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A pattern?

Did I miss a memo? Is "annoying" the new "bitchy?" Because I seem to be seeing it an awful lot lately as the epithet of choice for an inconvenient woman, mostly of the fictional variety but also a few real ones.

I wish I could recall a specific example of the latter, because it's more troubling in terms of dismissing someone's opinions or relevance. I know it's gotten my hackles up a couple times in a real-world context.

In the fannish realm, I'd be tempted to blame BH fandom (since my limited fannish interaction of late is there), and speculate that it developed as code because I think "bitch" or "bitchy" would get a comment modded off the official blog, which is the main place I participate in fandom-at-large discussion. But I don't know if that entirely explains the first example that made me take notice, namely its repeated application to Sally in comments about and reviews of BHUS.

Many, but by no means all, of those were a matter of direct comparison to Annie, and those who elaborated were pretty uniformly objecting to Sally's not being the nurturer/caretaker. (As it turns out, that function has primarily been Aidan's, which I'm finding very interesting, but that's a topic for another post.) Apparently being dead and lonely and trapped and unable to interact with the physical world in any way is insufficient reason not to be instantly cheerful and supportive when two guys arrive on the scene, though there is no requirement for them to be anything but entirely wrapped up in their own issues.

And then -- and this is the real pattern that I'm starting to find very tiresome -- there's the majority who don't bother to elaborate, who just put "annoying" out there like it's a self-evident fact that calls for no further explication. Which continues to happen with Sally -- every week there's a scattering of people who feel the need to tweet that she's annoying, with no further comment -- but which I'm seeing more of in discussion of the original show. Without getting spoilery (and this is where I put in the request to avoid spoilers in comments to this post, because there are people on my flist who aren't caught up with the UK and who do care), it seems to be going hand-in-hand with the increasing woobification of Mitchell.

(I know, I know, fandom does that, but it's driving me up a wall. I'm biting my electronic tongue to not just blurt directly to them "No, sweetie, he does NOT just need to be loved. He needs serious and complicated help including but not limited to sometimes being LOCKED UP. If you lived on the not-safe side of the screen, and you did succeed in getting his fine Irish ass into bed, he would EAT you. And you would be dead, and he would take another sledgehammer blow to the psyche, and it would generally be the OPPOSITE of a desirable outcome for all concerned. So kindly shut up and fix your toxic fantasies elsewhere. Preferably not on anyone on THIS side of the screen/page, as I don't actually want you dead.")

Maybe I'm more sensitized to the "annoying" thing because of the woobie issue, I don't know. But I don't think it's coincidence that a lot of the same people who are blaming Mitchell's problems on everyone but Mitchell are also the ones who've always labeled Nina annoying. And who started doing so with Annie at a specific point in the season arc. And who apply it to Nancy (who was introduced in the second half of S3 and who is awesome) as if it were part of her name. And the thing they all have in common? Assertive women. Standing up for their beliefs and values in a way that is inconvenient to Mitchell.

If that's not the reason? Great. Say what is. Don't just slap the label on and dismiss the woman as if it's a done deal that she doesn't matter.

Just. Arg.


( 40 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 13th, 2011 12:02 pm (UTC)
Mar. 13th, 2011 01:19 pm (UTC)
Feel a little weird being applauded for what's basically a rant, but, er, thanks.
Mar. 13th, 2011 12:08 pm (UTC)
While any epithet directed solely at women makes me all hoppita moppita, I will take "annoying" over "bitchy," because at least it's gender-neutral.
Mar. 13th, 2011 01:20 pm (UTC)
Fair point. Though at least with gendered terms it's easier to be sure where you stand.
Mar. 13th, 2011 12:13 pm (UTC)
Mar. 13th, 2011 01:23 pm (UTC)
I KEEP FORGETTING! :: hangs head in shame ::

BH fandom -- or at least the portions of it I inhabit -- is generally pretty good about it. It's just a few voices that I'm noticing more lately for whatever reason.
(no subject) - kirbyfest - Mar. 13th, 2011 04:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - wiliqueen - Mar. 13th, 2011 07:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 13th, 2011 12:53 pm (UTC)
Agree with everything here.


I haven't seen BHUS beyond the first episode--I'm not against the concept of a US based TV show (though I do want to do a picspam series of North American shows I have teh feelings for with British actors, because why are we the only ones who don't come up with our own idea?) but it just wasn't appealing to me.

But this, um--


First few paragraphs or so pissed me off so much. I have to say as a queer woman, the notion on the part of gay men that WOMEN EXISTING IS HOMOPHOBIC pisses me off no end. Not to mention appropriating feminist theory to squee about slash on TV. Referring to the only main female character, not to mention the only POC, as a vessel is so incredibly problematic. Ugh, kyriarchy.

