr Saroyan, Dr Brennan and Mrs Montenegro-Hodgins, why not even out the intern ratio between the sexes?

A lot of the male interns also border on being caricature characters instead of well rounded (believable) people. It would be interesting to see a female Fisher or Nigel-Murray but that rarely (if ever) happens, men can be all kinds of character types while women usually is put into a narrower field of character types. We need to broaden the character types for women more.

*at least now when he's dating Dr Saroyan and we see more of him, in the beginning he seemed to be a token Muslim to show that Muslims are "just like you and me", they just pray a lot, I like that they made him more a well rounded character.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Can't have two characters with the same purpose

Spoiler of Bones s10ep2!

Oh my gawd, how shoddy can they run this thing? If you introduce another character that seem to have the same purpose as another the viewer know the first one is going to be replaced! You can't have two extras, Batman doesn't have two Robins.

I had a gut feeling that when agent Aubrey first reared his face it would be the end of Dr Sweets since they had the same Robin-purpose to Booth (Batman) and since Sweets didn't seem to have any reason to leave on his own the only viable outcome would be him dying.

If this had happened in earlier seasons when Sweets struggled with his position at the FBI then it could have been a less violent end to the character in the series, it then would have been possible for two outcomes: death or new job. Usually though most TV series go with the death option when they want to write out a character for whatever reason.

I would have been more surprised if they had waited to introduce Aubrey until the episode after Sweets death. I think it was poorly done, at least if they wanted a surprise element. When Nigel-Murray died I was surprised, now I just waited for when it would happen. It still got me though, I cried. It just should have been handled better.

Sad to see Sweets go, he was one of my favourite characters.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Bones and the anticlimax capture of Pelant and Ghost killer

As usual, SPOILERS if you have not seen up to Bones s9ep22.

All right, so I have now watched the wrapping of the Ghost killer arc and eh, anticlimax again just as with Pelant. I'm so tired of things being so neatly and easy wrapped up. Sure they kind of showed Brennan being puzzled by the remains Pelant have mentioned but that wasn't for long. And then this episode where we went from "Oh no it's the Ghost killer again" to "Oh look the Ghost killer is dead", which basically has the same story formula as the wrap up episode with Pelant. I wanted more struggle, more climax!

Also, the minute we saw Stephanie standing there waving at Hodgins and Sweet I knew she was the Ghost killer, it just felt right. I was expecting an arrest in the same episode but nah, they wanted to drag the shit out a bit more. I felt it was really obvious after her brother's death when she didn't seem to be all that upset that all the males of the family were now dead, she saw it at something good.

It might also have been because I've seen the actress in Gossip Girl and she played a rich woman there too who sometimes didn't shy away from doing shitty stuff and being a bitch (though she never murdered anyone to my knowledge). It might have coloured my view on the character here and helped to identify her as the killer but really it's starting to be easier and easier to figure out who the killer is - they need to come up with a more complex case soon I feel because all of them are set up the same way and it's kind of boring. Now I'm basically just watching to be able to finish it off, I hate to leave things unfinished.

I want more climax in this show, especially when they catch someone that has been in several episodes and eluding them. Pelant and Ghost killer were both so disappointing. Here is something the writers should have looked at Castle for help, there they have a build up, a middle, a crescendo and THEN a great capture where you feel "YEAH, SUCK IT!". In Bones I only feel "Well, now that's over *shrug*".

I know I compare Bones with Castle a lot but that's because they're a bit similar type:
1. female main character who is talented, goal oriented and is excellent at her job
2. work together with a good looking male main character who is more easy going, helps the viewer into the world that the former is accustomed to (for example dead bodies)
3. they first have a will they won't they relationship but they end up together
4. they solve crimes together with focus on murders
5. it's usually one case wrap up per episode with some story arcs over several episodes

See where I'm coming from? I know though this isn't an original idea, it's been done several times over but these two are the most similar I've seen. I just think though that Castle does it better. I do however hope that the last couple of seasons will be better of Bones, we'll see...

Monday, October 17, 2016

Timeline all over the place [Bones]

Most TV series have some sort of linear setup even if time can fluctuate a bit, it's not like everything takes place on a Thursday just because the shows air on a Thursday and so on. However some times a year it usually align up to our timeline, usually around a holiday like Christmas (considering the Christmas break for US shows) with a Christmas episode.

That is why I've been so perplexed by Bones which seem to be all over the place time wise. One can never truly know what time of year they're supposed to be in or how much time have passed since last episode. In s9ep16 it's Christine's birthday and last time we saw her she was much younger (and had curly hair which is now straight) and now she talks full sentences and run around without a problem. I've seen discussions online about how old she's supposed to be there.

They say it's her first birthday party so it would make sense if she was 1, since that is when most people have their first birthday party (naturally) but she's much older than that. She's also not 2 years old since that would require a younger actress than we see in the episode. She might be 3 or perhaps 4 but then my question is, why hasn't she gotten a birthday party before that?

