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women in horror, the legend continues

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Jun. 22nd, 2010 | 11:19 am

This is a 2007 video that sockkpuppett (Luminosity) and sisabet made for Vividcon - the theme is the depiction of women in Supernatural, and the song they used is "Violet" by Hole (which should tell you in what direction the video's going).  It's extremely graphic - but of course this was all on the CW - and potentially triggery.  It's called "Women's Work."


As I don't watch Supernatural, I defer to cofax7 for some extra words: "I've been aware for the entire time I've watched the show that there were problems with the presentation of women, but this vid really provides the ammunition for that argument. Because even if the male deaths total the same number (which I don't know), the fact is that they are filmed entirely differently: they are clothed, the camera doesn't linger on them, they're not swimming, in bed, in bedclothes, bathing. Women in peril are sexy, and in a different way than the Winchesters in peril. Dean on his knees is sexy not because he is in peril, but because we know he's going to get up and kick ass in just a moment, because the show has identified him as the Hero. Whereas none of the women have that protection in the text."  More commentary on sisabet's LJ here.

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Comments {20}

Erik Amundsen

(no subject)

from: cucumberseed
date: Jun. 22nd, 2010 06:12 pm (UTC)
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I only saw one episode of the show. They axed two women in a pretty bullshit, throwaway manner. The only two women in the episode.

It's interesting, this show and Lost come up in my head a lot about how TV interacts with the notion of God, and in both shows, it seems that the producers and writers think that God is a man, not masculine in aspect, but a may-uhn, and that, as I judge them, he's kind of a shitty man.

There is a part of me that really wants to interact with that trope somehow, in some form of fiction or game design - the posable/disposable way women get treated in horror (especially in horror).

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Nadia Louise

(no subject)

from: intertribal
date: Jun. 22nd, 2010 07:10 pm (UTC)
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That actually reminds me that there is a song called "The Devil You Know (God Is A Man)". I only know it from Buffy.

The thing is, it's a very tricky thing to even interact with b/c of the very nature of the problem.

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handful_ofdust

(no subject)

from: handful_ofdust
date: Jun. 22nd, 2010 08:23 pm (UTC)
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I do love this video and absolutely admire how it's getting across what it's trying to get across (which is certainly part of why I love the end credits of Jennifer's Body so much), but I'm still not sure about the contextual dismissal of the entire show assumed to be implicit in this and similar criticisms. Part of my whole "you can't throw away the entire source-material just because you dislike a part of it" thing, I suppose, even if the part in question happens to be less an unsightly cyst which could be removed without damaging the whole than a thread that runs through everything and can't be pulled out without making the entire story unravel.

Sexualization of female fear and death is part of "mainstream" horror iconography--we all know this. Questioning it is worthwhile. Widening the scope is worthwhile (why not do the same to dudes?), as is narrowing it (why sexualize any fear and death, when in RL both fear and death are very unsexy things?). And yet...

And yet: I still like Supernatural, so I guess I'm complicit, and I should just accept it. Yeah. That's probably the best way to go (aside from worth on those sequels to "Crossing the River").

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handful_ofdust

(no subject)

from: handful_ofdust
date: Jun. 22nd, 2010 08:26 pm (UTC)
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"Working on", obviously. Jesus.

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Nadia Louise

(no subject)

from: intertribal
date: Jun. 22nd, 2010 08:46 pm (UTC)
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It's a striking video, isn't it? I don't see it so much as a dismissal of Supernatural (although some people do; the creators are "fans who question") as much as a very direct example of how all this stuff can add up. I would certainly be interested in seeing a vid of all the male deaths/demons as a point of contrast.

One of the things that the creators said, actually, was that you could use many TV shows as the source and achieve something similar. And I think what's problematic is the jump to "depiction of women dying is bad!" I don't think that jump is necessary. But it did get me thinking about things I've written or plan to write, and whether distribution of depiction of suffering is fair across the genders, all things considered. 1) And there are a lot of things to consider. 2) And the creator's self-awareness, I think, is huge.

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handful_ofdust

(no subject)

from: handful_ofdust
date: Jun. 22nd, 2010 09:02 pm (UTC)
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Somebody did an amazing Criminal Minds vid which was about not so much women as victims but women as survivors, horrifically scarred but unbroken. That was pretty neat, since CM can certainly be accused of falling into the same loaded gender paradigm. Can't recall who, 'cause my mind is cheese, but there can't be that many.

As for male deaths on Supernatural, you'd probably almost immediately run into the parallel problem of POC getting killed...though I guess that's a whole 'nother issue.

