The fever I've had since Monday is almost gone. As always, it feels great to be well again. While sick, I indulged in my favorite thing: I made a bed on the sofa, and binge-watched a series on Netflix. This time? Seasons 1 and 2 of Penny Dreadful. It has it's problems, of course. The first being that it's yet another "save the white woman" story. The second, is that there is only one character of color. While the show is artfully aware of the problems concerning the first issue...it isn't at all concerned with the second. This whitewashing is a blight on an otherwise wonderful piece of art.
Keep in mind that I've only see it once and that I was feverish the entire time. So, I might have missed a few things. (Honestly, I intend a re-watch.) I usually don't care for stories that take other people's characters and re-imagine them. Usually. However, there are exceptions. Fred Saberhagen's Dracula is one. And the latest BBC version of modernized Sherlock Holmes is another. In both cases, the authors paid close attention to the details of the original and worked those in creatively. I admire that greatly. It takes tremendous imagination to work with such restrictions and still do something new. If you're going to entirely rewrite what was there, why bother with rewriting in the first place? Why not simply make up your own characters? To not do so feels as if one is building off the back of stronger works for the sake of taking advantage of the name only. I abhor that crap.
Oh, gods. You can tell I've spent two days steeping in Victorian dialog can't you?
No one in Penny Dreadful is particularly nice. I admit, usually that's a no go for me. There has to be some shine in the dark, or I won't bother to go on. It's okay if the shine is wrapped up in a character who is complicated. I'm also pretty damned good at looking at a character's actions versus their words. And that's the thing. Although every one of the "good guys" isn't...they're loyal to one another. The broken, flawed, and damned fight the big bad together. They're human and as such have a certain amount of ethics. They may not be those of the era in which they are set. (Malcolm Murray doesn't judge Vanessa for her sexual transgression and does not tolerate those who do.) And that's the part I found puzzling. Why was I still all right with this? For a while, it was Eva Green, the setting, the costumes, the art direction. Then it was Ethan Chandler. (I love shifters.) Then I began to see that the show was aware of its "save the white woman" issues and how Vanessa maintained her power throughout. She fought. The men supported her fight. The instant they started to take over she shoved them back and reasserted her power. "This is my fight. Not yours." It's a story of possession, after all. A story of possession where the woman refuses to merely play the role of battlefield. She is her own champion.
Over and over, I was brought back to how much femininity is demonized. Dolls are evil. Homosexuality (often associated with the feminine in men) is deviant. Transgender? Same. Witches? Evil. My favorite bit is when Lily begins to exert her power. Once a hapless Irish prostitute suffering from tuberculosis, she is transformed into what I can only describe as an avenging angel--the uncontrolled rage of millions upon millions of women and girls forced into bondage, sexual abuse, and degradation over the centuries by patriarchy electrifies her every word and sends abusive men to their knees. I've never seen anyone do that with the Bride of Frankenstein before. It was...wonderful.
Which leads me to the other point of interest. A wonderful article written about the new Ghostbusters. What lady Ghostbusters have in common with 17th century nuns. The points made there also apply to Penny Dreadful--at least the first two seasons. I haven't watched the third, not yet. It isn't available, but I will watch it. That said, all the things written about possession are present in Penny Dreadful. I highly recommend it too.
Also? The new Ghostbusters fucking rocked. See it.
 Oh, Victorian England and your violent terror of women's sexuality. FFS. Honestly, the worst parts of Dracula (and Dracula is one of the worst written Classics I've struggled my way through) were all the preaching and shuddering about women's sexuality. I thought my eyes would roll out of my head from all the eye-rolling.
 I am a goth, after all.
 The abortionist angle fit perfectly. The old witch says something like, "All those that do for women are hated."
 Not in a positive sense. More like an angel from The Prophecy. It's one of my favorite depictions of angels, largely because of this one thing: "Did you ever notice how in the Bible, when ever God needed to punish someone, or make an example, or whenever God needed a killing, he sent an angel? Did you ever wonder what a creature like that must be like? A whole existence spent praising your God, but always with one wing dipped in blood. Would you ever really want to see an angel?"
is a Science Fiction and Fantasy author living in Texas.