Feminism and “The Media”

I think feminism has ruined the majority of media for me.

This past weekend we saw Blue Jasmine, the most recent Woody Allen film.

A friend recently loaned me a copy of the book, John Dies at the End, which I’ve begun reading.

And I’ve been rewatching old episodes of Frasier during the occasional lunch hour.

Ruined, all.

Blue Jasmine

Let’s start with Blue Jasmine, a film I actually enjoyed, by the way.  This isn’t a review per se, but I liked the movie quite a lot.  What disturbed me was the audience at the theater.  C and I had several laughs early in the film, but it was mostly just us laughing.  That is, until the scene where Cate Blanchett’s character is sexually assaulted by her boss who thinks nothing of the word no, enthusiastic consent, sexual harrassment, or inappropriate and unprofessional work behavior.  I don’t think this scene was meant for laughs – Cate’s character was furious and upset and there wasn’t any silly score playing in the background or victim blaming going on.  And yet, the audience was cracking up.  Biggest laugh of the movie.  WTF, people?? Are you kidding me?  Look how much this is bothering me – I used WTF.  I hate that phrase.

John Dies at the End

And then I started reading John Dies at the End by David Wong (pseudonym for someone else I can’t remember right now).  I enjoyed the prologue, it was funny, a little clever, scary, had a Whitesnake song.  A nice mix.  But within 50 pages it was so obvious this book wasn’t not only NOT going to pass the Bechdel test, it was probably what inspired the test in the first place (ok it wasn’t, but you see what I mean.)  I mean the stereotypical teenage boy humor aside (seriously, another flaccid penis joke?), the primary female character was being objectified so hard she was practically solidifying in print before my eyes.  I wasn’t a quarter of the way through the book before the narrator just started referring to her breasts and ignoring the rest of her.  Good Lord.

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And that brings us to my beloved Frasier, a show that I love.  Or used to.  Or want to.  I’m not even sure anymore.  Because seriously, Frasier is a 100% sexist prig.  He objectifies nearly every woman he tries to date.  Not a one is seen as anything other than a status symbol, a conquest, or a booty call.  I lost count of the number of times we’ve heard the joke where Frasier swears off dating for a million honest and sincere reasons, just until he finds out how beautiful the woman in question is.  Because that’s all that matters for his love life in this show – how beautiful of a women can he obtain.

Sigh.

I try to keep a general rule in mind when I consume media: it’s okay to enjoy things that normalize or show sexist behavior as long as you recognize it for what it is and counter act it’s message in other ways.  If you cut out all representations of sexism you would nearly be without media to enjoy, and missing out on some pretty awesome stuff.  But sometimes it really gets me down, man.  It really gets me down.

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