I don't know where to start on the stupidity, so I'll just make a list of things that pissed me off, in no particular order:
- When discussing slavery with Abby, Ichabod gets all huffy and says that he was an early abolitionist. Abby says that slavery has been abolished for 150 years, and Ichabod remarks, "Yet here I am in shackles [= handcuffs]." His defensive comment about his progressive abolitionism and his turning of the entire history of enslaved Africans into a comment on his momentarily restrained state both serve as a perfect example of privileged white people appropriating the marginalization of oppressed people for their own whiny rhetorical purposes.
- No one seems particularly fussed about Ichabod's claim that he was alive during the Revolutionary War. The dude giving Ichabod the polygraph test [hi there, Nestor Serrano -- nice to see you!] listens to Ichabod's comments about "the American colonies," "the Revolution" and "General Washington" and, noting that none of these trigger the polygraph, therefore instantly concludes that Ichabod is from 250 years in the past. Or, you know, he could be a) drugged, b) delusional, c) lying, d) several of the above. A, B, C and D represent much more logical conclusions than a 250-year sleep, but this show clearly demonstrates that it has no use for logic.
- Ichabod's wife, Katrina, was burnt at the stake as a witch shortly after the Revolution. This inaccurate bit of backstory, along with the egregiously stupid detail that witches were burnt in Sleepy Hollow up through the 1830s, makes me want to throw things at the TV. Nobody was killed for witchcraft around here after the Salem Witchcraft Trials in 1692, and no one was ever burned at the stake for witchcraft in this country. I can't stand it when ignorant people try to drag witchcraft trials into centuries where they don't belong.
- Abby, like most female protagonists in police procedurals, is an Exceptional Woman with no family, no friends, no colleagues and no support system. Her mentor, Sheriff I-Forget-His-Name, is decapitated within the first third of the pilot. Apparently she grew up in Sleepy Hollow, as she mentions a supernatural experience she had in town with her sister in high school, but we never hear about any family or friends she might have in the area. Characterized as a mentally ill failure who bounces in and out of institutions, Abby's sister is dismissed by the plot as a useless, unreliable failure. The story thus sets Abby up as isolated and in a perfect position to become dependent on Ichabod, the only person who believes her. I bet they're going to pair off and fall in love VOMIT VOMIT VOMIT.
- On a related note, Sleepy Hollow is apparently a single-sex town. The only woman besides Abby with more than two lines is Katrina, a dead damsel in distress who needs Ichabod's help to be liberated from a dreamland where the antagonists have imprisoned her.
- As the pilot starts, Abby plans to leave her Sleepy Hollow job for the FBI in a week. She really wants to go, and she claims that she does not want to mess up this opportunity. Her actions, however, tell a different story. Throughout the pilot, she defies her captain's orders: interrogating Ichabod, bringing him to a crime scene, releasing him from the mental institution under false pretenses, snooping in the sheriff's office, etc., etc., etc. The captain responds by talking tough and then doing absolutely nothing about Abby's infractions. At first, I hoped that his de facto leniency would lead to a rare instance in which a police department actually supports a TV character's investigation of supernatural phenomena, but nah. It's just sloppy writing, in yet another pointless sacrifice of logic.
- Could the show have picked a more boring villain? The Four Horsemen are a fine choice, but the show really hampers itself with the decision to amputate the head of one of them. The Headless Horseman literally has no expression, which means he just stomps around, either axing things or shooting things. If the showrunners wanted to show a modicum of inventiveness, they could have employed body language to communicate personality: a raised fist when victory seems imminent, a jaunty twirl of the axe after a successful kill, even an alteration of the gait depending on the circumstances. But no, the Headless Horseman just plods around, hacking things. Booooooooorrrrrrriiiiiiing.
- The show commits the unforgivable crime of bringing in John Cho to play one of Abby's fellow officers and a secret agent on the side of the Horseman...and then killing him off at the end of the pilot. This is a multipart offense, consisting of a) gratuitous bumping off of a POC, b) lost opportunity for a cool storyline in which Abby and Ichabod's efforts are thwarted internally by pro-Horseman forces on the force and c) horrible waste of a talented actor.
Case in point: Someone submits a confession, decrying the negative judgments passed on pro-recast people: "... I have to say that I am absolutely appalled by the behavior of a majority of posters in the recent recast firestorm. I’ve seen grown women and men saying anyone who would buy a recast is evil, filthy, a thief, nasty, sick, stupid, immature, greedy, ignorant , horrible and many other 'fine' adjectives. ..."
