Feminism/Sexism and Gaming/Geek/Popular culture Catch All

SpacePPoliceman wrote:
jdzappa wrote:

My takeaway was that it was meant to make McFarlane look like an immature ass rather than as an attempt to slut shame or make actresses feel inferior.

People have said that, others have said the same joke could have lasted 10 seconds and had him citing fewer films where the boobs appear in scenes where the character is being or has been raped.

Either way, McFarlane's best joke is how little I've ever laughed at his jokes. It's hilarious.

I do like the idea of McFarlane as an ironically horrible comedian, words carefully crafted for minimum humor content. One of these days he's going to break character and actually say something funny.

SpacePPoliceman wrote:
jdzappa wrote:

My takeaway was that it was meant to make McFarlane look like an immature ass rather than as an attempt to slut shame or make actresses feel inferior.

People have said that, others have said the same joke could have lasted 10 seconds and had him citing fewer films where the boobs appear in scenes where the character is being or has been raped.

To me it wasn't a taste problem. It was a comedy problem. Like above, 10 seconds of that song would have gotten the point across and maybe been funny. 10 seconds of any of the "please don't do this" bits would have mad them funnier and more on the nose. That kind of meta-humor about the host (isn't this show about movies?) should have been 3 minutes tops. Instead it was a solid block of 20 minutes. It was bad comedy and reminded me why I don't watch Family Guy.

It's possible for bad comedy and good comedy to be un-PC as long as we understand what the actually joke is. In the case of "we saw your boobs" the joke was supposed to be about how sensitive people are to the host and how insensitive he is. What it actually ended up being about is a dumb, insensitive host.

I'm confused... aren't there writers for all of the skits and montages for the Oscars? I was listening to NPR last week and they were interviewing one of the guys who actually writes on the fly behind the stage to prep new jokes based upon what's happened in the last few minutes, etc... but they're also responsible for writing a large part of the Oscars before hand as well. Can we in fact attribute these ideas to McFarlane as HIS jokes and not some insensitive writer instead?

Demosthenes wrote:

I'm confused... aren't there writers for all of the skits and montages for the Oscars? I was listening to NPR last week and they were interviewing one of the guys who actually writes on the fly behind the stage to prep new jokes based upon what's happened in the last few minutes, etc... but they're also responsible for writing a large part of the Oscars before hand as well. Can we in fact attribute these ideas to McFarlane as HIS jokes and not some insensitive writer instead?

Generally speaking, the stuff pre-written well in advance in usually done with the talent's approval at some stage. In some situations, they sit with the writers and work it out, in other (far douchier) situations, the talent will take a pile of material and accept or reject some, steering the writers in the "right" direction. The on-call team writing jokes backstage or behind a computer somewhere are almost always vetted by the talent and production company and/or someone who has worked with the talent and knows exactly the type of material they want to use. Or the comedian just tosses out the last minute suggestions and uses their own.

So, sure, there are faceless writers back there that can be lumped into the blame, but probably something like 10% of it.

Demosthenes wrote:

Can we in fact attribute these ideas to McFarlane as HIS jokes and not some insensitive writer instead?

If the words come out of your mouth, you own them. I'd say it reflects on him even worse if he was simply too lazy to reject bad material.

gore wrote:

If the words come out of your mouth, you own them.

Maybe, but he's getting paid to read the teleprompter. There was one specific moment during the Oscars where he flat out says "Oh, I guess we kept that joke. Seriously?" Which I guess may have been staged, if I stop and think about it. But I think Demosthenes makes a decent point--it wasn't just McFarlane coming up with that material on his own.

CptDomano wrote:
gore wrote:

If the words come out of your mouth, you own them.

Maybe, but he's getting paid to read the teleprompter. There was one specific moment during the Oscars where he flat out says "Oh, I guess we kept that joke. Seriously?" Which I guess may have been staged, if I stop and think about it. But I think Demosthenes makes a decent point--it wasn't just McFarlane coming up with that material on his own.

I'm just confused because this is being attributed solely to him with no source that he wrote it (though I will say it does come across as something I would see Peter Griffin singing on Family Guy), and I guess I viewed that song VERY differently. I saw it more as a jab against how Hollywood uses its attractive female stars and their "black bar" areas to sell movies, not really even a critique of the actresses at all, but of the industry's usage of sex to sell movies.

I like this discussion, but I think it may be better to have it in its own thread in case other people are not following this one, so I started one.

gore wrote:
Demosthenes wrote:

Can we in fact attribute these ideas to McFarlane as HIS jokes and not some insensitive writer instead?

