Greetings, all! Your friendly neighborhood post-apocalyptic fake mailman here, ready to answer your letters! And, apparently, deliver a bunch of Chinese restaurant menus? I have no idea where they're coming from. I just open my mailbag and they're already in there. It's kind of freaking me out.
Spoilers for this past weekend's Game of Thrones ahead.
Rather than repeat all dozen or so emails asking about that scene from this weekend's GoT episode let's me just summarize them as such:
Was the Jaime/Cersei rape scene gratuitous, awful, or just par for the course of Game of Thrones?
Unfortunately, there's no easy answer here. It's tough to decry Jaime's rape of Cersei as Game of Thrones' most awful moment, since last season did involve the violent stabbing of a pregnant woman in the stomach. But at the same time this scene upset so many people that I don't think we can or should dismiss it out of hand. But there's so much tangled up in this issue that I think we have to unravel it a bit to really know what we're upset about. Here's why I think it's such a big deal:
1) It wasn't in the books. This is first and foremost in my mind, because I don't know that we would be freaking out about this — at least to the same degree — if the scene had a precedent in the text. Now, if GRRM had written a Jaime rape scene, I don't think people would necessarily be thrilled with it, but I do think a large part of the shock comes from the fact that it's an awful moment that the show invented on its own.
2) It was really fucked up. Game of Thrones has made very clear that rape is a horrible, terrifyingly acceptable practice in a medieval world where women are commodities. The scene is obviously supposed to be horrible, but raping a woman next to her dead son is some next level awfulness. We can accept Robb Stark's wife's murder to an extent, because it's part of politics and the Game of Thrones, and we can accept Ramsay Snow cutting off Theon's dick because Ramsay Snow is obviously a psychopath and we already hate Theon. But Cersei is at her most sympathetic, having just lost her son, and to rape her next to her son's corpse is beyond awful.
3) It seemed vastly out of character. Jaime has been on his way to becoming a beloved character over the course of the show's three season; he starts out tossing a kid out a tower window and slowly becomes a man of honor and decency. That's certainly what's happened in the books. In the midst of his moral redemption, raping his sister seems completely out of character with what the show has told and shown us about him. And to rape his sister next to any corpse seems insane; Jaime may have some loose notions of morality, but again, it seems like you'd have to be Ramsay Snow-level psychotic to be comfortable with raping someone next to anybody's corpse, let alone your son. If nothing else, we know Jaime cares about Cersei, whether or not he's pissed at her at the moment. We know he knows how important Joffrey was to her, even if the kid wasn't important to him. It seems insane to quibble that Jaime picked a very poor time to rape his sister, but I think we can agree that the scene would be less horrendously awful if it taken place at another time and place. (It still would have been awful, though, obviously.)
4) It seemed really, really gratuitous. Because it was so fucked up, and because it seems so out of character, the whole scene felt unnecessary, which meant it felt like Game of Thrones was trying to shock us. Now, Game of Thrones likes to shock us — the deaths of Ned Stark, Robb Stark and Joffrey are testaments to that — but those shocks have been major plot developments, and it's hard to imagine how this is at all equivalent. Jaime and Cersei were already on the outs before the scene; this may reinforce their new status quo, but it seems like the show could easily have gotten there without it. Maybe the show has big things planned for Jaime and Cersei, and this scene will be seen as pivotal and a bold gamechanger akin to the Red Wedding, but 1) we'll have to wait and see if this is the case and 2) it doesn't seem likely. Nerds are probably more cognizant of how often rape gets used as a plot device to bring pathos to female characters (most egregiously in superhero comics) and how lazy it is. It's really hard, at the moment, to watch this scene and feel like it's going result in good storytelling.
If you add to that the confusion happening behind the scenes — most notably that the director of the episode seemed to think the rape turned consensual, which any sane person watching the scene as edited would surely disagree with — and the whole thing just gets more mindbogglingly bad. Even George R.R. Martin seems kind of freaked out.
I've had little to no reason to disagree with the Game of Thrones showrunners, and generally have thought the changes they've made have been smart and savvy. And again, maybe this is a change they made that in 3-4 more episodes we'll go, "Oh, so that's why they chose to have that happen." But given all the problems listed above, it seems extremely unlikely that the scene will justify itself down the road.
So apparently I should be watching Agents of Shield again. It makes me wonder, are the movies what's been holding Agents of Shield back this whole time? It sounds to me like the writers behind Agents of Shield have had to kill time, having as little effect on the Marvel Universe as possible waiting for something major to go down in a movie so that they can react to it. If that's the case, we can predict Agents of Shield to start sucking again until Age of Ultron comes out? Also, would you recommend fans of Arrow & The Flash stop hoping for T.V./Movie cohesion?
Also, if I gave up on Agents of Shield 4 episodes in, should I take it up again right from episode 5?
Depends on your level of tolerance. I think sitting through the boring episodes of the first half of this season has made these recent episodes even better, mostly because the show has gone from being okay to something I really look forward to every week, but I wouldn't blame you if you wanted to skip the crap.
