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Yorkist
08-26-2013, 01:12 AM
Apologies if this isn't the right forum or if I'm duplicating a thread.

Great article from the NYT about the insane amount of vitriol that a character, and the actress playing her, receives from the fans of a TV show.

This isn't a new thing; I've noticed it with Katherine Heigl's character in Gray's Anatomy and Ginny Weasley from Harry Potter, and perhaps to a lesser extent with Catelyn from Game of Thrones/ASOIAF and Betty Draper from Mad Men. But wow, didn't know it got this bad or that it was such a common phenomenon.

Anna Gunn on playing Skylar White, from Breaking Bad (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/24/opinion/i-have-a-character-issue.html?_r=0):


But I was unprepared for the vitriolic response she inspired. Thousands of people have “liked” the Facebook page “I Hate Skyler White.” Tens of thousands have “liked” a similar Facebook page with a name that cannot be printed here.... “shrieking, hypocritical harpy”... “annoying bitch wife”.... “Could somebody tell me where I can find Anna Gunn so I can kill her?”Holy Moses.

Sci-Fi Stacey
08-26-2013, 01:19 AM
Yikes!! Apparently some folks cant distinguish fiction from reality!

It happened to Jessica Rabbit to ya know?

Jessica Rabbit: I'm not bad. I'm just drawn that way. :D

Maryn
08-26-2013, 01:20 AM
The simple explanation is the usual: people are such idiots. She's a freakin' actress and the fact that you can't abide Skyler White says she's doing her job really well.

Maryn, shaking her head

blacbird
08-26-2013, 01:52 AM
Now recognize that the character of her sister, Marie, is even worse.

caw

GingerGunlock
08-26-2013, 02:43 AM
Now recognize that the character of her sister, Marie, is even worse.

caw

A thousand times yes!

Roxxsmom
08-26-2013, 02:59 AM
People hate Hermione Granger? Um, wasn't she supposed to be sympathetic? Harry would have been sunk without her.

Pearl
08-26-2013, 03:13 AM
My gosh, it's a character, a fictitious character who only exists in a book, on TV or in the movies. How do these people handle those they despise in real life?

I mean, there are characters I've hated but it didn't ruin my day. It's just a story, that's how I see it. Sometimes I wonder if I'm wrong thinking that way when I see people get so upset over this.

Yorkist
08-26-2013, 03:21 AM
People hate Hermione Granger? Um, wasn't she supposed to be sympathetic? Harry would have been sunk without her.

Whoops! I meant Ginny Weasley. Apologies. Will modify the OP.

Cranky1
08-26-2013, 03:23 AM
Maybe it is something about the actress. I didn't like her character on Deadwood, either.

Manuel Royal
08-26-2013, 04:04 AM
Anna Gunn is a fine actress, playing a great character. ("Annoying bitch wife ..."? Do they feel she should be nicer to her mass-murdering husband?)

What really gets me is this: Breaking Bad is written with real depth and moral complexity; how can people this goddamn stupid get anything out of it?

It's always depressing to find that semicoherent half-wits like something I also like.

Yorkist
08-26-2013, 04:17 AM
My gosh, it's a character, a fictitious character who only exists in a book, on TV or in the movies. How do these people handle those they despise in real life?

I mean, there are characters I've hated but it didn't ruin my day. It's just a story, that's how I see it. Sometimes I wonder if I'm wrong thinking that way when I see people get so upset over this.

Yeah, me too, for the most part. I've had hatred for one or two female characters, but it was more a matter of Mary Sue in the accusative case (™RichardGarfinkle), in which case the male writers were so obviously jerking off to the actress or the character that it constantly yanked me out of the narrative with its soul-sucking tornado of the male gaze.

But then I blamed, y'know, the writers... certainly not the actress that's just doing her job.

I don't think the reverse is uncommon, unfortunately. And why is it always female characters that seem to generate such hate?

Liosse de Velishaf
08-26-2013, 04:33 AM
I thought she made a pretty strong argument for her end conclusion.

So it's understandable, but also shocking and a bit depressing.

Yorkist
08-26-2013, 04:47 AM
Yeah. This I can't even fathom, though. I can understand how shipping wars in fandoms get out of hand, because there are people rooting for their teams,* but hating a female character just for being, erm, complex and well drawn and not a doormat? Makes no sense.

Oh, another one I forgot about is Deborah from Dexter.

Can any of y'all think of, like, a single case of this happening to a male character, in which it wasn't a case of a maniacally evil character with absolutely no redeeming features (e.g. Joffrey in Game of Thrones) or just a profound casting mismatch or something? It would make me feel better about the universe if we could come up with a couple.

