Inconclusive fandom meta thoughts, and fond remembrances - The Lyorn's Den
Wed Jan. 4th, 2012
01:22 am - Inconclusive fandom meta thoughts, and fond remembrances
12_12_12's "Field Guide: How to Recognize a Bad Boy Woobie." makes me (fondly) think of long-bygone Methosian discussions on alt.tv.highlander.
thoughts reminisces below the cut.
For starters, TV Tropes (probably the authoritative source here) describes The Woobie as
A woobie [...] is that character you want to give a big hug, wrap in a blanket and feed soup to when he or she suffers so very beautifully. Woobification of a character is a curious, audience-driven phenomenon, divorced almost entirely from the character's canonical morality.which, really suits "CaH/Rev6:8" Methos, and the fandom reactions, and can already be seen in "Timeless" and "Methuselah's Gift".
But then, "Highlander" is made of pretty men, suffering beautifully.
Anyway, it's a field guide, so let's do a point-by-point check
#Recent? No way -1
#Y-Chromosome? Check. +1. (Though one might wonder about the genetic make-up of immies, but, well, male for all practical purposes.)
#Misogyny/Assholery as a selling point? This was one of the things a.t.h discussions were made of. *sighs*. One of Methos' selling points was for sure the contrast he provided to Duncan's morality, a darker mirror than light-hearted Amanda (the "funny man" to Duncan's "straight man"). Amanda's escapades Duncan could smile on and even take part in (see "Money No Object"): They did not question his moral stance about immortality. Methos strangely inconsistent cynical pragmatism did. But cynical pragmatism alone does not an asshole make... Misogyny, that's an even more tricky issue, partially because the discussion has moved on since 1992. So has culture, and looking back at the 90s, I sometimes wonder in which direction. In "Chivalry", I'm actually ready to make a point that Methos' is less sexist (though maybe more misogynist) than Duncan -- he is taking Kristin seriously and is not willing to grant her mercy on account of her gender. I remain undecided on this point, which might make the whole exercise moot. Anyway +/-0
#Faux-demption: IMO all Methos redemption arcs were in the eye of (if not made up from whole cloth by) the audience. We cannot even be sure that Methos does change through the series -- compared to the changes he has already gone through, everything we see in the current-day timeline (developing a crush on Duncan, becoming less suicidal) is small fry. Did he ever try for redemption? If he was redeemed, was it by faith or magic (did he use that holy bathtub from "Deliverance" himself?) alone, or by works? Why did he stop being a horseman? Did he just let himself drift away from who he was by the river of time? Did he act in ways that pleased Duncan to please Duncan, or because he considered it morally right? I feel that canon has given us very little to be sure of, which accounted for the popularity the topic.
Also, there isn't a female lead whose serious love interest Methos might become. Amanda doesn't do serious, Tessa is long dead, and that's the full list of candidates. Of course, if you strike "female", things become a lot more interesting. But it couldn't, canonically. (TPTW are on the book as Not Caring For Slash At All, IIRC.)
Still, there are good points to be made that all gestures of redemption that Methos made, he made because of his crush on Duncan, so... +0.5?
#Madonna Whore Complex: But those very +0.5 above seem to kill this one dead. If we assume that all the good that Methos does he does out of a crush on Duncan, and replace all the female nouns and pronouns in this with general one, we end up out at sea. Does Methos kill people to "prove" how much he loves Duncan? Well, there's Silas. Though he might have killed Silas because Silas was doing his battle-axed best to kill Methos for his betrayal. Then there's Kristin. Methos says, "She needed killing". He follows Duncan's morality, only without the sexism Duncan exhibits in letting women go. And killing is what immortals do.
And if we use Methos' single canon relationship her, with Alexa... he did not kill anyone for her, to prove anything to her, or to mark her as "special". He only nearly managed to get himself killed trying to save her.
But on some gut level I am still not sure that this doesn't apply. So I'll give a deeply undecided +/-0
#But what inevitably ends up happening is that the BBW ends up treating The Girl like dirt as well. No. Very much so. -1
#The Girl as Motivator/Enabler: No. Not so much "no" as "does not apply". I do not think that this dynamic describes any central relationship in the show.
I'm not going into
in detail, because the further I go, the more I feel that 12_12_12's observation of this as a new phenomenon in the beginning is actually crucial. TVTropes talks about Woobification as an "audience driven phenomenon", and goodness hasn't it been one in Highlander.
I might be in the wrong field entirely for this guide.
Which leaves me (apart from the happiness of remembering my first internet-age fandom) wondering about the "recentness" of a phenomenon that relies so much on gender roles. What 12_12_12 is talking about as canon were patterns that can be seen in older shows only with eyes trained keenly on subtext, and which manifested in what fandom made of canon. And with that, the topic is becoming way too complex for this day, hour, or my ability to say anything intelligent about it.