1. ouathinktank-metacommentary:

    As you can see, we got two asks covering this worrisome spoiler (because — character assassination by tossing two years of development right out of the fucking window, anyone?) of Regina asking Sydney to “kill the one standing in the way of her happiness”, both expressing similar, valid concern. So we’re going to reply both at the same time, if you don’t mind. (A lot ;) So, waffle ahoy. ;)

    Dear Anons,

    These are both excellent questions and capture the full extent of our growing distaste with OUaT. I mean serious distaste. So thank you for making us feel a little less alone in our 70s inspired cocktail induced bubble of righteous anger and disgust. Cheers.

    (First, disclaimer: Something I’m personally noticing a lot is this label used for Regina. You see, I’m really not sure that calling Regina white-washed is respectful. I understand your point though, and it’s all love and positivity here. (Also, imagine me laughing at my own jokes, so apologies in advance.) Because what you meant, I’m guessing, is that Regina is white-written how about that? So, can we start saying that on this blog, perhaps? When mixed-race actresses have to fight to have their characters reflect their actual ethnicity, the white writers can just push a dominant narrative anyhow because they don’t understand much about ethnicity or culture or cultural nuances. Adam and Eddy can’t write their way out of a paper bag, so capturing the nuances of positioning Regina as an actual descendent of the mixed-ethnicities of Puerto Rico, as well as Italy? On top of the fact that simply by hiring a WoC they believe to have achieved enough of a ‘representation’ without actually writing any of it into her character? Oh, now I’m laughing so hard I’m going to hurl. Laugh or cry, those are often our choices given to us by OUaT writing as of late, eh?)

    Anyhow. It’s sort of interesting how the unpacking begins with a basic point about plot holes, that is: where on earth has Sidney been and why would he help Regina when she put him there, after all those years of loyalty? Then you start thinking why, when Regina has supposedly come so far, largely with Henry and Emma’s help and to some degree Mary Margaret’s help as well, why oh why would they sink her into this nasty, sexist, racist ‘triangle’? Then you start to realize, as our second Anon has realized, that they’ve pitted the only PoC on the show against one another in a sexist and heteronormative arc that I’m sure the white supremacists among fandom will argue is equality because hey, non-white people can be mean too! That’s equality, no?

    {sounds of crickets. Can we insert a picture of a cricket to go with the sounds of crickets? Or Archie Hopper, at least?}

    But basically, indeed. OUaT is a racist, sexist, heteronormative narrative, yes, don’t pull your punches, Anon. Our first and worst clue was Tamara’s death at the hands of the white man whose sympathetic rendering was accomplished first when parts of the audience who couldn’t stand his abusiveness left and secondly when the writers constantly made his man-pain all about the women who have wronged him. But let’s revisit the list, shall we? Ok, so, what if we started to really unpack the ways that racism operates in conjunction with sexism on OUaT? I think we’d get even further as a fandom. So…

    SpittleMan: Invades Regina’s space, tries to use alcohol to ply her at all hours of the day, gives her heart away literally five seconds after she asks him (illogically, just because the writers made her) to babysit it, all after spit at first sight (which they don’t remember anyway, but hey, he ‘saved’ her life, didn’t he?) So, why is all of this so beautiful and romantic? Because white supremacy and heteronormativity say that the white man has instant and total access to WoC at all times, at his whim, when he likes. His mistakes and his fumblings and his stupidity are really just signifiers of his total superiority anyway, so along come the SpittleMan-GorgeousQueen shippers (we are no longer honoring their ‘ship’ name because it’s an insult to thinking human beings) who pretty much reinforce this superiority.

    RapeyHook: ABC types allowed his ‘fans’ to be called ‘hookers’, the sexist undertones so obvious there that we won’t even bother unpacking it. We’ll just hand out barf bags. Now, he has admitted to using booze to get his way with women which, in the United States of Freeeeee Ameeeerica, is often considered to be non-consensual sex which is also known as sexual assault. Again, he is the white male whose free and unhindered access to the women around him is a given. Come on, don’t question it! He knows you want it! Just say yes, already! As for what the hell that has to do with racism? Let’s insert some class analysis in here, since the racist system that Disney has upheld, is largely about ensuring that people stay in their place. Think there isn’t a class system in the freeeeeeeeeee Americaaaas? Think again! When poor African American communities started to create wealth and community for themselves, at every turn, the system turned on them. Blame the Beetles for destroying Motown, or, hey, blame the Prison Industrial Complex.