Since everyone has a [very loud] opinion on the subject of recasts, the number of notes on the entry swells. kaffeeundsahne, a truly astute, insightful individual, makes the following observation, which I am quoting at length in case the Tumblr gets purged:
"How different is it to insult and degrade pro-recasters from insulting homosexuals or other races. IT. ISN’T. ANY. DIFFERENT. People are people and human beings have goddamn feelings, especially pro-recasters. We’re the minority in this community and when we’re shot down and insulted and humiliated like that, especially by GROWN-ASS PEOPLE, it hurts!"
Got it, people? The institutionalized discrimination and bigotry that constantly affects queer people and/or people of color to the point where some of us die because of it is just the same as calling out recast supporters on their unethical bullshit. We should not castigate pro-recast people for their support of morally bankrupt enterprises because we will then hurt the feelings of the morally bankrupt. And hurting the feelings of people engaged in immoral and illegal activities is the same as oppressing marginalized people unto death.
By the same "reasoning," apparently, we shouldn't call out bigots on their bigotry, because even worse than being a bigot is being made to feel uncomfortable. I actually experience quite a lot of rage when reading the pro-recast bullshit justifications because the arguments are similar to those made by privileged people who want to maintain the oppressive status quo. There's also a crapload of appropriation going on in the pro-recast line of thought.
This "reverse discrimination" bullshit got funded?! WHY?
Re plot summary: SNORE. Also...saddest song, smallest violin.
P.S. I've started swearing in my LJ again. There's too much bullshit in the world that needs calling out as such.
EDIT: Wow, it gets worse. First off, the author says that she wrote this bullshit because anti-gay bigots need to "to feel, through the love story of Chris and Carmen, the wrenching horror of being denied the person you love." Yeah, somehow, reading about a persecuted straight couple will make anti-gay bigots more sympathetic to queers. Given that many anti-gay bigots believe that they are personally being persecuted right here and now by the "homosexual agenda," I doubt that a book making queers the majority will promote empathy in said anti-gay bigots. They'd read it as a cautionary tale of what will happen to this civilization if we let those evil queers have their so-called "rights." No, Preble, your book does not challenge anti-gay bigotry. It supports anti-gay bigotry.
Second of all, she thinks she's some sort of fearless crusader with a message from "the Universe" to "[l]ive your truth." Hey, Preble...your truth is that you're full of heteronormative privilege. Also self-aggrandizing bullshit.
Third, she's laboring under the misconception that her book is "LGBT fiction." News flash for the clueless -- in order to be classified as "LGBT fiction," your book has to feature some lesbian and/or gay and/or bisexual and/or trans characters as sympathetically portrayed individuals whose experiences are worth sharing. You can't just write a story with some lesbian and/or gay and/or bi and/or trans characters who function not as characters, but as poorly wielded anvils to hammer home the Important Theme [tm] that Anti-Gay Bigotry Is Wrong. "LGBT" fiction requires valuing, promoting and centering various varieties of "LGBT" experiences, which Preble obviously can't do.
Fourth and most disgustingly, Preble feeds us some argle-bargle about writing this book in support of her gay son. Jesus Christ, if she really wished to support her son, why didn't she help to organize her local city's Pride celebration, join PFLAG, staff the fundraising phones at a marriage equality organization [since that's one of her pet causes]? At least do something directly related to queers. As mind-blowing as it may be to hear this, Preble, writing about straight people does not further the cause of queer civil rights. In fact, it just reinforces the broad societal assumption that the only stories worth telling are heteronormative ones. Get it? You're not helping. Shut up; bug off, and stop colonizing my subgenre. We don't want you here.
I can't expect Preble to get it, though. Her brain is so stuffed with straight privilege that there's no room for any critical thought. I mean, look -- she apparently doesn't think queers exist. She addresses her blog audience [and putative readership] as follows: "If the way you are, ie, attracted to people of the opposite sex, was criminalized, how would you feel?"
Three things, Preble: 1) You appear to be operating under the strange and old-fashioned notion that sexes have "opposites," a concept that is both factually incorrect and incoherent. What do you even mean here?
2) I AIN'T STRAIGHT. I am not attracted to people of the "opposite" sex. Amazing, huh? Not everyone in the world is just like you.
