Speakers in Art

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95 Responses

  1. Avatar North says:

    Okay laying the groundwork first:
    -It must be acknowledged that Marvel, DC and really the entire comic world comes builds off a history of stories and mythos that is either mainly antifeminist or at best distinctly indifferent to women. That presents them with serious challenges in producing movies about strong realistic women heroes that they have not yet successfully overcome.
    -It should also be acknowledged that the vicious economics and demographics of their primary target audience exacerbates this problem. You can make easy dough playing to the inclinations of guys who are distinctly unevolved in their ability to see women as real people and have a tendency to spend money like mad on their interests. Challenging those same audience members or trying to reach out to a woman demographic is nowhere near as easy.
    -Avengers 2, as a consequence of these factors, is thin on strong female characters and viewpoints. It’s definitely weak on women in general.

    All that being said: I’m of the opinion that the foofaraw about this particular joke is absolutely mind achingly idiotic. We’re talking about Tony Stark here, the snarky trash talkers who’s mouth generally runs faster than his brain. We’re talking about said character in an all-male setting involving lifting a hammer with a considerable amount of alcohol involved. We’re talking about an utterly ludicrous over the top threat. It seems to me that people taking genuine offense to this joke are going badly over the top and frankly I’d think they’re probably making their cause look worse than they’re hurting the movie or its authors.Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to North says:

      I wonder if part of this is because the brash, cocky loud mouth who is lovable rouge and really a good guy is such a stereotype now that people forget that cocky brash loud mouths are usually jerk holes.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to greginak says:

        It’s way worse when they get nervous.
        People who turn into standup comics when nervous ought not to accept public speaking engagements.
        Particularly not in front of Bill Clinton.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to greginak says:

        I don’t think the movie forgets it. Stark is, remember, probably going to be the semi-villain of the upcoming Marvel Civil War film. He’s definitly shown playing up his authoratarian jerk-hole features in Avengers 2.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to North says:

      Sexism in comics is one of the more inadvertent results of Dr. Wertham’s crusade against comics. Before Dr. Wertham penned the Seduction of the Innocent, comics were much more diverse in the genres depicted. Superhero comics were on the decline. This being the 1950s, men drew and wrote all of the comics including the ones aimed at girls. The same was true of the early Japanese manga industry. Its just that the Japanese manga industry never got artificially restricted and in the late 1960s and early 1970s many young women began embarking on careers as manga artists. In the United States, the Comic Code destroyed most non-superhero comics and this led to an industry where women would not enter in significant numbers until the 1990s.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to LeeEsq says:

        May he roast in hell forever and ever.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to LeeEsq says:

        That doesn’t make much sense. Why wouldn’t the Code have contributed to the growth in things like Archie? It’s more likely the case that the Japanese graphic media industry is just more diverse in viewpoints from the get go, with audiences young and old. Plus, for every Shoojo manga you have counterparts in Seinen that give Japan it’s WTF Japan? reputation.Report

        • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Kolohe says:

          The Code had some fairly stringent requirements. Archie, Sabrina, and similar comics managed to survive by being fairly rigorous in adhering to the Code. They evolved less to meet changing times than DC and Marvel. By the 1970s, DC and Marvel were attempting more mature stories within the confines of the Code. Archie and company were not.

          A lot of the girl’s comics that did survive the initial assault like Millie the Model or Sabrina disappeared into obscurity by the late 1960s until being revived by television in the 1990s. Archie existed but it had lower impact than other comics. It was mainly seen as safe kid’s entertainment. It also seems that the staff at whoever produced Archie comics stayed more consistent than at DC and Marvel. There wasn’t a lot of new blood with new ideas coming in until recently.Report

          • Avatar Kolohe in reply to LeeEsq says:

            The running gag on the Comics Curmudgeon is that Archie has been written by a computer since at least the early 90s.

            I still don’t get how the Code led to the decline of (for lack of a better word) girl’s comics. it’s an up/down binary thing, not like the movies, where there are grade and “G” has indeed become a box office sedative.Report

            • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Kolohe says:

              Comics were a much more diverse genre before the Code and superheroes were a really minor part of it. Girl’s comics were among the many casualties. The standards set up by the Comics Code favored the superhero genre above others and non-superhero comics rapidly disappeared. Marvel and DC became the dominate companies known for their superhero comics. Girl’s did not read these and the Archie company didn’t launch new titles but kept doing the same old thing with a limited staff rather than hiring women who grew up to read Archie to write comics.

