Horror movies, slasher films, thrillers, ghosts, gore, witches, werewolves, homicidal maniacs; you name it, I love it. I love the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to horror. Growing up watching movies like The Birds and reading a plethora of Stephen King novels at probably an inappropriate age set me up for my obsession with horror movies. I love things jumping out to scare the audience, I love the gore, I love the action. I love it all and I’ve been blessed with the strength to somehow avoid nightmares after watching scary things. However, it does get tedious sometimes watching women get killed movie after movie if they embody even a smidgen of sexuality that can’t be controlled. Good thing there are quite a few movies that break that mold and they are my favourites. Warning: There will probably be gory images in this post.
Welcome to another week of discussion about Shadowhunters. This week we will be talking about Isabelle “Izzy” Lightwood, and setting up the pace for some hopefully really great and meaty analysis about representation in this show. This week’s three episodes (little different than usual, but it’s important I talk about storylines and the show as a whole as it finishes early April) finally seems to push the show forward away from strictly introductory work. Kidnapping! Vampires! Faeries! Oh My!!! These episodes are also filled with demons, warlocks, transformations, flirting, and much more!
Let’s get this chilly reading week post underway! We’re going to start today with a tiny overview of the plot! Clary Fray is a New York 18 year old artist who’s mother has been keeping a secret from her. Her mother, Jocelyn, is taken by followers of a man called Valentine that sparks Clary learning that the secret her mother was hiding was that they are something called Shadowhunters. Half angel half human people who protect the human race from all the things that go bump in the night. Clary is helped by 3 outrageously beautiful young Shadowhunters who save her life and begin to work with her to stop Valentine and save her mother.
Here are some people/terms you should know!
Young hot people:
- Clary Fray (Kat McNamara)
- Main character, doe eyed artist who’s life is turned upside down.
- Simon Lewis (Alberto Rosende)
- Best friend to Clary. Pretty obviously in love with her.
- Jace Wayland (Dominic Sherwood)
- Shadowhunter who seems to be taken with Clary already. Kind of a shithead. Adopted brother of Alec and Izzy.
- Alec Lightwood (Matthew Daddario)
- Oldest of the bunch. Rule abiding. Secretly in love with Jace. SUPER in the closet. Generally annoyed with people who aren’t Shadowhunters.
- Isabelle (Izzy) Lightwood (Emeraude Toubia)
- Sister of Alec and Jace. Smart, sassy, comfortable in her own skin. Fights well with the boys. Is pushed aside by her mother in favour of the boys.
- Magnus Bane (Harry Shum Jr)
- Something like 300 years old. Potential love interest for Alec. Wiped Clary’s memories as a child.
Older hot people:
- Jocelyn Fray (Maxim Roy)
- Clary’s mother. Now in a potion induced coma after being taken by Valentine’s men.
- Luke Garroway (Isaiah Mustafa)
- Uncle type figure to Clary. Friend of Jocelyn. Shadowhunter…with a twist.
- Valentine Morgenstern (Alan Van Sprang)
- Clary’s father. Formed The Circle. Evil. Experiments on humans and downworlders. Wants the Mortal Cup in order to control demons.
- Hodge Starkweather (Jon Cor)
- In the books he’s a crotchety old man but now he’s like 35 and trains with his shirt off? He used to be in The Circle and now works for the Clave. Sketchy.
- A sort of wand like contraption that Shadowhunters use to make and activate Runes on their bodies.
- Sort of tattoos that give Shadowhunters powers and abilities when fighting.
- The Clave
- The political body Shadowhunters recognize. They inforce and interpret the law.
- Demons, werewolves, vampires, Seelies, Faeries, etc etc.
- Regular humans. A semi derogatory term for them used by Shadowhunters. Short version: Mundies.
- The Circle
- A group Valentine formed as a young Shadowhunter. Many of it’s members assumed that Valentine started it for good reasons but quickly it became a way for his experiments and power hungry plans to come to light.
- The Mortal Cup
- A chalice that creates new Shadowhunters and also can be used to control demons.
- The Institute
- A super high tech hub for Shadowhunters in New York to have sanctuary and train in what appears as a decrepit Church to mundanes. The Lightwoods run it and Hodge cannot leave the building.
Okay. This week we are going to be discussing fridging. Never heard of it? Well, it is a common trope in comics, literature, film television etc. TV Tropes has a list of places where it occurs and it is defined as when a character is killed off in a particularly gruesome manner and left to be found. Additionally, when this occurs specifically to women in order to further the plot of another character, usually male. The term was also coined because a Green Lantern comic book character was once literally stuffed into a fridge after being killed…Sounds horrible, right? Well one would think so, but the lengthy list of television shows and movies it occurs in very clearly shows how this trope or plot device is used repeatedly.
