alixtii: Codex at her computer, from the first episode of "The Guild." (Felicia/Vi/Codex)
[personal profile] alixtii
The other day I made a comment on Twitter (after much counting of characters to make everything fit):
Bit disturbed by implications of man needing to sweep in & make things better, but guess @feliciaday's awesome makes up for it. #theguild
And just today she blogged:
An interesting comment was made on Twitter, about everything being made “ok” because a man came back and took over. I certainly didn’t mean that at ALL. The fact is, Codex is not a good leader. She will never be a good leader, especially in the time frame of 6 days in this season. That is how people ACTUALLY are. She’s BETTER than she was at the beginning, but to think that she realistically could take on the mantle of Guild Leader (and REPLACE Vork which I didn’t want her to do) against the Anarchists was such a stretch for me, and a direction I didn’t want to go in with the script. So, Vork comes back, after his big journey, and puts the Guild back together. Codex will get her moment, don’t worry.
Now my main reaction to this is to mentally jump up and down in excitement that Felicia Day spent a whole paragraph in her blog responding to a criticism I made. (I went backwards through the hashtag and I'm assuming it's me she's responding to there.)

As an obligatory response to what she wrote, I suppose I should say that of course I didn't think for a moment (nor do I think anyone else could) that Felicia Day intentionally meant to say anything anti-feminist. I think her cred in that area is pretty much unassailable, but at the same time her intent doesn't negate the possible moral of the episode I read in it. This is basic Anti-Oppression 101 to anyone on my flist, but somehow I feel need to reiterate anyway. I don't think Felicia Day is any more sexist than anyone else; I do think this particular episode she wrote and produced (and starred in) does replicate sexist messages already present in our culture in a disturbing way.

But again, I think the more important point is that she wrote and produced it, period. When I say Felicia's awesome makes up for it, I don't mean I'm willing to look past the flaws because I like her a lot. I mean that the fact that the episode exists at all, a product of the entrepeneurship of her and her co-producer Kim Evey, is an inherently feminist act.

As I've said before, the problem with our culture isn't that stories like S3 Ep10 exist.

The problem is all the other stories which don't exist, or at least don't get to be heard.

The problem is a lack of pluralism: stories which focus on (white, heterosexual, cisgendered, etc.) men's problems and men's victories keep on pushing out other media. I think the only solution to this problem is a two-pronged approach: one, producers of media need to think more deeply about the stories they're telling. But this can only go so far; if all the producers are men, chances are the stories they're going to be interested in telling just aren't going to capture the whole of human experience no matter how much feminism they try to inject in. Sometimes even a Joss Whedon is going to want to tell a story like Dr. Horrible where there's only one meaningful female character and she dies at the end. I think we need to respect that.

That's where prong two comes in: making sure people other than cisgendered heterosexual abled white males get a chance to tell their stories. And this is why Felicia Day's story (her life story, not Season 3 Episode 10) is so important. She managed to carve out a space for herself outside the already existing system where she could tell the stories she wanted to tell, where she could exist as a powerful woman to create, write, produce, and star in the webseries we know and love, to find a way to support her project (in season one, on donations; for seasons two and three, by being sponsored by Microsoft and Sprint) without giving up the rights to her project or creative control. She is a pioneer and an inspiration to others.

(And which is not to elide the fact that Felicia is privileged in so many other ways, of course: she's white, straight [so far as anyone knows], abled [for now at least], brilliant, [so incredibly] beautiful, university-educated, and comes from a background where she was encouraged to use her talents from an early age).

The Guild is not a perfect feminist work. In addition to the issue with S3 Ep10 I already mentioned, it has some real successes alongside some real failures in its treatment(s) of race, class, and able-ness. Felicia Day, as deeply awesome as she may be, is still only human. But I don't think any work is a perfect feminist work: the future I envision is one in which all types of works, each one of them deeply flawed in its own way, get brought to the table, not just a certain kind, so they can all end up critiquing, complementing, and supplementing each other. And I think The Guild, taken as a whole, brings us closer to that future.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-11-12 05:12 am (UTC)
scrollgirl: animated icon of many slayers (btvs slayer love)
From: [personal profile] scrollgirl
Wow, how cool is it that she responded to your comment! I'm hopeful that she'll keep your comment in mind for future story-lines, give it more consideration, and maybe improve her work. Who knows?

*uses only icon with FD in it*

(no subject)

Date: 2009-11-12 07:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I was all prepped to get intellectual and join in on the discussion but it's late and my brain is fried but I must say... your post reminded me that I have a few episodes of The Guild to catch up on. How could I forget? So. Anyhow. Though not your intent, thanks for jogging my memory.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-11-12 07:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I agree that pluralism is the only possible way forward. I know someone who devoutly believes that every piece should be inclusive and fair to everyone. Sadly, with each attempt she makes to produce even a single piece of work that fulfils that criteria she demonstrates how impossible that would be to do even once. Every piece is going to give some people a longer straw and some a short straw, all that is needed is to ensure different types of folk get the long straw in turn. That isn't actually all that hard and we are almost there I would say.


Date: 2014-04-11 12:10 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I agree with brenda_ea, adndig AE's commentary has increased my enthusiasm for the final product.The question I have is, will the book be available from Smashwords? Since Amazon is one of my recent favorites in sites I love to hate and will no longer do business with.

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