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Pandering to SJWs in genre fiction is a no-win game (Endgame spoilers) Cannoli Send a noteboard - 05/05/2019 05:24:38 AM

When I was in grammar school, I read some children's story about a father & son going into town with their donkey, and hearing people comment on their trip and try to appease these people's opinions. Someone comments on how stupid they are for walking when they have a donkey to ride. The son rides, and they mutter about how lazy kids are these days. The dad rides and the kid walks and now the topic is child abuse. They both ride and people complain about overworking the poor donkey. They end up carrying their own beast of burden down the road before learning a lesson about the futility of trying to please everyone.

And this story came screaming back when I got on the internet about 18-19 years ago. One genre property that was heavily scrutinized at the time was Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And this show and its writers could do no wrong by a certain subset of the fandom, because there was this character called "Tara". She was the love interest of a core main character. Of the same sex. She was a nice and decent person, her role in the story beyond her relationship had nothing to do with her sexuality. She was not a stereotype or cliche. No one disliked Tara aside from people who wanted Willow to have skinnier girlfriend or no girlfriend. And even some of those did not actually mind her. So when it came time to A. kill off a character who would be loved and missed and B. have an inciting incident to complete Willow's long foreshadowed (and forewarned, largely by Tara) fall to the Dark Side, it made perfect narrative sense to kill Tara near the end of the penultimate season. And the LGBTQWERTYIOP section of the fandom still has not forgiven Joss Whedon. Tara belonged to them, you see. Straight white cis males do NOT get to make creative decisions about characters who are not, because they belong to that community, and Joss Whedon and company have an obligation to service their wishes over his own concerns or agenda or intentions in creating the character and setting in the first place. Joss Whedon had every right to betray the Willow-Oz or Willow-Xander shippers by making Willow gay (also, having been interested in multiple males and an enthusiastic sexual partner of one for three and a half season, literally half her narrative existence wouldn't bisexual be a better term for Willow? Unless bisexuals are poly-amorous by definition and the "bi" refers to concurrent interests & activities), but when it's a lesbian ox being gored, that's a whole other thing.

The ever more voracious demands of SJW fandom grew harder to appease, until we got the last few years where long-standing popular genre franchises were altered to appease them, giving us the flawless, perfect, self-taught, all-powerful Captain Marvel and Rey, whose male acquaintances were fawning, less selfish & just as inept versions of Xander, who didn't need men to teach or help them with anything, aside from some of the boring stuff that's not as cinematic, and who were on good terms with all the female characters on the right correct side of the hero-villain divide.

But for some reason, the producers of Avengers:Endgame felt the need to make a movie about the titular characters, who had built up a following over 11 years, and to service their characters and storylines and try to gives something to ALL the fans of the MCU. Including some with white skin AND prostates and other interests or priorities than being good allies.

So naturally, that means that even though even though Captain Marvel gets the last word in every conversation with a male castmate, and the most iconic Marvel hero of all time, Spider-Man, goes from being an irrepressible smart-ass to tongue-tied and stammering in her presence, and she remains ridiculously over-powered for an ensemble cast member and is allowed to have the best showing in a one-on-one fight with Thanos, even though the two most powerful male Avengers are reduced to comic relief, down to having their very appearances altered for the movie, and one of two heroic sacrifices in the film is given to a female character, who has to defeat a male in physical combat to do so, and there is a gratuitous scene of an all-women team-up for no reason other than to pander to the female-glorification agenda, with no narrative purpose, function or justification... they still are not happy.

Emily Asher-Perrin, one of the more extreme Tor.com female supremacy fanatics has an article asserting that the MCU "still can't do right by women". She starts out complaining the Natasha gets short shrift, while unironically citing her major role in another character's titular film, "Captain America: Civil War". Alleging that "while everyone else obsessed over who was wronging who, Natasha’s only true concern throughout the film was in trying to preserve the family and life she’d made for herself on the team." Except we saw that movie. She decided to fight members of that family for not toeing the line like good little clockwork soldiers, and her only justification, when it was pointed out that it was in direct contradiction to her previous positions in the series, she explained her change as relating to public sentiment. According to Asher-Perrin her family "is taken from her anyway, and she spends a couple years on the run with Steve and company" It was not taken from her, she made choices about whom to support and which side to take.

