Friday

Male orphans, ceebeebies, And the death of post feminzm

Another cultural trend-spotting, behind the zeitgeist post here. Kind of in two parts, but there's enough crossover in context for me to not stretch it out to two posts.

I've watched exactly three films in the last... However many months. I think all the films I've watched have necessarily been at the cinema, because if we don't make time to go out and see a film, we don't watch one. I saw batman alone, dredd with bruv, and bond with the long-suffering. And what an interesting clutch of overlapping characters they are.

There's so much you could say about each one; Batman 3 was the first ever Christopher Nolan film you had to switch OFF your brain to enjoy; Dredd was great for the first act while it built the world, and was then just people shooting each other for 50 minutes; bond was just as heroically ludicrous and camp as Roger Moore at his banalist.

It's so weird how similar the three lead characters are. They're all orphan superheroes without a secret identity. I mean, technically batman is Bruce Wayne, but really he's just batman. 007 is James Bond, but who even is that? And as for dredd, well he's just a mask. Who knows what's underneath?

And all of them riff on being orphans. Dredd and Bond were targeted and raised in their roles from a young age, hence having such a deep loyalty and deep inhabitance of their role. Batman had a similar trauma but I think spent more time making himself than being molded.

I was worried about bond, you know. My overriding memory of the last brosnan film was of my absolute lack of desire at the prospect of watching it, met by the sheer joy of the crazy-stupid antics on screen. Oh, my heart bled at the idea of a 'dark and edgy reboot'. Why not just make a different spy story? Dark and edgy works with batman, another character with a similar flip-flopping between carry-on and po-faced pout. And yet in nu-bond 3, the po-facedness is done to a level that is itself camp. It has come full circle. Handing bond a gun (albeit a dredd-alike personalised one) and radio instead of a fancy secret gadget pack has become just as silly.

But by the end of the brosnan-era bond, they had rigid enough cliches to take risks in other areas. For instance, strong female characters. Dame Dench was M from the get-go of the 90s reboot of bond, but Die another day struck me because of the egalitarianism of the sex in it. Bond bedded exactly two women - both of whom were also spies. Halle Berry's character 'jinx' was so well received that a well-deserved spin off was planned (sadly junked by MGM in favour of the reboot). My point is bond was portrayed on a par with the ladies he was associated with, in opposition to the 'sexual conquest' style of previous iterations. And that's kind of gone.

Spoilers....

Roll on 2012 and, oh dear. Dench is killed off and replaced with Leonard Rossiter lookalike Fiennes, which wouldn't be a retrograde step if there wasn't a paucity of other females in the film. The only others were the Chinese girl, an utter victim who only exists in order to get shagged and then shot in cold blood, and miss moneypenny, who can't hack it in the field and takes a desk job. What a miserable bunch of characters.

There's not much to say about the other two films here, except that only dredd satisfyingly passes the bechdel test.

This is the death of pop-feminizm. This is what happens when people think that women were just something you needed to have around while people were actively complaining about representation of women, and then you can go back to business as usual and jobs for the boys.

Take CBBees, at the other end of the scale, a channel I have spent a lot more time with. Consider, CBBies shows where the only female role is a puppet:
Rhyme Rocket
Andy's Wild Adventures
Justin's House (on top of which, the puppet is mute. There used to be a minor live action female regular, who was ditched after the 1st series)

And consider the many other shows with a single male actor and several puppets/animations; Mr Bloom's Nursary, Kerwizz, Iconicles.
Other shows are just males: mostly Justin Fletcher's other two (one-man) shows, something special and Gigglebiz, but also Mr Maker.

Aside from the one-woman 'I Can Cook' (which suggests there'll soon be a 'I can do the household chores' aimed at girls too), all the other female-led or centric shows are SCOTCH. Nina and the Neurones, Wolly and Tig, Me Too, and Balamoray are all Scots shows. What a strange correlation.

I've missed out the pure cartoons here, but if you're not familiar with CBBies' output, this is pretty much it, these programmes on a loop every day forever. Women marginalised or substituted for puppets, children raised to see women around them but not on telly.

Anyway this has been sitting around for a couple of weeks and I'm done with it now.