Some examples of this trope in popular movies and television are Rocky, with Adrian’s death motivating him to fight again. Rachel in The Dark Knight is also an example, and her death actually serves as fuel for TWO male characters’ storylines. The trope has been used multiple times in Buffy The Vampire Slayer, but also interestingly with Tara’s death the character’s storyline it effects is Willow’s (her girlfriend). Shay was killed on Chicago Fire only to cause pain to the two characters closest to her. Supernatural literally kills all the women on its show, which thrives on the pain and suffering of its two male characters. Anyway, the list is long and disheartening. My question is why? The examples given on TV Tropes are also probably only some of the examples of this, and more times than I expected male characters showed up and reversed this trope which I found equally as interesting. However, I don’t know if I know what to do with that. What I find hardest to grapple with is understanding why writers choose to torture or kill these characters when other storylines could move their characters forward. Also, why is it predominantly women we see this happening to on television? What adds to the uneasy feeling I have when I see this trope used is that the women most times do not feel like full well rounded characters (that in itself is a problem) and are often introduced very shortly before they die. Secondly, it narratively makes more sense-if pain and drama are the end goal-to hurt or kill characters the audience is already familiar with. Doing so allows for audience engagement to be higher because they are already familiar with the characters, while still creating similar effect.
Today marks the start of a little series of reviews of Freeform’s (Netflix if you are not in the US) new show Shadowhunters. I just started watching the show and every week I am going to be reviewing and examining the episodes as I watch them. This also will be the end of introductory type posts, as after this the need for context will be much less urgent.
Let’s get this started with some background information! Shadowhunters is based on the book series The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare. The series follows a young girl, Clary Fray, on a journey that takes her from a “plain” and “normal” girl to the realization that she is more than that. Her mother has been, her entire life, hiding something from her. The secret is that she is half angel, people like her are called shadowhunters and they fight demons and evil creatures in order to keep the human world save. That’s not it though. Clary is also informed that the Big Bad Man in the shadowhunter world, Valentine, is her father. After her father kidnaps her mother Clary embarks on an adventure with her Nice Guy™ friend Simon and a motley cru of young shadowhunters. Naturally love triangles, arguments, jealously and tears ensue. Sound ridiculous? Don’t worry, it gets better… but really just worse. There are numerous incest storylines (the first one is fake…but then 3 or maybe 4 books later there is another moment of intentional (???????) incest). It has also already been made into a movie which…did not do well.
Additionally, the books author, Cassandra Clare, has a long history of plagiarism and fandom issues that are topics of discussions to this day. If you are interested and have an afternoon to spare, here’s some background information on that: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 [edit: She is being sued for copyright infringement. What perfect timing!]. My blog however is not about her plagiarism, and even if it were it would probably take me years to sift through her work and her interactions with people online. Anyway, full disclosure; these books were not great, and the show is mediocre at best. However, obviously it has something that I enjoyed enough to buy and read 6 books of, and also enough of something that is keeping me interested in the show. I hope with these reviews over the weeks that I can merge enjoying this show as a fun reimagining of the book series, while also discussing the ways they present young girls on the show, and consequences of the gender roles represented. So without further ado here is my recap/review of the episode and a little bit of analysis to wrap it up!
I thought I would begin my first post explaining why I am going to be talking about portrayals of young women in the media. Firstly, I consider myself a feminist and in my personal life and with the limited influence I do have in this world I attempt to change and challenge stereotypes and perpetuations of ideologies that are damaging to women. I personally make an effort to include many people in discussions of gender. I reject most traditional gender roles, and also advocate for any causes that are concerned with breaking down those barriers and promote inclusivity rather than exclusivity. Secondly, because of these beliefs and new ways of learning and analyzing media I am introduced to, I have begun to notice patterns within the media I am consuming. As a 25-year-old who readily embraces her millennial status, I am constantly immersed in different forms of media. I watch entirely too much television, I have a deep love for movies, I watch YouTube vloggers on a regular basis, I read for fun constantly when I am not in school, and I enjoy fun music constantly.
In our world where these types of engagement with media is unavoidable, I find it nearly impossible to not notice how many of the ways young women are portrayed are problematic. This is why these images are important to me. I believe that in order to change the way we think about issues that affect women we have to infiltrate popular media and dissect the images we see. Where I am most interested and where I think it is most important to begin these discussions, is in the way young women are portrayed, and how they are spoken about in media. In these blog posts I will be discussing many issues and also achievements made in terms of representations of young women in different formats that I interact with on a daily basis. My hope is to introduce and begin discussions that will help us question what we are being sold, and demand more of the media in which we consume. Anyway, here is what I hope is an introduction to the way I think about social issues while interacting with different types of media!
First let’s start by broadly discussing a few ways that women/young women, many times teenagers, are talked about and what I think the consequences of these attitudes are. As a person who watches television religiously, I consistently am shown images of interesting, complex, and messy people. However, most of the time they are male (House, Walter White, Luther, Sam and Dean Winchester, Sherlock, literally every male character in existence probably). What I find sparser in the media, are examples of female characters that have the same depth. Additionally, when we do get these characters they are often vilified (Skyler White is one of the worst cases of this, I believe. Esquire has a very interesting article about her.). I find that from a personal standpoint, having a reasonable and intelligent discussion about television can prove extremely difficult. I, as an English major, enjoy dissecting things. I watch things and part of the way I enjoy them is to analyze them. However, I also know that many people passively receive their media which is also a totally valid way to interact with it. I personally in my perusing of articles and discussions, cannot ignore the continuous hatred of young women on television (and elsewhere).