Monday, March 9, 2015

Abuse Is the New Black

What do these people, because I'm reluctant to call them men, have in common?
Well, I guess you'll have to read my thingy.
(Lucious pic from here, Jake pic from here, Christian Grey pic from here, and edit by me)
Trigger Warning: Abusive relationships.
(Nothing against the actors, BTW)

Guess who's back? No, not Backstreet. It's never Backstreet.

I've been watching television. Shocker, amiright? But lately I've noticed a trend amongst some of the male characters. If you've had eyeballs in the past few months, you probably know at least one of these suck merchants. If not, let me introduce you.

Empire's Lucious Lyon. Abusive. 
Mysteries of Laura's Jake Broderick. Abusive.
50 Shades' Christian Grey. Abusive.

Let's start from the top of the list.

Nobody is nominating Lucious Lyon for father of the year, but where are the repercussions for his abusive behavior? For his cheating, pitting his sons against each other, murder, and blatant homophobia? He put his kid in a trash can. Repeat: he put his sweet, defenseless little boy in a trash can. He shot a man in the face in cold blood. He lies, manipulates, and belittles the people around him to get what he wants. In what world is that any level of okay? Not this one. Yeah, he's a businessman, blah blah blah. But emotionally scaring the people you love is not justified just because you've built a successful empire. He's a flawed character, interesting to watch, but at least the writers and show are up front about his flaws and abusive nature. How he'll deal with the consequences of those actions remains to be seen.

Jake Broderick, on the other hand, is painted in a very endearing light for what he really is:
narcissistic, manipulative, and a cheater. But the show is all about star crossed lovers Captain Jake and Detective Laura, their lost love, and the sparkly spark that yet shines betwixt them. You know why? Because he's the father of her children. That person is always going to hold a special place in your heart. But if you really watch what's going on, it's clear that Jake has no respect for Laura's boundaries, privacy, or her other relationships. Unfortunately the writers portray this as cute and charming, ignoring the fact that his behavior is abusive, particularly since he is in a position of power over her. Jake Broderick gets my vote as the worst abuser on this list because his abuse is written as "cute," and "acceptable" and is, consequently, more insidious. 

It's kinda established that Christian Grey is an abusive buttmonkey. And I'm not talking about the BDSM: I'm talking about his abuse of power in a his relationship with what's-her-face. Where's the education, the explanation of what "safe, sane and consensual" means? I wouldn't just stumble into my fancy-sexy-boss-man-person's room devoted to radioactive monkey science and just do it. You've got to know what you're getting yourself into before you start with the radioactive monkey sciences. He took a young, impressionable, naive girl and pushed her into the deep end of a world she had only ever heard of. Yeah, yeah, fantasy, blah, blah. Abuse is still abuse.

I'm not going to stop watching Empire or Mysteries of Laura. It's good television. So is Hannibal. That doesn't mean we should eat people, and it doesn't mean that abuse is okay. We just need to acknowledge that the things that they are doing are not good, acceptable, or by any means ideal.

Abuse is an ongoing issue in our world. It's a sad truth, but it's the way it is. And until we can get to a place where we stop romanticizing abuse and abusers, it's going to say that way.