    Poverty operates with whiteness to create a divide-and-conquer mentality, which OUaT is reinforcing, by hitching Emma’s horse repeatedly to Killy Willy rather than to Regina, with whom she might (ironically) share some genuine solidarity. Now, Regina’s rather incredible apology for doing what she did to Emma’s life was graced with forgiveness in a now infamous and deleted (or discarded, whatev) hug, which the actresses saw as incredibly important — but which the white dudes controlling the writers’ room and editing booth and probably the gaming systems in their basement dens, felt the need to erase from the face of the planet. Do we even need to ask why?

    Rumps: Now, sympathy has sure grown for this guy, but let us not forget the origins of his story and let us not allow Killy Willy to take advantage of the lapses of memory that the writers of OUaT tend to encourage. Ok, now list all of what Rumps has done. Mull it over. Feeling a little ill? Especially at that scene when he physically abused his current wife? I sure am.

    Charming: A good guy. A good guy so when he manhandled Regina, it was for her own benefit. Charming isn’t generally a sexist dude, but the little arc that showed him and Daniel (zombified and dead Daniel) choking Regina out?

    Well.

    At day’s end, what they do to Regina is a drawn out teaching about the intersections of race, gender and sexuality. What they do by throwing Emma into her world adds class to the mix as well. So what’s sort of weird right now (well, for us here anyway) is that we can imagine a good quick set of fixes for all of this. Not fixes that erase the problems but twists that quickly reveal the underlying problems to a now shrinking audience. I saw a petition online recently, calling for other Oncers (Wtf is a Oncer anyway? That sounds like a cult, btw.) or drones or whatever you want to call yourself if you swallow every single word that Adam types on his wittle Twatter and follow ‘canon’ strictly because you’re just so much smarter than people who want something better with their Sunday glass (or bottle) of wine than rape culture and racism, anyway, to actually write to ABC to ‘Save OUaT’. Well, how about some fixes that might ‘Save OuAT’ for reals?

    Aside from banishing 9000 year old rapist named Killy Willy (because if there’s no Emma-skirt to chase, he has no other purpose anyway), and sending Spittle Man off with his attractive little family (because, well — what other purpose does he have?) and forcing Rumps to face his bad habits somehow, the narrative could turn all of these racist, sexist triangles on their heads. Regina and Emma could choose solidarity as co-parents and moms, and the writers could show Henry with Regina from time to time, eating dinner, arguing about socks on the floor, etc, and all of this swirling awfulness could become a kind of PSA about the power of mothering. Sort of like the end message of Kill Bill. Bill dies, and in doing so, apologizes for what he did to The Bride who becomes named again, according to her own name, not defined by marriage, and the closing line is about a mother lion being with her cub again or something like that, and all being right in the jungle and so on.

    Anyway, the point is — Regina, Emma, co-parents, Henry. It’s a much more powerful narrative than we might realize at the moment because we’re all so distracted by Kills and Spits, but honestly, that little family ties up ALL of these narrative issues and plot holes and even addresses the classism, racism, and sexism and all other isms that have generally existed in the show until this point. And puh’lease future anons, don’t talk to us about redemption arcs for 9000 year old rapists, because by the by, we do not share Jane Espenson’s optimism that male violence can be cured through heteronormativity and the fawning of a good woman.

    So yes, we agree with both you, dear Anons. Sending all of the show’s limited numbers of PoC off into a tub of oatmeal to wrestle for white viewers’ spectatorship is gross and obscene, and completely and utterly — irredeemable. 

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  2. Another layer of why Emma being the “better” or “real” mom is so fucked up.

    There are some posts about transracial adoption floating around on Tumblr, and there’s one that made me think about Regina and Henry.

    All of them are worth reading, but there is one that stands out for this part:

    The extremely few transracial adoptions of white children to non-white adopters that have taken place in contemporary USA not surprisingly also provoke hostile reactions and suspicions that the children might have been kidnapped and abducted, considering that historically there were laws banning and prohibiting people of colour to even foster white children.

    This sounds really familiar, doesn’t it?

    So the anti-adoption aspect of OUAT is also racist*.

    Go figure.

    *Blah blah colorblind. Blah blah half Italian. Blah blah Cora. Blah blah. Whatever. Lana Parrilla is a woman of color, and Regina is too. If you can’t understand that, please keep your comment to yourself.

