Reconciling Freedom of Speech/Vision with Values

29 Jan

So I’ve seen the first episode of The Witcher with my dad. I could have watched it at work before I went on vacation, but without knowing much about the source material, and everyone saying it’s Netflix’s answer to Game of Thrones, my dad likes those sorts of things but he won’t watch Game of Thrones for a different reason than I did – I put it off because I wanted to read the books first.

Sex scenes.

Neither me or my dad are prudes. I’ve had the guy not… upset but cross that I was watching the extended edition of The Return of the King without him. Now, before he puts on any movie, he quickly googles whether or not the content is questionable pertaining to watching it with his daughters. He still has a VHS copy of Heavy Metal and, one of our favourite animated films, Fire and Ice, is basically an animator’s guide to human anatomy (set in basically Pellucidar, but it’s probably the best of Bakshi’s work but unabashedly our favourite) he won’t watch certain things with me because of the sex scenes. I watched the first and third season of Spartacus: Blood and Sand, and he won’t, because it skips right into soft core pornography right into adult material.

And to be fair, I call what I’ve seen of Spartacus Lady Porn.

Anyway – can’t say I’m a huge fan of stuff that pretends to be historically accurate but is really there to draw in the audience for the T&A. I’m not the only one to criticize this, as I think one of the criticisms of Game of Thrones: Season One is Littlefinger giving his sexposition while two of his brothel workers are going at it. Thing is, in certain movie cuts and edits, you can avoid what I would even call exploitation of actors and actresses. In Game of Thrones, it’s not even shot in a way where you could edit it out, get the idea. My parents wouldn’t let me watch the last few minutes of William Wallace getting tortured in Braveheart growing up.

I think part of me has always kind of tolerated it because a lot of what was assumed fantasy and science fiction was a male audience. That wasn’t to say I didn’t know girls who didn’t like video games and the same media in Junior High and High School as I did, but you kind of knew you were in a minority, and a lot of stuff is in there for the guys.

Well, I’ve been out of High School for a while now, and the internet’s proved that lots of the ‘male gaze’ argument doesn’t work anymore. Don’t get me wrong, if you want to write a book heavy on the sex and the violence, just be honest about what it is on the label. My problem is that the nudity is not only there for the wrong reasons, but it’s detracting from the story.

So back to The Witcher – the sex scene was tame, with it being shown Geralt and Renfry at least kissed, probably did more, but there was a scene earlier when he got to the Wizard’s Tower and there were half-naked women frolicking in his garden. Was it to imply the sorcerer’s a creeper? It’s really never touched on, and as fantasy scenes go, it’s actually markedly tame.

But it still kind of bugged me because it felt like a sense of voyeurism. Like that scene where we get to see an actress either topless or in her bra and undies in Riddick and Star Trek: Into Darkness, respectively.

Then I got to thinking when the action stated, the South Park espisode “Fun With Weapons” where they made the comment most people are more comfortable with violence than sex. In my defense, I think sometimes you need both sex and violence to tell a story, and I’ve definitely turned things off when they are veering into the nature of torture porn. I like adventure stories, and have zero problem showing the outcomes of fights and violence.

So how can I reconcile allowing people to make the art they want to make, how they want to make it, with an industry that is notorious for abusing people?

I’m not sure how I can answer this question in one single blog post, because I’m a firm believer if I don’t like something I get to decide whether or not to turn it off. I’ve heard the argument that a little bit of bad in a work of good can spoil the entire thing – and unless I want to resign myself to watching low budget Pureflix films, I’m torn. I mean, I’ve also been a believer of writing my own media to address what I consider to be things that are lacking in today’s media, but ultimately, I’m a drop in the bucket.

I’ll address the Pureflix issue in the next post.

Thoughts? I do know I’ve gotten more sensitive to this since I’ve started sharing media with my nieces and nephews as they’re starting to enjoy Lord of the Rings and other media. Don’t get me wrong: I noticed before, and I believe I posted a year ago about my niece getting interested in me reading Game of Thrones.

There’s gotta be a better way to handle this media.

In other news, on the back end of my vacation. Didn’t travel – planning on travel in April, but I’ve been writing and drawing quite a bit every day. My house looks great and I’ve been goofing around with oil paints. All in all, a good vacation.

And as far as I know, Dreams of Mariposa is Ebook Launching February 3, or this coming Monday. There’s going to be a book launch party starting March 2, I’ll post links when I get them. Hope you’ve had a good January, and I’ll post part two of my thoughts, or, when Purity Culture takes the lead.

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