Archive for September, 2016

So at around three in the morning I went on a YouTube and clicked on Tropes Vs. Women because it was three in the morning and that’s the best time to make bad decisions. Reflecting back on my bad decision I figured that the only way wash the stain from my soul was to write a blog post ranting about how bad this series is and how I can’t believe how much money it generated through Kick Starter.

Something like eleventy billion dollars.

For those who are unaware Tropes Vs. Women is a YouTube series recorded by Anita Sarkeesian that aims to declare and decry the use of misogynistic tropes by the film and game industry.

In Sarkeesian’s defense, sometimes… how do I put this kindly, loses it’s shit, and on occasion, just maybe once or twice it has done something racist, or sexist or something that might not be considered entirely ok. However my objection to Mrs Sarkeesian’s argument premise is that Tropes are tools. They can used poorly, offensively, brilliantly or offensively brilliant, but they aren’t inherently bad. So when Sarkeesian states that writers shouldn’t write a character who say, fits the tropes of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl (MPDG)because it’s offensive, I hit the breaks. For the Short of it a MPDG when played straight is used as a plot device to create exotic change in what is most often a boring male lead character’s life. Sarkeesian’s claim is that the female MPDG character is being objectified so that she becomes just a means to fix the protagonist life instead of having a life for herself.

The small problem that Sarkeesian is going to run into is that a trope is kind of like a stereotype, actually in reference to characters it is more commonly an archetype just like the Squishy Wizard and The Big Guy, and we know that archetypes are base templates. From these templates we build deeper and better characters to create a more interesting and engaging story-line.

Let’s take a look at what makes the MPDG what she is,  The base of this trope is that character is a  female who plays support role and is unusually strange/weird/bubbly/ect…  , but say we take this trope and flip that simple trait and make the character a male.

With one simple gender change I have created Robin williams

Then take the character out of the supporting role that the MPDG usually inhabits and throw them into the lead role.

And with one simple role change I have created a wom… wait a min… this is getting confusing

That’s the basic premise behind Robin William’s character in Mrs. Doubt fire. In fact the entire plot premise is is based around the MPDG trope, with William’s Ex-Wife as the excessively dull individual who needs to be shown that there’s more to life then just work.

How about another well beloved movie were a MPDG is used to purposeful and powerful effect in twisting our emotions in a film. That would be none other then Ellie, from Pixar’s UP. Where in the first fifteen minutes of a movie I felt more concerned about the well being of two characters and was hurt more by a death, then I felt throughout the entirety of the of the… I was going to say twilight but honestly that’s a beaten to death horse. What’s the cool dead horse of today… Oh! That Dawn of Justice movie.

If only we cared about Batman’s mom half as much as Carl cared about Ellie.

The Point I’m trying to hammer in is that there are both Male and Female variants of this Trope that are rich, vibrant and beautiful characters that make everything around them shine a bit brighter, that’s there Job, that’s there purpose narratively, and that’s not a bad thing.

So if this is the case then why does Sarkeesian and her channel have a problem with this traditionally female trope, well it’s quite simple if you watch her video. For all the bluster she’s not actually upset with the trope, she might not even realize she’s not upset with the trope. She’s upset with boring, flat, only there for either the plot or contrite romance characters who are more often then not women whose ambitions in life don’t extend beyond the male lead.

And sometimes Thor

That’s something I can get behind, our female characters need to be real characters with more motivation then “That guys sure looks cute,” and should actually be doing things as opposed to getting stuck in towers just so they can be saved by the cute guy. To be honest this goes both ways, you can’t just flip the formula to escape the poor writing just because you’ve locked a man in a tower this time.

In other articles I’ve written about the things that make characters interesting, competence, charisma, originality and agency not to mention a host of other things that can’t be talked about in a single article. If your Manic Pixy Dream Girl/Boy can’t or won’t hit those notes it’s not because your using a bad trope, it’s because you’ve written a garbage character. The same applies to your Femme Fatale, Action Girl, or Baroness, Big Bad, Big God, and every other character trope you can think of. The Next time you write a character females one in particular, ask yourself if this person has a life that extends beyond the plot of this work, does he/she have goals and ambition and meaning beyond the lead character.

And here you thought you were getting a late night drunken rant on feminism and SJWs and all the other bullshit Internet drama. Well guess what I’m not even drunk, this degree of poor decision making just comes naturally. Instead you get a nice bit a on storytelling elements and craft, and I didn’t even kick start 150,000 dollars.