     
  3. Why King Leopold doesn’t have to use force for it to be coercion

    This post about the white privilege involved in “life-hacking” says it all.

    Here is the most relevant piece (bolding the most crucial point).

    When you are an affluent-seeming white man and you ask for things that don’t belong to you, sometimes you’re not really asking. It’s sort like Bill Clinton asking Monica Lewinsky to have sex with him. There’s a context behind the asking.

    When you ask a serviceperson for something that doesn’t belong to you, there is often a subtext of, “If I complain to your manager, you know your manager is going to listen to me. Just look at me, and look at you.”

    And sometimes, of course, this is not the case at all, and you’re just being a garden-variety annoying customer. Or a bully.

    If you seem to be “getting everything you want,” you should probably examine whether you’re getting it at someone’s expense, or whether you’re just constantly, in small ways, making the world worse.

    And now in Enchanted Forest terms.

    When you are an old [white] king and you ask a young woman [of color] still in her teens for her hand in marriage, sometimes you’re not really asking. It’s sort like Bill Clinton asking Monica Lewinsky to have sex with him. There’s a context behind the asking.

    When you ask a person of lower status for something, there is often a subtext of, “If you refuse, and I speak ill of you, you know everyone will listen to me. Just look at me, and look at you.”

    And sometimes, of course, this is not the case at all, and you’re just being a garden-variety annoying Royal. Or a bully.

    If you seem to be “getting everything you want,” you should probably examine whether you’re getting it at someone’s expense, or whether you’re just constantly, in small ways, making the world worse.

     
  4. captain-xodoe said: "#but it tripped at the finish line" one helluva fuckin trip

    elsodex:

    isagrimorie:

    tristianmakhai:

    elsodex:

    image

    Right?

    When I watched the season two opener and saw them drop Emma and Snow into FTL, I knew the show had jumped the shark. Which is tragic because it had so gloriously captivated me and one of my IRL bros and we had just been so damned stoked.

    We tried to stick with it, see if it would pull itself out, but we were pretty much done when they killed Lancelot in the way that they did (lesson for aspiring writers: if you’ve only had one character of color for a whole season don’t immediately kill the one other character you just introduced and marketed as a reoccurring guest star—you will quite literally loose viewers).

    EVERYONE I have ever spoken to IRL about this show (with the exception of that one hotel concierge, but she was just so taken with “The Evil Queen’s character arc” she’s didn’t really care)—the rank and file “average viewer”, speaks fondly of the first season. But come the later episodes they talk of the noticeable quality shift. It’s like a fucking light switch got flipped.

    And mind you, these are folks who just go home after work and flip on the TV to escape the day.

    It boggles my mind really. They had it. They had it in their grasp. A show that people would be talking about around the water cooler, because we are a cynical generation raised on Disney, of course we are ready for a deconstruction of fairytales in a quasi-Disney universe. We are downright hungry for that shit.

    But did they stick with the promise of the story to come at the end of the first season?

    Did we see Emma the-one-sane-person-in-this-small-town-of-theme-park-rejects dealing with a crazy shenanigans of her world turned over all over again? Watch her and experience with her the new status quo as she grows, reject, and rebuilds her role and self? Nooooooooooooo.

    We got a manic three parallel story structure when maintaining two was crazy and difficult enough for both the audience and the writers. We got a plot instead of character driven mess that moved waaaaaaaaaaaay to fast, and even more white characters that didn’t even TRY to subvert the tropes like they had in the previous season.

    Did we get a long, drawn out, cross continent WAR across the kingdoms as several parties—all with legitimate claims to their respective thrones—duked it out in one giant mashup of folklore, fairytales and Disney lore?

    No, we got some weird…I don’t even know what we got honestly. A couple of mentions of troops and George’s castle burning was NOT what my mind’s eye had imagined when Charming promised Snow that they would take back their kingdoms. Especially not when I heard they’d cast Mulan.

    expected and epic mid-season climax where an unknown mercenary in the Charmings army fucking buries Regina’s army under the goddamn snow on the slopes of Bald Mountain. I expected Prince Philip, Prince Eric, Aladdin and Jasmine or whoever, standing against Maleficent, Jafar, and Ursula. I expected a bunch of back door politics and daring nighttime surgical strikes because you can’t blow your season budget on animating a fucking army every episode, be you can watch the generals and major players making plans and decisions because they’re the ones we care about anyway.

