TRIGGER WARNING applies for images and graphic descriptions of murder, war, prison violence, and torture.
Where we take nothing at face value and jump off the deep end
TRIGGER WARNING applies for images and graphic descriptions of murder, war, prison violence, and torture.
For people who are constantly talked about as strong selfless rulers, Snow and Charming come off as really self-centered to me. Just about everything they have done this season has only been about protecting their family which would be fine but then why are they being hailed as such great leaders?
Apart from the first few episodes where Charming gave some speeches about how everyone should still run the town they have made no effort this season to actually rule or run the town. Charming even left the town (and Henry) in the hands of Regina and Rumple when he clearly didn’t trust them just so that he could talk to Snow again.
The thing that got me in the last episode is the fact that they said they would warn everyone but the only people in the dinner (who they were going to take with them) were the people they were closest to (and where the hell was Ruby?). The portals don’t seem to open very wide or stay open very long so if they were about to use the portal in the dinner that means that these great leaders were about to leave the rest of the town screaming outside while they escape to safety.
The other thing that bothered me was that their plan to send the diamond to another world. Assuming the diamond would destroy any magical world that means they were prepared to destroy a whole other world just to save themselves.
They also left the town and all the people they rule in complete chaos at the end of the episode. I know they wanted to save Henry (and really they were there because of the way the plot was written) but there were four other people on the ship, three of them more capable of helping in Neverland then they are. They could have at least try to put someone in charge while they were gone.
I don’t really have a problem with them wanting to focus on themselves and their family (that’s how everyone on this show is) but if they are really going to call themselves the rulers of this town then shouldn’t they be trying to help everyone and at least talk to “the people” every once in a while?
Emma is going to find herself with a few choices this season and I think there are the people that are right for you, and there are the people that are wrong for you, and then there are the people that you just choose and I think Emma is going to face all those things. - Edward Kitsis
Having this in mind, let’s analize…
They sold this show on being about strong female characters and now it feels like they are getting rid of them one by one. I don’t think it’s coincidence that the same night they announce they are getting rid of Ruby is the same night they announce we will see more Neal. Meghan even said that she left because they didn’t have room for her story. The story of a strong female character who was trying to find herself, learn how to accept her strength and love who she is even with her “flaws.” I am 100% more interested in that story than having to watch more of Neal’s man-pain.
All the men got substantial story lines this season while the female characters have only been given less focus (unless they are in emotional distress).There has been a clear shift in the focus of this show from last year being about Regina, Emma and Snow to this year being about Rumple, Charming, Neal and Hook (I’ve felt at least).
And it’s has been happening all season. Charming became the focus in Storybrooke while Emma and Snow were away. In the FTL once Hook was introduced he became the one the story followed around. They killed off Cora in favour of Rumple (and I get he is a main cast member, there is more to it than that), Neal was introduced, Owen was introduced, Whale’s story was told twice when it had nothing to do with the rest of the plot, Belle’s story lines in Storybrooke only revolved around her (abusive) relationship with Rumple, Regina was treated like crap all season including being excessively tortured by a man, Ruby was literally tossed a side (and the only story she got was about people trying to kill her), Emma has had guys thrown at her and has been pushed at men all season even though she is clearly not interested, the rape comments (don’t even get me started on the rape comments), Snow’s only substantial story line was about blackening her heart, the list goes on …
These writers are driving me crazy because they act like they don’t know what we are talking about when it comes to pointing these things out, as if they think we can’t see it. They have been struggling with ratings this season and it wouldn’t surprise me if this is at least one reason why.
I’m not interested in stories about male characters who act like total assholes and yet still get sympathy from everyone. I’m not interested in watching a show where the female characters are only the focus if something awful is happening to them. I’m not interested in male characters replacing the stories of the female characters.There are plenty if shows with all male leads we really don’t need another one.
Where did the show that revolved around three strong female characters go? Did they really think they could build a fanbase based off it and then take it away and not expect people to notice? It wouldn’t surprise me if they say this is not what they are doing but it sure as hell feels that way. I was optimistic about next season, now that they have said they are taking the show in a different direction (one that doesn’t involve characters like Ruby) not so much.
As I talked about over here (and some other folks explained here), the way fandom talks about mental illness when it comes to Regina leaves a really bad taste in my mouth. From the haters, it’s sociopath and psychopath and all that jazz. From the lovers it’s this or that personality disorder or clinical diagnosis.
