lotesse: (Default)
here are some points about Quantum Leap, idk idk:

-it's just about the clearest possible example of the 90s White Knight Hero Disease a girl could ask for. It goes like this: as it starts to become clearer in the mid-90s that media needs to be more diverse and attentive to social issues, diversity and social issues become popular and also increasingly important plot elements/drivers. But make no mistake the heroes are still gonna be white men and no homo. These white male heroes thus end up hogging the stage while ostensibly crusading for minority rights/representation. ATS did that for basically the whole first season, coulda called it "Angel and Hurt Women: The Series."

In QL, this manifests as a particularly weird version of What These People Need Is A Honky, one that basically translates to "if this white dude lived your life, he wouldn't fuck it up the way you do." The reason why it's so weird is that it almost comes all the way back around to working. Not quite, but, like, almost.

One of the reasons why social prejudice is bad is that it screws people up long-term. Traumatized people make bad decisions. When you already carry so much extra pressure, deal with brainwashing, with microaggressions, shit with macroaggressions, dealing with the other shit in life doesn't always work out well. Oppression leads to cascading failure and emotional/psychological depletion. So it makes some realistic sense that a character like Sam Beckett, with his background and privileges and personality type, would be able to get over the rough ground of the "Leap-ees"' lives lightly, just by being soft and calm and brave and intuitive and gentle - and, most importantly, by being confident in himself and his rights.

As a woman, I see this operating most clearly in the crossdressing eps. Sam doesn't have the same lifetime of taught assumptions about how men are allowed to treat him (poorly), so when he's victimized as a female Leap-ee he resists it and makes changes - when the woman who had actually lived that life had been quiet and accepted it, and had been careful not to rock the boat.

This is one of the things that (dis)privilege is. Does the show know this? man idk. I sort of doubt it. It doesn't really work as a progressive narrative paradigm. You can't dismantle the master's house with the master's tools like that. What happens to those women when they return to their lives, for one thing? Female niceness is protective camoflage, bro, maybe they needed it.

-okay so also another thing: in a way, that (horrible, painful) ending is some spiritually righteous shit. It just feels really weird coming after a whole show that didn't engage at all at that level. I got a similar thing here where I can't get my head around there being authorial intent but the signification works out anyway.

[personal profile] giandujakiss's vid Coming Home was pivotal for me in seeing the possibility of this reading - although I might also be extrapolating wildly in the opposite direction of her intent? But - when I first watched - and loved - the vid, I was struck by the assertion of GK's fannish power with the manipulation of that final text card. Her use of her editing suite allowed her to "over-write" the ending, blacking out the word "never" and transforming the story from one where Sam never came home to one where he did. I liked that; I don't like "one goes alone" endings as a rule, and will cheer on anyone who resists them.

On subsequent watches, though, GK's music choice started hammering in something about the canon for me: while Sam Beckett may canonically have never have returned to his own timeline, he was always already "coming home" during each and every leap - building community with other humans at a level of intensity practically unreachable in mundane life. If "coming home" = attaining community/communion/belongingness, rather than = going back to Sam's particular space/time biological/social embodiment, well, he wins at the end, and that makes it almost a happy ending.

Sam's abandonment of his self in order to restore Beth and Al's relationship is a gesture of perfect spiritual abegnation, and he ends by ascending to - basically - sainthood, forsaking ordinary life for continuing deep communion with suffering souls. I used to use the iconography of the Hindu Bodhisattvas when I relied on this fantasy to justify my being abused by my Ex: the being that becomes perfectly compassionate and so attains enlightenment, dissolving individual singleness in the process. I do not know how I feel about Sam Beckett's story being about the holiness of the abandonment of the self in order to serve the needs of the world. But - watching the show now, man, that's kind of all I can see.
lotesse: (beauty)
So this summer I am learning ALL THE FRENCH. This whole picking up totally new languages at the graduate level lark is pretty fun - at first I meant that to be sarcasm, but then I thought about it for a minute and realized that it actually is. I'm just snarly because I have an exam tomorrow, and it's the first one of the course so I'm paranoid. But I really do like languages, translation in particular. It's fun watching the words transform from meaninglessness into something comprehensible. At prisint we're translating bits from a dumbed-down Count of Monte Cristo, so that's v. fun and melodramatic. Our hero has just exhausted the resources represented by humanity, and turned his face toward god.

AND! Quantum Leap, we've been watching it. Adorable stupid occasionally-misguided sometimes-just-faily 90s liberalism! With a heart of gold, and frequent objectification of Dr. Sam Beckett, who has a really cute butt. I failed to notice, when I first watched this show as a teenager, just how cute his butt actually is. I did not, safe to say, fail to notice the truly MASSIVE AMOUNTS of gender & sexuality play. Relatively satisfying gender & sexuality play, at that! I cannot think of the last time I saw such happy, shame-free transvestism in broadcast media - and I can't name even one case of canon (semi)mpreg that was even half as enthusiastic.

... sometimes I miss the 90s. Or - well, I wasn't really old enough for the 90s. It might be more accurate to say that I sometimes wish I'd been almost-twenty-five in the 90s, instead of being a backwoods brat with no tv.

eta: apparently I'm being spammed - bot!comments springing up all over - so I've disabled anon commenting for a while.

daughter of the sea, oregano's first cousin


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