Gena Davis institute on Gender in media tries to link violent games to mass shootings and police violence

Chimpzy

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I see, and what female is Bowser spreading his seed too?
Himself. He uses a Super Crown to turn female princess, then self-impregnates. Hence why the kids mistake Peach as their mom, cuz being inbred got them too pummeled by the stupid stick to notice the difference. It's a dumb plan B, but Bowser was never top of the class, so eh.
 
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CriticalGaming

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Himself. He uses a Super Crown to turn female princess, then self-impregnates. Hence why the kids mistake Peach as their mom, cuz being inbred got them too pummeled by the stupid stick to notice the difference. It's a dumb plan B, but Bowser was never top of the class, so eh.
Which game is this in? Because i kinda wanna play it.
 

thebobmaster

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According to Shigeru Miyamoto, the Koopalings are not actually Bowser's kids. His only offspring is Bowser, Jr. And the mother is unknown.

 
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Chimpzy

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According to Shigeru Miyamoto, the Koopalings are not actually Bowser's kids. His only offspring is Bowser, Jr. And the mother is unknown.

Pshah, Miyamoto's authority on the matter is nothing in the face of pervy fan-canon! You can take my word for it, I've got a PhD in Monkey Business.
 

Terminal Blue

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I feel like this has become a textbook example of the various failings of trope-based analysis.

Simply going through media and looking for examples of people of various genders saving each other may be simple, quantifiable and serve as a good introduction for people unfamiliar with critique, but it doesn't actually tell us very much at all. What it's supposed to do is point towards the underlying assumptions (ideology, in the technical sense) that inform the media we consume.

For example, instead of simply counting how many times men save women or vice versa, let's ask a better question. Why are these people being saved? What does this actually do in the context of the story and, even more importantly, what does it do for the audience? What form of engagement is being encouraged in these interactions? Also, consider the question of how we are meant to see the characters involved. Are they, for example, gender normative characters?

Selene in the first Underworld movie, for example, is a pretty gender non-conforming character. She's tough, assertive, violent and callous. She wears a lot of leather. Part of her character is that she refuses to play a feminine role, in contrast to the other female vampires (particularly Erika). She's very literally not like other girls, even in the context of the film's narrative, and this is what makes her an empowered character. She does protect Michael and ultimately develop romantic feelings towards him, but this is actually a negation of her established masculine character. She has to soften and become more feminine in order to end up with a man. There's a slightly weird implication that her "butchness" is merely the result of the trauma of her family being murdered.

Conversely, Terminator is literally a damsel in distress movie. Sarah Connor is a defenceless girl who has to be protected against a murderous cyborg by a tough man from the future (who also kind of abducts, brutalizes and torments her) and who is secretly in love with her because he saw a picture of her once and gets to fuck her as a reward for all his hard work saving her. Sarah is also not like other girls, and this is used to foreshadow her transformation into an empowered character at the end of the film. It was never going to be Ginger in that role, was it?

Don't even get me started on T2 with full butch-mommy-realness Sarah Connor. That film is the gayest shit straight people have ever thought was cool.
 

CriticalGaming

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Why are these people being saved? What does this actually do in the context of the story and, even more importantly, what does it do for the audience?
It typically is done to raise the stakes. In the Matrix for example Agent Smith set a trap for Neo to capture Trinity. Neo was already much more powerful than Smith at this point and if it came down to a fight, Smith was already doomed. However by putting Trinity in danger it raises the tension for the audience because now it isn't a matter of if Neo can win, it's a matter of if Neo can save Trinity.

What form of engagement is being encouraged in these interactions?
Simply root for the hero, nothing more.

Are they, for example, gender normative characters?
Does this matter? Person saves person is all that is important here. Of course this is typically heteronormative characters because the vast majority of the audience is heteronormative. Especially when it comes to action fantasy in which this trope is most commonly used.

Selene in the first Underworld movie, for example, is a pretty gender non-conforming character. She's tough, assertive, violent and callous. She wears a lot of leather. Part of her character is that she refuses to play a feminine role, in contrast to the other female vampires (particularly Erika). She's very literally not like other girls, even in the context of the film's narrative, and this is what makes her an empowered character. She does protect Michael and ultimately develop romantic feelings towards him, but this is actually a negation of her established masculine character. She has to soften and become more feminine in order to end up with a man. There's a slightly weird implication that her "butchness" is merely the result of the trauma of her family being murdered.
Yeah you are probably right. But the softening up of her hard exterior is likely more that her hard exterior is able to drop with him. She doesn't have to keep that hard shell around her with him because Micheal isn't exactly a weak character in the film's cannon either. She let's her shell down because Michael isn't trying to claim her as a prize (much the way the covens wanted her, either as an arm piece or as a weapon). So it's not that she becomes more feminine in order to be with Michael, she always was feminine, she just is able to let the badass shell around herself relax with him. Which I guess you can interpret in that way but in doing so she doesn't sacrifice her character for the man either. She remains that badass the moment shit goes down, and never gives way to the man throughout the series.