If the words come out of your mouth, you own them. I'd say it reflects on him even worse if he was simply too lazy to reject bad material.

When a scene in a movie is offensive, don't we usually blame the writer/director more than the actor?

SixteenBlue wrote:

When a scene in a movie is offensive, don't we usually blame the writer/director more than the actor?

They are all culpable to some degree.

Demyx wrote:
SixteenBlue wrote:

When a scene in a movie is offensive, don't we usually blame the writer/director more than the actor?

They are all culpable to some degree.

I guess we do pan actors for appearing in those awfully written movies too, the best you can hope for is "this person's talent wasn't enough to fix the script".

I'm not saying he's blameless, but it does seem like our discussion was focusing solely on McFarlane.

Demosthenes wrote:

I guess we do pan actors for appearing in those awfully written movies too, the best you can hope for is "this person's talent wasn't enough to fix the script".

It's less of a talent thing, and more of a "you agreed to work in this movie that contains this offensive content" thing.

Demyx wrote:
Demosthenes wrote:

I guess we do pan actors for appearing in those awfully written movies too, the best you can hope for is "this person's talent wasn't enough to fix the script".

It's less of a talent thing, and more of a "you agreed to work in this movie that contains this offensive content" thing.

Sometimes things change after you've signed your contract, but I get your point. And I don't disagree, I've just never seen the person speaking the words held solely accountable like that before.

SixteenBlue wrote:

Sometimes things change after you've signed your contract, but I get your point. And I don't disagree, I've just never seen the person speaking the words held solely accountable like that before.

Well sure, if there was no reason to think the job might involve an offensive joke or scene before signing the contract, and that changed afterwards, then the actor has less responsibility for the situation, maybe none. I would be surprised if this situation with McFarlane was anything like that though.

Demyx wrote:
SixteenBlue wrote:

Sometimes things change after you've signed your contract, but I get your point. And I don't disagree, I've just never seen the person speaking the words held solely accountable like that before.

Well sure, if there was no reason to think the job might involve an offensive joke or scene before signing the contract, and that changed afterwards, then the actor has less responsibility for the situation, maybe none. I would be surprised if this situation with McFarlane was anything like that though.

Absolutely, I'm essentially derailing at this point.

I would conclude this with, regardless of if it was funny or not, the Academy clearly got what it wanted (bump in overall view, 20-ish percent increase in viewers under the age of 35) by their choices of host and writers; and Seth McFarlane and the writers can probably take credit for that as basically doing a bunch of jokes that were not really all that different from an episode of Family Guy based upon what I've seen of it.

SixteenBlue wrote:
gore wrote:
Demosthenes wrote:

Can we in fact attribute these ideas to McFarlane as HIS jokes and not some insensitive writer instead?

If the words come out of your mouth, you own them. I'd say it reflects on him even worse if he was simply too lazy to reject bad material.

When a scene in a movie is offensive, don't we usually blame the writer/director more than the actor?

Actors assume the role of other characters, and seldom write their own material. Although actors should certainly take some responsibility for accepting bad roles, nobody would assume that what an actor says in a film is in any way indicative of the actor's own beliefs.

This is very different from comedians, who play themselves. Although the stage persona of a comedian can be crafted in part by his writing team, he takes ownership of that material by opting to use it or not.

Furthermore, as far as determining, for lack of a better word "culpability," I recognize a McFarlane joke attempt when its self-proclaimed edginess face plants at my feet and farts.

To switch gears for a second, Feminist Frequency has the first video in her series up: Damsels in Distress.

And in news of the "Why am I not surprised", the trolls that had the bullsh*t Tropes vs. Men counter-kickstarter, well they took the money and ran.

I thought it was a great start, and more "seeker-sensitive" than a lot of material of this sort. Nicely done all around.

Also, could not believe that sax music was in-game. And the montage of "help me" women and that god-awful Ocarina commercial..... just douche chills.

Ninja edits.

Heck yeah! I've been waiting on these, glad to see the first one finally arrive. Will watch when I get home from work in half and hour or so.

Amoebic wrote:

Ninja edits.

Yyyyep. Thought better of half of that post as soon as I wrote it.

I haven't watched the new Tropes vs. Women video yet, but on another Geeky Feminism-related note, I have been surprisingly pleased with Android: Netrunner.

Tabletop games are often about as bad as video games when it comes to either not including women or only including ridiculously proportioned/dressed women (looking at you, Small World). While Netrunner does include women in sexy poses, it also includes cool female hackers that you can be: Example.

