Author Topic: Sexism in Heroes  (Read 14259 times)

J.R. Blackwell

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Sexism in Heroes
« on: February 22, 2007, 11:24:09 AM »
This applies to basically any story in any genre, but I hate it, HATE IT, when writers write accents phonetically into a story.

As soon as I see something like: "Oi Whot! Aie dere Guvnur'" I go into a kind of killing rage.

Books have gone hurtling across the room, pages flapping, for this kind of offense.

I don't quite have the words for how much I agree. 

It is so good to know that someone backs me up on this one. For so long, I basically thought I was alone in this.

I remember in one workshop I was in, a writer put forth a story where one of the characters spoke with a  french accent. For me, this ruined the story, but for other people it was charming and cute. The rest of the writers in the workshop disagreed with me about the accent, and after that, I thought I might be alone in my hatred of accents.

What I got from this experience was that the things I see wrong with a story may be the things that other people find charming, and that one negative critique of a story doesn't mean the story is bad, it just means the person who critiqued it didn't like it because of their own tastes. Some of these tastes may be shared by lots of people, so it's important to pay attention to critiques, but not important enough to change something I might love about a story. In the end, this experience workshopping made me feel braver and made me more willing to send rejected stories back out to other markets.

Also? I hate stories where women are killed/raped/hurt repeatedly just to move along a man's character development. ::cough:: Heroes ::cough::
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SFEley

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« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2007, 11:49:12 AM »
Also? I hate stories where women are killed/raped/hurt repeatedly just to move along a man's character development. ::cough:: Heroes ::cough::

In Heroes?  Are you talking about Syler?  He's killed at least as many men as women.  There doesn't seem to be anything at all sexual about what he's doing.  If not Syler, I must be blanking; which character are you talking about?
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JaredAxelrod

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« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2007, 12:25:56 PM »
Also? I hate stories where women are killed/raped/hurt repeatedly just to move along a man's character development. ::cough:: Heroes ::cough::

In Heroes?  Are you talking about Syler?  He's killed at least as many men as women.  There doesn't seem to be anything at all sexual about what he's doing.  If not Syler, I must be blanking; which character are you talking about?

It's not just Sylar, it's the whole show. Look at the female characters (WARNING SPOILERS):


























(SPOILERS BEGIN)
Charlie Andrews: dead

Claire Bennet: mulitple injurys, but that's her power, so she gets a pass.  The attempted rape, however, that cocks an eyebrow.

Sandra Bennet: in a brain damaged coma.

Simone Deveaux: dead

Hana Gitelman: Nothing yet, but she just appeared.

Meredith Gordon: Again, she's new.  And the flame powers are cool.  So we'll give her a pass.  Her close relationship to two main characters does make her days numbered, however.

Hope: Lying harridan, almost shot.  Lucky a man was around.

Audrey Hanson: No physical violence, but her life is ruined.  And unlike some men in simmilar situation, looks like her story is over.

Eden McCain: dead

Kimiko Nakamura: Cowed by her father, needed her brother to speak for her.

Janice Parkman: cheated on her husband, pregnant

Angela Petrelli: Controlling harridan

Heidi Petrelli: paralyzed from the waist down

Niki/Jessica Sanders: raped, saw her sister murdered.

Dale Smither: dead

Karen Sprague: dead

Tina: beaten

Molly Walker: watched her parents being murdered.

Jackie Wilcox: dead

Dr. Witherson: beaten, presumed dead


That's 7 female characters dead, more injured and raped.  Only 4 male characters (remember, characters have character moments, as opposed to thugs) have died, and one of those, Charles Deveaux, was non-violent. So, over one third of the female cast has died on screen, but only about one-seventh of the nearly twice as large male cast. This isn't even including characters like Mohinder's and Nikki's sister, whose violence and death are mentioned, but never seen.  That's disproportionate, no matter how you slice it.
« Last Edit: February 22, 2007, 12:44:41 PM by JaredAxelrod »

SFEley

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« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2007, 12:53:44 PM »
It's not just Sylar, it's the whole show. Look at the female characters (WARNING SPOILERS):

I have an intense urge to respond to this case-by-case, and to bring the male characters into it as well, but I can smell the quicksand.  I agree with you on several examples (i.e., that they're the sorts of badness that only happen to female characters "to move along a man's character development") and disagree with you on others, and I feel that some of your examples are more complex than you have presented, but you have constructed a scenario in which no one can disagree on specifics without looking sexist.

So I'm not going to go there.  Alas.

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« Reply #4 on: February 22, 2007, 01:14:19 PM »
I have an intense urge to respond to this case-by-case, and to bring the male characters into it as well, but I can smell the quicksand.  I agree with you on several examples (i.e., that they're the sorts of badness that only happen to female characters "to move along a man's character development") and disagree with you on others, and I feel that some of your examples are more complex than you have presented, but you have constructed a scenario in which no one can disagree on specifics without looking sexist.

So I'm not going to go there.  Alas.

