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December 2014

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criminal minds garcia plan b

this will be the writer's year, man.

So last night, I lay awake in bed for hours, feeling a bit brutalized because of a very funny, very apt, very smart deconstruction of The Phantom Menace that had a lot of smart clever things to say about constructing a narrative.

It was also, not incidentally, misogynist.

In small ways, and in great. Mentioning that a character complains like a girl. Calling C-3p0 "effeminate" as if that were a bad thing. Illustrating and adding violence against women as a running gag.

You know what?

I do not actually think those jokes were intended to hurt me. I think they were intended to be funny.

And yet, they left me feeling like a bad person. They left me lying awake at night, wondering why people hated me because I happen to be female.

And I realized, they don't. The people who make these jokes do not realize that they make me feel bad, or wrong, or toxic simply for having been born female, or queer. They don't actually mean to make black or Asian or Latino or Middle Eastern people feel less human. They are just... made a little uncomfortable by difference.

And so they alienate it.

And they don't realize that they are alienating me. A human being. Somebody who will lie awake at night wondering why they hate her.

Tonight, I am watching the Oscars.

I have watched Seth MacFarlane make jokes about women and blacks as if we are not people with hearts.

I have watched Ang Lee and Samuel Jackson and Halle Berry and Shirley Bassey and Salma Hayek and a dozen others be beautiful and gracious, and I have to think--

--as Ang Lee said--

NAMASTE.

Peace.

Peace.

I still want to punch Seth MacFarlane in the face. A song about Meryl Streep's boobs? Really Seth? Where's the song about Ewan McGregor's dick?

Namaste.

I know you do not mean to hurt me. I know you do not mean to make me feel less than human.

But sometimes you do.

Oh, you do.

And you, Seth, are not the first one.

Comments

... Isn't Bruce Vilanch still head writer for the Oscars? o_O

I haven't been watching. I keep thinking of Coldheart Canyon, and wish I hadn't gotten rid of my copy so I could open it to the relevant pages about the Oscars... "the Night of Nights, the Show of Shows... the circus..." (Beginning of Chapter One of Part Four)

I didn't even change channels to take a look this year (if I had any horses in this race, it's not like they'd win anyway). I figure next year around this time I might have me a Terry Gilliam marathon.

As I've gotten older, I wonder whether Threepio was meant to be an ethnic caricature. He's fussy and subservient and British-sounding, yes, but at some point I had the notion he was a caricature (intentional or not, and no idea if it's the writing or the performance or both) of an Indian, not, I dunno, someone English and/or gay?
I'm not really into Star Wars, you've now made me wonder whether Threepio was a caricatured allegory about stereotypes and the connection/lack of connection between "gender-appropriate behaviour" and sexual preference.

Some of "his" characteristics could be labelled effeminate - but then "he" isn't a male.

Threepio is very like a parody of the character-type that the British used to label "A bit of an old maid" - but he's not an aging spinster or "confirmed batchelor" either. He's an It.

Do the films ever show other robots of that type? I'm wondering if they are all the same - and whether the films ever show the designer?
Do the films ever show other robots of that type? I'm wondering if they are all the same - and whether the films ever show the designer?

The sequel novels shows other protocol droids, and I seem to recall most of them showed some sort of 'fussiness'. IIRC, at least one was stated as being in-universe based on C3PO (as it was a translator droid for Chewie's nephew until his non-Wookiee friends learned to understand Wookiee), so that complicates matters. Especially as the series was a deliberate 'Star Wars: The Next Generation' (in addition to Chewie's nephew, it also featured Han and Leia's twin kids), so giving C3PO a 'child' in a sense could have been a deliberate choice of the writer.

The Phantom Menace has that a 9-year-old Anakin Skywalker assembled C-3PO out of spare parts so his mother could have help dealing with the aliens that frequented Tatoonie on business. Whether he wrote the programming, or just scavenged that as well, isn't specified. Presumably since other protocol droids exist, the programs are around, or hard-coded into whatever processors are used -- Anakin then wouldn't be a designer as much as modifying existing (non-functional) droids to get one that worked.
Just to jump in, my mother saw an interview with the actor who played C-3PO who said he didn't find out until later that Lucas hated the actor's take on the character. Lucas had based C3PO on a used car salesman, which makes a lot of sense when you pay attention to the dialog (talking all the time, insinuating himself into the conversation, etc.). The actor, being British, took more of a neurotic butler approach, which I frankly think makes more sense for the character's role in the story. I've never bothered to track down the interview for myself, but thought I would offer it as a possible additional data point.
"bit of an old maid" makes an odd kind of sense... I just remember thinking at some point "Threepio Sounds kind of Indian" because at one point he said "Goodness gracious me!" (which I seem to remember as the title of a British sketch comedy written and performed by British Indian comedians. Of course that came along a while after Star Wars, so...)

Other protocol droids besides Threepio have appeared in the films, but only two have ever spoken: there was the one on Bespin who says a (Huttese, I think) rude word to Threepio, and a female-voiced one in The Phantom Menace...
Pushing the comedic history of that phrase back a little way -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P3A7B6qtUpU
Ah.

So... intentionally or no, Anthony Daniels might have been channeling Peter Sellers. :)
C3PO and R2D2 were designed to be analogous to Laurel and Hardy, at least initially. (so the material I have from then says anyway. Lucas hasn't retconned it out of existence yet) *shrug*

I spent most of the Oscars simply cringing and wondering who this fool was and who thought being crass and insulting was the way to enhance the event.

Edited at 2013-02-25 02:31 pm (UTC)