Now, I get that people often interpret Regina’s character a certain way because it connects to their own experiences. I really get that. However, there is something that feels really off about the way Regina gets talked about when it comes to mental illness. It’s very subtle, so it’s hard to express, so I’ll do my best to explain where things feel off.
I do believe that there’s a lot that’s empowering about being able to put a name onto what’s happening to us within ourselves. However, I am far more cautious about projecting hegemonic definitions of mental illness onto a [queer] woman of color for reasons that this blog post and the comments get into.
This is especially jarring when we compare how often Regina gets pathologized compared to other really popular characters on the show, especially Rumplestiltskin and even Snow White.
Let me be clear: this woman does need serious help and has needed it for a very long time. However, I believe it’s crucial to note the difference between Regina’s behavior and mindset as a response to some really fucked up circumstances (Cora, Leopold, Rumplestiltskin, racism, misogyny) and Regina’s behavior and mindset as proof that there is something fundamentally broken and wrong with her.
Is there a way to talk about the toll that trauma, abuse, and systemic oppression have taken on Regina’s psyche without pathologizing or dehumanizing her?
(ETA: I talked more about this from a community organizing perspective over here.)
(ETA 2: Read this. Just fucking read it.)
There’s very little I could add that isn’t addressed in your first additional link, so, first off, major respect.
For others: the main point of my, um, “essay” on psychology and queer women/women of color (ETA 2) is that criteria for disorders were created from observations of white male behavior and therefore cannot in good conscience be considered applicable to anyone outside of that community.
As to the concluding question, I think the answer is really simple and therefore incredibly complicated. Treat her like a human being. Really. That’s it.
Of course, it kind of turns the whole thing into a chicken/egg fiasco: don’t dehumanize her so as to not dehumanize her. But honestly, I think that’s it. Don’t dehumanize her, and you won’t dehumanize her.
The key is that even “well-meaning” dehumanization begins with one simple idea: that Regina is a problem/has a problem that needs to be fixed. That she should be x, y or z, rather than exactly as she is. (This is different than hoping that she can be x, y or z.)
[No idea how to transition to these next thoughts, la la la…]
The major “problem” is that, as an adult, Regina’s consistent response to pain is anger, which goes against the system in two ways.
- She’s a woman, so her response “should be” grief/inaction.
- She’s of color, so her anger is “never legitimate/always a threat.”
Rumple reacts with anger to being left, it’s fine. (“OMG Milah that bitch left him she totally deserved to die!!11!!”)
Snow White reacts to her exile & pursuit with anger, it’s fine. (“OMG, but the Evil Queen was like, SO UNFAIR!!111!!!! Snow totally should’ve shot her!1!”)
Regina reacts to years of abuse and neglect from all corners with anger, she’s a psychopath/ASPD, a child, evil, etc.
(Personally, I think both Rumplestiltskin and Snow White meet more criteria for psychopathy than Regina, but that’s neither here nor there.)
I will give you that Regina has difficulty with modulation of negative emotions, but that is so clearly a product of not being allowed to have them at all (until the death of [fuck you] King Leopold). Seriously; as Cora’s daughter, the mentality she grew up with was that all her thoughts and actions had to be pleasing to her mother. Her only positive example is Henry Sr., who is the actual embodiment of inaction. She gets rid of Cora (in a moment of transformation in which she uses her anger and pain for action) and she’s stuck with Leopold, who’s perfectly content with her quiet misery but will not tolerate any action as a result of that misery, and Snow, who also actively denies Regina’s negative emotions.
So when for the first time her life she is free to have real emotions, Queen Regina obviously tips in favor of everything she’s been denied for the previous (twenty-something? thirty-something?) years. But since no one in FTL will acknowledge her prior circumstances as abusive or oppressive, the transition becomes Evil.
So, solution #2: regard her every emotion as real. Acknowledge that her every emotion comes from a real place, a real event. If you then want to say that her behavior arising from those emotions is problematic, fine, but start by believing that she has the basic human right to feel any damn way she pleases.
The season finale is Sunday night, so let’s talk about Season 3 and beyond.
justeagle11 asked: Hey could you talk a little more about what moral code are you against in OUAT and what double standard? I find your post about it very interesting and I personally went to a passive viewer of OUAT too. I used to be excited about the next now I am somewhat passive about it. I still enjoy the show just not nearly as much as before.
Your question is really challenging and I know a lot of amazing bloggers on the Once Upon a Meta tag who would give you amazing answers.
