A follow-up to this post.
In an interesting twist, Lucy Liu has been tapped to play Watson in the American version of Sherlock Holmes, “Elementary”.
I don’t know how I feel about this (I think maybe I don’t care?), but the fact that someone, somewhere, decided, “Let’s change a character in a male-dominated story to female!”… and they decided not to gender-swap the Guile Hero/Jerkass Woobie main character? Shocker. Oh look, another ‘head’ main character remains a male!
THIS IS NOT MY SURPRISED FACE, GUYS.
Not only did they cast a woman as Watson, they cast a woman of color. Not on cable, but on network tv. And not just on network tv, but on CBfuckingS. You’re saying that, while you don’t care so much, you’re pissed off that it wasn’t Holmes that they did this with instead of Watson?
Casting a WOC in a lead role on a network show—in a traditionally male role at that—is Huge Liek Woah. But, you’re still dissatisfied. Should she also be a dyslexic lesbian with one arm? What, exactly, do you want from them?
I don’t mean to single you out; all the complaining has been bugging me, and your post was kind of the last straw. It’s not just you, I promise.
Hi Tzikeh! I’m not sure you understood the context for my post— I’m actually not complaining about the recasting of Watson in the context of feminizing the character overall; I really don’t have a problem with that. I’m complaining about the LACK of Jerkass Woobie/Guile Hero women in general, and I think my post only really makes sense in the context of this massively overwrought thing that I wrote a while back.
And I can understand that, seriously. But using an example of a network show that has done something pretty awesome in order to highlight your (quite valid) complaint minimizes the cool thing that the network has done here. It’s akin to saying “Sure, this band has a female lead singer and a female bass player, but WHERE ARE THE FEMALE DRUMMERS? HUH? HUH? of course they don’t have a female drummer. Typical.”
In that way, the post felt very dismissive of the network’s choice. if I’ve misread, then I apologize for not understanding.
I’m not bitching about their choice to feminize (I.. don’t know if that’s the right word, maybe gender-swap is better?)
Yeah, I’d go with gender-swap, or simply “cast a woman in a man’s role.” “Feminize” has a negative connotation (sadly.)
Watson or make her a person of color. In fact, I think maybe that’s pretty cool? I don’t know, I haven’t read the opposing arguments yet.
I’m not mad about this, specific, choice to gender-swap Watson, I’m disappointed in an overall trend that ‘head’ characters in serious dramas are almost universally male and was using this as a supporting piece of evidence for a previous argument….I didn’t intend to minimize anyone’s appreciation of the progressiveness of making Watson a WOC; I don’t think that the fact she isn’t Holmes makes it necessarily less progressive,
I totally get that. But progress toward gender equality in media is slow, and using a strong step in the right direction to point out a continuing negative needled me. That this isn’t what you’re looking for in a TV show is… I get it? But… hm. I’m not sure how to phrase this. It’s like complaining about a slow song because it isn’t fast, a fast song, and you want a fast song. Well, then this isn’t the song you’re looking for.
I’d be interested in your take on it.
Here it is! :D
Yeah, and I can totally see how perhaps my post came off as minimizing (particularly) the POC aspect, which, to make it clear, I think is probably (always a qualifier since I still haven’t done my research!) pretty effin’ great! I had hoped that the linking to the previous rant would make it very clear I was speaking to solely the lack of ‘head’ characters who are women and not the race aspect at all.
Still, I think it’s possible to acknowledge that things can be both an improvement and still sort of a token gesture that hints at a larger system of inequality. To take the band metaphor further, I would argue it’s more like a super-commercial made-for-radio band wherein most of the members are male, but there’s a female lead singer. Sure, that’s definitely better than no women in the band, but at the same time, that doesn’t mean that the female lead singer wasn’t recruited for her particular role at least partially because we as a society find it the most consumable and comfortable to see women in certain roles. And, to change metaphors completely and switch back to fictional narratives, one of those roles is the ‘heart’ character, of which Watson is a perfect example. I don’t think my criticism can be compressed into exclusively a “I don’t like Elementary because it’s not the show I want it to be [or a slow song when I want a fast one],” because it is, I think, at least in part “not the show I want it to be” because of reasons of structural inequality and the way women are portrayed in the media and popular narrative.
At the same time, I can recognize that NBC certainly did a brave and I think probably a good thing by gender-swapping and diversifying the character. So excellent! I really am pleased about that. It’s just not quite as far down the road as I would like to see us (and I freely admit that I have a stake in this because I idolize ‘head’ characters and about a year ago I realized that all of my fictional heroes were men and so, yeah, for me it’s 100% personal.) I think it’s reasonable to be both generally happy about a small step* and simultaneously disappointed that this step didn’t go in the direction/as far as I might have hoped.
So I don’t think it has to be totally one way or the other. I think perhaps we could agree that, if given the chance, we’d slap NBC on the back and say, “Excellent call! Let this be the beginning of an era of equal representation?"
(And then I can go and find a writer and refuse to stop jumping up and down on them until they can conceptualize the idea of writing a nearly-godly hyper-intelligent social-engineering emotionally-unavailable grade A badass of a woman and then I can run away with that script and never stop kissing it. I may starve to death but it’d probably be worth it.)
But seriously, thank you very much for taking the time to respond and do so in such a thoughtful way. You really have made me re-evaluate how I expressed myself, and the implications (some of which were highly unintentional but definitely still present!) of such.
*I think maybe part of the problem was I said, in a fit of poor wording, (“I don’t care”) about the recasting? A much, much better choice would have been, “I don’t have an opinion yet because I haven’t looked into the implications apart from this one thought,” which is really what I was trying to convey, and my phrasing was exceptionally poor at saying that. You know how it is— it makes sense when you’re writing it! And then you read it later…