*Though I still don't like it because it treats women like acquisitions or commodities rather than characters with their own agency, I at least understand it.

Dreity
08-26-2013, 06:45 AM
DH and I got sucked into Breaking Bad about a month or so ago, and last night we started watching season 5. We talk about Skyler a lot. It's true that we didn't care for her character in the first 3 seasons or so, because we didn't actually think she was very strong or well-written. There were certain internal inconsistencies with her reactions that didn't come across as "ambivalence", just indecisive writing. That said, we've always agreed that the actress was awesome, and the fact that she could inspire such a strong reaction with a single facial expression is a testament to her skill. Somewhere around season 4 something changed, and we think she's much better written now. She stopped being impotent, reactive and passive-aggressive and started taking real control of the situation. Walt's talent for making calculated decisions is frequently lauded, but Skyler is every bit his equal in this regard, and in some cases, I think she sees ahead even farther than he does.

In fact, as I write this, I wonder if we were wrong in our initial assessment of her. Perhaps this was the most subtle character arc ever, and she's finally becoming the woman she tried and failed to be for the first 3 seasons? She's still the traditional 60's housewife who's perspective revolves solely around domestic concerns (with the exception of her unexplored ambitions as a fiction writer), but isn't the feminist movement supposed to teach us that she doesn't have to abandon all that to be "strong", interesting, and worthy of admiration?

I do think that people still have a very hard time with certain brands of female characters. A man can be a dick and most of the time it's perfectly fine, and in some genres even expected. But it seems almost impossible to have a likeable bitch. Pam from True Blood is the best example I can think of, and even then, I think partly why I love her is because she hates Sookie just as much as I do. And why do I hate Sookie? She's a flip-flopping waffle who always waits until the last minute to find her spine and make a decision. While I can't make myself like characters like that, I find it disconcerting that these characters are, in most cases, women. It's definitely saying something, although I haven't yet decided what exactly that "something" is.

blacbird
08-26-2013, 07:07 AM
Breaking Bad is the TV serial equivalent of the best kind of literary fiction. Complex characters beset with conflict conditions, none of which are readily resolvable. Skyler White is a key character, and Anna Gunn nails her character perfectly. She's never "weak", just confused, and all of that is totally understandable. If anything, she is quite a strong character, and her responses to the continuing cascade of mystifying, scary events is absolutely appropriate.

Novelist Joseph Conrad, always obsessed with nuance and confused characters having to make impossible choices in difficult situations, would have loved this series.

Methinks the people complaining about the portrayal of Skyler White are desperate for a stereotype, and ain't gittin' one. They'd probably be more satisfied if a handsome young heroic mage arrived on scene, riding a dragon, and cast a spell that destroyed all the badness, and allowed matters to settle peacefully ever after. Or of Tuco Salamanca dug his way out of his grave as a zombie and set about trying to eat Walter White's innards.

caw

Yorkist
08-26-2013, 07:24 AM
Now I feel like I have bad taste because I'm not much of a fan of this show. It's good, but just a little too dark for my taste.

blacbird
08-26-2013, 07:44 AM
I'm not much of a fan of this show. It's good, but just a little too dark for my taste.

Nothing wrong with that. But it's also not a criticism of the show. I don't like the writing of Thomas Hardy, for reasons of personal taste, but I'm not about to accuse him of being a shitty writer.

An awful lot of people, including a fair number who post in critique forums here, seem unable to make that critical distinction.

Another good example, from the novel world, would be A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess. It's a very ambitious and polarizing work. People either love it or hate it. But that's almost always expressed as a matter of personal taste. It's really hard to argue that ACO isn't an important novel of the latter half of the 20th century, whether you personally enjoyed reading it or not. Much the same observation can be made about Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut.

caw

GingerGunlock
08-26-2013, 07:51 AM
I dislike Skyler because 1. it's never a name I've liked (and I always thought it was supposed to be spelled "Skylar") and 2. in the 1st and smidgen of the 2nd season that I've seen, when she's hurt and confused about something, she plays the type of passive aggressive game that makes me crazy. But, those are personal dislikes; I would probably not be friends with Skyler. For her role in the show, she's great!

lilyWhite
08-26-2013, 08:02 AM
I know barely nothing about Breaking Bad, so I can't say that I know enough about the character or the fandom to judge it as a whole. Two things just rub me the wrong way about this article. The first being that Gunn focuses on the most vitriolic of haters, including those who attack her personally.

The second, and more aggravating aspect, is that she simply brands the majority of people who don't like her character as sexists. It's not that her acting doesn't please them, it's not that they just don't find her character to be interesting, it's just that they don't like Skyler solely because she's a woman and they're stupid stupid sexists. It's especially glaring considering that Gunn herself brings up a reasonable cause to dislike the character, as Skyler opposes the main character of the show. Which more-or-less defeats her argument when she says that "at the end of the day, she hasn’t been judged by the same set of standards as Walter."

