While the spin-off show from Once Upon a Time hasn’t been getting the greatest reviews, I think there’s something to be said for the feminism in the last episode I watched. Yes, it’s been awhile since it aired, but I’m just catching up now! It’s been a busy year.
Let’s back-track for the non-Once Upon a Time watchers out there. Basically, the initial show involves fairytale characters who had been thrown back into the real world because of the evil queen’s nasty spell that she cast to punish Snow White because she hates her so. The show flicks back and forth through time and fairy tale worlds, weaving together all the Disney fairy tales rather cleverly. At first I was really disappointed that the show didn’t take more from original fairy tales instead of drawing on Disney’s bastardisation of them – then I realised the show is actually made by Disney.
And they did make Mulan bisexual, so hey, let’s leave that be for now.
Once Upon a Time in Wonderland was a sort-of spin-off. I say sort-of because we haven’t actually seen any characters from the original show here, not even any cameos or mentions of them (apart from a brief mention of the Mad Hatter, who appears in a few Once Upon a Time episodes). However, it uses the same sort of cannon – Alice has been to Wonderland, one of the many fairy realms. In fact, she’s been there twice, since the second time she wanted to come back with proof. Instead, she fell in love with a genie called Cyrus, who was being hunted by the Queen of Hearts and Jafar (yep, Aladdin’s Jafar from Agraba).
When Cyrus was captured, Alice returned to the real world without proof and was thrown into a mental institution. Where, of course, the white rabbit and the Knave of Hearts come and rescue her…back to Wonderland to rescue Cyrus.
There in itself, I’m pretty pleased. Yes, she’s a damsel that has had to be rescued, but she takes charge of the situation and flips it around to start a rescue mission of her own.
I’ll admit, the first few episodes didn’t really have me hooked – but I just watched the fourth episode (yes, I know I’m behind) and I’ve been mulling over the female characters here and I’m actually rather pleased.
It might become a bit more of a hefty article if I wrote EVERYTHING that I liked about the feminism in this show, so let me just explain what I think are the two most awesome bits, then you can comment if you agree/disagree/have a point to make about any of them:
Firstly, we have both a female and male villain – and, funnily enough, it is the male villain that is much more one-dimensional than the female villain. She’s not simply a woman scorned, she’s a woman who has done the scorning, and she shows frequent lapses in her evil-ness. The female villains in both this show AND the original show exhibit a much more multifaceted nature than most original Disney female villains. And a lot more motivation that simply, “I’m jealous of the prettier girl who’s going to end up killing me.” Jafar, on the other hand, is led by simple greed and revenge – which is still poor, but from the feminist lens, a refreshing take on the male villain.
Secondly, Alice is always saving men. She’s constantly saving the Knave of Hearts from sticky situations and is the clear leader of the pack. It’s her ‘quest’ and she leads the Knave around with strength and determination. She has every bit of the strength of the alpha male, without truly losing her femininity. She’s delivers a punch to the Queen of Hearts, and she hits like a girl, which is damn freaking hard!
I’m also really liking how they talk about whether Alice has become a woman or is still the little girl she used to be when she first visited Wonderland. That’s pretty awesome because they keep the vernacular feminine, while exhibiting that a woman can become tough and strong as she grows – without having to “grow balls” or “be a man” as the catch-phrases often go these days.
I’m impressed with the feminism in the show, and it’s one of the reasons I’m going to keep watching – because the visuals are definitely nothing to rave about and the story isn’t really grabbing me yet. Though genie Cyrus eye-candy is another reason to keep watching…
What do you think? Feminism in Once Upon a Time in Wonderland good or bad?
Please do not read if you want the surprises in Sherlock’s ‘The Empty Hearse’ to be fresh and new to you.
I’ve dragged myself away from my frantic tumblr-ing to write at length about the latest from the BBC’s Sherlock. Still reeling from farewelling my favourite Doctor a week ago, I was very anxious for the premiere of a series two years in the making. The dialogue and story were solid and seeing the cast back in the game felt like a reunion with dear friends.
