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Thursday, January 21, 2016

Television Should Not Ignore Reality

Recently, Meghan O'Keefe wrote a piece at decider.com under the headline "Dear TV Writers: Enough With the Incest Already!!!"...

The latest trend in bonkers storytelling seems to be incest.
Now, incest isn’t that new of a trope. After all the Old Testament and Greek mythology is overflowing with tales of siblings marrying siblings and history is rife with cousins marrying cousins to keep titles in the family.
I'm glad she recognizes that.
The entire plot of Game Of Thrones is sparked into action when little Bran finds Jaime plowing his twin sister Cersei, incest is at the heart of the sadistic twist in Crimson Peak, and a disturbing brother-sister romance is at the heart of Starz’s Flesh and Bone. Oh, and the surge in interest in Star Wars reminded everyone that Luke and Leia once shared an awkward kiss.
"Star Wars" should explore that more.
That’s not all. The new Freefrom fantasy drama Shadowhunters will likely have to deal with its own incest-fueled storyline. Last weekend, I asked the cast and showrunners if the new series would stay close to the books in regards to Jace and Clary’s “are they siblings/aren’t they siblings?” relationship. They said that the show will follow the books — where, yes, it’s often suggested the two love birds are brother-and-sister.
Good for them, if they do. She moves on to "War and Peace," which was covered here.
While I liked War and Peace and the unbridled passions of its characters, that one scene seemed dropped in just to spark conversations (such as this very one).
Even if that's so, conversations need to be sparked.

Like shocking mid-season deaths, surprise pregnancies, and characters being resurrected from the dead, incest can be used deftly in drama, but when employed too often it loses its punch.
Considering how common it is, it should lose it's "punch" in a certain sense. Another punch, though, could be generated in depicting the troubles and anguish caused by discrimination against people in consanguinamorous relationships.
The more and more I see these amoral trysts onscreen, the less shocking and the more lazy it seems.
Some depictions do involve loathsome characters, but there isn't anything amoral about consenting adults making love with each other.

How disgusting is that? I’m becoming numb to the grotesque act of incest!
50 years ago: "How disgusting is that? I'm becoming numb to the grotesque act of interracial sex!"
So that’s why I’m pleading with showrunners and TV writers: ENOUGH WITH THE INCEST ALREADY!!!
DISAGREE!!! What the writers need to do is to have more inclusive portrayals. The is much serious drama and comedy, and romance and passion that can be depicted based on real life as well as classic fiction. Whether Genetic Sexual Attraction or not, consanguinamory is fertile ground for compelling television. There are seemingly endless possibilities.

It's a bit funny to see this sentiment expressed at decider.com, because...

Here is something Olivia Armstrong wrote there in April 2015 about how the hit television show Friends depicted a level of intimacy between siblings. There are videos at the link

It’s no secret Ross and Monica Geller of Friends (portrayed for ten seasons by David Schwimmer and Courteney Cox) were closer than your average sitcom brother and sister duo. Over the years, however, audiences noticed that the siblings started to act more like a couple rather than blood relatives, despite Ross’ decade-long on-again, off-again relationship with Monica’s best friend, Rachel (Jennifer Aniston). We’re not the first to analyze the sitcom staple in such a light, but after bingeing through ten seasons on Netflix since the series’ New Years Day Netflix debut, it became clear that the Gellers’ intimacy was all too real and glaringly obvious for creators Marta Kauffman, David Crane, and Kevin Bright to ignore.
So what's the evidence?
For example, remember in “The One Where Dr. Ramoray Dies” when Monica and Rachel practically duked it out for the last condom? Remember how no one was weirded out by this? Even when Richard and Ross had to face each other and awkwardly talked about mustache combs instead?
Her argument is that Ross should have lost desire for sex at the thought of his sister having sex.
Then there was that time when Monica openly discussed her birth control options in front of Ross. Because that’s definitely something you normally mention in front of your big brother.
Uh, that's rather weak, but OK, because there is more...
Followed by that time Monica asked Ross which dress she should wear to seduce Chandler in “The One with the Birthing Video.” Followed by the time she eagerly listened to him have sex with Charlie through those paper thin beach motel walls in “The One After Joey and Rachel Kiss.” And perhaps the most memorable time was featured in “The One Where the Stripper Cries,” when the two discovered they accidentally shared a drunken, late night kiss at a college party back in 1987.
Though it was somewhat acknowledged in this last episode, neither Ross, Monica, nor the rest of the Central Perk crew explicitly said what’s what - aside from Chandler’s, “WHAT did I marry into?!” Some siblings are closer than others and different families express affection that’s unique to their household, but Ross and Monica undoubtedly hovered over each other’s sex lives; one could argue that’s progressive and honest comedy for comedy’s sake. Yet to have instances in which an older brother chooses what lingerie his sister should wear later that night isn’t exactly funny all these years later: it’s odd.
Nobody writes that about depictions of siblings hating, even killing each other. Sad.

