Archive for the ‘Mainstream sadism & dominance’ Category

milo-ventimiglia-no-shirtSo, I fell off the face of the planet. Can’t promise not to do it again. I’m still struggling with this stuff, and still can’t face going out to try and actually interact with it. It’s not even the thing itself that worries me at this point, it’s the thought of The Scene. I actually now feel like I want to move towards this, to explore, but I just have no clue how to do it.

So instead, I’ll just keep trawling the mainstream media in the safety of my own home, getting far too excited about everything which looks even a little bit like something which might be my thing.

Anyway, I’ve been meaning to post about Heroes for a while. Flawed as it is, here’s a lot to like in it, and I heartily approve of their equal opportunity approach to lechery. Season 2 was pretty much the season of half-naked Milo Ventimiglia, and Season 3 the season of half-naked Zachary Quinto. Thanks, Heroes producers.

In fact, though, Ventimiglia’s character, Peter, didn’t do for me at all in season 1. I might have loved him when I was 12, but as an adult, he was just a bit twee for my taste.

But then season 2 opened…

It’s the contrast as much as anything, so I’ll give you the back story. Peter was a sweet, soft, decent, floppy-haired pretty boy in a family of manipulative political near-mobsters. He was caring, gentle, emotional and perhaps a little fragile, and worked as a palliative care nurse. Then he turned out to have the ability to absorb other people’s superhero powers by empathising with them, making him potentially the most powerful ‘hero’ of the lot. He tried so hard to use his powers for good, but eventually he picked up some radioactive power that he couldn’t control at all, and at the end of season 1 his brother had to fly (like Superman, not like aeroplane) him out of New York in the nick of time to stop him accidentally blowing up the whole city.

So season 2 opens four months later, and Peter’s still missing. Noone really knows what happened when he, um, exploded. Through the whole first episode everyone’s wondering what happened to him. And then, far away, in Cork, some petty criminals with incredibly unconvincing Irish accents (really, rarely have I heard worse) go to a dockyard looking for some stolen merchandise, and open the crate to find not the ipods they were after, but a very confused, shirtless Peter, handcuffed to the wall. All cropped hair, dirt, and muscles. And with no idea who he is or how he got there.

I think my friends were a little confused by how excited I was about it. But I’m sure you can see it. Gentle Peter, suddenly turning up all dirty and muscular and bewildered, like someone picked up that soft, delicate creature, shaved his head, and brutalised him for four months. And then chained him up in a crate, and left him there. What did they have him doing all that time? Was he digging holes? Being forced to use his powers for evil? On a chain gang? Being experimented on? So many fun places the mind goes to.

And then, the not-Irish guys tie him to a chair and work him over. Still half-naked, so you can see all the muscles and sinews stretching. Splendid.

Video of Peter all dirty and bewildered and being beaten up in Cork (YouTube continues to be too smart for me, so you’ll have to watch it on Vimeo instead.)

By the way, it turns out that where he’s been is indeed a ‘research’ facility, where he’s spent four months being the plaything of the boss’s sadistic, lightning-wielding daughter. Awesome. And at first he’s all, ‘These people know best, I should be locked up because I’m a danger to myself and others,’ all docile and quietly taking the pills, but later (persuaded by the ‘English’ guy next door – another truly atrocious accent) he starts plotting to escape, and then he starts smooching up to her and letting her zap him, to distract her from the fact that he’s stopped taking the drugs. Which of course pleases my ‘men offering up their body when out of other options’ thing no end. And wow, I wish I could shoot electricity from my lips. How much fun?

Video of Peter being toyed with by sadistic daddy’s girl in a research facility

The following season, the lightning-wielding sadist, Elle, ends up in a facility herself, where she’s visited by series big bad, serial killer Sylar (Quinto), who killed her father to take his powers. He’s got a sudden case of the warm and fuzzies, having had a taste of unconditional love from his long lost (not really, but he thought so) ‘real’ mother. And so now his long lost (not really, but he thought so) ‘real’ father thinks he can change his ways, and learn empathy to take people’s powers without killing them, by learning empathy.

So Sylar lets Elle take her revenge on him. Which she does by lightninging him up (yes, I said lightninging) to the point where she’s literally flaying the flesh from his bones. I mean, sure, he regenerates, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt (hello, Wolverine, my old friend). And he just keeps getting up and letting her hurt him more, taking it all for her. And really, they could hardly have found a better body to rip the clothes off with lightning.