The third season’s long-awaited premiere, ‘The Empty Hearse’, sees our star detective return to London and reunite with the friends who thought him dead years after he apparently jumped off a city roof.
The dramatic act, having been confirmed as a faked death in the same episode, was just one of a number of major drawing points for fans eager for the program’s return. Season three arrived with the promised introduction of Dr. Watson’s fiancé, Mary Morstan.
The story of the episode did not disappoint. Two thrilling scenes involving a Guy Fawkes bonfire and a bomb in the underground train network (respectively) were thrilling to watch. Despite having the reassuring knowledge that this was only the first episode of a confirmed three-episode series, I still found myself sitting at the edge of my seat hoping that the tense situation wouldn’t spell the end for the recently reunited pair.
The cinematics were at their usual excellent standard, with some of the best scene changing I’ve ever seen occurring while Sherlock tells Mrs. Hudson just how displeased John is with his two-year deception. Scene changes between this conversation and clips of John’s ‘average day’ working as a G.P. are expertly put together to deliver laughs which just kept coming.
Many of these jokes tapped dangerously against the fourth wall. The brilliant opening sequence was, at least in this house, met with a spectacular mixture of horrified screams, delirious laughter and mute, mouth-gaping shock. I doubt I need to say anything beyond the loftiest of congratulations to Gatiss for creating such a ridiculous ‘explanation’ of Sherlock’s fall.
That said, if they continue to deepen my trust issues by feeding us fake stories about Sherlock’s miraculous survival, I might just have a nervous breakdown.
The pleasure I took from the episode is matched, however, by the disappointment and resentment I have for Sherlock’s co-creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss.
The overall feeling I’m taking away from ‘The Empty Hearse’ is irritation.
The episode itself was nearly faultless. In the end, I decided that it was the creators’ interaction with the fandom which soured what was otherwise an enjoyable experience.
Sherlockians have reacted with delight to the content in ‘The Empty Hearse’ which appears to have been inspired (or very coincidentally reflective) of fan headcanons. This phenomenon by itself, I think, can’t purely be a bad thing! I am stubbornly optimistic – with good reason (see Brian Fuller and Joss Whedon)! There are plenty of writers, producers and other crew working to create stories and characters because they share a common interests and passions with their audience.
Moffat and Gatiss have obviously enjoyed having a laugh with this episode and that alone is something I won’t begrudge any writer. But at more than one point during the show, I found myself wondering if they were laughing with us or if it was more a laugh at the fandom’s expense.
In this day and age, where fans can interact collectively with each other and the producers of their favourite shows with greater ease, the origin of the entertainment we consume is something I think we should be choosy about, or at the very least, be aware of.
Fans might have noticed the subtle absence of Sgt. Sally Donovan; the only female character who isn’t either a motherly figure, or a romantic interest (or wishing to be) of either John or Sherlock.
It is perfectly reasonable to conclude that Donovan was merely irrelevant to the story. But it was a shame that she did not appear even in a non-speaking role; as a background character with the police, for instance; or alongside Lestrade listening to Anderson’s elaborate theories of Sherlock’s survival.
If Anderson was driven to obsession and near-insanity because of his involvement in antagonising Sherlock’s image in the first two seasons, one wonders what effect Sherlock’s apparent suicide had on Donovan; the Sergeant who was suspicious of Sherlock from Day One, and who was the primary character to bring police investigation onto him. It seems pretty doubtful that she wouldn’t have felt a little remorse over how events played out. And if she didn’t, I’d still like to know.
I wouldn’t go so far as to argue that Donovan’s M.I.A. status is a crucial flaw in the episode, nor would I argue that it is the decisive feature which proves or establishes sexist writing in Sherlock.
