Watch This: Once Upon A Time

photo of once upon a time pictures
You guys, my Super Best Friend has only recently started watching Once Upon A Time. He and I tend to watch a lot of different television shows and put off watching others or giving others a try. When we finally do, the result is usually similar to Squidward’s first time tasting a Krabby Patty on SpongeBog Squarepants: “All the wasted years!”

I mean, he’s the guy who first got me to watch Gossip Girl, 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation, Dante’s Cove, Titan Maximum, and Gundam Wing. And, soon, Revenge, which I know is totally up my alley. “This is not a story about forgiveness.” That line could be the blurb under my biography.

Right, so, the show comes on ABC on Sunday nights and, honestly, I was not all that impressed when I watched the first few episodes. Well, the first episode. It’s one of those shows that has an awkward beginning but gets better and better until you can no longer remember a time when you were not in love with the show. Every week slows to a crawl as you anticipate the arrival of the next episode.

Yeah. This show also has a very rabid fandom.

I want to talk about the women on the show. Women have not, historically, had the best roles in fairy tales. They tend to be the villains or the helpless damsels. And while Disney “villains” are typically the most interesting parts of the films (and ABC is a part of Disney, so there are overt references on the show to Disney’s interpretations of a few fairytales. Jiminy Cricket is a character, the “Evil Fairy” from Sleeping Beauty is called “Maleficent,” etc), the princesses did not really possess a great deal of agency until more recent years.

Regina Mills is, as far as I am concerned, the main character. In season one, the writers try to make her out to be the primary antagonist, but …

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Male Killers More Overt, But No Crueler Than Females

Scales with Men and Women

The recent movie theater massacre in Aurora shocked the country.  On some level, it did to movie-going what 9/11 did to flying—essentially, took away the innocence of what had hitherto been a common, everyday occurrence.

And, predictably, in the face of world-rocking disasters set into place by humans, the situation has been parsed on many levels.  Who was this James Holmes?  Why did he go with “The Joker”?  What could happen to cause a doctoral student to run amok?  What does this mean to the gun-control pissing contest?  Did Holmes’ psychiatrist have an obligation to alert authorities as to his profoundly violent tendencies?

I found myself most intrigued by a piece from Erika Christakis, an administrator at Harvard University, positing that mass murder has a tendency to be … well, a male-dominated club.  While Christakis admits that it’s not like women never kill (and there’s the odd female serial killer that’s floated through history), it’s an inarguable fact that the most shocking acts of violence, including but not limited to mass murder, have been “overwhelmingly perpetrated by men”.

In fact, Christakis goes so far as to say throw out there that “our silence about the huge gender disparity of such violence may be costing lives.”

Hmm …

From Time:

Imagine for a moment if a deadly disease disproportionately affected men. Not a disease like prostate cancer that can only affect men, but a condition prevalent in the general population that was vastly more likely to strike men. Violence is such a condition: men are nine to 10 times more likely to commit homicide and more likely to be its victims. The numbers are sobering when we look at young men. In the U.S., for example, young white males (between ages 14 and 24) represent only 6% of the population, yet commit almost 17% of the murders. For young black males, the numbers are even more alarming (1.2% of the population accounting for 27% of all homicides). Together, these two groups of young men make up just 7% of the population and 45% of the homicides. And, overall, 90% of all violent offenders are male, as are nearly 80% of the victims.

A lot of my teacher friends and colleagues and I have a theory on fighting that goes on in schools—basically, if girls get into a fight, it’s forever.  Oh, they may smile and “make up”, but both sides (and their legions of friends) will never forget the situation.  It gets dragged up repeatedly, often into adulthood.  Boys get pissed at each other, beat the shit out of each other, and have basically forgotten the whole thing within a month and often become friends.

As this has always been my attitude, I found those statistics troubling, to say …

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Disney Princesses Play into Gender Stereotypes, Set Bad Examples for Little Girls

photo of disney princesses

Humorous cartoons bring to light some rather harsh truths about the portrayal of so-called “Disney Princesses” in many movies made by the Walt Disney Company. One depicts the perspective of the princesses while the other looks at it from the princes’ sides.

The Little Mermaid
Ariel, a mermaid obsessed with the human world, falls in love with Prince Eric after saving his life at sea. She trades her voice to the evil sea witch in exchange for human legs, and is of course not able to tell Eric the truth about who she is (although she is capable of writing her name when she signs Ursula’s scroll, but whatevs).

Ariel: “It’s okay to abandon your family, drastically change your body, and give up your strongest talent in order to get your man. Once he sees your pretty face, only a witch’s spell could draw his eyes away from you.”
Eric: “Women have nothing important to say.”

While Eric is taken in by Ariel’s pretty face and sweet ways, he doesn’t seem bothered by her silence—in fact, he might even prefer it. And the fact that Ariel gave up every ounce of her true self—singing voice, fins, sisters, the little crab/fish combo she chillaxes with—for a man is really pretty disconcerting.

Snow White
Snow White is sent deep into the woods by a woodcutter who was supposed to kill her but lets her escape, where she finds refuge in a house of seven dwarfs. She’s pretty happy there, until the jealous queen poisons Snow White with an apple.

Snow White: “At first it may seem terrible being so beautiful that other women get jealous enough to try and kill you. But don’t worry, once your beauty attracts a man, he’ll protect you.”
The Prince: “Necrophilia is a good dating strategy.”

Yeah, it sucks to be so beautiful, Snow White. Karma, though … you’re a good person, you take care of the dwarfs in ways I don’t even want to consider, and then, okay, you end up dead for a while, but then a prince comes along so impressed by your beauty that he kisses your dead lips and voila!

Aladdin
So called ‘Street Rat’ Aladdin meets the beautiful Princess Jasmine when she leaves the palace to see the world away from her sheltered life. The two hit it off, but Aladdin is convinced that Jasmine could never love a homeless street kid. Enter Robin Williams as the Genie, and Aladdin becomes the rich and powerful Prince Ali.

Jasmine: “As a woman, your political worth is reduced to your marriageability.”
Aladdin: “Just lie, it’ll totally work.”

Yeah, Jasmine has the connection between politics and relationships figured out pretty well, all things considered. She was definitely the brains in the relationship. And Aladdin? He’s an opportunist—you lie and then smile winningly when caught, and it’ll all work out all right.
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