Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Come on now, sugar. I don't know how many of you out there watch "Veronica Mars," but tonight's episode made me incredibly angry. The current mystery revolves around who is drugging and raping his/their way through Veronica's liberal arts college; the rapist's signature is a shaved head bestowed as a parting gift for each victim. The rapes, as far as we know, have been going on for over a year, and the college's administration has failed to take action.

My problem is the way in which the series labels everyone who dares protest these rather horrific rapes. The only voice of outcry is led by a gaggle of angry, militant feminists who are ethically dubious (one is a Fox News journalist in the making, if you catch my drift) or freakish (strange body piercings, implied lesbianism).

Think about it. At any college, if a razor-happy serial rapist was running amok among the female population, you'd better believe that the outcry would not be lead by a marginalized group of radicals. There would be hell to pay--parents would yank their children, alums would yank funding, and there would be a media circus. However, anyone who dares lift an eyebrow at the events is painted as an irrational ball-buster. The only reason our heroine Veronica seems to be taking an interest in the case is because of a sense of wounded pride, not genuine concern for the victims or fear for her own safety or the safety of her friends.

This setup is in stark contrast to season one, when Veronica set about uncovering the events surrounding her own rape. Every single person who saw Veronica the night she was drugged and raped--and there were a good 20 characters highlighted--is labeled culpable. Even "Saint Blond" Meg is guilty of standing by and leaving Veronica in harm's way. The rapes the writers are currently depicting are horrific. Victims have no way of remaining anonymous or going about their normal routines. The rapist strips away their identity, both as whole human beings and as feminine. They are forced to hide behind wigs or walk the campus as poster children for victimhood. Yet anyone who dares demand answers is portrayed in a remarkably unflattering, almost comical, manner.

Why am I getting so worked up about a dumb television show? Because television is a mass medium that reaches millions each day, and every time it is portrayed as unacceptable for women to stand up for themselves or speak out against sexual violence, we lose. Even Keith's derogatory crack about asking Veronica if she'd become a women's studies major because she donned a pants suit and unflattering shoes underscores the idea that women who do not conform to socially-dictated notions of proper femininity are not worthy or valuable.

I really have no idea why a show that started out lauding the exploits of a petite blond who refused to let the shit get kicked out of her by the reigning kings and queens of her high school has devolved in such a manner. I'd like to blame the CW, "network of the Lord", but I fear there's more to it than that. Either way, I am righteously pissed off.

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