Thankfully, Molly Hooper and even the motherly Mrs. Hudson have strengths to their characters that aren’t wholly overridden by any determination to relegate them to ‘helpless female’ tropes. Likewise, John’s fiancé Mary Morstan had a promising start, proving herself smart (decoding a cryptic ransom text message, enlisting Sherlock’s help), witty (“I agree. I am the best thing that’s happened to you”) and charming to fans worldwide.
However, if Donovan’s exclusion was purely due to her irrelevance to the larger plot, we should ask why Moffat and Gatiss included the things that did make it to the final cut: Why it was necessary to represent Sherlock fans (in particular, female Sherlock fans) in the way which was chosen.
On one hand, I had a giggle at what I was sure was Moffat’s voice coming through John’s mouth when he insisted to Mrs. Hudson, “Sherlock wasn’t my boyfriend!” and later on I laughed for a solid minute after my joking suggestion for Sherlock and Moriarty to kiss was suddenly obeyed.
After a while I found it patronizing more than entertaining: particularly having seen the respect with which Hannibal fans are treated by producer Bryan Fuller. Fuller, in an interview late last year for ET Online, describes an audience demographic similar to that of Sherlock‘s;
“A significant portion was young, smart, well-read women; they really responded to this show and I typically relate to young, bright ladies [laughs]. It was nice to see how enthusiastic and passionate they were.”
Fuller, of course, is well aware of the slash-fic which the ‘Fannibal’ community enjoys.
But unlike Moffat, he doesn’t make the fandom the butt of jokes (in the tv show or outside of it in interviews). He doesn’t condescend to his audience by pigeon-holing them into a caricature of what he thinks fans are like. Fuller treats the fandom as his intellectual equals;
“I feel like we’re peers and there is a mutual respect and that everybody is coming from a place of admiration [for the show].”
Dr. Lecter makes plenty of jokes which the audience can appreciate, being well aware of his dietary preferences; but Hannibal isn’t rife with declarations of “I’m not gay!” and outlandish daydream sequences serving as thinly-veiled jokes about the focus of the fandom.
Perhaps that’s because Hannibal is yet to reach its third season and, with it, the level of self-awareness enjoyed by Sherlock, nor the level of hiatus-induced madness afflicting its fandom. However, I doubt running time is the only differentiating factor between Fuller’s respect for Fannibals and Moffat’s general contempt for Sherlockians and (mostly female) Whovians. The track record for the latter, sadly, does him no favours.
Fuller should not be the exception in the plenty of opportunities which producers and writers have to give back to their audience.
There are plenty of ways to share a joke with your fandom which don’t involve belittling your fanbase.
There are plenty of ways to engage with your fandom which don’t involve ridiculous dream sequences bringing fanfiction to life. While this can be fun, the enjoyment is spoiled if your fans have to pause to wonder “is that all you think I watch this for?”
As a part of the Sherlock fandom, I personally know other fans (mostly young women my age) and I interact with even more fans online, internationally. I enjoy the jokes we share and the ships we envision – no matter how unrealistic.
But having been part of this fandom since 2011, I also know that there’s so much more to Sherlockians than our slash fics.
I’ve seen the most beautiful artwork. I’ve seen the deep thought which goes into forums analysing episodes as they come out. I’ve seen wonderfully detailed costumes worn by cosplayers who strive to bring the characters to life. I’ve seen countless fanvideos combining Sherlock with Doctor Who and Supernatural in clever, funny and heart-wrenching ways.
So when I think about the possibility that Moffat and Gatiss haven’t seen or don’t believe that this fandom is as creative, talented and smart as it is quirky and silly, it makes me sad!
A part of me wonders; is this honestly all Moffat and Gatiss think interests us? If so, is it necessarily a big deal? Is it even a problem if the show’s creators think we’re just a bunch of crazy shipping fangirls, so long as they provide us with the quality plot we thrive on?
There is nothing inherently harmful about having a good-natured chuckle at self-identified geeks. However, stereotypes are lazy at best and patronizing at their worst. Moffat risks alienating the very fans who support his work.