Mr. Eley, you are the master of expressing yourself online in a way to not offend, but to get your point across (Tango Alpha Delta does this well also). I simply listen and learn from your forum posts.  I also was tempted to respond, but decided to avoid any dangerous ground.
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JaredAxelrod

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« Reply #5 on: February 22, 2007, 02:15:49 PM »
It's not just Sylar, it's the whole show. Look at the female characters (WARNING SPOILERS):

I have an intense urge to respond to this case-by-case, and to bring the male characters into it as well, but I can smell the quicksand.  I agree with you on several examples (i.e., that they're the sorts of badness that only happen to female characters "to move along a man's character development") and disagree with you on others, and I feel that some of your examples are more complex than you have presented, but you have constructed a scenario in which no one can disagree on specifics without looking sexist.

So I'm not going to go there.  Alas.

You serious?  It was not my intention to paint anyone into a hole, merely present the numbers.  If the ratio of male-to-female brutality makes it difficult to defend, I don't see how this is my fault. 

I certainly don't think of you as sexist, Steve, even if you disagreed with me.  In fact, I'd love to hear your side of the discussion. 

Let me also say in no way does liking HEROES make one a sexist.  I like HEROES, despite the numbers mentioned above.  It's okay.  You are not what you watch.
« Last Edit: February 22, 2007, 02:35:28 PM by JaredAxelrod »

J.R. Blackwell

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« Reply #6 on: February 22, 2007, 03:05:06 PM »
I have an intense urge to respond to this case-by-case, and to bring the male characters into it as well, but I can smell the quicksand.  I agree with you on several examples (i.e., that they're the sorts of badness that only happen to female characters "to move along a man's character development") and disagree with you on others, and I feel that some of your examples are more complex than you have presented, but you have constructed a scenario in which no one can disagree on specifics without looking sexist.

So I'm not going to go there.  Alas.

I totally understand the desire not to argue on a case by case basis. When I brought up Heroes, it was because I felt like (and this wasn't based on any numbers, just on what I felt when I watched the show) that there were several moments in the show where women were being killed just so that male characters would develop. (Charlie and Hiro are a good example)

Seeing Jared's breakdown of the numbers seems to sort it out pretty clearly, almost twice as many female characters were killed than male characters. That's just the numbers.

This kind of thing is one of my pet peeves but it is also common in comic books, which Heroes is very much based off of. So I feel that it's sexist, but it's not unusal for the genre. It's not an extrodinary example of sexist plotting, I mean for gods sake, we aren't talking about the recent Supergirl comics here.  ;) I think that as far as television goes, Heroes is probabbly treating women better than a lot of other programs out there. But it's still sexist.

There are a lot of things I think I could say on this topic about how women are used in fiction and about Heroes in particular but I don't want to offend anyone.

So I won't go there. Alas.
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« Reply #7 on: February 23, 2007, 09:08:36 AM »
How does Nikki/Jessica being the character who has killed the most people, and the only character who to really enjoys killing and violence fit into your argument?

Sylar has killed a number of people to, and I bet Clair's "father" has too, but with them the killing and violence is second to their "mission" in life not a recreational activity.


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« Reply #8 on: February 23, 2007, 11:08:02 AM »
How does Nikki/Jessica being the character who has killed the most people, and the only character who to really enjoys killing and violence fit into your argument?

Thank you.  I was going to raise that.  (Once I got time to respond in detail, which I didn't yesterday.)  The body count of dead men in the show is a lot higher than four, because Jessica herself has killed more than four people.  Not to mention beating the crap out of her husband and landing him in prison for a crime she committed.  I count, for Jessica alone, at least eight men dying, and one jailed and badly injured, to move along a woman's character development.  Is that as annoying as women hurt or dying to move along a man's character development?  Is there a difference?

I know you draw a line between "characters" and "thugs" in your post, Jared, but I'd claim that's a false dichotomy because many of the women you list didn't have "character moments" either.  Molly Walker, Karen Sprague, Heidi Petrelli, and others on your list would all be be "thugs" by your definition.

Others I specifically would disagree with:

Claire Bennett.  Next to Hiro and his goofy idealism, I'd say she's about the least "victim" character on the show.  Yeah, a lot of bad shit happens to her.  And she turns around and responds to it.  Sometimes stupidly, but she never sits around and feels sorry for herself.  You say: "The attempted rape, however, that cocks an eyebrow."  Sure.  The attempted rape which she responded to the next day by driving the guy into a wall.  He then gets his brain wiped, which she had nothing to do with, but still, it's a pretty strong punishment.  Was that attempted rape really Claire getting hurt to move along a man's character development?  No.  The man was a nobody, a "thug," and he was literally erased soon after.  It was Claire and her attacker both getting hurt to move along Claire's character development.  She came out stronger on the other end of the experience.  I can't see how this was sexist, unless you think it's sexist for female characters to face and deal with challenges that actually happen to women.

