One Tree Hill: Bowling for Tropes

January 23rd, 2008 by sbg

I’ll say upfront that I’m not a regular One Tree Hill (OTH) viewer. With the dearth of new programming on (not blaming the writers for wanting their fair share, but DAMN I wish the industry would work this strike out sooner rather than later), I’ve found myself scrounging around for something to watch. I won’t do much reality TV - as inspiring as the Biggest Losers certainly are, I don’t need to watch them do it.

Anyway, so I tuned in to OTH’s super-duper 2-hour season premiere a couple of weeks ago. Time has been sped up, and our high school angsters are now out of college and in the “real world.” Good, I thought, at least now the actors and character ages will be much closer to reality.

Age is about the only thing close to reality, though. Forget the young guy who’s a celebrated author but can’t seem to write another novel. Forget the basketballer’s tragic accident that made him miss out on the big time (though, honestly, if he was about to make the NBA and it was supposed to be exciting, the Seattle Sonics probably weren’t a good bet…). Forget the 21 year old woman who set out 4  years ago to conquer the fashion industry and did (she’s got a multi-million dollar business, riiiight). Forget the 21 year old woman who set out 4 years ago to conquer the music industry and failed at it because her morals are strong (okay, this one is all right). All that’s bad enough, as is the fact the two women who set out to conquer their industries decided to move back to this small North Carolina town to make their marks there. If I hadn’t already decided the producers of the show had no desire to even attempt anything like reality, this probably would have pushed me over the edge.

What really kills me are the storylines created for these newly grown-up kids. They’re not all bad, I’ll say that, but most of them are like trope bowling pins arranged so closely together it would be impossible not to knock them all down in one toss.  Let’s see:

We’ve got the troubled young married couple subsisting on magic money (inheritance somewhere, basketball residuals, court case?) and one teacher’s income hiring a “hot nanny”  - $10 for anyone who can guess where that one’s going.

We’ve got the young fashion icon who’s being controlled and manipulated by her Superbitch!Mommy in business and other affairs. Everyone’s got a Superbitch!Mommy character lurking in their shadows somewhere, don’t you know. And if it wasn’t a Superbitch!Mommy, then it would probably be a Sleazydirtbag!Daddy…oh, wait, OTH did that one already.

We’ve got the young music mogul (in the making now that she’s got her own brand new record label in Bumbleep, Egypt) who’s still in love with her ex, who is now in a committed relationship with someone else - $10 more if you know where that one’s going.

We’ve got the goofy looking guy trying to break into the newscasting business, facing brick walls because he ain’t got a pretty face - this one had potential to demonstrate some sort of quality lesson. That potential, however, was destroyed last week. How, you ask? The guy had troubles at work - his boss…his lady boss didn’t like him. He asked a friend for advice, and his friend told him it was all UST and that he should lay a big wet kiss on her. Which he, stupidly, did and got fired….only, wait, we’re not done yet. After he got fired, he went back into the office for some reason or another, and that’s when the boss somehow realized that it was actually UST and they ended up groping on the couch in her office. Yes, kids, inappropriate sexual behavior DOES pay off!

ETA: This last one has quickly turned into quid pro quo situation, which I suppose could still have potential to send and interesting message.

I can’t say any of this is a huge surprise or disappointment - it’s rather par for the course for most of The CW’s programming (and part of my issues regarding my beloved Supernatural this year), and like I said I’m not a dedicated watcher.

Still, it would have been SO nice to have the blank slate OTH kind of had written with some originality instead of having these tired old tropes, tropes which do no favor to either gender, being dragged out yet again.


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Duh, It’s All About the Guys

January 22nd, 2008 by scarlett

A recent episode of Grey’s Anatomy had me chuckling. In it, Meredith’s stuck in a typically trite love triangle between Derek, a married man who routinely broke her heart, and Fin, a vet who obviously adored her and forgave an indiscretion with Derek. (Why she felt she needed to make a choice was beyond me, but that’s another post.) She decided to help her decide, she’s going to date both of them.

Derek and Fin immediately see this as a competition – both telling the other they’re not walking away. They attempt to undermine one another and sabotage each other’s dates.

At one point Meredith, fed up with having her dates crashed and Derek and Fin getting into staring competitions, she tells them ‘dating is supposed to be about flowers and groping and looking into each other’s eyes. You guys are looking at each other!’

And that’s what I found so amusing. She set them up in direct competition with one another, and what did she expect? That they wouldn’t view her as a prize to be won? Derek and Fin’s battle of wills came across to me as two men who want the same object, not as two men who want to do the right thing by a woman they care about. Meredith’s comment about them looking at each other, not her, was right on the money. It wasn’t about her, it was about beating another guy.

