Trying to align all the Don’t Ask Comics sites. Particularly the comic ones, but this too, just because I want to figure out the landscape while I’m also trying to figure out the view.
Ran into a whackadoo issue with comments not being enabled. Which, sure, maybe that’s safer. My ego is semi-solid (to your face), but the online world can be a cruel one. But especially with my posting the recent email answer from PoT, I felt like it was important to have some talkback.
But I couldn’t get comments working. I just… was defeated.
So I did what I often have had to do. I reached out to Philip Hofer over at Frumph.net. He’s the mastermind behind ComicPress (the theme I use here) and Easel (how I do the webcomics on the other sites). He’s also a totally cool, smart, and together guy who really knows where his towel is. Or something. Mostly though, he’s kind. He helps people, like, a lot. A lot of a lot. At no small sacrifice to himself I’m sure because the guy should be paid handsomely for all his knowledge and advice. And you can pay him, yes. He has a list on his site of prices for specific work. But there’s also the line that is just basically “hit me up on Messenger or by email and I’ll see what I can do.”
As a guy who loves helping people, this matters to me. As a guy who less occasionally than not needs help himself, it matters to me even more.
So I’m just taking a second, while I still am trying to figure my own shit out, to acknowledge the guy who is both indirectly and somewhat more directly responsible for there being a DontAskComics.com in the first place (other than The Levi, of course). Even if no one ever reads this, because it’s up to me to give reasons to, and we’ll see how that goes. At least I’ll know, and remember, who helped me along the way.
We give our best effort to remain family-friendly in this episode (it was a listener request, and we have so few of those, we really want to take care of the ones that put in the effort).
We also have Ryan Murphy of Galactic Gaming News join us for his expertise on video games in general (even though it seems as though I’m the only one of us that tried to play it).
And finally, as I mention in the episode, we received an email that, try as I might, I could not leave well enough alone (again, we do the show for our listeners) and I also couldn’t seem to cut down to manageable amount of words. So I’m posting it here. Enjoy the eyestrain!
As the most informed host of the show, I have to direct this question to you…
In the Kalifornia episode, you brought up the concept of violence towards women as a vehicle for a male character’s heroism. As the Game of Thrones show diverges from the book material, there have been multiple examples of the male character being driven to action as a result of violence towards a female character. This as lead to the show being criticized for lazy writing.
I’m interested to get your opinion about the idea. Are we such poor consumers of entertainment that we let lazy writing/production slide or is Kalifornia (and other media) an example of the old damsel in distress concept all hopped up on meth?
I wonder if the bad horror movies you guys watch also fall into the lazy category, or if the people involved truly believed in their idea, but the idea was awful from the beginning.
I look forward to every Tuesday to get my PoT fix. Keep up the great work guys and good luck keeping Steamy in line.
I went to my local Home Depot to see if I could purchase a ten-foot pole to poke at this question from a safe distance, but they were fresh out.
Now, this is a hard question. And while I appreciate your show of faith in me, I’m not sure that I’m the best person to answer it. Or that this, the Podcast of Terror, is the right place to approach it. Odds are, no matter what, I’m going to get some stuff wrong here, and that, frankly, scares me. So I almost just answered you in email instead of on the air. But then I remembered, this isn’t Matt’s and my show: this is your show. We do this for you guys. So it’s only fair that if you ask a question, even if I find it intimidating, I should at least try my best to answer it.
I can only come at this with my own opinions; be they right or wrong. I’m not an authority on anything. But here’s my take:
I grew up in a house with my mom and my grandmother. They were giant influences on me, obviously. So were my many aunts on both sides of my family. A lot of my best and closest friends are women, and that’s how it’s been most of my life. Smart, strong, informed, amazing women. Yeah, I had a dad and uncles and guy friends, but I’m just trying to point out that, even without talking much about it, the idea of women being treated equally and respected was just ingrained into my nature every day of my life.
This doesn’t mean that I don’t act like a stereotypical guy/asshole/idiot sometimes. I do. A lot. Often it’s just as a joke, but I’m completely aware that I’m not always as funny as I think I am. But also I can just be ignorant. Even with all the best of intentions and the incredible women in my life, I can just miss the fucking point once in a while.
