Controversies and etc.

io9 has the latest on a disability and sexuality-related controversy regarding Stargate: Universe that’s blossomed online in the last couple of days, including a response from one of the SG:U producers to the issue. Note that there are spoilers in the link.

Since I’m the creative consultant for SG:U I’ve had a couple of people pinging me about this issue and wondering what my role in it has been. I’m not going to go into great detail since I feel that impinges on what my role is regarding the show, and also, I’m very sure, some confidentiality clauses in my contract. Suffice to say that I’ve been tracking the commentary online since I’ve gotten back from Worldcon and Montreal (where I was understandably out of the online loop for several days), and when I delivered my notes on the script in question, also let the producers know these concerns were out there, including links to specific LJ and blog posts on the issue. Can’t say much more than that, other than that I’m happy the producers engaged with the concerns quickly, up to and including an apology.

Do feel free to comment below, but be aware there are limits on what I can discuss in terms of scripts, characters and behind-the-scenes stuff.

Update: There are also spoilers in the comment thread.

279 thoughts on “Controversies and etc.

  1. Oh, yes. Big surprise.

    First get a actress who doesn’t even have a real disability (she just has to be Calista Flockhart thin) to play the part of a person with a disability. Very blackface.

    Then, of course, in order to save the universe, she has to become magically able-bodied because disabled people can’t do anything with their “useless” bodies. (Of course, then she will have to go back to her “useless” body in the end and it will be full of bittersweet woe.)

    And finally, we must assume that this woman can now FINALLY be able to be intimate as she becomes able-bodied because no quadriplegic anywhere is getting any. Um, there are whole books and magazines and movies about quad/disability sexuality. Maybe the producers could do a little research?

    Wrap that up in a lesbian/straight thing which I will let others comment on better than I.

    Yawn, then barf. How creative. Great new innovative themes there. Never been done before. Blah, blah. Next stereotype, please.

    I trust as one of the creative consultants, and as a person who has a good head on your shoulders that you have given input that is more cutting edge and creative than this same ol’drivel that can all be found a million times throughout television and cinematic history.

  2. Actually, the part that bugs me most is the part about “switch bodies with people on Earth.”

    There are troubling aspects to the rest of it, but that one, sounding like a big part of the show, makes me less inclined to watch it.

  3. Where exactly are these million other quadriplegic/lesbian body-switching stories that have defined the subgenre and driven it into the realm of tired cliche, anyhow?

  4. Jeff R.

    Where are the positive portrayals of people with disabilities played by actual disabled actors, anyhow? (and bonus points if it doesn’t center around an accident/rehab/recovery inspirational biopic that is all about the disability itself.)

    The only one I can think of off the top of my head is Christopher Reeve’s remake of “Rear Window” which he had to produce himself in order to make happen.

  5. Speaking as a woman with a female partner, I can only say that if the final version of the script is anything like the “draft pages that were released out of context”, they need to drop the idea like a hot potato. I mean, based on those I can very easily see what people are upset about. Let’s hope the changes they claim to be making are actually made.

  6. I’m a disabled lesbian. I am far from asexual, and while I have my days where I feel useless, I know I’m not.

    I have nothing to say about this otherwise. I know that if I even -began-, I’d probably injure something. *shakes head*

    But Scalzi, thank you for bringing it to the producers’ attention as soon as you could. Thank you very much.

  7. @5: I can think of two right off the top of my head without trying: “Lifeguard” in the old tv series _Wise Guy_ and “Doc Robbins” on _CSI_ (both actors lost both legs in car accidents)

  8. Thing is they apologized on Gateworld where nearly everyone loves them…. not only that but in the middle of a forum thread for the episode in question – so again only people commenting on that thread will see it unless it’s linked far and wide enough.

    They are apologizing to the wrong people in the wrong place. There should be an official apology somewhere as public as possible.

  9. The other issue is that they apologized (the one I saw was the link provided here in the OP, down in the comments) for the wording of the audition ad. I assume they were talking about “useless.” But that does nothing to address the problems with the apparent premise of the story itself.

  10. Speaking as yet another lesbian (which is only peripherally relevant at best) — it seems to me the whole question of sexuality is a red herring. How can it be anything but the most grotesque abuse of privilege to go have sex with anyone when occupying someone else’s body? It doesn’t matter whether the sex is with the preferred gender, the non-preferred, or a goat. The owner of the body didn’t agree to have the body used in that manner.

    And if the sex is with the partner of the owner of the body — that would be even worse.

    And if the disability angle is being played to supposedly give the borrower a strong enough motivation, that’s another layer of Ugliness Sauce on top of the already thick Ugly Sundae.

    I’d rather wait until I see the hamburger before I complain about the stuff that hasn’t even gone into the meat grinder yet. But I’m feeling queasy about the recipe so far.

  11. I think people are being a bit oversensitive. The note seems to me to be a quickly written, and not well thought out, memo for “insiders” to get the gist of where they are going. It is out of context and overly simplified.

    As for the outrage about the body switching and sex, that’s the point. I’m pretty sure the whole situation is designed to create tension and explore a moral dilemma. As for positive portrayals of disabled people: not every disabled person is a saint. Someone in a wheelchair can be just as amoral as anyone else.

  12. Jeremy @ 12

    I think ‘positive’ in the sense of not useless, frail things, and not getting some kind of compensatory superpower that makes them only cosmetically disabled — disabled folks might have some restrictions on their behavior, but they do a lot.

    And folks in wheelchairs have a whole range of personality types, feelings about their disability, and activity levels, so most folks are asking that this come across in media — true, it’s only one character. But one character here and one character there add up to a pattern, so if you see ten shows with ten characters like this*, you might ask the eleventh in production to do something different.

    * Not to mention the fifty shows that don’t even bother.

    Mark @ 13

    Well, obviously the people who are calling SGU out.

  13. Jeremy, it wasn’t a quickly written note for insiders – it was a major casting call that went out together with the script sides for the actors auditioning for the role.

    John, thank you for your post. I want to echo some of the above comments, this fandom isn’t contained within solely Gateworld, its far, far larger & in particular a big reason is the hostile atmosphere there. Livejournal, dreamwidth & sites like TWoP are hugely popular with SG fans & its these sites that are the origin of the concerns being expressed now. Making statements solely on Gateworld or thinking that Gateworld is the only community of relevance is not a good approach – its completely misses a huge portion of SG’s (prior) audience and their concerns about SGU.

    Its also not just about fandom – there’s a reason why this situation is being reported on in media outlets such as AfterEllen. This is about deeper issues of how people with disabilities and LGBT people are stereotyped on TV. Given this episode’s concept of “two het folks decide to have a party with the body of gay WOC”, please ask the SGU showrunners if they would reverse this situation & write a episode about a straight white man’s body taken over for a gay man’s sexual experience? And if not, why do the showrunners think its acceptable to write it with a gay woman as the target?

  14. Wow, as someone who works with the disabled everyday, that is highly offensive. The apology is great and welcome, but who in their right minds approved this to begin with?

  15. Jeremy @ 12

    With fifteen seasons of Stargate behind them, TPTB’s track record in this regard is less than stellar, so can you blame us for being a bit alarmed over this?

    If only we could be sure the SGU writing staff would explore the “moral dilemma” portion of the program. Past experience has shown us that dealing with the implications of moral issues is not something these writers are very good at — anyone remember the SGA episodes featuring Lucius Lavin? Did it even occur to anyone on staff that what was happening there amounted to rape? No — of course not, because they wrote not one, but *two* episodes featuring this awful character.

    This just seems like business as usual — titillation for the fanboys, and a big ol’ f*ck you to anyone who’s not a white, able-bodied, heterosexual male in the desired demographic age group.

  16. As others have expressed, it would be nice if the producers would cast an actual disabled person in the role of Eleanor. Perhaps you could pass that concern on to them. There are disabled performers out there who would be eager for the role!

    The reason many fans did react with dismay is that they have seen how the writers have handled controversy (simply ending the episode and sweeping the repercussions under the rug). In particular, Lucius lavin in two SGA episodes. A rather reprehensible character once you learned all about him, yet the writers thought he was a funny guy (this, a guy who drugs women to convince him to marry him and have sex; otherwise, he’d get zip).

    And that is why fans are upset. As for AfterEllen.com and the disabled community, they’re not part of fandom, but just concerned about accurate portrayals. TV has far too many stereotypes as it is.

  17. That was an apology? Really? For what? “We’re sorry you took these things out of context and misunderstood what we’re doing and they weren’t even accurate so it’s really not our fault.” Going on past episodes of similar insensitivity fail from this crew and the language used in the leaked items, I don’t think we’re misunderstanding anything.

  18. Just a warning to anyone thinking of heading over to the io9 article: if you have even ten minutes’ background in identity politics and diversity issues, their comment thread might make you weep for the species.

    Par for the course for io9, sadly: Go for the awesome reporting; stay for the Comment Fail Bingo.

  19. @Annalee Flower Horne:
    No kidding. Very first comment with “too sensitive” for the, erm, win. *headdesk*

  20. Long time Stargate fan here, though I have to say that nothing I’ve heard so far about SGU has piqued my interest, adding my two cents about the liklihood of the moral and ethical implications being explored *on screen*.

    In addition to the horrendous Lucius, the show-runners track record includes the SG-1 Season 1 drugging and rape of Daniel by the goddess Hathor. There was absolutely no fall out, no aftermath, no psychological repercussions for Daniel at all. The only comment on screen was the character of Jack saying “Ew!” when Daniel admits that some of the DNA they’ll find will be his. The way the scene unfolds the “Ew!” is not for the violation Daniel suffered but more because he’s gross for leaving his DNA around the place.

    So, the odds of this being one well, and not just as a titillating sexxy fun tiems nao episode do not bode well.

    The comments about the atmosphere at Gateworld are dead on. That is definitely *not* a representative sample of online fans.

  21. Sorry but I’m going to be a bit crass… and
    I’m neither gay nor disabled but THEY still don’t get it so let’s break it down for them:
    If you are a guy and you are ordered to swap bodies with a woman, she goes and have anal sex with your boss – When you go back to your body, knowing that your boss enjoyed your ass… Would you still think it’s all very sweet and emotional?
    This is what really drove me nuts about their apology!

  22. Hello Mr. Scalzi. I’m a regular of Joe Mallozzi’s blog and was directed here by a link posted at Gateworld. I just wanted to clarify some things.

    First of all – Gateworld. Your commenters are absolutely right that it doesn’t represent all of SG fandom, but as far as I know it’s by far the largest collection of SG fans in one place. By posting at Gateworld, Brad Wright made sure that that apology was spread far and wide fast, which it was. That’s my theory on why he posted there. I hope nobody expected him to go around the Internet and posting his apology everywhere there are a collection of SG fans because IMHO that would be unreasonable.

    It’s interesting getting a look at what other people think of Gateworld. Specifically, people think that almost everyone there likes TPTB? I think that’s kind of odd. We may not allow anyone to actually insult them (because, really, why would you insult someone you don’t know for doing things on a TV show you don’t like?), but criticisms and general snarktastic remarks are par for the course.

    Some more-personal correspondences…

    @ Lexie: I will hazard a guess and say you haven’t watched the past Stargate series? Well, there are a few things about your criticisms that I would like to address…

    “First get a actress who doesn’t even have a real disability (she just has to be Calista Flockhart thin) to play the part of a person with a disability. Very blackface.”

    This is most likely due to the fact that that’s not how the technology in the show works. The technology that will be used is the “Ancient Long-Range Communications Device”, whereby two people’s minds are swapped, but their bodies stay where they are. This technology has been used before, and there is a specific convention to show that the device is in use that, if used for SGU, means that they have to get an actress for the disabled character who can actually walk around and do everything a non-disabled character can. All me to illustrate.

    This screencap is from the Stargate SG1 episode “Crusade”:

    http://www.gateworld.net/gallery/displayimage.php?album=201&pos=43

    In this episode, the character of Vala (the women in the upper left corner of the screencap) uses the device to mindswap with the character of Daniel, the guy you see in the video monitor. This is a perfect illustration of how this device is depicted in past Stargate episodes. Basically, to us, the viewers, we see the person whose mind is possessing the body of another character while wearing that other character’s clothes; but to anything WITHIN the show (mirrors, cameras, another person’s point of view), they will see the body of this other character that’s being possessed.

    So, in SGU, Doc Perry is posessing Wray’s character. What we will see is the actress playing Doc Perry in Wray’s clothing, doing everything Wray can do – thus, she has to be able to walk around and so forth.

    I hope that’s clear. I’m aware that this explanation is about as muddled as a mud puddle.

    “Then, of course, in order to save the universe, she has to become magically able-bodied because disabled people can’t do anything with their “useless” bodies. (Of course, then she will have to go back to her “useless” body in the end and it will be full of bittersweet woe.)”

    That’s kind of related to the fact that she has to work on a spaceship that’s a few billion lightyears away, and the only way to get there is to use the Ancient Long-Range Communications Device to possess the body of someone who’s already onboard the ship, since there is no way for physical transportation between the ship and Earth.

    In this case, that particular someone does not have a disability.

  23. Honestly, just the fact that TPTB would consider using their characters like this has cemented in my mind that I will never watch this show. If I hate the main characters, what’s the point?

  24. Well, personally, I think talking about an issue on a show that the blog’s owner is intimately connected to is something that matters. However, I don’t know the issues well enough to say anything one way or another.

    I will say that, though, yes, the showrunners are quite capable of being obtuse on this; things that lay outside the comfort zone of mainstream liberal culture don’t seem to get treated with much subtlety (I haven’t been surprised by any of their treatment of subcultures or variants–it’s all been Obvious Kind Of Thoughts, if you know what I mean).

  25. Damn it Scalzi I was just about to come onto the site and be a Dick. Fine I will try to say something not totally useless.

    I would have to read the script to ultimately decide how I feel but I usually err on the side of respect.

    If she needs to morph into able body then hay it is science fiction. The only gripe I would have is if her character comes back thinking less of herself. Or that her disabled person is portrayed as someone weak in both character and strength.

    I will wait and see. Then I will judge because I like to, it’s fun.

  26. Mark @ 13: I will wager it is safe to say that you are a middle-class white male. When the faces on television mirror your own, almost to the point of total exclusion, it’s very easy to say “It’s just a TV show”.

  27. pg15 in post 24 explains the need for a non-disabled actress for the part of the disabled guest star.

    Plus the body swap is not without consequences. The first time the device was used, one of the swapped persons died and her original body also died. But they were brought back.

  28. As I’ve understood the internet discussion, Eleanor’s consciousness gets swopped with Wray’s and she uses Wray’s body to have sex with Rush. Wray’s body. A man Wray has already refused – whether she’s lesbian or not, she said NO – then gets to strip Wray’s body naked, fondle it, kiss it, shove his cock up into it without Wray’s consent. A body that Wray’s consciousness will return to. And this is a recurring theme in SGU?

    So Brad Wright concedes there’s an ethical issue? Ya think? But then, this is the man who gave us Lucius Lavin in SG Atlantis, and thought that his rape of women he’d effectively drugged into submission was funny. You know, rape for the LOLs.

    I don’t know many rape survivors who’ll be guffawing right along with him.

  29. That “casting call” was obviously bullshit and deserves all the rage it gets. And the creators should publish an apology – as they seem to have done.

    As for the story, all the critics may be reading something in it that won’t be there. After all we only know the few spoilers that io9 gave us, so no one here, except maybe Mr. Scalzi, knows how the story is written, what it will center around, why they choose to do this or that – it’s all pure speculation on your part. I never saw Stargate Atlantis, but I agree that I wouldn’t expect an intelligent/thoughtfull approach to that topic (body switching and what it morally means to “own” the body of someone else for a short period of time) in any SG:1 episode. BUT obviously SG:U is a new series. So far we know it’s supposed to be darker than the original one. And we know they took at least one intelligent new “creative consultant” on board for SG:U. So, maybe, just maybe, this series WILL be able to deal with this kind of issues. I would suggest we wait and see and hope for the best. If they use this plot in the way a lot of commenters here suggest they will (out of former experience with the creative staff and so on), then ok, let’s come back and rage again then. Until then it seems to me that everyone here is judging the story with nearly no information besides some rumours about it at all.

  30. Im with Ouisel on this one, the whole sexuality thing is a distraction, having sex while inhabiting someone elses body is where the etics fail arises. Unless the swapee agreed to it in advance, its just not on.

  31. And from where do you take it that exactly this “ethic fail” (which of course it is if someone uses your borrowed body in ways you didn’t agree with, be that sexual or non-sexual) won’t be the topic or at least an important topic in this episode? So far I didn’t read anywhere that they will approach it like “hey look, that’s funny” because, again, we just don’t know anything about the story beside some very general in nature spoilers.

  32. I think since we are talking about SF and the whole switching bodies conceit, that an able bodied actor would sit better with me if the portrayal of her disability wasn’t negative. Meaning, I could see how it would legitimately be interesting and novel to experience things like walking if you hadn’t walked in some time or never. But if the treatment is such that she was “useless” before but now with her new body she suddenly is able to save the ship (or whatever), that isn’t appropriate. And also, I agree with the ick factor everyone else has mentioned in the whole using someone’s body for sex with a character they hadn’t consented to, and also there is no need to bring a false stereotype that this character was asexual before due to her disability.

    What would be more interesting in the body swap thing, is if she saved the day by doing something or having some skill that she specifically has or developed due to her disability, not due to her new able bodied status.

    But the recurring theme here that is tiring for the disabled is that you can’t have a disabled actor playing a part of a disabled character because said character cannot possibly stay disabled. There MUST be a cure or a body swap or something that makes it so we don’t have to–god forbid–sit through the whole show and have the disabled person stay that way! How would you like it if in almost every show the POC became white, the woman became a man or the lesbian became straight just to make a happy ending that makes everyone warm and fuzzy, or in the case of a temporary cure or body swap, just so those POC/women/lesbians could finally experience how great they could be if they were white, able-bodied het males?

    So again, the apparent premise of the show is the problem, both in the case of disability and the fuzzy moral line in regards to rape.

  33. What bothers me is that they’ll switch bodies with people on Earth and repeatedly, meaning in more than one episode, they’ll have sex in the bodies of people who never consented to it. And despite the “moral dilemma” – as this issue was labeled – they’ll do it again and again. This is not a moral issue, this is plain rape and it should be regarded as a crime, not some moral grey area. But I don’t think that Rush will be put in prison for having sex with Eleanor in Wray’s body while knowing that Wray never ever agreed for her body to be used like that. Both Eleanor and Rush committed rape. I just don’t get how this could be in any way tolerated.

    There are moral issues and then there are plainly disgusting things. This can’t be covered by TPTB’s “they will be heroes and villains” controversy.

  34. Anna @ 32 & lexie @ 36
    The whole body-swap thing being a form of rape was the first thing I thought of, as well.

    Insulting the disabled and gay communities is bad enough. The fact that they are essentially presenting rape as entertainment doesn’t seem to have crossed the show-runners minds and that is the most worrying thing of all.

    If they must include this kind of material, then they should also have the balls to show us the realistic phychological aftermath for the characters involved and not just have everything all happy-happy next episode.

  35. Also, “moral consequences” of these actions were mentioned. Will the bodyswapping characters be put on trial for having sex in someone else’s body without their consent? Will they be tried for rape? Will they be judged and put in prison? If not, then I can’t see any appropriate consequences for these characters.

  36. Lexie @ 32

    Perry’s not able to save the ship BECAUSE she’s in a fully able body.

    She’s on Earth, the ship is halfway across the universe. She’s sent to the ship via the body-swapping device because she’s a scientist who knows how to fix whatever’s wrong with the ship. The problem isn’t that she can’t save the day because she’s a quadriplegic, it’s that she isn’t on the ship in the first place. This is the only way to get her there, and she swaps with an able-bodied person because there aren’t any physically disabled people on the ship, because frankly it wouldn’t make sense within the story.

    And at the end of the episode, she’ll go back to her own disabled body.

  37. @ PG15

    While I take issue with the assertion that Gateworld is the largest collection of SG fans out on the net, the number of viewers is not the problem with posting the pseudo-apology there. The problem is that GW is not where the complaint came from. The apology was given to the people that don’t care and don’t see any problem.

    It’s as if I found out that the person who lives next door to me was angry at me. And I apologized to the person across the street who is, in fact, my devoted friend.

    The people raising the questions of ethics and morality on GW are being engaged in any type of discussion or debate, but are essentially told to sit down and shut. The folks telling them to go sit down and shut up then go on to fawn all over the show runners.

    In fact, one of the biggest apologists is someone who happens to share your screen name and has well over seventeen thousand posts. Among many comments this person made is:

    “And what is this crap about having the lesbian have sex with men? That makes no sense whatsoever. The character of Wray is in another body.

    I’m not sure what you think we’re getting out of this. With Wray’s mind somewhere else, and Wray’s body occupied by a straight female, we’re basically getting hetero sex. Big deal?”

    There was a longer post last night by this PG15 person which directly attacked one of the dissenters from which I was going to post, but it seems that PG15 has been covering his/her tracks, or perhaps had a change of heart because that post has been deleted.

    This is just a small sample of the dismissive attitude so prevalent among the handful of fans who post there regularly and it is that “the show runners are always right” attitude that makes GW very much the wrong place to post any clarifications/ apologies/ announcements that are intended to address an issue that has gone well outside of fandom.

  38. I agree with Cats about Gateworld. While it was the largest collection of fans at any one time for numerous years, the dwindling amount of regular posters there are certainly not representative of the fandom at large. After Universe was announced, the maintainers of the site started pushing for a more positive attitude toward Stargate and Universe in particular. Debate and critique are now largely slapped down. The stifling atmosphere is mostly enforced by a small pack of posters who openly enjoy heckling, mocking, and otherwise being assholes to anyone who questions the show or the decisions. pg15 is one of these posters. It’s no wonder that he doesn’t see his own poor behavior or realize that it’s contributing to the demise of any intelligent debate and discussion on Gateworld. If the site continues down this path, it will certainly become obsolete.

    On the topic of recent controversies, what bothers me the most about Universe is the proposed use of this device that allows one to swap into another body. That raises ethical and moral questions in and of itself, but it sounds like they’re going one step further and using the device as a means for the characters to have sex. Unless the swapee has given explicit permission for this, the use of a body in such a way is rape. I find such a topic extremely distasteful, even assuming that the rapists are suitably punished. And I have a hard time expecting that to happen, considering that the rapists are main characters, who rarely receive any long-lasting consequences in the Stargate franchise. Will Rush and Elenor be excused with some hand waving or will they be truly condemned and punished? I hope, if the plot is pursued, that it’s the latter. However, this group of writers has a history of the former, not to mention a history of blowing over and otherwise excusing Lucius the rapist on Atlantis.

  39. Yeah, this fails the basic empathy test. If you swap genders and swap orientations, you get something the studio wouldn’t even consider portraying: a gay man mind-swapping with a straight man and using the straight man’s body to have sex with another man.

    What the script writers seemed to have missed is that they’re showing the equivalent of someone being raped.

    I haven’t seen the script, but if there is any ambiguity in the script as to whether the mind-controller is a rapist or not, then it scores a massive fail.

    As for the physical disability aspect, pretty much the same. massive failure.

  40. It’s amazing how many assumptions there are about the plot and themes of the show based on one casting call and various leaked snippets. I should think people would at least consider that the story would portray the use of someone else’s body for sex as a bad thing. They just might. Why not wait and see? I think the internet will still be open for business after the show airs.

  41. Catherine@44: I should think people would at least consider that the story would portray the use of someone else’s body for sex as a bad thing. They just might. Why not wait and see?

    from the link in John’s original post.

    Show creators Brad Wright and Robert Cooper also responded on Gateworld’s message board addressing the topic: … The character, Doctor Eleanor Perry, is a brilliant scientist at the top of her field, who also happens to be a quadriplegic. As part of a science fiction conceit that is core to our series, Perry’s consciousness is temporarily exchanged with one our series main characters, Camile Wray, who is a lesbian.

