Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Which?

I could have done a 'Wordless Wednesday': I was just at the grocery store and I passed a big display of bags of popcorn. There was kettle corn, which we don't like because it's too sweet, and aged cheddar popcorn, which we like but I didn't buy it, and then there was BACON RANCH popcorn. And at the bottom of the bag it says "ALL NATURAL". And I HAD a camera, because I was just at school to watch Eve's class perform their mini-plays (in Eve's she was a speeding, red-light flouting, car-stealing maniac who then mouths off to a policeman, and she was a little too convincing for comfort if you ask me), and as I walked past the display I thought I should really take a picture of the popcorn and then blog it with the caption 'there is nothing natural about this'. But I didn't. Here's a picture, if you really need one.

Eve being a delinquent:


I thought of doing an "I Wonder Wednesday". You know what I wonder? When a female character on a tv show is heterosexual, and has sex with men often and happily, but then meets another female character and falls in love with her and has sex with her, when they break up, why is the female character just "gay now"? Why wouldn't they be considered bisexual? This happened with Willow in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Callie Torres on Grey's Anatomy. Both characters are initially presented as heterosexual - Willow is in love with her best friend Xander and later has a serious boyfriend, and Callie is - well, I don't want to say 'easy', but let's just say she is in firm control of her own sexuality, not that everyone in the freaking hospital doesn't seem to have way too much time and energy for sex in the on-call room, considering they're all supposed to be working punishing hours wherein they're, you know, responsible for PEOPLE'S LIVES. Anyway. In both cases, these women meet another female character and become overwhelmed by her charisma/intelligence/magic specialness, and end up having sex with her. Fine. Good. I'm pretty much solidly hetero, but I've looked on certain women as lust objects - when I met a friend of my husband's from when he went to school at the Ontario Science Centre, this woman with an electrifying presence and really cool hair, and she introduced herself and I went to do the same, I actually forgot my name for a second. 

But then, in both cases, when the relationship with the game-changing woman ends, both women are now just... gay. Forever and ever. I have no problem with gay characters, obviously, but is this realistic? I don't know a lot of gay people really well, admittedly, so maybe what I've read and assumed for years is wrong - that most people either know they're gay fairly early in life or know that they don't feel about the opposite sex the way they're expected to, and if they do date the opposite sex it's usually just in an effort to appear 'normal'. Is this totally wrong? Or is it that tv show producers think that we're ready to accept gay characters but not bisexual ones? Because I don't understand why the character would not just now be considered bisexual. I mean, it's a tv show, everyone's so goddamned good-looking anyway, does one really have to choose? 


Or maybe a "What I'm Reading Wednesday". I just finished Moral Disorder by Margaret Atwood. It was actually quite good, but I have trouble reading Margaret Atwood these days without all my Margaret Atwood-related baggage coming to bear. When I was interviewing for my job at the audio publisher where I used to work, I mentioned her as one of my favourite authors, and my boss (who was, bear in mind, a little insane and kind of an ass) told me she was a complete and total bitch, and provided a supporting anecdote. Then I saw a few interviews with her around the time she was publicizing Oryx and Crake, and she just seemed so smug about the fact that she'd figured out that the environment was in trouble, like she thought she was the first and only one, and she went on and on about how bananas are becoming extinct, and then there was the whole thing about her not wanting it to be called science fiction, when, Dude, it's totally science fiction, and not the best dystopic science fiction book I've ever read (although I did quite like The Year of the Flood), and ANYWAY, I saw Moral Disorder in the library and thought I should read it since I read everything she wrote for years but then hadn't read anything lately. And then there was the jacket copy. "...her breathtaking and deeply personal new book of fiction". Um? What's so deeply personal about it. It's good, but it's quite similar to many of her other books from what I can see. It's about relationships, being a woman in the modern world, being a mother/sister/daughter, plus there's a horse. Maybe Margaret Atwood has a horse? Also, it's billed a 'a series of inter-related stories, which seems to be the New Thing in publishing. But, much like The Juliet Stories, to me it just reads like a novel. Okay, it skips around in time - many, many novels do this. It still tells the story of one woman's life, from childhood to old age. I guess that it's possible that each story can be read as a whole in a way that some book chapters couldn't - is that supposed to be the big draw? I recently read A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan, which is just presented as a novel - THAT, to me, reads more like a series of inter-related stories. Each chapter begins from a different point of view, and it took several paragraphs to figure out which character from the previous chapters was now front and centre. I really liked it (although reviewers on Goodreads seemed deeply divided). My husband thinks I'm being too hard on Margaret Atwood. It's true, I do hold silly grudges for perplexingly long period of time. I've had The Blind Assassin on my shelf for years. Maybe I should try to read it. Without prejudice.