I say start with episode 13, "T.R.A.C.K.S." which is where Agents of shield finally starts getting good, despite having the dumbest episode title of the season. Seriously, does anyone know what the hell this stands for?
It occurred to me lately that DC and Marvel both seem to hate their best characters. Awhile back, when it was decided that Batwoman wasn't allowed to be married, they essentially said that the Bat Family isn't allowed to be happy. The impeccable Rob Bricken, whose writings have surely survived the end of the world, ripped that to shreds. However, ever since One More Day, I think Spider-man has been treated the same way.
Every time things start to go well in Peter's life, well...we can't have that. The culmination obviously being Superior Spider-man and the complete and utter destruction of his life afterwards.
This may be a separate topic, but it's related. I understand One More Day had to happen so as not to age Peter, but ever since, they feel the need to keep MJ away, to the point now of just cutting him out. I always thought of MJ as I suppose wish fulfillment for adolescent geeks. Just because you read comic books and like science doesn't mean you can't one day marry the most popular girl in school, who it turns out is an all around amazing person.
So, Batman must be miserable always, and Spider-man must be optimistic and snarky no matter how hard Slott tries to break him. Am I wrong?
You're not wrong, but I do think it's wrong to compare Spider-Man and Batman to Batwoman. First of all, Spider-Man has always been shit on, and that's his modus operandi. Peter Parker's life is terrible, and yet somehow he manages to be optimistic, crack jokes, and go out to save the day even though Gwen Stacy is dead and The Daily Bugle is on a crusade to have him murdered and about a million super-villains want him and his loved ones dead. Spider-Man is kind of a lovable loser, and being married to a super-hot model-actress who put up with his bullshit did kind of go against that.
But moreover, Spider-Man and Batman are so popular, so marketed to kids of all ages that I do think marriage does make them somewhat less accessible. Spider-Man and Batman are such huge characters, marketed to kids as young as 3 years old; they're more iconic than just characters. Kids want to pretend to be Batman and Spider-Man, so giving Bruce Wayne and Peter Parker marital difficulties does kind of ruin the illusion a bit. DC's been smart enough to keep Bruce Wayne from being hitched; I think Marvel made a smart move in unmarrying Spider-Man, I just think having the hero sell his marriage to the devil was a poor way to go about it.
But Batwoman is not Batman or Spider-Man. There are not Batwoman cartoons or toylines. She's not an icon as much as she is a character, and preventing her from getting married isn't making her easier for kids to identify with because kids aren't allowed to read Batwoman.By forbidding her and the other second-tier DC heroes from marrying, all you're doing is limiting their storytelling. This may not be such a big deal for, say, Catwoman, who has plenty of adventures besides having random rooftop sex with Batman, but Batwoman's relationship with Maggie Sawyer was a major aspect of her character and to unequivocally forbid that is just dumb. Dumb and insulting.
But I don't need to get on that rant again. Batman is always going to be too tortured and dark to get married, and it just seems wrong for Spider-Man to have so much going right with his life that he can have constant sex with a hot redheaded supermodel. But again, they're also the ones being marketed to six-year-olds and 36-year-olds. They're special like that.
I would also like to point out that I have no clue why Marvel felt comfortable with this picture of Spider-Man carrying around a nude Mary Jane, but I felt compelled to point out how insane it is.
From Here to Eternia
Is there a worse place in the universe to live than Eternia for a normal, non superpowered individual? I mean, in addition to Skeletor and his gang trying to take over the planet every other day, you have alien invasions, other-dimensional monsters (Sh'groa), renegade sorcerers and villains like Batros and Evilseed, and dormant but always getting awakened evil monsters like Molkrom and Shokoti. Oh, and the planet is populated by all manner of enormous physics defying monsters, on land, sea and air. How is anyone even alive on that planet!
Mainly because all the bad guys are grossly incompetent. Skeletor is basically the smartest bad guy on the planet, and he's no genius; besides, he devotes 100% of his time to getting inside Castel Grayskull, so if you live somewhere more than 10 miles away you're probably fine. And his minions are so dumb it's amazing that none of them have drowned in their bathtubs. Whiplash was such an idiot he forget the entirety of his own language, and he was Albert Einstein compared to Clawful. Any peasant with enough presence of mind to say, "Gee, I think I saw He-Man over that hill!" would be perfectly fine.
I have to say Etheria is the shittier of the two planets to live on. They have all the monsters and villains Eternia has, but it's actually ruled by the Horde and most of its peasants are enslaved, proving that Hordak and his minions are somewhat more competent at being evil. Also, Etheria is home to Madame Razz, Broom, Kowl and Loo-Kee, while Eternia only has Orko. Enslaved or not, living on Etheria would be vastly more obnoxious.
Do you have questions about anything scifi, fantasy, superhero, or nerd-related? Email the firstname.lastname@example.org! No question too difficult, no question too dumb! Obviously!