Square Peg, Round Hole: Veronica Mars Season 4

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Kristin Devine

Kristin is a geek, a libertarian, and a domestic goddess. She lives in a wildlife refuge in rural Washington state with too many children and way too many animals and works with women around the world as a fertility counselor. There's also a blog which most people would very much disapprove of https://atomicfeminist.com/

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41 Responses

  1. Avatar Jaybird
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    says:

    I have not seen the new Terminator movie. That said, I heard a rumor that the three female (human) leads all yell “I am not a machine” against the antagonist during the climax of the film.

    Movie lost $100 million, I understand.Report

  2. Avatar Mike Schilling
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    says:

    Veronica Mars and Captain Marvel have the same fatal flaw.

    If it’s the the same flaw Ricky Martin and Philip Marlowe have, I think I’ve cracked the code.Report

  3. Avatar JenniferAndLightning
    Ignored
    says:

    I think your description of both season 4 Veronica and Carol Danvers as somehow male characters played by an actress just shows that you have bought into really limiting stereotypes regarding male versus female characteristics. The idea that being a cocky hotshot is somehow a male things seems laughable to me. I am an attorney and most my colleagues are cocky hotshot women, none of whom become flustered, panic, or cry when upset. There is nothing wrong with those tendencies, but they are not somehow more feminine than those of us who have always been tough fighters and found the only characters we can ever identify with (until recently) are male because writers think women are a certain way. Women are individuals. Many women do use drugs, enhoy strippers and casual sex. Many men do not.

    I 100% like your point about the ways in which men are dangerous to women. I am a domestic violence attorney and have lived those truths. And as a result of repeated traumas, many women do become like Veronica in that we can’t let our guard down or set down our anger and have to relearn how to be gentle and open to others. I really identified with season 1 Veronica as a young adult and as a 40 year old I really identify with season 4 Veronica.

    And I totally fantasize about being able to respond like Carol Danvers when some jerk tells me to smile. It’s pure power fantasy. Obviously, it would never be safe for me to (over)react like that in real life, but if I had super powers, nobody is ever telling me to smile again.Report

    • Avatar Hallie in reply to JenniferAndLightning
      Ignored
      says:

      Seconded. I know several military women, and Carol Danvers was a very good amalgamation of them. If we are to believe that she was the sort to persevere through boot camp and beyond, then there is *no way* for her to have been as emotionally demonstrative as this review wants her to be. I found that representation to be well done, and I greatly enjoyed watching her embrace the power that not suppressing her emotions gave her.Report

    • Thanks for reading and commenting!Report

    • Avatar veronica d in reply to JenniferAndLightning
      Ignored
      says:

      I agree. I think Kristin really missed the mark by saying these stories are “inherently about men.” I call bullshit on that.

      Women firefighters exist, as do women soldiers, women boxers, etcetera. Plenty of women do “guy stuff” in real life — enough that maybe we should stop calling it “guy stuff.” So why not the movies also?

      I think she can make the case that too many movies these days feature “cocky” women doing violence. Fair enough. Perhaps she doesn’t personally like this topic. Perhaps she would rather see more movies that portray women she can relate to. That would be a reasonable point. All else being equal, I’d rather see more options than less. I’d like a broad spectrum of art to exist.

      That said, cocky women exist. I’ve met quite a few. Likewise, many of us enjoy movies about cocky people doing violence (but only in the movies, not real life). Given that, it seems (I shall say) brutally sexist to say that such stories somehow belong to men. Balderdash. Nonsense.Report

      • Avatar Kristin Devine in reply to veronica d
        Ignored
        says:

        I’ve sat on this for a few days since it seems to be a minefield, but I’ll try.

        It is ridiculous that you (who ostensibly know me, to some extent) could read what I wrote above and your takeaway is that I don’t think cocky women have a place in movies. I never said that, I would never say that, and while I can forgive a couple posters who aren’t OT regulars for perhaps making that mistake, and I could have maybe been clearer (and would have had I known this piece had legs beyond the site) I really don’t see that criticism coming from a person who “knows” me. At least, not as a fair appraisal.

