Just a Love Interest – Compulsory Heterosexuality on Screen Part 2

alice

by Anansi

As mentioned in my previous post, relentlessly hammering every show we watch with some tale of love and sex between ‘opposite sexes’ claims this as the natural way of things, and all of the baggage that carries with it, without ever examining the validity of the concept of heterosexuality or its power dynamics.

Heterosexuality as we know it today comes with built-in sexism. It comes in the form of societal expectations that pigeon-hole men and women into specific roles when in relationships with one another. Some examples include: the assumption that a man should be the one to buy a diamond and propose to a woman. It is the assumption that a woman will take a man’s last name when they marry. The idea that a man must be the primary breadwinner or he’s failed or been ’emasculated’. These, at least on the surface, are some of the more benign examples. The list is endless.

All of this is built into heterosexuality even if specific individuals eschew it. It’s a part of our collective agreement of how these relationships work. There are people who still vehemently defend this way of life. Although some may find that this works best for them, it’s the unquestioning acceptance of heterosexuality as ‘normal’ and ‘right’ that produces problems.

On television, this often results in female characters who are cast in roles where their sole purpose is ‘love interest’, even if they are initially presented otherwise. It seems like this used to be a largely acceptable role for women (or at the very least no one could hear anyone complain about it), but now that we expect a little more out of our female characters, we have to dress them up as if they are more. This means that characters who appear to be deep, powerful characters are really not. They lose their identity as soon as they enter a relationship with a male character.

Take Alice Quinn from The Magicians. (Spoilers ahead)

Alice begins the story as a student at Brakebills University: a school for studying magic. She’s the head of the class. She is legions ahead of her peers. She possesses a beautiful intellect, and she doesn’t even care about magic. She’s there to find out what happened to her deceased brother and bring him back if she can. If she were not destined to be a love interest, this would be a solid foundation for any character to progress.

Then the male lead, Quentin, arrives. It’s immediately obvious that Alice will be his love interest. She’s a nerd, like our hero, and despite her awkward wardrobe, she is gorgeous. It’s not hard to pick her out as Quentin’s objet d’amour.

After Alice and Quentin inevitably get together, she has no identity outside of her relationship with him. Her primary goal is resolved early on, leaving her without a driving force or room for growth. As the love interest, she is largely relegated to the role of hoping and wishing her boyfriend will be okay, helping him do what he needs to do, sexual scenes that are abundant and sometimes awkwardly contrived, and causing jealousies with other male characters.

aliceflannel

Has anyone seen my storyline? I misplaced it somewhere.

This is the same character that was initially portrayed as the most badass magician in the entire school. They even make it a point to have her say that as good as they know she is – she’s actually holding back. Good thing she can channel all of that talent into ill-fated sexcapades.

Portraying women as love interests is part of a long-standing tradition of eclipsing women’s presences and noting their value only in the context of sex or romance. In order for better roles for women and better television to evolve, we need to be able to recognize how often this happens. Beyond robbing what should be good female characters of any depth, it’s also predictable and boring. Characters with stories independent of their love interests are more compelling and well-rounded.

Not only is this more engaging on screen, but actresses regularly lament the lack of good female roles. It’s about time they were given the same number of varied roles men have historically held. It’s about time women can see themselves on screen as multi-faceted and important characters independent of their relationship with any of the male characters. It is changing, but, as always, not unilaterally across the board, and not nearly fast enough.

The Magicians is by no means alone in this. It’s the rule, rather than the exception. It’s just a recent and clear example of it.

To be fair, other female characters like Julia Wicker do have meaningful storylines. However, it should be noted that Julia is not a love interest. Regardless, this doesn’t change anything about how Alice is portrayed.

I know this seems like I hate this show and this character, but Alice was my favorite. I kept hoping she would do something, anything, that would break her out of the mold. I wanted her to live up to the potential she supposedly has, even though I knew she wouldn’t. Here’s hoping this changes in season two.

Next Up: Science Fiction & Compulsory Heterosexuality


Anansi is the pseudonym of a writer who knows that if she uses her real name to talk about subjects like this he’ll get his head handed to him faster than Vito Corleone put the horse’s head in that idiot pervert producer’s bed.

Web Series: The Pantsless Detective

This is clever stuff – even if you aren’t a film student and have never seen or heard of film noir.

The Pantsless Detective, Season 3 wants us all to know where the credit for it belongs. (Does this mean nobody got paid?)