The Sherlock fandom probably seems strange to the outside eye: Our tendency to ship couples who canonically share nothing in common, or our social awkwardness, or our ‘oddball’ appearances or personalities. But I have come to expect better from Moffat, who (despite his faults) is a very clever and creative storyteller. At the very least, it’s incorrect to assume every Sherlock fan ticks all of those boxes.
While I have my reservations about how Moffat and Gatiss seem to treat the Sherlock fandom, I remain optimistic that this creator-to-consumer dialogue has been embraced in Sherlock like the way it has been in Doctor Who and Hannibal.
After being so excited for season three, watching ‘The Empty Hearse’, screaming my little heart out before eventually processing what happened, I have finally been able to look at it with a more critical gaze. I still enjoyed it and I don’t regret laughing at the lingering lovers’ gaze shared between Moriarty and Sherlock. I’m very glad knowing London is in capable hands – and while my love-hate relationship with Steven Moffat continues to be tested, there’s nothing that can stop me being ready with my tea and laptop for episode two.
I was watching Heroes of Cosplay, giving it a try, when an interesting issue was brought up. The issue of what matters in cosplay. I believe it was the second episode when they were discussing the idea of weight and most of the cast of that episode were saying that if a guy was three hundred pounds, he probably shouldn’t cosplay as Superman. To be fair I think they were talking about it in terms of competition, but it really hit a chord with me.
I understand that when cosplaying you want to be as similar to the character as possible and that in competitions likeness is very important. But what about craftsmanship? Or stage presence/the skit performace? Or the spirit of cosplay? I mean it is very rare that a person’s body would match up with everything he or she wants to cosplay. I am going from Blondie in Suckerpunch (who has a bit of a chest) to Enma Ai (a pre-pubescent girl). The characters are worlds apart in body type, but having neither of their body types has never stopped me. I think even from a competition perspective if a person has a better costume and better stage presence that they should rank over some person with a closer body type.
I won’t deny that having the body type of your characters would help sell your cosplay a whole lot more but that should be the bonus rather than what is really essential. I mean most character body types are impossible to achieve without surgery or at the least a ridiculously strict diet and gym regime anyway.
Cosplay is all about being the character you love and having fun. If you enter into competition then there is an added level of professionalism that needs to be in the costumes but that shouldn’t eclipse the having fun part or the love of a character.
Of course there will always be douche-muffins who will say horrible things about a person’s body, but they have no lives, and you should never try to let that get to you!
However, I also have to say that if you are easily hurt by what people say, or feel self-conscious in a cosplay – maybe rethink it. You having a good time is all about being comfy, so if you want to push your boundaries, might I suggest baby steps?
So in summary: do things that will make you happy~! At the end of the day you will feel a lot better for it ^-^
Recently we learned that the as-yet-unnamed sequel to ‘Man of Steel’ will add another famous face to its lineup of heroes. Laying the foundations for a Justice League answer to the success of Marvel’s ‘Avengers’ film, Warner Brothers have confirmed that Wonder Woman will appear in the 2015 production starring Batman (Ben Affleck) and Superman (Henry Cavill).
Arguably DC’s most iconic and popular heroine, Wonder Woman – a.k.a. Diana Prince – has been a long-time fan favourite; her image recognised and replicated far beyond the comics. It’s been a long time coming, but the Amazonian princess is finally set to debut in her first feature-length, live action film.*
So why are her fans so furious?
While we’ve long awaited her debut on the big screen, we’re less-than-thrilled to learn that she will be second fiddle in someone else’s movie (why are we seeing what feels like the tenth Batman movie before we see Wonder Woman in her first solo?) and the casting of her character.
Here are the two things incredibly wrong about all this:
#1. The ‘sidekick’ status. Wonder Woman is a supporting cast member instead of the leading lady. She has been relegated to the sidelines and, while visibility of women in media is an excellent mark of progress, there are some things only the titular character can enjoy.