Conversely, Terminator is literally a damsel in distress movie. Sarah Connor is a defenceless girl who has to be protected against a murderous cyborg by a tough man from the future (who also kind of abducts, brutalizes and torments her) and who is secretly in love with her because he saw a picture of her once and gets to fuck her as a reward for all his hard work saving her
Yet in the end the man dies, and it's Sarah who has to defeat the machine in the end. So he saves her a couple of times, in the film but at the end of the day he fails.

I don't know if I would call Sarah's transformation empowering, she is basically driven insane by the events of the first film. Her badassery is a result of a psychotic breakdown in which she is humanities only hope. It's really a very interesting character dynamic honestly.
 

Dwarvenhobble

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On the subject of the whole damsel in distress thing and the lists being generated, I think there's a misunderstanding here.

A story where X saves Y is very different from a story where X saving Y is the crux of that story.

This started off with games, so I'll use two examples, Super Mario Land and Resident Evil 7 (since that's already been listed). In Super Mario Land, like so many Mario games, rescuing Daisy (or more usually, Peach) is the explicit goal. It's the starting goal, it remains the goal, and the game ends when the goal is reached. In RE7, on the other hand, Ethan may set out to find Mia at the start, but it's really not the driving force of the game. If anything, it subverts it, since Mia tries to kill Ethan early on, 'dies,' then helps him later, and potentially dies at the end - all this in the midst of a story with twists and turns that's more about survival. There's no point in a Mario game where Daisy decides "screw it," helps Mario, and shows she's just as capable.

So, yeah. One of these things is a damsel in distress story, one of them isn't. And it's very rare that a story has a "dude in distress."
I maintain my list hold up lol

Also Peach does help Mario out or try to escape on her own in the Paper Mario RPG games.

As for RE7 not counting based on the claims about Damsel in Distress Mia would fall under the "Useful damsel" subcategory.
 

Dwarvenhobble

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Don't even get me started on T2 with full butch-mommy-realness Sarah Connor. That film is the gayest shit straight people have ever thought was cool.
The funniest thing in all that being the reading of the film that actually Sarah Connor being butch Mommy is her idea of how to be a strong woman and in the dream sequence she gets to be more feminine letting her hair down / having longer hair thus her look in that film is her being performative in itself by going with a specific look at attitude because that's why she believe people expect and will give her more impact from first impressions rather than people getting some other impression of her if she appeared more feminine........
 

Gordon_4

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I don't know if I would call Sarah's transformation empowering, she is basically driven insane by the events of the first film. Her badassery is a result of a psychotic breakdown in which she is humanities only hope. It's really a very interesting character dynamic honestly.
I remember reading somewhere that one thing people tend to do is conflate Sarah Connor being a good character with being a good person. She's a great character, but she's (as of Terminator 2) a pretty terrible person. Obviously as the audience we have meta-knowledge the other in-story characters lack/don't believe so we sympathise with her really terrible predicament. Watch the way she goes about trying to kill Miles Dyson; she moves like a Terminator does. Like that's a thing I only noticed much later; and another is that until the confrontation at the Dyson's, the movie is slowly humanising the T-800 and terminatoring Sarah.
 
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The Rogue Wolf

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Watch the way she goes about trying to kill Miles Dyson; she moves like a Terminator does. Like that's a thing I only noticed much later is that until the confrontation at the Dyson's, the movie is slowly humanising the T-800 and terminatoring Sarah.
It's my headcanon that when the T-800 is treating Dyson's wound and glances back at Sarah, it's realizing that she's about as close as a human can come to being a Terminator.
 
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Hawki

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Selene in the first Underworld movie, for example, is a pretty gender non-conforming character. She's tough, assertive, violent and callous. She wears a lot of leather. Part of her character is that she refuses to play a feminine role, in contrast to the other female vampires (particularly Erika). She's very literally not like other girls, even in the context of the film's narrative, and this is what makes her an empowered character. She does protect Michael and ultimately develop romantic feelings towards him, but this is actually a negation of her established masculine character. She has to soften and become more feminine in order to end up with a man. There's a slightly weird implication that her "butchness" is merely the result of the trauma of her family being murdered.
I don't see how what you described makes Selene "gender nonconforming." That she's a female is never questioned.

