Archivo de la categoría: Género y sexualidad

Death in a time of parallelisms: deconstructing the Antihero trope in TV shows.

Warning: This post contains serious spoilers from Bloodline season 1 and 2, House Of Cards season 2 and Breaking Bad season 5.

Nowadays, it’s very common to watch a whole roaster of heroes and superheroes take on their own stories within the visual products we consume on a daily basis. From literal heroes to protagonists with big ambitions and a strong moral compass embeded in society’s high values, television and cinema have succesfully singlehandedly developed -and adapted- marvelous stories  with heroic characters that we, as an audience, can often relate with.

Heroes are good through and through, they often do the right thing because is right and, most of the times, they get rewarded for their actions. Of course, they are not perfect, but they depict the most accurate version of a good human being. That said, what happens when this person becomes an atypical individual? One that doesn’t go by the rules, or any moral compass but his own, and is often apathetic? Simple, an Antihero arises.

According to tvtropes.org, an Antihero is an amoral misfit that has the opposite of most of the traditional attributes of a hero.  They often work as a profound deconstruction of the traditionally heroic genres. Ultimately, an Antihero is just a consequence of the hero taking another path towards their goals. A hero gone wrong.

So, where do we should draw the line between a hero and an Antihero? What does it have to happen to a hero to walk across to become the Antihero hidden underneath all of that layers? Where is the point break where there is no return? If television has taught us anything, I would probably say it could happen after facing death, specifically by murder.

bloodline

Not so long ago, a typical Antihero would be portrayed as an awful human being who’s only way of acting would be on self interest. Nowadays, TV shows are really at its best when they develop well-constructed and layered characters to carry character-driven episodes and fascinating character study plots, something that Bloodline excels at. In order to understand Antiheroes, we need to peel all the layers that surrounds them.

Before murdering his brother in cold blood, John Rayburn, one of their protagonists, was a character with clear goals and ostensibly heading to become the voice of reason and central role model of his family in the showGranted, the Rayburns are not depicted as the most healthy and perfectly functional human beings, they do have a troubled and very fucked up past that always finds a way to come back to haunt them, but at least they keep trying their very best to manage it.

John wasn’t the first Antihero to arise within Bloodline‘s narrative, along came Danny. If you have seen this show (seriously, you should watch it), you’ll know that the youngest Rayburn sibling, Sarah, died  at a young age when Danny was watching her. Living this complicated situation was the reason why he shaped the Antihero figure he became, leaving him only with a broken and damaged life to survive with. Danny and John’s  stories are clearly different whereas their actions are coincidentally embedded.

09-bloodline.w750.h560.2x

That’s why Antiheroes in TV shows often need another character to contrast with in order to be legitimized as one in the first place. Dichothomies, parallels and counterparts work wonders with this type of characters, and their stories, when their flaws and virtues need to be noted. So it definetely wouldn’t be a coincidence if the writers of any given show decided to include someone in their script to balance and tie up their Antihero figure, in order to understand their particular gravitas and ethos.

Portraying both Danny and John as Antiheroes in season 1 and 2, correspondingly, worked greatly because it helped to enrich each character’s profound layers and motives as it was ideal to contrast them with the Bad Guy/Good Guy dichotomy level of understanding they carry with themselves.

When season one started off, John was certainly trying to do his best to be a hero. Notwithstanding, when his toxic brother arrived, he rapidly welcomes him back to the family without any hesitation, trusting him with blind faith and hoping for better days to come. Unfortunately, and depicting the perfect Antihero figure, Danny totes nothing but problems to their siblings, and even to the family inn, leading to his inevitable demise whilst passing the Antihero torch to his brother John in an somewhat act of self-defense.

Ah, ‘self-defense’, a simple word reflecting on an act so big and backhanded that can easily trigger any kind of feelings within a human being. Something that can transform a self-righteous cop into a murderer or a chemistry teacher, into a drug lord.

Just like Walter White, one of the most well-known Antiheroes of our time, that became that cold apathetic drug lord we all love to hate after his very first murder: a drug dealer called Emilio Koyima. Just like John Rayburn, he commited murder thoughtlessly on a self-defense act that not only pushed him to a road where there was no coming back, but also awoke the Antihero hidden deep inside of him.

Breaking Bad did a great job portraying Walter White’s ascension from the shy cancer victim to the shrewd drug lord, thirsty with power, that uses his family as an excuse for his behavior. Jesse Pinkman, on the other hand, served as a counterpoint to Walt’s antihero. He was the inocent life that White carried along, and couldn’t save, but didn’t turn into him either.