    Brilliant scientist, top of her field, quadriplegic… and a rapist?

    It doesn’t matter whether they convict Perry of rape or not. What matters is the only quadriplegic on the show is a bad guy.

    I was just watching a 1959 movie, “Pork Chop Hill”. It’s about a battle during the Korean war. It has one African American in the whole move. And he’s a coward in battle. 300 American GI’s took part in the battle, and the only black character they put in there was the coward of teh bunch.

    The point is to have fair representation of race, gender, orientation, and even disabilities, so that you don’t end up creating and reinforcing black==evil or woman==weak or quadriplegic==useless stereotypes.

    Whether they portray her rape as evil or whether they never address it in any significant way is irrelevant to the issue:

    Having a quadriplegic whose only contribution is what they can do with someone else’s body is pretty bad. Having the only person with a disability be so overcome with their newly acquired body that they have to go and rape it gets into the realm of stupid. Having the only character with a disability be a bad guy is epic fail.

  42. GregLondon @ 45

    I doubt that in a 40+ minute episode of TV the only thing Perry’ll do is have sex. From the sounds of it she’ll also help fix the ship.

    But, anyway, can’t we move on from this (IMO) ridiculous idea that characters who belong to some sort of minority should be portrayed as the wonderful people who would never do anything bad, as some kind of representative of their minority? Because that’s just not realistic. Surely it’s better to show them as normal human beings, just like everybody else, flaws and all?

    I don’t think the average person is gonna watch this and think all disabled people must be wannabe rapists or whatever.

  43. Correct me if I’m wrong, but we’re talking about a privately distributed pre-taping copy of the script that was leaked to the public before final edits were in place.

    In my view the person who should be apologizing to the public is the person who leaked it. Throwing the identity politics hammer at a work in progress is fine for people inside the production (yay JS), but the general public should wait for the finished product. It isn’t unforgiveable to make mistakes like this during production. It’s unforgiveable if your production process lets them through into the final version. If this show had aired, or even been taped, as written then I could see the need for a public apology. But right now it looks to me like someone left the shade up on their bedroom window and people are commenting on what they’ve seen through the window. It’s an invasion of the script-writing and brainstorming process that’s just as offensive as the content itself.

  44. Catherine @44: because if it turns out that the awfulness is awful, then the people criticizing it will hear “But all this was leaked before the show and you didn’t say anything about it when it COULD have been rewritten!!!!!”

  45. Heh. I just saw “Derailing for Dummies” in the Whateverettes sidebar over there, and I think a few people here must have seen that, too, prior to commenting. Too funny.

  46. Sandwich@46: this (IMO) ridiculous idea that characters who belong to some sort of minority should be portrayed as the wonderful people who would never do anything bad

    Go watch “Pork Chop Hill”. Tell me what I’m supposed to think of the only black GI in the movie as portraying the only coward in the movie.

    Go watch “300”. Tell me what I’m supposed to think of the script being rewritten so that the Spartans (who in reality practiced pederasty) insult the Greeks as “boy lovers”. Tell me what am I supposed to think of the evil Persian King who is portrayed as some kind of transexual, bisexual.

    Buffy the Vampire Slayer the series had 5 main straight characters and 2 main gay characters. The two gay characters ended up dead and/or go evil.

    See also: Lost & Delirious, Fried Green Tomatoes, Aimee & Jaguar, Boys Don’t Cry, Mulholland Drive.

    As for “sole black character dies” cliche, there this:

    http://www.imdb.com/keyword/sole-black-character-dies-cliche/

    Which include Forest Gump, Alien, Terminator 1&2, Full Metal Jacket, Unforgiven, Dirty Dozen, Jurassic Park, Total Recall, Transformers, among others.

    The point is that movies should show various minority groups on both sides of the playing field (good and evil, hero and villian) rather than always making them be the fall guys, the bad guys, and the guys who end up dead.

    The point is for movies to stop using minorities as either bad guys or the token minority who gets killed first.

    What you did is took that and turned it into “Movies should only show minorities as perfect and good and wonderful people who would never do anything bad”.

    Uh… no. What you did is something called a “strawman”.

  47. For those who could use some further insight, here’s an article that discusses the issues involved in the “fixing the disabled person” trope and why the whole premise, as well as the casting call, might be objectionable to the disabled: http://tiny.cc/lLCAm

    As far as the misuse of the lesbian’s body by offering it to a man (and one she dislikes and has already refused, apparently), my objections go beyond consent (a huge issue, definitely) to WHY they decided to use her, in particular, for this story. Politically, it’s a bad idea, especially since SyFy was recently taken to task for failings in this area. Is this use of the character angry backlash from TPTB for being “forced” to feature a gay character? Is this a boneheaded foray into the “lesbians for prurient male entertainment” area? It’s not unreasonable for those who are upset by this to wonder about those possibilities. Are they going to claim “edginess” and heightened drama are the reasons they used the lesbian’s body, with full knowledge of how ugly what they’re doing is? That’s even worse; rape isn’t a morally gray area, and sometimes ugly is just ugly. It’s also not at all what people expect from a Stargate show, which, again, may be deliberate. It’ll be a huge disappointment for many fans who’ve watched and loved Stargate products in the past and who won’t expect or appreciate this.

    So there’s “edgy”, and then there’s wrong, and they’ve crossed the line, here–which they’re bound to do if they’re going to try to emulate BSG and gain that audience. They don’t have the chops, and if they keep trying and failing like this, it’s going to sink them. I’m not interested in giving them the benefit of the doubt because of the ways in which they’ve failed in their understanding of what rape is and how it should be addressed in their last two series. Looking at what they’re doing, here, doesn’t give me any confidence that they’ve learned anything since then.

  48. Buffy the Vampire Slayer the series had 5 main straight characters and 2 main gay characters. The two gay characters ended up dead and/or go evil.
    The one that turned evil became good again and at the end of the series played a major part in saving the world. (And there were straight characters that died/turned evil/had other bad crap happen to them… It’s Joss Whedon, he screws up ALL his characters’ lives…)

    Uh… no. What you did is something called a “strawman”.
    Yeah, OK, fair enough, I took that to an extreme.

    But SGU has an African-American and a lesbian (of Asian descent) among it’s main cast, who will presumably be “good guys” in the grand scheme of things. Now we’ve got a disabled guest character getting up to something that’s morally a darker shade of grey at best. And the biggest bastard on the show seems to be Robert Carlyle’s character. Is this not fair…?

    Oh, and CC @ 51 :Is this use of the character angry backlash from TPTB for being “forced” to feature a gay character?
    Wray’s character was announced as being gay (let alone conceived off as gay) long before the network got blasted in that report, so I doubt it.

  49. I would expect to see anyone able to become something “more” than they normally are being rather addictive. Were I suddenly to swap bodies with someone who could fly, I would want to do it more often. Even if I were a top scientist with character beyond reproach, I would want to do it more often. Sex would not be top of the list of things I would do, were I to suddenly find myself with working arms and legs. Jogging, Tai Chi, ballet, boxing, or just making my own pot of coffee, would be first.

    I don’t want to trivialize sex or the issues people have built up around it. I would hope that SG:U can “keep it lite” for a few episodes, so we can enjoy the sciency stuff. I like the science, but loath long, plodding scenes of what amounts to characterization. Yeah, character development is important, so we can better feel we are a “part” of the show. Just leave me enough room in each character where I can live vicariously through them. Don’t make “me” have sex with anyone. Let “me” shoot bad things with “my” lazer. Let “me” create and implement The Plan, that saves the Day.

  50. GregLondon,

    Isn’t the mind-swap, body-usage a fairly well-worn concept in SF? I seem to recall a Silverberg story, a Richard Morgan novel or two, and even an entire TV series (Dollhouse) that use the concept. Those works even deal with some of the moral issues thereby raised.

    Silverberg, Morgan, Dollhouse. And that’s just off the top of my head.

    That’s not to say you (and others) don’t raise some valid points — you do. In particular, the casting call was poorly worded and betrays some bias. My point is that the concept itself isn’t evil or biased, and the idea of having a person possess a body and use it for purposes the rightful owner would find horrifying isn’t unique to SG:U nor it is new to SF.

    How the show-runners deal with the characters and their choices, and the consequences of those choices, will tell the viewers whether the bias indicated in the casting call spilled over to the episode, or whether the writer, director (and actors) were able to create a powerful (and perhaps controversial) work despite the initial skepticism and outrage of many people.

  51. “But SGU has an African-American and a lesbian (of Asian descent) among it’s main cast…”

    Being able to watch television and have a wide variety of characters who look/believe/love like you is an issue of privelege. If you have it, you may not see it or think about it, because you don’t have to.

    If you have that privelege, you may want to listen what the people who *don’t* are saying on this thread.

  52. Wait a minute.

    WHAT?

    Let me see if I have this right.

    The disabled woman will be swapped into the body of the gay characterr, who will then go around seducing and having sex with men that the gay character then still will have to work, live, and interact with.

    I can feel vomit and bile rising in my throat.

  53. @ Cats & Cream Puff: I am that PG15 that you speak of, yes. That post was probably deleted by the mods, because I didn’t know it was gone until I read it here; I’m not really surprised, actually. As for the post you quoted, well, let’s just say that context is important, and I could’ve worded it waaaaaay better.

    I feel like Brad Wright. LOL.

    I’m well aware of how I act at Gateworld. I know I can be a jackass at times, but here’s the thing: I don’t care, much. As far as I’m concerned, if the opposition is polite, then I’m polite; if they’re full of sarcasm and snark, then I’m the same. I don’t think there’s a problem with me responding to a post that ends in “this is me, scoffing.” with some snark of my own. There are debates to be had, and I’ve participated in many that were ultimately fruitful, enlightening, and civil. There was one recently about the women of Stargate, and I came out at the end contemplating taking a course in Women’s Studies at my University (unfortunately, my timetable for next year doesn’t allow for it. Damn). As far as I’m concerned, if a “dissenter” comes in and starts blasting the producers or worse, blasting other fans, then it’s well within my forum rights to blast them right back. Ultimately, I’m aware that it’s counterproductive to the discussion, but as far as I’m concerned, if you come to the forums guns blazing, then you’re not really looking for a discussion anyway.

    On the other hand, I’ve seen people come in who disagreed with me, but who were very nice, and I either debated with them nicely, or just didn’t bother them at all. It’s usually not about the content, but the attitude.

    I like to think I demonstrated that here. I’m new to Mr. Scalzi’s blog, and thus I tried to be nice with my first post, even though it was used to counter a few points raised here.

    That said, I can totally understand why you find Brad Wright posting the apology at Gateworld to be odd. It does make sense to post it at places where the complaints are actually coming from. I wonder if he knew that there were other major hubs of SG fans? I know that, outside Gateworld, they know Stargate SG1 Solutions to be another hub. They probably know about TWoP too. Hmmm…

  54. It’s barely worth it for BW or anyone else in any official capacity to post at TWoP. It’s a rabid following, true, but a relatively small one, and not even mentioned on the site’s front page. TWoP is a place that many, many people stop by and check, but if your show isn’t being recapped there, it’s probably not worth the time.

    Gateworld is as good a place as any to post, since it appears to be a major hub that fans at least check in on. The only other place I’d consider posting/watching from a production perspective would be the SyFy forums themselves.

  55. I agree with most of the commenters here: it’s rape, it’s wrong, and the consequences need to be severe.

    To TPTB at SGU: Maybe there could be an episode where two gay men (guest stars, since I’d be amazed to see gay men on a SyFy series) on Earth are swapped into the bodies of two straight men on board the ship, and have sex. Then when they swap back, they could say “hey, how come my ass is sore?” and then you could have everyone laugh.

    If that makes you uncomfortable, good. It should.

    One of the guys should definitely be the one who rapes the lesbian’s body in this episode.

    NOTE: I do NOT think such an episode would be a good idea. I don’t much like this one, either, but maybe the rapists will be punished.

  56. sandwich@52: The one that turned evil became good again

    It’s pretty impressive how you managed to ignore all those other examples of minority character being the bad guy or used as cannon fodder. It’s almost as if you think disproving one example somehow disproves all the other evidence.

    nick@54: Isn’t the mind-swap, body-usage a fairly well-worn concept in SF?

    The issue is how much the story plugs into the cliche of “lesbian needs cock” and “quadriplegic walks”. If the only lesbian in the series is the lesbian who ends up fucking some guy, then that’s seriously plugging into the cliche. If the only quadriplegic in the series is the quadriplegic who ends up walking, then that seriously plugs into the cliche.

    And both of those cliches are extremely offensive. They imply that there is something wrong with the person, that there is something incomplete about the person until they’re straight and/or can walk. It contains zero respect for the concept of diversity, that people can be different and yet equals, whole and complete onto themselves. It doesn’t respect different points of view, different worldviews.

  57. Googling for further information turned up the following link:
    http://www.afterellen.com/blog/sarahwarn/stargate-universe-responds-to-controversy

    Didn’t read the whole thing, but it does sound like the series creators have apologized and pointed out the early, partial nature of what was leaked. I’m sure several blogs are keeping tabs on these developments.
    Most other points I wanted to make have been made already by several people – as well as being pretty obvious to sf/fantasy fans. I’m still looking forward to the pilot, and hope the eventual episode when aired will be controversial – but not offensive.

  58. Well, I have to admit that I DO think that there’s something wrong with a person who cannot walk, and that fixing them so they can would be a good thing, generally.

    But you know what? If I had the magic YouCanWalk! ray, I wouldn’t shoot it at anyone without getting their informed, considered permission. Sometimes the adaptations you make to the conditions of your life are the way you know how to live, and “fixing” them doesn’t increase your happiness. Anyone has the right to make that decision for him- or herself, regardless of what *I* think.

    Shorter: I have my opinion on the matter, but my opinion isn’t the one that matters. That’s called respect.

  59. Greg@60: They imply that there is something wrong with the person, that there is something incomplete about the person

    Xopher@62: I DO think that there’s something wrong with a person who cannot walk… Anyone has the right to make that decision for him- or herself, regardless of what *I* think.

    I mean “wrong” in an absolute sense. Wrong in a “it doesn’t matter what you think, God says you’re in sin” sense. Wrong in a “because I say you are” sense. And it’s this absolute “because I say you are wrong” kind of wrong that these cliches are pushing.

    They don’t yet have a magical YouCanWalk ray, but some people have claimed to have a YouCanBeStraight ray. And they are trying to shoot people with that YouCanBeStraight ray because they think being gay is “wrong”.

  60. Okay, here is the problem with the magic youcanwalk ray, which is in a similar vein to the youcanbestraight ray.

    Even if we all agree that in our world it is more convenient and easier to walk, we don’t have a youcanwalk ray in real life. So for disabled people to see almost every depiction of them in the media as either searching for or magically finding a cure and then their life is so much better just promotes stereotypes that their disability is an all encompassing deficit of their entire humanity.

    If you look at yourself and look at whatever your deficit is (and we all have them), or what society considers your deficit to be, whether you are bald, fat, poor, gay, black, nerdy, socially awkward, whatever it is…would you like it if nearly every depiction of people who have the same characteristic as you were depicted in the media as not being complete until that deficit was fixed…all other facets of your personality be damned?

    Imagine, you are a bald guy, and every bald guy on TV that you ever see is getting a hair transplant to change his life. There are no other aspects of his personality that are ever explored, only the fact that he is so unfortunate to have to go through life while bald and so the only plot point that makes any sense for this character is to give him hair. And this attitude carries over into your everyday life. And every time you meet anyone, they comment on how sad it is that you are bald or how inspirational you are that you can go on living while bald. And you can’t get through any social interaction without your baldness coming up. People email you the latest research in hair replacement therapy, they buy you hats for every birthday and christmas gift, they always refer to you as “the bald guy”.

    Maybe, just maybe you would want to have some portrayals of bald people in the media that were a little more fleshed out and showed other aspects of their character and portrayed their baldness as incidental at best, instead of always centering around them getting zapped with the youcanhavehair ray.

  61. Thanks, Lexie. I thought I got it before, but your analogy helps. (Coincidentally, I’m a bald guy.)

  62. Wow. That casting call and episode synopsis are, in fact, full of Fail.

    Me, I’m tired of the old body-swapping trope. Star Trek did it often, Stargate SG-1 did it, Farscape did it… If Doctor Who hasn’t done it at some point, I’d be very surprised. I don’t recall it in new Who or Torchwood, but it’s not out of line with their ethos. Every two-bit SF show does it. It’s good for a few cheap laughs and some cheap character development, but it’s just that — cheap. I want to see something new, dammit. If body-swapping is a major part of SG:U, as the io9 write-up seems to imply, eh, I’ll go watch (or, more likely, read) something else. (Which I don’t mean to be “I’m taking my ball and going home” or to diminish the enjoyment of people who do like SG:U or the work of Mr. Scalzi, just, hey, I think we’ll all be happier that way. It’s been a while since I last re-watched Firefly… *g*)

  63. Wow, Kevin, I disagree a lot. I really like the body-swapping episodes. Not the way they do it with the Ancient device, of course, because what I like about it is that it gives the actors something very different to do. Playing each other’s characters, they generally have a good time, and I love watching it.

  64. I haven’t read a lot about this, and in particular I haven’t read all the comments above so someone else might have already said this… but it seems to me that the core ethical issue has very little to do with sexual orientation (sure orientation further complexifies it) and more with the simple question of misuse of someone else’s body. A number of commenters have deemed it ‘rape’, and that’s probably the closest term to what I think it is – though I don’t think we really have a good word for it at the moment, given that the scenario is entirely fictional. ‘Mindswap rape’ or ‘Possession rape’ or something.

    What interests me more that the hypothetical immorality of this scenario is, what are the real-world implications of this discussion in terms of people’s views of ‘body ownership’, etc.? What do our reactions to this depiction, albeit fictional, of an inappropriate expression of sexuality tell us about how we view sexuality and sexual expression in our own lives?

    Dunno, it may not say anything very profound – I only just now thought of the question. But it seems an interesting lens through which to look.

  65. Lexie @65, your comment immediately made me think of Jean-Luc Picard, and how incredibly comical a YouCanHasHair Ray would’ve been if they’d aimed it at him somewhere along the run of the show. :-P

    Er…huh, I guess they did… in Insurrection… sorta. That was more of a YouCanHasDarkSideburns Ray…

  66. Brian: Looking for a new term for this “type” of rape seems rather like looking for a way to mitigate its wrongness. Rape is rape, and it doesn’t need to be qualified through new terms. Nor do I think I’ve ever heard rape referred to as a form of sexual expression, or that objecting to rape expresses our views on sex and sexuality. Sex is engaged in by two (or more) consenting participants; rape isn’t sex, it’s assault. I think that how we react to rape, how we frame it, depict it and (attempt to) excuse it says a lot about our culture, but not so much about healthy sexuality.

    Issues of body ownership and consent are something every woman has to deal with, every day, all of her life. If the real-life implications discovered in a discussion of “body ownership” based on this sort of depiction of the usurpation and misuse of a woman’s body result in anything other than the conclusion that this is wrong and instead serve to support the arguments of anyone who wants to assault the boundaries of what’s permissible to do to a woman’s body without her consent, in the real world, I’m at a loss as to how this discussion could be in any way valuable, except to rapists.

  67. Xopher @69: Fair enough. I think I am looking for more… either grit for the mill or pure camp in my SF lately, and not things that straddle the boundary so much. Do not let my tastes diminish your enjoyment of body-swapping episodes (not that I expect you would)! :-)

    Unrelatedly, did anyone else see the “Be a man. Make things.” ad on io9? Gotta love the blatant sexism. Fuck you, Pepsi, Gawker, et al. Arghlsnarflfrothburblefroth.

  68. GregLondon @60
    It’s pretty impressive how you managed to ignore all those other examples of minority character being the bad guy or used as cannon fodder. It’s almost as if you think disproving one example somehow disproves all the other evidence.

    Good, isn’t it?

    Actually, though, I’m just not familiar with the other examples you gave, and I wasn’t gonna go through a big freaking list from IMDB, several of which I’m also not familiar with. But sure, out of those you mentioned I’ll admit it with the Terminators, and Alien, even though that one’s a bit harsh considering that everybody that isn’t Ripley dies in that one (and he’s one of the last to die). Transformers shouldn’t be on that list, with Tyrese Gibson and Anthony Anderson’s characters both surviving.

    What do you want me to do, list minority characters who aren’t bad guys/don’t die?

  69. All this illustrates one of the reasons I no longer watch TV. Nowadays every character that has an aspect for which there is an interest group must be a shining example of humanity or something, else that interest group will loudly protest. Eventually the only characters that’ll be allowed a flaw will be non-fat white males. Who smoke (the new black hat). Sheesh.

  70. Sandwich: What do you want me to do,

    I want you to grok that this:

    this (IMO) ridiculous idea that characters who belong to some sort of minority should be portrayed as the wonderful people who would never do anything bad

    is entirely missing the point.

    people aren’t asking writers to show women and minorities and gays and disabled people as perfect. They’re asking writers to show woment and minorities and gays and disabled people as just as human as straight, white, male characters.

    You can’t do that if all your women characters end up in a refrigerators so the male character has a plot device for the next act.

    You can’t do that if you only have one black character in your story and he or she is disposable enough that he/she always ends up dead.

    You can’t do that if every time your story has a lesbian character she ends up dying or fucking some guy.

    What I want you to do is understand that a lot of movies and television shows are like this. That those that are not are the exception, not the rule.

    A recent disaster is the movie “The Last Airbender” (scheduled release 2010) based on a cartoon series about asian characters, but the movie has all the main characters cast as white.

    There are also plenty of examples of people of color in fiction books showing up on the cover as white people.

    Statistically, I can show you a mountain of instances where people of color have been rewritten as white. If you want to argue that it happens an equal amount the other way, that whites are just as often recast as people of color, then show me.

    The only one I can think of is a male character was recast as a female in Battlestar Galactica with the character Starbuck.

    Otherwise, you should understand that this sort of crap is statistically overwhelmingly leaning one way, to cliched treatment of women, minorities, GLBT, and other disenfranchised groups, and that the incident from Stargate:Universe is just one of many examples.

  71. PG15, it’s admirable that you listen to different POVs and learn from them. It’s a shame that you openly admit to being an asshole and not giving a shit about it. You may like Joseph Mallozzi and his work, but you don’t have to become him.
    This self-appointed white knighting is a major reason why so many have either left Gateworld or avoid it like the plague. There’s little room for discussion with those who take a complaint about a TV program or about those making the program as a personal affront. It’s no wonder that discussions have moved to Livejournal or Television Without Pity, where openly insulting a poster gets you banned.

  72. Sandwich @ #74:

    Be sure to include PoC who aren’t stereotyped on that list, please. Both Tyrese Gibson’s and Anthony Anderson’s characters were stereotypes in Transformers. Gibson’s was marginally better in that at least he got to be a good guy, but he was still a big violent semi-articulate “warrior”; problem. Anderson was a coward, lazy, nerd-smart but stupid otherwise, and the comic relief. Probably the spiritual descendant of the “Pork Chop Hill” character Greg mentions at #50. (That character’s got a lot of descendants.)

    And since we’re talking about the Stargate series, I’m not holding my breath on the depictions of the PoC characters, after years of seeing Teal’c depicted as the noble space savage wielding a space spear, to later be replaced by Teyla the female stick-wielding space savage (with an ugly straight wig for hair, since the actress’ natural hair was apparently unacceptable) and Ronon the dredlocked space savage, who at least got to use a gun.

    Aside from this, ditto on the rage about this casting call and the creepy gender/sexual orientation/disability/rape issues inherent in it. Why is it so hard to just think about this stuff? Seriously?