As for the feminity of her role in regards to the other vampires, this isn't a gender thing. In the first film, IIRC, the vampires are "yeah, we're good, those lycans aren't an issue, let's relax" while Selene is constantly pushing for them to keep on their toes. That's a commentary on Selene's character, sure, but it's also a commentary on the state the vampires are in - they've let their guard down, while the lycans are active below, and over the course of the film, they lose two of their three vampire lords for it.

As for Selene being hardened due to trauma...um, yes? That's common in both reality and fiction. There isn't anything weird about that. If anything, it's a stock-standard trope, and if anything, part of what breaks it down is the revelation that vampires killed her family, not lycans.

Conversely, Terminator is literally a damsel in distress movie. Sarah Connor is a defenceless girl who has to be protected against a murderous cyborg by a tough man from the future (who also kind of abducts, brutalizes and torments her) and who is secretly in love with her because he saw a picture of her once and gets to fuck her as a reward for all his hard work saving her. Sarah is also not like other girls, and this is used to foreshadow her transformation into an empowered character at the end of the film. It was never going to be Ginger in that role, was it?
Calling T1 a "damsel in distress movie" is a statement that's technically true, but really simplifies things. You have Sarah (the damsel), who goes through an arc to the point that she defeats her would-be assassin, while saving her would-be protector (to an extent), yet this is also in the context of the real target being John.

Don't even get me started on T2 with full butch-mommy-realness Sarah Connor. That film is the gayest shit straight people have ever thought was cool.
Sarah being buff is gay?

Um, okay...

As for RE7 not counting based on the claims about Damsel in Distress Mia would fall under the "Useful damsel" subcategory.
I still disagree there though.

Mia really doesn't fit this kind of category. Yes, finding Mia is the catalyst for Ethan driving to the Baker Estate, but things take a hard left immediately, including, but not limited to, Mia attacking him, Ethan being forced to 'kill' her, then Mia helping Ethan indirectly (the videorecording), then directly (in the tanker), then Ethan ploughing on along to defeat Eveline. This in the midst of revelations that Mia is actually a pretty terrible person who was, let's be honest, a terrorist. Revelations that the game doesn't actually address, but revelations nonetheless.

Resident Evil has something approaching a damsel in distress story via RE4, but RE7 is in the same category as Revelations 2. It's like saying that game is a DID story based on the premise that Barry comes to the island to rescue Moira. It's the inciting incident for his storyline, but things get far more complicated, and Moira, at the end, is the one to save him.
 

Cicada 5

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Mostly because in them they're for the most part not impossibly skilled and mostly outmatch their opponents vastly lol.
Did you actually watch these movies? This is the very definition of an action hero.


No just that they're being propped up as example of how to do things right when they're Buckaroo Banzi but female and not actually deliberate parody characters.
Again, this just comes across as you being pissed off that anyone likes them. This happens with every popular character. Countless times, I've seen someone hold up a male character as the pinnacle of storytelling without half the Internet losing their minds.



They're also the mainline newest lot in said franchise and considering how some franchises have gone you can almost bet they'll be brought up again and again.
Just looking at the examples I specifically referenced; Carol is one of several characters in the MCU and people can just avoid her movies if they don't want to watch anymore of her and Rey has yet to appear in any Star Wars content outside of the Sequel trilogy.





The funny thing is MK still gets used like that. The Whitehouse montage under Trump used MK Xray moves and fatalities when trying to pin a mass shooting on video games.
And was laughed off by people with common sense who saw it for the pathetic attempt to scapegoat video games for gun violence that it was.

People didn't buy it then and they sure aren't buying it now.


Something smells off here and I think I know why.

It's the Unit sales trick. They report on Unit sales not revenue. It's an old trick if you cut the price and get more sales you report the sales numbers not the actual revenue numbers
Do you have any evidence to back up your claim that it sold poorly? What you've said thus far just sounds like conspiracy theories.


Well yes because it is policing women's bodies by proxy.
I sincerely hope you meant this as a joke.

