Asta 2

Catching Up

The last time I updated was June 7th. This may be a record for me. I'm trying to put my finger on why I'm not posting. Is my life that boring? Well, yes, it is, but that's nothing new. There's no new Battlestar to discuss, which has always been a prominent feature of my LJ. But, I still have Caprica to watch and a podcast to listen to and some half formed meta. I do feel Twitter is partially to blame. I never thought Twitter and I would be a fit. I'm so wordy! And only 140 characters? It's inconceivable! Apparently, I'm more adaptable than I thought.

I did start a post on Monday, but the topic of said post has had me on a YouTube and downloading binge since the weekend, sucking up most of my free time, and thus I haven't gotten around to finishing my thoughts. And this renewed passion of mine deals with something I haven't thought much about in twenty years and probably all of two people will care what I have to say on the subject. If anyone can guess what I'm talking about from that incredibly vague description there's a virtual cookie in it for you. (Accept for beccatoria, who is already privy to my insanity. ;)

In order to dip my tow back in the meta waters, I have a few thoughts about Virtuality. frolicndetour has a great discussion going on on her LJ about my main problem with the pilot.

I try to avoid, if possible, watching depictions of rape on TV and in movies. It's not just that it makes me uncomfortable, it's that too many writers use it as a shortcut in storytelling. For instance, a situation isn't really bad until a woman is raped. But for every twenty rape depictions I find unnecessary or handled badly, there's a writer who gets it right and includes it in a way that is vital to the overall story he or she is trying to tell. Ron did this during the 'Pegasus' arc on Battlestar Galactica. Gina's brutalization wasn't shown just to shock. Suddenly, our sympathies shifted. It was Gina who was the victim of horrific actions. We became the villains. We could see ourselves as the Cylons saw us. And her rape showed, damningly, how dehumanized the crew of the Pegasus had become under Cain's command and served as a stark contrast to Adama's command. The Galactica had it's own Cylon prisoner, Athena. For her to be brutalized as Gina had been was something unfathomable to Adama. Ultimately, Gina's ordeal showed people's worst fears being realized. Lines had been crossed and the question was asked, is humanity worthy of survival?

Billie's rape was completely unnecessary in making the point that something was horribly wrong on the ship. The crew's well being was already shown to be at risk by the faulty VR devices. Pike had been 'killed' twice; Rika and the doctor once. Being murdered in their sleep, experiencing the terror of dying, was the equivalent of the Big Red Rambaldi Ball showing up - something is very, very wrong and you need to be worried. But, no, we needed to have a woman brutally raped. And to make matters worse, with the exception of the ship's psychiatrist, none of the men took the assault seriously. Which left me wondering, what if it had been one of them who had been raped? Why wasn't one of the men raped? You want to push boundaries and shock people, Ron, that might have done it.

And the more I think about it, why was Billie unable to rip off her visor as soon as the attack began? Why was she immobilized? When the others were 'killed' they were able to react and not actually die. So why was Billie pinned to the bed unable to move?

It's a shame that, in a desire to shock, my enthusiasm for the project was dampened. As the pilot progressed I was becoming more and more interested in the characters. Though, I don't know if I should read anything into the two couples (one gay, one mixed race) being in the background for much of the pilot. I'll assume, had the series been picked up, we would have gotten to know them better. And I worried a little about Pike veering into Adama territory as he seemed to be a selfish ass who made everything about him. At the same time, I was intrigued at the prospect of seeing a dead character continue to 'live' in the virtual world. Did his consciousness survive Or is Virtual Pike merely a shadow of his former self? Would Rika continue to love him and choose a virtual life with him over a real life with her husband?

Finally, did anyone else not care for the reality TV aspect of the series? The critics seem to have liked the idea, but I found it distracting. With so much going on I wondered if it had seemed like a neat idea on paper, but didn't really help to support the more complex aspects of the story.

For my fellow Farscape fans, in case you haven't heard, the rumored Farscape panel at Comic Con is a go! Ben, Claudia, Brian Henson, and Rockne will be there. I was curious as to why there might be a panel since there is currently no series and the webisodes are still in development. Well, soon after the panel announcement came news of the entire series being released on DVD! Thank you A&E Home Entertainment!

Speaking of cons, Dragon Con is only 64 days away! It seems like it was just October and I was making my room reservation...which I reconfirmed yesterday. I'm already seeing posts about get togethers. I'd love to meet up with whoever I can, though logistics can be a nightmare when dealing with four host hotels and 40,000 people. I'll be arriving Thursday and leaving Monday and you should be able to find me standing in lines for Star Trek, Stargate, and BSG panels.

And for those interested in how the most recent Star Trek film changed from script to screen, check out Star Trek - What You Missed Most of the cuts I agree with, but I really would have liked to see more of Nero's backstory. His missing scenes would have helped to explain a lot.
  • Current Mood: apathetic apathetic
Me too! I'm definitely checking out some Trek panels this year. Though my jaw dropped when I saw he was charging $200 for a photo.