              The Code turned comics into a closed and cloistered but very comfortable industry in the United States. Without it, it would have been more vibrant with more companies, people working in it, and genres. Girl’s comics would have remained bigger and at least some of the girls who read them would have gone into the industry, creating America’s equivalent of shojo.Report

  2. Avatar Kim says:

    One is allowed to take offense at something without confusing the Author and the Message.
    I’d hasten to tell most people, unless you’ve met the author, don’t assume that there’s any correlation.
    Even when I have met the author, I often can’t find a correlation…
    Oh, dear me! I just realized I have met someone who did write a (thankfully brief!) date-rape scene.Report

  3. Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

    Third possibility – This was RDJ Ad-libbing while in character, and it was kept in because it worked.Report

    • Avatar Pyre in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

      Fourth possibility: He didn’t sound it out in his head before it got in the movie.

      Example: On his twitter, when asked “Any advice on writing strong female leads in a comic?”

      His response:

      “Must value #strength but also #community & not have peeny/balls”

      As you can imagine, this comment went over like gangbusters with the trans community.

      Does Joss have a thing against trans people with this being a Freudian Slip? I dunno. It could just be that he was trying to be funny. It could be that he does have something against trans and he just keeps it under wraps because of the social mores of his career. It could be that everyone on Twitter is an asshole*.

      However, regardless of his headspace, it is a comment that he did not sound out before he said it. With the Prima Nocta crack, it could be that he didn’t sound this scene out in his head before he said it.

      *Actually, there’s no “Could be” on the last part but, in this case, I’m referring to one person not thinking before he tries to be funny and other people having collective meltdowns over every single comment that offends them.*Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Pyre says:

        Of course he’s out to get transexuals.
        Because all it takes to be against transsexuals is to write when they’re scamming people out of thousands of dollars.
        /sarcasm, in case you haven’t noticed.Report

        • Avatar Pyre in reply to Kim says:


          You’re kinda missing the point about saying something without sounding it out in your head first.

          But, if I were to take the troll bait, I’d point out that a lot of Americans have had issues reconciling the Orson Scott Card who wrote Ender’s Journey with the Orson Scott Card who funds anti-gay marriage causes.Report

      • Avatar Pyre in reply to Pyre says:

        FIfth possibility:

        It could be that the Prima Nocta crack, by itself, would have slid under the radar but, when combined with Black Widow’s discussion of her forced sterilization (a scene that a lot of people have interpreted as Joss saying that the inability to bear children makes a woman sub-human) and her general story arc of trying to hook up with Bruce and then becoming a damsel in distress, the pattern in the movie becomes a troubling one.Report

        • Avatar morat20 in reply to Pyre says:

          Wouldn’t BW consider herself a monster because she was turned into an assassin by the Red Room.

          You know, all humanity trained out of her in favor of being a living weapon? I believe against her will?

          Bruce at least is a giant green ball of incoherent rage who, rather surprisingly, kills very few people. BW was an assassin. She killed in cold blood, for decades.

          I haven’t seen the movie, so maybe the scene is ambiguous — but “monster” and “Black Widow” go together in my head because of her, you know, pre-Avengers day job.Report

          • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to morat20 says:

            That is the scene, roughly. Banner is pushing her away on the basis that he’s a monster and definitely couldn’t ever have children; she responds by telling him that the Red Room sterilized her to ensure that she’d have zero distractions or human connections that could draw her away from her missions of killing people, and that she’s a monster too.

            Some people have taken two lines of that discussion, outside of the whole conversation, and interpreted them as Black Widow saying she’s a monster because she’s infertile.Report

            • Avatar morat20 in reply to KatherineMW says:

              Well, you know the old saw — make something idiot proof and they invent a bigger idiot. 🙂Report

              • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to morat20 says:

                I’d prefer if the movie had gone more into Black Widow’s actions that made her ‘a monster’ (we’ve only had the vaguest of allusions to them) rather than focusing on her infertility, but the scene wasn’t nearly as bad as its critics make it sound.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to KatherineMW says:

                I’d prefer if the movie had gone more into Black Widow’s actions that made her ‘a monster’ (we’ve only had the vaguest of allusions to them)

                I’m trying to remember if we got *any* references to her past as an assassin in the movie, besides the confusing as hell flashbacks about her having to kill someone to graduate. (At least, I *think* that’s what they were about. Who knows?)