Are there people who just don't like the character because she's a woman? Almost certainly. But from reading up on various sites, including the "I Hate Skyler White" Facebook page, a lot of the dislike seemed to be based on her personality and actions. As I've said, I'm not familiar with the show and don't know what the characters are like or how the fandom treats each character. But to just brand people with a certain opinion as "sexist" without any concern as to why those individual people have that opinion is just plain arrogant. Opinions and preferences can be based on many, many things and can be very, very fickle.

After all, someone saying that they think a character is an awful person doesn't mean that they think that they are a poor character or that they think their portrayal is poor.


But it seems almost impossible to have a likeable bitch.

I don't watch much TV, but when I think about female "bitch" characters in games, my first thoughts go to Morrigan (Dragon Age), Jack, and Aria T'Loak (Mass Effect), all of whom are popular characters in their fandoms.

Yorkist
08-26-2013, 08:07 AM
Well... of course she is going to focus on the most vitriolic haters. Wouldn't be as interesting of an article if she didn't.

I don't think she makes the argument that anyone who hates her character must be sexist. I do think that conflating the character and the actress is sexist.

And I do think there are a lot of people who dogpile on female characters (and the actresses who play them) out of some form of sexism (namely women who have absorbed the patriarchal values of our culture).

JMHO.

It is pretty freaky that people are talking about murdering the actress. That's some cray-cray rhetoric right there.

lilyWhite
08-26-2013, 08:25 AM
I don't think she makes the argument that anyone who hates her character must be sexist. I do think that conflating the character and the actress is sexist.

She specifically attributes "most people’s hatred of Skyler" to sexism. Not "anyone", but she still brands the majority of people who dislike Skyler to just be sexists.

The act of conflating the character and the person who plays them is stupid, but not innately sexist unless one only does it based on gender. It's not specific to actresses; I imagine Wil Wheaton got a fair share of flak from having played Wesley Crusher.

Xelebes
08-26-2013, 08:31 AM
She specifically attributes "most people’s hatred of Skyler" to sexism. Not "anyone", but she still brands the majority of people who dislike Skyler to just be sexists.

The act of conflating the character and the person who plays them is stupid, but not innately sexist unless one only does it based on gender. It's not specific to actresses; I imagine Wil Wheaton got a fair share of flak from having played Wesley Crusher.

Help your case a little bit here. Got something to back it up?

blacbird
08-26-2013, 08:41 AM
Skyler opposes the main character of the show.

Regardless of what Anna Gunn said in the linked piece, a major point is that shedoesn't exactly "oppose" the main character of the show. The richness of BB is it's depth and complexity, and I do wonder how many viewers crave more simplicity and ease of understanding than this series provides.

Do too many people want Frodo and Sauron? Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader? Ain't gonna find that in Breaking Bad.

caw

Yorkist
08-26-2013, 08:53 AM
I have never, not once, seen a male actor conflated with the character that he plays (at least not in a hatey way). Nor have I ever seen a male character or actor get dogpiled on with that amount of vitriol.

Except one:

Jason Todd.

ETA: blacbird, respectfully, I think there's more to it than that. She is not at all the first of her kind. Isabel from Gray's Anatomy; Betty Draper from Mad Men; Catelyn Stark from ASOIAF/GoT; Deborah Morgan from Dexter; Ginny Weasly from Harry Potter. These characters (and sometimes the actresses who play them) get enormous amounts of fan hate totally out of proportion to any sort of normal response. Those are just a few off the top of my head. I'm sure when I've had more sleep I can come up with a longer list.

lilyWhite
08-26-2013, 09:01 AM
Help your case a little bit here. Got something to back it up?

This seems oddly appropriate. (https://www.facebook.com/ihatewilwheaton) (He also lampshades hate for him because of Crusher on this page attached to his blog (http://wilwheaton.net/warning.php).)

thebloodfiend
08-26-2013, 09:06 AM
You mention Ginny Weasley and I'm immediately drawn back to my days in the HP fandom. So, so, so many people who don't know what actors are. There were actually hate blogs devoted to picking on the actresses' looks—calling her ugly and etc... This kind of thing doesn't really happen to male actors, same as they don't get virginity countdown blogs. Irrational hatred at its best for no particular reason.