And, sadly, he'll probably get away with it, because--PICARD! So glad I have no interest in autographs.

Claudia seems to be doing a lot more cons these days. I'm sure living in the US is a factor.
The only autograph I really want to get is Ben's. I have Claudia's, so I think I should complete my set. :)
Thank you for that Star Trek link - I'll bookmark that, for perusal after I've seen the movie :)

I'm looking forward to Farscape coming out on DVD again, although a dear friend is very kindly copying some for me at the moment... but there's nothing like original source copy for vidding.

I'm curious about this 20 year old passion of yours that's captured you again - although I'm also busy and patient, so I can wait to find out whether you're talking about the David Hasselhoff fan club ;)

I've not been particularly interested in Virtuality, but I wanted to read your thoughts on it... and having read through, it was this bit that really got to me:

And to make matters worse, with the exception of the ship's psychiatrist, none of the men took the assault seriously. Which left me wondering, what if it had been one of them who had been raped? Why wasn't one of the men raped? You want to push boundaries and shock people, Ron, that might have done it.

I could wax wrath on this, but I don't have the enthusiasm - I'm one of those who has become seriously jaded about Ron's general storytelling vision, and the plethora of cheesecake shots and use of sexual violence towards women in BSG is something I found both infuriating and repellent. The fact that he repeats himself in Virtuality - and has the male characters treat it so lightly - is one of those things that makes me want to punch him in the head repeatedly. Sorry Ron, you're moving into unpleasant hack territory.
I'd criticize you for not seeing Star Trek yet, but it took me over ten years to see E.T.. Star Trek is better. ;)

I never saw an episode of Knight Rider. NEVER. Though, for some reason, I remember at the time the show aired there was discussion of the title character, Michael Knight, having the same name as a very popular soap actor at the time and, ironically, years later, Michael Knight, the actor, ended up marrying Hasselhoff's ex-wife. You probably didn't need to know any of that. My brain is rich in useless information.

I have to say, for every cheesecake shot we had on BSG, it seemed as if we got a beefcake shot. We could have a debate on if Tricia or Jamie showed more skin. ;) So, I don't know if I should condemn Ron for treating the actors as eye candy or give him credit for treating the women and men equally. :p

But, given how well I felt they dealt with Gina's rape in BSG *and* that it served the plot well, I was disappointed and angry at how Billie's rape served no purpose and was largely brushed off by the crew. You know how much I hate Adama, but he was outraged and sympathetic after Athena was attacked. The only man who showed any empathy was a trained professional who likely had patients in the past who were victims of sexual assault.
Accept for beccatoria, who is already privy to my insanity

Damn. I love cookies. Especially the virtual kind. As long as they don't have to be eaten in virtual worlds with a side order of virtual rape... o_O I dunno, man, I want to be all eloquent about why it's disappointing but I like, JUST had someone email me actually arguing that "it shows there's something wrong with the virtual world, more than just someone being shot or pushed off a cliff." Also telling me that it's okay, he knows it might not be my cup of tea because I "feel strongly" about stuff like that.

*facepalm* I would hope everyone does. *sigh* And this is why the number of men I feel safe discussing issues of rape and the portrayal of rape with is tiny, which makes me feel bad because I hate stereotyping like, "Oh men just don't get it," but I really feel like this is an area where sometimes they don't. And that being made to feel guilty for generalising on that particular subject is...also a mechanism of sexism?

So probs, not in the best frame of mind to respond to this, but I had like, schedule REPLY TO LJ time right now and I didn't want to leave the post unread. :)

I do not think I will be buying the entire series, since I already HAVE it on DVD. They were the first DVDs I ever bought, actually, and I bought them all. All massively overpriced box sets which they sold at £20 - £25, and there were FIVE sets per season that were slowly released. They'd never get away with that these days and my wallet's sure glad that's not how BSG handled it.

Thanks for the link to the Star Trek stuff - I pretty much agree with you that most of it wasn't necessary. I would have liked more of Nero's backstory but also, the idea that he just cooled his heels in a Klingon jail where they were torturing him is...a little ludicrous - I'm glad to see that go. And REALLY glad that they didn't end on pompous Shatner singing happy birthday to...anyone. Though it's interesting that Kirk was still supposed to have an older brother. I'm glad that got cut because it didn't seem like James Kirk's parents had any other kids at the time of his birth - you'd think they'd have like, mentioned their other son during their last moments, or worried he was safe or something. Maybe those lines got cut too.

Enjoy Dragon Con. Yet again, all the good stuff is in the states...
I don't get your friends logic, but neither do you. But maybe he's giving us some insight into the male frame of mind on the subject? He isn't dismissing the rape as no big deal or that Billie isn't traumatized by it, which is something. Maybe Ron and the others have the same mindset as he does. Killing in VR isn't something to be concerned about, but a woman being raped is. It doesn't make sense to you or I, but maybe the assumption is most people dream of dying or being killed at some point in their life, but not about being sexually assaulted. I don't know. I'd actually like to hear a podcast on this.