At least Brooke Moreland had good things to say about Showtime's Polyamory series when it was on. But last year, O'Keefe asked if the movie "Clueless" had the "creepiest kiss in cinematic history" because the female lead character is "only" 16 and was kissing her ex-stepbrother.


Josh and Cher can legally date, kiss, and have sex, but I would add that if you need to make justifications for their romance, then it’s kind of inherently creepy.
Huh? So the law is a fine for telling people they can't, but if the law allows, well, that's not important? Kind of like how O'Keefe cites that the character were raised as siblings for part of their lives as why they shouldn't get together, but I suspect O'Keefe would also say half siblings who were not raised together should also avoid being together. Is O'Keefe just looking for justification for her own "ick" reaction?

Maybe...
Of course, the Jane Austen romance it’s based on is also has a creepy vibe. In Emma, Mr. Knightley is a good seventeen years older than Emma, which would be fine if they were strangers who met as adults, but he’s literally known her since she was a baby and has always been a paternal figure in her life. Adding to the familial weirdness, Mr. Knightley’s younger brother is married to Emma’s older sister — I don’t know why, but I find that even sketchier than the age gap. When Emma realizes that she loves Mr. Knightley, it’s a shock to her system. Why? Because much like Cher, she’s only ever seen this potential love interest as a fraternal figure.
O'Keefe had a specific piece for War and Peace...
However, the characters getting the most attention in the lead up to the mini-series’ premiere are undoubtedly Anatole (Callum Turner) and Helene Kuragin (Tuppence Middleton. Much has been made — even by Decider— about the unabashedly incestuous nature of these siblings’ relationship. Tolstoy hints at such an illicit tryst in the novel, but the series’ writer Andrew Davies spells it out loud and clear. The scandalous nature of this pairing is meant to get tongues wagging and to probably make Helene seem all the more wrong for the sweet Pierre.
Back to Olivia Armstrong, who wrote about the show "Flesh and Bone"...

Created by Breaking Bad alum Moira Walley-Beckett, the dramatic series introduces sex, drugs, and incest into a world that most everyone believes is elegant and pristine.
There's sibling sex in the show.

Consanguineous sex and relationships have always been a part of our stories because they've always been a part of life. Television should not deny this.

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2 comments:

  1. Isn't it amazing that when the subject is raised, some people want to shut down the conversation. They do that because it makes them feel uncomfortable. It's good though for people to see some consanguinamorous couples even if it is only in fiction because it raises the issue. I think there should be MORE, not less about the subject out there. At least then there is more chances of it starting conversations amongst people, some of whom will get into a proper debate, and maybe even feel some sympathy for those of us who have really lived it and are oppressed by the state.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Indeed. If anything, it reminds viewers that this isn't just a fantasy world and that can sometimes turn off people who don't really want to think about what they are watching but who just want to tune out and enjoy

    ReplyDelete

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