                This movie literally had her under ‘hallucinations intended to break down her mind’ and it didn’t decide to clearly show her past, shown her putting a bullet in a few innocent people without a care in the world? You know, the *actual thing she regrets*…I assume? (I *really* disliked the hallucinations in this movie. There’s ‘clearly stylized so we know they’re not real’ and there’s ‘so confusing and disorienting the audience can’t figure out what’s going on’. This movie did the second.)

                Alternately, you could just have a damn Black Widow or Black Widow/Hawkeye movie, like every single person on the planet appears to want.

                rather than focusing on her infertility, but the scene wasn’t nearly as bad as its critics make it sound.

                The scene didn’t really ‘focus’ on her infertility, that part is just what we remember because we didn’t know about it before. It was one, maybe two sentences in a conversation that went on for a few minutes, but most of that was just rehashing stuff we already knew or assumed.

                For example, last I heard, from the Edward Norton Hulk movie, Bruce can’t have sex, so, yeah, presumably he can’t have kids. And I’m now completely confused as to the point of the whole ‘infertility’ thing. Sure they both know that, as they’re not having sex, they will not, uh, have children *anyway*. Or has their relationship not reached the point of sex yet? Or has that restriction been retconned from the MCU? If so, shouldn’t *that* be mentioned? What exactly is going on here?

                Anyway, back on point, how damn hard would it have been to make her line something like ‘I’ve killed a lot more people than you. And I did it while I was me, not some other personality. I’m the monster.’, which would have made this entire thing a lot more understandable.

                All sorts of parts of this movie were a mess.Report

            • Avatar Kim in reply to KatherineMW says:

              god, I hate it when superhero movies start sounding like real life…Report

        • Avatar Kaleberg in reply to Pyre says:

          Forced sterilization? One of the reasons the Black Widow considered herself a monster was that it was voluntary. Fertility might interfere with her ability to kill.Report

  4. Avatar j r says:

    So, you’ve decided to completely dismiss the most likely possibility in understanding this supposed controversy, which is that it is almost entirely an emergent phenomenon of the very apparatus of internet controversy. It’s feedback.

    Also, on this:

    The first is that there are plenty of times when members of the audience willfully misinterpret the author. Gordon Gekko in Wall Street is probably one of the more famous examples of this. He is named after a reptile and the “greed is good” speech is nor supposed to be morally exemplary. Oliver Stone is not shy in showing this. Yet there seem to be lots of young men who turned Gordon Gekko into a figure of admiration.

    People willfully misinterpret Stone, because it’s painfully apparent that Stone’s interpretation is bunk. Gekko is very obviously a cipher for Stone’s thoughts on finance and economics, which aren’t particularly profound. Stone is, however, a great screenwriter and director, so the character is a great character.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to j r says:


      Once again you prove your absolute ability to dismiss anything except your interpretation.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        A bit of projection there, no?

        Anyway, I’m not dismissing anything. I’m wondering why you haven’t considered a very obvious possibility.Report

        • Avatar Kolohe in reply to j r says:

          Nah, people willfully think Gekko is someone worthy of emulation *because* of the great characterization (i.e. writing, acting, and directing) and are completely ignoring authorial intent, if they even thought of it to begin with.

          Gekko is also squarely in the middle of the half-century of anti-heros that have formed a dominant pop culture paradigm.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to j r says:

      There are a ton of speeches that do this.
      Baldwin’s speech in Glengarry Glen Ross.
      Nicholson’s speech in A Few Good Men.
      Pitt’s speech(es) in Fight Club.

      “That speech isn’t supposed to inspire you! It’s a cautionary example!”
      “Shut up and let’s make some money.”Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Jaybird says:

        People really like fascist speeches.
        This ought to trouble us more than it does.Report

        • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Kim says:

          People really like heist movies. Doesn’t mean they’re going to become thieves.

          People really like vigilante movies. Doesn’t mean they’re going to go out and whack some street thugs.

