mysticalchild_isis: (xena rawr)
Isis/Sarah/Bowie ([personal profile] mysticalchild_isis) wrote2012-01-02 09:45 pm
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A Scandal in Belgravia

I've been sitting here for awhile trying to put my thoughts together, because while there were some things I really enjoyed, there were a lot of things I was really troubled by. And I know that a lot of people on my flist just really loved it, and I don't want to harsh anyone's squee. But I just have to throw my two cents in. And I certainly don't want to tell anyone that they shouldn't be enjoying it, or bring it down in their eyes, but I have feelings, and so...

Let's face it, Steven Moffat is a misogynist, and that comes out in everything he does. Even when he writes supposed "strong female characters", they're more this kind. And again, I'm not trying to tell people not to like them; there are plenty of them that I like, too. But again, there are tropes and elements that are deeply troubling, and I think that needs to be addressed and not glossed over.

Because female characters get criticized constantly, and so often by women, I feel like it's important to ask: is this internalized misogyny coming out? Is this being overly critical? Is a female character getting called a Mary Sue when a male character would just be considered awesome? But there are problems with the women Moffat writes, sometimes on the surface, and sometimes more deeply, and I have to address them.

Irene Adler: on the surface- strong, charismatic, smart, sexy. But oh my god, the use of the lesbian who still falls deeply in love with the male hero: SO PROBLEMATIC. (And offensive, not to mention over-used.) Also problematic: the glamorization of sex workers. Yes, she chooses it, and she seems to enjoy it, and in real life, I would never judge someone for it. But this is just another example of the trope wherein the only way women can have power is through sex. And let's not talk about the male gaze issues in this: we had the parallel getting ready scenes between Sherlock and Irene... only Sherlock ends up in a bulky police coat, while Irene is in lingerie and then is totally naked. (I could even go into a long discussion of the application of make-up scene, but that's better left to Julia Serano, who has a great analysis of that in Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity. Also, I am aware that Sherlock ended up in the buff earlier, but a) that was played for laughs, b) it was very brief, and c) it wasn't in a sexually charged situation.)

Also, there was that whole thing where Irene needed to consult with Jim Moriarty, and yet was still in the end outwitted by Sherlock. In the original VICTORIAN story, Irene didn't need to consult with Moriarty, and also was successful in outsmarting Holmes. Nor did she end up needing to be saved by him. AND THIS WAS THE VICTORIAN ERA.

All of this was in the same episode where Mrs. Hudson was brutalized and needed rescue, and where Molly was totally humiliated by Sherlock, but oh, a kiss on the cheek makes it all better. Oh, and Watson had a girlfriend even he couldn't remember, and who is played as unsympathetic despite her valid grievances. ::headdesk::

I was very amused at how the cliffhanger with Moriarty was resolved, I was happy to see Lestrade, the deerstalker was awesome, John had some great bits, there were lots of good interactions with Mycroft... but despite the fact that there were a lot of things I enjoyed, I was still left wishing that I could get Moffat enrolled in therapy. And some women's studies courses.

[identity profile] 2012-01-03 02:50 am (UTC)(link)
I have a friend I want to link this to, can you please unlock it?

[identity profile] 2012-01-03 03:03 am (UTC)(link)
I didn't watch it so my response would be that Moffet needs to stick to writing Vastra and Jenny and nothing else.

[identity profile] 2012-01-03 03:16 am (UTC)(link)
Where is that show damn it.

[identity profile] 2012-01-04 05:05 am (UTC)(link)
You can lock this again now. My friend read it then whined at me for taking tv too seriously, haha.

[identity profile] 2012-01-04 03:50 pm (UTC)(link)
That's what I said. Its a shitty part of our culture we can change by boycotting.

[identity profile] 2012-01-03 03:06 am (UTC)(link)
I agree with pretty much everything you said! I loved season 1 of Sherlock (and that completely took me by surprise because I have lots of issues with Moffat). But this episode was really disappointing. I don't know much about the original Sherlock Holmes stories, but I do know that this was Moffat writing women the way Moffat always seems to write women. It drives me completely crazy.

I'm so glad I'm not alone in noticing (and being bothered by) these things.

[identity profile] 2012-01-03 04:01 am (UTC)(link)
It bothers me too. I don't get the yelling. I get the fanboys who refuse to listen and then treat me like I'm being irrational and, well, crazy. It kind of makes me want to test a little theory and get my friend, Devon, to talk to all of them. See how they respond when he tells them why he thinks Moffat ruined Doctor Who. For some reason, I think they're more likely to listen to a straight guy... And not just dismiss everything he says...

[identity profile] 2012-01-03 04:16 am (UTC)(link)
I did read it. And I also wish I could make a lot of men read it. Unfortunately, I have a feeling that the only men who'd even be open to the ideas in it are those who are aware of those problems in the first place. I have a feeling that the rest of the men I know would just get defensive and argumentative.
ext_12394: (doctor who: assertive!amy)

[identity profile] 2012-01-03 03:35 am (UTC)(link)
YES, yes, yes, yes, yes -- all of this. :(

[identity profile] 2012-01-03 05:34 am (UTC)(link)
Yeah, I really enjoyed the episode on the whole. I'm ecstatic to have the show back and it had a lot of moments that made my fangirl heart very happy. BUT. BUT.

I HATED that Irene A) fell in love with Sherlock despite being a self-professed lesbian? I mean, I get that you couldn't really take anything she said at face value [and THAT'S an issue to take up another time perhaps] but WHAT?

Ugh. I was bothered that she needed saving in the end.

I was EXTREMELY bothered that Sherlock figured everything out at the last minute. She was supposed to best him, not ALMOST best him and then flee with tears in her eyes because she just loves him so much.

