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Gatefail! I knew this was coming

Gatefail! I knew this was coming

I don’t know how I missed this, but HardcoreNerdity has a wonderful (and long) post summing up Gatefail 2009. For those unaware, there have been some shady and problematic things afoot in the not-yet-aired new Stargate show Stargate: Universe. This particular fail combines several issues: disability, sexual orientation, rape. Ugh.

I can’t say I’m surprised. Ever since I started to notice the creepy racism in the Stargate shows and stopped watching, every new revelation or incident just confirms that I was right to walk away when I did. I don’t trust the producers of that show one iota. They’ve repeatedly shown themselves to be some of the biggest insensitive wankers in SF television.

8 comments to Gatefail! I knew this was coming

  • Jen

    I admit it took me a while to fully realize just how racist Stargate could be. I think “Midway” from Season four of Atlantis was when it really hit me. For a long while I wasn’t aware of exactly what all of the stereotypes/problems were – and there’s probably still stuff I not fully aware of – but I’m trying to learn and pay more attention.

    Agreed on not trusting the writers – they are idiots who really don’t pay attention to what they are showing on screen. They seem to think that they can just say what they intended and the viewers will let them get away with sloppy writing – and the worse part is, some people do let them get away with it. I no longer trust them to get anything right or to treat anything or anyone with respect.

  • I think “Midway” from Season four of Atlantis was when it really hit me.

    You know what’s funny about that? Most of the comments I remember seeing on the LJ comm deadbrowalking for “Midway” were positive–because we were so thrilled that the two brown guys got a buddy episode.

    For me, it was the beginning of Season Two. They never knew what to do with Ford, so they make the Nice Boy Next Door who happens to be black into–yes, a crazy violent junkie!

    But, I mean, the first episode of SG-1 has Teal’c coming through the gate to kidnap a blonde white woman. Why did anyone expect a show that started off with “Where de white wimmen at?” to have any kind of sensitivity when dealing with race?

  • Jen

    Huh… all I remember is all the comments about how racist it was for Sam to assume that Teal’c and Ronon would have anything on common, John calling Ronon “boy” at one point, and the biggest problem was the fight in the middle between the two of them where the spectators were taking bets…

    Ford, so they make the Nice Boy Next Door who happens to be black into–yes, a crazy violent junkie!

    That’s one of the issues I missed – I see it now but didn’t then.

    But, I mean, the first episode of SG-1 has Teal’c coming through the gate to kidnap a blonde white woman

    Damn, never thought of it that way. Even with the fact that it becomes clear he hates what he’s been forced to do? Or it more about the overall stereotype/issues rather than how the episode plays out?

  • Lauren

    It is infuriating how often the excuse of something being “edgy” gets thrown around. Raising the issue off rape and then actually dealing with it in an intelligent, respectful manner would be edgy. Writing an episode that contains rape, but never addressing it as such, pretending that there was nothing wrong with it? That is not edgy, it is ignorant at best; intentionally harmfullat worst. The difference really shouldn’t be that hard to figure out.

  • Huh… all I remember is all the comments about how racist it was for Sam to assume that Teal’c and Ronon would have anything on common, John calling Ronon “boy” at one point, and the biggest problem was the fight in the middle between the two of them where the spectators were taking bets…

    I don’t think it was racist of Sam to think that her big stoic warrior friend would be able to help the other big stoic warrior guy deal with the IOA, especially after Teyla talked about how rude they were to her. Thinking, “Shit, if Teyla was getting pissed off, Ronon’s going to go in there and kill someone,” didn’t strike me as racist; the problem there is the characterization of Ronon as “Teal’c Lite” in the first place.

    John telling Ronon to “be a good boy” also didn’t bother me because of the context. Ronon’s response, after all, was to sulk and mutter, “I hate you.” It reflected the big/little brother dynamic that they have going. If someone *else* had said it, that would have been problematic, but I was okay with it coming from John.

    The fight was interesting, again because I think the racism was more in the inherent assumptions about those two characters. Jason Momoa actually said in an interview that from the day he started, people were making Teal’c/Ronon comparison between the two big dark-skinned warrior dudes. The fight read as a, “Who’d win in a fight between Superman and Batman?” geekboy thing–and it was also very much in keeping with military culture, where you get a couple of guys fighting and yes, people start placing bets. I think that’s what bothered a lot of fans; it’s that reminder that in fact, Sheppard is not just a quirky math genius who likes to fly–he’s a member of the U.S. military. His job is to kill people.

    But, I mean, the first episode of SG-1 has Teal’c coming through the gate to kidnap a blonde white woman

    Damn, never thought of it that way. Even with the fact that it becomes clear he hates what he’s been forced to do? Or it more about the overall stereotype/issues rather than how the episode plays out?