        You realize you’re talking to a person who named herself “atomic.” You’re talking to someone who gets into arguments online and spars with people, who writes inflammatory sh–, who started her own conservative feminist website and named it after herself, etc etc etc. Long story short, I’m pretty flipping cocky myself. You know as well as I do that I was not ever saying “cocky women don’t exist IRL” or that cocky female characters are not awesome and entertaining. Veronica Mars is cocky. Buffy is cocky. I love those characters. I could sit here for ten minutes and list 5000 cocky, tough, and strong female characters from fiction and reality that I stan for.

        It is a totally twisted interpretation of my writing to imply that I was saying we can’t or shouldn’t have entertainment about women firefighters, women boxers, soldiers, etc etc etc That is just pure unadulterated nonsense, or like you said, balderdash.

        that having been said, I personally happen to believe that cockiness in men and women have different flavors, different manifestations, different motivations, and people around cocky women react differently to them than they do to men. All these things are worthy of investigation. I found the manifestation they showed in Captain Marvel to be done badly, thoughtlessly, and to be a continuation of this knee jerk misogyny running amok in which male values, male standards, and male behaviors are held up as superior and things that women should emulate because it behooves men to have them do things that way.

        I reject that, and am hoping for a better way in which women have ACTUAL representation of women in all of our variety. NOT just what is popular among the superwoke right this minute, but actual representation of a variety of women. Just as you say, more options, rather than less. From where I sit, I am seeing less and less representation of any women who aren’t supernatural killing machines, and it’s both boring and insulting to the majority of women who aren’t supernatural killing machines, in addition to being problematic in a number of ways I laid out in the piece. And that absolutely includes female soldiers, firefighters, boxers, etc.

        I think we would both agree that gendered behavior is a continuum, like the behaviors of youth and old age are a continuum, and liberals and conservatives exist on a continuum. Something that exists on a continuum does not immediately make it an unhelpful lens to view the world through, even if it isn’t always true for everyone all the time. Generalizations based on a continuum can also be helpful, because there are certainly spots on a continuum where more people tend to fall than others. When it comes to women acting like Tom Cruise in Top Gun, they’re pretty few and far between compared to a lot of other women who are getting precisely zero representation on the screen and never HAVE gotten any (including female soldiers, boxers, and firefighters, with a few notable exceptions of course) That’s why it utterly sucks to see Veronica Mars, who was a pretty rare and precious character to me as I know she was to you as well, turned into just another iteration of Tom Cruise in Top Gun to cater to “fans” who aren’t even the primary fan base of Veronica Mars.

        Here’s what I think. I think that you have so bought into what you believe is “conservative” on the continuum that you read in my words a stereotypical person who doesn’t exist and thus you immediately see me calling for all movies and television shows to star Carol Brady because I find her relatable when I’m saying nothing of the sort. I am merely pointing out that going from a world in which only one manifestation of the female gender was being regularly portrayed on screen, to another world in which only one manifestation of the female gender (which is IMO not even a very common manifestation, leaving the majority of women not represented at all) is not feminist and in fact is pretty darn misogynistic. Both of them present being a woman as some kind of pass/fail in which anyone who doesn’t fit a very narrow set of behaviors need not apply.Report

        • Avatar veronica d in reply to Kristin Devine
          Ignored
          says:

          I think we would both agree that gendered behavior is a continuum, like the behaviors of youth and old age are a continuum, and liberals and conservatives exist on a continuum. Something that exists on a continuum does not immediately make it an unhelpful lens to view the world through, even if it isn’t always true for everyone all the time. Generalizations based on a continuum can also be helpful, because there are certainly spots on a continuum where more people tend to fall than others. When it comes to women acting like Tom Cruise in Top Gun, they’re pretty few and far between compared to a lot of other women who are getting precisely zero representation on the screen and never HAVE gotten any (including female soldiers, boxers, and firefighters, with a few notable exceptions of course) That’s why it utterly sucks to see Veronica Mars, who was a pretty rare and precious character to me as I know she was to you as well, turned into just another iteration of Tom Cruise in Top Gun to cater to “fans” who aren’t even the primary fan base of Veronica Mars.

