The Walking Dead “Slabtown” Rant (Beth Greene’s Revenge)

I’m not trying to take up the feminist mantle, not that I’m a woman in denial or that I have an issue with feminism, but feminism and anything that deals with gender issues as a whole seems to have come to mean something I’m not really sure I want to represent me or that I want to align myself with. But zombies.

So basically don’t read this if you watch The Walking Dead or haven’t seen the (11/2/14) episode “Slabtown.”

We found Beth. In a hospital. That is run by a female cop named Dawn that is positioned sort of as a lady Rick if Rick had never let go of being a sheriff whose guiding principle is a terribly misguided give/take. Her “police” forces “rescue” those in danger and return them to the hospital where they receive care and are expected to “pay for” this kindness through work. Freedom through work. Except they don’t let you leave. And it is highly implied a woman’s “work” is forced prostitution (isn’t it always.) When Beth arrives resident/sex slave Joan (of Arc?) has recently gnawed a chunk of her arm off in a suicide attempt, only to have her arm amputated (while conscious) and be returned to predator cop Gorman. I’m sure she would have rather had the opportunity to slave it out in the hospital laundry room folding towels with lone dude Noah, if given the choice.

The most disturbing/dramatic scene of the episode is when Gorman, the fire in his rapey loins stoked by Dawn who has taken Joan from him, and denied him “the right” to defile Beth, steals a lollipop (childhood innocence? the small pleasures of the post-apocalyptic world?) given to her by Noah, sucks on it (ew) then attempts to ram it in Beth’s mouth. The episode is focused on ownership, bodily autonomy (Joan’s forced amputation,) the degree to which you can sacrifice the rights of others under the auspices of the common good, who has the right to decide who has desirable qualities and who does not, and what those qualities are (Dawn argues Beth is weak and only useful as a warm hole to benefit another, while Beth argues that she is strong and capable…)

The whole plot line is a perfect metaphor for (or all out example of) sexual violence and gender discrimination and more generally the struggle for power and meaning and a narrative to live our lives by.

Which created so many great talking points, like:

  • This behavior is sanctioned by a woman! A woman in power! What does this say about women in power?
  • Dawn is a cop, a job traditionally seen as masculine! Beth is warm, emotional, maternal, beautiful, all feminine qualities! Must women sacrifice their femininity to attain power? Must they always in competition with one another?
  • What does this say about how we view police officers and people in power? (The Governor’s henchman assaulted Beth’s sister Maggie in a previous season)

I was stoked to watch Talking Dead and work through some of the complex emotions I was having, and so disappointingly they completely glossed over… everything. I realize the show is lighthearted, but seriously, the entire episode is about sexual slavery. I doubted they would go so far as to say rape, but I figured they would at least dance around it with “assault” or “unwanted touching” or something. Seriously! The whole episode! She was in a military brothel. I was immediately reminded of the WWII joy divisions (thanks teenage love of Joy Division) and the Japanese comfort women and the thousand other examples of forced prostitution for the “benefit” of men in power. It’s not like this is some ~crazy~ scenario dreamed up by a horror writer, there are historical precursors. A lot of them. I thought that would at least get a mention, since they seem to like a good extratextual reference. Nope.

On a lighter note Beth has been great the past couple seasons and I’m glad badass Beth continues (especially since Maggie is such a fucking bitch.) On Talking Dead Ana Gasteyer mentioned she felt Beth represented the triumph of emotion in the post-apocalypse. Rick has been focused on cramming his emotions and his humanity down, while Beth has seemed successful in incorporating them into her new life. With Daryl’s training, she’s become brain and brawn, maternal and warrior-like all at once. I kind of feel like she is positioned against Michonne, who sort of failed as a mother in the “real world,” but was naturally suited to the post-apocalyptic world, and has struggled to regain her connection to other people. Beth was the opposite, a natural caregiver with no street smarts who is now apparently a singing Disney princess angel of death.

Please dear God she needs to stay alive long enough to hook up with Daryl, the sexual tension is slowly killing me through the television.

Recently

I really want to knock the pictures of me from eleventh grade off my front page, but my life currently consists of random shit I am watching, unless you want to talk about my singing lessons, in which case I am struggling to maintain support in between crippling bouts of acid reflux. Seriously. How the fuck do I even get acid reflux? I have the blandest diet ever. I like turkey sandwiches on white bread, regular Miniwheats, and, when available, sheet cake. I ate an apple yesterday and started to regurgitate it. What the fuck? Between yesterday and a night in college that involved a bottle of Mango Absolut immediately followed by tequila shots, I can tell you vomiting an apple, completely or partially, is not right. The texture does not lend itself well.

I just Googled vomiting to look for a synonym, and apparently “fecal vomiting” is a thing. Where your intestines back up into your stomach and you puke out your mouth and/or nose. Good times.