Their relationship didn’t work as a dichotomy as it is, but more as an action/consequence kind of dynamic. Where Walter White’s delusional plans were, Jesse Pinkman’s insecurities arose. Narratively speaking, this depiction was perfectly thought in order to draw upon the Antihero status of the character by contrasting him with his student’s decisions.

http://instagram.com/p/dAbHpnFhO_/

Whereas Jesse Pinkman did get to live on the season’s end, Walter White, just as Danny Rayburn, got a comeuppance of his own and  ended up dying. The same fate that Zoe Barnes, in House Of Cards, had to face, before even having the chance of becoming an Antihero, when a murkier Frank Underwood decided that she was not relevant for him anymore as she started to pose a threat to his journey for the presidency.

Underwood’s main Antihero qualities veer around his prowess to manipulate people to do what he wants without making him look bad. Zoe Barnes’ murder, along with Peter Russo’s, was that necessary flame that the character needed in order to gain that apathy and brazen attitude that distinguish his Antihero status.

So, whilst John and Walter are paired with another men in order to aknowledge their bits and parts that they all share as male Antiheroes, House Of Cards cleverly matched up Frank with his wife, Claire, an evident Antihero on the rise for power. Unlike any of them, Underwood’s wife function in the story is not to become a contrast character but more to work as a parallel, or an equal. Whatever Frank does, Claire has already thought and perfected. She embodies everything he is. She is the result of all the decisions he took along the way and managed to get away with it.

house-of-cards-season-4-finale-claire-frank-moa0d1jthgvxnrfex3u1u8vetamd9u0huioao0w648

Whilst death and murder are often used as a defining moment of the Antihero, contrast and parallelisms with characters around are used to understand what’s going on in their minds. Hence, as it happens in real life, we only judge someone when we compare them with our own experiences.

 

 

Las ceremonias obligadas del cuerpo en Orphan Black

La relación de cuerpo-poder ha sido base del planteamiento teórico y filosófico de muchos académicos . Sin embargo, nadie lo ha tratado más a fondo como Michel Foucault. Según el autor (1975), el cuerpo está directamente inmerso en un campo político; las relaciones de poder operan sobre él una presa inmediata; lo cercan, lo doman, lo marcan , lo someten a suplicio, lo fuerzan a unos trabajos, lo obligan a unas ceremonias, exigen de él unos signos. El cuerpo, entonces, está imbuido en las relaciones de poder, no puede escapar de ellas.

Este poder infligido sobre el cuerpo permea todos los aspectos de nuestras vidas; tan sólo con echar un vistazo en las diferentes formas en que, como sociedad, nos entendemos podemos ver cómo lo primero que cosificamos es el cuerpo del otro, cómo nos comunicamos a través y gracias a él, cómo reclamamos la pertenencia e individualidad del otro a través de su cuerpo, pero, sobre todo, cómo nos apropiamos del otro gracias y a través de su  cuerpo. Nuestro cuerpo nos pertenece, sí, pero también está a merced de las relaciones de poder que los demás ejercen en los diferentes campos.

Lo que el otro reclama sobre nosotros siempre, e irrevocablemente, será la libertad sobre el propio cuerpo. Hoy en día muy pocas series y filmes se encargan de reflejar eso tanto y tan bien como en el programa canadiense de la BBC, Orphan Black.

orphan-black-season-4-shocking-character-secrets-plot-reset-more-tatiana-maslany-as-557205

En ella, las protagonistas son clones que buscan su propósito y motivo de existir, sin embargo, existen varias organizaciones que están decididas por reclamar propiedad sobre ellas, su cuerpo y su agencia.

Cosima, Alison, Sarah, Beth, Helena, Rachel y Krystal son tan sólo algunas de las clones que conocemos. Son mujeres con agencia que buscan hablar por si mismas, poder ser libres de vivir sin que ninguna organización, persona o sociedad decida sobre ellas y su cuerpo.

Las relaciones de poder inmiscuidas a su alrededor crean redes involuntarias de dominación por parte de las instituciones y los individuos.  En Orphan Black éstas giran alrededor de dos grandes grupos: los científicos y religiosos; la dicotomía típica del mundo contemporáneo.

Desde el punto de vista científico, su cuerpo no es más que un objeto más de análisis que no tiene otro fin más que aportar datos a las investigaciones relacionadas con el progreso y el mantenimiento de la vida humana. Ellas poseen en su código genético algo que nunca antes se había podido encontrar en otro ser humano: la permanencia y esencia del ser humano. Son desposeídas de su humanidad para ser reducidas a un simple experimento de la ciencia. Sarah y sus hermanas son perseguidas para ser analizadas y marcadas.