    Honestly, who of our generation wouldn’t pay to SEE that?

    ARRRRRUUUUGGUGGGGGGGHHHHH!

    They were SO CLOSE. SO CLOSE! BUT THEY TRIPPED AT THE FINISH LINE. And all because…I DON’T KNOW. Someone changed the strain of weed they were smoking. Some exec thought they knew what would sell better. Maybe some intern who was coming up with half the brilliant ideas left to get paid writing Sleepy Hollow. I DON’T KNOW.

    But something happened, and I will be forever bitter.

    This phrases it so much more eloquently and neatly why I never picked the show back up after the season 2 opener.

    But… the first half of season 2 of OUAT was awesome. And it was all awesome ladies all the time! And then an awesome antagonist in Cora!

    Its after they didn’t pick up and follow up on Cora’s death and swerved into Neverland that it started going to the dogs IMO.

    I mean, I love the prospect of that whole epic showdown and I want that too, and wish they had that incorporated in the show. Because that’s awesome! But can you imagine having that with the awesome ladies road trip show too?

    Look, don’t get me wrong—I’m all for an epic ladies only road trip, portal hopping across the realms, meeting awesome literary and classic film characters and fish-out-of-water Emma hijinks and awkward White-Swan-Mills family bonding  a la the Gargoyles “world tour” arc. That’s were the show should go at some point given the nature of portals and portal jumping.

    My issue is when and where it came in the narrative.

    In season one, our heroine had left the ordinary world of Boston, and come to Storybrooke, introducing us the the characters and players in this new place. Strorybrooke therefore, was “the world of adventure” in the main character’s journey and thus, the audience. Emma spends a whole year refusing the call to various degrees, ultimately committing when her and Regina’s son is in danger.

    She goes off, very literally slays the dragon, returns with the ultimate boon, etc, etc, etc…

    But low and behold, there is a wrinkle in her apotheosis. Magic is coming and now, everyone remembers who they once were.

    So Storybrooke—which had become the ordinary world for our hero—has once again fundamentally changed into “the world of adventure”.

    Storybrooke is where the “problem” is. Ergo, that is where the action should be.

    Emma may have spent a whole year getting to know these people, this town, and it’s dynamics when it was cursed—but now she (and we the audience) are back to square one. We have a whole slew of emotional, mental and physical trails to watch her overcome right in her own backyard, which has once again become a very dangerous and scary place.

    Cora was a fantastic villain, and was not utilized to her full potential. If you somehow manage to get an oscar nominated actress for your show, you damn well better give her something she can sink her goddamn teeth into. For goddsake’s they foreshadowed her being the Queen of Hearts the moment they introduced her, play with that. Don’t remove her from her seat of power the moment she appears, build to her reemergence, make us tremble at her reveal. Let us feel the terror and awe that Regina (our foil and co-protagonist in many ways) feels around her, you know?

    My problem isn’t so much that what but the execution—how and when.

    Also: L-A-N-C-E-L-O-T

     
  5. Two posts about mixed-race identity (highly relevant to multi-ethnic actors and characters)


    Talking Mixed-Race Identity with Young Children
     by Sharon H. Chuang

    I know that race is very real, and that it needs to be constantly and critically addressed. I realize that my son, though he might not have the words or cognizance to tell me so yet, already knows a great deal about the racial hierarchy -– including that he most certainly does not sit at the top of it. And when I tell him he’s not white, I also know I’m telling him that some things will always be harder for him than for his white friends, and that people will sometimes treat him in ways his white friends will never have to endure. As a parent of color whose soul will be forever connected to the wellbeing of her child, it hurts that I have to be the bearer of this bad news -– especially because I worry that my son already feels “less” because of his race.

    Follow-up: Why Mixed with White Isn’t White by Sharon H. Chuang

    Telling my child he’s white also won’t help him understand why children who were less than one-quarter Japanese were interned during World War II; why a stranger would look at him and say there are no “pure races” anymore; why a leading theatre company in our city unabashedly staged a yellowface production of an operetta; why kids on the playground pull back their eyes in a slant and spit out one of those ridiculous anti-Asian chants that just won’t go away. When I tell my son that he is Asian, mixed-race, multiracial, and a person of color, I’m not denying him parts of his ancestral-ethnic heritage. I’m teaching him about the race politics that intrude upon our lives whether we want them to or not. I’m preparing him to exist in a world that obstinately persists in being racially divided. And I’m trying to let him know something about the ways he has and will continue to be judged throughout his life, not because he’s white — but because he’s mixed with color.