And why, WHY, must she always be working for Moriarty? Why can't she just be a kickass criminal mastermind in her own right? I've never actually really liked the character of Moriarty that much. Irene is COOLER than he is.

I <3 this post because it is everything [ profile] tocourtdisaster and I bitched about in between our bouts of squee. (Because in all honesty I can be as annoyed as I like at Moffat but I'll still be rewatching this episode.) I really can't think of anything to add because you've just listed all my complaints. Well, all the ones really worth complaining about, but yeah.
Edited 2012-01-03 05:35 (UTC)

[identity profile] 2012-01-03 05:48 pm (UTC)(link)
Yeah. I was actually equally bothered by Sherlock's apparent crush, not just because the "Oh, I was taking your pulse to see how you've got the hots for me" was cheap on so many levels, but because the implication was that she basically used her sexual wiles (herein referred to as breasts) to dupe him, instead of just genuinely outsmarting him. Because a woman clearly can't be smarter than Sherlock, but she can surely make him act stupid if she flirts hard enough.

The day that Moffat finally writes something completely free of misogyny will be the day I die of shock, so I really tend to ignore it in his stuff more than I probably should. I just assume it will be there and I will have to get over it if I want to enjoy a show that is otherwise fantastic.

[identity profile] 2012-01-04 03:43 pm (UTC)(link)
I wanted to give somebody the link to this if you could be convinced to unlock? Alternatively: friend [ profile] tocourtdisaster who is lovely despite her lack of interest in Marvel :D
skybound2: (DW Donna TARDIS door)

[personal profile] skybound2 2012-01-03 05:49 am (UTC)(link)
It's late where I am, and I am on my tablet, so I can't give you the full response I would like, so I'm just gonna go with:


Took the words right out of my mouth. I did enjoy parts lf the episode, but they (re: Moffet) failed HORRIBLY with Irene Adler.

[identity profile] 2012-01-03 04:36 pm (UTC)(link)
love your post--you hit the problems right on the head--well done!
Relevant to this, you might be interested in a fic that fixed the ending:

[identity profile] 2012-01-03 08:43 pm (UTC)(link)
In a nutshell: I agree with absolutely everything you said.

As someone else commented, I find it extremely annoying that modern takes on Holmes (this and the first Guy Ritchie movie) seem obsessed with Moriarty and then turn Irene Adler into a mere Moriarty pawn.

To me, the definite A Scandal in Belgravia will always be the Jeremy Brett / Granada version: faithful to the source material, strong and resourceful Irene, and OMG the erotic tension, yet they barely touch through the whole episode.

[identity profile] 2012-01-04 12:35 am (UTC)(link)
Yes! Absolutely! His Holmes is so intense, and he lived in the character so completely. Brett is my canon Holmes. I still enjoy both the RDJ and Cumberbatch versions, but I see them both as AU Holmes(es).

Making a comparison with another famous detective... for me Poirot IS David Suchet. I could watch every episode of that show ten times. Yet everytime I watch one of the Peter Ustinov movies, I want to throw things at the screen.

[identity profile] 2012-01-04 11:29 pm (UTC)(link)
I got linked to this by [ profile] gadgetorious, and I have to say that you've managed to articulate quite a bit of what bothered me about the episode (the other bit being the question of virginity which I think I'm going to have to make a post about to get my Feelings out). God forbid that Irene be a smart, genuinely strong woman without it being about sex. And, yes, she's portrayed as intelligent, but the best part, the part where she figures out the hiker and the boomerang isn't even her; it's a figment of Sherlock's imagination. She's smart enough to get useful photos and information from her clients, but not smart enough to figure out what to do with them? That hardly seems like the Irene Adler who could outwit Sherlock Holmes all on her own.

What I think I wished for, more than anything, was an Irene Adler recognizable from the original canon, and that's not what I got. Some of the details were right, but the whole picture was wrong and it was disappointing. And I honestly don't mind that things get changed because there's no way to keep everything the same, but when you get to the point that the only recognizable feature of the character in question is their name, then you've gone too far, I think.

[identity profile] 2012-01-05 02:14 am (UTC)(link)
Works for me. She's rarely steered me wrong. :)

[identity profile] 2012-01-06 05:38 pm (UTC)(link)
I agree pretty much with what you said. It baffles me that there are people defending Moffat and not seeing what is so clearly wrong with what he wrote (i.e. erasure of queer identity, taking a strong woman who wins and having her become weak and in the end losing among other problematic things).

Moffat's Adler is not Irene Adler. For someone that prides himself on being true to canon, he certainly got it completely wrong. I wish I could wipe this episode from my mind. Seriously.

[identity profile] 2012-01-07 02:30 am (UTC)(link)
I found it at hxxp://

I'm not a member of Fandom Wank or its other comms. I just occasionally read some of their stuff because it's interesting viewing different fandoms from the outside (especially fandoms I didn't know existed like My Little Pony). Also occasionally, they'll post something that will lead me to something interesting (usually slash related).

I friended you because I noticed that we have some of the same interests: Sherlock Holmes, House, Doctor Who, etc.

I don't know if you saw, but someone tweeted Moffat about the sexism in Sherlock: here's the screencaps of the tweets and then I saw this article:

[identity profile] 2012-01-08 01:31 pm (UTC)(link)
I wouldn't worry about them (Fandom Wank). It only had two (civil) responses. FW is more concerned with other posts (thankfully).

Wow, he's furious at being called a sexist, and considers it "defamation"? He really does buy his own hype. Yikes.

Yeah he definitely does. He has such an ego which is fed by his fans. One of his fans on tumblr said that people who called him sexist should be shot. (The person making this comment was a 17 year old male Doctor Who fan according to his profile on tumblr). His fans are scary.