Las instituciones religiosas, por otro lado, las necesitan para controlarlas y otorgarles la única función que para ellos es esencial en una mujer: la reproducción de la especie humana. En su discurso, el cuerpo de los clones no es resultado de un experimento científico sino una aberración que necesita ser re-interpretada y santificada por medio de la maternidad. Su cuerpo no es suyo, siempre le ha pertenecido a dios y su plan divino, por ello, es necesario cercarlo y obligarlo a participar en sus ceremonias.

Bajo ese precepto es como podemos entender a Helena, una asesina a sueldo que creció dentro de una organización religiosa donde los clones eran vistos como demonios disfrazados en el cuerpo de una mujer con la única función de tentar a los hombres.

OrphanBlack_S1_E04_34_photo_web

Tal poder infligido sobre ellas depende invariablemente de la posición que gozan dentro del campo de poder y la sociedad en la que se desarrollan. Al ser mujeres gozan de un privilegio menor que el de los hombres, individuos que, aún así, encuentran sus vidas atravesadas por las relaciones de poder.

Resulta conveniente que en la serie también exista una rama de clones masculinos criados por la milicia, donde la fuerza bruta es su característica esencial y motivación básica. Mientras las mujeres son criadas para ayudar a reproducir y mejorar a la raza humana, los hombres están encargados de defenderla.

maxresdefault (3)

Desde luego, ellos y ellas forman parte de una sociedad, por lo que su cuerpo no sólo es sometido a las relaciones de poder infligidas por las instituciones, sino que sus cuerpos también son domados por las personas a su alrededor para corresponder al estilo de vida que refleja sus esferas más cercanas. Alison, por ejemplo, es la madre de casa abnegada que se encuentra en constante lucha por alcanzar el papel de la matriarca indomable que la sociedad ávidamente celebra, mientras que Rudy debe comportarse como el depredador sexual que los demás esperan que sea.

maxresdefault (2)

Lo que Orphan Black logra visibilizar con su discurso es que, invariablemente, el cuerpo termina por ser el medio de expresión y comunicación no sólo del individuo que lo porta, sino de las redes que lo rodean. El poder que se ejerce sobre él dependerá de la posición que tienen dentro del campo de poder y las relaciones de poder que atraviesen a su propia agencia.

Foucault, M. (1975) Vigilar y Castigar, p. 32.

 

 

 

La performatividad de salir del clóset.

“A mi se me hace que es joto”, “Yo no sé porqué no sale del clóset si claramente se ve que es gay”, “¿No se te hace que el novio de fulana es maricón? Pobrecita, no se ha dado cuenta”, “Yo creo que ya va siendo hora de que le digas a tus papás que eres gay, ¿no lo crees?”, “¿A poco no has salido del clóset? Si te ves bien joto”, ¿Les suena familiar?

Hola, mi nombre es Diego y salí del clóset hace 10 años (¡Hola Diego!). Si no me hubiera puesto a hacer memoria, no hubiera caído en la cuenta de que justo por estas fechas, hace 10 años, fue cuando decidí dar uno de los pasos más complicados, pero satisfactorios, de mi vida: aceptar -y abrazar- mi homosexualidad.

Salir del clóset no sólo es un proceso personal, sino que también es un acto performativo. Judith Butler (2002) define al acto performativo como formas de habla que autorizan (…) si el poder que tiene el discurso para producir aquello que nombra está asociado a la cuestión de la performatividad, luego la performatividad es una esfera en la que el poder actúa como discurso.

Salir del clóset significa nombrar  tu realidad para (valga la redundancia) volverlo real. Esto no es real hasta que lo nombras, hasta que lo dices fuerte, hasta que lo conviertes en algo real, tangible e inamovible en tu vida. Por eso es que creo fervientemente quese trata de  un proceso tan íntimo y personal.

Sin embargo, muchas personas -demasiadas para ser sincero- lo entienden al revés y se aferran por convertir un momento de intimidad en un espectáculo público. No, una persona que no ha salido del clóset no necesita que le digan cuándo y cómo debe hacerlo. No, salir del clóset lleva su tiempo, tiene un proceso y un modo de hacerlo muy personal.

im-just-90-percent-sure-hes-100-percent-gay-animation

Aún, a la fecha, no deja de sorprenderme cómo los medios y nosotros mismos, como sociedad, presionamos tanto a las figuras públicas para salir del clóset que no les queda otra que hacerlo público, sin importar el proceso que están viviendo o la forma en que están tratando de entenderlo.

¿De verdad nos importa si Pedro Sola no había querido salir del clóset? ¿Es realmente tan importante saber si Ricky Martin era homosexual cuando anduvo con tal o cual actriz famosa? ¿De verdad es necesario comunicarle a todos tus compañeros de trabajo tu preocupación sobre la tardanza de fulano o sutano para hacer pública su homosexualidad? No, de nadie es asunto más que de la misma persona.