     
  6. juliecoopers:

    Okay, I have talked about OUAT’s race fuckery elsewhere, but the show’s treatment of Tamara irks me on another level. Because Tamara is the only character of color who has grown up in our world and has firsthand knowledge of our world’s race politics and it could have been so interesting- especially since the casting called for an African American woman in particular to play this character. We could have had Tamara actually point out the bullshit that is going on in a lily white town. Or if nothing (because ladies of color are not just there to point our your racism) she could have at least been given her meaty development and a backstory that almost every other villainous character gets. But instead here’s what we get:

    She is introduced as a love interest of a white dude purely to create a love triangle between him and his estranged long lost lover - the white female protagonist of the story. (i wonder who wins this love triangle)

    But it’s not enough that she is part of a relationship that is almost doomed to fail, she’s also revealed to be EVAL so Emma and Neal don’t feel too guilty about their lilywhiteromance and biological family and how all true love start with statutory rape and setting up a pregnant teenager to escape your own crimes.

    We also have Emma disrespecting Tamara’s privacy bigtime and also  involving her son in her suspicions (a child who would be Tamara’s stepson if you believe in Neal’s parental rights- i don’t) because white girls walking over African American girls rights is totally normal and  awesome and ofc, the white girl is validated in her suspicion.

    She kills off oneshot characters and tries to kill August and we learn that she is partners with Greg Mendell- oh and also sleeping with him because wild exotic promiscuity stereotype.

    Greg, the white dude, gets his backstory for hating Regina, SB and Magic. So, Tamara’s backstory and why she faked a long term relationship with Neal and why does she care about destroying magic is just right ahead, right? Lol, no, despite the fact that her role in the “Destroy Magic” storyline was far more involved- she was engaged to Rumpelstiltskin’s kid - we still don’t know why she hates magic.

    And then BOOM, she shoots Neal and kidnaps Henry and HEY, MAYBE NOW ITS TIME THAT TAMARA GETS DEVELOPED and maybe we see her relationship with the ‘son’ of a man she was pretending to love, maybe she see her guilt at having to shoot Neal. maybe we see her reacting to the fact that her anti magic mantra was actually orchestrated by a magical (white) boy (they r all white and not 1 of them ur friend, Tamara), maybe she has a secret deal with Pan where she gives him Henry and he promises to not let his Shadow attack young boys in her world anymore.

    LAWL NO, she is attacked by Lost Boys almost as soon as she gets there.

    And unlike Greg, she doesn’t die then/ She lives long enough to serve a purpose to Rumplestiltskin (yet another white dude of the same family tree, no less) before being healed and coldly killed by Rumple and it’s seen as a badass moment with audience loving every second of it because who doesn’t rejoice when a fan fave white dude kills a lady of color?

     
  7. juliecoopers:

    So, my discussion with Mari  has gotten me thinking about race and OUAT and just how much more problematic OUAT is about race than other lily white tv shows just because of how the show’s premise is built.

    OUAT conveniently has an in-text  explanation of why it gets a free pass in not engaging in race narratives because the main characters (aside from Henry who is born to white FTL natives) are all literally from another world. A world which happens to be mostly white but it is also a world with no explicit or implicit colonial or race narratives. Which means the race issues we see today- whether on a global level or the race politics of North America- do not apply in FTL and by extension in the ”protected from real world by a boundary” Storeybrooke if you are doing a Watsonian reading. POCs just conveniently don’t happen to exist for the most part in either the cursed Storeybrooke or the leftover FTL that Cora protected from the curse. Or even Neverland.

    So, if you are doing an in-universe reading of the show and relaying on canon events rather than your knowledge of the world we live in, you cannot claim conclusively that racism- as we understand it today to be a power imbalance skewered in favor of white people against other races through systematic oppression- actually canonically exists in FTL. Because we have no evidence of that. We don’t have evidence of POC smallfolk being mistreated in disproportionate amounts as compared to white smallfolk. We don’t have Prince Henry or Princess Rapunzel’s respective kingdoms being conquered by white royalty or young !Regina mocked for speaking Spanish. FTL is a raceblind  place. It’s not even post racial, it’s like racism never existed.