Hope.  You say, "Lying harridan, almost shot.  Lucky a man was around."  ...Which man?  You mean the man she was in a running gunfight with?  Her partner, whom she almost certainly killed?  (Offscreen, but it's clearly what we're meant to believe?)  She was "almost shot" because she was shooting at the guy!  And she'd have killed Hiro and Ando, too, if it weren't for those meddling powers.  How is she a victim in this?  In particular, how is she "hurt to move along a man's character development?"  She does move along Hiro's and Ando's characters, sure, but they didn't hurt her.  No one hurts her, unless you count getting arrested for crimes she actually committed.  She's a shallow two-bit villain, just like her partner.  I don't see how that's sexist either -- unless you believe that women shouldn't be shallow villains, only men should be.

Audrey Hanson.  You say, "No physical violence, but her life is ruined.  And unlike some men in simmilar situation, looks like her story is over."  I don't see where you get that from.  Her career took a beating, sure.  So did Matt's, for exactly the same reason, and while we don't see all the consequences for Audrey, I would bet that Matt got it worse.  If "her story is over" and his isn't, may I suggest it may be because he's a protagonist and she's a supporting character?  Or is it an example of sexism that she's not a protagonist too?

Angela Petrelli.  "Controlling harridan."  And...that makes her a victim of...what, exactly?  It moves along what man's character arc?  Or is it simply sexist when supporting female characters are unpleasant?

I'm not going to get into it with all the dead people.  The numbers aren't with you if you look at all the men: Linderman's men and the poker game.  Again, I don't buy the "thug" argument.  I don't think you get to accept or dismiss murders based on screen time. 


One I would tentatively agree with you on is Kimiko.  Yeah, I know Japanese culture makes it unlikely that she'd even be in the position she's in, but if she has the cojones to run the corporation, she really shouldn't have needed Hiro to point it out.  She was only there to provide an easy out for a challenge that was a shallow, short-term distraction for Hiro.  (In an episode that was titled "Distractions," in case we didn't get that.)

The one I would strongly agree with you on is Simone.  She was too strong and too interesting to end up as a mere bone for two male dogs to fight over -- and to get killed for it.  I realize that something major had to happen here to turn Peter over to the Dark Side, but the "Oops!  I shot her!" thing is so damn cliché, and it's disappointing and it is sexist.  The same thing wouldn't happen if it was two women fighting over a man.

So there's my counteranalysis.  Thoughts?
« Last Edit: February 23, 2007, 11:11:14 AM by SFEley »
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ClintMemo

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« Reply #9 on: February 23, 2007, 11:28:24 AM »
The one I would strongly agree with you on is Simone.  She was too strong and too interesting to end up as a mere bone for two male dogs to fight over -- and to get killed for it.  I realize that something major had to happen here to turn Peter over to the Dark Side, but the "Oops!  I shot her!" thing is so damn cliché, and it's disappointing and it is sexist.  The same thing wouldn't happen if it was two women fighting over a man.

Did anyone else watch that scene and think "Peter, pick her up and fly her to hospital, you IDIOT!"
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SFEley

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« Reply #10 on: February 23, 2007, 11:30:04 AM »
Did anyone else watch that scene and think "Peter, pick her up and fly her to hospital, you IDIOT!"

She was shot through the heart. 

And he was to blame.

(He gives love a bad name.
She played her part -- he plaaaayed his game --
He gives looooove a baaad name.
Whoa, he gives looooove a baaad name.

« Last Edit: February 23, 2007, 11:33:32 AM by SFEley »
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Mfitz

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« Reply #11 on: February 23, 2007, 12:26:26 PM »
If she really was smart and strong she'd have done the "pox on both your houses" thing and gotten  away from both Peter and Issac.  They are both capital T trouble and any woman with Simone's smarts should see that.

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« Reply #12 on: February 23, 2007, 12:37:31 PM »
Thanks for responding.  I love a good discussion.

How does Nikki/Jessica being the character who has killed the most people, and the only character who to really enjoys killing and violence fit into your argument?

Thank you.  I was going to raise that.  (Once I got time to respond in detail, which I didn't yesterday.)  The body count of dead men in the show is a lot higher than four, because Jessica herself has killed more than four people.  Not to mention beating the crap out of her husband and landing him in prison for a crime she committed.  I count, for Jessica alone, at least eight men dying, and one jailed and badly injured, to move along a woman's character development.  Is that as annoying as women hurt or dying to move along a man's character development?  Is there a difference?

First off, Nikki/Jessica is the most underveloped character in the whole show.  Her character is changing, but it's a snails pace considering the rest of the cast, male and female.  I'll believe claims of her "character development" when I see it on the show. ;)

I feel it nessary to go back to the numbers for this Nikki/Jessica has killed: 3 of DL's gang members, 5 of Linderman's thugs, and Aron Malskey.  9 total, but only one that we get a name of.  It should also be noticed that most of the violence she inflicts is ofscreen.

I know you draw a line between "characters" and "thugs" in your post, Jared, but I'd claim that's a false dichotomy because many of the women you list didn't have "character moments" either.  Molly Walker, Karen Sprague, Heidi Petrelli, and others on your list would all be be "thugs" by your definition.

