Tag: Rape

Why I Hate Jessica Jones



Edit:  { I should have probably prefaced this critique by establishing first that I have a personal sensitivity to the issue of rape due to my background.  As you read this, please bear in mind that my inherent distaste for the subject matter is coloring my perspective. }

Jessica Jones is, without doubt or reservation, the most repellent superhero show I have ever watched the entire first season of. Many will disagree with me, and that’s fine. It’s a very well made show, and there’s a lot to like about it. For me, though, the bad greatly outweighs the good.

First, every single person in the show who argued against killing the villain was an idiot for doing so, and none of the BS reasons given for it held water. ‘Oh, but I have to get proof of stuff so I can save Hope.’  Really? You don’t think this problem is a little bigger than that one damsel? A sociopath with demi-god level powers is wrecking havoc and slaughtering innocents by the day, but our main character is self-destructively focused on the well-being of a single blond damsel in distress.  It’s stupid, and offends the intelligence of the viewer.

One rule of thumb for making a good protagonist: a compelling character is one who acts, in part, as an avatar for the audience. A moronic protagonist implies the writer assumes the audience is similarly moronic. Don’t write stupid protagonists. The villain needed to die; that was obvious from moment one. The fact that it wasn’t obvious to the protagonist just made her look stupid.

Second, there’s a constant thread through this series of suicide. People telling the main character to do it, others afraid she will, people around her threaten to do it to themselves, or are forced to do it by the villain. Of those 4 examples, only one (forced to do it) actually makes plot and situational sense for the story and scenes they show up in. All the others were useless melodrama at best, and wildly nonsensical at worst.

Third, there’s the villain. He’s a dick with a godlike superpower. He’s not sinister, or even particularly scary. The xenomorphs in Aliens had a better long term plan than this guy. The Gremlins were criminal masterminds in comparison. He’s occasionally clever, but mostly he’s just a creepy sociopath with a superpower who enjoyed screwing with people, and had an obsessive fixation on the main character. He wasn’t scary, he was pathetic. That said, he was also clearly a monster, and you kill monsters. This is Hell’s Kitchen, not Sesame Street.

And, this may be a nitpick, but the sex scenes suck. PG-13 fare, except that they do it over and over again. I think maybe 1 or 2 out of the 6-8 (that I remember and depending on how you count it) were actually plot relevant. None of them were stimulating to watch; at least not to me.

In my opinion, this show isn’t a hero story, it’s a post-rape empowerment story trying to cosplay at comic-con. The problem is that any time the subject of the villain showed up, the characters all seemed to loose a digit on their IQ.

If Netflix wanted a female superhero, they’d have been better off getting materiel from a fun book series. I’m a big fan of Seanon McGuire, Debora Dunbar, and Molly Harper novels. The problem is they chose to go the ‘stalker mind control rape’ path, rather than the far more enjoyable paths they could have gone instead. Maybe they wanted to say something deep and important…if so, this viewer was too pissed off to take it seriously.

There’s a morally important line between desire and behavior. It’s the line between Want and Take. Between necrophiles and grave robbers. Pedophiles and child molesters. We can’t always be in control of our desires, but we are absolutely responsible for our actions. If you have some moral lesson to convey, then do so while respecting that line. A mind-control story, by its fundamental nature, can’t respect that line.

I get that this is the path that was more faithful to the source material, which is why I think this was bad source material for them to use.

Want a female led superhero comicbook show? Great! I’m in!

Want a rape recovery show? Great! I’ll be elsewhere, but you do your thing. I support you from afar.

Want both in one? Sorry, but I can’t even support that one at a distance.  That subject matter is far too important and complicated to treat like this.  At least, it is for me.

Edit 2:  It’s also worth noting that there are issues of sloppy plotting/writing through this series.  However, being a fan of a lot of female led schlocky urban fantasy, I’ve become accustom to overlooking the sorts of sloppiness that are manifest in this show.
For example, the show grinds to a near halt the moment it’s almost over just so we can go around to every single character to get an update about where they are emotionally.  This takes 2-3 full episodes to get through, if I recall correctly.

[Spoiler] Also, for all of the first half, Jessica is supposed to not be aware of her immunity to the villain’s mind control, but her behavior in how she goes about confronting him often only makes sense if she already knew she was immune.  The first scene where she chases after him, for example, makes her appear moronic for doing so.  What was her plan?  What was she going to do when she reached him? Everything he told her to do, apparently.  And that’s ignoring the transcendent stupidity of the childhood home thing. [/Spoiler]

There’s also a lot of issues I have with the ending, but endings are hard, especially for exploration writers, so I won’t list those issues here.  Lord knows, I’m an exploration writer too, and my endings are atrocious.

These things were annoying, but they are the sorts of things that I don’t mind as much in material I enjoy.