Video of lightning vengeance

And then, the next season, the government decided everyone with powers should be rounded up and killed/locked up/experimented on -so all the heroes had to go on the run. I love men on the run. The desperation, the fear, the loneliness, the physical hardship, the sheer unrelentingness of it. Yum yum yum.

So, yeah, a lot to love.


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After the fun of watching NSync being chased by dogs, pop served me up another little morsel this morning. I turned on the tv to find Britney shoving some hot guy around. Thank you, Britney.

Now sure, it starts slow* (I came in about 2.38, when things are moving a bit more**), and there’s an awful lot more pointy shoes than I’d like (if I was gonna kick someone, I’d be inclined to get out the combat boots), but still, hot guy being kicked in the stomach and thrown around by his tie, and he looks so pretty when he’s scared.

* Though there is a blink-and-you-miss-it backhand in the office scene

** Just in time to mistake the gloved finger for a gun and get all excited

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You’ll have to forgive me, I really am in fangirl mode at the moment – I just saw the HBP trailers the other day, and the new Harry/Draco promo shots which are spawning a new wave of fanart, and I’ll all overcome with slashy joy.

Geek pride, my friends.

HBP was so great for H/D shippers. Plus, you know, Draco Malfoy terrified for his life and his family’s, stripped of his swagger, set an impossible task, trying and failing to bring himself to kill, totally breaking down and crying big fat tears in the bathroom, so lonely and frightened and desperate that he turned to the ghost of the world’s most annoying muggleborn girl just to have someone to cry at. Desperation. God, I love desperation. When it comes in a pretty blond package, so much the better. And tears. God, I hope Tom Felton can do the tears.

Anyway, as I haven’t posted any video for a while I thought I’d share this rather lovely compilation of beautiful young men kissing. You’re going to want to turn the sound off – the music really interferes with the ability to lap up the boy-on-boy action.

And why have I posted three times in one day? Because there’s a scary piece of official paperwork I’m supposed to be filling in.

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So I was in the shower thinking about heroism and submission and masochism and the like, as you do, and the thought occurred to me that it’s not just our heroes who suffer, but our heroines, too. We have our Atlases and Prometheuses and Odins and Jack Bauers and Wolverines. But we also have Psyche, forced to complete impossible tasks in her quest to recover the lovely Eros (mm, Eros), and Elise, who wove shirts out of nettles to rescue her brothers who had been turned into swans, and Rhiannon, carrying every visitor to the castle on her back in penance for murdering her child (which she didn’t actually do), and Cinderella sleeping in the ashes and serving her sisters, etc etc etc.

We love suffering heroes. We associate suffering with courage, and nobility, and wisdom (see Odin) and love (see Elise). We love it so much that we get people with martyr complexes; so much that we have a tendency to listen to victims more than experts, even when the victims are talking absolute bobbins (a pet hate of mine); so much that we like House even though he’s a total arse. We even built an entire religion around a guy being tortured to death. (Actually, more than one – let’s not forget Mithras and Osiris and Odin and the rest.)

So I wondered why we love our hero/ines to suffer. And the conclusion I came to was because that’s what story is. Story is conflict and resolution. If there’s no conflict, there’s no story. ‘They lived happily’ is not a story. ‘They had a ton of shit heaped on them, bravely overcame it, and then lived happily’ is a story. Hardship is such a key part of the hero’s journey. No wonder we revere it.

Frankly it’s not at all surprising that suffering becomes fetishised for some of us. Actually, I think it’s a miracle we don’t all feel that way.

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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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You know, h/c is such a popular genre of fanfic (and not just the slashy variety) that perhaps we can conclude that mild sadism is actually very common in women. H/c is the socially acceptable face of sadism: the variety where we’re not the ones doing the hurting. Is that social rule the only thing standing between society’s ideas of ‘normal’ and ‘sadistic’?

Imagine we could for a moment wave away that deeply ingrained instinct that we (us, personally) shouldn’t hurt people. All those teenage girls who suddenly developed mad crushes on Neville Longbottom when he fought on through injury during Deathly Hallows (spawning a million h/c fanfics – and let’s not forget the emotional pain of his tortured parents); all those middle-aged women reading romance novels where the hero fights his way through his enemies to arrive bruised and bleeding at his true love’s door; all those who loathe corporal punishment but still thrill to remember that Sharpe is a flogged man; would they all suddenly discover themselves to be fully-fledged sadists? Is there a difference, and if so, is it one of quality or of degree? Does it matter whether we’re the ones wielding the whip? Does it matter why he’s being hurt? And if so, how much does it matter?

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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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