Molly Walker I'll give you pass on, since her role was minimal.  Karen Sprague DID have a character moment--albiet one aided through telepathy--and seeing as how her death was used only to futher her husband's character development, and that is exactly what we're talking about, I do not see how you can brush her aside.  When one of wives of Linderman's goons takes up the samurai sword of vengence against Nikki/Jessica I will elevate his status accordingly.

Also, do not tell me that Heidi Petrelli, the WIFE of a main character whose paralysis causes him such guilt that it becomes a driving force in all his decisions--we know this, there's been at least 2 scenes where they talk about it--has never had "character moments."  Now, I wish she was more than Nathan's Guilt On Wheels, but she's still a character, dammint!

Claire Bennett.  Next to Hiro and his goofy idealism, I'd say she's about the least "victim" character on the show.  Yeah, a lot of bad shit happens to her.  And she turns around and responds to it.  Sometimes stupidly, but she never sits around and feels sorry for herself.  You say: "The attempted rape, however, that cocks an eyebrow."  Sure.  The attempted rape which she responded to the next day by driving the guy into a wall.  He then gets his brain wiped, which she had nothing to do with, but still, it's a pretty strong punishment.  Was that attempted rape really Claire getting hurt to move along a man's character development?  No.  The man was a nobody, a "thug," and he was literally erased soon after.  It was Claire and her attacker both getting hurt to move along Claire's character development.  She came out stronger on the other end of the experience.  I can't see how this was sexist, unless you think it's sexist for female characters to face and deal with challenges that actually happen to women.

Actually, I count the attempted rapist as a character, one of the men who are still alive in HEROES.   Granted, he's brainwashed and injured, but he's still alive, which was my point.  He's no thug, and I don't remember saying he was.  Also, if you look, I gave Claire a pass.  Now, I have problem with the "women gain strength through rape" motifs that run most popular fiction--I'll rant about cop shows and their love of this trope for days--so that's why Claire's attempted rape cocks an eyebrow.  There are other ways for her to gain strength other than, you know, getting raped or pregnant.

I would also argue that Claire didn't really become stronger after her attempted rape, but rather after Sylar's attack.  Granted, they happened in quick succession, so it's open to debate.

Hope.  You say, "Lying harridan, almost shot.  Lucky a man was around."  ...Which man?  You mean the man she was in a running gunfight with?  Her partner, whom she almost certainly killed?  (Offscreen, but it's clearly what we're meant to believe?)  She was "almost shot" because she was shooting at the guy!  And she'd have killed Hiro and Ando, too, if it weren't for those meddling powers.  How is she a victim in this?  In particular, how is she "hurt to move along a man's character development?"  She does move along Hiro's and Ando's characters, sure, but they didn't hurt her.  No one hurts her, unless you count getting arrested for crimes she actually committed.  She's a shallow two-bit villain, just like her partner.  I don't see how that's sexist either -- unless you believe that women shouldn't be shallow villains, only men should be.

Fair enough.  Consider her a pass.

Audrey Hanson.  You say, "No physical violence, but her life is ruined.  And unlike some men in simmilar situation, looks like her story is over."  I don't see where you get that from.  Her career took a beating, sure.  So did Matt's, for exactly the same reason, and while we don't see all the consequences for Audrey, I would bet that Matt got it worse.  If "her story is over" and his isn't, may I suggest it may be because he's a protagonist and she's a supporting character?  Or is it an example of sexism that she's not a protagonist too?

Part of this no doubt comes from my affection for any character Clea Duvall plays.  Is it too much to want to see those squinty eyes smile?  Perhaps so.  She's got a pass, too.

Angela Petrelli.  "Controlling harridan."  And...that makes her a victim of...what, exactly?  It moves along what man's character arc?  Or is it simply sexist when supporting female characters are unpleasant?

Here's the thing, Steve.  Fathers in HEROES are often saintly, loving people.  Even Claire's dad clearly loves her, even if he's a little evil, and DL does the best he can.  Mothers, however, are distant at best (both of Clarie's moms, Nikki), or, in the case of Angela, harridans.  Is Angela a sexist character by herself?  No.  Is she within the show proper? Yes.  Show me a good mother on the show, and I'll reconsider.

Case in point, Nathan was all set to be a good father until he was talked out of it, by his mother.

I'm not going to get into it with all the dead people.  The numbers aren't with you if you look at all the men: Linderman's men and the poker game.  Again, I don't buy the "thug" argument.  I don't think you get to accept or dismiss murders based on screen time. 

I would argue it's the difference between being emotially invested in a character and not being emotionally invested. Or even easier, if they don't even have names, we, like the writers obviously did, can dismiss them.  However, if you throw in the nameless characters that have been murdered, you have to throw in the nameless characters that haven't be murdered as well.  I'm not going to do the math on that (counting extras is ludicris), but considering how many extra muscle our heroes are often running from, as well as Matt's buddies at the police department and Hiro's office workers, you're probably going to end up with an even more disproportionate number.  So, no, counting the nameless doesn't really help.