    And that’s what makes OUAT worse in many ways than any average racist show on American television. For instance if we take idk Gossip Girl. we can infer that the character of Vanessa- who is a person of color in a show that doesn’t engage in race narratives- has suffered from the effects of racism simply because the show is set in our world and she’s a woman of color in North America even if the narrative itself never explicitly refers to the racism. However, when it comes to any of the handful of POC characters in OUAT except Tamara (i have a whole caveat on why this show sucks ass because of its treatment of Tamara), we cannot look at the text and say that what these characters are suffering from is racism rather than individual instances of violence against people who happen to not be white…. simply because the show isn’t set in our world and most of the people were not born or raised in our world and there is no evidence of racism in FTL.

    And to add the cherry on top, OUAT then uses racist tropes for its treatment of POC while still forcing us to engage in a universe where racism doesn’t officially exist.

    - So we have a Latina Regina who is forced into service as the young  bedslave/concubine/nanny to a powerful white man by her white mother but what we don’t have is the text saying it’s because she’s Latina that she’s forced into this role. What we don’t have is textual evidence that it’s common in FTL to exploit young girls of color this way as it is in our universe. We don’t even have in universe acknowledgement that this is exploitation by the white man. Regina is is shown as an individual case rather than one of the many victims of the systematic violence against Latina women in FTL. 

    - And then again in Storeybrooke,  we have Regina, a Latina single mother whose son is snatched away from her by a white family on the basis that she’s an unfit mother, a criminal and also not his real mother. Now, we can argue that Regina in season two might be anunfit mother  who is abusive towards Henry in a single instance of We are Both Now but it doesn’t take away the fact that OUAT decided to show a Latina woman as the person whose son was snatched by a white family and the text unequivocally condoned the actions while still dancing around on the mantle of :”this isn’t an example of systematic oppression against Latina women because racism doesn’t apply in Storeybrooke.”

    (Add in the fact that Regina, as the caster of the curse, is consciously aware of and tries to hide her ‘immigrant’ status from the white raised in our world Emma in season 1 specifically so she doesn’t lose her son- a son that  was born in “our/Emma’s” world and therefore doesn’t really belong to Regina- and it’s just a messy pile of racism here.)

    - We have Sidney an African American dude (the only recurring African American dude) who is literally and metaphorically enslaved and trapped in service for eternity but that’s because he’s a genie- not because he’s African American and oh, whaddaymean it’s problematic that an African American dude is shown to be evil as well as subservient to the point of obsequiousness in both FTL and in Storeybrooke before being put on the bus. Again, we have no way of saying that the poor treatment and exploitation of Sidney in-universe is because he’s African American and he’s suffering from racism because it’s actually because he’s a genie. oh and evil. He also happens to be African American. oops.

    - We have Prince Henry who is shown to be a weak and ineffectual man who is too powerless to stop his white wife from abusing their daughter and forcing her into marriage with a white dude. Who is such a non entity that cursed!Regina’s last name comes from her white mother’s background than Prince Henry’s background. 

    - And let’s not talk about the Asian Mulan being in service to our white royals, Aurora and Philip. You can call it friendship or true love but Mulan is pretty much ready to sacrifice herself for Princess Aurora because her sole purpose is to protect the white girlfriend/wife of a white dude because he asked/ordered/same diff. And it’s not like we have any other Asian in SB/FTL to see if there is a pattern of systematic oppression here.

    So, tl;dr

    1. There are barely any POC characters in OUAT

    2. Those which are are there killed off, evil, put on the bus or used in racist tropes (usually a combination of two or more of these).

    3. All while the universe of SB/FTL is set up in such a way that racism does not actually exist in-universe

    4. OUAT is the worst

     
  8. Regina, rape, and the myth of the perfect victim (MASSIVE TRIGGER WARNING for frank discussion of rape)

    Placing under a cut for those who may be triggered by frank discussion of rape.

    Read More

     
  9. tldr; actually, leopold is the worst

    queen-of-my-own-reverie:

    "Leopold was never even implied to be vile."

    You’re right, the narrative never presents him as anything less than the good king.

    Except that’s the entire thing that is so wrong with his character.

    That’s what makes him all the more fucked up.