If we take the argument that Anita and co tend to use that video games and media impact the real world and the claim Anita made at Vidcon 2016 that the efforts to change video games are to change the wider culture of the world. Then well it raises quite a number of questions about why people want female characters to be toned down and made less sexy........It wasn't even as though MK 11 was going back to the more classic character looks, with a number of the characters it seemingly covered them up even more.
Please stop. You know exactly why people have an issue with oversexualized female designs. You're deliberately interpreting it in the most cynical way possible to demonize them. This is not "policing women's bodies", "Sharia Law" or whatever other dog whistle you want to toss out.
 

Dwarvenhobble

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Did you actually watch these movies? This is the very definition of an action hero.
Not really unless you mean The Last Action Hero which was a deliberate parody for the most part.

Even in their respective franchises.

They're closer character wise to Buckaroo Banzai who is a parody character



Again, this just comes across as you being pissed off that anyone likes them. This happens with every popular character. Countless times, I've seen someone hold up a male character as the pinnacle of storytelling without half the Internet losing their minds.
Generally the Male character isn't crap because we left the Era of Doc Savage etc a long time ago. Also people weren't ever pushing for Doc Savage to be the way all male characters are written




Just looking at the examples I specifically referenced; Carol is one of several characters in the MCU and people can just avoid her movies if they don't want to watch anymore of her and Rey has yet to appear in any Star Wars content outside of the Sequel trilogy.
And was in the comic (and it's suggested in the MCU too) going to be the main lead for the MCU going forward so yeh Civil War 2 will be Captain Marvel vs some-one and Captain Marvel will be the main lead in team ups.

As for Rey she was going to be seen as a big part of the future of Star War but well they're unsure what to do with her now seemingly




And was laughed off by people with common sense who saw it for the pathetic attempt to scapegoat video games for gun violence that it was.

People didn't buy it then and they sure aren't buying it now.
True but it was still the go to example for violence.





Do you have any evidence to back up your claim that it sold poorly? What you've said thus far just sounds like conspiracy theories.
Only that Battlefield V announced massive numbers of sales then somehow didn't hit the numbers despite them being now much more than Battlefield 1 target wise.





I sincerely hope you meant this as a joke.
No, unfortunately not, this is the reality that things are happening in where people are going after depictions of women in the hopes to impact real women by doing so.


Please stop. You know exactly why people have an issue with oversexualized female designs. You're deliberately interpreting it in the most cynical way possible to demonize them. This is not "policing women's bodies", "Sharia Law" or whatever other dog whistle you want to toss out.
Yes there are reasons. Here's some possible ones
1) They're prudes
2) They struggle to stop from fapping and or get distracted in the actual game and get killed
3) They think anime butt poses and sexy female characters are the reason rape happens.
4) They're embarrassed by the content and concerned about people seeing it
5) They have self esteem of body issues.
6) They're people who have a sort of warped view of how women should all be modest etc.
 

Dwarvenhobble

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Some news related to this threads main topic the Gena Davis institute



Video games have been the targets of moral panics for decades. Many recent waves of panic have come from the political right. Now, some of the same dubious claims are being repeated by The Geena Davis Institute (GDI) on Gender in Media. Their new report on video games and masculinity includes many long-debunked claims about video games.
The report also insinuates video games are relevant to “white male police violence against people of color.” Not only is there no evidence for this particular claim.....
The selection of research also warrants greater scrutiny. For instance, the report highlights one 2010 study of video games, failing to note the experimental findings were later debunked. The GDI report suggests that playing more violent, sexualized games reduces empathy toward female victims of violence. However, they cite a study that has been discredited for, among other things, claiming to be a randomized experiment when it was not. Some research in this area has been retracted, which they fail to note. The report only refers to only studies supporting its aims, while avoiding an increasing wealth of studies that find video games are associated with neither violence nor aggression, nor sexist attitudes and behavior.
 

Cicada 5

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Not really unless you mean The Last Action Hero which was a deliberate parody for the most part.
I'm talking about Commando, the Rambo movies, anything Steven Seagal has been in and The Expendables.

Action movies in general have impossibly skilled protagonists with over the top feats. Or are you trying to claim that every film Arnold Schwarzeneger was in was a parody?



Generally the Male character isn't crap because we left the Era of Doc Savage etc a long time ago.
See my above post.


Also people weren't ever pushing for Doc Savage to be the way all male characters are written
No these days they do that for guys like Devil May Cry's Dante or God of War's Kratos. When characters are popular their fans always treat them like the greatest thing since sliced cheese and of course we get a bunch of copycats. Hell, they were doing it with Iron Man when his first movie came out. Or did you not notice how so many MCU heroes are immature manchildren who have to go on a journey of self discovery but gets their development reset for each new appearance?