I only have the first two seasons of Farscape on DVD so I'm either going to shell out for the series box set or at least buy the last two seasons. I'm just glad I didn't go shopping on Ebay!

Shatner singing 'Happy Birthday' may have ruined the film for me. I'm sure I would have blurted out, "Are you kidding me?!" in the theatre. ;p

I would agree with you on excising the scene of Nero being tortured, but I would have liked to have had an explanation for what he was doing for the 25 years between destroying the ship and waiting for Spock to arrive. I was left wondering if he spent all that time just floating around in space.

I recalled Kirk having a brother, but not whether he was older or younger. I just assumed that he was younger and was never born thanks to Kirk's father being killed. And thinking about Kirk's birth again, it seemed like it was a big deal that he was a boy and George had a son which would have made no sense had he had another son back on earth. And why was their elder child left alone with relatives? I wonder if this was something in the original script, but cut before filming?
Yeah there was the whole thing about naming him after one of his grandfathers which struck me as very "firstborn son"? Oh well, I'm just gonna assume he has no brother in part because I like the idea that time changed something like that.

I do agree it would have been nice to see what Nero was doing though, so yeah, if there wasn't all the torture or like, if he actually couldn't escape until that point, then maybe that'd work. Or like, it took that long for them to work out how to use the Red Matter or something. But...knowing would have been nice.

As to the Virtuality thing, I think that yes it is the fact that sexual assault in a virtual environment seems worse than rape, which like, I do actually get in some ways because "death experiences" are very tied up to "transcendent" experiences? So even though it's traumatic, you can tie fake death to a learning experience and spiritual enlightenment in a way it's not possible to do for sexual assault.

HOWEVER, I still have a problem with it. There are a bunch of other things that would have had the same effect - this isn't spiritually enlightening, this is just horrifying - including rape of a MAN (which probably would have shocked us more), torture of animals or children (since torture of men is usually angsty and heroic and torture of women usually sexualised), or child molestation. Like, I don't want to see any of those. But my point is we have far more violent reactions against them and I mention them to illustrate that I don't actually think that we - male or female, in terms of general media consciousness - are quite as horrified by rape of women as we like to think. (Though I do think that women would probably respond to rape of a man in similar terms to rape of a woman, but MEN wouldn't. And I find it ironic and not a little bit rage-inducing that men are made more uncomfortable by male rape than female rape).

It's a shorthand BECAUSE it's horrible enough to be a cheap shortcut to an emotional reaction, and "gritty" enough to pretend it's for "deep" reasons, but also something we, well, isn't quite horrifying enough to make us actually switch off in disgust.

I mean, it's horrible that the people ON the show apparently dismissed the rape as no biggie, but I don't think that was the intention for even the male viewers?

I think basically it's tapping into the women-in-refrigerators trope. We're not supposed to think it's a GOOD thing, but it's still saying, "nothing proves the situation is serious like violating and disempowering a woman," you know? It's still playing into that sexist crap that we exist to be the victims who need to be protected and saved by the men, or serve as warnings that we are in a SRS SITUATION NOW GUYS.

I mainly hate rape in media, I think, becuase it's an absolutely CLASSIC "female victim" stereotype, that people pretend is deeper and about big social issues, when really, most scenarios don't deal with the social issues at all; they use them as an excuse to make a girl a victim again?

Bah! Why can't everything be as good as the Pegasus arc?! ;)
But, but, Andrew got me all of Farscape for my 30th birthday last year! Bearing in mind that this is at least the third version, is there anyone left who'd want to own it who doesn't already?...
You know I agree with you about Virtuality. :) I think in cases like this it is a case of weak writing, not trusting themselves to get the requisite dramatic impact from just having the AI murder people. And yeah, even if it were believable for a computer to rape people, why would it choose the young socially vulnerable woman? Meh. Oh well, at least this way I won't be as disappointed if it doesn't go to series.
By the time I got to reading your post, you, Becka and Nicole had covered just about everything I wanted to say. :)

Why couldn't the AI have murdered someone? Let's say Pike who was going to be killed off anyway. I guess the argument could be made that the rest of the characters couldn't have known he died that way. But if someone else almost died and Pike's VR device could be accessed by Rika, I think I little detective work could have been utilized to come to the conclusion the VR devices were dangerous without having the most vulnerable character sexually assaulted.
"Finally, did anyone else not care for the reality TV aspect of the series? The critics seem to have liked the idea, but I found it distracting. With so much going on I wondered if it had seemed like a neat idea on paper"

People hate scifi. Actors hate it (BSG cast: we're just great drama), because so many of them can't bear to actually watch TV because they just feel jealous of people with better careers. mainstream people hate it (outside of movie theaters) unless it's in a spoonfull of sugar, like Lost. I think the reality thing was just a way to make it palatable (more people watch ghost hunters than every sci-fi show in the past decade combined) that's going to backfire; I think virtuality should have been a six ep miniseries myself.