  73. TDR: Nowadays every character that has an aspect for which there is an interest group must be a shining example of humanity or something, else that interest group will loudly protest.

    *cough*bullshit*cough*

  74. Man, if that was the case, we Germans would never stop complaining. Between the Nazis (classic and neo-flavored), the evil scientists, and the snooty avant-garde art show hosts, we have the villain and asshole market pretty much locked up.

  75. TDR:

    You think that there are TOO MANY minority lead characters on TV?

    What, is the only show you’ve watched in the last 10 years the Wire? Otherwise you’re just um… wrong.

  76. @ Cream Puff: I sometimes give a shit. ;)

    As I said, I have my own way of doing things; I would not be an asshole to someone who I didn’t think was behaving like one in the first place. I have zero problems with people disagreeing with me, but if they’re acting like a jerk about it, then I ain’t gonna sit back and take it. People have been disagreeing with me ever since I posted here, and I hope that I have been more-or-less civil about it, because nobody has responded to me jerkily.

    That’s a word. Yes.

    And I respect Joe Mallozzi, just to make that clear. There’s a reason why I’m a blog regular there (oh, that rhymes!). You obviously don’t. That’s fine. For me though, “being him” would be pretty sweet; I’d love to be a Stargate producer/writer some day! LOL.

    As for the others on Gateworld – well, I can’t really do anything about them. I just wanted to make my position clear. This image of some fanboy going off on anyone who ~DARES~ to say something bad about the producers is…well, it’s a stereotype. It really is. Meanwhile, discussions are still happening on Gateworld, and it can only pick up speed once SGU premiers.

    It’s a funny thing, really. From my perspective, I avoid LiveJournal like a plague simply because there is so much hostility towards the producers and anyone who likes them (not to mention hostilities towards Gateworld). I haven’t visited TWoP in ages, but the last time I did go there, there was a lot of hostility towards TPTB as well, though I admit my memory may be faulty.

  77. Are these body swaps happening in secret because otherwise all the other characters look like assholes for allowing misuse of a borrowed peer’s body to happen let alone be a part of it.
    Mind you last I saw of that stupid ancient handwavium plot device they still didn’t know how to shut it off without blowing it up.

  78. pg15:

    “I have zero problems with people disagreeing with me, but if they’re acting like a jerk about it, then I ain’t gonna sit back and take it.”

    That said, you will be polite to other people here, or I’ll bring out the Loving Mallet of Correction. Please also see the comment policy, because posting here implies you’ve read it and agree to it. Basically: My house, my rules, and my rules say not to be dick, please.

  79. “The only one I can think of is a male character was recast as a female in Battlestar Galactica with the character Starbuck.”

    I’m pretty sure Demi Moore’s character in “A Few Good Men” was written as a man. That doubles your statistics.

  80. Patrick, you made me do some googling. It looks like “A Few Good Men” was originally a play, which had a character named JoAnn Galloway. That is the name of the character played by Demi Moore in the movie.

    According to the wikipedia article above, the guy based the story on his sister who was a lawyer in Guantanamo, defending two marines who had nearly killed a fellow marine in a hazing incident ordered by their commander.

    I’m guessing that JoAnn is the placeholder for his sister.

  81. GregLondon @76

    Statistically, I can show you a mountain of instances where people of color have been rewritten as white. If you want to argue that it happens an equal amount the other way, that whites are just as often recast as people of color, then show me.
    The only other examples of POC being “rewritten” as white are things like John Wayne as Genghis Khan, Charlton Hestion as Moses, that sort of thing from decades ago, so I don’t know how often that happens, but I can think of more examples of the other way around. Michael Clarke Duncan as Kingpin in the Daredevil movie, Mos Def as Ford in Hitchhiker’s Guide, Morgan Freeman’s characters in Shawshank Redemption and Dreamcatcher were both white Irish in the original novels… Pete Ross is white in the Superman comics, but was black in Smallville. It happens.

    people aren’t asking writers to show women and minorities and gays and disabled people as perfect. They’re asking writers to show woment and minorities and gays and disabled people as just as human as straight, white, male characters.
    And humans do bad things… Sure, if all the minority characters on SGU turn out to be evil/incompetent/prone to dying, etc., there’s a problem, but this is one character.

  82. Sandwich:

    I can think of a number of examples off the top of my head: Ursula K. Leguin’s Earthsea lead Gen rewritten from white to black, the entire cast of Avatar: The Kast Airbender live action movie based on Asian characters re-cast as white with Asian relagtyed to extras (later amended to the one bad guy re-cast from a white kid to the kid from Slumdog Millionare, making the bad guy and his nation Evil Brown People), Jake Gyllenhaal as Prince Dastan in “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” along with a British actress Gemma Arterton playing his love-interest Tamina, and the movie “21″ based on the best-selling book “Bringing Down the House”, about a real-life team of mostly Asian American students led by an Asian American professor who ran a card-counting operation in casinos being changed to an all-white cast.

    This is just what I can think of off the top of my head.

  83. sandwich: I can think of more examples of the other way around.

    Then you’re either not thinking very hard or are choosing to ignore the facts.

    And humans do bad things

    Yeah, I’m starting to get the impression that you’re being willfully ignorant here. If we were having this discussion in 1915, you’d be telling me that “Birth of a Nation” portrayal of blacks doing bad things is just, you know, portraying what humans do.

    Uh huh.

    If you wanna be clueless, stop asking questions and then playing dumb and/or strawmanning every answer. Your faux concern is more annoying than honest indifference. Lead, follow, or get out of the way. Your faux concern is nothing but an obstruction.

    if all the minority characters on SGU turn out to be evil/incompetent/prone to dying, etc., there’s a problem, but this is one character.

    I’m taking a shot in the dark and guessing that this is the only lesbian character and the only handicapped character. And they both play cliches. That’s enough to condemn the writing. Now you want all categories of minorities to be cliched? I guess you’re implying that there are no people who can handle racial equality but bigots towards homosexuals. If they’re a bigot, they’re a bigot to every possible existing minority group there ever was all at once. And if they treat even one minority group acceptably, then they’re not a bigot in any possible way.

    Nice obstruction you just laid there.

    You just committed several logical fallacies, including a false premise, a red herring, and shifting meaning.

    Look, just pony up to the fact that you’re a straight, white, male who doesn’t care about prejudice, or, listen to what people are saying without preparing an immediate “nuh-uh” response.

    which is to say, if you’re about to say “no…” then, seriously, just stop typing. prejudice in american movies and television and fiction is real. If you can’t even accept that statistically proven premise, then you’re a flat-earther.

  84. I recall a speech that Nichelle Nichols gave relatively recently about playing Uhura on the original Star Trek. She said she was thinking about quitting and mentioned it to someone at a party. The person disappeared and returned with Martin Luther King Jr. MLK told her she couldn’t quit because she was the first black woman on TV who wasn’t playing a maid or housekeeper of some kind.

    Just imagine TV where every black female is no higher than a maid on the ladder of social status.

    It’s gotten better, but there’s still some substantial differences in today’s characters.

  85. Argh, hit “Submit” instead of “Preview”.

    Carrying on from my last post, this is only one character. In the first season. We don’t know that somewhere down the road there won’t be a disabled person who does nothing wrong.

    Though, if people are using the previous shows as references, Mitchell’s dad was partially disabled, having lost both his legs in an accident, and he was a decent bloke.

    Shawn Struck @ 89

    Ah, yes, forgot about PoP.

  86. Then you’re either not thinking very hard or are choosing to ignore the facts.”
    I meant that I can think of more examples of it happening *in addition* to your Starbuck example.

    I’m taking a shot in the dark and guessing that this is the only lesbian character and the only handicapped character. And they both play cliches. Now you want all categories of minorities to be cliched? I guess you’re implying that there are no people who can handle racial equality but bigots towards homosexuals. If they’re a bigot, they’re a bigot to every possible existing minority group there ever was all at once. And if they treat even one minority group acceptably, then they’re not a bigot in any possible way.
    Nice way to put words in my mouth.

    How do you know they’re “cliches”? What information do we really have on this? A casting call and some sides? Seriously, that’s nowhere near enough information to be able to say that these characters are cliched or negative stereotypes.

  87. prejudice in american movies and television and fiction is real.
    I’m not arguing that, I’m arguing whether this is an example of it.

  88. @ GregLondon: There are 2 lesbian characters in SGU, Wray (the main character), and her life partner Sharon, who is unfortunately separated from Wray when the latter is hurled across the Universe. According to the source Mr. Scalzi posted in the entry, their relationship is the only healthy one in the show so far, and the scenes they have together in an earlier episode was very sweet and normal (this is not in the source, but it is on the AfterEllen site somewhere).

    I don’t know how cliche the quadriplegic character will be since apparently both the character description and script pages are now inaccurate, but Wray doesn’t seem very cliche to me. I have a feeling you’re talking about the “cured by cock” thing. Well, there’s more to that. Though the body of Wray will be engaged in hetero-sex, her mind will be back on Earth, temporarily occupying the brain of the quadriplegic women. She will be tended to by Sharon, and together they will show their unconditional love for each other which I just think is so very adorable.

    Um…ok, so I guess, I don’t know. I’m not very well-versed in the “cured by cock” trope, but that’s what happens in the episode, and it seems to be a bit different than your average showcase of said trope. Maybe. I don’t know. What do you think?

  89. GregLondon – Interesting. I seem to remember there being a story around Demi Moore arguing for the part. They fought her on it because they didn’t want to add in a ‘romance’. Neither did she.

    It’s possible that I am not remembering correctly. Weird. I’ve always held that thought in my head and now it seems my head is wrong.

  90. Wow. Willfully ignorant. Clearly.

    Look, sandwich, if a white person calls a black person “nigger”, that’s bigotry. If a straight person calls a gay person a “faggot”, that’s bigotry.

    Now, you seem to be stuck on some weird and perverted logic that I must prove that the entire series is nothing but a bigoted show from start to end. and that every single minority group is shown as evil before I can claim bigotry at play.

    So, lemme ‘splain something to you. If you yell “Nigger!” at some black person, I don’t care that you’ve had a black friend for the last two years. Your action was the action of a bigot.

    Got that?

    Do you understand?

    No, really, that’s an honest question. Because every time I try to explain to you that this one incident is bigotry, you keep falling back to this weird, “I have to prove everything in the series is bigotry” logic. And that doesn’t fly.

    So, do you get this point?

    Shouting “nigger” once is an act of bigotry. Even if you have a nice black friend for the last couple years who says you’re an “OK” (for a white guy).

    Do you understand?

    If you don’t, then just stop now, cause you’re about to commit another fallacy of some kind or nother.

    If you DO understand, then it’s a fairly short logical hop to go from one incident of shouting “nigger” to one incident of having a lesbian get sexed up by a guy.

    What you seem to have done is created a rote-based dictionary of “these are prejudiced words” and anything that isn’t in that dictionary is OK. So, first lets address this little logical nuttery. Just because someone doesn’t use the word “nigger” doesn’t mean they can’t be prejudiced against blacks. If you write a story and the only black character in it is a coward, then you’re just committed some racism right there. Maybe its “Birth of a Nation”, maybe its “Pork Chop Hill” (where the only black guy is a coward), maybe its “The Fifth Element” (where the only black guy is annoying comedic relief, and the human form of the shape-shifting trolls.) But you’re forwarding a racial stereotype whether you meant to or not.

    And “stereotype” is a fancy word for “cliche”.

    And just so you know, “black male savage” is a fiction writing cliche. It’s so goddamn common that people could fill this thread with examples. “lesbian has sex with a man”, is a fiction writing cliche. “Crippled person walks” is another cliche.

    Now, maybe “crippled person walks” doesn’t have the same visceral reaction to you as calling someone “nigger”. But that seems to be mostly because you’re operating off a dictionary-based approach to prejudice and you never put it in your dictionary where it should be. So, go on, put it in there.

    So, with all that now explained to you, I’m going to respond to this little golden nugget of logical fallacery:

    How do you know they’re “cliches”? What information do we really have on this? A casting call and some sides? Seriously, that’s nowhere near enough information to be able to say that these characters are cliched or negative stereotypes.

    dude. the leaked script had the equivalent of the word “nigger” in it. Once is enough. Doesn’t matter how they treated disabled people before. Doesn’t matter how they treated homosexuals before. They called the quadriplegic “useless”. And they may as well have called the woman a “faggot”. They did the equivalent of having a black “savage”. They had a lesbian who has sex with a man and a handicapped person who walks.

    Once is all I need to tell you they just wrote two cliches, two stereotype characters. Once is enough. Once is all I need.

    Now, they can go and fix it and great for them.

    But it was a stereotype. It was a cliche. It fed directly into teh prejudices against those groups. And if you are unwilling to call a stereotype what it is because you like the show and want to defend it or because you’re white and male and straight and clueless, then the problem is with you, not me.

    The point is (1) to identify stereotypes and cliches, which reinforce underlying prejudices so we can (2) remove them, fix them, deal with them.

    If this was a cop that arrested someone for being gay, I’d hope he’d get fired. If it’s a TV show that played directly into several stereotypes of minority characters, I hope they’d fix the script, adn if it keeps happening, get new writers.

    But you can’t fix it if you can’t identify it, if people like you insist on playing dumb and refusing to identify stereotypes staring you right in the face.

    Now, before you hit reply and tell me “but, but, but…” one more thing: I’ve said nothing about intent here. I haven’t said the writers in this case are homophobes or prejudiced against disabled people. That’s irrelevant. Whether you’re a racist or not is irrelevant if you shout “nigger” or if you write a story with a “black savage”. IT DOESN”T MATTER IF THEY MEANT IT OR NOT. It doesn’t matter if they did it on purpose or if they cluelessly stumbled into this stereotype. They wrote a stereotype. It deserves identification as a stereotype. People can point to it and say it is a stereotype.

    It doesn’t even matter if they intended to fix it in the final draft or not. You pick up a first draft and find a “noble savage”, then you identify it for what it is, a racial stereotype. If you find the word “nigger” in the script, you don’t ignore it “because they treat women so nicely”.

    This one snippet is enough to identify the lesbian and quadriplegic as playing stereotypical roles. We don’t need anymore information to flag it. We may need more to determine whether this particular group of writers are systemetically writing prejudice into their scripts, but this one particular incident had two stereotypes for two minority groups.

  91. nkjemisin @ 78: I’d completely missed that they’d put her in a straight-hair wig for the part. Grah, that’s terrible, both for the situation itself and that I’d never even noticed.

  92. pg@95: I’m not very well-versed in the “cured by cock” trope, but that’s what happens in the episode, and it seems to be a bit different than your average showcase of said trope. Maybe. I don’t know. What do you think?

    Yeah, a lesbian cured by cock trope is about as bad as the racist stereotype of a black man wanting to rape your white women (a la Birth of a Nation). That’s the level of stereotype they’re plugging into. They may have cluelessly stumbled into it or they may have done it intentionally. But intent doesn’t matter. It still plays directly into the stereotype, and people are right to demand it be changed.

  93. @ GregLondon: But did you read what I wrote before that quote? I described the events and it doesn’t seem to fit the stereotype. Nobody is “cured by cock”, for instance. Wray is not turned straight by hetero-sex or anything like that. Chances are, when she finds out that her body was used like that, she’ll be pretty pissed off, to put it extremely lightly.

  94. pg: I described the events and it doesn’t seem to fit the stereotype.

    yeah, I read it. It doesn’t matter why the black man rapes the white woman, it’s still the stereotype.

    It doesn’t really matter why the lesbian has sex with the man, it still fits the trope.

    Look, this is one of those things that would have to be handled like plutonium to get right. You could possibly write a story in which a lesbian has sex with a man and avoid plugging into the stereotype, but you’d have to be a master of fiction writing to do it. You’d have to have real, developed characters, you’d have to address the stereotype that you just plugged into, and you’d have to deal with the consequences in a realistic manner.

    In “Chasing Amy”, the movie is about a guy chasing after Amy, who is a lesbian. The movie spends a lot of time wrestling with all the muck and crap and shit that is around the male fantasy of “converting a lesbian”. They end up having sex. It gets really ugly because it brings up all the real-world shit that it plugs into. And it ends with the male totally destroying the relationship cluelessly trying to save it.

    Maybe the lesbian community has issues with the movie, but it seems that the movie is at least clearly and painfully aware that it is plugging into the “cured by cock” stereotype.

    From what I’ve read, it sounds like these guys have a pretty lousy track record for getting it right and it sounds far more like they stumbled into this one out of cluelessness.

    Which means they can’t possibly get it right. You can’t write this kind of shit that portrays some stereotype that is attributed to some minority group and used to keep them in a submissive position, without addressing the fucking stereotype. If they just have a “cured by cock” episode and don’t even have the characters address that they just had a “cured by cock” incident, it is about as realistic as having a black character be called “nigger” and then have him respond with a clueless white person’s response of “huh? Oh, you must not really be racist because you didn’t call me nigger yesterday.”

    At least a movie like “Chasing Amy” tried to get it right by addressing the stereotypes that they had the actors play out, from the lesbian character’s point of view, not just the clueless white writer’s point of view.

    So, it doesn’t matter if the lesbian in SG is “cured” by cock or not. What matters is just how much they plugged into that very real lesbian stereotype and whether or not the lesbian character reacts to it as a lesbian, or whether she reacts as a puppet of a clueless straight white male writer.

    Since I don’t have the script, I can’t tell. But I can say that they pluggd into the stereotype almost directly, and thats enough to require the characters to have the right response or the writers face massive fail.

    Seriously, I can’t see how this could be handled in any sort of reasonable way and keep all the characters on the show. At the very least, the quadriplegic who used the woman’s body for sex should be dismissed from her position, at most put in prison for rape or something. If there are some kind of “psychic” repercussions, like the lesbian has memories of what happened, then she may need rape counseling for a long time. If the guy who has sex with the woman knows that the woman is being controlled by another mind, knows the real mind doesn’t want to have sex with him, but has sex with the body anyway, he should be dismissed from his position or put in jail. If these are all military people, then there’s conduct unbecoming charges that could probably be brought up. If they treat this as a one-shot episode with no long term repercussions, then they are way over their head in cluelessness and fail.

    The point is they swung a hammer and hit a stereotype cliche square on the head. They either deal with it for all the power and importance and repercussions that these sort of evil stereotypes have, or they should do a massive rewrite and get the hell away from the stereotype.

  95. GregLondon: Wray would have to deal with the emotional repercussions of the rape whether she remembered it or not, assuming she knows about it, just as women who are drugged into unconsciousness and are raped do. It’s possible that no one would tell her, but there are ways for a woman to tell if she has been penetrated, especially if she never has been before, and not being told what happened to her body but having evidence that something did might be even more terrifying for her.

  96. The writers have placed themselves on the same side as the gay is a lifestyle choice crowd since in this setup sexual orientation is a matter of mind not body and a life long celibate can over ride the physiological sexual responses of a lesbian’s body at will.
    This is insulting to the disabled and career professionals by creating a character that has a kid in the candy store response to the borrowed body. Insulting to homosexuals by implying that a change of personality is what makes things hetero. Insulting to heterosexual men by showing one be an opportunist horndog that can not respect the established boundaries of the body owner.
    Just insulting to adults overall.

  97. cc, yeah, you’re right. I think I dropped an edit/preview cycle on that paragraph. But yeah, no matter what, she should go to a rape counselor and may suffer some form of ptsd for some time. Not something that can be wrapped up in a single episode.

  98. First get a actress who doesn’t even have a real disability (she just has to be Calista Flockhart thin) to play the part of a person with a disability. Very blackface.

    Oh, you did not go there… perhaps this discussion can be had without de-railing false analogies? And what exactly is a “real” disability (as opposed to a surreal one, I guess) and where the hell would Canadian labour and anti-discrimination laws stand — as well as the relevant unions — stand on a casting call going out with a ACTORS WITH “REAL” DISABILITY / ABLE BODIED ONLY NEED APPLY tag attached?

    And if anyone thinks the idea of bodily possession is tantamount to normalising rape, why the hell are you watching anything to do with the Stargate franchise? Hello?

  99. The writers have placed themselves on the same side as the gay is a lifestyle choice crowd since in this setup sexual orientation is a matter of mind not body and a life long celibate can over ride the physiological sexual responses of a lesbian’s body at will.

    WTF… I’m sorry to tell you this, but a godly proportion of the ‘gay is a lifestyle choice’ crowd do think that being gay is all about the body — which can be “trained” out of a bad habit as easily as learning to stop smoking or eating your own weight in Ding-Dongs for breakfast.

    Insulting to homosexuals by implying that a change of personality is what makes things hetero.

    Um… you mean that if a heterosexual person borrowed my body they’d be compelled to love the cock as much as I do? Could someone point out how much biological determinstic fail there is in that notion?

  100. Joe Mallozzi did a lot of hand waving about the controversy surrounding the casting information but said next to nothing about the controversy surrounding the rape. It reeks of a diversion.

  101. a lot of hand waving about the controversy

    Yeah, if they are gutsy enough to take on some prejudiced cliche and break it, I think they’d be gutsy enough to say they want to take on a cliche and break it. That post is mostly, “don’t worry, we have everything under control. move along.”.

  102. “you mean that if a heterosexual person borrowed my body they’d be compelled to love the cock as much as I do”

    Love, no. But can they force your body to go along with their vagina preference or stop your body from expressing your established cock preference with little to no effort; should they be able to?

  103. @107
    You said:

    Oh, you did not go there… perhaps this discussion can be had without de-railing false analogies? And what exactly is a “real” disability (as opposed to a surreal one, I guess) and where the hell would Canadian labour and anti-discrimination laws stand — as well as the relevant unions — stand on a casting call going out with a ACTORS WITH “REAL” DISABILITY / ABLE BODIED ONLY NEED APPLY tag attached?

    I don’t think you are understanding the issue at all? Maybe a better way for me to have phrased that for it to be easier for you to understand would be to say that the ad is advertising for a person to play a quadriplegic (what I consider to be a disability) but not actually requiring that the actress is a quadriplegic or some very similar type of person with a disability. In fact, they imply (and this is later affirmed by the story line) that the actor must not have a disability.

    The analogy works because you would not see an audition ad such as this:

    Looking for actor to play African American character…etc, etc.

    and then hire John Cusack and paint him black.

    You would see the ad say this:

    Looking for an African American actor to play a character…etc. etc.

    And then they hire Denzel Washington.

    In all the roles ever in media that were characters with disabilities, only a very small handful were actually cast with a actor with that disability. And that is rediculous because there are disabled actors out there to be cast that are being put aside. (And one of the main reasons is because so many disabled characters must suddenly become able-bodied in these tired tropes.)

  104. @ GregLondon: I think there’s a few wires crossed. I totally agree with the fact that they need to deal with the consequences of this event in a realistic manner. However, I disagree with how “they swung a hammer and hit a stereotype cliche square on the head.” I just don’t see it. At least, I probably won’t see it until someone actually tells me exactly what this cliche entails.

    The reason why I don’t see it is this: Wray, the lesbian character, in no way shape or form decides to have sex with a man. Yes, her body is used in the horrible deed, but consciously, she had no part in it. The man, Dr. Rush, in no way shape or form tried to “turn” Wray straight. What he did was still horrible, but I don’t see how this cliche/stereotype applies to it. I mean, it sounds like it’s the exact opposite of the situation in Chasing Amy, before/during the sex.

    In this case, it’s necessary to treat the body and mind as separate parts, as they are separated in the actual story. Did Dr. Rush have sex with a lesbian? Physically, yes. It was the body of a lesbian. Mentally? No. It was the mind of a heterosexual female.

    My head hurts.

    Oh, and just to be clear, there is no telepathic link between those who are mindswapped using the Ancient Long-Range Communications Device. The two beings mindswapped by the device have no idea what the other is up to, and they never will unless they are told of their deeds after their minds are swapped back to their original brains…unless there were physical signs, of course.

