Jan. 8th, 2012

partly: (Kiss)
[livejournal.com profile] tvrealm has a prompt where you are supposed to claim 10 words and do something off of them. "Meta" was one of the choices, so I'm going with that. This post's prompt: Just Kiss The Girl.

I’m not a shipper. Don’t get me wrong, I love stories that have romance in them, it’s just that too often when fans (and writers) say “romance” or “ship” they really only mean sex. And quite frankly (fictional) sex bores the hell out of me.

What I love about romance the the dance that leads up to it. The relationships that need to be built and tested and worked on in order for something special to be crafted. For that matter, that dance doesn’t have to lead to a romance at all -- friendship and family also have the ties of loyalty and love (and like I’m talking to middle schoolers, I will point out that love does not equal sex).

I find it interesting that in our societal drive to remove the (very real) negative stigmas that are still (occasionally) attached to sex, we have made the act of sex both the ultimate expression of (almost any form) of love and, at the same time, made the act essentially meaningless. You have two people who work together everyday -- especially in high danger/stress situations -- and when they develop a bond, it automatically goes “well, sex is the only way to truly express that love”. And yet, it also goes the other way -- two people’s eyes met across the room they have this attraction and *bam* they have sex, because well, why not, it’s “just sex” after all, it doesn’t mean anything.

To me the bonds between people are more complicated and infinitely more interesting than ever can be contained in a sex scene. Relationships aren’t meant to be one-dimensional, it’s-all-about-sex pairings. More than that, defining them that way, limits the relationship. Even in the most Penthouse-fantasy-style relationship, you’re going to spend a very small portion of your life having sex. And no matter how hot and steamy the sex, it won’t make up for the times when one is outside shoveling snow in -10° and the other is in the warm house because they don’t care enough to help.

The romances in fiction that capture my heart are those that deal with all that messy real-life crap in all it’s messy real-life glory and still manage to carry a strong bond of friendship into the (possible) sex. Castle and Beckett. Booth and Bones. Peter and Elizabeth Burke. Shawn and Juliet. What makes those relationships great isn’t the fact that they are “doing it”, but rather that they obviously love and care for each other. The sex? Not required.
partly: (That Girl)
[livejournal.com profile] tvrealm has a prompt where you are supposed to claim 10 words and do something off of them. "Meta" was one of the choices, so I'm going with that. This post's prompt: Like A Boss.

I’ve talked occasionally about how I don’t often identify with the female characters in shows. Lately, however, I’ve come to realize that has been changing. There are a lot of female characters out there that I have come to love. For me to love a female character they just need one thing: agency.

Agency: the capacity of an agent (a person or other entity) to act. “Agency” has become a fairly common term as of late and it’s a concept that is extremely powerful. Notice it doesn’t have anything to do with success or power nor does it have anything to do with the type of acts. Just the ability (or potential ability) to do something. What it basically boils down to is that the character has some choice and control, even if it’s just over their own reactions.

The male characters I like are full of agency -- even when they are on the losing end, when they are caught and captive, they still are strong and active. It doesn’t matter if they are held at gun point or tied to a chair or are being coerced into doing something they don’t want to, they still have agency. Agency is almost a requirement when writing a male protagonist.

It’s something that was not usually given to female protagonists. When women are caught they are usually immediately reduced to helplessness. They are terrified and weak and vulnerable, weepy and pliable -- every misogynistic cliche that’s out there. And if the writers didn’t want to present a female protagonist in that light, it usually meant that the character wasn’t even put into that type of situation. Lack of agency was sort of a given when it came to women. In fact, agency was often seen as not feminine -- if a female character was given agency, that would have to be countered by making sure that she somehow compensated for that deficiency by being properly feminine in other areas. Even then though, it was best not to make them too capable and to make sure they had the proper male counterpart keep them from being too self-sufficient.

Fortunately, that’s changing.

Right now, Kate Beckett is my favorite example of a female character who has great agency. Even when she is at her most vulnerable, she still has the capacity to act. She’s allowed to be scared and overwhelmed and not in control, but she’s never powerless. The choices she makes aren’t always the smartest or healthiest, she has issues and problems that come from some of her actions, but she gets to act. It makes her a strong character, even when she makes mistakes.

She’s even given agency when it comes to her emotions. The lack of agency that female characters are given in general is nothing when compared to the lack of agency that they are given when dealing with emotional issues. Television thrives on the fact that most women lose all agency once they fall in love. It’s not that Beckett isn’t passionate -- she is. It’s that you know she always is choosing how she’s going to act on those passions.