          We can both agree on this. My complaints were about your phrasing and the whole “good versus bad” feminism spiel. That said, the whole superhero genre can be pretty shallow. Nevertheless, a lot of people find it entertaining, because it is. So having an occasional “girl power” movie in the genre seems like a welcome thing to me.

          Furthermore, even among the superhero glut, we have characters like Jessica Jones, who are very different from Wonder Woman. Despite having super strength, Jones is clearly embodied as a woman, which makes her a better character I think. I still enjoyed Wonder Woman, on its own terms, although I wish they made more shows like Jessica Jones.Report

  4. Avatar Michael Siegel
    Ignored
    says:

    I just watched Captain Marvel and it left me a bit cold. I think you put your finger on one of the things that bothered me about it: that the character was sold as revolutionary but just seemed so mundane.Report

    • Avatar Kristin Devine in reply to Michael Siegel
      Ignored
      says:

      Yeah, mundane would have been a great word to include here.

      I apologize to everyone for continuing on my same damn theme as always but it really, really bugs me to have one limiting stereotype that alienates lots of women replaced by another limiting stereotype that alienates women while we all have to applaud and say how brave it is. It isn’t brave or revolutionary to do the same thing everyone else is doing to get social approval.Report

  5. Avatar Chrissa
    Ignored
    says:

    I loved Veronica Mars Season 4.Report

  6. Avatar Sandee will
    Ignored
    says:

    Logan made the show… his character had the most growth. Without him there is no show! Rob Thomas wrecked it!Report

  7. Avatar Joey
    Ignored
    says:

    I liked all the Veronica Mars seasons. They were very entertaining. Its not real life but it was very entertaining and that made it enjoyable to view. I just glanced over this article and read some feedback and peeps are just to negative. Enjoy life and get off the hate machine. It was a fun series.Report

  8. Avatar Heather Jackson
    Ignored
    says:

    I kept rolling over my reasons for being disappointed in Season 4–it couldn’t be just that they off-ed Logan, could it?—but I thought I was being too picky about how Veronica came across as jaded and emotionally-stilted. Like, why was she so opposed to therapy? Why did she still hate Neptune so damn much even after giving up a promising legal career for it? Why was she constantly getting so drunk she needed face time with her toilet? Why does she hate babies so much?

    None of that felt true to her Marshmallow persona. Underneath seasons 1-2 Veronica’s trauma was a girl who was looking for connection, understanding, and hope. Season 4 V Mars thinks hope is for sissies. She was selfish and terrible to the people she loved. I don’t want to buy into that.Report

  9. Avatar Kenneth Stark Sr
    Ignored
    says:

    I enjoyed it. A little off from the original series, but what does one expect more than a decade later.
    And, I was NEVER a LoVe fan.
    Glad they left it open for ANOTHER season, happily anticipating one.Report

  10. Avatar Glyph
    Ignored
    says:

    I dug VM S4 a lot (except for the theme song. Never thought Chrissie Hynde would let me down, but she did). Thought the mystery was twisty and enjoyable even if it was quickly pretty clear the villain was the villain, they were getting too much screen time not to be. Fun dialogue (the Trump joke was deadly), solid acting (Veronica’s quick turn from “Keith’s faking illness to provide a diversion for me” to “oh sh*t, what if he’s NOT faking, what if he’s really sick” was great).

    (I’ve, ah, forgotten how to do spoilers around here so if anyone wants to clue me in I’ll do a better job hiding some of this next time).

    This: “Veronica takes drugs and drinks herself sick several times, which is completely out of character for her”

    strikes me as missing the part where Veronica’s no longer a high school, or even college student. She’s now in her late twenties, or thirties. I didn’t drink at all in HS, and not overmuch in college (relatively-speaking). Didn’t even smoke weed for the first time until I was out of college.

    But the post-college twenties, I and many people I know tore it up. Near-constantly. Alcohol and more, to excess.

    Some of this is just opportunity/access, and some of it is, like Veronica, realizing that your post-college life isn’t turning out the way you once thought it would, that in some ways you’re still stuck right in the same place you always were.

    If the Veronica of S4 seems to you to have changed, it is because she fears she hasn’t.Report

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