I will say that I don't like Skyler and I don't like Ginny Weasley. For the same reasons I don't like Finn Hudson, or really any of the male characters on Glee or Gray's Anatomy. They're underdrawn, hypocritical, and boring. Though, lately, Skyler has actually started to develop past the annoying wife trope she was originally presented as—I would've appreciated if she'd been given her own story line and development, like Betty Draper (who I'd really like if Mad Men weren't so slow). I, honestly, think Breaking Bad has a problem with writing good female characters that can stand on par with the guys, but that's another thread.

As you can tell, I used to watch far too much Netflix.

Yorkist
08-26-2013, 09:13 AM
Eh, the "I hate whatshisname" group has a little over a thousand followers. Definitely not buying that it's all equal.


You mention Ginny Weasley and I'm immediately drawn back to my days in the HP fandom. So, so, so many people who don't know what actors are. There were actually hate blogs devoted to picking on the actresses' looks—calling her ugly and etc...

Grrr I would like to have a strong word with people like this. So awful - actors are real people, and the girl who played Ginny in the movies (guess she's a woman now, and quite lovely IMO) is highly unlikely to ever be a megafamous superstar.


This kind of thing doesn't really happen to male actors, same as they don't get virginity countdown blogs.

Great point. It's like something about being a woman invites the whole world to pick at every little detail of your appearance, weight, and attire.

Something like... sexism.

lilyWhite
08-26-2013, 09:18 AM
Eh, the "I hate whatshisname" group has a little over a thousand followers. Definitely not buying that it's all equal.

Wesley Crusher's hatedom precedes Facebook by over a decade.

UndergoingMitosis
08-26-2013, 12:34 PM
I don't watch much TV, but when I think about female "bitch" characters in games, my first thoughts go to Morrigan (Dragon Age), Jack, and Aria T'Loak (Mass Effect), all of whom are popular characters in their fandoms.

I actually think this is an interesting point. Other posters have mentioned that they can't think of any male characters who have gotten this kind of hate. I can: Carth Onasi, a male character from another Bioware game (all characters/games that LilyWhite mentions are created by Bioware).

He's the male love interest for a female player character, and male gamers hated him.

And lots of Bioware fans really do love Morrigan, Jack, and Aria.

Which makes me feel like the issue is more about defied expectations than anything else. For the Bioware audience (which is smaller and much more narrow in interest/focus than the audience for something like a television show), they expect certain things out of their games. One of the things that they expect is a woman who spends most of the game brooding and snarking. Most of the time they get to stick their pixel dick in her pixel vagina, thus taming the beast. It's one of the things that draws people to things like Bioware RPGs.

What they didn't expect when Knights of the Old Republic (Carth Onasi's video game) came out way back in 2003 was a complex dude with a sexy voice for the ladies to coax out of mourning and into their beds.

Many male gamers were *pissed* that this female fantasy sneaked into their RPG. Their expectations were not met. They got angry.

I think all of the hate for characters like Skyler White is born of the same sort of attitude that makes Bioware gamers love characters like Morrigan and hate characters like Carth. TV viewers expect their TV wives to be flatter and more submissive. In Skyler White, their expectations were not met. They got angry.

So I think it's wrong to say that there isn't sexism at work here. There is--the fact that people expect their female characters to be less complex and less assertive than the male characters is sexism at work.

But I think its also wrong to say male characters are inherently immune to such vitriol--it's just that the sort of narrow-minded people who join internet hate groups for fictional characters expect complexity from their male television characters. Maybe not so much from their female characters.

This makes me want to scream at things.

OJCade
08-26-2013, 01:16 PM
Wesley Crusher's hatedom precedes Facebook by over a decade.

Oh, Wesley Crusher. My sister and I watched Star Trek TNG when we were kids - we were obsessed with it. But we both loathed Wesley Crusher with the white hot hate of a thousand suns. We actually derived a great deal of pleasure - and still do - from mocking that character. Every time he appeared on screen it dragged the programme down, so we felt fully justified.

Nothing against the actor, who seems a decent bloke and has been good in other stuff, but the hate we felt for Wesley (we'd heard that some people had "Nuke Wesley" badges and for a while, it was our dearest hope to own one) has never been matched by any other character.

Some characters are just terrible. It's doesn't always have to do with the sex of the person playing them. Had Wesley been Wesleyina it would have made no difference to the sister and me.

Megann
08-26-2013, 01:48 PM
I am almost afraid to ask, but what is a virginity countdown blog?

Also I don't understand that people hated Ginny. Is it because she eventually dates Harry? Personally I loved both Ginny and Hermione. They were my favorites in the series.

I don't get the Betty hatred either. She was an interesting and complex character and seemed to be her own worst enemy. I was hoping she would eventually find herself, but like many people she keeps making the same mistakes over and over. I did get the impression that some of the writers were never too fond of her and had her do hateful things that were out of character, even for her.

cornflake
08-26-2013, 02:00 PM
Apologies if this isn't the right forum or if I'm duplicating a thread.

