Thursday, December 3, 2009

The downfall of Eastwick

Fantasy is not a license for your characters to transgress all bounds of moral decency.

This is a lesson that the writers of Eastwick, unfortunately, failed to learn. Now some would say that since Eastwick has been canceled already, that this is pointless, no new episodes are being made, so why belabor a mistake? But I just can't let this go, this was so very wrong. So here goes.

Rape is never funny. Period. You cannot have one of your main characters rape someone and retain any warmth towards that character. Now, Eastwick is a fantasy where at least three characters possess magic powers. One of the three characters in Eastwick has the power to make men do anything she wishes. And on last week's episode, she forced a man to have sex with her.

Sadly, that is rape. What makes it worse is that the tone of the scenes were all comedic. She did it after knocking back a few in order to get back at another guy who told her she was "not fun", a guy that they are clearly setting up for romance later on. But back to the sex. After finishing, the man's spouse walks in on them. And here's the surprise, the spouse was also a man. Yes, he was gay! So that makes it hilarious that our heroine just raped him.

Coincidentally, this was not the only fantasy series this week where sex under magical compulsion was contemplated. In the "Sword of Truth" series of books, a character also has the power of compulsion. And this week, in the T.V. series based on the books, "Legend of the Seeker", the same question arose--should she have sex with someone under magical control? LotS realized the magnitude of the question, and created a back story to make the choice far more difficult. In the end, however, she took the moral choice to not take advantage. Why? Because LotS realizes the important fact that if you are writing fantasy, you need to be more aware of the consequences of your actions, not less.


Xi'an's Og said...

The Sword of Truth is hardly a reference as it justifies sadism as well. The first volume had interesting features, but the next volumes are not even worth criticising...

Mark Huber said...

I guess my point with respect to the Sword of Truth series is that the characters consider the morality of what they are doing. Kahlan, Richard and Zedd do not just act with disregard for the effects of their actions, about what they are doing.

Now, their philosophy and actions I disagree with in many places. But at least Goodkind understood that these are questions that needed to be raised. Richard actually thought about the effects of using his powers, whereas Eastwick treated Joanna as if she was too flighty to consider the ramifications of what she was doing.

The producers of the TV show version are the same as the Xena and Hercules series. Especially in Xena, these types of issues where also raised, so it did not surprise me that they understood the moral quandary they had placed Kahlan in the episode.

I did find it surprising that the *exact* same issue arose in two fantasy TV shows in the same week. Ah, synchronicity!

Xi'an said...

Speaking of coincidence... I was completing reading the Night Angel trilogy and while the sequel is not as good as the first volume, I enjoyed it till the moment where a major (and so far positive) character becomes a crazed dictator with magical powers and turns raping a 13 year old girl under magical compulsion into a power game... This killed the appeal of the book for good!