One I would tentatively agree with you on is Kimiko.  Yeah, I know Japanese culture makes it unlikely that she'd even be in the position she's in, but if she has the cojones to run the corporation, she really shouldn't have needed Hiro to point it out.  She was only there to provide an easy out for a challenge that was a shallow, short-term distraction for Hiro.  (In an episode that was titled "Distractions," in case we didn't get that.)

The one I would strongly agree with you on is Simone.  She was too strong and too interesting to end up as a mere bone for two male dogs to fight over -- and to get killed for it.  I realize that something major had to happen here to turn Peter over to the Dark Side, but the "Oops!  I shot her!" thing is so damn cliché, and it's disappointing and it is sexist.  The same thing wouldn't happen if it was two women fighting over a man.

So there's my counteranalysis.  Thoughts?

Well, let's see.  Out of my list of 20 female characters, we've shortened it down to 7 dead, one raped, one beaten, one pregnant (who also cheated), one needing her brother's help, one is a coma, and one emblamic of disturbing dipiction of mothers in general.  Of the 5 who get passes, one became stronger through a rape (cliche), one is a bad mother, and one is a two-bit hood (cliche).  I'll give you that Hana Gitelman and Audrey Hanson are great characters, and should be examples that the rest of show, as well as other shows, should strive towards. 

So there you go.  2 out of 20. Or 2 out who knows how many, if we count the nameless.

Is the show as sexist as I made it out to be?  No.  Steve, you've convinced me.  Is it still a sexist show that brutalizes women, often shows them as irredeemable harpies or innocents that need to be saved, and has a clear Women In Refridgerators complex?  Yes.

But, I will concede, not as much as I thought.
« Last Edit: February 23, 2007, 12:40:52 PM by JaredAxelrod »

ClintMemo

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« Reply #13 on: February 23, 2007, 01:04:39 PM »
Did anyone else watch that scene and think "Peter, pick her up and fly her to hospital, you IDIOT!"

She was shot through the heart. 

And he was to blame.

(He gives love a bad name.
She played her part -- he plaaaayed his game --
He gives looooove a baaad name.
Whoa, he gives looooove a baaad name.
)


No! Not an earworm from the 80's!
Please, God, make it stop!! :'(
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« Reply #14 on: February 23, 2007, 01:20:33 PM »
No! Not an earworm from the 80's!

Geek moment:

I understand you were refering to the Bon Jovi reference, but when I first saw "earworm from the 80's", I immediately thought about Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn.
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« Reply #15 on: February 23, 2007, 01:36:13 PM »
Claire Bennett.  Next to Hiro and his goofy idealism, I'd say she's about the least "victim" character on the show.  Yeah, a lot of bad shit happens to her.  And she turns around and responds to it.  Sometimes stupidly, but she never sits around and feels sorry for herself.  You say: "The attempted rape, however, that cocks an eyebrow."  Sure.  The attempted rape which she responded to the next day by driving the guy into a wall.  He then gets his brain wiped, which she had nothing to do with, but still, it's a pretty strong punishment.  Was that attempted rape really Claire getting hurt to move along a man's character development?  No.  The man was a nobody, a "thug," and he was literally erased soon after.  It was Claire and her attacker both getting hurt to move along Claire's character development.  She came out stronger on the other end of the experience.  I can't see how this was sexist, unless you think it's sexist for female characters to face and deal with challenges that actually happen to women.

Actually, I count the attempted rapist as a character, one of the men who are still alive in HEROES.   Granted, he's brainwashed and injured, but he's still alive, which was my point.  He's no thug, and I don't remember saying he was.  Also, if you look, I gave Claire a pass.  Now, I have problem with the "women gain strength through rape" motifs that run most popular fiction--I'll rant about cop shows and their love of this trope for days--so that's why Claire's attempted rape cocks an eyebrow.  There are other ways for her to gain strength other than, you know, getting raped or pregnant.

I would also argue that Claire didn't really become stronger after her attempted rape, but rather after Sylar's attack.  Granted, they happened in quick succession, so it's open to debate.

Death of personality is death all the same. The body's still there, but the person that committed the rape is gone, and a new one's forming there.

Claire's the adopted daughter of The Bad Guy. She's also 16, in high school, and has a weird power. I'm not sure what scenario you could put her in and she wouldn't be in for a world of hurt. Her best friend/love interest has had his brain washed, her adopted mother seems definitely on the way out, her birth mom's asking for money instead of really trying to be a mother, Nathan has yet to be hit with the do-what-you-feel-not-what-you-think stick, her dad is actively hunting the guy that saved her from Sylar, and the only reason she knows about this is because the Haitian decided against brainwashing her.

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Angela Petrelli.  "Controlling harridan."  And...that makes her a victim of...what, exactly?  It moves along what man's character arc?  Or is it simply sexist when supporting female characters are unpleasant?

