So, I am not a huge television watcher. In fact, this is my background on my computer screen at the moment…
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with watching television… when you want to watch television. I just think there’s something broken about Americans that has them plopping down in front of a screen as a default, rather than finding something they enjoy more. It’s the home where I grew up. It’s the home where my dad still lives. It’s the home my brother has built. It’s my entire technological experiment of a generation that just plugs in, because real fun is harder. That’s fucked up. That being said, television can be truly enjoyable. Well, Netflix can. My hatred of all advertising is a topic for its own entry, with an honorable mention of the ridiculous price my cable company charges for pretty much anything. Netflix, however, caters to the 11-year-old that is still inside of me re-watching last Monday’s recorded episode of Roswell before she goes to school. I am an obsessive person and the selection of television series feeds that.
Bo: “Do you watch Sons of Anarchy?”
Me: “I don’t have cable. I also hate reality T.V.”
Bo: “That’s not reality T.V. It’s about a motorcylce club.”
Oh em jingles, I was just masturbating to a motorcycle club romance novel! See, Gaily. There’s a lot of shit I don’t say. My filter isn’t broken. It’s selective, fuck you very much. In actuality, I downloaded the motorcycle club romance novel after that conversation and it wasn’t porn… not exactly. Wednesday night, however, I had just finished a couple of those books and figured I’d give this Sons of Anarchy thing a try. My first thought being, I don’t get it. My second thought being…
I’m kidding. There were no coherent thoughts. When I Googled that photo, I saw ones with his hair cut off and I think I need to change my panties now. Eventually, I totally understood the appeal of the show, beyond the fully naked backside shots, though those are worth rewinding. Being the obsessive gal I mentioned above, I started the show Wednesday evening and made it to season four by Saturday night.
Now, anyone who reads this blog regularly is fully aware of my affection for alpha male romance novels. The hot, pushy, protective, special ops guy is super appealing in fiction-only-fiction-ever. As I’ve mentioned, I can compartmentalize and acknowledge that, because I’m 25 and my brain development is leveling off. Being threatened and bullied and pushed around only works in those books, because the women secretly want it. For example, if Anastasia Steele were to legitimately say…
“Fuck off, Christian. I’m an adult and I’m capable of making my own decisions. Bee tea double ewe, I want a divorce.”
… he would bar the door to physically prevent her from leaving, then tie her up and punish her sexually just like it was still a normal Tuesday… only this time she would mean it and there would be no way to express that. In a fantasy, the alpha does nothing I don’t secretly find sexy, so I don’t need a way to state genuine disapproval. In reality, I’m calling my daddy and he’s loading his gun.
My point is, though, that I get that it’s fantasy and a different set of rules apply. Women have rape fantasies because the responsibility for the degrading things they’re imagining is put on someone else. It does not mean they want to be raped. I have fantasies about some big strong man coming in and taking over the responsibility in my life, because I have deep-seated abandonment issues and if I weren’t so fond of gummy worms, I’d be stripping. It does not mean I’m going to go out and start that relationship.
All that being said though, during my Sons of Anarchy marathon, I found myself thinking thoughts that girls with a fondness for pink aren’t typically supposed to think. There’s a scene in season one where the woman is knocked over the head by another woman and then gang-raped. I don’t believe in that feminine power crap about how we’re all sisters because we all slough our uterine lining once a month, but the idea that a woman would betray another woman in that way was just abhorrent, as I’m sure the writers intended. So, as I watched and waited for this gal to finally get hers, she ended up alone with a cop and I found myself shouting at the screen:
“Rape her with a billy club!”
Later, the bad guys were getting away and I was yelling:
“Shoot out their fucking knee caps!”
The doctor’s boss had been a bitch all season and the doctor finally punched her and threatened her and I was thinking…
Yeah… maybe it’s a little weird that I just rewound and watched that again.
After two seasons, I was texting Gail…
Me: I want to buy a motorcycle.
Gail: No you don’t.
Me: … and sell guns illegally.
Gail: Again, you’re mistaken.
Back to that compartmentalization skill of which I was so proud… I understand that if that character were raped with a billy club, the actress would just go home and call her dad and explain that he probably wouldn’t want to watch next week’s episode. No one’s knee caps are actually being shot. Punching anyone would make me feel horrible, because I apologize to the dog when I have to move him off my blanket. I get that the depicted life of crime is only appealing because there are hot guys and they gloss over all that prison. I’m not stupid or sadistic. I’m only enjoying this vicariously through fiction… because I’m an adult and capable of doing so.
After last year’s theater and Sandy Hook shootings, a lot of debates about violence in media sprung up and people brushed them off to focus on the creation of more gun laws that we won’t enforce and criminals still won’t follow. If a few hours of watching Sons of Anarchy can have a future librarian screaming “rape her with a billy club!” though, maybe we should give this violence in media topic a little consideration. I’m not a violent person, but I still can’t wait for Grand Theft Auto Five and gleefully told Gail:
“I hope they bring the chainsaws back!”
My mind is more or less fully developed. These books, shows, and games are not shaping my brain. I understand that this isn’t reality and I would no more want to physically assault someone, let alone chop them up, than I would want a man to lock me in his sensory deprivation chamber and condition me to enjoy rape.
If I’d read the above book at 15, though? I don’t know how that would have shaped my views of sex and relationships, particularly when paired with the trashy alpha male motorcycle club books I just read. If I’d been playing GTA and having Sons of Anarchy marathons when I was still learning anger management and people skills? I don’t know. I can guess, though and I genuinely think that I would’ve developed a more warped view of sex than I presently have and my favorite thing about masturbation is that I’m the most normal person in the room despite the tears. Life broke me enough on its own and I absorbed an abnormal amount of electronic media as a kid and teen. Thankfully, it was mostly Roswell, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Charmed, and maybe a couple of Sims characters locked in a room with a rocket launcher. Then again, maybe that explains the violent werewolf porn on my Kindle.
I don’t necessarily have a solution beyond parents actually, you know, parenting and not letting their kids have access to violent shows and video games. My primary declaration, though, is that this shit does matter. Maybe it’s not a video game that shot a bunch of scared babies in Sandy Hook, but Manhunt probably didn’t help the anger issues. Even as an adult, during my Sons of Anarchy marathon, I’m pretty convinced that I want a motorcycle and have for years. Because I’m a huge Superman fan and watched Man of Steel during said marathon, I’m danged certain I want it to look like this….
… but I’m an adult who couldn’t possibly be affected by media since not even children are, right? Isn’t that what keeps advertising from being a billion dollar industry? I started using Maybelline cosmetics at 12 (and still do), because Sarah Michelle Gellar was in the commercial. Don’t tell me Teen Mom doesn’t have anything to do with the rising teen pregnancy rate in my hometown. Even so, you can get on your high horse and tell people to read instead of watching T.V. or playing video games, but there’s still violence and fucked up sex in books, too. Maybe the time people spend arguing about this crap should be time spent discussing the abusive relationship implications of the Twilight novels with their 13-year-old daughters. Maybe we should be finding out where our teenage boys heads are at and reviewing their Internet history to discover what kind of porn they’re watching and how much that’s fucking them up. Maybe we should stop blaming external sources and blame ourselves for allowing impressionable children full and unlimited access to said sources.