    OUAT does this thing where it boasts about how its characters are so morally ~complex~ but the problem is that even when characters are written as morally gray, the narrative itself does not treat them as such.

    On OUAT, where a character supposedly falls on the morality scale is almost completely, if not entirely, based on how the narrative presents them. It’s all about how we’re supposed to see them, because good and evil is somehow tied to their very beings.

    The very issue with Leopold is that he does all of these fucked up things, and yet none of the characters ever consider these actions of his and determine his character based on them. Rather, the very first thing he is seen doing (freeing the genie) is perhaps the one genuinely good and selfless thing he actually does, and this one good action, simply because of its placement, is seen as the determining factor for who he is – a kind, fair king – and thus we are meant to overlook his awful actions that follow because the narrative already told us he was supposed to be one of the “good guys”. People continue to tell us this, and yet what we are shown is a different story.

    Truly, one does not even have to look at “The Stable Boy” or “Bleeding Through” to make this argument, because Leopold’s problematic nature as a character can be traced all the way back to “Fruit of the Poisonous Tree”.

    What is Leopold seen doing in that episode? After the genie scene, he ignores his now-wife at his daughter’s birthday party, instead singing praise to his late wife, not so much as glancing at Regina. He later reads her diary, discovering that Regina is perhaps gaining feels for a man because he actually pays her the time of day. Leopold’s response is to summon the genie (evidently, freeing him from his bottle is enough to expect Sidney to, what? Repay the favor? Even that one kind/selfless act leads Leopold to later employ the genie for his own benefit) and ask him to find the man who has “stolen his wife’s heart”, as if she is a possession without agency. He admits he knows she is unhappy (which also makes his neglect all the worse, for he is making no attempt to rectify this), but overall seems less concerned with her feelings than the fact that, by her displaying a sense of emotional independence, she is less his. While the genie is, to his knowledge, “investigating” the matter, he places Regina under house arrest. She has not even committed any sort of adultery, only privately expressed the stirrings of for someone who might be able to love her in the way Leopold admits he cannot, and his response is to lock her away and ban anyone from seeing her, including her father.

    "But this was all part of Regina’s plan!" you might say, but this only makes Leopold look worse. Regina did not force him to do any of these things – they were his own actions. For her to know he’d read her diary, or that his reaction to her expressing agency would be so extreme?

    Regina wouldn’t have formed such an important plan based on hunches, which means these are things that have probably happened before.

    That’s not something we’re supposed to think about, though, not something we’re supposed to ponder on, as it violates the “good king” image the narrative wants to believe in.

    So the story does not address it.

    Meanwhile, what does Regina do in this episode?

    During the birthday party, her look is forlorn, tearful, lonely – and more than likely fully genuine, for who would even be watching her in this moment? She has no audience, no point to prove. Which is why she gets up and leaves. The genie follows her, and you know how the episode goes. In the end, she uses his feelings for her to her advantage (in order to eliminate her abuser), and sure, it was wrong of her to manipulate and frame him in the way she did. But, besides the fact that she actually organized him an escape plan, she seemed legitimately upset and conflicted over letting him take the fall. She didn’t do it just to screw him over; she saw her Leopold’s demise as an end that justified the means. It is only Sidney’s objectifying wish, to gaze upon her face (reducing her to her appearance, showing that he was primarily attracted to her beauty, not her personhood), and the result of his own wish that she becomes truly victorious.

    It is interesting how Regina shows inner conflict over her actions in this episode, and Leopold does not.

    But, anyway, guess which one of these two the episode presents as the big bad villain, and which one is shown to be the poor innocent victim.

    Because the narrative has already established that Regina is badbadbad and that Leopold is goodgoodgood, and this is the more important than their actions in this particular episode. The hero and villain were decided before the battle had even begun.

    (A semi-related sidenote: I find it interested that people will argue that Regina is responsible for all of her actions because she made a choice – which is absolutely true, even if this is often used as an excuse to handwave Rumple’s, Cora’s, and yes, even Leopold’s immense influence on how she became the way she is, but yes, Regina’s choices were her own – and yet frequently say that Regina murdered Leopold, with no mention of Sidney, as if Sidney himself did not suggest they use the snakes to kill Leopold, as if he did not offer to do the act himself, as if he did not go and stick those snakes in Leopold’s bed all on his own, as if he is not, y’know, Leopold’s murderer, as if Sidney’s choices were not also his own. But that’s an argument for another day.)