(And I've thought the same thing about bedding Mitchell. I mean, it's like when people say that they want someone to 'rape' them. Ummm, no, you don't. You don't even know what you're talking about. Not that I'd complain about getting Schofield from Hattie's fine Cockney ass into my bed.)

Edited at 2011-03-13 03:54 pm (UTC)
Mar. 13th, 2011 01:32 pm (UTC)
BHUS took a big risk by having the trio be not sympatico with one another -- or, really, terribly sympathetic to the audience -- at the outset. They've grown into both pretty well at this point. The leap of faith appears to have paid off in terms of overall audience-building strategy, but they lost a lot of people at the outset who didn't see any indication that there was anything to see develop.

I'm not even touching that article, or the points you mention. Arg.

If someone wants to fantasize about shagging Mitchell and magically making him All Better with their Sooper Speshul Soulmate Luuuurve, I have no problem with that, as long as they acknowledge that it's pure fantasy that flies aggressively in the face of canon. It's the ones who keep hammering at canon in an attempt to make it fit their fantasies who scare me.
(no subject) - ghostinsweats - Mar. 13th, 2011 01:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - wiliqueen - Mar. 13th, 2011 06:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ghostinsweats - Mar. 13th, 2011 06:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - wiliqueen - Mar. 13th, 2011 06:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ghostinsweats - Mar. 13th, 2011 06:33 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - wiliqueen - Mar. 13th, 2011 06:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ghostinsweats - Mar. 13th, 2011 06:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - wiliqueen - Mar. 13th, 2011 07:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 13th, 2011 01:39 pm (UTC)
Yes, yes, and yes - I've been hoping to see some meta from you :-)

Sally is...thorny (?), I think, because she's miserable. She has every right to be. Murdered by her fiance, no destination home, trapped in a world of monsters on the outskirts of everything familiar, everything that was her life. Not the kind of woman you can hug and say "it's all gonna be OK;" not the kind of woman who buries her own pain through caretaking. Sally needs to rail at destiny and fight her way to some kind of truth. That makes her harder to embrace than someone like Annie, but it also makes her interesting.

I've decided to wait to watch the rest of the US series (I've seen 1-3) because I just couldn't watch it while the UK series aired with any kind of objectivity. I'm hoping Sally's storyline takes her someplace interesting by way of resolution; she's the character veering furthest away from the UK versions, at least in the episodes I've seen.
Mar. 13th, 2011 06:20 pm (UTC)
They start to become discernibly a unit around... ep 5ish, I'd say? Sally's prickly edges are being tempered by having people around that she can trust, Aidan is establishing himself as house daddy (in a fairly consistently effective manner, thus far), and Josh is less-miserable enough to notice that other people's lives suck too. (I personally found him the most relentlessly self-focussed and complaint-prone at the beginning, but of course some of the same people condemning Sally for the same traits gave him a free pass. I shall give you a moment to contain your shock and surprise.)

I have NO idea where Sally's line is going or what her resolution will be. The dynamic among her, Danny, and Bridget is so completely different.
(no subject) - djarum99 - Mar. 14th, 2011 12:27 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - wiliqueen - Mar. 14th, 2011 12:29 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - djarum99 - Mar. 14th, 2011 02:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - wiliqueen - Mar. 14th, 2011 02:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - djarum99 - Mar. 14th, 2011 03:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 13th, 2011 01:53 pm (UTC)
"toxic fantasies"
Their "toxic fantasies"! That is such an apt phrase, well-turned and well-targeted, and applicable to an entire phenomenon that puzzles, frustrates, irritates and saddens me. Thank you for sharing it.

I don't know whether and where the "toxic fantasy" problem intersects with the "annoying" dismissal problem because the latter has not penetrated my sleepy home fandom (although Tracy had her day? but the issues were wider). The "toxic fantasy," on the other hand, plagues us sorely. We call it "dark," as you know. :-)

The "beauty and the beast" approach to a monster character always has appeal, that one character's love will magically cure the other character's monstrousness. But that storytelling approach is limited, and the further a story extends, the less that simple equation satisfies, either as storytelling or as a moral in a complex universe. Romantic love is lovely, but it does not conquer all, and thinking it could in the real world leads to unhappiness in the real life stories that start with the next sentence after "happily ever."

My pet disliked dismissal word in fiction for a female character is "spirited" (aka "beautiful and spirited"). What does that even mean? Opposite of spiritless? It's a word for a horse, not a human! It's a hollow gesture to allow the author to claim she has not been insulting to a certain female character as she swiftly dismisses that character to make way for a relationship the author prefers. Its cliched vagueness does not register with the author because she is not really thinking about the character in question in other than a cliched vague way.

