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December 26th, 2009

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12:14 am - Wonderful story + musings on feminist stories and myths
For the last four years, teaotter has taken part in the Yuletide fanfiction exchange, which focuses on rare (or in many cases otherwise completely non-existent) fandoms. This year, there was for some reason a fad for people requesting stories based on songs. Becca requested, and received an amazingly excellent story Will You Bloom Bright And Fierce, based on the well done folks song Disappearing Man written and performed by Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer. The song has a slightly Arthurian vibe, common to much of their music and a somewhat mythic feel. I’ve seen both fairly frequently in pagan influenced music and fiction, and from a feminist perspective, almost all of both fall into one of two categories – they are either appallingly and unconsciously sexist in some sort of deeply horrid essentialist sense, or at best, the song or story is clearly attempting to be feminist, and mostly does OK, but with some moderate and often annoying problems – the stories of Charles De Lint are an excellent example of this sort of thing. The song > Disappearing Man is better than most in this regard, but not perfect (at least from my PoV).

However, the story is a wonder, not just because it’s excellent, but because it feels like it dropped in from an alternate world where sexism has largely vanished from storytelling. It’s both a very female-focused story, and one which is devoid of sexism. Reading it was much like noticing how light you feel when you suddenly stop carrying a heavy weight. I am again struck by both this, and to an only slightly lesser extent, the excellent film and impressively non-sexist George Clooney film Up in the Air, that we finally live in a time when people can create stories free from sexism, but that doing so is also shockingly & depressingly rare. The rarest thing is finding a story with a strongly mythic feel that nevertheless manages to avoid recapitulating that sexism that lies so deep in all pre-moderns myths.

Most modern stories are not as bad as the musical Young_Frankenstein that my parents spent far too much money to take us all to (which featured among other vileness, a humorous rape scene where the victim falls for her attacker), but for every story, TV show or (rarest of all, US movie) that is most free of sexism or at least of the worst elements of sexism, there are more than fills me with rage or sadness (or both). In any case this very short story is a touch of wonder and hope of the sort that is too rare, but will hopefully become less so. This sort of thing needs to become far more common.
Current Mood: impressedimpressed

(5 comments | Leave a comment)


Date:December 26th, 2009 11:56 am (UTC)
I'm perfectly happy to accept that Young Frankenstein is vile in many different ways, but don't forget it's supposed to be a parody. The scene in question doesn't argue that women sometimes fall in love with their sexual predators. In fact it's poking fun at that sort of scene in its chosen target (1930s horror films).
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Date:December 27th, 2009 06:18 am (UTC)
The line between parody of offensive & horrid behaviors and actual offensive and horrid behaviors can be fairly thin, and the musical version of Young Frankenstein is very much on the wrong side of this line.
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Date:December 26th, 2009 12:46 pm (UTC)
Speaking of excellent movies, you may enjoy a romantic comedy called It's Complicated. It's very well-acted, well-written, funny, and well-directed. The principal actors include Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin, and Steve Martin. Almost all the characters are middle-aged, which is extremely rare in movies. It is also not misogynist or misandrist.
[User Picture]
Date:December 26th, 2009 04:27 pm (UTC)
What I notice about that fanfiction story is that the author is extremely unusually familiar with Southern California native wildflowers.
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Date:January 7th, 2010 09:07 pm (UTC)
Now that the reveal has occurred, I will explain that my parents have a house in the woods around Mariposa (near Yosemite).

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