If you don’t know what I’m talking about check it out here. This is not really a review but more of a troubled meditation.
Spoilers B HERE. SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS.
This anthology series features some stories I’d read in text before. Authors I am familiar with. The first episode I saw was “Sonnie’s Edge” written by Peter F. Hamilton. That story I didn’t know. After the first episode I didn’t watch more because it weighed heavily on me.
Sonnie’s Edge is based on sexual assault. It is the bad ass revenge because rape trope. I hated that aspect of it. Hated it. The animation was so gorgeous. It gave me dystopian noir kaiju feelings and that I was here for but, because of the level of scarring on Sonnie’s body and the rest of the tale, I just-
I asked on facebook if my friends thought I would hate the rest. I was warned about the episode “The Witness” where we have to experience the murder of a sexworker in a timeloop type situation. The level of attention to the animation of nude women presented for boners is pretty deep. In this episode, the victim has lovingly animated pubes that move as she’s running from her killer buck naked.
Her nipples bounce.
In “Beyond the Aquila Rift” by Alastair Reynolds we have a really interesting story that for me, was a bit ruined because we saw again the lovingly animated titties during a space fuck but, the men were not given the same energy.
We see well animated booty jiggle, and the type of thigh gap that is internet porn photo standard so you can see just the roundness of implied or naked pussy because obviouslu if we don’t want to stick our dicks in a character that is female, what’s the point?
We see that the sexual male body, the dicks we get to see are to show us their grotesqueness (in the Good Hunting episode which is a story by Ken Liu that I fucking love) and power over the weak victim. I will say tho, the animated fat mans dick was really nicely rendered.
That’s some of them. I’m not a huge fan of military SF so some of those stories were a bit lost on me. As with the others, they were all just beautifully rendered. Gorgeous.
Overall, like a lot of genre work that ever involves women characters it is so solidly placed in the male gaze I just don’t really know what to do with myself.
I’m not opposed to nudity or even gratuitous nudity. I am opposed to it being so very clearly rooted in titillating the male gaze. For instance, where was the hot body and dick in the “Fish Night” story? When the one salesman strips off and starts floating, where was the lovingly drawn, bouncing with gravity dick for those of us who like dicks?
And yeah I KNOW male nudity blablabla but, the frontal was established but as I said in the LOOK GROSS POWER and not, LOOK AT THEM BALLS JIGGLE EVER SO GENTLY.
There is an intersection of sexuality, presentation and violence here that is a place where in genre fiction I’ve always felt uncomfortable. If you’ve known me for many moons, you know I do love to write me some sexy violence. Violence sexy. Titties on the rampage etc. I have over the years dabbled in eroticizing death and violence because I find them interesting.
What makes me uncomfortable is that, it is perfectly acceptable and not really noteworthy (after I read a LOT of reviews) to have those things presented for the hetero male gaze. Is fine.
It makes me uncomfortable that it is also fine that in a lot of cases, any women claming or stealing any power, their power and their rage comes from sexual violation. Granted, on occasion I do indulge in media that is predicated on the I got raped and now I will fuck you all up. One of my favorite horror movies is the OG I’ll Spit On Your Grave. My problem is that anything that is done outside of that, is not given the same depth or breadth or it isn’t just put out there.
It bothers me that I didn’t read one review that spoke to these things.
It bothers me that I really only saw one other person bring any of this up and their discomfort with it.
The other thing that bothers me is this.
In years past, a lot of my genre fiction that involved sexual or sexualized violence, I always got pushback. Notably not when there was rape as motivator but when there was the murderfuck as initiated by a female character. Because it is completely believable that some jackhole in a graveyard would summon a demoness but, it was weird that she wasn’t a succubus nor was she a raped or scorned woman, she was just annoyed and horny.
These are things I find annoying up through deal breakers. Why can we accept eroticism as portrayed by the raped girl getting revenge, or the individual animated pubes wafting in the air while a girl goes running etc but, we can’t have it other ways?
The closest we got was “Beyond the Aquila Rift”. I enjoyed the reveal but also, if we’re gonna have a not really necessary onscreen screw, and I get to see animated nipples bounce and the aforementioned porny thigh gap, where was the space dick?
So really I love and hate this series. I love the diversity in the art. I love a lot of the stories, the Scalzi yogurt story just makes me giggle every time I think of it. The Ice Age piece was delightful.
For me personally, given my generally grim dark, often porny type aesthetics I get so frustrated with the constraints of sexuality and sex made for the male gaze.
I’m too fuckin queer.
I really hope there is more of this and there is a wider playing field. Give me Kaiju girl fight wreckage as done by someone not relying upon raped and angry.
I would like to see, something other than the male gaze centered. What if?
So yanno, this show really folded in everything about genre fiction that I love and hate. And I hope we can do better.