Granted, at least "spirited" is intended as a positive euphemism for "inconvenient female." What you're observing with "annoying" is negative, and of course a different level.

(BTW, thank you for the spoiler protection!)
Mar. 13th, 2011 05:48 pm (UTC)
Re: "toxic fantasies"
(although Tracy had her day? but the issues were wider).

They were, but I would count it very much of a piece. And of course I remember all too well the frustration of watching Tracy judged and dismissed by a small but extremely vocal portion of the fandom before we saw a single frame of her.

Now that you mention it, a lot of the more detailed criticism of Nancy (an ambitious young blonde police detective) sounds awfully familiar.

My pet disliked dismissal word in fiction for a female character is "spirited"

Amen. Nobody writing in the last hundred years gets a pass on that one from me.
Mar. 13th, 2011 03:42 pm (UTC)
All I can think of is when I was working on Sec Clinton's presidential run and my grandmother was like "But how can you STAND her? She's/her voice is so GRATING!"

*rips hair out*
Mar. 13th, 2011 06:26 pm (UTC)
Because THAT's what matters. *sigh*
Mar. 13th, 2011 04:41 pm (UTC)
I've only ever seen the original pilot for BH, but yeah, I'd say her circumstances suck. I remember getting 'annoyed' at certain segments of Buffy fandom back in the day who didn't like Buffy and their reasoning and your post on BH so much reminded me of that. Ah fandom, you never change.
Mar. 13th, 2011 06:33 pm (UTC)
I don't think anything will ever baffle me quite as much as that did. I'm like, "HER NAME IS THE TITLE. The show exists for the purpose of her kicking ass. If you don't like her, WHY ARE YOU WATCHING???"
(no subject) - studiesinlight - Mar. 13th, 2011 07:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - wiliqueen - Mar. 13th, 2011 08:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 14th, 2011 12:43 am (UTC)
LOVE the fact that you started this conversation. I could only get through 3 eps of the US BH because *all* the characters, male and female, whined incessantly. And were incessantly inconsistent in their choices - the first half of an ep they wanted one thing, the next half of the ep they wanted another, and the 1st half of the next ep, they were back to wanting the first thing. It gave me whiplash. But I felt it across the board.

But I did want to comment on a similar presence of misogyny in the female fans of Supernatural. It shocks me the venom that female recurring characters are met with on that show. The few female characters that are liked were only grudgingly accepted in retrospect, after the characters had been killed off. I don't get it.
Mar. 14th, 2011 12:56 am (UTC)
I remained very removed from BHUS until about ep 5, but it's started to pull me in. It really does point up the hazards of the commercial TV model, I think, with too many masters to answer to and the fact that ultimately the viewers are the product, not the consumer. It's amazing that anything decent ever gets made at all. You can't judge anything properly until at least half a dozen eps in, because the writer's room might be getting consistent signals and have become a cohesive unit by then.

I'm only peripherally aware of what goes on in SPN fandom, and have seen more than my fill of the sentiments you're talking about. It's so disappointing.
Mar. 14th, 2011 01:07 am (UTC)
sabaceanbabe said:
Things such as this are why I tend to remain at the fringes of any given fandom.

We've seen the first four eps (I think) of BHUS and I'm starting to become engaged. My husband, on the other had, said if they don't start going somewhere less repulsive with the whole thing, he's not going to keep watching. He's never seen BHUK, so he doesn't have that comparison thing to possibly keep him going. :P

[Final line redacted due to spoilers]
Mar. 14th, 2011 10:56 am (UTC)
Eep! Sorry about that!
(no subject) - wiliqueen - Mar. 14th, 2011 11:37 am (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 14th, 2011 12:58 pm (UTC)
If that's not the reason? Great. Say what is. Don't just slap the label on and dismiss the woman as if it's a done deal that she doesn't matter.

Bah. They probably don't even realize that's it. Because I've seen the "annoying" label slapped on every female character ever who doesn't act like a nurturing figure to the men in her fictional life.

I still need to see season three. We were talking about getting back to doing Thursday fannish nights, if you still have them free?
Mar. 14th, 2011 01:53 pm (UTC)
They probably don't even realize that's it.

Hence the challenge to prove it's not. Which I realize will never be met, but. Arg.

I still need to see season three. We were talking about getting back to doing Thursday fannish nights, if you still have them free?

Unfortunately, that only lasted about three Thursdays, and I was flying across the Atlantic on two of them. :-/ What's the rest of your week look like?
( 40 comments — Leave a comment )


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