Here's the thing, Steve.  Fathers in HEROES are often saintly, loving people.  Even Claire's dad clearly loves her, even if he's a little evil, and DL does the best he can.  Mothers, however, are distant at best (both of Clarie's moms, Nikki), or, in the case of Angela, harridans.  Is Angela a sexist character by herself?  No.  Is she within the show proper? Yes.  Show me a good mother on the show, and I'll reconsider.

Case in point, Nathan was all set to be a good father until he was talked out of it, by his mother.

Uh, Nathan's wife seems to be a good mother from what little we can tell. And while Jessica seems to be... well, she's more killer than mother, I wouldn't say that Niki was distant and has tried to be a good mother even with some difficult extenuating circumstances(lack of money, killer other personality, etc.). She certainly doesn't seem that distant from my impressions. 

One I would tentatively agree with you on is Kimiko.  Yeah, I know Japanese culture makes it unlikely that she'd even be in the position she's in, but if she has the cojones to run the corporation, she really shouldn't have needed Hiro to point it out.  She was only there to provide an easy out for a challenge that was a shallow, short-term distraction for Hiro.  (In an episode that was titled "Distractions," in case we didn't get that.)

The one I would strongly agree with you on is Simone.  She was too strong and too interesting to end up as a mere bone for two male dogs to fight over -- and to get killed for it.  I realize that something major had to happen here to turn Peter over to the Dark Side, but the "Oops!  I shot her!" thing is so damn cliché, and it's disappointing and it is sexist.  The same thing wouldn't happen if it was two women fighting over a man.

Well, Peter didn't shoot Simone, Issac did. And Peter wasn't entirely unjustified in being angry at Issac, because, well, Issac did tell Claire's dad and the Haitian where he and the Doctor were. Watching the scene again, well, Peter does do the Black-Canary voice, but Issac's the one that pulls a gun. And from the quick reaction shots it doesn't seem like Peter necessarily is going over to the Dark SideTM, but we won't really know that until next week.

She seems dead, but it is a superhero show so you can never be entirely positive who's to live and who's to die, even if they have bullets in them. I do like that she's holding the key in a literal sense, so I'm going to wait to see what her death is in the life of the story.
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Mfitz

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Sexism in Heroes
« Reply #16 on: February 23, 2007, 01:36:54 PM »

Angela Petrelli.  "Controlling harridan."  And...that makes her a victim of...what, exactly?  It moves along what man's character arc?  Or is it simply sexist when supporting female characters are unpleasant?

***Here's the thing, Steve.  Fathers in HEROES are often saintly, loving people.  Even Claire's dad clearly loves her, even if he's a little evil, and DL does the best he can.  Mothers, however, are distant at best (both of Clarie's moms, Nikki), or, in the case of Angela, harridans.  Is Angela a sexist character by herself?  No.  Is she within the show proper? Yes.  Show me a good mother on the show, and I'll reconsider.

Case in point, Nathan was all set to be a good father until he was talked out of it, by his mother. ****

(Sorry not quite sure why the "quote" didn't work here.  I have bad computer karma)

I don't agree.

 I think Nikki is a good mother, a very good mother who has put her kid first in almost every life choice she has made. 

Clarie's mom is a little wacky, not neglectful or abusive.  She fusses over the wretched dog too much, but she also cares about her kids and fusses over them too.  She is a better mother than DL is father.  The fact that she's mentally outgunned by Clair  is much more a classic 'Teen hero way smarter than surrounding adult' stereotype than anything else.

From everything we know of him, Peter and Nathan's dad was abusive neglectful and a criminal.  Angela Petrelli is a political creature, she overlooked her husband's faults to further the family's public position.  Protecting that position is what she sees as her core value.  I would not be surprised if we find out she had something to do with her husband's "heart attack" just as he would have destroyed the family political capital by being having his shady deals exposed. (I think it's highly likely she is a closet Hero)

She cares about her children.  Nathan is a shallow political type so she gives him what she shrewd political advise, the hard choice advice she thinks he needs to succeed in Politics.  She is the only member of the family, other than Nathan's wife, who approved of Peter going to nursing school, I thought it was even hinted she offered to help pay for it but he turned her down.  She as much as said that Peter is to soft for a life in the public eye so it was a good choice for him.  So although she is not a cookies and story time mom, and she is be cold and calculating, she is being the best mother possible in her world view. 

I would argue that makes her a better parent, then Clair's father. I think if push came to shove he would sacrifice Clair for whatever cause he serves, and I can't see Angela Petrelli sacrificing a family member for ideology.  Her dilemma will be choosing between Peter and Nathan.

ClintMemo

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Sexism in Heroes
« Reply #17 on: February 23, 2007, 01:37:17 PM »
Reading the "sexism in heroes" makes me think of just how far we've come as a society in the last 30+ years.   Here is a network show that has two or three interracial relationships - and no one cares! 
If this had been on when I was a kid, there would have been protesters marching outside NBC headquarters.