Starring:
Tom Chamberlain as Det. Richard Panceliss/Father Panceliss
Dipu Bhattacharya as Smitty/Narrator
Amy Lewis as Temperance Friday
Rebecca Robinson as Constance Trustworthy
Brian Sierer as Sgt. McAdams
John Stanhope as Thug/Bruno Weisenheimer
J. Kevin Smith as Junior Detective #2
Tony Salinas as Junior Detective #3
Craig Kanne as New Thug
Martina Ohlhauser as Mother Panceliss/Phem Faye Tall
Miles Baade as Young Panceliss
Leigh Newsom as Waiter/Shower victim
Django as Guard Dog

Written & directed by Dipu Bhattacharya
Produced by Tom Chamberlain & Dipu Bhattacharya
Co-producer: Leigh Newsom

Cinematographers: Ricardo Avila, Jr., David Avila, Leigh Newsom
Camera: David Avila, Ricardo Avila, Jr., Leigh Newsom, Dipu Bhattacharya, Tom Chamberlain
Sound/Boom operator: Ryan Parrow, Leigh Newsom, Martina Ohlhauser, Virginia Hemstreet, Tom Chamberlain
Production assistants: Leigh Newsom, Martina Ohlhauser, Dennis Kao

Editor/Sound designer/Sound editor/Visual effects: Dipu Bhattacharya
Sound editor: Paul Nixon
Post-production sound recordist: Shelby Scoggins

Music composed by Jonathan M. Roe
Music recorded by Paul Nixon with Jon Hall
Music mixed by Paul Nixon
Saxophone: Jason Levitt
Guitars: David King with Jonathan M. Roe
Drums: Paul Nixon
Upright bass: Frank Murry
Keyboards/electric bass: Jonathan M. Roe
Violin: Dipu Bhattacharya

Costume & makeup supervisor: Virginia Hemstreet
Set photographers: Jennifer Clower-Brown, Gina Barrett
Craft services: Virginia Hemstreet

See more HERE

And HERE

Diana Vacc sees “Snowden”

jgl

by Diana Vaccarelli

              *If you haven’t viewed this film yet be warned this review may contain spoilers!*

As another step in our march through the Awards Season, I went and saw Snowden.  This film follows a story some of us are quite familiar with: NSA analyst Edward Snowden and how he leaked the NSA’s illegal surveillance techniques.

THE GOOD:

  • The performance of Joseph Gordon Levitt as Edward Snowden is Oscar worthy as he not only got the voice and speaking rhythm right but physically changed into this man. 3rd Rock from the Sun is long gone from him now. Way to go, JGL!
  • The writing of this film by Oliver Stone and Kieran Fitzgerald is a thing of beauty.  Stone and Fitzgerald bring this controversial news story to life. Watching this film made me think long and hard about the reach our government’s eyes and ears have and how all of us need to fight for our privacy.

THE BAD:

  • This film does present a few key questions, but the most important one is this:  How authentic is it? Especially regarding Snowdon’s attitude and motivation. Was he a patriotic hero or a traitor? A little bit of both? In terms of humanity, that’s possible; none of us, after all, is all good or all bad. But legally? Morally? Ethically? How can we know? Where can we find facts to support or explode the film’s POV on the matter?

CUTTING TO THE CHASE:

Do you want to see a film that centers around our right to privacy and how we need to protect it? Snowden offers that.  But is this entertainment or propaganda? It’s an Oliver Stone film, after all, and this aspect of his track record is mixed.

This time around, the entertainment factor definitely is present. But be careful. If you do not want to be provoked into re-examining some very thorny issues, tread with caution. If you do – this film is a must-see.


Diana Vaccarelli is the TVWriter™ Critic-at-Large and, in case you haven’t noticed, a HUGE Outlander fan. Learn more about her HERE

LB’s Poetry: Kid Hollywood Acknowledges His Co-Opting

by Larry Brody

NOTE FROM LB: 

In a way I didn’t realize when I first wrote it, the following poem commemorates the moment of my baptism as Kid Hollywood. So brave I was! So bold! So proud!

But, as I didn’t even think to ask myself at the time, of what? 

Kid Hollywood Acknowledges His Co-Opting

Kid Hollywood got his first fan letter

One day in ’72. It was an angry letter,

And its fury impressed him. “How dare you

Say a woman who’s pregnant and almost

Certain to have a baby with the same thing

Woody Guthrie had not have an abortion? How

Dare you write a script where she chooses to

‘See it through?’ Don’t you know what it’s like

To be a condemned one? Someone should

Come to your house in Hollywood and abort you!”

Immediately, Kid Hollywood wrote back an apology. He

explained that to his great shame and embarrasssment

Every word in his script had been rewritten

By the show’s producer, changing every line,

Of dialog, every idea, even the theme.

He explained that when he saw the result he

Had burned the producer’s version of the

Script in the fireplace of his new home

And sent the ashes back to the show.