          I suggest we consider the appeal of fascist speeches in movies in a similar light.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Burt Likko says:

            The quickest shortcut to making a villain really, really interesting is to give a reason for the audience to say “You know what? That bad, bad person has a point.”Report

            • Avatar morat20 in reply to Jaybird says:

              I’m pretty sure they wrote in the “Magneto abandons Mystique” plot in X-men (when she got zapped human) entirely because Magneto was coming across as to compelling.

              They needed a shoot the dog moment to remind people he’s the villain.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to morat20 says:

                That’s fine. It’s funny, though, when you have a shoot the dog moment for one of the Heroes… (*cough* Torchwood’s daterape scene *cough*).Report

              • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Kim says:

                Wasn’t Owen considered an arsehole when the series began?Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Kolohe says:

                I consider him an arsehole the entire time. You don’t stop being an arsehole when you show no remorse for being one.
                Yes, he gets to then be the woobie and get kicked a lot by girls he falls in love with. But, hell, he’s the idiot that starts something with Gwen (something Mr.Metrosexual at least had the good sense not to. Taken means something, Owen).Report

              • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Kim says:

                He arguably wan’t a hero, then, right? That he showed some measure of self-sacrifice towards the end doesn’t wholly redeem him, and it might be the authorial intent to leave him a great deal unredeemed. (He spends the second half of his character run in pretty much literal purgatory as it is).

                But a fair criticism can be leveled at whatever the authorial intent was towards Toshiko’s unrequited love towards Owen.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Kolohe says:

                Torchwood is a singularly bad show to parse for authorial intent
                … if I ever meet you in person, I’ll explain.
                (wow, there is something I won’t blab about on the internets!)Report

          • An obvious “He’s not supposed to be a hero but fans admire him for all the wrong reasons” is Vic Mackey.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Jaybird says:



        I live by life by these, as well as the recognition that YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH.Report

  5. Avatar Kolohe says:

    This makes me sympathetic to the idea that some numbskull guys can be out there and think Prima Nocta is an awesome idea.

    No, I’m pretty sure all numbskull guys think that being a genius, billionaire, playboy philanthropist is an awesome idea and have not a clue what prima nocta is. (unless they recently saw Braveheart).Report

  6. Avatar KatherineMW says:

    It wasn’t a good joke. It was absolutely a joke that Tony Stark would make.

    I’ve regarded Tony Stark in a generally antagonistic way ever since I started watching these movies; half the fun of them is the plots (all the Iron Man movies and Age of Ultron) involving and often revolving around “Tony Stark screws everything up again.”Report

    • Avatar North in reply to KatherineMW says:

      That is entirely correct. Every Iron man villain was virtually self made on Stark’s part and in the case of Ultron quite literally sprung like a demented Athena from his PSTD shock addled forhead.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to North says:

        Its been a while since I read the comics but I recall that Marvel Tony Stark was more of a suave ladies man and less of douchebag. He might want to bleep every dame in sight but he was enough of a gentleman not to make jokes about it.Report

        • Avatar North in reply to LeeEsq says:

          Well yes but let’s be real here Lee, RDJ’s Tony Stark -IS- Tony Stark to the vast majority of Tony Stark fans out there.Report

          • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to North says:

            Fortunately for Marvel, because the comics version of Tony Stark was, from what I hear, turned into a cross between a fascist and Dick Cheney (po-tay-to, po-tah-to) shortly before the movie was released. RDJ did a lot to give him a new fanbase.Report

        • Avatar DavidTC in reply to LeeEsq says:

          It really depends on the writer.

          He’s behaved that way enough for it to clearly be part of his character.Report

  7. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    Carroll O’Connor was personally quite liberal, to the point of being politically progressive. The character he played on All In The Family, Archie Bunker, was anything but. Indeed, the liberal O’Connor often worked in piercing critiques of contemporary liberal claims either through writing or ad-libbing dialogue for Archie.

    Which is to say by way of example that an actor is not his role, necessarily, and words within a screenplay are not the views of its author, necessarily. You have to be intelligent about what you’re consuming, even in a comic book movie that clearly isn’t intended to be taken particularly seriously. Which means, in turn, people ought to balance the chips on their shoulders a bit more securely before leaving the house in the morning.

    Comedian: “How many feminists does it take to screw in a light bulb?”
    Feminist: “HEY! That isn’t funny.”