3) It ain't a conditional for me. The way I am is criminalized in some places, maybe not where I live, but elsewhere. Though I might have certain freedoms that people in more restricted places do not, we all suffer from the same societal biases. Don't tell me and others like me that our lives are speculative fiction. You don't get to dictate my reality.
Oh wait...I have a fourth thing. 4) I read your sample chapter of this book, and you can't write for shit.
I did not expect gratuitous similes about people with disabilities. At least twice in the half of the book that I read [before throwing it across the room in disgust], Gubar compares her social withdrawal and disinclination to talk about her condition to having autism.
NO! Your social withdrawal and disinclination is NOT like having autism, Susan Gubar. More accurately, your social withdrawal and disclination to talk about your condition correspond to your personal stereotype [also a cultural stereotype at large] of how autistic people act in social situations.
In any case, please shut up. You are not like a person who has autism. Only people with autism are like people who have autism. And do I need to remind you that people with autism are actual, real people, as opposed to fodder for your literary flourishes?
While I'm on the same subject, people need to stop using "blind," "deaf," "crippled" and other words that refer to people with disabilities as metaphors. No, in fact, you're not "blind" to the obstacles facing you or "deaf" to criticism and therefore "crippled" by your inability to heed advice. You may be inattentive to obstacles, heedless of criticism and therefore challenged by your inability to heed advice, so use the right words, rather than ones that don't belong to you.
Also, everybody, stop using any form of the word "lame" to refer to something that you think is pathetic, insignificant, not good enough, unconvincing, etc. Look at how many synonyms I just listed in the preceding sentence! Pick one of them instead, not a term that shows how horribly prejudiced you are against people with disabilities.
I do care, however, when you start calling yourselves "transabled" and organizing your whole identities around the supposition that your experiences are analogous to those of people who are trans or who have disabilities.
First of all, you don't get to use the word "transabled." By doing so, you appropriate the terminology of the trans rights movement and disability rights movement. You dismiss the lived experiences and struggles of trans and/or disabled people by using their vocabulary as your metaphor. You're therefore objectifying and dehumanizing trans and/or disabled people. You're perpetuating discrimination and prejudice against these populations. Go find your own terms.
Second of all, neither do you get to claim that your oppression is like that of trans and/or disabled people. When you are murdered for your state of being and society finds your killer[s] understandable, justifiable, sympathetic and symptomatic of an entire social program that dehumanizes people like you with the goal of eliminating them, then we might be able to talk. Otherwise, you need to understand that being different does not axiomatically entail being oppressed.
[Prompted by a similar takedown on Womanist Musings.]
No! Grimm does not get to appropriate the real-life terrorism experienced by African-Americans and apply it to fictional bestial characters, especially when the fictional characters are played by straight white men. The show might think that it's being clever by giving a historical resonance to the treatment of Wesen, but it's not. It's using the lived experience of thousands of people as a rhetorical gesture, a shorthand for persecution. That disrespects the violence and suffering that African-Americans have endured in real life and implicitly dismisses their lives as figments of imagination.
Thanks for Fangs for the Fantasy for alerting me to this phenomenon, which is a continuing problem for the series.
Same with the word "retarded" to mean "bad," "silly" or "stupid." Such a use equates brain damage with a moral failing and judges my sister as morally objectionable because she has brain damage. And I also feel personally offended whenever "retarded" comes up because it disparages the non-neurotypical, and I don't think I'm completely neurotypical. "Lame" and "retarded" are stupid, hurtful, prejudiced words. STOP USING THEM.
I can't believe I'm even writing this entry.
I find these complementary commentaries deeply incisive and deeply disturbing, especially as they portray the actions of a fan favorite character to be the worst form of appropriation. It's an especially bad form of appropriation because the show is constructed such that the audience is supposed to suck it up because a) Spike is so awesome!!; b) Buffy defends Spike, thus throwing her support behind his usurpations; c) did we mention that Spike is awesome?!! We're not supposed to criticize the characters everyone likes, even if they are doing morally wretched things, because the popular characters are Good Guys, thus inured to criticism.
Why yes, I am late to the party. What else can you except from someone who just discovered Men Without Hats at the end of last year?
Any other ethnic or religious group in the world need only declare their existence. Only the American Indian is required to document genealogy to the beginning of time and blood quantum to show how much real "Indian" they are.
Intrigued by the concept of "blood quantum," I did further investigation, and I learned something new.