Of Musings and Wonderings

{July 13, 2012}   Sinbad The Not-Yet-Sailor

I may end up doing another post tomorrow; mainly because I ended up watching two very different TV shows last night, and I kind of want to talk about both of them. Anyway, since I got back from University, I’ve ended up watching a lot of TV. With no job (fingers crossed that changes soon) there’s not much else for me to do. Plus, well, with my parent’s awesome TV, plus Virgin Media (with all those catch-up things available, too) it would be silly to waste its presence. Even if, half the time, there is nothing on – even with a huge amount of channels and the On Demand service, I rarely find something to get totally caught up in. I usually end up watching whatever my parents have on – Hell on Wheels or Once Upon a Time, which I’ve seen but it’s good enough that I find myself eager to re watch some episodes.

Anyway, both my parents were eagerly looking forward to Sky One’s Sinbad. I think they were imaging a kind of Arabian Tales Spartacuson-the-high-seas, until they realised it was on at 8pm and therefore would lack the swearing and sex present in the modern retelling of Spartacus. Still, we sat down to watch it and, to be fair, it wasn’t half-bad. Part one of a mini-series, the first episode shows Sinbad and his brother, in (I think they said) Basra, scamming people and stealing. They’re street rats. No one ever actually says ‘street rat’, instead they skirt around those words and say things like ‘vermin’, refer to them as rats and mention how they live on the streets but for some reason, don’t say street rats. So, anyway, we have Sinbad and his brother the street rats, and stuff happens and then theguards arrive and a rooftop chase is conducted above Agrabah…sorry, I mean Basra. But really, by this point I was starting to feel a sense of deja vu.

Of course, there are going to be similarities. Both come from the Arabian Nights/One Thousand and One Nights stories, which I have tried to read in the past, have on my bookshelf at the moment but got no further than the introduction. (Reading for pleasure had to take a backseat which I was at Uni.)  But I felt like some parts of Sinbad could have been lifted from Disney’s Aladdin. Notably, the rooftop chase and, before that, a scene where Aladdin Sinbad and his brother are looking out over the city, commenting on how great a view it is and how one day they’re going to live in a big house like that one, at which point it zooms in on a large house that looks like the palace in the Disney film.

We’re in 2012, so why are women still portrayed as evil or victims? It’s the whole whore/virgin thing that seems to have persisted, despite what women have achieved in the last few years. On the screen, we’re evil or damsels in distress.

And in Sinbad, you have a woman who is somehow magical, but in the dark arts sense rather than, say, granting wishes from a lamp. Then, on the ship Sinbad joins, he ends up saving not one but two women within the space of ten minutes. The most annoying thing is that both of them had the potential to be strong female characters, but one little mishap and they’re both helpless and weak, almost to the extent that they’re actually annoying in the way they need to be saved. The one is trapped, so yeah, I can understand that she needs a little help, but did she really need to be so pathetic about it?

I for one reckon it’s worth a watch, anyway. So, dear readers, what about you? Any TV shows you think are worth a watch? Or even anything that gave you that weird ‘it’s new but I feel like I’ve kind of seen it before’ feeling?


Greg Downing says:

Fortunately, women are not portrayed as only evil or victims *everywhere*, but I agree, it’s a stereotype that persists. And any show that promotes that over capable female characters should not be supported. 😛 I am now highly recommending that you watch Buffy, which is very female oriented (though not perfect).

It’s a shame when you come across something that is otherwise brilliant, but is let down but it’s portryal of women. Case in point; I am a huge fan of Supernatural, wrote about masculinity in the show for my dissertation. Also did a chapter on the women in the show. And it really lends itself to the ability to have strong female characters. They have had them. But then some female fans kick up a fuss because they see it as threatening the relationship between Dean and Sam, and the writers cave in.

Have you seen Firefly? Joss Whedon always creates great females, and Firefly twists the whore/virgin thing on its head. But yeah, Buffy is usually cited as one of the few shows with great female characters. I do think it’s about time I got into it again.

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