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Nadia Louise

(no subject)

from: intertribal
date: Jun. 22nd, 2010 09:15 pm (UTC)
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you'd probably almost immediately run into the parallel problem of POC getting killed

Oh dear.

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handful_ofdust

(no subject)

from: handful_ofdust
date: Jun. 22nd, 2010 11:35 pm (UTC)
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Yeah...again, I got nothin', because it's not really debatable. Just another annoying undercurrent to a show I happen to like, though I understand why it would really alienate other people.

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Nadia Louise

(no subject)

from: intertribal
date: Jun. 22nd, 2010 11:48 pm (UTC)
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It happens. I'm like that with Heart of Darkness.

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handful_ofdust

(no subject)

from: handful_ofdust
date: Jun. 22nd, 2010 11:49 pm (UTC)
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Me too!

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Nadia Louise

(no subject)

from: intertribal
date: Jun. 22nd, 2010 08:46 pm (UTC)
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lol matching icons

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asakiyume

(no subject)

from: asakiyume
date: Jun. 23rd, 2010 02:13 am (UTC)
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LOL it's true! Hands over eyes, women!!

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Nadia Louise

(no subject)

from: intertribal
date: Jun. 23rd, 2010 03:26 am (UTC)
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with the addition of your icon we just need someone with their hands over their ears!

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asakiyume

like this maybe?

from: asakiyume
date: Jun. 23rd, 2010 03:39 am (UTC)
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ears

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Nadia Louise

Re: like this maybe?

from: intertribal
date: Jun. 23rd, 2010 03:41 am (UTC)
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haha yeah, perfect.

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asakiyume

(no subject)

from: asakiyume
date: Jun. 23rd, 2010 02:23 am (UTC)
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Whoa! Awesome song!

I have to confess that threat and violence--IN STORIES--can be pretty much of a turn-on for me, depending on the story. And I haven't analyzed myself enough to know what details of the story make it a turn-on and what ones make it a turn-off.

So: I know it's bad that it's always done to women, etc. But I guess I'm just humbly stating the obvious and saying that there are plenty of complicit women viewers/readers. LIke myself, in some instances. Certainly doesn't mean it's all that I want in my entertainment, or even most of what I want in my entertainment, just saying that a little of that, I don't mind. But clearly people's mileage varies WILDLY. And it's certainly the root of a lot of problems.

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Nadia Louise

(no subject)

from: intertribal
date: Jun. 23rd, 2010 03:24 am (UTC)
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Man, if you are not familiar with Hole, you need to familiarize yourself, ASAP. I recommend "Jennifer's Body" and "Reasons to be Beautiful," which I unfortunately can't find a decent youtube video for. Okay, I also really like "Drag", which is sort of different. Half the reason I love the video is the use of the song. I'm a Hole feminist, lol.

Oh, I totally agree. If there's no sense of physical danger I very, very often cannot get into a story at all. There is a certain kind of story that's a turn-off - the first person serial killer story that lovingly describes the deaths (I've never read this done well, only creepy and amateur. sometimes in 2nd person, as in, "you try to scream but...").

And what's interesting is that Supernatural has a huge female following. The depiction of violence against women is not a dealbreaker (that would be ridiculous), but when it becomes a theme, I definitely want to see that the creator is aware of what they're doing, and why. I do think that the whole "women's deaths filmed differently versus men's deaths" issue is interesting, and more of a problem. One of the things that one of the vid's creators said was something akin to "Daddy just falls down dead but Mommy burns on the ceiling."

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asakiyume

(no subject)

from: asakiyume
date: Jun. 23rd, 2010 03:28 am (UTC)
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Daddy just falls down dead but Mommy burns on the ceiling."

LOL. "So like a woman! No restraint! Always making a scene!" :-P

I've never actually seen Supernatural. And YES, I hate first-person serial killer stories.

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Nadia Louise

(no subject)

from: intertribal
date: Jun. 23rd, 2010 03:35 am (UTC)
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An exception to the terrible first-person serial killer story is "Black River Killer" by Blitzen Trapper, which is fucking sublime.

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asakiyume

(no subject)

from: asakiyume
date: Jun. 23rd, 2010 03:01 pm (UTC)
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More than wishing to see men depicted the same way that women are, I wish that women would be given a chance at more heroism-oriented deaths rather than victim oriented ones. So, rather than wanting to see the guy carved up on the table as the demon's dessert (typical woman treatment), what I want is more women getting to die shot up with arrows, Boromir style.


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