    It’s more the stereotype, and where it comes. This is the first we see of this guy, the introduction to the character and the world, and the visual takeaway is the huge black guy with the struggling blonde woman. The fact that no one thought, “Wow, you know–that might be a bit problematic,” explains pretty much all of the Gatefail from the beginning. No one on the writing staff ever *thinks* about this stuff, and when they’re called on it, they jump into defensive mode and never do any self-examination.

  • Jen

    Re: Midway – see that’s all how I interpreted it at first (especially the fight being a geek thing) – but then I saw all the anger online about it and thought maybe it really was that racist – which lead me to thinking about other episodes …

    I think this is where I run into trouble though – for every person of color who comes online and says they were offended there seems to be just as many saying they weren’t bothered buy it. Which leaves me wondering how racist/offensive something really is and how I’m supposed to react even though I do realize that there were people who were offended and their feelings really are more important than the people who weren’t bothered by it. Do you think the most important thing to do is to acknowledge that there are issues and that people were offended? I have started to pay more attention to what I’m watching and there are a couple shows I stopped watching but I’m sure I let other shows get away with more than I should at times (NCIS is a show I’m currently watching that I know has problems but I haven’t been able to stop watching yet, getting there but not quite yet)…

    It’s more the stereotype, and where it comes. This is the first we see of this guy, the introduction to the character and the world, and the visual takeaway is the huge black guy with the struggling blonde woman.

    Put like that I really get it now… damn. You know when I’ve watched the episode I never liked how objectify the women (being something to steal and possess) but I never considered the racial issues involved with having a character of color being the one taking the women in the first place. Totally kills any desire to watch SG1 again – which kind of sucks because I have all the dvds but still…

    No one on the writing staff ever *thinks* about this stuff, and when they’re called on it, they jump into defensive mode and never do any self-examination.

    Definitely this….

  • Ok, I think I have to play devil’s advocate here. Not just to do it, but because I think the post over at hardcorenerdity sounds absurd. I try to remain abreast of “people’s issues”, so to speak, but I’ll admit that ableism is something that I am mostly in the dark about. Still, as a thinking person, I can plainly see where bias/prejudice exists.

    That all said, the HCN post is really reaching, and may even be committing some offenses on its own. I’ll concede the point about the phrase about the body being “totally useless”, but that’s about where my agreement ends. Following that, it has qualms with the idea that disabilities are things to be “fixed”. In general, perhaps not, although I’d bet most people with disabilities wished they didn’t have them. Separating out this particular case, though – sorry, but quadripelegia IS something that needs to be fixed, or at least no quadripelegic, if given the opportunity would not have “fixed”. Give me a break. It is a DISability, the term itself implies that something is WRONG. The issue of how people with disabilities are treated is something else entirely.

    The post goes on to talk about how Perry and Wray will switch bodies (we’ll call them occupant and owner respectively), which begs the question of whether or not Perry will engage in straight or gay sex, since Wray is gay.

    Um…what? Is homosexuality something that’s stored exclusively somewhere in the body? Call me crazy, but I would’ve thought it had at least SOMETHING to do with the brain. Of COURSE Perry would have hetero sex, since SHE is hetero. What the hell kind of bizarre argument is this? The REAL issue – not even mentioned – is the ethical failure of using someone else’s body to have sex in the first place! The sexual orientation bit is completely irrelevant here.

    I’m sorry, but that post sounds like it was written by some sort of armchair activist who, facing none of these issues herself (ableism, sexualism, etc), just wanted to have something to write about. What a bunch of nonsense.

    If you all think I’m dead wrong, then please school me on where I’m missing the point.

    (P.S. I’ve never seen any Stargate shows, so I withdraw from any discussions about instances of racism – I’m talking only about this HCN post)

  • I need to clarify one thing. I think that armchair activists – the would be and often unwanted straight/able/white defenders of the woeful disenfranchised victims of discrimination – often misunderstand that discrimination.

    In the case of ableism, there is a distinction between functionality and value. In terms of functionality – the ability to do something, i.e. fulfill the purpose for which a thing was intended – a disability does mean that something is wrong. However, in terms of value, no, there is nothing wrong. A disabled person is no less of a person, and should not be treated any differently than any other person, except where it concerns their needs (e.g. providing a wheelchair ramp at a public facility).

    People are so busy tiptoeing around, afraid to say anything that might be construed as offensive – like white people who are awkward around nonwhites, not out of genuine concern for those others, but out of fear of being perceived as racist – which is completely selfish and all about them.

    That HCN post, in similar fashion, seems to be just an exercise in self-righteous indignation, like “Look at me, I care about the issues!”. Blech.