Unfortunately, I doubt she saw it that way, and I doubt the writers, or the majority of the viewers, saw it that way. Love triangles are always written like I’m meant to find it romantic that a woman can’t choose a man, and that the men involved are going to great lengths to prove themselves. I mean, how awesome is it when you’re so amazingly desireable that men will compete for you?

Yeah, right. All I ever see are two men competing with one another for a prize, and that is definitely not romantic. Or respectful, for that matter. And that’s not something I want in my life, nor can I understand why anyone else would want it.

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Bloggers don’t shop at Target, says Target

January 18th, 2008 by BetaCandy

ShapingYouth recently posted about a potentially offensive ad from Target. I say “potentially” because it’s another one of those that, if you could divorce it from a world full of ads using sexualized images of women to sell crap, probably wouldn’t seem like a big deal on its own. AdRants does a good job summing up the issue:

Ready for everyone to tell us we’re reading way, way too much into this Target billboard that places a certain area of a woman’s body highly targeted by men right in the middle of its signature target logo. But you can’t tell us not a single soul at Target or its agency looked at this and didn’t see a certain interpretation that could be construed as objectifying to women. There’s just no way.

So far, so good. Target’s done a thing. People are discussing it. And then Target responds to ShapingYouth:

“Good Morning Amy,

Thank you for contacting Target; unfortunately we are unable to respond to your inquiry because Target does not participate with non-traditional media outlets. This practice is in place to allow us to focus on publications that reach our core guest.

Once again thank you for your interest, and have a nice day.”

Which begs the question: who the hell is Target targeting? The ad shows a young woman in young women’s clothes. Are they expecting to sell that outfit to elderly men who don’t know what blogs are? Because last time I checked, the most likely people to read blogs were the younger demographics, and I would hazard a guess that women read them more than men. Hmm. Cover story much? Yep, it’s like the ol’ “we make movies for men because  women don’t spend money - oh, the Wall Street Journal says they do? Well okay, we make movies for men because women will watch anything and besides, our advertisers don’t want women watching because they don’t spend money and - oh, wait, Business Week says women spend money, too? Um, I gotta take this call. Bye!” routine.

Also of note: read the comment thread at Shaping Youth. It’s mostly comprised of people telling her that the ad is not offensive and she’s dirty for thinking it is, so shut up. Gee, where do we hear that regularly?

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January 18th, 2008 by scarlett

I recently saw the Australian horror movie Rogue which was promoted as ‘Jaws with a crocodile’ but was surprisingly better than the second-rate rip-off I expected. It was quite creepy in parts, but largely, I was disappointed with the main female role.

Said female is Kate (Rhada Mitchell). She runs crocodile tours in the tidal rivers of the Northern Territory. On one tour, she has what I assume is her typical assortment of tourists – locals, interstate travelers, the odd overseas accent and American tourist reviewer Pete ( Michael Vartan).

This being a movie about a rogue, fiercely territorial croc, it doesn’t take long before said croc rams the boat and causes it to rapidly sink. Kate drives the boat towards a tidal sandbank despite the mainland being just a few more meters further away. And she doesn’t think to grab the flares, torches and first aid kid when they beach the boat – or at least yell for someone else to – until the tide has risen and said stuff is floating off somewhere with several meters of rogue, territorial croc between them.

It gets worse. It’s Pete who comes up with the idea of using the anchor to trap the croc long enough for people to swim across to the mainland. Not the experienced tour of croc-infested rivers, nope, a travel critic. And then, if you can believe it, while Pete is busy trying to hold onto the anchor, does Kate dive straight into the water and swim like hell? Um, no. She waits a good half a minute – about what it would have taken to swim the distance – to converse with Pete, over a dog, no less, then puts her life jacket on, then dives in. Oh, and when Pete loses control of the anchor, Kate appears to stop swimming and tread water to yell at the others to get away from the shore. Yeah, me, I’d be heading for that shore, given I was in more danger than those actually on it, and those already there could fend for themselves.

Oh yeah, then Pete spends the rest of the movie running around trying to save Kate, despite the fact the last we saw of her (several hours ago), she was virtually cut in half by the croc and hemorrhaging blood. It was another stereotype – of the man who’s always the hero – and wasn’t much better a stereotype than that of the competent-woman-becomes-damsel-in-distress.

The shame of it is, the film was genuinely creepy in parts, at least before they brought into the oversized CG croc. But so much of its creepiness was undermined for me by the fact the heroine was constantly doing stupid things that you would hope your average woman, let alone one with some experience in the situation, wouldn’t have done.

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