Great article from the NYT about the insane amount of vitriol that a character, and the actress playing her, receives from the fans of a TV show.

This isn't a new thing; I've noticed it with Katherine Heigl's character in Gray's Anatomy and Ginny Weasley from Harry Potter, and perhaps to a lesser extent with Catelyn from Game of Thrones/ASOIAF and Betty Draper from Mad Men. But wow, didn't know it got this bad or that it was such a common phenomenon.

Anna Gunn on playing Skylar White, from Breaking Bad (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/24/opinion/i-have-a-character-issue.html?_r=0):

Holy Moses.

I think there's a difference in the things you note.

People may hate Heigl's character, but they also really hate Heigl herself. The woman is the subject of kind of endless vitriol and ridicule. I've never seen Grey's and I find Heigl really offputting.

I do watch Mad Men and while I find Betty godawful, I also hate January Jones. I think she's a terrible actor and is offputting in a general, undefinable sense. Considering the flack Jones has gotten for some of her other roles, and even for being cast in some roles, I don't think I'm alone.

I don't know if it's better or worse, but I don't think it's all based in the characters or perception of them.

crunchyblanket
08-26-2013, 04:02 PM
I've had hatred for one or two female characters, but it was more a matter of Mary Sue in the accusative case (™RichardGarfinkle), in which case the male writers were so obviously jerking off to the actress or the character that it constantly yanked me out of the narrative with its soul-sucking tornado of the male gaze.



This sums up exactly how I felt about the character of Thirteen in 'House'. Could've been an interesting, likeable character if left to do medicine, fret about her illness and fire off snarks in the background, but the enforced centre-stage and revolution of nearly every storyline around her in some way, coupled with constant switches between damsel-in-distress scenes (I've been taken hostage! Now I've got a brain tumour! Now I'm in prison!) and constant reminders that the actress won Maxim's 'Sexiest Woman' award - along with male-gaze pandering lipstick lesbian scenes - I mean, in the end the character was just a hot mess of a male writer's obsession with the actress.

I like Olivia Wilde well enough, though.



And lots of Bioware fans really do love Morrigan, Jack, and Aria.
.....
One of the things that they expect is a woman who spends most of the game brooding and snarking. Most of the time they get to stick their pixel dick in her pixel vagina, thus taming the beast


Yup. Add to the fact that Jack and Morrigan are both heavily sexualised (yes, Jack's got a shaven head and a shit ton of tattoos but her trousers are so low-slung you can see what she's had for dinner, and she wears a piece of rope covering her nipples. That's it. Never mind the breast enhancement she had in the third game.) Aria's not especially sexualised, though, which is pretty cool.

It's almost as if they're allowed to be bitchy and 'uppity' as long as the male gamer can ogle them - and, preferably, heal their bitchiness with his magic in-game cock a la the Shepherd/Jack romance.

lilyWhite
08-26-2013, 04:51 PM
What they didn't expect when Knights of the Old Republic (Carth Onasi's video game) came out way back in 2003 was a complex dude with a sexy voice for the ladies to coax out of mourning and into their beds.

Many male gamers were *pissed* that this female fantasy sneaked into their RPG. Their expectations were not met. They got angry.

From my experience, most of the hatedom against Carth is based on him being whiny and angsty and having a more generic character than others in the game. ("My family was killed by the Evil Empire. I want to kill the guy who did it. Now I'm just going to be brooding over here until the game eggs you into talking to me.")

Besides, it's kind of a trend for the early human companions to be unpopular/less popular in BioWare's sci-fi games. Bastila has a hatedom of her own, as well as Kaidan and Ashley in ME1 and Miranda and Jacob in ME2. (The fandom even whined about James Vega before ME3 came out, though he turned out to be fairly popular after the game's release.)


Yup. Add to the fact that Jack and Morrigan are both heavily sexualised (yes, Jack's got a shaven head and a shit ton of tattoos but her trousers are so low-slung you can see what she's had for dinner, and she wears a piece of rope covering her nipples. That's it. Never mind the breast enhancement she had in the third game.) Aria's not especially sexualised, though, which is pretty cool.

It's almost as if they're allowed to be bitchy and 'uppity' as long as the male gamer can ogle them - and, preferably, heal their bitchiness with his magic in-game cock a la the Shepherd/Jack romance.