And was in the comic (and it's suggested in the MCU too) going to be the main lead for the MCU going forward so yeh Civil War 2 will be Captain Marvel vs some-one and Captain Marvel will be the main lead in team ups.
Civil War 2 is the only comic event with Carol as a lead (which she shared with Iron Man). And by your own admission, you don't even know if she will be the main lead in any movies outside of her own.

True but it was still the go to example for violence.
And what does that have to do with the topic at hand? Again, no one took this seriously and it was another thing people used to clown on the Trump Administration. MK being a boogeyman for game violence ended after the 90s.


Only that Battlefield V announced massive numbers of sales then somehow didn't hit the numbers despite them being now much more than Battlefield 1 target wise.
Has anyone at Netherealm claimed this about MK11?



No, unfortunately not, this is the reality that things are happening in where people are going after depictions of women in the hopes to impact real women by doing so.



Yes there are reasons. Here's some possible ones
1) They're prudes
2) They struggle to stop from fapping and or get distracted in the actual game and get killed
3) They think anime butt poses and sexy female characters are the reason rape happens.
4) They're embarrassed by the content and concerned about people seeing it
5) They have self esteem of body issues.
6) They're people who have a sort of warped view of how women should all be modest etc.
'Hey, I can play this game too. Here's possible reasons why people get upset over women not being "sexy" enough for them.

1) They don't buy the games for the gameplay.
2) They have low self esteem, can't talk to real women and can only connect with pixelated breasts.
3) They don't know porn exists.
4) They never cared about games in the first place.
5) They're mad real life women don't look like the ones in games and hate when fictional females are depicted in a more realistic/less sexualized light.
 
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Dwarvenhobble

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I'm talking about Commando, the Rambo movies, anything Steven Seagal has been in and The Expendables.

Action movies in general have impossibly skilled protagonists with over the top feats. Or are you trying to claim that every film Arnold Schwarzeneger was in was a parody?
Impossibly skilled is somewhat relative.


I can't really speak for segal movies but here's some stuff:

Rambo ends up getting torture
The Terminator is outmatched and gets badly damaged.
Rocky Loses
Demolition man nearly gets his arse handed to him
Brue Willis in Die Hard sees his characters feet cut to ribbons.

You can argue they are impossibly skilled but Rey and Captain Marvel take it to a whole new level where they walk away with not even a scratch.




No these days they do that for guys like Devil May Cry's Dante or God of War's Kratos. When characters are popular their fans always treat them like the greatest thing since sliced cheese and of course we get a bunch of copycats. Hell, they were doing it with Iron Man when his first movie came out. Or did you not notice how so many MCU heroes are immature manchildren who have to go on a journey of self discovery but gets their development reset for each new appearance?
Kratos has:
Lost his family
Been thrown into hell

Dante has lost fights (See the start of the latest Devil May Cry) and yes he can come back from being impaled he does still lose fights or fail to manage to protect people.

Also wasn't Iron Man 3 literally starting with the idea of Tony suffering PTSD from the events of Avengers Assemble (which was a stand in for the Alcoholism story in the comics)


Civil War 2 is the only comic event with Carol as a lead (which she shared with Iron Man). And by your own admission, you don't even know if she will be the main lead in any movies outside of her own.
We shall see. She was technically meant to be the lead in some of the Avengers stories in the comics too.

And what does that have to do with the topic at hand? Again, no one took this seriously and it was another thing people used to clown on the Trump Administration. MK being a boogeyman for game violence ended after the 90s.
It's always going to be the boogeyman and it just seems weird really that people are going to claim the reason they won't play MK games was lycra bodysuits when it's probably the most gory on the market and the people into gory stuff tend not to be that prudish. Meanwhile those who hate sexy character often don't like blood and gore either.



Has anyone at Netherealm claimed this about MK11?
No because we only have unit sales number released seemingly.




'Hey, I can play this game too. Here's possible reasons why people get upset over women not being "sexy" enough for them.

1) They don't buy the games for the gameplay.
2) They have low self esteem, can't talk to real women and can only connect with pixelated breasts.
3) They don't know porn exists.
4) They never cared about games in the first place.
5) They're mad real life women don't look like the ones in games and hate when fictional females are depicted in a more realistic/less sexualized light.
Funny thing is instead of coming up with points to deflect I can counter yours.