A year later, after another TV series, violent and

Known for being chockablock with crime, aired a different

Script with the Kid’s name on it, a copycat crime was

Committed within a few nights. Every word, idea,

Concept, and meaning had also been rewritten,

But this time Kid Hollywood felt very proud.

His crime had been committed!

He had influenced behavior! He’d made a mark!

Still, there was one regret. He wrote his own angry

Letter, (yes, its fury impressed him)

To all the networks, asking, “How dare you not

Give me my credit, when you condemned the

Show on the Eleven O’Clock News?”


Larry Brody is the head dood at TVWriter™. Although the book whose cover you see above is for sale on Kindle, he is posting at least one poem a week here at TVWriter™ because, “As the Navajo Dog herself once pointed out to me, ‘Art has to be free. If you create it for money, you compromise your artistic vision by trying to please those who are paying. If you don’t accept money, you can be yourself. Like your art, you too are free.’”

Who is the Navajo Dog? Keep coming back and you’ll see.

So How’s the 2016 Fall TV Schedule Shaping Up, Mrs. Lincoln?

A couple in love? Or are they holding on to each other for dear life?

A couple in love? Or are they holding on to each other for dear life?

by Rogelio Charles

EDITOR’S NOTE: Rogelio Charles, the Luis Miguel of wordsmithing, watches some Fall premieres so you don’t have to. Take it away, Rogelio:

My goal last week was to watch the complete opening episodes of at least four broadcast network shows.

I didn’t make it.

Here’s how far I got…and why.

Big Bang Theory:

It wasn’t funny. If that is the trajectory , then they have jumped the shark. Weird, mean, and stupid. Or, in case I haven’t been clear: This show has been shooting the same episode over and over with new details plugged into it for years. If they jumped the shark this time it’s no big deal because they’d already skinned it.

NCIS:

With the addition of new guy Wilmer Whatever, NCIS has come up with yet another television Latino stereotype seemingly designed to antagonize us. (By which I mean the Latin-American Community).

Also, I found myself wondering if there were new cameramen? The lighting, the shot set-ups and even Gibbs’ house and basement looked different than in previous seasons even though physically the sets were the same.

I also have to say that I believe the decision to focus on the new agents instead of on McGee and Bishop does a disservice to two stalwart regulars. Last season’s finale implied that McGee will be filling DiNozzo’s shoes, but he’s still chained to the computer while we get newbies Quinn and Torres.

As for poor Ducky, he wasn’t merely watered down, his presence was totally unnecessary. And Palmer and Sciuto seemed far too perky under the circumstances. And – oh hell, man, the only thing I liked in this episode was the JAG scene. So disappointing to this long time fan. Looking like the last season for my favorite Mark Harmon-fest.

NCIS New Orleans:

Watched the opening scene – sort of. I glanced at it as I left the room. Which proves how much I was trying to stick to my vow. God knows that’s more than I’ve ever been able to do before.

Bull:

This one’s a Maybe for me. My reaction to the opening was that Bull reminded me of the old Tim Roth show Lie To Me. That isn’t meant as praise.

As for initial character development, the little scene between juror Beth Johnson, and psychologist, jury consultant, hero Jason Bull (our recently so beloved NCIS hero Tony DiNozzo) where she analyzes him and tells him to stop analyzing people just so that he can get them to do what he wants and then he says he can’t stop – well, talk about a shocker!  [/sarcasm]

But it is Michael Weatherly/Tony Dinozzo up there on the screen, so I’ll probably watch the show a few more times just to make sure I’m justified in hating it. As Roberta (you don’t know her but that’s your loss) said, “I hope Weatherly doesn’t keep dressing in blue.”

6 Cartoons That Nail TV

And here they are, straight from the wonderfulness of the interwebs:

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See more cartoons by Mark Anderson and Randy Glasbergen

Only 5 Weeks Left to Enter the 2016 People’s Pilot!

FREE FEEDBACK For Each Entry! 

FREE STORYTELLING PATTERNS E-BOOK With Each Entry!

This is important, so let’s say it again: As this post is being written there are only 5 – that’s right, only 5 – weeks left till the 2016 PEOPLE’S PILOT COMPETITION closes to entries.

You’ve got from now until the very last minute (11:59 PM) of November 1, 2016 to pay your (measly) entry fee of $50 and upload your pilot script for any series intended for any electronic media – including of course TV – of any length and on any subject.

TVWriter™’s PEOPLE’S PILOT COMPETITION has been running online since the year 2000 – the dawn of the 21st Century.

Winners and high placing entrants have gobbled up a ton of TV writing work, including TV movie and mini-series writing and series staff jobs on cable, satellite, interweb, and broadcast TV. We’d love to see you join them.

Find out more about our prizes, rules, and all aspects of THE PEOPLE’S PILOT HERE

And if you have any questions, send ’em HERE