    Ultimately, the crime here is the rape/violation/misuse of Wray’s body in consentual heterosexual intercourse between Rush and Perry, with Wray not being aware of it until her mind returns to her own body; it is the consequences of this that will have to be handled realistically.

    While in the normal world, both Rush and Perry will be punished severely for this, there is another wrinkle in the story: Rush is on a spaceship several billion light years away unreachable by any form of authority besides the ones already present on the crew (military personnel), and he is one of the brightest minds of the crew, and someone’s who needed in order for the crew to function. Also, he is civilian.

    I need an aspirin.

    @ Adela: Just for the record, as a heterosexual male (who’s Chinese, so that’s only 2 strikes out of 3), I am far from insulted by Dr. Rush’s deeds in this episode. I am aware that some heterosexual males do terrible things; that doesn’t bother me. Why would it? They’re not me.

  105. PG15: Where the ep hits the cliche is in that they do it at all; it’s more meta than “she’s not in there so she’s not turned straight.” It’s about those who feature lesbian characters in their stories feeling the need to, at some point, get her in bed with a man. It’s been done in any number of ways, and this is just another. It’s that they chose the lesbian character for this story line, rather than a straight woman. It’s that they’re putting her body in bed with a man we know she wouldn’t choose to be with (even if she were straight.) It’s that they did it at all; that’s how they fail at cliche bingo. The rest is just details.

  106. Fascinating.

    If you put it that way, then I can see it. I still think the details might make a difference, and we won’t know until it airs how it’ll be presented (i.e. maybe there’s a good reason why they chose Wray?), but at this point I can definitely understand why people more familiar with the cliche/stereotype/trope might see it that way.

  107. I just have to ask…..
    In an episode of Star Trek Next Generation, Will Riker is host to a symbiote until a proper host could be “made available”. The symbiote uses his body to have sex with Doctor Beverly Crusher. Of course the show doesn’t actually provide graphic evidence of sex, but…. Was Riker raped?

  108. Other Jeff: It’s been long enough since I saw that ep that I can’t remember the details; I know it wasn’t a swap, Riker was still in there, obviously not in control but possibly aware? I can’t remember now whether the symbiote had any communication with Riker while they shared the body, either. I do remember thinking, hey, this is the body of her friend, that’s…icky, and feeling disturbed, but I can’t remember now if it was a consent thing or a friend thing or just that I didn’t find Riker attractive.

    But if it was the same situation, one in which his body was used without his knowledge or consent for sex, then yes, it was rape. It’s not different because another show did it, and it’s not different because it’s a man. Is that why you’re asking, to see if there are loopholes in anyone’s POV about the rape? Because there aren’t; I can pretty much promise you that anyone who is concerned about the consent issues in this instance would be concerned about them in other circumstances, too. That it’s been done elsewhere also wouldn’t negate the problems here; multiple wrongs don’t make a right.

  109. I’ve seen enough of the earlier Stargate series to be familiar with the mind-exchange technology, which has been described pretty accurately upstream. But what occurs to me is that — independent of the entirely legitimate discussion about the ethics of what one should and shouldn’t do with a borrowed body — this particular use of the mind-transfer tech creates a new degree of complication to questions of sexual identity.

    Here’s the thing. Real-world science to date (as I understand it) mostly concludes that gender-attraction is hard-wired. So if we take that as a given, then what happens when you transfer a mind from a straight body into a lesbian body, or vice versa?

    One might argue that if the hard-wiring theory is correct, the incoming mind should adopt the gender-attraction protocol of the body it’s occupying — that is, that the Perry character in Wray’s body should find herself attracted to women, and that the Wray character in Perry’s body should find herself strangely non-attracted to her same-sex partner. From what we’ve been told, this is clearly not how the episode plays out. But does this necessarily mean the show is presenting Bad Science? I’m not sure it does.

    My thought is this: it seems to me that this particular use of the mind-transfer tech would be much like magically swapping the applications on a Mac with the applications on a Windows-based PC — a recipe for massive hardware/software compatibility problems. The visiting mind’s pre-existing gender-attraction routines are going to run into a mix of hormones and neural wiring that they’re utterly unequipped to deal with, and what you’re likely to get are system crashes and hormonal surges as the body and mind try to come to terms with each other. Which could very easily lead to weird and non-standard sexual behavior on the part of the mind-swapped subjects.

    Granted, this idea might well lead to the appearance of “copping out” of having to deal with the consequences of a mind-swapped character’s sexual misbehavior. But if I were writing a script in which the described situation came up, I think it’s a medical theory that would merit serious exploration.

  110. It doesn’t matter why the black man rapes the white woman, it’s still the stereotype.

    I don’t think that’s a relevant analogy here because that particular “stereotype” happens to be an easily verifiable statistical fact in the case of interracial rape. Most rape is same race, but black-on-white rape is as much as 900x more common in the USA than the reverse. So, in this one case, the stereotype is the reality and it would be false to portray it any other way. Unless, of course, you happen to be telling a historical tale set in nineteenth-century slave-owning Georgia.

    I rather doubt the FBI keeps statistics on quadriplegic lesbian rapists. Even so, this casting call would appear to represent somewhat of a statistical improbability, given the various technical difficulties involved. While I have every confidence that the final product will avoid offending any of the more sensitive identity groups, the inescapable problem is that few groups have the inherent veto power of the more numerical ones. Continued technology-driven fragmentation of the entertainment market will eventually be the solution, but we’re only at the stage where channels for women, blacks, Hispanics, and evangelical Christians can support themselves now.

    The disabled lesbian sci-fi channel is some ways off yet, but never fear, we will get there eventually. Eventually everyone will be the hero on their own channel. Which, I think, will be just fine.

  111. The analogy works because you would not see an audition ad such as this:

    Looking for actor to play African American character…etc, etc.

    and then hire John Cusack and paint him black.

    Lexie@112: Sorry, I’m not going to up your grade from Analogy Fail. I’m going to have to come back to this when I’ve warmed up my diplomacy muscles (it may be some time), because that analogy is still so damn offensive and patronising on so many levels I don’t want to get done with the Mallet of Loving Correction.

  112. “The disabled lesbian sci-fi channel is some ways off yet, but never fear, we will get there eventually. Eventually everyone will be the hero on their own channel. Which, I think, will be just fine.”

    You’re really not doing anything for your position by using patronizing strawmen.

  113. sandwich: I can think of more examples of the other way around.

    Well, unfortunately that may be more a reflection of your information sources than what actually happens. For example, among screenwriters, it’s well known that lead minority characters are often changed to white.

    More concretely, the whole Fast and the Furious franchise is based on a phenomena which started in the Asian American community and whose major players are Asian Americans. And 21 the recent Kevin Spacey movie was based on a true story about Asian American card counters. Hm. How many Asian American leads were there with Kevin Spacey?

  114. One other observation:

    I haven’t really seen a cogent, concise summary of what’s really involved in this acting assignment anywhere in the comment thread, so it may be worth framing one here.

    The actor hired for the guest appearance is, in fact, being asked to play two distinct roles in the episode. She must play Eleanor Perry, the scientist whose body is quadriplegic — but she must play that part both as if she’s occupying her own disabled body, and as if she’s occupying a body (Wray’s) that works as designed. Similarly, the actor who normally plays Camile Wray will be required to perform as if she were, in fact, quadriplegic when we see the character “occupying Perry’s body”.

    This is an artifact of how the Ancient mind-exchange tech has been shown in prior stories (see pg15@24). And so it’s a different kind of dual role than one most-often sees in a mind-swap SF episode, where (for example) we might see Jonathan Frakes playing both Will Riker and “Trill in Riker’s body” in the course of a story.

    For the “tradittional” sort of dual role (where you’d need an actor to play (a) Dr. Perry, and (b) Wray-in-Perry’s-body), it would be possible and even desirable to consider quadriplegic actors for the part(s). Here, because of the different visual convention in use — a convention adopted long before this particular storyline/situation was contemplated — that option isn’t workable.

  115. pg15@115: I still think the details might make a difference

    They don’t. If a white character fell into a bin of coal dust and then got up and started dancing “Jump Jim Crow” because aliens controlled his body, it’s still the blackface cliche.

    The explanation as to why the person is doing it is irrelevant. White guy with black makeup, you’ve just hit the blackface cliche.

    If your fiction hits a cliche, then the question is are the minority characters affected by the cliche reacting to the cliche as the offensive cliche that it is? Or are they reacting to it like a clueless straight, white, male would react to it?

    So, in this particular case, it doesn’t matter why the lesbian had sex with a man. She had sex with a man, which means the story hits the cliche. The only interesting question after that is how the characters on the show deal with it. Do the gay, lesbian, bi, characters react to what happened with the knowledge that it hit the “cured by cock” cliche? Or do they react as if there were no cliche and this is just a single, isolated incident to be dealt with individually?

    If their reaction includes the issues of the cliche, then the writers have a chance of dealing with the issue responsibly. If they react cluelessly, if they react without awareness of the cliche that just happened, if they react as if there is no history around the bigotted cliche of lesbians being cured by cock, as if it doesn’t exist, then they just bumbled into a minefield.

    VD@119: I don’t think that’s a relevant analogy here because that particular “stereotype” happens to be an easily verifiable statistical fact in the case of interracial rape.

    You might as well put a white sheet on with that attitude. You just plugged into a massive history as if it never happened. Here’s a good quote for you:

    http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/i7839.html

    The “bestial” image of black men appears “all at once” when other attempts to justify black disenfranchisement had failed. As Carby vividly writes, “The cry of rape was an extremely effective way to create panic and fear . . . the charge of rape became the excuse for murder”

    Any time you have a fictional story of a black man raping a white woman, the writer is plugging into this extremely racist cliche, a cliche created to demonize blacks and justify violence against them.

    That you are cluelessly unaware of the racist history around this cliche and think one should only look at the interracial rape statistics of present day america doesn’t mean you just made the long history of that racist cliche disappear.

    It means you don’t know American history very well.

    If the cliche is used in a story, the question then becomes do the minority characters in the story react with awareness of this racist cliche? Because blacks in america are extremely aware of the existence of this cliche, where it came from, and why it was created. If the black characters in a story react to a black man raping a white woman as “Oh, well, this is an individual incident that just happened today and should be treated individually and lets just look at the statistics” and if they don’t react to the cliche the author just dragged onto the stage and left there for everyone to see, then the writer is a clueless moron.

    If the characters react with the awareness of the cliche then maybe you’ve got a chance to address the cliche itself, maybe correct it, maybe deal with it in some positive way.

    But if they’re clueless that the cliche exists and unaware of the history behind the cliche, then the author is a clueless moron who should throw away the script.

  116. GregLondon,

    This has been a wonderful discussion, but now you are arguing with Vox Day and I think nothing good will come of it. I am bailing out here, but I wanted to say thank you for your lucidity and your passion.

  117. I thought of you guys when I watched the new Warehouse 13 (SyFy, I think, but I watched it on Hulu). The only POC so far is a Magic Negress, who is almost as light-colored as the Caucasian female lead, and has smaller lips than she does. On the other hand, I don’t think that the part is written as specifically “Negro”, so it might be semi-colorblind casting.

    The show also could lead us to the issue of anti-intellectual stereotypes, but that’s another snake bag.

  118. Craig @120, I’m not sure what offends you about this analogy.

    If John Cusack were to be hired to play an African American and made up in blackface to do it, people would be offended. Most especially those from that minority group.

    If (as is quite common) a nondisabled person is hired to play the part of a person with a disability, people are offended. Most especially those from that minority group.

    I’m not going to play oppression Olympics and make a case for which group is offended more, the fact is that not hiring blacks, asians, PWD, whatever and always going for non-minority actors is offensive. The reason being, is because the powers that be are too uncomfortable to hire an actual minority (or don’t think actual minorities worthy of the part) to play it and usually because the part itself plays into stereotypes. I am disabled, my partner is a quadriplegic, we have an extensive network of disabled friends, and we are part of the disability culture…and we are offended. Media portrayal of people with disabilities as negative stereotypes and as played by able-bodied actors is a common theme in disability studies classes at universities around the world. I’m not making this up and pulling it out of my ass. Why is that so hard for you to accept?

    The fact that this Perry character becomes able-bodied in some scenes and thus “requires” an able-bodied actress only adds fuel to the fire of offensiveness. It is playing into one of the main cliches involving disabled characters.

  119. Shawn 89: Ursula K. Leguin’s Earthsea lead Gen rewritten from white to black

    You mean the other way around, clearly. But it was more like Pacific Islander to white IIRC. And the scary barbarians were “horribly pale” and had blond hair.

    I thought Mallozzi’s explanation was pretty credible. I’m willing to wait and see how the episode is handled, and whether it has consequences in subsequent episodes.

  120. Greg, hope is right. VD is Vox Day. No good comes of arguing with him on any topic, and he doesn’t do mutually-beneficial conversation.

    Lexie, the crucial difference is that people of different races do not, in fact, have different abilities. If an Asian and European swapped bodies and the European “mind” suddenly became better at math, that would be offensive because of the stereotype of Asians being good at math, but that’s not equivalent to being able to stand and walk.

    Now, I do understand the “only people of my class” argument. I have often said that I would believe Hollywood has overcome its homophobia when we have a gay male action hero. We’re far from that, of course: gay men are still the goofy friend or the villain in Hollywood. And I see your objections on that ground.

    Thought experiment: if the disabled character insisted on a wheelchair on the ship, and said “I’m here because of my abilities, not to play with a TAB body,” and then the entire issue was left alone for the rest of the episode, would that address your concerns adequately? How about if that character continued to appear, and her disability were only occasionally relevant, as race tends to be on many other shows?

    Hmm, I started writing this to object to your statements, but I’ve worked around to agreeing with you, because the script changes I’ve outlined above would enable the role to be cast with a disabled actor.* You’d still have a TAB actor playing a disabled woman on Earth (because on SG they show the mind-character, not the body-character in this situation) for that one episode, but if I’ve understood you correctly that would be less offensive if the other changes were made, is that right?
    ___
    *I try not to use the word ‘actress’, which carries a connotation implying that women’s acting is somehow less than men’s. Dickinson was a poet, not a “poetess,” and Meryl Streep, for example, is one of the greatest actors ever.

  121. The actor hired for the guest appearance is, in fact, being asked to play two distinct roles in the episode. She must play Eleanor Perry, the scientist whose body is quadriplegic — but she must play that part both as if she’s occupying her own disabled body, and as if she’s occupying a body (Wray’s) that works as designed.

    Not quite. The guest actress will have to play Eleanor Perry, and also have to play “Wray in Perry’s body”. While the actress that plays Wray will have to play “Perry in Wray’s body”.

    Aside from the fact that two people (Perry and the guy she has sex with) know that she’s using someone else’s body for sex – what about birth control?

  122. Lexie, almost all bald white men on TV are the villain, the only exception being Patrick Stewart. It’s obnoxious, being a white bald guy.

    Also, fat people are depicted as lazy slobs. I’m fat – obnoxious. Also, there are no bisexual characters on TV that I can think of – anytime a character has sex with one side then the other they vacillate between being gay or straight.

    This whole thing brings to mind many ethical issues, but since the show hasn’t aired yet, the episode hasn’t been filmed yet, and the script that was seen is an old version, it is just possible that those issues are either addressed or fixed. We just won’t know until until it airs.

    But there is much more here than SciFi wanting to show lesbians having straight sex (and the whole idea of lesbians never being penetrated is ridiculous. Most lesbians I know have pet cocks.) or denigrating quadriplegics (PHYSICALLY useless – she’s obviously brilliant – or is that a good cliche so no one brings it up).

    This has to do with the American mindset. There is only so far the media can or will push American sensibilities – see California Prop 8 for an example. The advertisers look at that and realize they need to be on a show without gays, because apparently people hate gays. They want people to buy products, so they find shows that don’t push the envelope too far. Shows that would be truly groundbreaking don’t get made because advertisers are nervous about aligning their products with them. We would not have SG:U if there were a constant stream of gay men kissing – they may occasionally put one in, it is the first season after all and it hasn’t even aired yet – but I would challenge you to see what advertisers stick around on that episode and which pull their advertising, or at least lower their support.

    This isn’t about what Hollywood wants to do to lesbians or that it hates gay men and people in wheelchairs, this is about money, pure and simple. Without advertisers, there is no money to make a show – “controversial” story lines and characters limit the pool of advertisers, unless it fits along established lines. Basically, do you want a show or not? That’s the question.

  123. In defense of Warehouse 13, Artie’s boss is played by CCH Pounder. And a sad small truth (because I love that show) there’s no role in it which (if filled by a POC) would not be merely relocated to a different page of TV Tropes than the one which describes it now. Look at Joan Kelley, for instance: hyacinthine hair and violet eyes…

    Anyway, Mr.Scalzi, sir, when you were announced as advisor to SGU I experienced a small chill of dread similar to the one I experienced when Al Gore got the VP nomination: you are so much better than they are. I have been watching these people’s shows and I do not trust them not to take another great concept and amazing cast and run it into the ground with their inability to write emotionally convincing, internally consistent, and naturally paced scripts. They get the smallest details of military order wrong, in a military environment. In general, they usually view people of color as exotics and women as mothers or whores.

    And I, well, I am a schnook and an addict and unless there’s another one-hour SF drama on at 9pm Pacific, I’ll be right there watching it, and hating myself for it.

  124. Corby @131,

    Oh, I totally agree with you. The difference is, bald men, fat people, etc. don’t face a 70% unemployment rate, aren’t routinely denied equal access to health care and insurance, aren’t routinely excluded from housing/social/recreational opportunities, are many times not given access to voting facilities, courts and other government facilities.and don’t routinely face cruelty by random strangers on the street. I’m not saying bald people don’t get their share of crap treatment and stereotypes in the media, but as a group they are not denied civil rights on a routine basis. They also do not have a history of being killed in concentration camps, facing mandatory sterilization, having their children removed from there home without basis, forced to enter institutions, arrested off the streets on account of “ugly laws” etc.

    Your advertising and money control the media argument is true. But then we get into a chicken/egg thing. The media affects perceptions and stereotypes, and the perceptions of people affect what advertisers and media are willing to put onscreen. Just because all this happens and its wrong, doesn’t mean you just accept it. If bald folks want to get together and have a national movement to improve the quality of bald characters, go for it. I won’t stop you. Nor will I call y’all oversensitive. But my hunch is that these bald villian stereotypes do not affect and reinforce public perception of bald people to the point where they face the discrimination that some other minority groups receive.

    Even though there is still a lot of crap that goes on with how gays and lesbians have been portrayed in the media, the work of these advocates has improved things greatly. There are now openly gay characters in media that are at least portrayed somewhat positively and that wasn’t true even 20 years ago. I know there is a ways to go, but this is happening because GBLT self-advocates have been pushing the boundaries and bringing up and talking about these issues.

    I do think it is possible in the grand scheme of things to do a disabled body-swap thing well. And, no, we won’t know until the show airs. But based on the evidence presented here and other places (and the history of media’s handling of these issues, specifically the history of SG franchise’s handling of these and similar issues) lets just say I’m not holding my breath.

    From what we know so far, we’ve got a quad who has never been intimate before who must absolutely have sex now that she’s got a “working” body. Besides all the lesbian needs cock trope already mentioned. How ’bout how you can’t have a woman genius scientist just be a woman genius scientist (quad or not) who can’t go through an hour long show without getting some penis action? Sigh. And as for the character back on earth who experiences a quad body for the first time, according to a commenter above, her storyline is going to be that her lover still cares for her and takes care of her even though she is a quadriplegic. How nice. It would instead be an interesting angle, for example, for her to discover how even though she is the same person who does things differently, she comes across all the usual attitudinal barriers that a quad is up against that can be way more damaging than the disability itself. Sure, this could be done ok…but based on all of television history throughout time, I just kind of doubt it.

  125. Hope and Xopher, I’ll keep any interaction with VD on this thread to a minimum.

    Corby@131: This has to do with the American mindset. There is only so far the media can or will push American sensibilities – see California Prop 8 for an example. The advertisers look at that and realize they need to be on a show without gays, because apparently people hate gays.

    You’re partly right. this is about american mindset. But it isn’t about defending the status quo. It’s about changing it. And the only way to change it is to demand shows be written with diverse characters. And that’s pretty much what’s been going on around this topic. A lot of people who are tired of intolerance have complained about the casting call and the script.

    Which is a way to let the show, and its advertisers, know that people do in fact want to watch diverse television, as a counterweight to the already existing population of bigots.

  126. @ GregLondon: Ok, ok, I think I’ve got a good thought going here. It’s a cliche. Fine, so be it. A few things though:

    1. The details might not be important in the question of whether it’s a cliche or not, but I think it should be important in the reactions. I mean, the details have to be important somewhere. I can’t expect, say, a lesbian being forced into violent sex by a man to react in the same way as this, where the lesbian doesn’t even know her body was used like that until way later (without any repressed memories or stuff like that). Both are horrible of course, but somewhat different. It’s just like I don’t expect to be as angry over someone doing “Yellowface” because they got yellow paint accidentally spilled on their face while painting their house, vs. someone who paints their face yellow and yells racial slurs at me.

    I’d beat the living crap out of the latter. I’d probably give the former a towel (which I always carry – you can’t go anywhere without your towel).

    2. I used an example in #1 based on Asian racial…stuff, because I’m Asian. As I’m sure you’re aware, there are many Asian stereotypes in the media. By your logic, I should be “reacting to the cliche as the offensive cliche that it is” – well, I don’t know what that exactly entails, because I don’t react with anger or anything resembling being offended. If anything, I’d probably laugh (thank God for Russel Peters). Here’s the thing: I’m well aware that some of these cliches are offensive, but I personally don’t care, unless it’s fairly clear that it was made to be offensive (i.e. the guy in Yellowface yelling racial slurs at me).

    Does that make me a “clueless straight, white, male” stuck in the body of a “cluelessness-level unknown, straight, Chinese male”? Or, just, you know, a human being?

    3. Speaking of which, any chance you can stop with the “clueless straight, white, male” thing? It’s very strange seeing you go on about horrible cliches and stereotypes and why they’re offensive, and then using one yourself.

  127. Note: The “Lisa” @131 is me, “Lexie.” Didn’t realize that I signed out and in again under a different account. Apologies.

  128. PG15: You really aren’t qualified to judge how different “types” (no such thing) of rape affect women, how they react to them or to the depiction of them or the intent behind them. Please don’t do that again. Your “yellowface” example is nothing like describing the two different incidences of rape; both are rape, so both are terrible. In your yellowface example, one is a deliberately hurtful racial slur and one is a (stupid in political context and therefore still wrong, but in a different way) case of misspeaking. This does not correlate AT ALL to two different rapes. That you think it does displays the essential disconnect between your thinking about rape and those who understand better what rape is and what it does; you think some “types” of rape “aren’t so bad.” All rape is equally bad, and potentially equally damaging. Please examine your thinking on this before you speak about rape again.

  129. @ Lisa:

    “From what we know so far, we’ve got a quad who has never been intimate before who must absolutely have sex now that she’s got a “working” body.”

    This is not the case, as per a clarification of the episode’s details by one of the writers. As usual, this “Chinese whispers” style of information release is rife with warped words and mutated meanings. Yay for alliteration!

    @ CC: I knew I should’ve reworded that bit. Look, I’m aware of how horrible rape is; I specifically said in my post that “both are horrible of course”; perhaps my wording came off a bit insensitive, but please understand that that was just bad wording, and I don’t believe one “method” of rape to be “better” than the other or any other claptrap. But they are different scenerios; whatever happens because of that, I have no idea, but there is a possibility of different reactions, no? That’s all I was trying to put forward.

    As for the analogy, ok, I apologize for that one.

  130. You know what, forget about all that stuff I wrote about different reactions or whatever. I don’t even know why that’s important now that I think about it.