    • Avatar aaron david in reply to Burt Likko says:

      I am starting to wonder that with the rise of reality programing that the perception of this might be changing. When it was clear that the people in front of the lense were either fictional (actors) or nonfictional (news anchors, sports castors) it was obvious. With real people working off of scrips that accentuate the “character” of themselves and thus blurring the lines further, it may be that people are less willing to take something like this (Prima Nochta) as a historical roll your eyes at the character type joke.

      Just a thought.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to aaron david says:

        Now that is an interesting thought!

        Can’t say that I have thought of it. Wish I did though. Could be an interesting essay to explore.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to aaron david says:

        People have been missing the subtext and taking things in art at face value long before Reality TV was even a genre. Gordon Gekko’s speech got taken at face value at the same time Wall Street was released. People misinterpreted gangster movies for as long as there were gangster movies.Report

        • Avatar aaron david in reply to LeeEsq says:

          Actually @leeesq I would say with both of those examples people are purposely misinterpreting. What I am saying is that as the studios purposely blend fiction and reality, society, especially certain subsets of, assume the message is something that it is not. I am not really in the mood to brush up on my Derrida enough to tease out the breakdown, but I am sure there is some sort of change.Report

          • Avatar Kolohe in reply to aaron david says:

            When the studio system was dominant, the hollywood media machine was more invested than now in ‘good’ people being perceived as ‘good’ in real life, too. (‘bad’ people were generally lower level stars and more more anonymous in their own way) In other words, imo, there was an even higher correlation between typecast and public persona back in the day.

            As someone with too much knowledge of ‘reality’ tv (because a significant other who enjoys parts of reality tv), the majority of ‘reality’ characters are jerks. (and they mostly don’t make up for it with competence in whatever field their supposed to be in). But they generally don’t generate too much outrage, because people like watching people yell at each other on TV (though most admit it is trash TV).Report

            • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Kolohe says:

              Actors were under strict codes of behavior in public. Men had to be gents, women proper ladies, and teens of the all-American type. The Studios often orchestrated romances between the different actors to generate tabloid publicity and squelch rumors of homosexuality.Report

      • Cluelessness is nothing new. Back in the early 60s, when Dick van Dyke was out in public with his wife, people would accuse him of cheating on Laura.

        And as I’ve pointed out many times, Heinlein had a character say “An armed society is a polite society” in a book where that was quite false. It doesn’t stop the gun nuts from quoting it as something RAH said.Report

  8. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    Ohhhh these people would just hate Sir John Falstaff if they had even a passing familiarity with him.Report

  9. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    Well, yes, until he got caught with that Shetland pony.Report

  10. Avatar Iron Tum says:

    Well, Joss Whedon does have a bit of a history with irritating certain schools of feminism:



    So it’s not like this twitstorm would be unexpected.Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to Iron Tum says:

      That second one has got to be a joke, it’s so bad.

      I know a lot of feminists who wouldn’t consider Whedon a feminist, but that post is just awful.Report

    • Avatar Doctor Jay in reply to Iron Tum says:

      My understanding of things like that is as follows:

      People who are in recovery from trauma tend to be very black and white. They will categorize people into one of three rigid categories: Perpetrator, Victim, or Rescuer. If someone does not fit into the category of Victim or Rescuer, then they must be a Perpetrator.

      This becomes especially problematic when we layer on the feminist recognition (and it is an accurate one!) that often Rescuers expect rewards, and that Rescue is very gendered – it’s always the passive princess in the castle who is rescued by the handsome prince. Which means that there is no place in this equation for a man whatsoever. In this world view, men aren’t normally sexual victims, and if they seem to be Rescuers, that means they probably are doing it out of some expectation of sexual reward, and hence they are actually Perpetrators.

      This attitude is a real problem for life in the world. It is the result of trauma. It represents an emotional wound that is deep and painful and might not ever get healed. The part that is really toxic is that the people in this wound export their own feelings of hurt and shame to the world.

      They also generally have an attitude of avoidance. This is understandable, the point of pain is to signal you to avoid something. It becomes a problem when they expect the entire world to abet them at their avoidance.

      I don’t find these interpretations to be phony, trumped-up, or lazy. I find them to be the result of trauma. That doesn’t make them more true, or more valid, though.