The only action heroines I can think of from those days were "Wonder Woman" and "The Bionic Woman." Now we have several on the same show.  I'm not saying we're there yet, but we have come a long way.

hmmm...Jessica vs Wonderwoman. 
I got $10 on Jessica.  :P
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Swamp

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Sexism in Heroes
« Reply #18 on: February 23, 2007, 02:04:53 PM »
I guess I will breifly enter the dark waters of the "sexism in Heroes" discussion.  First of all, I was amazed when I first saw the accusation, and was further amazed by the detailed analysis of it.  It had never crossed my mind to count dead women vs. dead men.  I mean, my wife and I just sit down and enjoy an entaining show on Monday nights.  Sometimes its nice just to be entertained.

However, Jared brings up a great point about the "women gain strength through rape" motif that is so pervasive in Hollywood and elsewhere.  This definately sends the wrong kind of message.

I also agree that Simone's death was pointless, done only for shock value.

I will only venture to argue one point:

Show me a good mother on the show, and I'll reconsider.

This is a result of "good mothers" being assuaged by media audiances for years.  If you had a mother that was nurturing, care-giving, and tried to instill values in her children, people would also complain that this was sexist because it is an old-fashioned, limiting view of women.  "Why can't the women be just as ruthless and hard-core as the men," they would say.  So it's a no-win situaion.

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SFEley

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Sexism in Heroes
« Reply #19 on: February 23, 2007, 02:08:19 PM »
First off, Nikki/Jessica is the most underveloped character in the whole show.  Her character is changing, but it's a snails pace considering the rest of the cast, male and female.  I'll believe claims of her "character development" when I see it on the show. ;)

I disagree.  First, "most underdeveloped" is a bit thin when you look at Haitian Guy, Ted the Nuclear Guy, DL, their kid Micah, or even Isaac (the painter with exactly one defining trait -- drug addiction -- and apparently a highly successful comic that he never actually works on and that doesn't even get mentioned after Hiro shows up.  Lots of potential to his character, but what the hell does he do besides paint the scene coming up after the commercial break?)

Second, I'm not really a fan of considering them one character, but let's grant it here for brevity.  Let's look at their arc:

  • When we first fade in on Niki, she's got a shit job doing online porn, to pay the bills for Micah's school (which we quickly learn was wasted money).  Then she has to run from it.  If her character didn't develop, we'd still be thinking of Niki as "the online porn actress," right?  Sixteen episodes in, does it even cross your mind that she was doing that?

  • She gets interrupted at her work, and things get bloody.  We learn that her alter ego is a stone cold killer who likes being in charge, is driven largely by hate, and doesn't let anyone stop her.  Especially not Niki.  Would you grant that?

  • Later we find out where Jessica came from.  It's pretty much their dad's fault.  Jessica, the stone cold killer, has a pretty good reason to hate her dad.  Granted?

  • Niki and Jessica meet their dad soon after.  Jessica scares the hell out of him, but lets him live.  Do you think that signifies any sort of character depth?  Something a little more developed than "stone cold killer?"  I do.

  • Later, Jessica takes completely over from Niki and spends considerable time plotting to kill DL to get Micah back.  But when it comes time, just because Micah fell and skinned his knee or somesuch, she suddenly turns mellow and lets Niki take over again.  Hell, she lets Niki get them both put in jail.  Willingly.  Does that show any depth?

  • Niki herself shows considerable resolve, and occasional cleverness, in fighting Jessica.  Her motives by the end are clearly more than just "Got to protect Micah."  Jessica's activities have changed her priorities considerably, and she's had to develop a backbone to match Jessica's.  Do you agree or disagree?


There's still more to come with both of them, obviously, but I think they've both shown considerable change since the beginning.  Neither of them has had a true reversal, but they aren't simple.  I think there's a lot going on there.


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I feel it nessary to go back to the numbers for this Nikki/Jessica has killed: 3 of DL's gang members, 5 of Linderman's thugs, and Aron Malskey.  9 total, but only one that we get a name of.  It should also be noticed that most of the violence she inflicts is ofscreen.

First, I think you're forgetting about the poker party.  The three DL cohorts were dead before the show even started.  Of Linderman's thugs, she took two out in Episode 1, she took the diamond merchant out a couple episodes ago (who did have "character moments" if you want to go there), and I'm assuming you're counting the money launderer too.  But weren't there more than two people at the poker game? 

Second, I suspect that at least a lot of that 'offscreen' factor is because the show comes on in prime time, and she has this tendency to spray the entire room with blood.  Would her character be more developed, in your opinion, if we saw her eviscerating people?


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Also, do not tell me that Heidi Petrelli, the WIFE of a main character whose paralysis causes him such guilt that it becomes a driving force in all his decisions--we know this, there's been at least 2 scenes where they talk about it--has never had "character moments."  Now, I wish she was more than Nathan's Guilt On Wheels, but she's still a character, dammint!

Yeah, that's fair.  She sure doesn't get any time from Nathan, which is probably why I wasn't thinking much about her, but on consideration that's really the point.  It's one of the ways he's an asshole.


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Actually, I count the attempted rapist as a character, one of the men who are still alive in HEROES.   Granted, he's brainwashed and injured, but he's still alive, which was my point.