As a person who writes, I see stories sometimes differently. My wife constantly brings this up when we watch movies or TV shows that I’m often ahead of what’s happening on the screen, either seeing how it’s all going to end, or picking up details and trappings that either work very well or not at all. I don’t always realize it, and I try to always let her enjoy the stuff we’re watching instead of telling her my thoughts as it’s happening. But, obviously, when I see things like what you’re mentioning, it stands out to me. Because I think we can do better.
I don’t want to spoil Game of Thrones for anyone here, so I won’t talk specifics, but I think I know what storyline in particular you’re speaking of. Let’s just say that it… reeks… of familiarity. I saw it happening, as did a lot of people, and I got more than a little bummed out by it. Putting the female character in a dangerous situation, especially someone we’d been seeing grown stronger and develop more of a sense of personal power, simply, it seemed, to allow a male character who had been torn down and very weak-willed to elevate himself by saving her. This show that has so many other incredible examples of strong and empowering female characters as examples of what it does right… That sucked.
But I don’t think that one glaring example discounts the rest of it. It was a trope, and it was disappointing, and I hope they don’t go back to it again, or that they somehow surprise us with what might happen next with those characters. It was bad, but should we discount all the good the show has given us?
Over the holiday I, like pretty much everyone else, saw the new Star Wars movie. Again, as spoiler-free as I can get, there is a moment where the two main characters meet initially. Finn, being in the situation he’s in and knowing that some heavy shit is about to go down with the First Order, spots Rey and he instinctually goes to try to save her. He then sees her basically wipe the floor with a couple guys. She can take care of herself. But he still knows it’s about to get way worse, so he tries to grab her hand to lead her to safety. She yells at him to let her hand go and he does, but a few seconds later, people are shooting and he grabs her hand again.
I loved this scene. Because she doesn’t need his help. Its obvious to her, to the audience, and even to him. But he can’t help but try. Because its his instinct to try to rescue her. And men, not all, but a lot of men are like that. Its not unreasonable to think that men have been raised to think that way. So he’s not going to instantly be able to change that about himself. And he shouldn’t, because it’s noble. And its not strictly a male trait.
When I was a boy, any time we were driving somewhere and there was a sudden stop, my mom would reach across the front seat and put her arm in front of me to protect me. I was wearing a seatbelt already, I was perfectly fine (and, as I got older, I felt annoyed by it for some stupid reason). But her instinct was to protect me. I feel that way with my wife, and I know that she does for me as well. I would pull a friend back from a dangerous situation if i saw it before they did no matter what their gender. And I think they’d do the same for me.
In Game of Thrones, there are all these guys trying to protect Daenerys, a woman who is already badass on her own and controls dragons. You could argue that she doesn’t need their help, or that she’s certainly stronger than any of them. Does having the men wanting to help her weaken her? No. Does it make them more manly? No. But it shows their character, what’s important to them, and, in some ways, their failings because they do things wrong or they betray her by trying to protect her instead of treating her as an equal (at least). These things are explored. Those are the parts where I think the show is doing really well.
Do horror movies fall into the old traps? Yes, of course. Some of them are old movies (like Kalifornia, which I don’t think would be made in the same way today). Shaun of the Dead that we reviewed last week held some of those themes. Shaun kept trying to prove he was a good boyfriend to Liz by rescuing her and her friends and his family (he was also trying to appear as a good son to his mom). And he was wrong about most of his choices. Liz was critical of him because she needed someone who was prepared to at least try to be at her level. And even when they were about to die, and he’s apologizing, that’s what she tells him; she just wanted him to care, and to try. She helped him out of his funk. So while it was maybe a bit of a guy’s movie, she was as much the reason they win out in the end as he was.
So even when its subtle like that, that’s what I look for. Some movies and shows have lazy writing, they make the dumb decisions or the dumb jokes that are expected. And that’s okay. But its really nice when it doesn’t do that, and you get something that thinks and each character has their moments and it’s not the same ol’ “put the girl in harm’s way to push the guy to look like a hero” over and over again. And one of the biggest, most classic tropes of horror movies is The Final Girl, which itself can be empowering (when used right). Now, if it’s just about putting her through the wringer and doing every sick and terrible thing to her but letting her “win” at the end, that’s not going to land high on my scale. You’re right, some people think they’ve got a great idea and then get lazy with it. But the ones that don’t, they stand out. And we try to rate them accordingly.
Either way, thank you for the kind email. I hope I managed to get at least some kind of answer in there for you.
Also, Matt says that he prefers to be called Sugar-tits from here on out.