      The thing I will take issue with the writers above is that they anoint themselves doorkeepers to the Feminism Club. They say things like “he is not a feminist”, speaking in terms of identity. Feminism is a set of ideas, not an identity. Nobody is the doorkeeper to the club, the club doesn’t exist. By doing this, they avoid engaging with their own pain, because the alternative to shaming and drawing boundaries and othering people is to talk about your own experiences, to talk about how something affected you, and what it means to you, and that would very likely be painful. Not “too painful to bear” mind you, I think people can bear a lot more than they realize. But it would be very painful.

      So, I hear a subtextual message in the posts linked above of “I am in pain”, or perhaps, “I have had trauma”

      As a side note, I don’t think I had noted all the tropes that Whedon used and subverted. Honestly, the things she points out, for instance, a black woman calling a white man “sir”, make me think the show is even more brilliant.Report

      • Avatar morat20 in reply to Doctor Jay says:

        Actually, rescue isn’t very gendered, I don’t think. (I suspect the primary focus is on men rescuing passive princesses).

        My son, for a period of time in early high school, had a very nasty habit of dating women with issues. White Knight sort of thing, trying to ‘save them’. Needless to say, that’s not a great basis for a relationship and he eventually grew out of it.

        But I’ve come to see that as the counterpart to ANOTHER common bad coupling — “Good girls like bad boys”. I’ve seen enough women attracted to broken men — men with problems with temper, responsibility, maturity, addiction, etc — attempting to ‘redeem them’. (Seriously, the number of times I’ve heard a woman justify her bf/husband problems or behavior under ‘they could be so much better’ or ‘have potential’….)

        I honestly think it’s a very common trap for young people with moderate to high levels of empathy, as well as a very common target for less empathetic but more manipulative people. The latter, I suspect, is more men manipulating women, but I think the former swings freely either way.

        The more often you’ve gone through that particular cycle, the quicker it tends to burn out. As I told my son — a lesson he finally learned himself, painfully — he is not a therapist. He is neither educated nor trained nor licensed to “fix” someone. If he wants to help, suggest therapy. Be a friend. But don’t become an enabler, codependent, or get sucked into the problem. You help no one that way.

        I get wanting to help someone in pain. Learning when you can, and when you can’t, is part of growing up. Some people never learn, I’d imagine.Report

        • Avatar zic in reply to morat20 says:

          +1, @morat20

          I tried to teach my children (and any of their friends who wanted or needed the lesson) that it’s best to tamp down initial attraction, even for someone who’s just a friend, and observe how that person treats other people. Do you like it? Because eventually, that’s how they’re going to treat you, too.Report

          • Avatar morat20 in reply to zic says:

            Yep. And sometimes nothing works. I watched — up close — a relationship so emotionally abusive (male victim, female abuser) that it would have been rejected as ‘too obvious’ for an afternoon special on abuse.

            You had half a dozen people, minimum, telling this kid not only that it was wrong, but accurately predicting her tactics AND at times actually quoting him lines from those aforementioned specials.

            “I dunno, Kid X. What would you think of a man who insisted his girlfriend cut all ties to her friends, tried to sabotage her relationship with her family, and was constantly trying to get her to move in with him after cutting ties so she was totally dependent on him for everything? Abusive you say? Goodness. Doesn’t this seem familiar?…”

            THAT was a combination of stupid gender roles (duh, I’m a guy I can’t get abused) AND ‘white knight’ stuff. He thought he was rescuing HER.Report

            • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to morat20 says:

              There are certain character traits that are generally regarded as negative that protect people from turning into a white knight or love martyr. Laziness is one of them. People consider me a rather empathetic and caring fellow but I’m also lazy enough to not put up with bull like this. I have better things to do with my time.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 in reply to LeeEsq says:

                That’s the problem with teenagers. All those hormones keeping them active. Even when they’re not after sex, they’re full of energy.

                I found my settled down immensely when he got a job in addition to college.

                Honestly, I’m coming out of parenthood (he’s 19 and in college, so I’ve got some experience now!) with a greater appreciation of my parents, a VERY solid appreciation for a good therapist, and the firm belief that the ‘idle hands’ saying is even more true in the age of smartphones and wifi-enabled toasters or whatever else.Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Morat20 says:

                I don’t know. I certainly had the characteristics necessary to be the guy that women complain to about their boyfriends but I never had the patience for it even when I was a horny teenager.Report

              • Avatar morat20 in reply to LeeEsq says:

                I would imagine you never got obsessive about a specific person.