1) As people against sexy characters keep saying porn is a google away so clearly people are playing the game for something porn doesn't give, which would have to be the thing games do, provide gameplay.
2) So you want to try and force people to do that and can't see it potentially going badly wrong at all or worse some people kind of aren't really in a position to do that due to physical issues they may suffer from.
3) highly doubtful if they can set up a console.
4) Do games suddenly lose worth for having boobs in them? Pretty sure the film series nymphomaniac didn't lose points with the sophisticated film critique crowd, in fact it's kind of a darling film with that crowd.
5) I think that says more about the circles people run in and or areas they reside in that anything else. I'll say I've lived places where the new "more realistic" female characters would very much come in as less attractive than the majority of women in said areas lol.
 

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It's my headcanon that when the T-800 is treating Dyson's wound and glances back at Sarah, it's realizing that she's about as close as a human can come to being a Terminator.
Exactly and that was the entire point. It was a case of she who fights monsters.
 

Terminal Blue

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Does this matter? Person saves person is all that is important here.
Why though?

Like, the Matrix is a weird example because it was created by two transwomen, at least one of whom is a lesbian, and while it's not an overtly trans story or a lesbian story, it does have a very distinct view of the world that incorporates both those things. Neo and Trinity are these very androgynous, interchangeable characters. There's no clear dynamic between them, and neither of them seems to "lead" the relationship.

Like, it's not subtle.




This isn't a shot from the Matrix, it's a shot from Bound. The aesthetics of the Matrix are queer aesthetics, and we know it was deliberate because the same creators used the same aesthetics to represent queer characters.

Simply saying "oh, well Neo is a man and Trinity is a woman so it's a man saving a woman" is kind of ignoring a whole lot of really important stuff about the perspective the film is made from, and the perspective it is trying to convey to the audience. Neo and Trinity's relationship is very different from the way heterosexual relationships are usually depicted on screen, or even within the Matrix series itself. On an obvious level, this is being used to convey information. The Matrix represents social control, it represents conformity, it represents living the life you're supposed to live. Queer coding serves as an important part of the visual language that distinguishes the people who are free from the Matrix and the people who are not.

Of course this is typically heteronormative characters because the vast majority of the audience is heteronormative.
Noone is actually heteronormative. That's literally the point of heteronormativity.

There is no person on this planet who perfectly performs and embodies heterosexuality all the time, because heterosexuality is not just about only having sexual intercourse with people of the opposite sex, it's about being a particular kind of person. Heterosexuality was invented in the 19th century, not as a description of a type of sexual behaviour, but as a description of a type of person. In short, heterosexuality is about being "normal."

That relationship between being heterosexual and being "normal" is what heteronormativity actually expresses. Heteronormativity encompasses gender conformity. It differentiates "normal" sexuality and "perverse" sexuality. It describes how you can dress, what emotions you're allowed to feel, how you should behave and react, and it is so restrictive and so totalizing that no human being will ever actually be able to live up to it, certainly not without living a deeply miserable and empty life. It's not just queer people who have to closet, heterosexuals also have to hide the parts of themselves that might risk compromising their normativity, and often live in constant terror of being outed.

That's why it's not as simple as straight people not being able to tolerate gender non-conforming characters. Movies for straight people are full of gender non-conforming characters, especially women. They often represent very powerful fantasies. Straight women like the fantasy of women being strong and able to assert themselves, straight men like the fantasy of women who are powerful and intense and not like other girls. Similarly, straight men occasionally get tired of being asked to identify with big manly tough boys they can't always be, and straight women enjoy the fantasy of men being gentle and sensitive.

As the Matrix trilogy itself pointed out, people are too chaotic and complicated to ever really fit into a simple, heteronormative life-model. Some part of them, the parts that don't fit, the parts that are excessive or perverse, are going to leak out.

Yet in the end the man dies, and it's Sarah who has to defeat the machine in the end. So he saves her a couple of times, in the film but at the end of the day he fails.
He doesn't fail though. He succeeds.

John Connor knew that Kyle Reese was going to his death when he sent him, because he knew Kyle was his father and he knew his father died. Kyle's mission was never to live and settle down in the suburbs and get married to Sarah, it was to keep her alive and at some point do the big sex. He succeeded. He saved the human race with his penis. Whether you think it's worth it or not, the film frames it as worth it.

The world "empowerment" has become tied up with generalized ideas of success or happiness, but that's not actually what it means. Sarah is an empowered character at the end of the film because she has become a more powerful person. She is able to face and defeat the terminator, whereas her earlier self could not. Whether she is happy, or mentally healthy, doesn't really matter.

And if you want to talk about the very real ways media ideology can harm men, start there. Start at the assumed relationship between empowerment and happiness or wellbeing.
 
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