A mi parecer, obligar a una persona a salir del clóset es uno de los actos más violentos que puede una persona puede inflingir  sobre otra. Debido a su carácter performativo, el proceso de aceptación no es sencillo ni rápido. Muchas veces, la persona en cuestión no está preparada para vivirlo, para confrontar una realidad que desde hace mucho pensaba nombrar, pero no tenía el valor para hacerlo. Por ello, nadie debería tener poder sobre el acto performativo de alguien.

maxresdefault

¿Tienes ganas de hablar sobre la sexualidad de una persona? Comparte más sobre la tuya, ¿Te llama la atención la forma en que una persona acepta su sexualidad? Trata de entenderla en lugar de juzgarla, ¿Te preocupa que mengano no haya salido del clóset y no esté viviendo los mejores años de su vida? Deja que lo haga a su tiempo y cómo crea que es mejor.

Nombrar es un acto cotidiano, dejar que cada persona nombre su propia realidad es el verdadero acto performativo.

Bibliografía:

Butler, J. (2002) Cuerpos que importan, Editorial Paidós.

 

 

TV and the new depiction of masculinity.

It’s true, we’re really living on the golden age of television. A golden age where we’re able to enjoy new ways of telling stories and where we can take pleasure on a certain variety  of alternative platforms to binge-watch our favorite show, or even get to know  their very own stellar productions (such as Netflix, Hulu or Amazon), and yet, nothing has drawn more my attention  than an interesting development on  characterisation of masculinity upon  male protagonists.

Nowadays, we’re more than wont  to have an stereotipical male figure on TV and films that will gladly shove down our throats his socially constructed ideas of what it really is to be man; let’s make a list of all them, shall we? A man has to be strong, powerful and dauntless, he also has to provide for his family (mostly for his selfless wife) and never (at all cost) shed a single tear  for nothing and no one. A dude with this ideals will always have the power to overcome any problem without showing neither harm nor weakness. He will always be a manly man.

Fortunately, we’re kicking off a new era, one where this stereotipic ideas are really worn out. You just have to turn the TV on to come across a whole new badge of glorious male characters depicting a new way to see masculinity. From Catastrophe to Kevin From Work, from Man Seeking Woman to Master Of None, even You’re The Worst, all acting out new ideals, breaking paradigms and demolishing old preconceptions of manhood.

The men depicted on this shows are not afraid to show his feelings (what a travesty!) and, above all, they’re used to talk about them (double travesty!), they’re also allowed to feel vulnerable and to show this side of their being without remorse or self-deprecation (The travesty apocalypse is upon us!).

600x600bb-85

 We get to see how a sensitive guy as Rob cares so much about pregnant girflriend Sharon’s feelings in spite her constant and utter denial of it on Catastrophe. The same thing happens on Man Seeking Woman, when main character Josh fantasies on meeting the perfect girl for him even though his heart is completely broken after his girlfriend left him for another guy. Even Jimmy, from You’re The Worst, has to show his true colors as he is being supportive when his girlfriend Gretchen falls through the black hole of clinical depression.

It really is a delight to come across such enlightning, enthralling and enriching new ways of portraying masculinity. We’re not empty vessels ready to be filled up in real life. Us men should, and must look for, and look up, another masculinities. Those that really defy our way to see life.

screen_shot_20150624_at_3.56.44_pm.png.CROP.promo-mediumlarge

That’s why I, for one, was more  than excited to welcome Kevin’s best friend, Brian, crying his heart out for the loss of the girl he thought was his true love on Kevin From Work and, even better, having an enthralling chat about his feelings, that doesn’t seem contrived at all, with his best friend while drinking some tea. Before this, I was really starting to worry that we’re going to be cursed with the perpetual, and godawful idea, of portraying men as a nonchalant non-crying Rambos.

I even get more excited when I stumble upon Dev, from Master Of None, trying to understand the way his girlfriend felt when she was mistreated by his boss after being totally polite to him. In fact, Aziz Ansari (creator and main character of the show) takes his time to tackle the clear differences between the inequal ways society treats men and women as a main theme on one episode of season one.

Master-of-None-Poster-629x360

So yes, I do know we will always have Rambos, Terminators and Conans The Barbarians to look up when its needed, but they’re not the only (and necessary) depiction of masculinity that the world needs. They’re the ones that the world want us to be.

Men in real life do have feelings in spite all the constant reminders, and reproachs, to not doing it so. Role models are everywhere too, we just have to look for those that matches with our way of seeing things and not by the ones who are trying to define us.