                Our cultural mythos hands teenagers a pretty crap hand when it comes to romance. Too many contradictory roles, too many things still hanging on in culture but ignored in practice (and how are teens supposed to know the difference?). Too much stuff that might be true if you’re 30 (or truthesque, at least) but is ridiculous at 16.

                Kids would be better served if media presented the ages of 15-25 as “You screw up constantly, you fall in and out of love all the time — 95% of your relationships won’t last a year — everyone’s claiming to bone, but it’s happening maybe 30% of the time, everyone lies about everything, and honestly you’re not gonna find ‘true love’ until you’re older and have worked out who you are so don’t treat breaking up with the girl you took to homecoming as life and death,okay?”Report

  11. Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

    “Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.”

    If I recall the scene correctly, the only character that the hammer even wiggled for was Cap. People who make tactless jokes about institutionalized rape can’t make the hammer move a molecule.

    Perhaps people were getting the wrong message here…Report

  12. Avatar Kazzy says:

    Here is what I’m wondering…

    What was the purpose of that joke? To establish Stark as a billionaire, playboy asshole? Well, don’t we already know that? And couldn’t that have been done without making that particular joke?

    Was it to remind us that, for all his progress, Stark was still a billionaire, playboy asshole? Well, again, couldn’t he have done that without a rape joke?

    If they want us to think, “Holy shit! Iron Man/Tony Stark isn’t a hero at all! Dude would use his power to give himself the right to rape women!” well, okay, that joke does that. But do they want us to think that? And did anyone walk away thinking that?

    If we’re supposed to think he’s cheeky, then make him cheeky. Don’t make him someone who soft pedals rape. Because people who soft pedal rape should not be received as I understand Tony Stark to be received.

    As such, it seems a little indulgent on Wheedon’s part.

    Confession: This joke would have been way over my head.Report

    • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to Kazzy says:

      I agree that there are plenty of asshole-ish lines they could have given Tony instead of a rape joke, and that doing so would have improved the scene rather than detracting from it.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to KatherineMW says:

        I’m surprised nobody flipped the table at that joke before it got to theaters.
        (Referencing a famous testaudience of the Simpsons that literally flipped the table at a particular joke. Steelers fans, man).Report

    • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Kazzy says:

      What was the purpose of that joke? To establish Stark as a billionaire, playboy asshole? Well, don’t we already know that?

      I’ve argued that some segment of the audience doesn’t appear to know that. Or they wouldn’t be complaining as much about it.

      To just to clarify, it’s the *movie’s* fault if the audience doesn’t understand the characters, not the audience’s. If the movie wants us to consider him being an ass, they need to show other people considering him being an ass, not just make him an ass on screen a few times.

      They managed that pretty well with the entire ‘Tony is out of control with his tech’ thing, but forgot to do it with the whole ‘Tony is a sexist ass’ thing.

      And couldn’t that have been done without making that particular joke?

      Or making it clear it *wasn’t* an acceptable joke, by having someone react to it. Or, even leaving that joke alone, making his assholishness a point at *some other* time, so when people think about that joke, they’d think ‘Tony was just being an ass, as the movie established he was’. Instead of ‘A hero in this movie made a joke about raping people.’.

      Of course, a lot of that movie was cut. I’m sorta wondering if something relevant was cut about Tony, because, at this point, he’s not really explicitly villainish enough to be the bad guy in Civil War.Report

    • Avatar Brooke in reply to Kazzy says:

      As a woman and a survivor of domestic abuse, I’m not upset about this joke. It didn’t even register as something that had a chance of bothering me.

      It seemed like an apt comment for someone with Tony Stark’s history and personality to make. It’s also a reminder that even as we try to sanitize language in public and art, people are still going to make off-color jokes when they’re among people they’re comfortable with. As long as people act this way, it should be expected that it will be portrayed in art, even if some people take offense at it.Report

  13. Avatar Damon says:

    “For some reason, men always seem to be the ones who willfully misinterpret messages like this. A lot of men also seem to miss the cautionary aspects of Brian De Palma’s Scarface and go immediately for the wealth and power that Scarface gets from drug dealing and violence.”