    I really, really should not have to go into how The Stable Boy and Bleeding Through only make Leopold look even more disgusting, and I already feel like I’m losing my original point, so I’ll leave you to think about those two episodes yourself.

    The important thing: none of Leopold’s actions are outright called into question by the characters. Never are we, as an audience, formally prompted to consider his actions and determine him to be anything less than the good man we are supposed to see him as.

    Leopold is one of the best examples of OUAT’s twisted way of morally defining its characters, of the toxic idea that people are innately “good” or “evil” and that this is defined by something they just are, rather than their actual actions.

    And he is an example of how harmful this narrative method is, because, while fandom may take it upon itself to analyze characters and plotlines think about them on a deeper level, many casual viewers do not.

    And for every casual watcher you have who calls out Leopold on how gross he is, you have people who swallow him just as he is served.

    I have a friend who I once mentioned my hatred of Leopold to, and she seemed confused, like she couldn’t think of why I could possibly hate him. I brought up his actions in “Fruit of the Poisonous Tree”, as well as reminded her of the details of his proposal to Regina, and the expression on her face was one I will not forget: one of vague horror, of suddenly seeing what the narrative did not mean for us to see.

    "Bleeding Through" is the nail in the coffin. Leopold’s relationship with Cora ultimately solidifies his later proposal to Regina as, yes, vile (and it was really not that much less even beforehand; it’s only now more so), except this entire situation was done for plot purposes. To give Cora a reason to give up Zelena, to further explore the Cora/Eva blood feud (and, surprise surprise, root it in a rivalry over a man), and perhaps to make the family tree that much more fucked up.

    Leopold is never called out by anyone for proposing to the young daughter of his old flame. Regardless of audience reaction (because the writers frequently underestimate the intelligence and attentiveness of their watchers). The narrative does not even attempt to address this. In fact, it all but states him to be the only innocent party in the mess…

    …Because, ridiculously so, Leopold’s vileness is fully overlooked in favor of framing Eva as the one with “darkness in her past”.

    Goodness gracious. At least Eva outgrew her classism, yes? After all, when young Snow shows signs of being a classist, Eva quickly calls her out on this behavior and attempts to correct it.

    Obviously, Eva did not tolerate this type of thinking anymore. So I wonder which parent Snow learned it from.

    I understand that I’m reaching into subtext and probably headcanon now, but the point is that this is undoubtedly another thing we were never supposed to actually think about.

    Leopold was never even implied to be vile.

    You’re right.

    That’s the problem. That is the proof of my point.

    Not once – not once – has the narrative encouraged us to actually think about Leopold’s actions, the harm they have caused. Not once were we ever meant to think of him as anything than what we were told he was.

    Leopold is a character who displays possessive tendencies, who grossly puts a ring on a girl maybe a third his age despite the horror on her face because her mother’s consent meant more to him than her own, a girl he later ignores once she’s under his ownership, a girl whose probable depression he handwaves, a girl he locks up for displaying agency.

    And he is never actually presented as anything less than a victim. He is not held responsible for his actions because people are too busy babbling about how he’s such a “fair king”. As if his awful actions are excused or a non-issue because of who he fundamentally is.

    Add in the fact that he’s a rich white man in a position of high power, and the fact that there are so many people out there, on tumblr and off, who do not even regard his actions as anything problematic, and the fact that he is not the only character this line of thinking applies to, and this narrative becomes toxic. It is harmful.

    That is what makes him so vile.

     
  10. How many people do you have to kill to be considered Evil?

    deemnfic:

    customdomaynname submitted:

    Deemn, something I have been thinking about a lot is that there are so many deaths attributed to Regina but so many of them are second or third hand accounts from less than trustworthy sources (ie straight up gossip/lies) so how many people have we seen her actually kill? All I can remember is Graham, her father, rando flying monkeys, that rando guard/blakknight are there any other that she actually killed on screen herself, I ask because so much of the bad side of fandom want to paint her as this mass murder, but I just don’t think she has that many actual victims ? 

    HELLO AND WELCOME TO “LET’S TALK ABOUT MURDER.”

    Obviously, I will be talking about murder below.  I will be talking about murder in rather… absolutist, abstract, amoral ways.  If discussion of murder in ways that are not concerned with the humanity of the victim makes you uncomfortable and/or angry, this is not the conversation for you.

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