There you go. Waffly Wednesday. 


14 comments:

Lynn said...

We've had this conversation before, but I will say again that I actually do enjoy Atwood's writing. I liked The Blind Assassin very, very much - hope you do too, if not just don't tell me :).

As for the gayness, I never thought about it before but now you do have me thinking. I can't even begin to speculate on whether or not this happens in real life. Hopefully someone with some first hand knowledge will weigh in. In the meantime, there's always Kalinda on The Good Wife (awesome, awesome show) who sleeps with men and women and doesn't apologize for anything. She is da bomb.

Marilyn (A Lot of Loves) said...

The gay thing on TV is a bit weird. Though most of my gay friends are men so that may be the difference...? I don't know. I can say that with the exception of a few high school encounters, it seems like all of my gay men friends knew they were 100% gay from the time they were little and they were only attempting hetero relationships to appear "in the norm". The one gay woman I know well enough to talk about this with, did in fact date many many men until that one woman encounter at which point she realized that she only preferred woman. So. I don't know. But there's my two cents such as it is.

I try to avoid knowing about the personal lives/opinions of my favourite authors and actors. Invariably they all turn out to be douches and then it taints their work for me.

This may be shocking since Margaret Atwood is a Canadian National Treasure, but I've only read The Handmaiden's Tale...and in that case I liked the movie better. I guess I should read another one of her books sometime.

Marilyn (A Lot of Loves) said...

HANDMAID'S Tale. Sorry that typo bugged me and I didn't want to think about it for the rest of the day. Must. Correct. Typo.

Sasha said...

Also an Atwood fan - I remember reading Moral Disorder but can't for the life of me remember what I thought of it at the time. I just remember the discussion about how when you write autobiography you are accused of fiction, and then she writes fiction and is accused of writing autobiography.

I keep meaning to read her poetry - I don't get poetry (see tomorrow's post), but maybe I'd get hers. I've heard ppl who don't like her novels still speak highly of the poetry.

And I love listening to her interviews on CBC - just so sharp - but yeah, tell me she's a bitch in person and I'd believe it. I'll bet she doesn't take any crap from anybody.

Nan | Wrath Of Mom said...

In the 70s Atwood was married to a man who got a job at the University of Alberta's English department. She lived with him in Edmonton, but made no bones about her opinion that this provinicial university was beneath her. She was rude and condescending to the university, the department, the professors and the students. In return the professors refused to put her books on any class syllabus because they didn't think she need royalties or acclaim from their provinicial university or their provinicial students. I attended the U of A in the early 90s, and she was still completely ignored by the department. Fine by me -- I find her insufferable.

I don't watch Buffy or Grey's Anatomy, but I can think of two female characters who've dallied with women, & then "reverted" to being straight: Samantha on Sex and the City, and Angela on Bones. What about Thirteen on House? I've lost track of the show lately, so I'm not sure if she's still with Foreman, but she had multiple female partners. The only character I can think of who is consistently presented (though multiple episodes or story arcs) as being bisexual is Jack from Torchwood. Maybe we should call this the "Anne Heche Principle of Character Development"?!