What was your point?  Women are victims if they're "killed, raped or hurt," but ramming a guy into a wall at high speed in his car (I'd argue that was attempted murder) and then destroying his psyche only counts if he dies, too?

I'm not saying he didn't deserve it.  Heck, I think the attempted rape is probably overshadowing the fact that he also committed second degree murder -- or would have if Claire hadn't had superpowers.  Rape is bad.  Impaling women on spikes is pretty much worse.  But then the guy suffered very severe punishment, about as severe as you can get without dying -- and he did it to develop Claire's character. 

Agree or disagree?


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--so that's why Claire's attempted rape cocks an eyebrow.  There are other ways for her to gain strength other than, you know, getting raped or pregnant.

True.  And she's had a bunch of those, too.  You make a good point about cop shows -- I think the reason it doesn't bug me here in Heroes is because it isn't manifesting as a pattern.  It happened to Claire, she kicked the guy's ass (then her father and Haitian Guy kicked his mind), we move on.  No one else is getting raped or anything.  (Though I do have to speculate on what Eden might have gotten up to in her Bad Girl days.  I wouldn't be surprised if she raped a bunch of men.)


 
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Here's the thing, Steve.  Fathers in HEROES are often saintly, loving people.

Yeah.  Niki's and Jessica's dad, the one who molested and killed Jessica?  Saint.  Hiro's dad, who doesn't give a shit what Hiro wants as long as Hiro follows orders?  Saint.  Claire's dad, who cares so much he wipes the brains of his entire family regularly?  Saint.

Who exactly were you thinking of?  Hell, the only genuinely good father I can think of would be Simone's.  And he died after his "character moment," so let's tally him up in the other column, right?


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Even Claire's dad clearly loves her, even if he's a little evil, and DL does the best he can.  Mothers, however, are distant at best (both of Clarie's moms, Nikki), or, in the case of Angela, harridans.  Is Angela a sexist character by herself?  No.  Is she within the show proper? Yes.  Show me a good mother on the show, and I'll reconsider.

Niki was not a distant mother.  Niki worked her ass off in a degrading job just to keep Micah in a private school.  She spent all of her money on Micah and then tried to come up with more.  Virtually everything Niki has done on the show (and a lot of things Jessica has done) has been for Micah's sake.  Including trying to get herself a nice long prison sentence.  Niki hasn't exactly been a highly available mother, mostly because Jessica has a very warped sense of "taking care of Micah," and she made bad decisions, but what evidence do you put forward to suggest that she's distant (which I interpret to mean not emotionally involved)?

Likewise, Claire's adopted mom.  She took sincere interest in Claire's schooling and social life.  She baked for Claire's cheerleading fundraiser.   She kept tabs on Claire's school attendance, and yelled at Claire when (she believed) Claire was ditching.  Yeah, she was kind of a flake, but before she got brain-fried, what more do you think she should have done to be a good mother to Claire?  What attributes was she missing?  What's her motherly weakness?

And Angela?  By the time the show opens she's a mother to two grown men.  I don't think she's defined by motherhood here so much as matriarchy -- she's the Joan Collins character from Dynasty.  We have no idea what she was like when she actually had to raise these two kids, though the fact that they're still talking to her -- regularly and with fondness -- indicates that she probably didn't suck at it.

Claire's biological mom is a bad mom.  I'll give you that one for sure.  Not as bad as, say, Niki's and Jessica's dad was a bad dad, but she sure didn't put any team spirit into it. 

Do you continue to maintain that any of the other mothers are bad mothers?  I don't think there's a second bad mother in this show.


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I would argue it's the difference between being emotially invested in a character and not being emotionally invested. Or even easier, if they don't even have names, we, like the writers obviously did, can dismiss them.

So we can dismiss the Haitian guy?  Or Claire's dad in the first three or four episodes, when he was just Glasses Man?  (Actually, we still don't know his first name.  So I guess we can half-dismiss him now.)


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Well, let's see.  Out of my list of 20 female characters, we've shortened it down to 7 dead, one raped, one beaten, one pregnant (who also cheated), one needing her brother's help, one is a coma, and one emblamic of disturbing dipiction of mothers in general.

I'm not trying to say that women have it easy in this show.  I do, however, think that it's possible that you may have come the show with a bias to believe that it was sexist, and are therefore filtering the show through that perceptual filter.  (Of course you could counter that you think I came to the show with a bias to believe it isn't, and I couldn't disprove that.)

And yeah, there are some definite clichés here, both for the male and female characters.  Perhaps there are more clichés for the women.  (I really don't want to discount how much Simone's death annoyed me.)  But there's also a lot of complexity here, and the most powerful and interesting characters on the show include both men and women, and so do the victims. 

I'm not saying there's none of it, but I don't think the "women in refrigerators" complex you mention is as clear here as you claim it is.  I think it's a coed refrigerator.  You have at least enough men in there to fill up, say, the freezer.

And let's not forget, there's still a fair distance to go before the city blows up.
« Last Edit: February 23, 2007, 02:13:23 PM by SFEley »
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