    Maybe it’s just that “they’d do it better” than the character in the movie since they are smarter?Report

  14. Avatar aaron david says:

    You know, the more I think about this, it seems most likely to me that it was just a joke that fell flat.

    Is the joke basically about rape? Yes.

    Is the joke meant to be cruel? No.

    Nothing more than that. People are reading into it all the hopes and fears of a particular twitterverse meme, and going on a mini POMO rampage with it. Whedon got caught in the crosshairs and while that sucks it is the nature of this beast. I think @doctor-jay has the correct view of it, in his entry above.Report

  15. Avatar Glyph says:

    I guess here’s why I, personally have trouble imagining being offended – or anyone harmed – by this joke.

    This “controversy” involves:

    1. A fictional character, who by his presented nature might say such a thing,…
    2. Making a *joke* about – that is, in no way seriously contemplating or condoning,…
    3. A custom that never existed IRL – that is, is itself mythical…
    4. But if it had, would likely not have been considered “rape” *by the standards of the time/place*, but merely law/custom.

    Now, before anyone jumps on me for 4, let me be clear that we today (and IRL) would obviously consider it rape; but presumably the hypothetical people of that hypothetical time/place would no more consider “consent” in any way relevant to this hypothetical practice, than they would consider needing to “consent” to having their serf heads lopped off by some passing knight on the say-so of the King. The very idea that it was even possible to say “no” would likely not occur to either hypothetical party.

    So we have something here that is, at minimum, 4 conceptual layers removed from anything resembling what *we* know as rape today IRL.

    It’s not real sexual assault, or even advocacy of same; it’s fiction upon fiction upon fiction.

    Look at it this way – let’s say we were discussing ancient Egyptian pharaohs here, and I said, “hey, it’s good to be the Pharaoh, what with the nubile slave girls fanning your throne all day” – would anyone sensibly contend that I – a real person! – am endorsing the (probably sexual!) slavery of (probably historically-real, more or less!) women?

    Of course not; even with several of these intervening layers of fiction and artifice removed.

    But even if you DID think I was endorsing that – so what? Isn’t it just idle BS, at worst? What’s the point of getting upset?

    What power do I, or anyone, have, to actually effect such a scenario? Do I have a time machine, to go to back to ancient Egypt and apply for the job of Pharaoh?

    Now – how much *less* power does a fictional billionaire superhero have, to effect such a scenario in anything resembling anyone’s real life?

    Who is harmed, by such a joke? Who is threatened? Who is at risk? Am I missing something?

    If the answer is that the mere existence of a rape joke indicates acceptance of, or contributes to, incidence of rape IRL; well, that seems as unlikely to me as saying that my mock-threatening to kill whoever keeps stealing my Butterfinger out of the office fridge indicates acceptance of, or contributes to, incidence of murder IRL. These two things are just not related in any meaningful way AFAICT.

    It’s like we’ve confused stories and reality. We can’t seem to fix hard reality, so gosh darn it, we’ll fix the stories and feel like we accomplished something.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Glyph says:

      Glyph: It’s like we’ve confused stories and reality. We can’t seem to fix hard reality, so gosh darn it, we’ll fix the stories and feel like we accomplished something.

      Humans have been confusing stories with reality since we started telling stories in the first place. A lot of people want stories to conform to their standards of morality.Report

    • Avatar j r in reply to Glyph says:

      Yup. At the bottom of all those layers, this is less about rape than about whose tribe gets to set the standards to which the rest of us ought to adhere.

      And this is exactly why this project is doomed to failure.Report

    • Avatar Brooke in reply to Glyph says:

      As a society, we’re currently giving too much power to people who feel offended by things. We live in a country where people are quick to claim a “right” to be free of something and we often forget there is no right to be protected from offense. Nor is it always (or even often) appropriate to change what some people haven taken offense at.Report

    • Avatar Kaleberg in reply to Glyph says:

      In the kind of society where droit de seigneur is considered a tradition, odds are that the marriage wasn’t voluntary. Let’s face it, in most traditional cultures, sex is primary, whether the bride wants it or not. To be honest, the groom might not be all that keen on it either.Report