The average male love interest in BioWare games is a "stud". Sexy love interests aren't restricted to just the female ones.

thebloodfiend
08-26-2013, 05:20 PM
I am almost afraid to ask, but what is a virginity countdown blog?It's when guys make websites that count down the days/minutes/hours until an underage female star is legally available to have sex with for the purpose of a) imagining that they're taking her virginity, or b) just being creepy assholes. It's probably called a jailbait blog or something to that extent, but I really don't feel like googling it and giving it a hit. Suffice it to say they exist for Disney Stars, Dakota Fanning, and I'm sure, now, Chloe Moretz.
Also I don't understand that people hated Ginny. Is it because she eventually dates Harry? Personally I loved both Ginny and Hermione. They were my favorites in the series.This is pretty much why I don't like Ginny. (http://funnyfeminist.com/2011/07/25/ginny-weasley-the-exceptional-woman/) That, and the fact that her existence derailed what could've arguably developed into one of the most mainstream interracial power couples in kidlit and on screen. Hermione, I liked. Just not with Ron.

UndergoingMitosis
08-26-2013, 06:14 PM
From my experience, most of the hatedom against Carth is based on him being whiny and angsty and having a more generic character than others in the game. ("My family was killed by the Evil Empire. I want to kill the guy who did it. Now I'm just going to be brooding over here until the game eggs you into talking to me.")

Besides, it's kind of a trend for the early human companions to be unpopular/less popular in BioWare's sci-fi games. Bastila has a hatedom of her own, as well as Kaidan and Ashley in ME1 and Miranda and Jacob in ME2. (The fandom even whined about James Vega before ME3 came out, though he turned out to be fairly popular after the game's release.)



The average male love interest in BioWare games is a "stud". Sexy love interests aren't restricted to just the female ones.

I mean, sexism in games is complicated, and we can sit here and talk about it for a really long time but this really isn't the place. You could never, ever convince me that male characters are sexualized to the extent that the female characters in these games are. Jack ran around with no shirt on for a whole damn game. To equate the sexaulization of men and women in gaming (or even just Bioware games, which are sadly better than most) is just a little ridiculous.

This is a conversation about extremes and misdirected anger. People don't run around screaming "THIS FEMALE CHARACTER IS NOT LIKE OTHER FEMALE CHARACTERS ON TV! MY EXPECTATIONS HAVE BEEN DEFIED, RAGE RAGE RAGE." Nope, they call her a bitch. They call Carth whiny. I'm saying these are equivalent reactions, born of the same core sentiment.

I honestly don't think either presented explanation really accounts for the amount of hate these characters get. Sure, you think Carth is whiny. People think Skyler White is a bitch. But there are a lot of bitches and whiners in fiction (and even a lot of whiny bitches) who don't get this kind of treatment. What makes these ones different? What separates the "oh, yeah, that chick's a bitch" that some characters get from the kind of hate that spawns facebook hate groups with thousands of members and names that actresses can't even say in interviews?

My thought is that the difference lies in the defied expectations, a breech of some implied social contract that some individuals believe grants them the right to uncomplicated and unchallenging fiction. You might disagree, but I think the fact that there is a divide somewhere in there between garden variety "I dislike this character" and true hate is really hard to deny.

crunchyblanket
08-26-2013, 07:02 PM
The average male love interest in BioWare games is a "stud". Sexy love interests aren't restricted to just the female ones.


Yeah, but the women are a helluva lot more sexualised than the men. Kaiden and Jacob get to wear real, practical clothing. Jack wears a bit of string, Miranda gets a suit so skin-tight I'm 90% sure it constitutes a thrush risk - hell, Samara's not even a love interest and her cleavage verges on the terrifying.

The men are 'studs', sure, but they're not running around with their abs on display the entire time. They are nowhere near as blatantly visually sexualised as the female characters.

Sci-Fi Stacey
08-26-2013, 08:35 PM
This is pretty much why I don't like Ginny. (http://funnyfeminist.com/2011/07/25/ginny-weasley-the-exceptional-woman/)

While I don't hate Ginny's character, I never really cared for her because of EXACTLY the reasons in that article. Her character had no real depth. It seemed to me that her only reason for being, was so that Harry could have her. Flat characters irritate me, but I wouldn't go overboard and start a "Hate Ginny Weasley" campaign. Psshht!

DancingMaenid
08-27-2013, 02:45 AM
Can any of y'all think of, like, a single case of this happening to a male character, in which it wasn't a case of a maniacally evil character with absolutely no redeeming features (e.g. Joffrey in Game of Thrones) or just a profound casting mismatch or something? It would make me feel better about the universe if we could come up with a couple.


Even in the cases of really evil characters male characters like Joffrey, strong hatedoms are rare. A lot of people may dislike the character, maybe strongly. But they generally don't focus their energy on hating them.

