Friday, February 25, 2011

Bits and Pieces

Oh, look! I haven't disappeared!

The thing with Attention Deficit Disorder is that it doesn't just mean that you have trouble concentrating on things. It also means that you're prone to hyper-concentrate on some tasks.

If you're wondering why there's been a lack of posts recently, the answer is: puzzles. Lots and lots of puzzles. And a new guitar. And shopping for bridesmaid dresses. But mostly, puzzles.

So now Libya is in upheaval? And Wisconsin? I have no clue what's going on.

Anyways, here is a collection of random feminist-y observations about the unimportant things that have been filling my life. Namely: Some Like It Hot, Get Smart, and hidden object games.

Some parts of this post talk about fictional depictions of sexual harassment and controlling/abusive behaviour. Just so you know.


Josephine and Daphne

I re-watched Some Like It Hot recently. Ie. the AFI's funniest American movie of the last 100 years. IMDb summarizes: "When two musicians witness a mob hit, they flee the state in an all female band disguised as women, but further complications set in."

I hadn't seen the movie in years. One thing I appreciated about it this time around is the way it depicts sexual harassment. It's a constant infringement on the heroes' lives, from the first scene with them dressed as women onward. Joe/Josephine (Tony Curtis) and Jerry/Daphne (Jack Lemmon) endure the attentions of the band's manager, a "dirty old man", a horny bellhop, and mafia goons. These aren't men whose attentions are sought-after; Joe and Jerry don't make conventionally attractive women; and obviously they aren't trying to attract attention to themselves. They do their best to discourage various come-ons, but the men just take their rebuffs as invitations to keep trying. "Don't bother to leave your door unlocked, I have a pass-key," the bellhop tells Josephine at one point. The threatening nature of these advances is especially apparent when Joe and Jerry - as Josephine and Daphne - get stuck in the elevator with the very same thugs they're trying to escape from. When the mobsters show interest in Josephine and Daphne, Joe and Jerry do their best to shut them down, while staying polite to avoid incurring anger - a familiar experience for many women. As they're getting off the elevator, one of the mobsters grabs the heroes' hotel key to see what room they're in. Because they're perceived as women, Joe/Josephine and Jerry/Daphne have little personal security.

I appreciate, probably more than I should, that harassment is depicted not as something that women ask for or encourage, but as an incursion. That it's not just something that happens to conventionally attractive women, who should take the attention as a compliment, but it's one of the risks of living as a woman.

Of course it's played for laughs, and the characters don't really change from the experience ("I'm tired of being the flag, I want to be the bull again!" Jerry complains at one point). But for what it is, I think the film is not bad at communicating what harassment is like, in a way that might get through to guys who wouldn't otherwise understand.


Something else I've watched recently was the original Get Smart series. And holy shit. Like, I know I'm letting my white privilege show here. And I know the series was made in the sixties - I've seen Breakfast at Tiffany's with Mickey Rooney's incredibly offensive yellow-face caricature. But wow, Get Smart was racist.

The villain was this ambiguously Asian character named Dr. Claw - which led to many "Not 'Craw,' 'Craw'!" jokes as he tried to get people to say his name properly. Inexplicably, in his hide-out was a portrait of George Washington with his eyes painted like a Japanese print - I have no idea what that was supposed to imply. His henchmen were named "Bobo" and "Toto". And the presence of "Orientals" at the scenes of various crimes was considered a clue.

Not to mention that the way that agent 99 simpers over Smart is ridiculous. The writers present absolutely no reason why she would be attracted to him, other than the fact that he's a dude.

And the nostalgia for this show was enough to warrant a movie. Yeah, whatever.

One of the results of an image search for
"Dr. Claw"


Isn't it romantic how he wants to control
every aspect of her life?

I enjoy playing adventure/hidden object games (and yes, I am an adult). I recently finished one called Mystery Legends: The Phantom of the Opera. In general it was a very well constructed game - it was visually attractive, the puzzles were fairly challenging, and the plot was compelling. But the conclusion...

So the game is set years after the original story ended. Christine has a daughter named Evaline who looks just like her. She looks so much like her mother that the Phantom (who is still alive) mistakes her for Christine, kidnaps her, and takes her to the abandoned opera house. You play Evaline, and the game consists of trying to escape by finding black roses to give to the Phantom to "prove your love". Which sounds weird, but it's set up in such a way as to make it seem like you're humoring the Phantom so you can gain access to more areas of the opera house and eventually find an escape route.

Throughout the game, the Phantom is portrayed as creepy and controlling, saying things like, "You denied my love, so I shall deny you freedom!" At the end of each chapter of the game, the Phantom recounts part of the story of how Christine "betrayed" him. But he always speaks to you from the other side of a mirror. Finally, you come face-to-face with the Phantom. And... he rows you to his lair. Where... the story ends. With an epilogue that asks, "Will Evaline warm the Phantom's heart and gain her freedom? Or will he be her angel of music forever?" Because abusers stop being abusive if you "warm their hearts."

But wait! There's bonus content! An extra level to play! Surely, the game makers will redeem the plot-line?

They don't. Despite working through a bunch of puzzles, nothing is added to the story. But Evaline does find a portrait of Christine that tells her (yeah, the portrait talks), "Be brave, my daughter, but be gentle with his fragile heart." Because her kidnapper's feelings are the most important thing at stake here.

The whole thing comes off as fanfiction concocted by the type of people who are like, "Edward Cullen is so romantic!" (despite the fact that he's a stalker); and "[soul-less] Spike was the only one who understood Buffy! True love!" (despite the fact that he tried to use his understanding to keep her depressed and away from her friends and hence under his influence, oh, and tried to rape her). The epilogue says something about how accidentally kidnapping their daughter is actually the perfect revenge against Christine and Raul. It seems implied that it's the revenge the game-makers think they deserve. While the Phantom will finally be able to make someone love him.

You know, I don't play casual games expecting to find apologia for abusive behaviour. WTF, game-makers, WTF?


The hidden object game that I'm playing now is called Escape the Museum 2. It's about a guy whose wife and daughter get trapped in a museum after an earthquake. He has to make his way across town to save them, risking his life to save other victims of the earthquake and return lost teddy bears along the way, while heroically avoiding the police who insist that he stay in a safe place and let them do the rescuing.

In the game he's a hero, but in real life, he'd be recklessly endangering his own life and the lives of others, doing things like trying to single-handedly hoist a fallen ATM off a person using rope and a bracket for a wall-mounted TV. In between each level a series of snapshots appear on the screen, showing the guy and his family enjoying happier times. Which is supposed to show, what? That he really loves his family? Which makes him more special than everyone else who stays in the safe area? I don't know.

This little hidden object game is a perfect illustration of one of the ways that Patriarchy Hurts Men Too - by encouraging and even requiring needlessly dangerous behaviour. The main character is a Good Father, which means he protects his womenfolk by getting in the way of professional rescue workers and putting himself in harms way.

Image sources: One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven


  1. I totally agree about the Phantom of the Opera. I never liked the musical in the first place. I never thought it was romantic at all.

  2. I saw Some Like it Hot for the first time recently, and what struck me most about it is that Marilyn Monroe's character was a bit more...human than I'd expected. I thought she'd be this icon of perfect, sexy womanhood (like she is in the media), but instead she was this likeable, down-to-earth girl who'd made mistakes in the past (and could comment wryly on them) and secretly drank and stuff.

    For that matter, most of the women in the band were sassy and "unladylike" in one way or another.

    It was nice.

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