Diana has a rich and exciting story which should be explored fully. This is something which would be difficult to include in a story focusing on one other superhero, let alone two. Supporting characters simply do not experience the full development and personal transformation like that of the primary protagonist.
I’ve seen enough movies to know the formula Hollywood works by. Here’s how her scenes will go:
She’ll appear, probably dramatically, just in time to save the day in a skirmish early on in the film. We’ll have a short introduction to her history when the chaos blows over – just enough to produce a general idea of her origins – before we return to the main arc of conflict surrounding Batman and Superman. She’ll have some butt-kicking moments (perhaps even a scene where the enemy is so shocked that a woman has bested him in combat! Gasp!) but ultimately Clark and Bruce will have the final hurrah. Roll credits.
The sad truth is, as long as Wonder Woman is merely a back-up to the big boys, she’ll never be their fully-fledged equal.
How much of Wonder Woman’s part has been scripted solely for the sake of having a female superhero? Will the director celebrate her strength as a woman, or will her scenes be more reminiscient of the fanservice Gadot provided us in The Fast and the Furious? It certainly makes you wonder when the film’s casting agents asked specifically for “exotic”-looking actresses for the role. Tokenism and the fetishization of women of colour are very harmful forces which the film industry has only recently begun to address. It would be a shame to take a backwards step.
Let’s check out the second point of contention:
#2. Gadot’s ‘model material’ body. Diana’s muscular frame are more than just for show, they are part of her intrinsic character; strong, proud and powerful – a legendary Amazonian warrior endowed with godly powers. Her presence is meant to be commanding.
The problems of a very thin Wonder Woman on her own are doubled when we then think about her alongside other heroes. Instead of standing tall and strong like the titular heroes Batman and Superman, this Wonder Woman will quite literally be half their size (even whilst teetering in what will likely be high heels).
Such a difference in frame shrinks her physical prowress and presence in comparison to her male peers, reinforcing the idea that women are the ‘lesser’ heroes in capability and in appearance.
Intentional or not, Warner Bros. has made a major statement in their decision to cast an actress with such a thin figure. If Wonder Woman can’t appear onscreen played by someone bigger than size zero, who can?
It seems that her inclusion is an attempt to toss as many recogniseable characters as possible into the movie in hopes of recreating the success of Marvel’s Avengers. This incarnation of Wonder Woman seems to be making an appearance merely to appease viewers calling for female superheroes to be given their due. Warner Bros. will tell us that this is something we should be happy with; isn’t it nice, how she helped the main characters succeed? Shouldn’t we be satisfied that Wonder Woman helps the boys save the day?
But this is not what we have been asking for. This is not good enough. This is second-best and Warner Bros. knows it.
Wonder Woman’s name isn’t included in the title. She’s yet to appear on posters or official promotional material. She will be half their size and will receive half their screen time.
Wonder Woman is not “starring alongside” Batman and Superman. This is their movie and it will be their story; their journey, their obstacles to overcome and ultimately, their triumph.
So until she is given what she deserves – a film of her own – Wonder Woman fans will just have to raise our voices a little louder!
Disclaimer: GayGeek is pleased that Gadot is expanding her career horizons and wishes her all the best. The only regret felt here is at Warner Brothers’ treatment of Wonder Woman the character and their obstinate refusal to give female DC heroines the same chance as their male peers to star onscreen.
*Preceded only by a Lego toy in her image in the upcoming LEGO movie (which ALSO has Batman set to play a more central role).
It’s a wonderful feeling when you enter your small hometown cinema and find yourself surrounded with fan t-shirts, fezes and at least twenty ‘Doctors’ in costume. The audible undercurrent to the excited chattering around you is the unmistakeable whir of multiple sonic screwdrivers.
Such was the sight I was greeted with last Sunday, joining friends and strangers to see the highly-anticipated Doctor Who 50th anniversary special; ‘Day of the Doctor.’