  131. PG15: “but there is a possibility of different reactions, no?”

    Reaction from whom? What exactly are you talking about, here? What point are you trying to make? It still sounds to me like you’re trying to excuse, on some level, one “type” of rape, say that it isn’t as bad as the other. What “difference” are you imagining that the form the rape takes could possibly make? Are you talking about the reaction of the victim? What could you possibly know about that? Reactions to rape differ from victim to victim, from act to act. There isn’t a standard reaction, and no reason to believe that any one woman’s reaction to any one act will be the same as any other’s. Rape is horrific, and the damage it does is horrible. That’s all that matters. PLEASE stop trying to qualify different incidences of rape.

  132. PG15: Thank you for saying that. I wrote and posted my reply to your earlier post before I saw the second one. I appreciate your willingness to think further about your words.

  133. @ CC: Hey, it’s cool. I’ll admit that this is not a subject I think about much, so I do say stupid things about it sometimes. I’ll say this though: this discussion has certainly opened my eyes to new things. I never knew there was a cliche of lesbians having sex with men, for instance.

  134. PG15: Unfortunately, it’s a subject not many men think about, much, or at all, and that shows not only in conversation but also in media. That’s one reason why people are currently working so hard to try to get TPTB (all men) to see what they’re doing, to think about it and reconsider. And it’s also why the phrase “clueless men” keeps coming up. *g* But it’s always heartening, in these situations, when men do have, or show the ability to gain, a clue.

  135. pg15: the details have to be important somewhere

    The folks who get to decide whether a particular detail in the implementation of a cliche is important or not are the individual members of the minority group who are targeted by the cliche.

    being a clueless, straight, white, male, I can’t sit here and tell all lesbians that they can’t be offended by this particular episode of SG. Well, I could, but that would be the “clueless” part coming through.

    I can’t tell Corby not to be offended when he sees a bald white guy playing a villian on TV. I might point out that Bruce Willis has a shaved head in a Die Hard movie, but he gets to decide how he feels about that or the bald Dr. Evil in Austin Powers.

    people who are physically disabled get to say whether a portrayal of a quadriplegic is a cliche or not.

    The point is because what determines whether a scene is reinforcing a cliche as truth or attempting to show a cliche to be false is whether or not the characters in the story act as if they’re aware of the cliche.

    if a whole bunch of lesbians watch the StarGate episode and say the lesbian having sex with the man is a stereotyped cliche, but none of the lesbian characters in the story react in any way as to bring awareness to that cliche, then the writer just blew it because they just presented the cliche as if it were true, and the writer complete blew off the point of view of real lesbians in that situation.

    If a whole bunch of lesbians watch the StarGate episode and say the lesbian having sex with the man is a stereotyped cliche, and the lesbian characters in the story bring up the cliche and show it to be false, then the writers have a chance of dealing with the cliche in a proper manner.

    What I personally think about the scene might be an interesting opinion, but I can’t really decree for everyone whether the scene is cliched or not.

  136. Re: GregLondon @ 144: Lest anyone offer, in response, an “I know a lesbian/am a lesbian and she/I doesn’t/don’t care about this” comment (which so often happens–it’s a common derailment tactic), understand that no single individual in a potentially offended group determines the validity (or lack of) of the offense-no “battle of the lesbians” justification debates, please. It helps to remember that there’s a fundamental truth at the core of this and similar issues–a violation of the perception of the worth of the offended individual/group–the importance or perception of which may vary from person to person but is identifiable through examination, if one is willing to put aside one’s privilege and look for it.

    It also isn’t appropriate to say, “I wouldn’t feel like that, if it were me” because a man, for instance, can’t put himself in a woman’s place when discussions of rape happen–he hasn’t been raised in that fear, hasn’t experienced what women have, can’t see through a woman’s eyes (and, too often, doesn’t understand that that’s the case.) White people can’t put themselves into the shoes of POC–there’s no way they can ever know what living with that particular lack of privilege, all one’s life, feels like. Being a woman and experiencing a woman’s lack of privilege doesn’t equip me to empathize with the lack of privilege a POC has experienced–they’re different issues. Being a woman in the US doesn’t equip me to fully understand the lack of privilege that women in certain Middle Eastern countries experience. No one, not even a member of the offended group, can point to what someone perceives as an offense and say, “your feelings about that aren’t valid.” It’s not a contest, and no one wins that kind of argument.

  137. CC, I tried to make a point to say that it is up to the individuals to decide. So no one should take the response of one individual and expand it to the other individuals.

    If that wasn’t clear enough, I wrote something a few months ago here:

    http://www.warhw.com/equality-arts-dojo-short/

    It is also helpful to keep in mind that your emotions are valid, and you are responsible for them. No one should tell you to stop feeling angry. No one should tell you to start feeling guilty. You’re feelings are valid whatever they are. And someone getting into your head to tell you how you should be feeling should send up red flags that the conversation has derailed.

    One lesbian doesn’t get to speak for all lesbians or get to tell all lesbians how they should react. I think that addresses the issue.

  138. Greg, my comment wasn’t meant to be critical of you or your comment–I hope you don’t think that–but to forestall anyone who might read it and see an opportunity to offer the old “my (offended group) info-source is okay with it, so maybe it’s really okay” argument in response. I’ve seen it happen too often in similar discussions. Your point was an entirely valid and helpful one. I’m just a little gunshy, after other discussions I’ve been in, about what argument some participants might choose bring to the table.

  139. CC 143: TPTB (all men)

    Wrong. The Powers That Be do not consist of “all men.” They are a few men who lord it over all other men and all women; also, in general men have more power than women, and at any given social level the men tend to be more powerful than the women. But you’ve pushed your generalization beyond the point where it captures truth. It’s like saying “all white men are more powerful than all black women.” It’s a collective generalization, but put that way it implies that I’m more powerful than Oprah, which is patently absurd. What IS true is that IN GENERAL being male (or white) counts as a plus in the power acquisition game, whereas being female (or a POC) counts against you.

    Of course, it’s pretty true that all TPTB are men…but we were talking about TPTB within SyFy, and while I wouldn’t be surprised to find that they are all men, I don’t know for sure that that’s the case.

    The rest of this post makes good sense, and even makes the point that some men DO have a clue.

  140. Xopher: I was specifically talking about TPTB in respect to SGU–the producers, show-runners and staff writers are (and were for SG1 and SGA) all men. I wasn’t talking about SyFy or larger media. Those in charge of SGU are the ones who we should be trying to reach with our objections.

  141. Well, since the gender of the writers have been brought up, I should add that this episode is written by a female freelancer, by the name of Barbara; last name as yet unknown.

    Of course, the script will be rewritten by the staff writers, who are indeed all male. It will be produced by Brad Wright. How much of the original script is rewritten, and who wrote the script pages that are causing all the controversy, are all unknown.

  142. Wait, sorry, a correction: I’m not sure who will be doing the rewrites. It could be the staff writers, or they could give notes to the freelancer, allowing her to do her own rewrites.

    One more unknown, then.

  143. “Anyway, Mr.Scalzi, sir, when you were announced as advisor to SGU I experienced a small chill of dread similar to the one I experienced when Al Gore got the VP nomination: you are so much better than they are.”

    It’s pretty sad to admit it, but I agree wholeheartedly. The past two Stargate shows are not known for their critical examinations of race and gender. In truth, they boil down to the adventures of two white males while women and minorities get sidelined. SG1 had Jack and Daniel, Atlantis had John and Rodney. They were the focus, they were the ones who saved the day the most.

    In contrast, Teal’c, Teyla, and Ronon played the part of noble savage to a tee. Sam had to share command with an inexperienced white male in the last two seasons. Vala turned from a tough, independent woman into a girly, hairdryer-lugging toots attached to Daniel’s hip. Elizabeth spent more time playing nagging mommy to John and Rodney instead of being a successful diplomat.

    Now I hear that many of the same writers are tackling issues such as rape and homosexuality on the new show. Many of same writers who couldn’t conceive that Lucius was a rapist, who instead though he was such a riot that he should get another show wasted on him. Many of the same writers who played up the forced kiss between Rodney and Carson for an “ewww!” and a laugh. And fans think I should trust that these people will do a good job on these big ethical and moral issues when they’ve fucked up so much in the past? Are you kidding me?

  144. PG15: it’s also unknown, still, whether the script/plot was born from her pitch, or whether the staff created the story and then gave it to her flesh out, but, yes, all story development and control is in the hands of the staff.

  145. Corby @ #131:
    (and the whole idea of lesbians never being penetrated is ridiculous. Most lesbians I know have pet cocks.)

    And, um, you don’t see any important differences between the silicone and biological versions? (Other than size, of course.) Or between a woman with a pet cock and a man?

    Hint: these little issues are significant to many. Not just monosexuals, either.

  146. CC, the Stargate writers and producers have a history of playing hot potato whenever spoilers and episodes become controversial. They also have a habit of sticking many fingers into many pies, what with multiple producers and writers for a single episode. It’s rare for anyone to take full responsibility when the shit hits the fan. I wouldn’t be surprised if it plays out here as well.

  147. “one in which his body was used without his knowledge or consent for sex, then yes, it was rape. ” – CC

    Ok. Uh, the very nature of bodyswapping(or symbiote hosting) is a rape of sorts because the ‘owner’ of the body is no longer in possesion of it. Sometimes this aspect is the main reason for including a body/mind swap, but most times it is glossed over in the cliche of swapping to show the ever popular “It’s who we are on the inside that counts.”

    Really what you are all missing is that this episode is NOT about cliches. It’s about appropriate use of access to someone else’s twitter account.

  148. Patrick: Rape is about consent. If a person consents to swap bodies with another person or allows a symbiote to share their body, that’s not rape. Permitted access to someone else’s body, whether it be through consciousness sharing/swapping or sex, is not rape. The issue is permission. That’s why sex is not rape and rape is not sex. I’m not sure, from your response, that you actually understand what rape is, or want to, based on the flippant tone of your closing statements.

  149. circle square circle: I saw someone comment that it’s interesting that JoeM is the one left holding the bag on this one, that he’s the only one who commented further about it while others just pointed and said, “What he said,” because, of all of them, he probably had the least to do with this ep. I find that interesting.

  150. CC – I probably missed something upstream on this comment thread because there’s all sorts of crazy talk that I just can’t uh, just can’t. And yeah, I do tend to make silly comments.

    I jumped to the possibly wrong conclusion that you interpret the brief descriptions of this episode as rape because they bodyswap and then have sex using the borrowed body. Your comment jumped out of the crazy talk as I skimmed for amusement value.

    Assuming these are consensual swaps, which they haven’t always been in previous SG shows, then the permission to use the borrowed body for sex is implied(or possibly discussed or part of a waiver signing or whatever) assuming this is an extended swap. Also, it’s probably implied that you should wash it occaisionally and feed it. Maybe get in a few good workouts and eat that healthy food too.

    I’m just saying, you’re already taking a giant leap(suspension of disbelief) by accepting the bodyswap. To look at the moral implications of sex after avoids looking at the implication of identity and self when swapping is possible because you have seperated the definition of you and your body at that point. Often in this cliche bodyswap it is skipped in favor of lighter moral quandries.

    Twitter(or other social network identity) would be the closest thing we have to this. :)

    Admittedly, I am skimming and may have missed some things.

    And yes, I do know what rape is and does far more intimately than I would ever wish upon anyone else.

  151. Lexie@133 Let me clarify – I in NO WAY equate being bald to being black, gay, etc. What I was saying is that you were being very cavalier about bald men, and it is actually very hurtful.

    Let me also say, bald men ARE ridiculed in public; don’t get promotions like younger, more attractive men; are considered sickly or old or ugly by advertisers; and by virtue of being ignored or thought of as unappealing are routinely denied recreational opportunities. Not to the extent IN ANY WAY as gays, blacks, Jews, poor, etc. But that doesn’t mean one gets to be insensitive to them just because they don’t have it as bad.

    Also, those with red hair were persecuted and killed in some societies. Just throwing that out there.

    As far as the advertisers go, I wasn’t judging, I was stating. I personally think it’s terrible how they manipulate with their money. I also think shoving gay characters down the advertiser’s throats is a good way to have no advertisers, and no show. Chicken, egg, irrelevant. You have to be more subtle and more devious to tackle those topics. Put a character on the show, a male, and don’t give him a sexuality. A few episodes in, he meets a guy. A couple more episodes, they go on a date. Season finale, they kiss. Now you have a show everyone watches that just happens to have gay male characters who have just kissed. And the ratings are great. And the advertisers are happy. And next season, you have TWO gay characters, and more serious shows with serious gay characters. It’s a matter of degree; moving the bar incrementally. Does it suck? Yes. Am I happy about it? No. But it’s not really going to work much better any other way you try it, unless you get very, very, very lucky.

    There are a lot of politics and hand-wringing in Hollywood. Especially now. The same but different approach is the only thing that works. You have to make changes from the inside. Pressure works, but not overnight. Not as fast I would like it to, nor any of you apparently, but there you go. The activists have done a great job, but there is still resistance, and that’s not going to change until the perception of how gay-friendly we are as a country changes. And that won’t change until we can get Prop 8 repealed and all states allow gay marriage. And that may not happen until the old repressed guard dies off.

    One last thing. The topic of rape is a contentious one, and rightly so. I just want to throw one thought out there that may play into the show. I’m not going to say rape is OK – that would just be absurd. I am going to refer to a celebrated book by Richard K. Morgan called Altered Carbon that plays around with identity and body switching. In his book, consciousness is the determiner of identity, not the body you are in. In this philosophy, no one would think twice about having sex regardless of the body they are in, and one would assume switch bodies with the express intent of having weird sex. No one would call this rape. My question is, not having seen the show, not knowing how they view the body switching (I have not seen the other episodes that feature it), how can we know that in the context of the SG:U conceit it will be viewed as the one who has the body is in charge and can do what they will? Just because we don’t think like that doesn’t mean they don’t start to think that way on the show. If that is NOT how they think about it on the show, the scene is rape. No question. (Who’s raping who is a fair question, though.)

    Lastly, Susan@154, that was not my point. The comment was that women have ways of knowing they’d been penetrated. I took that to mean the commenter was saying lesbians don’t have penetrative sex, and was refuting that specific idea. Yes, there is a huge difference between the pet and the human variety of cock.

  152. Corby – The consciousness actor plays the character, if that gives any hint. Or at least that is how it was handled in the original SG1 series.

  153. PatrickM: “I jumped to the possibly wrong conclusion that you interpret the brief descriptions of this episode as rape because they bodyswap and then have sex using the borrowed body.”

    No, that was the right conclusion–I feel that having sex in a body that is not yours, or having sex with a body that isn’t inhabited by the person to whom the body belongs, IS rape if consent for the sex isn’t given by the owner of the body before it is used for sex. It would be similar to assaulting someone who is unconscious, which is also rape–that person isn’t in conscious control of their body, their consciousness is absent when the assault happens, they are not able to give consent for the act, they have to deal with the repercussions of that act on their body when they regain consciousness. It doesn’t matter that they aren’t aware of the rape when it’s happening and don’t remember it–rape isn’t just about someone doing something that upsets you while it’s happening, it’s about someone doing something to your body that you haven’t given consent to.

    There’s been discussion about whether any consent for sexual activity would be discussed, or even if that discussion would be possible, given that we don’t know much about the mechanics of how the swap would work. You may not be aware that it’s unlikely that any woman would give blanket consent for her body to be used for any sex act with any person the borrower chooses; sex puts women’s bodies more at risk than it does men’s. It’s also less likely when the available pool for partners includes people one lives and works with, every day. That sort of potential vulnerability would be very uncomfortable for a woman, many of whom deal with difficult issues of sexual harassment already. Add to that that the body’s owner is a lesbian and isn’t interested in sharing her body with ANY men and that she actively dislikes the person who the borrower chooses and it becomes a real nightmare for her. (Which the show staff seem to have intended, since they say, themselves, that they’re aware that that scenario is rape.)

    So, consent. She consents to let her body be used for the purpose of allowing someone from home to be able to have access to the ship in order to fix a problem that could kill them all. That doesn’t give the borrower carte blanche to do whatever she wants with the borrowed body. She would, of course, be expected to do whatever was necessary to maintain the body’s health; she would not be expected to take sexual liberties with the body. If they rewrite the episode to remove the sex or include a scene wherein consent for the use of the body for sex is given, then that’s different. I doubt that that will happen, though; these guys apparently feel that rape is edgy, or something.

    When I responded to your comment, earlier, what I said was that, for BOTH body sharing/swapping and sex, consent was key. That’s consent for EACH; they aren’t the same thing and shouldn’t be lumped together. The use of the body for its intended purpose is fine, when consent is given. If Wray comes back to a sticky, sore, possibly diseased or pregnant body when she didn’t give permission for her body to be used that way, if she has to put up with leering or ugly comments, if she has to live with the knowledge that someone she dislikes, a MALE someone she dislikes, and works with, has had intimate knowledge of her body without her consent, then, yes, she has every reason to feel raped, because she has been. JoeM apparently feels that that’s true, too, so whether it is or isn’t doesn’t seem to be the issue, anymore. It’s that they’re probably still going to do it.

  154. Corby: You’re absolutely right when you say that being bald is absolutely nothing like being a POC where denial of basic human rights is concerned.

    Were you aware that there are shows, already, with openly gay characters? And that they have advertisers? It doesn’t mean the immediate death of a show through lack of advertising dollars if a gay character appears. Whether gay characters are used has as much or more to do with what producers think their target demographic want to see, as well as what they want to produce, themselves.

    If you’re comfortable with reading books or watching media in which body rights and consent are treated as fluid and less than absolute, that’s fine. Many people, especially those who deal with these issues of body ownership and consent in real life, every day, are not. This isn’t an interesting (or sexy) idea to contemplate, for many, and those people will say so when that’s what’s presented to them as entertainment. Many people feel that, in a culture that already doesn’t deal well with these issues and their ramifications for individuals without the power to exert absolute control over their own bodies, offering these scenarios as entertainment may not be a positive thing. If this is the first time you’ve encountered objections to the use of rape as entertainment, I’m sure you’ll hear more, in future, and maybe you’ll be reminded of this discussion and the opinions and insights that were offered, here.

  155. Corby: I forgot to add–I was talking about penile penetration when I talked about evidence being present that a woman has been penetrated or Wray never having been penetrated. It’s penile penetration that’s the issue with the ep, and not object penetration, as far as I know. And, yes, there are major, and easily discernible, differences.

  156. CC@164, you are being insulting and passive aggressive. Perhaps you should read all of what I said before attacking me.

    To clarify – the comment was about gay men kissing and being raped. That is NOT on TV – the gays are funny and the lesbians are sexy. Very few average gay characters – they are what advertisers want to think they are – no more no less. Yes, there are gays on TV. I never once said there wasn’t. But not to the extent that there should be.

    Lest you feel I somehow don’t understand “gays”; I am bisexual, my brother is gay and HIV positive at 18, I belong to a number of gay and lesbian groups, regularly attended Gay Pride when I lived anywhere near it, and lived in the gay district in San Diego for a number of years. Unless I’m an idiot, which may be true, I think I have a fairly good line on at least the concept of gay rights and the difficulties thereof.

    Second, when did I say the idea was “sexy”? You are focusing on the parts of my comment that allow you to be outraged and not on the context and content of my actual comments. I very clearly stated that it depends on how it is handled, and that would determine if it were rape. Rape isn’t dictated by you, CC. It is determined by the person it happens to. Unless you feel you know better than they do.

    Comments like this “If this is the first time you’ve encountered objections to the use of rape as entertainment, I’m sure you’ll hear more, in future, and maybe you’ll be reminded of this discussion and the opinions and insights that were offered, here.” are incredibly patronizing. You may want to work on that. (See how that sounds?)

    Also, the whole “bald” thing – again, you don’t get to determine how that effects me. And you don’t get to be patronizing about it.

  157. jenon@130, regarding the dual roles being played:

    That was what I initially thought, too, and I initially started to type the post that way.

    But this is the SG universe, and as I recall (a) how the Ancient mind-exchange tech has been shown before, and (b) what pg15 says in his #24, I have to stand by the formulation I gave. When the SG storytellers introduced this particular techno-toy, they adopted a different convention for showing us mind-transferred people than most every other SF series had used before, and it changes the nature of the acting assignment.

    When we see the character of Perry occupying Wray’s body onscreen — assuming they’re consistent with prior portrayals of the tech being used — viewers will see the guest actress’s body walking around the spacecraft, but what the other characters would perceive would be Wray’s body (which is, in fact, actually there), in which Perry’s mind has taken up temporary residence.

    In this specific case, I’ll grant you that the convention creates kind of a strange onscreen dynamic, and I strongly suspect that this particular storyline is very unlike any other in which the mind-exchanger has been used to date. (I’d welcome input from others in the gallery on this point.) But it’s what’s been established, and assuming they keep to continuity, it’s what we can expect to see.

  158. Myself@167: And just to be totally clear, I should have defined “actually there” above as being from the perspective of the SG:U characters, not the actors and crew on set.

  159. “You may not be aware that it’s unlikely that any woman would give blanket consent for her body to be used for any sex act with any person the borrower chooses;” -cc

    You may not be aware that it’s unlikely I would give someone complete consent to use my body for anything – sex or otherwise.

    It kind of goes along with my severe resistance to being hypnotised for entertainment.

    Heck, I’ve had enough bad experiences with loaning people cars.

    It’s a plot device that requires suspension of disbelief for both the technology and the moral ambiguity. They may not have time onscreen to thoroughly discuss all the moral quadries.

    And again – it is an issue of identifying of self through one’s body which after swapping with someone, body = self probably doesn’t hold true as much. You seem to be missing that part of my point. Remember – it is a swap.

    Is your outrage the same when a female consciousness took over Rodney McKay in Stargate Atlantis – against his will?

  160. Corby: What I’m trying to be, in all of my replies, is restrained and polite, as Mr. Scalzi requested. I’m not saying everything I would probably say if I were speaking in my own journal, and that’s probably a good thing; I don’t think that you would like my comments any better if I were.

    The comment you made about gay characters in television that I was responding to was: “I also think shoving gay characters down the advertiser’s throats is a good way to have no advertisers, and no show.” That and your step-by-step plan for including gay characters on shows made it seem to me that you weren’t aware that there were gay characters on television, or advertisers for those shows.

    If we’re sharing cred, I have to admit I have history and experience that informs my own opinions on treatment of lesbians in media, disability and victims of sexual assault–things that I think qualify me to talk about my reactions to what’s in this ep as a member of offended groups. My comments to others regarding these issues will reflect that perspective, as will my feelings about the comments others make. You don’t see anything offensive in what you’re saying, and I do, including your comparisons between being bald and being a POC, even though that’s not a group I’m a part of.

    As far as whether what happens in this episode is rape, that’s been determined by the creators of the ep, according to JoeM. They say that they’re aware that it is.

  161. I guess being the geezer here means I really don’t get why anyone should be so upset about a story, a fiction. Many of you are probably willing to look at horror grotesqueries and gore in movies or read about them in books. I find that stuff deeply offensive, but millions of people love it. And they are not axe murderers.

    Political correctness and trying-hard-not-to-offend-someone end up causing bad art and stifling both expression and creativity.

    I hope you realize that you are not far from the even crazier types who want to suppress Harry Potter as the devil’s work.

    I haven’t seen the episode, as I believe no one but Scalzi or another insider could have, but, could it be that the rape is a major plot point and, wouldn’t the lesbian character talk about it? And, might not the story itself directly or indirectly widen people’s understanding of just what rape and real disability are?

    Leave the writers, artists and filmmakers to make their own decisions. Don’t watch it or read it if it offends you. And understand that simply because you are offended does not mean it’s offensive.

    Before going crazy about an episode of a show that hasn’t been broadcast yet, how about not rushing to judgment?

