Scooby Doo “Misogyny Incorporated”

I’ve always liked Scooby Doo cartoons.  Maybe the “spooky” plots appealed to my budding love of horror (as a child), or maybe I just had the same love of the ginormous and dopey Scooby that I imagine was pretty common.  And in it’s current incarnation Mystery Incorporated, I can enjoy a show that has survived, relatively unchanged, with my daughter.  

But maybe that’s the problem.  It is relatively unchanged.  Despite the more modern technology included in the newer episodes, and the added element of fairly shallow relationship drama between the characters, the same ol’ costumes the characters have always worn are not the only thing that is painfully retro about this show.

I'm always stoked to see the characters in anything besides their normal outfits, even if it is a stereotypically sexist situation like...ugh...the girls at a spa.

I’m always stoked to see the characters in anything besides their normal outfits…even if it is a stereotypically sexist situation.

Though featuring some pretty decent names in the voice cast– Matthew Lillard as Shaggy, Patrick Warburton as the recurring character, Sheriff Stone, Gary Cole, Vivica Fox, Francis Conroy, Tia Carrere, Jeff Bennett (animated voice actor heavy weight!), Clancy Brown (Mr. Krabs!!!) and Casey Kasem (radio personality and the original Shaggy)– I’m a bit disappointed in Mystery Incorporated.

Hanna- Barbera, Warner Bros., and Cartoon Network had an opportunity here to not only revamp this old series, but to reel in a new generation of kids with trickier plots, smarter technology, and better role models…and they failed miserably.  I realize it’s just a cartoon, and but doesn’t the inclusion of an element of mystery sort of imply they want kids to be interested while they are entertained, and to think?  

Instead. what we got was the same old boring formula.  Sure, the some of the monsters may be a little more innovative, and the Scooby and “the gang” have more electronic toys available to them to help them on their way, but that’s pretty much the extent of the changes.  I realize the creators and producers likely want to stay sort of loyal to the originals; if they changed too much, the show might lose some of it’s nostalgic appeal for older viewers like me.  Playing devil’s advocate though, how many of today’s viewers really have any frame of reference in regards to the older Scooby shows??? Wikipedia is more generous in their assessment of the show, stating:

 […]the series takes a tongue-in-cheek approach to the classic Scooby-Doo formula (similar to A Pup Named Scooby-Doo and Shaggy & Scooby-Doo Get A Clue!), with increasingly outlandish technology, skills and scenarios making up each villain’s story, and a different spin on the famous “meddling kids” quote at the end of every episode. Contrasting sharply with this, however, are two elements that have never been used in a Scooby-Doo series before: a serial format with an ongoing story arc featuring many dark plot elements that are treated with near-total seriousness, and ongoing relationship drama between the characters.

But what rankled me the most about the show is something that was probably present in the earlier shows as well, but was likely something I just didn’t pick up on as much in my younger days, and that is the overall superficiality of the characters and the reinforcement of cliquishness and stereotypes.

Daphne is the “pretty one.”  She’s a rich girl from a rich, snobby family, and she simpers over Fred as if being the object of his affection and attention her life’s dream.

And poor Velma.  She’s smart and she’s the techie of the group (if you discount Fred’s obsession with ridiculously elaborate traps.)   She’s curvy and wears her signature skirt, turtleneck, knee socks, and glasses…  And she is still alluded to as being the homely, nerdy, lonely, and even fat girl of the group.  Fat???  Since when is having boobs and a butt a bad thing?  Oh, right…in this country the “prettiest” women on our magazine covers are as narrow and devoid of curves as a twelve year old boy…  And everyone is subject to our scrutiny.

I forgot...this is America, so apparently, this is fat...

I forgot…this is America, so apparently, this is fat…

The other day I saw an episode about a villain that was performing some sort of love spell on people, resulting in immediate and random pairings of characters– just whoever they happened to be standing next to at the moment.  Granted, it was always a perfectly even ration of male to female characters– no sexually ambiguous pairings on this show!–  But that didn’t stop Daphne from pointing out,  in a shocked and appalled voice, the fact that “nerds” and “cool people” were suddenly in love!  Eeek! The humanity!

There’s another character on the show named Marcie Fleach.  Her nickname is “hot dog water.”  It made me giggle at first…until the characters went on to characterize her;  she’s smart… but she’s rumpled and messy looking, and she allegedly smells like “recycled water used to cook hot dogs.”  In short, she’s the class freak, and she’s portrayed with in the same “ugly betty” way as Velma (basically, if they didn’t tell you she was supposed to be ugly, you probably wouldn’t think it.)  I know I’m not the first person to notice the way “smart” people are always categorically considered “ugly.”

Ugly Betties

Ugly Betties

Those of you who are regular readers know that I’m not generally in the habit of making mountains out of mole hills, but for some reason, this annoys the piss out of me.  If I really think about it, it’s probably because this type of categorization is so adolescent.  It’s introducing our young children to “the IN-crowd,” teaching kids that it’s normal and okay to ostracize people based on how they look.  It’s reinforcing immature stereotypes that start in elementary school and (more and more frequently lately) result in bullying and violence in high school.

I’m not trying to be all chicken little here.  The sky’s not falling, or anything because of this stupid kid’s show.  I just basically don’t like snobby people or bullies.  That kind of behavior is not something I want my daughter to learn, pigeon-holing people into groups (which are then basically judged as worthy or not worthy of inclusion.)

What do you think, gentle readers?

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Turning the Other Cheek or Turning A Blind Eye?

