Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Sauce for the Goose

The Nostalgia Chick: Top Ten "Hottest" Animated Guys

I can't really tell how much of the analysis done in this video is Lindsay playing a character, and how much is what she actually believes. But either way, she brings up points in this video, and I'm going to address them.

It's a little disappointing not to see a female equivalent to the male polymorphous perversity. Guy nerds are definitely more open about their attraction to fictional characters, especially 2D ones, but I don't think this is an inherent gender difference either. I think it springs from encouraging women to be more "enlightened", to not be so crass or so bizarre as to be attracted to something that doesn't exist. But if it's creepy for one gender, it's creepy for the others.

As to the apparent greater diversity that female fans have when it comes to cartoon crushes, I don't think it represents something fundamental, either. I think men and women are equally shallow about looks, it's just that being good-looking, while partly down to genes, is also hard work. Therefore, it's no surprise that men, being in power, subconsciously and gradually created a system with the illusion that women don't care how men look, in order to ease that burden on themselves.

A weird offshoot of this is the notion that women have a wider variety of physical "types" to be attracted to, and in terms of this, it translates into female fans getting crushes on old guys, nonhuman beings, and the Peter Griffins of the world. If all things were equal, we'd either see a dissolution of the idea that women care less about looks, or men would have to admit they can have weird tastes, too.

Granted, it's hard to put this to the test when there are very few elderly women or grotesque female beings as lead characters for guys to go after. Or whether they would want a sugar mommy the way that the Beast can be read as Belle's sugar daddy. I have also seen that male and female viewers tend to "do" fandom differently, but I don't agree that it manifests in female viewers being more interested in character and male viewers in "OMG TITS" when it comes to cartoon crushes.

Have you ever seen a sexpot character without a sultry personality to go with it? Or the personality of an ingénue, or an Amazon, or what-have-you? Most of male fan's female lust objects do have a character. In addition, MOST of the characters listed in the video are young, fit, and close enough to humanoid to be the equivalent to whatever animated girl the guys are into. Frollo and the Beast (as a Beast) are the only real deviations, since Goliath is no different than nerdy guys being attracted to an elf or a demon: a shape that's basically human but with some funny bits glued on.

…Probably because I don't buy into these theories, I'm still gobsmacked by Frollo scoring a spot.

For another observation, It's too bad Tuxedo Mask was the only anime character on the list. One of the few things I still think anime has over American cartoons is that they design some male characters for attractiveness to female viewers, while American cartoons are more likely to design male characters that men would like to be. Sure, female viewers do in quantities like the big-chinned, beefy look, but you can bet this happens by accident.

There are exceptions, of course, and it's no surprise Aladdin made the top, since he's one of those characters designed for the interest of female viewers. Prince Naveen is another one, and he's pretty different from someone like, say, Gaston, isn't he? I think there's a spectrum: some fans find lighter, softer characters more sexy, some find the harder warrior-type more sexy, and this isn't much to do with the gender of either side.

To finish, I don't believe women like "projects" or "bad boys", or if they do, it's a kind of cultural illness and not a fundamental part of the female psyche. And, well, I don't like the tendency to assume that female fans like characters because they want to "fix" them, in the case of villains, or "unbutton" them (literally or figuratively) in the case of stoic characters. Why can't we assume female fans are drawn to the characters as they are? Sounds suspiciously like the idea that women don't know their own minds.

I also don't find what about a tortured past makes a character attractive. It certainly makes them interesting from a storytelling point of view, and it might lead to personality traits that are attractive to some, but the notion that a tragic past is inherently, universally sexy to female viewers is baffling. The assumption probably is that female fans want to nurse or nurture the tortured characters, but that still is assuming female fans want to "transform" the character into their own image, rather than accepting the character as they are.

Basically, I don't think female fans are, by and large, too enlightened for cartoon crushes, or more enlightened than guys are, nor are they more interested in moulding the characters to their image--at least, any more than guy fans would be.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Dark. Place.

A friend of mine recced me this show, and wow…just…amazing. A 6-episode series, originally on Channel 4 in the UK, it's a fictitious writer's equally fictitious vanity project. Matthew Holness plays horror writer "Garth Merenghi", the lead in a sf/horror medical drama based on his own books, taking place in "Darkplace Hospital". It aired in 2004, just before Stephen King's Kingdom Hospital series debuted in the US, and I wonder what the story is there, since the two are very close in concept.

This short series is distinguished by deliberately bad acting and deliberately bad special effects, along with Merhengi's ponderous monologues and obvious tendency to portray "himself" as a Gary Stu. Merhengi also cast his publisher (played by Richard Ayoade) in another of the lead roles, too. Episodes are broken up by short interviews with the actors, addressing their show-within-a-show characters and the universe it plays in. It's all very meta on meta. It's also meant to be shot as a 1980s series, despite airing in 2004, and the film has that gauzy, soap-opera look that matches its contents.

Stephen King is probably the man parody target, both because Merhengi is a horror writer, and because of King's penchant for making cameos in media based on his books. However, Holness also bears a striking resemblance to a young Harlan Ellison, and my friend also suggested that his billing himself as a "dream weaver" might be a reference to Neil Gaiman.

The humour is simple, but it works, and I'd recommend anybody give this a shot. There is also a small website.