Actually, I think it's more common for hatedoms to develop around characters who aren't villains. Usually, the characters who attract hate are in roles that are generally supposed to be likable, which I think fuels the intensity of people's hatred. They can react more strongly because they believe the creators want them to see something in the character that they don't see (or don't want to see).

And yeah, it rarely happens with male characters. There are a couple notable exceptions, like Wesley Crusher, but they're a lot less common than hatedoms surrounding female characters. And it's less common for people to bash male characters, even casually.

I've been in/have been familiar with a lot of fandoms, and it's definitely more common for female characters to get hate, and it's more common for fans to base their fannish identities around disliking a female character.



Are there people who just don't like the character because she's a woman? Almost certainly. But from reading up on various sites, including the "I Hate Skyler White" Facebook page, a lot of the dislike seemed to be based on her personality and actions.

The thing is, it's not just why people dislike a character, but how they express that dislike. Feeling that a female character is annoying or has had traits isn't sexist. And most people can give valid examples of why they dislike a character. But disliking some of the choices a female character has made doesn't make her a "slut" or a "whore" (insults I've seen levied at female characters quite frequently). And joining a fan community devoted to hating that character is a taking things to a different level. People join hatedoms because, for whatever reason, they get something out of hating that character. Sometimes it isn't really that negative. I think some Star Wars fans feel camaraderie over hating Jar Jar Binks, for example. But sometimes it can really be serious and nasty.

Also, a lot of people are more forgiving of imperfection in male characters than in female characters. A male character can be aloof, rude, or conniving, and a lot of people will find it interesting or charming. But a woman with those same traits is more likely to be seen as a bitch. I think people's reactions to fictional characters can reflect real-life biases and preconceptions about how women should act vs. how men should act.

That said, I do think that sometimes people go too far in the opposite direction, and are too quick to treat any criticism of a female character as sexism. But I think that extreme only exists because there often are elements of sexism in critique of female characters.

Pearl
08-27-2013, 03:28 AM
The thing is, it's not just why people dislike a character, but how they express that dislike. Feeling that a female character is annoying or has had traits isn't sexist. And most people can give valid examples of why they dislike a character. But disliking some of the choices a female character has made doesn't make her a "slut" or a "whore" (insults I've seen levied at female characters quite frequently). And joining a fan community devoted to hating that character is a taking things to a different level. People join hatedoms because, for whatever reason, they get something out of hating that character. Sometimes it isn't really that negative. I think some Star Wars fans feel camaraderie over hating Jar Jar Binks, for example. But sometimes it can really be serious and nasty.

Also, a lot of people are more forgiving of imperfection in male characters than in female characters. A male character can be aloof, rude, or conniving, and a lot of people will find it interesting or charming. But a woman with those same traits is more likely to be seen as a bitch. I think people's reactions to fictional characters can reflect real-life biases and preconceptions about how women should act vs. how men should act.

That said, I do think that sometimes people go too far in the opposite direction, and are too quick to treat any criticism of a female character as sexism. But I think that extreme only exists because there often are elements of sexism in critique of female characters.

I agree with a lot here, especially how female characters apparently aren't allowed to be more complex. It's like a female character can only be on opposite ends of a spectrum.They can either be weak or strong, nice or bitchy. There's little room for in between.

Roxxsmom
08-27-2013, 05:33 AM
Whoops! I meant Ginny Weasley. Apologies. Will modify the OP.

I could ask the same question about her too. I felt rather bad for her throughout, actually. Harry, Ron and Hermione got to have all kinds of adventures and perform all kinds of heroics from first year on, but with the exception of the battle in book 5 and the very last battle (where she sneaked out of the room of requirement), she was always kept out of it because she was "too young," or because Harry needed to protect her. Years later, every time the "Three Musketeers" get to reminiscing about their heroic exploits and madcap school adventures, I envision her getting a sort of stiff smile on her face and excusing herself to go put the kids to bed or something. Doomed to forever being the odd person out. Not sure what's to hate there either.

But I suppose I'm expecting people to be rational :p

I certainly have had an intense dislike for some characters in books (Joffrey comes to mind, and I tend to react badly to stereotyped whiz kids that are smarter than all the grown ups), but I'm hardly going to spend much emotional time away from my actual reading on that or get involved in some kind of strange inverse fandom.

Yorkist
08-27-2013, 06:29 AM
The only character I have hated with anything close to the same amount of vitriol was Lana Lang from Smallville, another one of those maelstroms of male gaze-related terrible writing. I felt passionate enough about it to write a 1000 or so word essay with phrases like "as annoying as hemorrhoids" and "a festering boil on the flesh of Superman's legacy." But that never extended to the actress, FFS. It wasn't her fault. I'm sure she would have loved to have more engaging material to work with. For all I know, she was as annoyed by that shit as I was.