There are so many stuff like that which annoy me with Bones. Like something big happens in episode A and then it can go up until episode D before it's brought up again or seem to affect the relationships between the characters. Example: Pelant popped up like a jack in the box now and then but between those episodes there was nothing about him, not a comment about still trying to find him or if this might be Pelant's work. I feel the TV series Castle did much better on this, if it was a case that was ongoing or unfinished it popped up once in a while to still show the characters hadn't forgotten about it (Kate's mum's death for example).

I think a lot was explained about Bones when I stumbled over this quote on TVLine by exec producer Stephen Nathan:
“Before viewers start to do the math to determine her exact age and yell at us, please remember the Bones world is not linear and does not proceed week to week as the show does. Trying to determine specific dates and times is a fool’s errand in a fictional world. That said, enjoy the party! Booth and Brennan do.”

And yeah, I don't mind some jumping around in time but when it's gone like two years in one year it's starting to be a bit soap opera style on the time line. In soap operas it's not unusual for someone to get pregnant in episode A to be popping it out in episode B and then the kid is a teenager by episode F.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Sexist crap in Bones

*Spoiler alert*

I am so fed up with the sexist crap on the TV series Bones, I've let a lot of it slide but the episode I watched today really took the cake: s9ep14.

Cam is being honoured as an outstanding woman of science in a magazine, which Brennan is against since she feels she should be awarded this* and even Cam cannot take full pride in this because of Brennan which is so wrong. She therefore contact the magazine and tell them to honour Brennan and Angela too since it's a joint effort by them at Jeffersonian.

So, the magazine sends them a package with outfits for the photo shoot where they and nine other women will be "honoured" by wearing bikinis with faces of other scientists like Marie Curie. Nothing more than a scientific issue of Playboy or a pin-up calendar. Brennan is all for this when she hears what other female scientist have agreed to this, even putting on the bikini. Cam and Angela are more hesitant at the beginning which I think has more to do with them not knowing how Brennan will react rather than they being hesitant to the whole idea.

The magazine wouldn't ask 12 male scientist to pose in tangas as they are being "honoured" as outstanding men of science. And no, it doesn't make it better to excuse the whole thing by saying the magazine needs money. It is simply sexist.

Also! I don't feel this is something Brennan would have been positive too if she was real, as an anthropologist she's well aware of the gender issues. It's like a pin-up calendar, it doesn't highlight these women's work, it reduces them to objects to drool at.

This isn't the first time the writers have forced Brennan to do something that is against the character's natural behaviour (catching of the bouquet at Booth's mother's wedding) and it's not the first time the show's been sexist and the women accepted it.

Last time that comes to mind right now is when Nigel-Murray confessed to things he had done while drunk. To Hodgins he had only peed in his aquarium but to Cam, Brennan and Angela he had not only done similar crazy things like he did to Hodgins (like wearing Brennan's iguana as a hat to a party) but he had also told friends and co-workers (thus people who work with Cam, Brennan and Angela) that he had slept with all three of them. Not ok, so not ok but all three are fine with this, accept this as just some shitty thing he did while drunk. The writers didn't need to take it so far as him claiming to have sex with them, it could have been enough with the other stupid things he did. They also could have just let him tell his friends, not the co-workers too.

I really liked Nigel-Murray and cried my eyes out when he died since he seemed like a sweet guy, except this forced crap the writers pulled. I feel more often than not that the writers do an injustice now and then to the characters by forcing them to do things that wouldn't be normal to them just to get the story where they want it, or to shock the viewers or even to make things happen to characters just to steer the story in a special direction but they do not do it in a natural way.

I felt for example that killing off Nigel-Murray was only so they could get Booth and Brennan in bed so she could get pregnant since the actress was pregnant. There are so many other ways they could have solved that, but it was an easy quick-fix to break Brennan's wall by killing off a character in her arms and thus making it possible for them to hook up. Ugh!

And one last thing. Have anyone else noticed that when Christine is in an episode it's only Brennan who actively do stuff with her like feeding, playing or holding her. Booth barely ever actively do anything with her, closest thing is him walking with the stroller with a sleeping Christine in it. I feel they should have more actively shown both of them interact with the kid, equality you know...

Anyway, just some thoughts I've had that have been building up and exploded with the latest episode. I feel Bones would have been so much better if the writers would have been better, for so many reasons and today I aired some of them. We'll see if I will air some of my other annoyances with the writers of the show some other day. I will however soon list my favourite characters!

*A whole other discussion but it's one thing to think one is great in one's field, another to basically not let anyone else shine, especially since a lot of the work she does is dependent on other people's finding - a lot of cases wouldn't have been solved if it hadn't been for Hodgins for example. Cam is an outstanding scientist in her own right, and it has nothing to do with Brennan since they do not work in the same field, their fields just overlap (flesh - bone).


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