So for shit I have been watching/listening to, it’s BB seaaasson. I’ve watched every season of Big Brother and I’m not stopping now. This season seems incredibly reactionary in nature. Pretty much everyone was a fucking racist asshole last year, and CBS seems like they sought to guard their legal defense fund by casting the incredibly tolerant. Seriously, it’s the season of platonic cuddling. Everyone is spooning, male, female, gay, straight. There is nothing that warms the cockles of my heart more than Caleb, the self-proclaimed “Beast-Mode Cowboy” an ex-military, pro-hunting, ripped-ass stereotypical straight white dude from the South, snuggling up to Frankie, the loud-and-proud, glitter-encrusted ex-Broadway star from New York. No awkwardness, no sense that it’s forced, just a couple friends full body contact chilling in a Hollywood backlot, shooting the shit about whether they’d choose classic BB punishment a week of “slop” or a chance to spend a couple hours of uninterrupted making out in a room “full of chicks and a dude for Frankie.”

To clarify, it’s not just Caleb & Frankie who have a cuddlemance, it is everyone. Frankie and Zach, the straight, golf-obsessed Floridian bro, who seems half-young Republican and half nerd who recovered after they got hot, have largely been the ‘relationship’ of the season. There’s been bed sharing and massages and romance movie full-lift spin hugs, all while these dudes are presumably romantically uninterested in each other. There’s also been Cody, the could-be Seventeen model with the blue eyes of a Siberian Husky, who’s been pressed against every girl in the house including Christine (married), Nicole (showmance with another houseguest), and Jocasta (a Pastor). Pretty impressive.

I’m also fucking obsessed with this new show on Animal Planet (stay with me) called The Supervet. It’s a documentary series about this hot ass Irish veterinarian, Noel Fitzpatrick, who runs a state-of-the-art practice in the English countryside. Each episode highlights the animals that come into Dr. Fitzpatrick’s office, which is presented as the sort of end-of-the-line, “miracle”-working practice for the worst possible cases. You get to know the animals and their owners, and watch Dr. Fitzpatrick and his staff as they attempt to find novel solutions to treat very serious injuries. This series is obviously not American, because there is way too much restraint, and it is executed far too carefully. Which is a blessing, because this show does not require heavy-handed editing or hysterical soundbites to drive you into an overwhelming case of the feels. Dr. Fitzpatrick seems like a very unique human being, and I’m not just saying that because I would totally bang him. He is a very interesting contrast between straight-forward, no-nonsense authoritativeness and incredible, incredible compassion. The first episode I saw, which featured a Thai street dog that had survived a machete attack, showed Dr. Fitzpatrick retiring to the tiny room with the tiny bed and the tiny rack of clothes he had carved out for himself in his office after a long night of surgery. I think anyone who loves animals, or just wants to witness how someone cope’s with the constant demand for innovation under crippling pressure should give an episode of this a chance. It’s not a fluffy cutesy show like a lot of what is on Animal Planet. It reminds me a lot of Boston Med, if anyone remembers that, or Emergency Vets if you also didn’t have friends in middle school

Also Loveline has been putting a bunch of their old shows up for free download. I’ve always lived on the East Coast and never in a city with a syndicate (except for the two seconds The Edge carried it before I moved) so I’ve been majorly binge-listening. The other day I listened to an episode where Mike Carano talked about hating Mrs. Doubtfire so much that he carried around his ticket stub for ten years, claiming that if he ever got the chance to meet Robin Williams he would demand his $8 back. Apparently one day he did meet Robin Williams in a hotel lobby, but Robin Williams was so nice he couldn’t bring himself to do it.

Teen Mom 2, Season 5, “Harder Than It Looks”

Teen Mom 2 was borderline unbearable last night. It’s been a while since I’ve debated whether or not to turn the whole thing off.

We finally got the long-awaited conclusion to “where the fuck did Jenelle‘s dogs go?” and I kind of wish we hadn’t. Apparently they’ve been crated in the garage the whole time, and the mysterious second dog, owned by Nathan, is !!SHOCKER!! a Husky. Why can’t irresponsible dog owners ever adopt a fifteen year old Shih Tzu that just wanders around and sleeps all day. They always need a Pit Bull or a Husky or in this case both. In another stunning turn of events that I’m sure will not be stunning to anyone who has owned a dog spent time with a dog seen a picture of a dog, the dogs were nonplussed at being caged in a North Carolina garage and Luger (Jesus Christ, Nathan) decided to go for an Andy Dick Prison Break (escape, eat cage, shit on floor.) Jenelle curses out the dogs and threatens to get rid of them before shoving them both into one cage (since the other has been eaten) to go buy a replacement. As she’s putting together the cage, Luger snaps at the Pit Bull, so she does the obvious thing and opens the door and prays they flee into the wilderness. I have a feeling those dogs didn’t run past the front lawn, or in the most extreme scenario, they got taken in by someone with production, but bless them, running might be their best option. Baby Jace should have gone with them, they could all live down by the river and form their own society based around karate and destroying furniture.