I’ll try to elaborate a decent one, with the premise that I’m not a psychologist/sociologist and my evaluations are mostly taken from a certain amount of social principles applied to the world of media and writing for television.
When it comes to OUaT, characters’ moral code is limited (we’re talking about archetypes) but it’s fundamental to define their wants and needs. Double standards are a possible side-effect of a vague moral code, dealing mostly with the lack of logic a character has when it has been put in the same context/situation twice or more, or again with the different kind of reaction it may have with two other characters doing the exact same thing.
A moral code of a character is often identified with a major moral characteristic, which is needed to complete the his/her profile after the author has decided to make him/her a protagonist, an antagonist, a villain, a mentor, etc…
Each of those should have a narrative arc of transformation and their characteristics should create action that leads the plot to the phase when the main character overcome his/her fatal flaw.
Moral values are also declined in latent dispositions, which give the character a multilayered structure.
The process of identification/empathy with a character goes through the fact that we, ordinary people, are not heroes.
OUAT season 1 perfectly summed up this idea, considering how every character had:
a specific external want (some goal a character wants to reach)
a specific internal/inner need (something that the character doesn’t know is needed until the very end of the story, which is a journey, where he/she will eventually overcome his/her huge imperfection or flaw.
There was a specific “grey area” in which the moral scale of values of every character had been put in conflict; good was somehow stained and evil had almost a level of understanding (not that I shared everything Regina Mills did, for example, but there was always a point where I wasn’t actually sure I couldn’t have done the same).
Nowadays, moral values in society always reflect on tv through imitation or contrast, trying to analyze how boundaries can collapse, in a fictional world.
Behaving morally, having sense of duty, a job well done are undoubtedly the pivotal values, reflecting the dominant view of a society. I think we all agree.
But when it comes to fictional characters, the moral foundation of the action they undertake is simplified but should be very precise, anyway
And that’s where my problem with moral values comes out, regarding Once Upon a Time.
They taught me to evaluate a character following a scheme (Schwartz’s value questionnaire – much simplified) which makes you define a character establishing:
openness to change vs. conservationism
self-perfectionism (achievement of power) vs. self-transcendence (benevolence/unselfishness)
Long story short, the antagonists (Regina/Rumple) in OuaT are the only ones willing to change, while the “good guys” take for granted the assumption that they will always be on the right side, fighting for good reasons/greater good. They don’t question any of their actions and if/when they do something wrong, evil is always perceived as an external force, corrupting from the outside. Conservationism.
Antagonists have an inner evil side (Regina/Rumple), main characters (Charmings) are always completely good even when they’re not. And when Regina/Rumple defended themselves they showed an attitude closer to the one belonging to self-trascendence, while The Charmings always act following the one belonging to self-perfectionism.
Just think about the idea of the Snow’s black heart vs. Regina’s evilness. Evil is something external making MM feel “possessed”, while (and more similar to real life, I would say) the evil element in Regina is something working from the inside, generating on a specific weak spot in her heart. Despite the “Evil isn’t born, it’s made” motto, Regina will always find redemption through the equilibrium of forces (good/evil), while Snow will find redemption eradicating that “black spot” from her heart.
Here’s the double standard. Same situation, different people, different set of principles applied.
Or think about the different attitude Henry Mills has when it comes to Emma or Regina. Friendship, ability to forgive and keeping one’s word are the key ideas of the self-trascendent attitude; Henry, as a Charming (he’s portrayed this way) should have those characteristics, but authors make him use them in different ways.
That’s where the “grey zone” generating a sympathetic attitude toward the characters collapse.
A simplistic division between good and evil has been done in season 2, and evidences can be found in the huge amount of external characters fulfilling, with their unique (and flat) characteristic, those nuances/shades we had found perfectly mixed in the core narrative cast during season 1.
That’s why we found it harder to agree again that Emma embodies the viewer’s point of view in season 2, or maybe how hard it is to find a fatal flaw (not an accidental obstacle – the black spot on the heart) in Mary Margaret or David.
That’s why, liking them or not, we have to surrender to the fact that the only characters bringing plot and action are the antagonists, while main characters would probably like to sit on a sofa and watch tv all day, remembering how good chimera tasted.
Redemption will cost antagonists’ own lives, main characters’ evolution (if you still can find it) will be easy, without conflict. And wonder why I consider antagonists the only challenging element.
Not main characters.
Not my personal moral values elaborated on a tv screen and the way I trust OUaT authors to deliver/explore them.