When discussing Natasha's sacrifice, Asher-Perrin claims the "connotations...speak louder than the action itself" and goes back to the tired old complaint about her "lament" about her sterilization. First of all, I saw "Age of Ultron". Natasha was not lamenting her sterilization, and she, contrary to the frequent feminist critiques, was not claiming it made her a monster or less human. She was simply responding to Bruce's presumption regarding her relationship goals. Natasha was pursuing a relationship with him over the course of the film, which portrayed her proactive decision in a positive light, and Bruce attempted to tell her why she didn't really want to be with him, citing that the radioactive nature of his transformation would endanger any biological offspring he might produce. Natasha cited her involuntary sterilization at that point, not to demean or diminish herelf, but to point out that he does not know everything about her, certainly not enough to decide for her what she wants in a partner. That at least one issue he assumes is a deal breaker that renders him unfit is actually immaterial to her. And that he's not the only one who has been robbed of body autonomy and physical agency. But the feminists who watch these movies hear keywords pertaining to reproduction and fly off their handles. Asher-Perrin is still harping on it four years later, claiming that in writing Natasha as the sacrifice, they were saying that her infertility makes her less valuable and more disposable. Except this is a thing with men, many times in films. Single or childless men are constantly sacrificing themselves for other men who have families (logically speaking, it should be other way around, since we have not yet had a chance to pass on our genes). It's a real life phenomenon as well. I graduated from an elementary school named after a Holocaust victim who made that very sacrifice on behalf of a man with a family. They were treating Natasha no differently than a male character. Captain America, Hulk or War Machine would absolutely have made the exact same choice as Natasha, with the exact same rationale. And I missed the part where Quicksilver was sterile, if that's the only reason why anyone who die saving Hawkeye's life. At least Black Widow got to be in seven movies, instead of being killed off in her first.

She goes on an absurd & tortured rationale comparing Natasha's self-sacrifice to Thanos' sacrifice of Gamora, claiming that Natasha doing so vindicates Thanos' act. Which is crap. They were simply told "a soul for a soul". The "that which you love most" is pure nonsense, because clearly, by making the choice, the seeker of the Soul Stone is prioritizing SOMETHING above the sacrificial victim. For any audience members who are not looking for things to complain about any time a woman is on the screen, a theme of "Infinity War" at least was the refusal of the heroes to sacrifice other people, and their willingness to risk or sacrifice their own lives for others, in contrast to Thanos, who will "sacrifice" anyone else to get his way. Captain America insists they don't sacrifice people, Wakanda stands beside Vision rather than send him elsewhere, Dr Strange fails to follow through with his threat to sacrifice Tony or Peter to protect the Time Stone. Star-Lord only pulls the trigger on Gamora, because she asked him to, Wanda blows up Vision because he tells her to, Loki surrenders the Tesseract rather than let Thor be tortured, Gamora can't keep silent when Nebula is being tortured. The willing self-sacrifices of Vision, Gamora and now, Natasha, are what make them heroes, contrasted with Thanos, who abandons all pretense of nobility as soon as his goal is threatened.

Hyphen-Girl complains that Natasha is mourned but never celebrated...and two sentences later claims that she doesn't get a funeral! Then how was she mourned? Was there not a shot of her five original teammates grieving on a dock? Tony Stark, character who began the MCU, gets a nicer funeral than a supporting cast member. Clearly, sexism and misogyny is the only explanation. You aren't allowed to kill a female character if she has no spouse or children to show as much grief as Tony's do.

Most of the complaints here have to do with the source material the filmmakers have to work with. It's not the fault of the people who made one Marvel film that the studios have failed to give some of the supporting cast their own films. It's not the fault of the filmmakers that Marvel has so few successful female characters. Clearly they WANT some of that Wonder Woman box office, as seen in their attempts to make an over-the-top powerful female character a central figure in their mythos. One minute the article speaks derisively of Captain Marvel as "powered by fists of space-energy and little else" and then goes on in the same paragraph to assert that Scarlet Witch is "always getting sidelined because dealing with her true skillset would make most of the other combatants superfluous". You can't win with this woman. Show off Carol Danvers' powers, and you're under-serving her with your focus on them. Don't make the movie revolve around a latecomer, and it's because you don't want to deal with her powers, because if you followed the books, she'd be too powerful for a conflict. Yeah, because that's what they're afraid of. Archer=God of Thunder is clearly the work of people who have no confidence in their ability to handle power variations.

And of course, they're being sexist because Wanda's "only stake in the film is being pissed with Thanos for killing her boyfriend". But when a male character is given the same motivation, these people whine about "fridging".

