As readers and viewers we all bring our own experience, our own interpretation, to any given text. When I watch something and subsequently talk about it, I think it’s fairly clear that I have a major gender/race/sexuality filter. It is almost impossible for me to divorce myself from analyzing those elements in a book or a movie.
So even before seeing Avatar, my perimeter alarms about a Great White Hope saving a native people have gone off. (This article explains it better than I ever could.) Someone who’s not predisposed to seeing hinky race issues at every turn is probably happy to just go in and enjoy James Cameron‘s stunning achievements with CGI and marvel at the hotness of Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana. But I have a serious hair-trigger when it comes to these things, to the point where things that may pass the average Joe by will set me off. Like today’s episode of B&B.
It’s my favorite show. At this point, anyone who listens to me talk about soaps knows it’s my favorite show. But even with Aaron D. Spears, Texas Battle and Dan Martin in the cast, B&B’s sensibility is very old school and privileged. I spoke in a WEEKLY blog entry about a stereotypical desi cabbie. Well, in today’s episode, we had a stereotypical East Asian nail tech doing Bill’s manicure…followed by an accented, Latin Forrester underling praising Eric for being back at the helm. I face-palmed so hard I think I left a mark. I mean, yay for adding some diversity, but including it in such a clueless manner was painful.
And let’s not get into the casual misogyny on soaps across the board. I twitch so much over the portrayal of women as stupid, submissive-to-a-man, pieces of cardboard that I could probably be on seizure control medication.
I can’t help it. It’s how I view things. Nothing will make me throw a book across the room faster than casual racefail or homophobia…and they’re often instances that the author probably didn’t even realize were epic fails. Ditto for showrunners. I don’t think most people think about it that hard, but I think about this stuff all the time.
Of course, interpreting text with one’s particular goggles on can also be fun. Let’s not forget that. I mean, they don’t call GH’s Jason and Sonny the Brokeback Mobsters for nothin’ (and with the introduction of James Franco as Jason’s biggest fan, Franco, subtext has become text. He might as well have an “I heart Jason” tattoo.).