    Oh, I’ve been bald for 40 years.

  162. PatrickM: No, I wasn’t aware of that, based on what you’d been saying, but I am, now. And I won’t allow hypnotism, either, for either entertainment or therapeutic purposes–to vulnerable-making. Just the thought makes me anxious. I do loan my car, but only to people I care about, which isn’t something I’d ever thought about before, hmm.

    There’s a great deal of technological suspension of belief in SG (beginning with the stargate, itself) but I don’t typically extend that suspension of disbelief to the behavior of characters on the show; I can believe that a woman would walk through a stargate but not that she would be good with a stranger using her body for sex, especially not in these circumstances. I need some grounding in reality for the characters, I need them to be people with traits I can somehow recognize, if not entirely identify with, for the whole thing to be worthwhile for me and for me to be able to connect with them. Especially when so much else about the show is so handwavy.

    I would agree with you about swapping if it were a permanent trade; if you and I agree to swap forever, then your body is now mine and I’ll carry on living as I would normally. If I’m coming back to my body, if I’m just borrowing yours, it’s not mine and I don’t have the same rights. If I borrowed your car (which you probably wouldn’t do, as you said, but, anyway) then I’d take better care of it than if you gave it to me, seeing as it wasn’t really mine, even though I occupied and possessed it. I have to give it back to you. You have a right to have some say in what I do with it and what condition you receive it back in. (Not the greatest analogy, but this is what I’m trying to express, the difference between borrowing and ownership and the attendant rights and responsibilities of each.) And, again, the potential consequences of unwanted sexual activity are potentially far more devastating for a woman than a man; she has a lot at stake, here.

    Re: Rodney and Duet–yes! She treated him atrociously. She didn’t have the right to behave the way she did, and it was hurtful and not funny. She was obnoxious and took advantage and he had every right to feel as outraged as he did. The creators didn’t think so because they played it for laughs and had everyone treat him as though he were the one behaving badly (as they are wont to do.) It wasn’t Cadman’s fault that she was in there, but she was entirely disrespectful of the owner of the body while she was. Those kisses were violations, though he only really minded one. Still wrong.

  163. Rick York: Thank you for letting us know how very much you don’t get it and how little you care. The conversation has been greatly enriched by your contribution.

  164. CC said “What I’m trying to be, in all of my replies, is restrained and polite, as Mr. Scalzi requested.”

    Why? I haven’t been rude, mean, insensitive, dismissive, defensive, or any other -ive. I’ve been very upfront that I am unhappy with the treatment of gays and lesbians. I’ve been having a nice and informative conversation about a contentious subject in a polite way where I neither accused anyone, nor made myself the arbiter of truth, with the exception of advertiser dollars and Hollywood, which I feel at least mildly informed on considering being a screenwriter is a career goal and I’ve researched the business quite a bit. So why attack me?

    The gay characters I was talking about were specifically out male gay characters in a serious show instead of a screwball comedy who only hug to show affection. Find more than one or two of those. Southland did it, it has advertisers, and I am fairly certain they will show him in bed with another man this next season. Groundbreaking and necessary.

    I was also very clear that I was NOT comparing being bald with being a POC, just that there is more to being bald than women who are not bald and men who are not bald know, since they are not bald and all. Just like you don’t know what it’s like to be married to my wife and I have no idea about anything when it comes to you, except that you seem willing to take immediate offense to reasoned arguments without any sort of clarification to see if maybe, just maybe, you are creating your own meaning instead of taking the author at their word.

    You are free to take offense to anything I say, naturally, but that doesn’t mean what I said was offensive.

    As far as the rape on the show goes, I found out that they consider it rape after I posted. I merely mentioned Altered Carbon, a very well-regarded book that you would apparently be incredibly offended by, in context of what the body-switching meant to the characters. Knowing what I know now, I see that I was barking up the wrong tree, but that doesn’t make my general argument invalid, just immaterial.

    I only pointed out my “cred” because you spoke to me like a twelve-year-old without a tv who doesn’t go outside, not like a 39 year old man with a wife and kid who is fairly intelligent. You might try it – I’m much more polite when you do.

  165. Corby@166: Rape isn’t dictated by you, CC. It is determined by the person it happens to. Unless you feel you know better than they do.

    Er, but, no.

    If you’re talking about an actual incident, then the person who was raped gets to determine if they press charges or not. But others can weigh in with their opinion. If the victim ends up dead, for example, I think the prosecuter can decide to bring up the charge of rape along with murder and whatever else.

    If you’re talking about a fictional story, then anyone in the audience gets to have their own interpretation of what the characters went through. Just because the clueless straight white male author wrote a story about a lesbian who goes straight after some good male loving, just because that’s what the character says happened in the story, doesn’t mean people can’t call bullshit.

    Yeah, the idea of body-swapping is an idea that requires suspension of disbelief. But allowing yourself to believe body-swapping is possible, doesn’t mean people suddenly have to alter their attitudes about betrayal and nonconsenting sex. It doesn’t mean people have to adopt a liquid view of what is “their” body and “their” consciousness.

    CC gets to have her experience of the story. You get to have yours.

    And as far as who gets to “dictate” what to whom, the nature of your comments from very early on have been of an absolute (i.e. dictating) form. Your post @131:

    This has to do with the American mindset. There is only so far the media can or will push American sensibilities … The advertisers look at that and realize they need to be on a show without gays…. They want people to buy products, so they find shows that don’t push the envelope too far. Shows that would be truly groundbreaking don’t get made because advertisers are nervous about aligning their products with them

    Absolute statements that are totally encompassing in its description of how all advertisers operate. Actually, not just how they operate, but how they think. You actually report the mindreading of advertisers in that post. You report cause and effect on some extremely ethereal topics. Why do advertisers choose the shows they advertise on? Well, you tell us exactly why, because they’re nervous, because they realize they must be on a show without gays, because, because because. You imply causal connection as a premise on most of your points with zero proof to support them.

    More absolute dictates. You at 161: As far as the advertisers go, I wasn’t judging, I was stating. (stating what? Absolute unquestionable fact?) … You have to be more subtle and more devious to tackle those topics. … it’s not really going to work much better any other way you try it, unless you get very, very, very lucky. There are a lot of politics and hand-wringing in Hollywood. Especially now. The same but different approach is the only thing that works. You have to make changes from the inside. Pressure works, but not overnight. … And that won’t change until we can get Prop 8 repealed and all states allow gay marriage.

    “Have to” is the language of dictating. “The only thing that works” is the language of dictating.

    What I’ve been reading in CC’s posts is that she’s defending her right to experience this story as portraying a rape. The most “dictating” language she uses is when she says “many” people who’ve dealt with rape themselves will see it the same way.

    You’re dictating how the world is, how all advertises think, and what people have to do in order to change the world.

    So, if you are angry at CC because she is “dictating”, then check your own language first.

  166. Rick@171: you are not far from the even crazier types who want to suppress Harry Potter as the devil’s work.

    Hm, lemme try this for a second.

    Disabled people are angry because casting call describes quadriplegic as “useless”. Lesbians are angry because story plot just happens to invoke a bigoted stereotype about lesbians.

    If this were to extend to Harry Potter, then the people who would be mad would have to be real life wizards who think Harry misrepresents wizardry. Or it would have to be people who think they’ve been the victims of real-life wizardry and think the book downplays the real evils that wizards have inflicted upon them.

    Uh, no, I don’t think you quite grasp the problem.

  167. Corby: I realize, as I said, that you don’t see what you’ve said as offensive, and you don’t understand why I find it offensive. That’s a given, and there’s nothing that I can really add to that. It’s possible that the way you express yourself isn’t entirely representative of what you mean; it’s possible that, through the filters of my experience, what you’re saying sounds more offensive than someone without those filters or experiences would expect it to be. As was discussed up-thread, offense is in the eye of the beholder, not the perpetrator; it’s like hitting someone in the arm and then saying, when they complain, “Oh, that didn’t hurt!” You don’t know what hurts if you’re not on the receiving end. If you don’t share the life experiences that are being discussed, you also may not have enough insight into what’s hurtful to make that judgment for those who are offended.

    I really don’t want to get into a point-by-point argument over what I find offensive in the things that you’ve said and why I react to them the way I do; there’s too much there, and the discussion would be more self-revelatory than I want to be with a stranger and in a public forum. I’m sorry if you’ve felt attacked; while I strongly disagree with and was offended by a number of things that you’ve said, I have tried to show restraint when responding. I don’t think it would be productive for us to continue to discuss this, but if you would like to have the last word on the subject, please do.

  168. Greg, I’m not dictating to a person how to feel, I’m explaining advertising. There is a rather huge difference.

    I’ll admit that police and others establish the legal definition of rape. I’ll even admit I misspoke about establishing something as rape regardless of the other person’s feelings about it. But barring facts, it’s an opinion considering they weren’t there, barring Stockholm Syndrome or some actual mental disorder or break from reality.

    “But allowing yourself to believe body-swapping is possible, doesn’t mean people suddenly have to alter their attitudes about betrayal and nonconsenting sex. It doesn’t mean people have to adopt a liquid view of what is “their” body and “their” consciousness.”

    I never said it did. I said it depends on what the characters think. It is rape if the character says so. It is not rape if the characters effect a “Hey, you’re in the driver’s seat if I’m not here” attitude. That’s not our call, that’s the characters. Anyone is, of course, free to establish their own interpretation, but that doesn’t mean they are right, especially in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

    “Absolute statements that are totally encompassing in its description of how all advertisers operate. Actually, not just how they operate, but how they think.”

    Demographics. Profit. Age ranges. Glen Beck’s advertisers pulled their products from his show because he made certain comments. So, you’re telling me that I am wrong in thinking they won’t advertise on a show with an openly gay male who gets raped? Please. Sure, there are other reasons that character does not exist, but that’s one of the major ones. I figured you would know I didn’t mean “All advertisers, all of the time.” But if a show doesn’t have enough advertisers it doesn’t get made. That is a fact. Sorry if you think I am dictating to you. I am reporting the fact. No advertisers, no show. Ellen had trouble getting advertisers for her show after she came out – some pulled their products. But I don’t know what I’m talking about, right?

    “What I’ve been reading in CC’s posts is that she’s defending her right to experience this story as portraying a rape. The most “dictating” language she uses is when she says “many” people who’ve dealt with rape themselves will see it the same way.”

    So who’s telling her she can’t? I’m certainly not. In fact, I wasn’t even discussing this specifically with her, but with Lexie, not that she can’t jump in. But she was rude from the beginning. Is that my fault? (Apparently.)

    “You’re dictating how the world is, how all advertises think, and what people have to do in order to change the world.”

    Sorry, I was trying to, as a guy who sees no bisexual males on tv, being one myself, give an example of how to get these characters established and visible, so we can start to see them on TV. I guess you missed the vote on Prop 8? I shouldn’t dictate how it went, but we lost. That’s how the Unites States is. Sorry, am I dictating again?

    “So, if you are angry at CC because she is “dictating”, then check your own language first.”

    Fine. That’s doesn’t mean she’s not discating, and I expect you to say these things to her. No? Didn’t think so.

  169. I’m going to leave the moral and ethical realms for just a moment as others have discussed it far more eloquently and ask a question that’s been bugging me about this entire “episode”. This woman is switching bodies with Wray for the express purpose of fixing a possibly fatal (?) problem on board the ship; one which apparently no one on board can deal with and yet, she has time for sex? And if it isn’t a crisis atmosphere and Wray takes this opportunity to return to Earth to see her partner (thereby explaining why this is happening to the only lesbian on board) why would anyone give their consent for someone to have sex in their body on ship where they are trapped with any of the people that other person might be having sex with? How would this work on a go forward basis? Either Wray is the completely disassociated from her body and any situation it might encounter and could care less if she comes back to find that she’s slept with one person or the entire command staff or the rest of the crew and Wray knows Rush raped/molested her and accept it because he’s keeping them alive or they don’t know what Rush has done to Wray nor does she and the writers make us all complicit in the rape? What kind of message is that to send? Do they think they’re making a statement or are we entering Lord of the Flies territory? And if this is suppose to be a ‘very important episode exploring the politics of rape and consent’ then why was it handed over to a freelance female writer who isn’t part of the permanent staff? Wouldn’t that be the kind of thing that a show creator would want to handle personally so that there would be no slip ups or misunderstandings?

    This is why the whole thing strikes me as shock story written for ratings; because they picked the lesbian and no one else; because the only scientist that can help is disabled; because the person she’s having sex with has been turned down by the original owner of the body previously and because unless Rush veers away at the last minute and simply becomes a molester than he is no longer a morally ambiguous character; no, the ‘hero’ of the show has become evil. I suppose Eleanor could blackmail Rush with the knowledge that he slept with Wray and it becomes an ongoing storyline, in which case, Ming Na’s character gets to be ‘raped’ in a literal and figurative sense by a man and a woman. What fun.

    Fifteenth episode eh? That wouldn’t happen to be airing during Sweeps Month would it? :(

  170. And my apologies, I’m not attempting to start a discussion about spoilers for the show, it just seems to me, as others have mentioned, that the idea wasn’t followed through to all the possible ramifications, not only from a moral or ethical standpoint but from a logical one either. Or if it was, then SGU, with this episode if it goes forth unchanged, has become a very different show from what was being hyped at Comic Con, IMHO.

  171. Corby,

    CC is reporting her own personal subjective experience. And since it’s her experience, she’s the only one who can report it. Technically, there’s the possibility that she’s misrepresenting her opinion (people do that) but there’s nothing to suggest that, therefore, the assumption is that she’s reporting her truth.

    You are reporting not your own subjective experience but instead attempting to report how the external world works in an absolute way. Advertisers do this. TV shows are made like this. since you’re not all advertisers, you don’t have the knowledge to report this. And in this case, it seems fairly clear that you are indeed misrepresenting the facts because of your personal experience of how the world works.

    To pick a subjective term just so we can talk in a direct example, let’s use the word “bitter”.

    It may be that CC is feeling bitter. But if so, she’s saying essentially “I feel bitter”, which is a valid statement.

    If you’re feeling bitter that’s fine unto itself, but you’e allowed that bitterness to expanded into your perception and reporting of the outside world, to the point that your reporting things that aren’t so.

    Ellen had trouble getting advertisers for her show after she came out – some pulled their products. But I don’t know what I’m talking about, right?

    It’s a fallacy called hasty generalization. Ellen had trouble, sure, but you then expanded that one example to encompass all shows. You expanded it to the point that you are mind-reading all advertisers in the US. You then dictate to everyone what you assert to be the only possible way to solve teh problem.

    I guess you missed the vote on Prop 8? I shouldn’t dictate how it went, but we lost. That’s how the Unites States is. Sorry, am I dictating again?

    Yeah, you are. The United States isn’t unanimously against Prop 8. Several states currently have legal gay marriage. Many people tried to keep gay marriage in california. But you describe the US as some monolithic anti-gay marriage nation. So, yeah, you’re dictating objecive facts that are wrong.

    Fine. That’s doesn’t mean she’s not dictating, and I expect you to say these things to her. No? Didn’t think so.

    she isn’t dictating how the world operates like you are. She’s reporting her subjective experience about how the incident on the show lands as a rape for her. What do you want me to say? That she’s wrong? That she can’t have that experience? The show sounds like rape to me too. I think the quadriplegic character should be thrown in jail if she uses someone else’s body to have sex without consent.

    What am I supposed to say to her? That she’s wrong for feeling that way? That she’s wrong for having that reaction to the episode? How can she be wrong for feeling a particular way?

    It’d be like saying she’s wrong because she doesn’t like the taste of chocolate ice cream.

    You, on the other hand, tried to say that all ice cream is made with soy, and it isn’t true.

  172. Greg, when have I said anything at all about how she should feel about anything? I said I wasn’t being offensive, even though she took offense. I am talking about me, not her. I said I wasn’t equating bald men to POC; she was patronizing. I said advertisers work a certain way, which they do, and she patronizes me about gay people on TV.

    Yes, you are right, I’m wrong.

    Greg, certain things work certain ways. Not everything, not all the time. Certain things. Advertising. How do I know? Because I read articles and books and watch shows about advertising. I don’t know everything, but I know the general atmosphere. That you couldn’t differentiate between the general “this is how things work” and “this is always in every case how all things always work” may be an issue in my writing – it may be an issue in your perception. Either way, I clarified it is a generality. People voted for Prop 8, and against Prop 8. People outside of CA helped pass Prop 8. That’s the United States. Many people are for gay marriage, many are against gay marriage. Right now, more people seem against it, at least in CA, and it looks like the rest of the US. No, that’s not exactly what I said; it is exactly what I meant. Considering the context I thought it was clear – apparently not.

    Certain things are certain ways. I never told anyone how to feel about anything. I did state facts about a factual thing. That’s not dictating. But call it whatever you want. I’m done.

  173. Corby@182: when have I said anything at all about how she should feel about anything?

    Dude, I never said you did. You have consistently missed my point. CC reported how she FELT about the episode in 164.

    CC@164: If you’re comfortable with reading books or watching media in which body rights and consent are treated as fluid and less than absolute, that’s fine. Many people, especially those who deal with these issues of body ownership and consent in real life, every day, are not.

    She made it about as gawdamn clear as possible that she felt it was rape and you can feel however you want to feel about it, that’s fine. And you come back with this zinger:

    Corby@166: Rape isn’t dictated by you, CC.

    Seriously?

    You took her reporting of her subjective response, where she went out of her way to make sure that you had space to feel however you feel about those kinds of stories, and you turn it completely on its head and attack her for “dictating”?

    WTF?

    Do a seach on this thread. The first occurrence of “dictat” anything is by you in 166. She wasn’t dictating anything. Do you understand? She reported how she felt about those kinds of stories, and you flip it around as if she was dictating how the entire world should feel about it.

    And to your question, no, you never told her how she should feel. The problem is when she told you how she felt, you completely strawmanned it into some kind of dication about how all people should feel about the story.

    But the fact that you missed that key difference isn’t that surprising, because your posts have thus far avoiding your own feelings and the feelings of others. Instead, you’ve approached this thread by laying down your own dictates of how the world of advertising and tv and prop8 all work. So, I guess I”m not terribly surprised that you took CC’s report of her personal feelings and assumed she was dictating about the world like you’ve been.

    I keep trying to tell you that your reaction to CC completely misinterpreted what she said. But rather than get that, you now think I accused you of telling her how to feel. So, now you’ve made the problem twice-removed from the reality. I don’t know what to tell you at this point. The short of it is this:

    CC@164: you can FEEL however you want to FEEL about the story, THAT”S FINE.

    You@166: Rape isn’t dictated by you, CC.

    If your head doesn’t go “sproing” with the massive disconnect between what she said and your characterization of what she said, then I don’t know what to tell you.

  174. “Political correctness and trying-hard-not-to-offend-someone end up causing bad art and stifling both expression and creativity.”

    I think that it’s in fact the opposite. I think that telling stories that ring true to the experiences of a variety of people from a variety of backgrounds makes storytelling more intersting. So many of cliches and stereotypes exist as a kind of shorthand and lazy writing, writers unable or unwilling to think about lives of their characters beyond the writers limmited expereinces.

    As an able bodied person it’s just lazy shorthand to assume that any quadriplegic would be so unhappy with themselves and would need the expereince of body swapping in order to have any intimacy/relationships. It takes more empathy and creativity to write a quadriplegic who accepts themself and doesn’t need those expereinces.

    Oh and lexie, Star Trek DS9 did an episode where there was a character who came from a planet with low gravity and needed special accomondations (I think some kind of high tech wheelchair) to serve on a spaces station. The dcotor offers to cure her so she can live at earth gravity without a wheelchair but she declines becuase doing so would be permanant would make her unable to live comfortably on her home planet.

    Oh and she gets to save the day when she is confronted by some big bad and she ends up turning off the gravity in teh ship and is able to move around better than everyone else and sudues him.

    (also there is a funny scene where the doctor character befirends her and takes her out to dinner thinking she’s never had Klingon food and she totally schools the chef on his lack of technique) Ack this is getting long but it was an example of a disabled character who gets to save the day on her own terms and rejects the magic youcanwalk ray.

  175. Where are the positive portrayals of people with disabilities played by actual disabled actors, anyhow?
    Breaking Bad and Deadwood.

  176. As an able bodied person it’s just lazy shorthand to assume that any quadriplegic would be so unhappy with themselves and would need the expereince of body swapping in order to have any intimacy/relationships. It takes more empathy and creativity to write a quadriplegic who accepts themself and doesn’t need those expereinces.

    Er, many quadruplegics do quite well in both the intimacy and the relationships departments. As someone in the situation once put it to me: if you have a tongue and a mouth, you can have sex. The person in question also had a brain, creativity and a long-term relationship. This idea that PWD don’t need/want/obtain sexual fulfillment is quite innacurate.

    That said, I’m with Cimmer, above – the idea of a brilliant, driven scientist in a crisis situation sudenly stopping to have Teh Sex in a borrowed body strikes me as lousy characterisation as well as needlessly exploitative and crass (and rape, in this context – the owner of the body has explicitly stated that the body is sexually off limits to a particular man, and he has sex with it anyhow. In what universe is that not rape?).

  177. *Pops back in*

    To those who are asking questions such as “how can she have time for sex in a crisis situation?” and so forth, please understand that what’s leaked is a tiny amount of the actual episode. By my count, probably 5 minutes max, out of 42 minutes. Thus, you’re missing a lot of details that could potentially answer your questions and still have it be “normal”, so to speak. Heck, for all we know, the leaked pages are a part of a dream sequence. We have no idea, folks. We don’t even know what this crisis is, at all, in any way.

    Ok. Cool.

    *Pops back out*

  178. pg15 I understand that this may be five minutes or it may be the entire episode, it doesn’t really matter to me; it sounds like the crisis is a set up for the sex and that squicks me because it smacks of exploitation on a very basic level. This is a television show and somewhere, someone thought of this as ‘entertainment’ ( I have an uncomfortable picture in my head of the Coliseum and the entertainment it provided for the Romans) and I like to think that people are better than that. I like to think that but I’ve seen enough bad TV over the years and heard the buzz words, ‘a very special episode’ or seen the kinds of shows that come out for rating sweeps to be a little cynical.

    It would have been hard enough to do this episode (if it was felt to be necessary) with a top notch writer on a par with Ursula K. Due to its subject matter just on the issues of body switching and consensual sex alone it certainly deserves the entire 42 minutes of an episode if not more; but we’ve also got the disabled scientist issue as well and if they really did only spend five minutes on this or anything less than several episodes reallly, then that makes this worse, at least for me. If one is going to tackle something this sensitive and potentially offend this many people than they better spend a lot of time on this issue and it better come up again in future eps. There should be long ranging consequences and it should be a character changing event and if it’s anything less than that, IMO, then it’s a cheap ratings ploy and deserves condemnation on every level. It’s the equivalent of yelling ‘Fire’ in a crowded theater; there had better be a fire because anything less is reprehensible.

    Honestly, when it comes right down to it, for me at least, I thank the person who leaked these cut sheets because I shudder to think what the episode may have been like if so many people hadn’t questioned the creative team and the network. The wording used in the sheets didn’t occur in a vacuum. There comes a point where if you’re running a show or directing a movie, you’re like the Captain of a ship, the buck stops with you and your ‘crew’ takes their cues from you. It bothers me that these sheets went out and no one except this person who leaked them said “whoa, this isn’t right”.

    Honestly I don’t even understand why the phrasing about the actress being thin was in there either – because they think no one wants to see Rush getting it on with a realistically sized actress? That wouldn’t be sexy? There’s simply so many offensive tags in here that it shocks me that no one got it before these red flags were raised on LJ and various blogs. Do the creators see the world so differently from so many of us or perhaps more distressingly, they don’t.

  179. Patrick – Is your outrage the same when a female consciousness took over Rodney McKay in Stargate Atlantis – against his will?