Rather than celebrate Gamora & Nebula having a storyline & character-driven plot, she describes it as being "pulled through the wringer." Also, "because the film seems to have no interest in creating any succinct rules around their time travel plot, it is completely unclear as to how [killing her past self] should affect Nebula going forward". Sexism! How DARE they be less than clear about Nebula (despite an entire conversation earlier in the film making the point that killing someone's past-self will not have any effect)! No MALE character is affected by time-line confusion. Except, again, Spider-man, the most famous Marvel character, full-stop, who has been brought five years ahead into the future, and is last seen going back to school with his classmates. According to Asher-Perrin the film clearly prioritizes Star-Lord over Gamora's & Nebula's relationship. Never mind Star-Lord is almost entirely the subject of pratfalls, rather than any real exploration of his relationship with Gamora, and the ladies mostly get to make derisive comments about his suitability as a romantic partner as no one EVER does about a girlfriend in these movies. Asher-Perrin claims that the film pays more attention to Quill's desire to try to find Gamora than Gamora & Nebula relearning their relationship. The former was nothing more than a silent screen shot while the latter was the subject of a conversation between the sisters! And remember, it was a problem that we didn't get enough about her male friends missing Natasha, and a single shot of her love interest looking for Gamora is too much! Asher-Perrin claims we get "Nebula left behind to hitch a ride again with the Guardians" as if she doesn't have a relationship with them (does anyone else remember her having Mantis' phone number in "Infinity War" and the Guardians setting up an ambush on other-Titan on her word? ). If the filmmakers are going to have a character "hitch a ride with the Guardians" they clearly hate that character's gender. There is NO ONE on the Guardians' ship at the end except the people who had been in the last Guardians movie...and Thor.

Speaking of Thor, Hyphen-Girl acknowledges at least that he gets treated bad by the film, but Valkyrie doesn't come out of the situation any better, saying "she works herself to the bone to keep the ship running for the sake of the Asgardian people" we got a scene of her doing some work. That's all. "Works her fingers to the bone" is how we describe a woman with superhuman physical abilities doing commonplace manual labor. Thor's abdication is wrong, despite his acknowledgement of Valkyrie's leadership and recent contributions, because she "expressed a hatred of Asgardian monarchy when Thor met her first". Except Thor expressed an agreement with her and insisted that their mission was to save the people. Valkyrie's problem was the way Odin did things, and her and Thor's mutual commitment to doing things differently was the tacit basis of their team-up. Because A-P's inclined to see the worst in this film, Thor turning the leadership over to Valkyrie is "making her shoulder his burden" and having confidence in her abilities is making things harder for her by not "offering to help her set up a new form of government, or see that the transition of power goes smoothly". We know damn well that attempting to do such a thing would be criticized as a lack of faith and condescension toward her. Men don't have anything to teach women! Sisters do it for themselves, they don't need men to make it easy for them.

She manages to both complain that we get so little of Peggy Carter AND assert on no basis whatsoever that her adventurers are going to be "overwritten for a life in a cute suburb with her man." Peggy Carter is not an Avenger and has never been associated with the team in general and the success of each Captain America movie correlates with how little she appears. And once again, the movie was explicit about the fact that time travel does not change anything. The team had a talk about that and Hulk reinforced that with the Ancient One. So nothing is lost, nothing did not happen. The movie was already three hours long, they couldn't spend any more time trying to find yet another way to say that in plain English! And you would think from Asher-Perrin's article that the entirety of Peggy Carter's role in the movie was her hug & kiss with Steve at the end...rather than a longer scene of him in her office with the title of "director" on the door, and watching her at her job. Unlike her contemporary Howard Stark, her appearance in the past was not her going on and on about how much she loves the protagonist to whom she is connected, it is him staring in respectful awe at her at the peak of her power. The author seems to have leaped to the conclusion that Carter could only have bought a house in the suburbs with her man, and that it can only mean she is settling down with him, and never mind that the door is ajar when we see the house from the outside. Clearly Steve has just shown up when they are seen embracing. That house & romantic record were things Peggy was doing on her own, believing she was a single woman, when the love of her life showed up.

And finally, Tony Stark's heroic death is an abandonment of his wife & child. He gets to have his win and he leaves Pepper and Morgan to go it alone, that BASTARD. This is the exact same article where she bitches - because that's the only word her whining deserves - about Natasha choosing to save her friend from leaving behind a wife and three kids and about Tony getting to die and forcing his wife and kid to go on without him! Even if Iron Man deserves to go out a winner, with closure on his PTSD from the first Avengers, his family does not deserve to suffer.

You literally cannot win with these people. Emily Asher-Perrin had an axe to grind, and everything was going to be twisted to fit a version where she could complain, even if she was going to assign opposite meanings to the same plot points or tropes depending on which gender they were being applied to. This is not actual criticism of content, this is moral judgment of content, and presuming to read other people's minds and pass judgment on their moral purity and character. There is no way out, except to stop trying to please these people and just make good stories, they way they did for established moral systems like religion.

Cannoli
“Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions.” GK Chesteron
Inde muagdhe Aes Sedai misain ye!
Deus Vult!
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Pandering to SJWs in genre fiction is a no-win game (Endgame spoilers) - 05/05/2019 05:24:38 AM 140 Views
It is an article with a lot of weak points, I agree. - 06/05/2019 07:55:42 PM 39 Views
I'd say it's on a par with LeFou from the new "Beauty & the Beast" - 06/05/2019 10:04:51 PM 45 Views

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