16 November 2013

An Open Letter...

An open letter, yes, but to whom? To feminists? To sexists? To the writers of The Walking Dead? I don't know. To someone. Maybe to all of the above. Hopefully, to you.

Ordinarily, I don't get involved with these things. Online
debates, arguments, uncivil discussions, whatever. Most of the time, I put faith in writers, considering I am one who very much enjoys messing with her characters and (typically) pulls all of the threads together in the end. I enjoy weaving lives together then tugging at the threads to see how strong they are.

However, right now, I'm having a difficult time doing that.

It may seem a small thing, a foolish thing, to become wrapped up in a world that's not my own, one that I can only see from the outside in. It may seem like a waste of time, stupidity, a waste of my resources, but being immersed in different kinds of media, from social media like Twitter and Facebook to more traditional kinds like books to movies to music to, yes, television shows, on a daily basis--in fact, makes this post a productive use of my time. As an author, I try to keep up with trends from all types of creative expression, and when something as phenomenal as TWD pulls asshattery, I pay attention.

So, Dear people:

For so many people, this isn't just a show. It's become a way of life in a lot of ways. I've been caught up in the storm myself, with trips to conventions and getting involved in some aspects of the fandom. I appreciate zombies and human drama and this give
s me both of those in one nicely tied-up package. Except for a couple of things.

More than the comics, the show has a strong female cast, fierce and loyal women who have immense inner strength and are capable of surviving in a world that strips away so much of their humanity. But about 90% of the time, you wouldn't know that.

In recent weeks, one of the main characters, Carol, has come under suspicion for an action she supposedly took regarding two minor characters. Up until this season, Carol has been seen as a nurturing, caring, supportive woman, the one whose inner strength truly shines through in these difficult spots. Survivor of not just the Zombie Apocalypse but also of a horrible, abusive marriage, she's given hope to so many women who've been able to step away from their own horrible, abusive marriages. She's become beloved to people who've survived tragedy and has proven time and time again that she's willing to do what she must for the good of the group, so much so that nearly every other character on the show has sought out her counsel from time to time. And though she had her moments last season, like when she told Andrea to give the Governor "The best night of his life" before killing him, she's never acted out of anything but love for her companions.

But it seems that with Lori and Andrea gone, Carol has been cast in the role of Women that Viewers Kind of Hate (WVKH).

Throughout the show there's always been at least one woman who's drawn the ire of fans and other characters alike. Through seasons one and two, Lori Grimes was that character. Her affair with Shane and the back-and-forth she had with him after Rick came back drew immense criticism from fans. The actress who played her (the amazing and beautiful Sarah Wayne Callies) has gotten booed before at conventions. And for Laurie Holden, who played Andrea, season three's WVKH? Death threats. And even with Andrea, the character, we're treated to a woman who is portrayed as inept and wishy-washy. What we don't get enough of is Andrea's backstory. Even in Andrea-centric episodes, we don't get enough. We only realize the strength of these women through hindsight, not through their current actions.

Now let's take one of the men, Merle, to whom Carol has been compared at least once (and once is MORE than enough). Merle Dixon is a racist. An asshole. A cold-blooded murderer. A drug addict (possibly reformed. Possibly). Sexist. An asshole. Oh, did I say that already? Sorry. The point is that the character of Merle Dixon is despicable. He's perfectly crafted to despise. And though he has his redeeming qualities, deep down, he's selfish. Cruel. The total antithesis to Carol, to Daryl, even to Rick. And yet, knowing all of this, Merle was allowed to stay at the prison. Under careful supervision, yes, but still. He was there for quite a while.

The point of all this is that in a world where gender roles really shouldn't matter anymore, they matter more, and they're used to unfairly shape the perceptions other characters and audience members have of the characters involved. Merle murders three people in the woods, helps the Governor take out multiple military personnel, beats the stuffing out of Glenn? Let's invite him in. Shane murders Otis, admits to it? Give him a gun. Rick shoots two people in a bar? He's the leader.

Lori gets pregnant with Shane's baby, tries to hold her family together anyway? We hate her. Andrea tries to stick to her principles and the guidance she got from Dale? Get rid of her useless ass. Carol, for the good of the group, (presumably) puts down Karen and David before they can turn to walkers? Give her some food and supplies, find her a car, send her on her merry way with zero proof. Someone please explain to me how this is supposed to work?

I guess now that Beth's taking care of the baby, they don't really need Carol anymore. *Huffs*

Writers, I'm trying really hard to trust you. But you're making it a touch too difficult.


Jackie said...

I heart you so much, Lex! This post is "dead" on.
I was LIVID when the writers had Rick exile Carol when, last season, Carl killed a Woodbury teen who was surrendering, but he got a slap on the wrist and his gun privileges revoked.
I feel like the writers are making Rick a do as I say, not as I do type which so doesn't fly with me.
Carol is a kickass character, and I feel like they're trying to make her a villain. I'm pissed that she's gone. I hope she comes back because she needs to *cough, cough* hook up with Daryl. AND she's a great nurturing leader for the group.
(On a side note, I don't think she killed those people. She's protecting someone...I just don't know who. But it doesn't matter. If she DID do it, she was validated and was doing it to protect her "family"... Daryl, Rick, etc.)

Cate Peace said...

Jax, THANK YOU. I can't even explain how angry I am about this whole thing. I can't. This is like a percentage of my anger. And now all this humanizing the Governor stuff is just making my brain want to explode. I have no idea what these people are thinking but it's just making me sad.