    Funny you should say that – as I recall the general opinion in fandom was that her behaviour was completely out of line. I read many fanfics dealing with the issues, some authors clearly seeing Cadman as a villian for the way she took over Rodney’s body and rode roughshod over his wishes.

    This is a good example actually, of how much more seriously fandom takes these things that TPTB. After Daniel was raped by Hathor there were a multitude of fics dealing with the aftermath of his experience.

    And after the atrocious Lucius episodes in SGA there were a great many fanfic writers who took the serial rapes very seriously indeed. Stories that dealt with the possibilty that Lucius was true to form and raped Teyla & Elizabeth, as he clearly wanted to. (Many dealing with him doing the same thing to Ronon & Rodney as well.)

    Fandom has a way of working through the serious issues that the shows creators just seem to brush aside, laugh off, or are completely oblivious to.

    Doubtless fans of SGU (if there are any by the time this episode airs) will have to do the same thing for poor Wray, even if it’s just to come to terms with it in their own minds.

  180. Greg@183, did you not see where I said “I’ll admit that police and others establish the legal definition of rape. I’ll even admit I misspoke about establishing something as rape regardless of the other person’s feelings about it.”

    That is done, IMHO. I already admitted I misspoke. What else do you want?

    I’ve spoken about my feelings – I said I FEEL it is rape if the character says it is, it isn’t if the character says it isn’t because of their specific viewpoint. But I also don’t KNOW because the episode has not aired yet. There is no context and I FEEL outrage is a bit premature. This tracks with everything else I’ve said.

    I FEEL gays are underrepresented on TV. I FEEL the only way to get them on is to be sneaky about it, and I laid out a plan to do so. I actually have a horse in this race, and what I stated is MY FEELING about it.

    CC was patronizing and rude. She may not have meant to be, but I gave her the chance to own up and she didn’t. OK, then. Her parting remark was the rudest of all – I now have HER PERMISSION to have the last word. Well, shucks. Thanks.

    As to your other point – I don’t know what to tell you. If I tell you how a car works, I’m not dictating, I’m explaining. If I tell you how an equation works, I’m explaining. I know a pretty good deal of how advertising works and that’s how it works. Not all the time on everything, but generally. Advertisers want to make money, they do that by appealing to the largest audience, who are attached to shows that have lots of viewers, with subjects and characters who do not challenge them too much. Again, not always, but generally. SG:U has a built in audience. If they start out with controversial topics, they may lose that audience, and the advertisers will abandon the show. That is what happens. I’m explaining, not dictating.

    But I was told how offensive I was, even though I was never told what was offensive in what I said, just that I said it. How Kafkaesque. I was told, in a passive-aggressive tone, that I find rape entertaining. Interesting. Her whole post to me was condescending. (I had my wife read it, too. She was put off by what CC said.) I don’t for one second think when she says “That’s fine.” that she means “That’s fine.” Rather, I FEEL she means the exact opposite. Like this statement you quoted “Many people, especially those who deal with these issues of body ownership and consent in real life, every day, are not.” Real life, huh? I guess I don’t deal with consent issues and body ownership in real life. She’s telling me how people feel who aren’t me, and in a backward way, telling me how I feel. Nope, no “dictating” there.

    Or this one “If this is the first time you’ve encountered objections to the use of rape as entertainment, I’m sure you’ll hear more, in future, and maybe you’ll be reminded of this discussion and the opinions and insights that were offered, here.” I’m not twelve. Not that she knows that, but she could give me the benefit of the doubt and at least ask in a non-condescending way if I’m aware of certain things.

    CC sought out my posts and was rude. I responded and tried to clarify. Now you are taking me to task for defending myself after being attacked, trying to clarify my position, albeit with an edge of annoyance, and refuse to see where she was rude in the first place. I posited a question, she indicated by her tone and the fact that she didn’t clarify without being even more condescending, that I may enjoy rape as entertainment. You don’t see anything wrong with that? OK. I guess it must just be me.

  181. Where are the positive portrayals of people with disabilities played by actual disabled actors, anyhow?

    Four Weddings and a Funeral?

  182. Gillian – that’s great that Fanfic writers want to dive into that. The show is a cartoon. A comic. The characters are superheroes. Sure we relate to the characters as CC said that’s why she watches and indeed one of the things I enjoy.

    But they are superheroes in a violent scenario brushing off much of the psychological impact. It’s why the show itself works. Now, some part of Fandom is invested in the world and takes on the real issues in it. Great. I’m not interested.

    I love my campy superheroes. I love that we gloss over violence with stun guns in these shows. It’s not real and I don’t wish it to be. How many times has Daniel Jackson ascended?

    If SGU decides to take on ‘serious issues’, I shall not be a fan. I watch to laugh at my superheroes. I don’t expect them to react negatively to horrific scenarios, because they wouldn’t be superhuman anymore. Would they?

  183. Patrick M, describing the characters as “superheroes” defines what they do and how they cope with external crises. It speaks to what they can do and to an extent, the vicissitudes of the world around them. In short, it’s what they do rather than who they are.

    The scenario being explained here is not an external crisis; it’s very intimate. The whole idea of body-swapping demands that we think of what constitutes a character and a personality, and what the personal impact of the situation is. It doesn’t have to turn into A Very Special Stargate, but it can’t be glossed over the way particle physics or FTL can.

  184. They are superhuman in every aspect of the word. Whether it is Ascending, or being shot at, shot, or killing on a regular basis, or being held hostage or tortured. To me, they are completely Superhuman.

    Yes, these Superheroes handle all conflict and crisis, internal and external, differently than us mere mortals would. IMO.

  185. Corby@190: I FEEL gays are underrepresented on TV. I FEEL the only way to get them on is to be sneaky about it, and I laid out a plan to do so. I actually have a horse in this race, and what I stated is MY FEELING about it.

    You are misusing the word “feel” when you mean “believe”. People don’t “feel” that the world is flat, they “believe” the world is flat. What you think about advertisers isn’t a feeling, it’s a belief. And beliefs can be wrong.

    CC was patronizing and rude.

    You post at 161 consisted of (1) bringing up again how bald people are mistreated in a thread about homophobia and discrimination, (2) your reiteration of how you say the advertising world works, and (3) your introduction of a story where body/mind swapping is common and identity is liquid which you say “may play into the show”.

    CC@164 replies that (1) you are correct, bald has nothing to do with issues of human rights, that (2) your declarations of the advertising world don’t match reality, and that (3) if you like stories about liquid identity, THATS FINE, but she and many people dont.

    Notice CC is reporting HER reaction to the story. She isn’t saying how you and everyone else must react to the story. That’s her reporting her feelings, not a belief about the world, but her feelings about a situation. If put in this situation, this is how she would feel.

    You keep trying to tell everyone how they should think because you keep saying stuff that boils down to “this is the way the world IS”, and everyone is in the world, so everyone should be the way you say they are. You’re not reporting how you personally would react if put in that situation. You’re not leaving room for other people to have different reactions. You’re not expressing your own personal feelings, you keep reporting this is the way it is, which means this is the way it is for everyone.

    You’re not reporting your FEELINGS, you’re reporting your OPINION and your BELIEFS about the way the world, and other people, are. But you don’t think it’s just your opinion, you keep telling me repeatedly that it’s just the way it is. “It’s TRUE!” you keep telling me. No, it’s just your belief.

    You want to talk about your feelings about this topic? It would sound something like this: “I might not mind if someone used my body for sex during a mind-swap, if I got to use theirs.” Or whatever it is you would FEEL if you were put into that situation. “I would feel violated.” Or “I would feel angry” or “I don’t know how I would feel.” or whatever. And once you get to thta level, then you should be able to grok that other people don’t have to have the same reaction, the same feelings, as you.

    You’ve never done that. You’ve never talked about how you feel about this particular story plot. What you’ve done is (1) change the subject to baldness in a thread about homophobia and discrimination (2) tell people how you THINK the world works whlie failing to grasp that you’re expressing your personal opinion, not god-given truth, and (3) introduce a story with “liquid identity” and then call someone rude because they allowed you to enjoy that kind of story if you want, but they said they would still FEEL it was rape if they were in that situation.

    I can’t get the image of Star Trek-The Voyage Home out of my head right now. The computer tutor comes up with the question “How do you feel?” and Spock is unable to reply. “I do not understand the question” is what he ends up telling his mother.

  186. Regarding the “superhero” defense.

    Superheroes often are stronger than us, faster than us, more bulletproof than us, and emotionally less developed than us. They can spend months in combat and not have PTSD.

    A lot of people can watch superheroes in combat and give the writers a “pass” because the viewers haven’t been in combat themselves, and they have no clue what the emotional reactions of characters would really be in that situation.

    But when the writers then have a scene that the viewers can emotionally identify with, and creates a strong emotional reaction in the viewer, then the viewer expects some sort of emotional reaction in the character as well.

    Someone who has been raped would expect a character who has been raped to go through the trauma with some emotional reaction. Not neccessarily identical to their own, but something that makes emotional sense to them.

    if a lesbian character is forced to have sex with a man, but the lesbian character reacts like a plot robot, then people who are aware of the realities of that situation are going to criticize the writers for having plot robots when real emotion is expected.

    defending the show by saying “But they’re superheroes” is like saying “but that’s the way the writers wrote it”.

    yeah, that’s the problem. The writers are being criticized for writign plot robots in a situation where some people are aware that powerful emotional reactions are within the norm.

  187. Scalzi – is that at me or GL or both? I have no real desire to continue the superhero discussion anyway. Even though that is what I like about that type of show, I do find things squicky, at times.

    I don’t plan to judge this one until I see the episode. I’m not defending it or the writers.

  188. The leading man of SGU is a rapist.

    From Jack O’Neill to John Sheppard to a repulsive, detestable jerk that I would refuse to have a beer with.

    On one of the SG1 DVD special features, Brad or Robert mentions that the SG1 crew are people you like to welcome into your living room each week. That idea is dead and buried, obviously.

    The only realistic moral consequence we could see from this is Wray shoving Rush out the airlock (is ep 16 Carlyle’s last?). Instead SGU will probably show Rush smirking at Wray, commenting on her great ass, and Wray will give him an angry look. No moral consequences at all.

    I am quite amazed that MGM is willing to throw excrement at the Stargate brand in this way. Stargate was a fun, family-friendly action adventure series. I can’t believe they are now willing to attach the Stargate name to an ugly, distasteful space opera.

  189. Jack:

    “The leading man of SGU is a rapist.”

    This would be a lovely place to remind people that early scripts and situations are not final scripts and situations. What you’ll need to judge the series by is what actually shows up on the television screen.

  190. Corrected first sentence of my post:

    According to the statements made by an official show spokesman to the afterellen columnist, the leading man of SGU is a rapist.

  191. @ Cimmer:

    pg15 I understand that this may be five minutes or it may be the entire episode, it doesn’t really matter to me; it sounds like the crisis is a set up for the sex and that squicks me because it smacks of exploitation on a very basic level. This is a television show and somewhere, someone thought of this as ‘entertainment’ ( I have an uncomfortable picture in my head of the Coliseum and the entertainment it provided for the Romans) and I like to think that people are better than that. I like to think that but I’ve seen enough bad TV over the years and heard the buzz words, ‘a very special episode’ or seen the kinds of shows that come out for rating sweeps to be a little cynical.

    I disagree. Entertainment =/= happy events happening to make people happy. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have so many tragic deaths and torture scenes in TV shows, or horror movies/shows/novels. IMHO, entertainment is for “teasing out” certain emotions in us. In the case of bad emotions, I hazard a guess that you’d rather experience them while watching a TV show (i.e. your favorite character on a show dies a tragic death) than experience them in real life. Sometimes you just want a good cry without the consequences, you know?

    In this case, I hazard that this squicky event is supposed to disgust and disturb us (it sure does that to me!). If you don’t like that, that’s cool, but there’s nothing wrong with them wanting to get something out of their audiences that isn’t all happy sunshine rainbow poptarts.

    Mmmmmm…poptarts.

    I don’t know about being exploitive, but if they’re using the sex as a way to talk about these issues, then I don’t see the problem. I assume that’s what they’ll do. After all, they have 42 minutes to fill. ;)

    It would have been hard enough to do this episode (if it was felt to be necessary) with a top notch writer on a par with Ursula K. Due to its subject matter just on the issues of body switching and consensual sex alone it certainly deserves the entire 42 minutes of an episode if not more; but we’ve also got the disabled scientist issue as well and if they really did only spend five minutes on this or anything less than several episodes reallly, then that makes this worse, at least for me. If one is going to tackle something this sensitive and potentially offend this many people than they better spend a lot of time on this issue and it better come up again in future eps. There should be long ranging consequences and it should be a character changing event and if it’s anything less than that, IMO, then it’s a cheap ratings ploy and deserves condemnation on every level. It’s the equivalent of yelling ‘Fire’ in a crowded theater; there had better be a fire because anything less is reprehensible.

    What I meant with the “5 minutes” thing is purely about how all the solid info we have is worth 5 minutes (and even then, they’re based on script pages that have since been revised). The rest of the episode is made up of assumptions of fans. I, like you, want to assume that they’ll be dealing with the consequences the rest of the time.

    SGU is a serialized show, so chances are the consequences will continue to surface down the road. If they don’t, then I’ll join you in the condemnation.

    Honestly I don’t even understand why the phrasing about the actress being thin was in there either – because they think no one wants to see Rush getting it on with a realistically sized actress? That wouldn’t be sexy? There’s simply so many offensive tags in here that it shocks me that no one got it before these red flags were raised on LJ and various blogs. Do the creators see the world so differently from so many of us or perhaps more distressingly, they don’t.

    See, this is the problem with jumping to biased conclusions immediately after recieving info that you don’t like. Have you thought about how, due to her being wheelchair-bound for most of her life, her muscles could’ve atrophed?

    I mean, I’m not expert at this. However, this point has been raised many times now, and every time I counter it with “muscle atrophy”, no one has come along and told me that it’s wrong, so…uh…there you are.

  192. Jack:

    You’d need to correct more than the first sentence, I’m afraid, to obviate the point I was making.

    To repeat, however: What will count is what ends up on the screen when the episode airs. Until then, speculation as to what the characters are (and do) is speculation. It is of course obviously fine to speculate on these things. Simply remember that in TV, everything is in flux until the show comes over the cable.

  193. Jack @201: I think Scalzi’s point @200 still stands. Even statements made by an official show spokesman are subject to change up to the time the final version of the show leaves the studio.

  194. “I don’t know about being exploitive, but if they’re using the sex as a way to talk about these issues, then I don’t see the problem. I assume that’s what they’ll do. After all, they have 42 minutes to fill. ;)”

    pg15 – I’m afraid we’ll have to agree to disagree on this issue as I don’t believe we’ll be able to see eye to eye.

    As for the thin comment; it’s a little disingenuous in our society to think that someone was referring to Calista Flockhart thin knowing there was a sex scene coming up and thinking wheelchair bound but again, I don’t think we’ll be able to see eye to eye. I’m simply registering my distaste as I have done in the past concerning some of the decisions made by this creative team. It didn’t change their mindsets then, I don’t expect it to do so now. All I can say is that after 15 odd years, on and off, what you see is usually exactly what you get and there is very rarely a ‘slip twixt the cup and the lip’ with TPTB.

  195. pg: Entertainment =/= happy events happening to make people happy. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have so many tragic deaths and torture scenes in TV shows

    there’s a difference between tragedy and exploitation, though. Depending on how this story plays out on TV, it could go either way.

    It could be a tragic event that is handled realisticly, with the personal costs suffered by everyone shown. Or it could be exploitation where the costs are hidden so that people can enjoy the sex or violence in a guilt-free manner.

    see also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exploitation_film

  196. I would have to have the highest respect for all those involved in order to watch this unfold and before you say how can I judge without seeing it – experience with TPTB; in this case the old adage “fool me once . . .” most definitely applies.

  197. I suppose I could alter Jack’s statement to “The writers considered making the leading man of SGU a rapist in an early version of the sides.” Whether or not he remains a rapist will depend on the final cut. I think it’s fair to advocate waiting until viewing the final product, but I also think it’s fair to examine and discuss why the writers chose to write it in at all.

  198. Well I have read all the other comments, an just wanted to add my own view. I’m SO disgusted by TPTB that this whole story line is even deemed as entertaining, I was a Stargate Fan for the last decade or so, the main word there being WAS an I really feel sicken by this irrespective of this being a first draft or second or bloody third somebody somewhere still thought this was a good idea to explore. I can not see how rape in any form is entertaining, I’m sorry if those see this a thoughtful, insightfull or egaging storyline BUT I JUST DONT SEE IT. This has so many levels of distaste that it would take forever an day to even start working through each disgusting level. It insults so many people on so many points its quite amazing. These people then just even consider that “oh we sorry for the wording that leaked out its just a casting call!!!” also just smacks at utter arrogance on there part, that tells me THEY HAVE NO IDEA what they have done wrong an never will because they are missing the point completely.

    I was not looking forward to SGU an already had little intention of watching but this just finally puts a lid on it, no way never. The way the whole thing has been dealt with so badly from day one after the SGA saga an the countless fliipant remarks from TPTB towards fans in general, this had already left a very bad taste in ones mouths. But that said still there was always a little bit of hope albeit tiny that something about this show may just may jump out an make me want to at least look at the pilot. BUT the whole concept of the body switching being used for sexual gratification was off putting in its self, which has been stated this is going to be a reoccuring theme in the show BUT THIS violation of a woman body an the assumtion that a disabled person would of course have thoughts of using it for sex at the first given chance is JUST unbeliveable, that these so called creative minded people even dreamed this up. An I dont care if its a man or woman that wrote this is digusting whoever put pen to paper. Sadly Stargate has ended up in the gutter. An dont need to watch a single episode to know that I would not be able to sit down with my family an watch this show nor would I want to now.

  199. Cheri:

    But as a “Stargate fan” you’ve been entertained by two shows who premises revolve around alien races whose very existence (The Gou’auld and The Wraith) depends on farming human beings as cattle? Oh, and being a Scooby snack for a passing Wraith is invariable fatal, and leads to a pretty short life expectancy for the human residents of the Pegasus galaxy. Your mileage may vary, as the kids say, but that’s pretty damn dark and ugly to me.

  200. Oh, and let’s add the Replicators, the Ori and even the rather careless and manipulative Ancients (seriously, folks, do you every clan up after yourselves?) to the roll call of demonic ‘others’,

  201. But as a “Stargate fan” you’ve been entertained by two shows who premises revolve around alien races whose very existence (The Gou’auld and The Wraith) depends on farming human beings as cattle?

    Of course she is. They were the VILLAINS.

    SATSQ.

    Geeze.

  202. gwangung:

    Oh, so “raping” people is OK as long as you’re the VILLIAN? It’s Cheri’s opinion and s/he is entitled to it, and I’ve certainly got no interest in forcing anyone to watching a show they’re not interested in, but slightly misdirected moral outrage there. IMNSHO, of course.

    Perhaps I just have a higher tolerance for shows where the black hats and white hats aren’t quite as clearly labelled as Cheri seems to like — after all, I’m a huge fan of BSG.

    BTW, if want to call me stupid in future spell it out. I do know how to Google bitchy acronyms.

  203. Oh, so “raping” people is OK as long as you’re the VILLIAN?

    Hm. Wonder why they are the villains?

    Some people prefer to have sharper demarcation between white hats and black hats, particularly in open-ended series, particularly in the beginnings of open ended stories. That, too, is a valid preference. It appeared to me that you were criticizing her for it, which seemed to call for quite well directed outrage. It was certainly not clear that you grasped her arguments.

  204. Craig@212: that’s pretty damn dark and ugly to me.

    I think the issue is that it’s one of the protagonist crew that does the raping, and that to be a protaginist, and a repeating character, that essentially means you can’t be put in jail for rape.

    Which triggers a number of people because it implies that the writers aren’t treating a serious issue very seriously.

    If aliens are shown to use humans for food, and then the show is centered around the humans fighting a war against the aliens, that pretty clearly indicates that the writers grasp the concept that eating people against their will is evil.

    If aliens are eating people for food, and characters are just like “oh? What?” non chalant about it, then viewers would rightly be pissed at the writer’s failing to grasp a clue.

    So the issue isn’t dark and ugly writing. The issue is stupid writing.

    And depending on how this plays out on the screen, it could be very stupid writing.

  205. It appeared to me that you were criticizing her for it, which seemed to call for quite well directed outrage. It was certainly not clear that you grasped her arguments.

    And perhaps you could have sought a clarification or put the contrary case without the low-grade snarky acronyms.

    I think the issue is that it’s one of the protagonist crew that does the raping, and that to be a protaginist, and a repeating character, that essentially means you can’t be put in jail for rape.

    Um… that strikes me as a pretty basic comprehension fail of how storytelling works and heading into territory I’d not like to get into with a lot of writers (including our host). That’s as odd as saying that the writer’s room of BSG are fans of mass murder because they created the Cylons, who we first saw executing the near-total genocide of the human race. Or endorse actual, non-metaphorical rape because of the ‘Pegasus’ arc in season two.

  206. And perhaps you could have sought a clarification or put the contrary case without the low-grade snarky acronyms.

    When you clearly did not attempt to deal with her on her own terms? Well, perhaps, but you certainly came off with more than a little low grade snark yourself, sans explanations.

    Um… that strikes me as a pretty basic comprehension fail of how storytelling works

    Speaking as a storyteller, it strikes me more as your failure than his in comprehending the storytelling and the bargain you strike with the audience. At the very least, you need to explain further. Your example makes no sense because of that bargain you strike. Again, explain further.

  207. Craig Ranapia@218:
    …to be a protaginist, and a repeating character, that essentially means you can’t be put in jail for rape….
    Um… that strikes me as a pretty basic comprehension fail of how storytelling works

    That’s not how all storytelling works, but it is exactly how episodic TV storytelling works. I’ve been watching (and enjoying) Stargate since the movie, and that’s pretty much how it’s been done for 15 years in this franchise. At the end of the episode, things reset, more or less. Next episode, more adventures with our wacky cast!

    To be fair, for all we know, SGU may be a total departure from past Stargates on that score. They’ve indicated that they intend to at least *try* serial rather than episodic storytelling — I’ve been less than impressed with the franchise’s past attempts at multi-episode arcs, so I guess we’ll see how that plays out. BUT … I’d be honestly very shocked if SGU turns out to be one of the very few shows on TV that is willing to make severe changes to the status of a series regular (such as putting them in jail for 10 years of show time, or pushing their biggest “name” actor out an airlock in episode 17). 15 years of watching Stargate, and 30 years of watching episodic American TV, leads me to believe that the show will probably be hitting the reset button at the end of each episode more often than not.

  208. Maybe they’ll rewrite it so he finds out about the mind-swap AFTER having sex with her. That would open all kinds of opportunities for character development as he tortures himself with guilt, considers whether to tell her when she’s back in her own body, her reaction when she finds out (from him or not), whether or not she believes that he didn’t know, and all sorts of interesting interpersonal dynamics as they try to sort out some way to work together with that between them. Could ramify for years.

    Naaaaaahhhhhh. Scalzi doesn’t have THAT much power to make things cool. I hope I’m wrong, but if the franchise did that kind of character development, Rodney would have had a serious phobia of more than a sinkful of water, and Sam…Sam would scream whenever anyone tried to get her to come out from under the bed.

  209. gwangung:

    Try saying please, downsize the pissy ‘tude and stop telling me what I think.

    Layla@220:
    That’s not how all storytelling works, but it is exactly how episodic TV storytelling works. I’ve been watching (and enjoying) Stargate since the movie, and that’s pretty much how it’s been done for 15 years in this franchise. At the end of the episode, things reset, more or less. Next episode, more adventures with our wacky cast!