Here’s the scenario:

Four girls corner another girl in a public restroom.  They proceed to verbally harass her, threaten her, gang up on her, knocking her to the ground so one can beat on her.  Her face is bloody and bruised and they hold her down so they can cut off her hair.  The two of the girls pull guns out of their bags, threatening to “do worse” to her if she ever talks to the cops again.  One girl says, Why wait?  Let’s kill her now.  

There’s a struggle and one girl drops her gun, and the victim gets the drop on them, grabs the gun, and fires in a panic, killing one of her tormentors and wounding another.

This is the basic plot of the episode of a show I watched today.  And it’s making me…So. Mad.

I hate bullies.  And I was silently hoping that rather than panicking, firing blindly, and crying, that the victim would find her anger and kill those bitches.

Check that.  I know it sounds wrong.  I’m not advocating the type of violence where a perceived or alleged victim of bullying goes into a school and opens fire on everyone.  But watching these girls, these gang bangers, torment this poor girl, who dared to go to the cops because one of the girls’ boyfriends tried to rape her, made me fucking sick.

With all the rampant gun violence in this country, it’s hard to take a stance on gun ownership.  I believe in the right to defend oneself.  I believe it’s better to be judged by twelve than carried by six.  But denying the fact that the easier access to guns in this country means more guns are used in committing violent crimes is foolish.  Still, I couldn’t help but side with the victim when she turned her one of her tormentors and would be killer’s own gun against them.

But this isn’t really a post about guns; it’s about bullying, which has been around since the beginning of time, I’d wager.  Only “back then” kids used their fists.  And the bullied kids either weathered it or fought back…with their fists.  At one point or another, whether on the playground in grade school, or by their more sophisticated tormenting of their middle and high school peers, I’d bet most of you gentle readers have experienced bullying at one time or another.  I was bullied.  Until I got tired of it.  And then I started to fight back.  It got to the point, for me, where being bullied felt worse than standing up for myself and risking a beating…which I never got.  The fights were always broken up, or the bully backed down or bested.  Or all of the above.

But I guess I was lucky.  The bullies in this show were intent on doing serious harm to the victim.  Dealing with gangs can be considerably different because they have their strange ideas of loyalty and gang politics.  Some people just have no reverence or respect for human life.  It’s an arrogant, sociopathic point of view for which I have the utmost disdain.

But most bullies are just cowards, falling somewhere in between the fabled “low self-esteem” and true criminal.  I don’t really know where I’m going with this post except to say we need to stamp out bullying.  Part of doing that involves not being a bystander.  And that involves a certain amount of personal risk.  Risk of standing out, getting in trouble, being sued…or risk of bodily injury.  In the end, how you handle a bully is a personal decision, but even if you personally are a “turn the other cheek” kind of person, when you see another person getting bullied, don’t be a turn your back kind of person.

Edmund_Burke_quote

AlienRedQueen’s Golden Rule of the Internet

I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again and know I’m not the first;

A lot of people act like complete assholes on the internet.

Perceived anonymity has endowed many people with big, brass bull balls.  Many of these people are likely timid or unimposing in their everyday lives, likely feeling “bullied” by people in their own lives, and just looking to be on the giving end for a change.  Some of these people are probably asshats in their real life as well as online.  But I’d wager that this second type is a lot less vocal about it in the normal course of their day, for fear of repercussions, such as losing their job or mate, or maybe even being punched in the face for their temerity.

“You, sir, are an Asshat!”

Which brings me to my point-  AlienRedQueen’s Golden Rule of the Internet-

Speak unto others on the web as you would speak unto their face

Sounds pretty fancy-schmancy, huh?  Not necessarily a novel concept maybe, but applicable nonetheless.  Basically, you have the right to disagree with someone.  You have the right to voice your opinion.   But choose your words carefully.  Be respectful.  Even if you don’t feel respectful.  Think, If I were standing in front of this person, who I (likely) don’t know, would I dare talk like this to them?

Because, see… I’ve calmed down a bit since I was a teen.  Well, not really calmed down, so much as reined myself in a bit.  I have a kid.  I don’t need to go to jail for popping some smart-ass in the mouth…  But not everyone has that inhibition.  Mouth off and disrespect the wrong person, in person, and you’re liable to get your ass handed to you.

Which is maybe how it should be.

 Oops.  Did I just say that?  Call the lawyers, get ready to sue.  Sorry, but some people could use a good old fashioned pop in the mouth.  Guess that makes me a bully now too.  Or just someone who is tired of people acting like total douchbags just because they can get away with  it.

In case you are wondering, this whole thing came about today because I happened to stumble onto a random YouTube video, where a flame war was raging down in the comment section.  Basically it was this one person saying uncalled for, negative things, not just about the video, but about the people who made and/or watched the video.  And I thought, here we go again.  What a bunch of idiots.  Likely, this one guy is just a young punk-ass kid who thinks he’s big medicine on the webz.  And seriously, some of the kids nowadays could probably use a swift backhand.  Maybe if their parents had given them more appropriately applied guidance and consequences, they’d not be the little douchbags they are today, in public or online.

**And just to show I’m not all bad and I’m not advocating child abuse, below is a link to an article with a point of view different from mine.  I’m not saying all kids need to be beat, but I don’t agree with no consequences (or delayed consequences or those that the child just doesn’t care about.)  When my kid does something wrong, she usually gets a time out…but apparently, even that is gauche now.  But as long as a child is not injured physically or psychologically, to each their own, all of this is a little off the topic of my Golden Rule, so:

http://earlychildcare.wordpress.com/2009/09/10/why-punishing-your-child-is-bad-and-what-to-do-instead/