Maybe it says something for geeks that, while the level of hate for Lana burned as hot as the fiery chasm within Mt. Doom, I never, ever got wind of anything being said about the actress (or at worst, perhaps an "I don't think she's very skilled" - well no wonder, she's asked to play what is essentially a talking, celibate fuckdoll), and certainly never anything that could be construed as a threat to her person.

The producers and writers for that show declared that the reason for the Lana contempt is that the fans "hated her because she is so beautiful." They caught a good bit of flak, and deservedly so.

Pearl
08-28-2013, 03:35 PM
I was reading an author blog yesterday and one of the posts talked about character consistency and how authors can't make their characters hypocrites. This led to some comments pointing out that some readers seem to be less tolerant about fictitious characters' flaws and imperfections than to people in real life. I've noticed that too, and I find it so odd. Is it because readers know they're fake people so they feel better ranting about them with no consequence then someone they may know in real life? That's my theory. Anyone else?

grape
08-29-2013, 04:25 AM
I was in Buffy fandom for a decade, and I hated Riley Finn. Completely hated him. Most everyone in my corner of fandom did as well. None of us hated the actor, though, or wished him ill will. I might not have been in the right corner, granted, but that is one character I remember passionately hating to a degree I suppose I can compare to Skyler or Ginny hate.

Oh my God, Riley was the worst character ever. Remember when Faith possessed Buffy's body and Riley made such sweet love to her he fucked the evil out of her? I feel like Spike becoming the love interest after that was the writers apologizing for Riley.

ZerosJourney
09-01-2013, 06:18 AM
I have never, not once, seen a male actor conflated with the character that he plays (at least not in a hatey way). Nor have I ever seen a male character or actor get dogpiled on with that amount of vitriol.

Have you read Wil Wheaton's memoirs, Just a Geek? In it, he talks a lot about the hate he received--as a teenager--for playing a role that was poorly written. There were a number of fans who came up to him at conventions and told him that he ruined Star Trek. The fan hate and the lack of respect from one or two members of the production team were the whole reason he quit Star Trek and then spent the next dozen years loathing everything about it.

Fuchsia Groan
09-03-2013, 10:57 PM
That said, speaking as a fandom veteran, I do see the trend Anna Gunn is talking about. There is a difference between loathing a character subjectively, as I do Walter, and finding the character objectively brilliant, as I do Walter. Walt is morally repugnant, but damn what a great character. Skyler is morally compromised, but damn what a great character. The sort of vitriolic response she's received, as other female actors have received for unpopular characters (like Ginny Weasley) is pretty much incomparable to that received by male actors and their unpopular characters. Yes, even Wesley Crusher.

Also a big fan, and I agree. It's completely legitimate to dislike Skyler for all sorts of reasons. I personally think she's a well-written, complex, fascinating character, but she is also annoying, high handed, self-righteous and currently doing stuff I really don't approve of. (All descriptors that also apply to her husband, along with much worse ones.)

But I've seen hate rants on fan boards suggesting that some people take Skyler's unlikable qualities personally, as if she were the wife or girlfriend who was nagging them to eat veggie bacon. (Yes, this is one of her most oft-cited sins.) That has died down somewhat, but you still get people saying they hated a scene just because Skyler was in it, as if they were allergic to her very presence.

If the show tried to push Skyler as an awesome person when she gave no evidence of being awesome (Riley and Dawn, I'm looking at you), I'd find this reaction more justified. But Breaking Bad doesn't have anything approaching Mary Sue characters; everybody is shown as being irredeemably flawed except, perhaps, Walt Jr. Who inspires his own share of viewer mockery for being so useless and peripheral to the action, but it's nothing compared to the hate Skyler receives.

I've also seen a lot of commenters ragging on Gunn for gaining and losing weight and supposedly getting Botox, which they say ruins the illusion that the entire series takes place over a couple of years. I've noticed changes in Skyler's appearance, sure, but it's a TV show. I've got no problem suspending my disbelief on this particular point.

Anyway, given the personal nature of such comments, I can see why Gunn wanted to respond. I haven't seen rape/murder threats against her, myself, but the boards I frequent tend to be pretty civilized, and I can believe they're out there.

It's normal to identify strongly with fictional characters and have personal reasons for loving or hating them. I know I give Jesse way too much slack because I feel akin to him, and when I look at Walt, I often see my dad, which makes my response far from objective. Hell, I even liked Gus Fring because I admire his cool, and I want Mike to be my grandpa. All these irrational reactions make me more invested in the show. But, at the end of the day, I try to recognize that fiction is fiction, the characters have assigned roles to play, and all that really matters is how consistent and compelling the writers can make that story.