Leah might be the only person more fucked than Jenelle’s dogs. Since the last time we saw her, Leah has become involved in a pyramid scheme. OF COURSE LEAH IS INVOLVED IN A PYRAMID SCHEME. People who are inextricably screwed like Leah are exactly the targets of pyramid schemes. Leah’s portion of the show involved her and Jeremy going to Big Sandy (Jesus Christ) and attempting to buy a new washer and dryer. Leah’s credit card is declined and she’s forced to admit to Jeremy she spent $1300 on Mary Kay makeup to sell. Her justification is so laden with buzzwords she reads more like an informational booklet than a human being. She’s “growing her business” she’s receiving “54% of the profit” she knows you’ve got to “spend money to make money.” I want to know what’s in the pills she’s on because she’s turning into Ellen Burstyn in Requiem For A Dream real fast. It. Is. Heartbreaking.

Was Chelsea even in this episode? Chelsea is pissed that Adam has gotten into another traffic accident (fair enough) and that her esthetician license is still being held by the labor board. North Dakota’s bureau of labor apparently does not have a lot on it’s plate. She’s also chastises Aubree for sitting on the table, but Aubree is her own woman and cannot be contained.

Kailyn‘s segment should be mandatory viewing for ninth grade sexual education classes. It was not particularly dramatic, or negative, in fact, it centered on Kailyn celebrating her 21st birthday with her friends and family. Still I think this exchange with her friend at her birthday dinner perfectly summarizes the problem with having a child at a young age, or any child, ever, period.

Kailyn: pumped milk just in case we decided to go out
Kailyn’s friend: it’s your birthday

 

Have fun trying to describe your life with a child to anyone who doesn’t have a kid. It’s not relatable. Look how many columns and indie-comedies are produced every year by semi-self-aware thirty-somethings trying to describe life after kids and the divide between parents and non-parents. If people with disposable income and time to wax poetic can’t grasp it, teenagers are fucked. Kailyn’s friends are sitting around lamenting the lack of lime in their mojitos, as an aspect of her life that has hugely complicated things (breastfeeding) just goes over their heads. Kailyn looks like she had a fun night out, but I couldn’t help but thing of these poor, delusional girls on 16 and Pregnant who are thinking stretch marks will be the most lasting impact of creating life, and if they could just get back to that pre-pregnancy body everything will be the same. They can still go clubbing, they’ll just need a babysitter. Meanwhile Kailyn’s dressed up in front of a platter of booze and thinking about breastmilk.

 

The Reason I love George Stroumboulopoulos

I was watching Jay Leno the other night and it really made me realize just how good George Stroumboulopoulos is at his job. Granted, Jay Leno will never be known as a good interviewer, nor does he host the same kind of program, but he couldn’t even keep up with Megan Fox. She says something about how she started modeling when she was fourteen or fifteen, and Leno’s next question is “so when did you start modeling?” Sweet Jesus Leno, what are they paying you for? Can you at least stay present? After that incident, all I notice is how detached every other interviewer is. I used to hate the set of The Hour and how Strombo would always lean towards his guest to the point where when they cut to the guest’s response, the corner of his head would be in the frame. I found it gimmicky, like they were visually saying look at what an effort Strombo is making to connect with his guest, but now it doesn’t seem so irritating, because weird posture or not, at least he’s ENGAGED. He is PAYING ATTENTION and asking RELEVANT QUESTIONS. Granted the testament to his skill is how easy he makes it look, but shouldn’t those two things be the bare minimum for someone who gets paid to interview someone else?

The problem is no one’s allowed to have opinions anymore. The media is just one big circle jerk, the shows need celebrities, and the celebrities need the shows, but they aren’t going to go on the shows if they aren’t going to come out looking good. So no one is allowed to ask anything but the most benign questions, because God forbid someone who is being payed millions of dollars to do something, have to justify why they’re there and someone else is not.

Obviously celebrities/politicians/whatever and the press have conflicting objectives, but that’s just the nature of things. I remember watching an episode of Disband where they school Dean Lickyer (I think) on the media, telling them the success of the interview is based on how many times they can drop their album release date in the span of five minutes. The same thing happens at the White House, the press corps literally has a meeting every morning and defines the key issue of the day, then tries to push that issue as hard as physically possible while avoiding the others. The difference is the news media will pry as hard as they can, while Sarah Taylor just stands there in leggings.

Its a damn shame, because the whole reason I used to watch Much over MTV (US) and television in general, is because I wanted to know other peoples opinions. I liked certain hosts and liked hearing what they had to say, even if I didn’t always agree with them. I mean even if George Stroumboulopoulos wasn’t explicitly bashing Good Charlotte, you knew he had an opinion. Today with music journalism you might as well just subscribe to an RSS feed and be done with it, because everything is just the same sanitized press release.