I don't understand: you were TEMPTED to take a picture of the Bacon Ranch popcorn? A PICTURE?! WHY DIDN'T YOU BUY THEM?!

Maggie said...

Like Marilyn, I try very hard not to find out about the personal lives of the authors I love because they invariably turn out to be jackasses and then their work is tainted and I'm bummed. Prefer to live in happy ignorance.

Nicole said...

Lalalalalala I can't hear you lalalalalala I love Margaret Atwood lalalalalalala my favourite book ever is the Blind Assassin and I loved Moral Disorder lalalalalalalalala

I feel very upset you didn't take that picture. But Eve is very cute, if destined to be a delinquint...

Mom of the Perpetually Grounded said...

I don't know how that is supposed to work either. I don't watch Gray's anatomy, but I always excused Willow as, 'after OZ was gone, no other male could compare." I still think she could have done better than that insipid Tara ; )

Just from that photo I can imagine Eve nailed it : )

Nicole said...

Oh, and I forgot to add with respect to Grey's - I KNOW, RIGHT? Although if I was Callie and Sloan was my baby daddy I would be doing him all the time. Hoo boy.

Rachel Cotterill said...

Yeah. In my experience, most bisexuals who've given it any thought are pretty unhappy about the (lack of) portrayal of genuinely bi characters in tv/film. (At least Willow had serious relationships with both genders without being portrayed as slutty - which is the worst bi stereotype.)

Finola said...

I love Margaret Atwood and I think I would be pretty arrogant too if I were as smart as her. Too bad people usually tell me I'm sweet, so I am likely not a genius. Bah.

clara said...

The TV lesbians often don't get the privilege of subtext or backstory, so we see character! sleeping with men! then women! OH WOMEN! YAYAYAYAYAYAYAY but we don't get the "I always liked girls..was too scared to say anything..tried to pass as a hetero..blah blah blah" because let's face it, it's for the kiss factor not the character development. Not like all the flashbacks you get for WhatsherMeredith there and her childhood and her mother and her daddy issues and everything. Obviously we know why she does the things she does, but Callie? She's just a hot lady with some nice lips on her. Rawr.

Course I haven't watched Greys in a long time. That's what I remember.

That popcorn sounds fabu-no-maybe?

And as for Atwood.. I met & loved her poetry in early university, loved the early novels up to Cat's Eye, can't stand historical or dystopian fiction so haven't read her since then. Also her voice drives me bananas and illustrates to me perfectly why writers should be READ and not heard.(that's my shallow moment) Although she and I have very similar hair so I am sympathetic and like to pretend we're twinsies, sometimes. Shh.

StephLove said...

Goodness, bisexuality and Atwood in one post. It's like you wrote this for me. And a Buffy reference to boot!

I consider myself bi in theory but lesbian in practice. That's because I married my first girlfriend, so it's been 25 years since I've been with a guy. I think by now being with a woman is so ingrained I'd be more comfortable in another lesbian relationship than a straight one (in the event of partner's tragic death). But I notice attractive men and women about equally and have sexy dreams about both (TMI?). I only get crushes on women I know, though, never men. So I guess I'm physically attracted to both but emotionally attracted to women.

Big Atwood fan here. Cat's Eye and Alias Grace are my favorites. I used to teach both of them and I wrote an article on AG. I can't remember if I've read Moral Disorder, though, so maybe it's not one of her better efforts.

Shan said...

That picture of Eve is all kinds of awesome.

I think as a Canadian I should like Atwood and yet I don't. I mean I enjoyed The Year of The Flood, but I didn't love it. Not like I loved Sweet Valley Confidential... I kid..... sorta.

I have people in my life who didn't "know" they were gay until well into adulthood. They may have been married prior, but they would consider themselves gay now, not bisexual.

Finally and most importantly.... that popcorn is freakin awesome!