I was reminded of this because the latest expansion announced not only has another female hacker, it also reveals that the head of one of the evil corporations is a tough-looking lady (and the abilities on her cards are awesome too). I love this sort of character.

Cyberpunk settings seem to usually include women just to give the geeky hacker a romance, so kudos for creating female characters that women might actually want to be.

Demyx wrote:

I haven't watched the new Tropes vs. Women video yet, but on another Geeky Feminism-related note, I have been surprisingly pleased with Android: Netrunner.

Tabletop games are often about as bad as video games when it comes to either not including women or only including ridiculously proportioned/dressed women (looking at you, Small World). While Netrunner does include women in sexy poses, it also includes cool female hackers that you can be: Example.

I still have 'Nam-like flashbacks about the lines and fighting over this game at GenCon last year.

On a mildly related note, this reminds me of something I always think about asking but forget when I'm actually on the site: Do you think the Pathfinder example character art falls into an acceptable range of "heroic, fantastic, but not overly Vlajeo-fied" fantasy art? I usually point to it when people say "well what do you think is an ok balance between 'practical' and 'fantasy' looking armor/characters?"

edit: General question, not necessarily to you specifically.

Like the previous video about Legos, I wanted to mull over this as I watched it. Thankfully, all I'm doing this morning is opening the office and printing materials for classes this weekend, so I had time.

- Yes, that sax music is horrible. The example of Starfox Adventures (which I had no idea was a reskinned game like SM2) is a pretty damning and perfect example of the problem. This game could have still been redone as something in the Star Fox line by including other SF characters and retaining Crystal as the protagonist. Making a game more marketable through branding is one thing. The lengths they went to in gutting and redo'ing this game shows a complete dismissal of the idea that a female protagonist could sell, at best. At worst, it was an active attempt to get the girl back "where she belongs".

- Super Mario 2 gets brought up (I AM A PROPHET) and I'm of two minds on this one. One, it's demeaning to see the only prominent female character used as a prop over and over again. But secondly, there's something to be said for... I dunno. Thematic consistency? I don't think that's the right word for it. I think there's no problem with A damsel in distress, but the problem is certainly in regards to the recurrence of it. Some stories/tropes are there simply for their simplicity and consistency - Turtle man kidnaps pink dress woman, overalls guy saves her. Wash, rinse, repeat. It's not an attempt at nuanced social commentary, and way too many games try to be more complex than they should. It's certainly part of the problem, and since it's seen as an ancestor of modern games, it certain has the power to change things through influence. I feel like we should yell at everyone who took their cue to repeat the formula over and over and not really point at Mario itself. Maybe that's what she's getting around to.

- The object/protagonist explanation is a very clean way to explain this. Acting and acted upon is a quick phrase to point out the inconsistency in presentation, where most people try (and fail) to talk about power plays and power fantasies, etc. "The Damsel Ball". It's funny in how sadly accurate it is.

- Should I feel cool that I recognized all the games in the damsel trope montage?

- The "helpful damsel" section is an interesting explanation of how more active damsels in distress are still just damsels in distress. I think this is important for people to understand, because I've seen way too many folks point to Zelda specifically as an example of "strong female character". Which is kind of a bad joke. But I also don't enjoy a million minor sub-tropes. This is not tvtropes.com, stahp that.

- Oh god she pronounced Karateka wrong get the torches.

- It's an interesting point that the old "unenlightened" games are being dredged up and pretty much ported to better graphics on modern platforms. People tend to say that we've "evolved" since the times games like SM1 and Prince of Persia came out, but if we're just releasing them in a new wave of subtle sexism, the damage they do is still exactly the same.

- To be fair, everything about Dragon's Lair was pretty dumb. But yeah I forgot just how bad the princess was. Wow.

- "... introduced gamers to this regressive crap yet again." Yup.

Man, video games are terrible.

It's too bad the sorts that would benefit the most from that won't be receptive.

The Starfox Adventures reveal was neat--I remember the uproar over how much it sucked.

SpacePPoliceman wrote:

It's too bad the sorts that would benefit the most from that won't be receptive.

The eternal struggle.

Considering there is a limited number of stories to tell and about 4 different "quests" you can send a character on, I am not sure if just flipping the script on the damsel in distress (watch Castle on ABC) is some sort of progressive leap in story telling. Whether Robin Hood rescues Marian, or Marian sword fights her way to him does not seem to be reinventing the wheel.

It is cool that in Portal you play a female character. But the game at its essence is still Mario running away from the lava. Portal's awareness was refreshing though. "Here is some dumb ass box with a heart on it." That more or less sums up escort missions in a nut shell. At least the companion cube was bulletproof.