What a day, indeed! Whovians nationwide made themselves known and were treated to cinema-style viewings of this very special episode of the popular British TV show.
Doctor Who is one of the longest-running productions on television and among the most successful and recogniseable sci-fi franchises. It follows the titular character, the Doctor, a Timelord who explores the many facets of the universe alongside various companions – who are human friends who share in the adventures and travels. The Doctor’s chosen method of transport is the iconic TARDIS – the famous blue police box which can navigate both time and space (it actually stands for Time and Relative Dimension in Space).
Fans lucky enough to score a cinema ticket were truly spoiled! Prior to the start of the episode we witnessed two preview shorts involving Smith and Tennant, the latest two Doctors; and Strax, a battle-crazed alien who has featured prominently in Smith’s time.
Strax, a Commander in the alien Sontaran race which glorifies bloody war and battle, took great pleasure in restraining and imprisoning misbehaving moviegoers. The feisty Commander took great relish in punishing those who brought out their mobile phones during the movie, among other minor misdemeanours – and the “tiny screams” of his popcorn victims.
Tennant and Smith teamed up to play a game with cinema audiences which had us laughing in no time. After recovering from the excited squeals that went up at Tennant’s appearance, the Doctors had the audience test the function of our 3D glasses with a clever trick. While this process led us into deep suspicion about the possibly alien nature of the person next to us, the cute skit put everyone in a cheery mood before the special feature.
An undeniable highlight to the 50th came in the form of Tom Baker. Whiter and more wrinkled – but every bit the same kooky and fun Doctor we remember – Baker’s time onscreen was nothing short of magical.
Every previous regeneration appeared to save the day in what was a very moving climax; an endearing tribute to longstanding fans. But the heartwarming scene between Baker and the face of the current Doctor, Matt Smith, left fans positively beaming.
Baker, who played the role of the Doctor’s fourth regeneration from 1974 to 1981, remains a fan favourite to this day.
The 50th was feature-length and full of thrills, with an ending revelation which casts a new light on a very significant part of the Doctor’s past – and future.
Without revealing too much for those still yet to see it, we can say with assurity that Peter Capaldi’s eyebrows were the real stars of the show, earning themselves a fan following after their three seconds onscreen.
It was heartening to learn that, in my rural Victorian hometown of a-thousand-or-so, I am not alone in my fandom.
My only wish now is that the good Doctor will continue to develop and flourish; that more people can share in the Doctor’s adventures. And that, eventually, Whovians everywhere can come together again for the 60th, 75th… and maybe even the 100th anniversery special!
For those of you who haven’t heard, National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo as we affectionately know it) is happening right now. The challenge is to write a 50,000 word novel by the end of the month. It is a difficult challenge and one that has been occupying my time a lot as of late.
“The world needs your novel” is what the official website tells you. I’m sure that it’s true. The goal of this challenge is to promote reading and writing and above all to help participants discover the novelist inside. If you have an idea that you’ve been planning to get out, use this challenge as a way of pressuring yourself to do so. It’s been working for me so far.
I know that we’re already halfway through the month of November but don’t let that discourage you! I’ve been contending with my exam for this novel and many other people are too. Even more encouraging is the news I heard recently of a woman who was too impatient to wait for November. Catherynne M. Valente challenged herself to write her first novel in 10 days! This could be something you decide to take on yourself and race to finish in time for November 30th.
NaNoWriMo may show you a determined, thoughtful and creative side of yourself that you might never have thought was there. Despite the very short time still left in the competition, I would sincerely urge everyone to have a crack at it anyway. It doesn’t matter if you think you suck. If you write something that ends up being Eye of Argon levels of terrible, just remember this advice from Jake:
Failure is just a step forward on the road to success. You are writer. Hear you ROAR!!!
Find out more and register at nanowrimo.org. Registering allows you to reap rewards for your efforts as winners of the challenge will receive prizes! Don’t forget to support the great folks who run this event by donating too.