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Archive for the ‘Fighting for money’ Category

Major Richard SharpeRichard Sharpe is a big, tough, rough-and-tumble, suffering (half anti-) hero. He’s been constantly crapped on since day one. His mother was a whore, he grew up in an orphanage, and joined the army (his body being his only means of making a living, and we know how I feel about that) hoping to die there. He was made an officer after his reckless, self-destructive courage saved Arthur Wellesley’s life, and then had to convince the (equally rough and sordid) men in his unit he was worth following. (There was contempt. There were fist fights. It was glorious.) His fellow officers, all bluebloods, do their best to humilate him and point out the shame of his background at every turn. He’s been flogged for a crime he didn’t commit (the most brutal and shameful punishment available), seen his first wife murdered, and his second wife, a seemingly sweet thing whom he rescued from an abusive uncle, left him for a ‘proper’ officer, taking all his money with her.

Women all round the world used to tune in every week to see what horrible things were going to be done to him next. We revel in his suffering as much as his toughness.

Plus, you know, Sean Bean (who I could quite happily listen to just reading the phone book). He manages to bring some necessary vulnerability to the role – the character isn’t half so attractive in the books.

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I’m really not a big fan of Ben McKenzie. He’s the least convincing boy-from-the-wrong-side-of-the-tracks ever. But I am a big fan of emotionally tortured men going cage fighting in a vain attempt to get a moment’s respite from their pain.

Here’s why I got sucked into the OC. I turned on the tv one day and found this playing:

A bruised and bloodied young man, living in squalor, avoiding the people who care about him, and sneaking off to a cheap motel to meet a wealthy older woman? Yep, sounds like my kind of thing. So I kept watching, and the episode progressed like this:

Cage-fighting, emotional dysfunction, and revenge.

And that’s how I ended up watching the OC. Of course, it turned out to be largely bollocks, but it does have good archetypes, and I love me an archetype.

Can I have my credibility back? Extenuating circumstances? Oh, screw it, sexuality makes us all do odd things. I embrace my inner cheap-tv-fan.

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One of my favourite men-in-pain is Wolverine. ‘Does it hurt?’ ‘Every time.’ Plus, you know, he was a test subject for a mad scientist, locked up, tied down, all manner of horrible things done to his body. He’s practically a mansub poster boy. Then there’s the whole unrequited love thing.

So, I went to edit together that clip, and then realised there’s a whole other thing in there that I love. Cage fighting.

There’s something really great about a man fighting for money. It’s degrading, but it’s a particularly masculine form of degradation. I guess it’s the macho equivalent of prostitution – when all else fails, when you’re desperate enough, when you’ve got nothing else to sell, you sell your body for other people’s pleasure and profit. I don’t know why so much of stereotypical femdom/mansubbery involves trying to degrade a man with forced fem or housework. Apart from the fact that, like Beej, I find it utterly insulting, and profoundly unsexy, there’s also just no need. There’s a perfectly good form of masculine degradation, degradation which is macho and tough and therefore actually hot for women, right here. Cage fighting, pit fighting, even forced thuggery – they all reek of shame and desperation and powerlessness, and other people’s use of your body. He’s down about as far as he can go. And he’s still fighting. Yum.

(Course, male prostitution appeals, too, in the right light. There’s a great piece of OC slash where Ryan’s a ‘hustler’. And yes, I know, it’s profoundly embarrassing that I’ve watched the OC, but I’ll explain why as soon as I can find the time to upload the relevant clip. Anyway, slash, Ryan, hooker, part 1 here and part 2 here.)

Then, maybe they can find a way to claw they way out of that world and struggle to make a better life for themselves, but there are some people who just won’t let them forget it, and keep trying to drag them back down… Mm. I love flawed heroes, repentant sinners, men struggling to escape the shame of their past. Jase Dyer in Eastenders, trying to put his violent past behind him, but hounded by the firm he ran with as a desperate teen. Ryan in the OC, trying to better himself, but constantly being dragged down by those around him. Michael Garibaldi in B5, a decent and competent man, but a recovering alcoholic, and people just won’t let him forget it. Russell Crowe’s ex-gunslinger priest in the Quick and the Dead, forced to face his past by his angry former compadres. Guilt, shame, remorse, and a dark side barely held in check; a heady cocktail.

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