I have to admit that it’s that form of agency that really appeals to me -- it’s the agency that allows a woman to be emotional without being controlled by those emotions.
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  • Вс, 17:29: The moon is especially beautiful tonight!
partly: (Locke)
[livejournal.com profile] tvrealm has a prompt where you are supposed to claim 10 words and do something off of them. "Meta" was one of the choices, so I'm going with that. This post's prompt: Motion.

For me to like a show, it has to have more than good characters and interesting plots, it has to have forward motion. There has to be progress and answers and conclusions. It’s why I love so many of the USA network shows, they are experts on the “episodic television with overreaching story arcs”. They give me an interesting story within the episode and bits and pieces of an larger story that continues over several episodes or over the whole season.

When a show loses that forward momentum, when everything that happens just leads back to the same question or puzzle, when every time you learn something new it turns out to just reverse everything you already thought you knew, it loses me.

Shows like Lost or Fringe, shows that depend on never giving an answer to a question frustrate me on a level that’s almost primal. I watched Lost when it first come on and I loved the show because the characters were so awesome, but the more I watched the more it felt like a bait-and-switch. It didn’t matter what we were told, it wasn’t going to lead to any real answers, just more questions.

Without forward motion, it feels too much like a lie, like the kids that would pretend to hand you something, and then pull back at the last second, just to laugh that you were gullible enough to believe they were actually going to give you something. Now I get that I may be unique in feeling that, but that doesn’t change the feeling.
partly: (Brothers)
[livejournal.com profile] tvrealm has a prompt where you are supposed to claim 10 words and do something off of them. "Meta" was one of the choices, so I'm going with that. This post's prompt: Wacko.

One of the more interesting tropes in Supernatural is the thought that Dean and Sam are insane -- their behaviors, their attitudes and their relationships are all dysfunctional, their actions deranged. Quite honestly if they would live in our world, that assessment would be right, but I’m always drawn back to R. D. Laing’s statement.

“Insanity - a perfectly rational adjustment to an insane world.” - R. D. Laing

It’s not paranoia if everyone is really out to get you. Co-dependency is necessary when both of the brothers have to survive in order for, well, the world to survive. And you really can’t call it “delusions of grandeur” when they actually have killed gods and stopped the apocalypse. Dean’s willingness to sacrifice himself could be considered a psychological problem -- if he wouldn’t always have a way that his sacrifice wasn’t the only way to make the situation work out for the best. Sure, Sam sees Lucifer everywhere, but quite honestly, that is probably the least psychologically damaged thing that could have come from being in locked in the cage.

The problem with establishing a psychological “norm” is that you can’t apply it to people who don’t live in our “normal” world. It’s the reason why our psychological diagnoses don’t always travel well to other cultures. Its why people who have lived outside our “norm” for any length of time have such a hard time readjusting when they return. Ask any combat vet -- and I’m not even talking about PTSD, I’m just talking about adjusting to the noise and chaos of our everyday life.

Sure if Dean and Sam were just siblings who grew up in average-world America their behavior would definitely be insane. But they didn’t, they grew up in completely bat-shit crazy America -- their “insanity” is perfectly sane.
partly: (Psycho)
[livejournal.com profile] tvrealm has a prompt where you are supposed to claim 10 words and do something off of them. "Meta" was one of the choices, so I'm going with that. This post's prompt: Cause & Effect.

I’ve always been interested in psychology of characters: the why of who they are. The very best shows use the psychology of their characters to move the plots forward or to provide complications to those plots. When you’ve watched a show for years, knowing the psychology of the characters (and having faith that the writers will keep the characters in character) adds a layer of tension and expectation to a show. If you know the psychological bent of a character, you are able to predict what situations have the most impact on them.

But consistent psychology also lets you work backwards.

One of the reasons I love Person of Interest is because John Reese is so wonderfully psychologically true to his history: he does what he does because of who he is and he is who he is because of what he does. We know quite a bit about Reese’s background and psychology. On the other hand, we know very little about Finch. But, because the show is psychologically consistent, we can actually get a good idea of who Finch is (and what may have happened to him) by his actions now. This consistency is also why Carters actions in the last episode were believable and her dilemma on what to do with Reese was very real. It’s why Fusco is a good cop despite being a dirty one.

Good psychology makes for interesting and complicated characters, it allows for a greater variety of stories and, once the audience has faith that the writers will keep the characters in character it allows the writers to do far more interesting things with the characters.

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