January 7th, 2009


I will probably regret posting this later

So, a few conversations about Merlin (and its race and gender issues) on my flist have made me think about what we ask of our source material, about how we deal with the problematic aspects of what we love.

Like, I know that there's a fuckton that's problematic with Merlin, I really do. But I still love it and its stupid storylines and its characters and the destiny-filled pontifications of the goddamn slash dragon. Even with all of that, though, there's a lot I have to overlook, and there's a lot I have to pretend won't happen, and there's a lot I have to remind myself will happen, in order for me to fully enjoy it.

I prefer to live in a land where Morgana doesn't go evil and crazy, for example, and instead, becomes a powerful sorceress who has her own kingdom that she runs by herself and teases Arthur when, for plot related reasons, he has to beg her for help. Gwen, of course, goes questing with Arthur and kills lots of mystical beasts and helps Arthur run Camelot and makes out with Morgana for fun. And Merlin. And Arthur, even. (Because I'm totally an OT4 girl at heart.) I know that's not how it's going to happen, but fandom's the place where I can make that happen, right? Fandom's how I can remake the source in my own image, right?

It is a lot of work to do that, but to me, the work that goes into making Merlin palatable to me is worth it. I know that it won't be for everyone one. And the thing is, I have to compensate for these things with pretty much every television show and movie I watch, whether it's the evil seductress robots of BSG or the marginalization of Ronon and Teyla on SGA or the horrendous treatment of Rachel in The Dark Knight. I have do this all the time in order to enjoy anything at all.

Even then, there is definitely source material out there that I can't enjoy because, for me, the problems outweigh my enjoyment of it. Firefly has gotten to that place for me with its race issues, the more I think about it, because on a very visceral level, it erases me and my ethnicity even as it co-opts my parents' culture and language. And the show is so much fun, too. I love Joss's sense of humor and I love how the show messes with Western tropes, but at the same time, I watch it and I go, "Is it really that fucking hard to find East Asian actors good enough to give lines to?" Then I get angry and need to go somewhere else and possibly pull out my copy of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.

So, my question to you guys is, how do you guys cope with this bullshit? Do you rewrite canon? Do you just try to ignore it and make it background noise? Are there any particular things that squick you enough that you can't enjoy the source material anymore? How much is too much for you?