    And that’s a fair criticism of the Stargate franchise, and why I cheered when Ron Moore said that’s what came to drive him crazy about Trek and BSG would not have a re-set button. Actions would have serious and lasting consequences, and we would see our protagonists pulling heinous shit like condoning the gang rape and torture of prisoners, summary executions of whole families, throwing military coups when they don’t get their own way and going all batshit crazy on the basis of drug-fuelled prophetic visions. It can be done. :)

    Personally, I’m hoping SGU is going to be to the Stargate franchise what Deep Space Nine was to Trek — get rid of the thick crust of story-telling and characterisation clichés, and trust your audience to handle more ambiguity and complexity. I’m cautiously optimistic (and its better to try and fall on your arse than not bother at all), but to be honest if the first season isn’t a damn sight more impressive than Atlantis’ pretty blah freshman season I won’t be back.

  210. I certainly hope TPTB are actually paying close attention to our host’s notes. He seems to know his arse from his elbow where telling a good, intelligence-respecting yarn is concerned. :)

  211. Insert sarcastic comment to Craig about making us look bad here!

    For the record: no-one wants the Stargate universe to stop anything bad from ever happening. What we would *like* is for the Stargate Universe to acknowledge when bad things are being done, every time bad things are done – not just when they’re being done by villains. I really doubt that SGU is going to investigate the ramifications of this rape. I really doubt that they’re going to use the word rape. I think it’s pretty likely that the whole thing will be played for laughs, like it was when Pete stalked Sam, like it was when Lucius Lavin raped the women around him, like it was when Cadman abused her position in Rodney’s body.

    I would love to think that SGU is going to investigate compelling moral issues. I do think that including a lesbian character in your recurring cast is a big step up. I’m guessing they’ll let her keep her own hair, too, which will make her only the second character out of five credited characters of colour who were allowed to use their own hair for the full run of the show (Chris Judge, of course, had to keep his head shaved after he’d gotten sick of it, Jason Momoa ended up wearing a wig for the last couple of seasons, and of course the astounding example of Rachel Luttrell) So that’s an improvement. But then, I thought two women and two characters of colour on the regular SGA cast might be a sign of a more thoughtful show. Yeah, no, didn’t happen!

    I’d like to think that they’d re-investigate, say, that thing where Daniel and Vala killed two innocent people and never worried about it again (that’s what happened the last time this device was used, remember?) I’d like to think they’d reinvestigate Lucius Lavin and his ilk. I’d like to think they’d reinvestigate their idea that stalking is an attractive quality in a man. But you know, fifteen seasons of Stargate tell me that it’s not going to happen. I’d love to be proved wrong! I’d love it so much that I’ll probably give the show a decent chance. But I’m pessimistic.

  212. Well here’s my 2 cents worth, if this is a thoughtful, challenging plot scenario, then why?
    1) has a stereo typical scenario been used i.e. the women being raped/abused
    2) again clichéd labelling of a disabled person
    3) clichés hot lesbian chick get some action with the man

    Surely to have say a man get raped or abused would have been a more challenging story as how often do you actually see men on screen getting raped, as sadly it does happen in reality to same as raping of woman, but the story line you usually see is the woman being raped, in both cases its heinous but for once how about tackling the issue from a different perspective.

    With regards to the disabled person how about actually asking the disabled community how they think this character would be portrayed an getting an insight on what she may or might not do under those circumstances an again the male, female issue ask both sides an you may get a completely difference take on the issue, this is where IF you a creative person you can then come up with challenging story line.

    Also for the people that stated rape is not rape because the person is not in there body, (which I keep seeing over an over again espacially on GW), so there mind etc.. is else where, what about necrophilia then, it’s a crime to have sex with a dead body , because the person is not there/ so cant consent because there are dead i.e. not in there body its just a shell, we’ve supposed show respect for the vessel even though the soul/sprite mind what ever you want to call it is gone. Date rape again is still rape as the person has been drugged therefore not really in the conscious body its just a shell being used for some perverts sexual ratification .

    Finally there are 2 villains in this the rapist being Rush an Eleanor using Wrays body in such a manor, so one would hope that this story line dealt in with IN GREAT length not just the 42 min show the rapist being tried an hopefully imprisoned for his crime an Eleanor being brought to justice for her part in this violation/rape issue on returning to her body. Also with the events that had occurred why would anybody else in there right mind ever again consent to switching bodies when you know that they are bunch of untrust worthy low life’s that would even consider the idea of having sex with someone else’s body, the whole premise under that heading alone just falls into one heap of unbelievably an extremely unrealistic story so if real people real situation idea is the premise epic fail IMO. All I can say is the US Air force screening for its civilians an training for its millary personnel certainly didn’t work very well for this bunch of very obnoxious group of morally retarded people certainly not the best an the bravest group of people, again epic fail! Think I’ll stick to SG1/SGA thanks.

  213. While I don’t want to get into a long winded debate others have certainly done a better job than I could do, I just wanted to say how I feel, this is what I posted elsewhere about this an its how I feel about all that’s happen recently.

    WOW I just cant believe all this, suffice to say it sickens me as human being, this type of story telling, but as a science fiction come fantasy/escapism fan I’m truly amazed an very very saddened. This disgusting topic aside an its awful ramification’s which have been well covered here an other places.

    You see I come to this genre for just escapism a science fiction related fantasy type stories, a way to get away from the reality that is life, for fun/action adventure, aliens & places that we will never be able to get to, heroes an villain’s yes, but for the most part good beating evil an all that stuff.

    Not hatred an bad feelings an or rape, conflicts an “every other negative” you can think off. This is why I hated BSG an that type of sci fi show in general an don’t watch an don’t want to watch, maybe that makes me shallow I don’t really know. But if I want to watch thought provoking stories which spark debates an I do sometimes, I choose other type’s of media, NOT SCIENCE FICTION, to me this used to be a fun way to spend a hour a week to suspend my belief in the real world, not to look at deep meaningful, situations but just to sit there an enjoy a space related show set on other worlds. Hell the whole Cadman thing in Duet I had not even thought about in the way some have the same goes for Hathor/Daniel thing an you know what I DON’T WANT TO EITHER again sorry maybe that really does make me shallow, BUT I do understand the rights an wrongs of things in this world an by christ there’s is a lot wrong in this world of ours, but I just don’t want to see in my sci fi/fantasy show that’s all, but saying that yes the Lucia’s episode was blatant enough for me to notice an think “icky” not nice.

    The days are well an truly gone when there was choice, to watch BSG/SGU/ sick horror stories or SGA / Buck Rogers / old BSG even SG1 an old fashion type of science fiction in general and escapism/fantasy an family orientated sci fi because now I feel there is now no longer a choice.

    If this is the direction New Age Stargate is going or GONE, so am I. I have real life issues to be getting on with an will now just have to find some other sci fi show that fills my personal void that is entertainment an escapism an not where someone sees this sort of thing as “entertainment” because IMO it is not! An by this sort of thing, I mean SGU/BSG shows in general, this disgusting story line just is the icing on the cake as far as I am concerned

  214. Greg: I think the issue is that it’s one of the protagonist crew that does the raping, and that to be a protaginist, and a repeating character, that essentially means you can’t be put in jail for rape.

    Craig: Um… that strikes me as a pretty basic comprehension fail of how storytelling works …

    Good god man, you want to see comprehension fail then look at what I said versus what you strawmanned it into.

    That’s as odd as saying that the writer’s room of BSG are fans of mass murder because they created the Cylons, who we first saw executing the near-total genocide of the human race.

    Congratulations on achieving new levels of Comprehension Fail!

    The author doesn’t condone murder by having a murder take place in the story. The writer condones murder by having a murder take place and then allows the murderer to go unpunished, and having the powers that be not even try to get justice.

    If Colonel Jessep had not been punished at the end of “A Few Good Men”, then his ordering of the hazing that killed a marine would have been condoned. The moral of teh story would have been something like “hazing the weak is ok”. The fallback position would have had the characters point to the injustice of the legal system, so then the moral would be “hazing is wrong, but the system is too broken to fix it.” or something like that.

    Every story leaks a bit of the worldview of the author, every story leaks a bit of how the author thinks the world is or how the world should be.

    If the quadriplegic who uses the woman’s body for sex without her consent is not punished for the equivalent of rape, then that either means the authors are saying “rape is OK” or they’re saying “rape is wrong, but the system is too broken to do anything”. If the man who had sex with the woman knew something wasn’t right, but had sex anyway, and he isn’t punished in some way, then it’s the same moral.

    Every story conveys a morality. Just because they don’t come out and say it like they did in Aesop’s fables, doesn’t mean it isn’t in there.

  215. Greg@227:Every story leaks a bit of the worldview of the author, every story leaks a bit of how the author thinks the world is or how the world should be.

    Well, yes and no.

    The obvious exception to this is the horror genre — unless you believe that writers of horror are sympathetic to and/or support the agendas of serial killers, psychopaths, demons, and other forms of evil incarnate. I myself wrote a short story some years back (published in the anthology Horrors! 365 Scary Stories) exploring the idea that aliens were abducting humans in order to program them as serial killers. But does that mean that I, the author of the story, approve of alien abduction, serial killing, and/or non-consensual medical experimentation?

    It does not.

    This same logic is also what sometimes causes school administrators and others to panic — or at least, so the media tells us — when they get hold of horror fiction written by students, on the theory that these students are likely to enact the events of the fiction using their teachers and classmates as victims. I won’t argue that such worries are never warranted, but I strongly hesitate to accept that proposition too generally.

    To use a different example, there was much kerfuffle about Patricia Wrede’s YA novel Thirteenth Child around the ‘Net earlier this year, arising from a comment the author had made long before the book’s release from which many observers concluded that the novel’s omission of Indian/Native American populations was morally offensive. I recently read the novel itself, and I don’t think the novel’s actual content supports that conclusion. Its setting diverges from reality in too many other respects, and its themes too clearly run in other directions, for readers to reliably extrapolate the author’s intentions or beliefs on that one point from the story as published.

    Now it’s certainly true that wide swaths of popular science fiction do have ideological components. In particular, “Libertarian SF”, capital L intended, is an acknowledged subgenre. But SF as a genre is also notable for asking questions about human nature that real-world science simply isn’t equipped to answer. Sometimes those questions are uncomfortable — and I don’t think it’s fair to blame authors who use their work to ask uncomfortable questions for the uncomfortable nature of some of the potential answers.

    None of which should be taken as either a defense or an indictment of the specific SG:U script underlying the present controversy, because none of us — save possibly our host, who can’t talk about it — have seen the complete script, and thus none of us have the context in which to evaluate the questions the story may (or may not) pose about the relationships between body, mind, and sexual identity. As with the Wrede novel, I think it’s unsafe to reach a conclusion on the writers’ treatment of the issues based on the very limited story material we’ve seen to date.

  216. If the issue being raised and the question being opened to discussion, in any work, is “Is it sometimes okay to use a woman’s body without her consent?” then any answer besides “no” is entirely objectionable and amoral, especially when applied to the real world where women have to live with those who want the answer to be “yes,” every day. We don’t need more support for THAT point of view in our lives, thank you. And that will be the side the producers of SGU are coming down on if Wray’s body is used for sex without her consent and the perpetrators are not punished–that’s the “moral to the story” that was mentioned up-thread. There’s always a message, whether it’s intended or not.

    Consent issues as regards the ep are further discussed here, in both the post and the comments. http://sheafrotherdon.livejournal.com/426253.html

  217. CC@229: Consent issues as regards the ep are further discussed here, in both the post and the comments.

    The two interesting things about that LJ post and comment stream are the recurring use of the phrase “our bodies are our selves” — and the reference by one of the commenters to the early Gnostics, whose spiritual beliefs are cited as exactly the opposite.

    Science fiction is full of stories about beings of pure mind or spirit, and of stories about minds given existence independent of their original host bodies. Star Trek in particular has done a good deal with these ideas, from the TOS episodes “Return to Tomorrow” and “Errand of Mercy” to the introduction of Vulcan katras in the feature films and novels. Indeed, a recurring theme in much SF is the idea that intelligent life can evolve from “limited” physical form into a state of pure energy, the Organians being a specific example of such.

    In effect, much of this material constitutes at least an implicit rejection of the “our bodies are our selves” worldview, and the advancement of one more like that ascribed to the Gnostics in the comment stream referenced above. I’m not deeply-versed enough in the SG universe to make definitive statements about the underlying worldviews therein, but it seems to me that the general nature of Ascension — and the Ancients’ development and use of the mind-exchange device — suggest that their worldview is to some degree Gnostic in nature. And to the degree that the SG characters make use of Ancient technology and aspire to match the achievements of the Ancients, one might reasonably conclude that they too are adopting philosophies more akin to Gnostic principles than to those that postulate inextricable bonds between body and spirit.

    Again: I neither defend nor indict the forthcoming episode under discussion. To do so would be premature. What I mean to point out is that spiritual belief in much SF — including much popular and critically admired SF — is not necessarily consistent with the “our bodies, our selves” viewpoints expressed by many commentators on the present issue.

    I also neither defend nor indict the general premise that mind and body are not dependent on one another, which I doubt is exclusive to the Gnostic traditions mentioned previously. I simply point it out as a valid philosophical and moral system, from which it’s possible to reach different conclusions on the present subject of disagreement.

  218. The author doesn’t condone murder by having a murder take place in the story. The writer condones murder by having a murder take place and then allows the murderer to go unpunished, and having the powers that be not even try to get justice.

    Hum… I don’t know if I really want to point this out to you, but by that logic the folks at BSG certainly “condone” genocide because at the end of four seasons the Cylons still exist — an undisclosed number of ‘skinjobs’ have settled on Earth Mark II, and the ‘good” centurions have gone off to parts unknown.

    I certainly wouldn’t want to mix it up with John by suggesting that he failed to sufficiently punish the CDF for their multiple counts of heinous shittiness by the end of the Old Man’s War sequence, therefore he (even implicitly) “condones” their actions.

    If Colonel Jessep had not been punished at the end of “A Few Good Men”, then his ordering of the hazing that killed a marine would have been condoned. The moral of teh story would have been something like “hazing the weak is ok”. The fallback position would have had the characters point to the injustice of the legal system, so then the moral would be “hazing is wrong, but the system is too broken to fix it.” or something like that.

    Or you could try Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley where our eponymous anti-hero basically commits murder, gets away with it, we are not treated to a third act PSA where Highsmith says “murder, identity theft, fraud and profiting off your crime is very very very bad”. (And goes on to rinse and repeat in four sequels.) He’s a pretentious, horribly insecure snob, a pathological and thief, but not totally devoid of charm and intelligence — when it serves his purposes. Does she therefore condone Tom Ripley’s actions?

    You’re right in one sense: The Ripley books are a horribly acidic distillation of Highsmith’s, shall we say, rather dim view of human nature. People are cruel, petty, routinely deceive themselves and others, and the line between an ‘ordinary’ person and the blackest of madmen is much thinner than most of us would like to admit. But it’s hard to make the case that PH ‘condones’ such behaviour because, more often than not, the protagonists of her stories are shitbags and (more often than not) they quite literally get away with murder – and worse.

  219. CC@229:
    If the issue being raised and the question being opened to discussion, in any work, is “Is it sometimes okay to use a woman’s body without her consent?” then any answer besides “no” is entirely objectionable and amoral, especially when applied to the real world…

    CC: I may have missed something, but has anyone here said they think rape in “the real world” is OK? I certainly don’t think so, and if I’ve given you or anyone else that impression my sincere and horrified apologies. But I get rather uncomfortable with conflating the representation of an act with the act itself. Especially when nobody has seen the episode itself.

  220. Wow, Craig. I just have to say that your comments illustrate a level of black and white thinking that I don’t even see in my preschoolers much anymore.

  221. John: Since you’re not conversant with the SG universe, I’ll share with you that, in previous instances of use of body-swap technology, there has definitely been evidence presented that the ownership of the body belongs to its original occupant. Mind and body are presented as being an important unit, even in ascension, where the body must achieve certain levels of zen, so to speak, for ascension to take place, and is not left behind in ascension but is converted to energy that becomes a part of the ascended being. Other works have had different interpretations of the connection between mind and body, but in the SG universe, that connection seems to be presumed.

    I’m surprised and disheartened that the thing that impressed you most about that post and the following comments was a single comment about Gnosticism. Whatever philosophical discussion you see potentially springing from this episode must, if issues of body ownership are what’s being explored, be seen and discussed in light of the rape that’s used as the springboard for the discussion, a needlessly hurtful and demeaning way of introducing the topic if there ever was one. The topic of mind-body connection is an interesting one; the use of the rape of a woman by a colleague to inspire it is reprehensible. Did none of the horror and hurt expressed in those comments impress you at all? Are you really of the opinion that no plot device could be too hurtful to use to inspire discussion? Would you champion the use of a black male alien character who slouches around the ship with a broom and who rolls his eyes and shouts “Laws a’mercy!” and “Feets don’t fail me now!” whenever danger threatens to inspire a discussion of racism or the appropriateness of certain cultural depictions, both human and alien? There are certain things one doesn’t do to inspire conversation, however interesting the topic, and gratuitously raping a (lesbian, POC) female character is one of them. We haven’t even touched on how rape of women of color has historically been used to reinforce their lesser humanity and keep them in their place, in this discussion–the use of this rape as a plot device is so wrong on so many, many levels that I can’t believe it’s still being argued for. They need to find a different way to broach the subject, a less hurtful, cliche-affirming, culturally insensitive way.

  222. Clarification: the above comment was intended as a response to John Bunnell’s comment and not Mr. Scalzi.

  223. Greg@227:Every story leaks a bit of the worldview of the author, every story leaks a bit of how the author thinks the world is or how the world should be.

    John@228: Well, yes and no.

    yes. some how, some way, something always leaks through.

    The obvious exception to this is the horror genre unless you believe that writers of horror are sympathetic to and/or support the agendas of serial killers, psychopaths, demons

    Cheese and rice. I’ve said it already, but folks keep wanting to insist on ignoring this. It’s like John’s “10 things teens need to know about their writing” and 99% of replies cannot, absolutely cannot, read past point 1.

    Here’s point 1: The existence of murder in a story does not mean the author condones murder.

    Point 2: How the author deals with the murder in the story will leak information about how the author thinks of the world, either how it is, or how it should be, or something.

    So, a horror movie with a serial killer doesn’t mean the author agrees with the idea of serial killing.

    GOT THAT?

    How the author DEALS WITH THE KILLER will probably reveal something about what the author thinks. Is there a cop trying to catch him? Are they competent? Do they keep getting close but failing due to circumstances beyond their control or because they keep screwing up? Do they keep getting meddling from higher up bureaucracy? does the guy get away at some point because the cop can’t get a search warrant? Does the killer operate at a point above the law to the extent that no legal means are capable of bringing him in? Does the story require vigilantism to stop the killer? And so on. And so forth.

    One can look at “Silence of the Lambs” and get clearly that the authors do not condone serial killing. Which is fine, because I NEVER SAID THAT. One can look at the movie and see that (1) good poice work is generally effective and (2) civil rights aren’t shown to be a hindrance to effective law enforcement and (3) vigilantism isn’t required to stop Hanibal Lecter. A cop as smart as Hannibal may be required, but not a vigilante.

    One can watch “Die Hard” and get clearly that the authors do not condone mass murder or thievery. which is fine, because I NEVER SAID THAT. One can look at that movie and see that (1) bureacracy at the local and federal level is full of morons, (2) the only people who know anything are the cops in the trenches, (3) a police force can never have enough firepower, (4) the only way to stop determined criminals is with a superhero willing to kill, (5) good guys don’t die in the end (6) bad guys do.

    Read “Watchmen” and show me a single example where Rorsharch kills someone who doesn’t turn out to be a criminal. Show me an example in a “Batman” movie where Batman kills someone innocent. Vigilante movies, and any show where teh characters are acting above the law, often tell the story of a world where the law is a hindrance to justice and the only way to get justice is to operate above the law. And what these stories almost consistently NEVER SHOW is that enforcing the law without a system of checks and balances means that innocent people get convicted. In the case of vigilantes, innocent people are killed.

    But vigilante stories don’t show that. In the entire Batman series of movies, Batman has not once been shown to wrongly target an innocent man. When he had that massive cell-phone based radar imaging handwavium, no one ever misused it.

    The moral of vigilante stories is presented as “with great power comes great responsibility”. But that usually translates into a functioning moral of “if you have power, you have to use it.” The focus is almost never how the use of force and power can corrupt or can be used to target an innnocent person.

    Give a bunch of cops a taser, and one of them will use it on a grandmother.

    Give a vigilante in a story a secret identity, weapons, vehicles, and the ability to operate with impunity, the ability to operate above the law, and they almost never go after an innocent man. They almost never have collateral damage.

    That leaks a worldview of the author of either how they think the world is or how it should be. In the real world, it looks like someone who insists that the only way to go after Al Queda is to suspend the rule of law, to have special courts that have no due process, to imprison people who haven’t commited a crime but who we accuse of committing a future crime.

    If it isn’t the active worldview of the author, then it is on some level a worldview that the author at the very least believes is true on some level.

    In StarGate, if a woman takes control of another womans body and uses that body to have sex with a man without the woman’s consent, that doesn’t reveal anything about the author’s worldview. What will be revealing is how the authors have the characters deal with the rape afterwards.

    if the consequences are minimal, the woman scientist/quadriplegic isn’t jailed or fired or something severe, then the authors view of rape is that it isn’t a significant crime. If the man who she had sex with knew abotu the mind-swap and he isn’t punished, same thing, the authors don’t think it’s very important.

    If the scientist is fired and/or imprisoned, and/or if the man is fired and/or imprisoned, then the authors are indicating they think rape is a serious offense.

    If not, they think rape is mostly just something interesting to use as a plot device with little or no real consequences.

    if the rape occurs, a military or criminal investigation and trial could easily take up teh next episode or two. That could be the only thing the show is about for an episode or two after the episode when the rape actually occurred. If they don’t get a conviction, at least they show that rape is a serious matter worthy of prosecution.

  224. Craig: The book Mr. Ripley, which you use as an example of an unpunished evil-doer, makes pretty clear that we aren’t meant to identify with him or think him anything but a very bad person, correct? Doesn’t encourage us to think of him as a hero of any sort? And that world and the people in it, as you describe it, is very different from the world of the SG universe? This is the essential difference–are we being presented with someone we’re supposed to accept as a protagonist who is also an unpunished rapist? Is the world being depicted meant to be similar, culturally, to our own? That’s one aspect of what makes this rape so objectionable to those who are objecting.

    It’s also a very different rape from the ones presented in BSG, since you compare aspects of that show to SGU. The rapes in BSG were culturally significant in that they exemplified a real and horrific human problem–the treatment of women in wartime, especially women who are seen as belonging to a group or race that is perceived as being less human than the aggressors. It’s something that has value as a consciousness-raising point, and discussion of this subject is an important one to have, considering our past and current involvement in aggression in other countries and on other peoples.

    Raping Wray doesn’t have that cultural significance–body swapping isn’t possible, so discussion of body ownership and consent in the context of rape can’t have any significance, realistically and culturally, except to attempt to question women’s rights to their own bodies. If it’s all about, and only about, zen issues of body and mind and connection, there are plenty of other ways to approach it. It doesn’t have to be, and shouldn’t be, rape, especially if it isn’t treated and punished as rape, on the show.

    The above, and also my response to John B, further explain my earlier comment about rape and its application to discussion in a real-world context. I have not said, nor do I think, that anyone in this discussion is an advocate of rape. I do think that some participants have displayed an insensitivity to the subject and to its use and depiction in media that I want to respond to.

  225. Lisa:

    I’ve got to admit that rape — literal or metaphorical — is not a subject I discuss with pre-schoolers of my acquaintance. Neither is the meaningful (but far from black and white) distinction between the depiction of an act in fiction and the act itself, and what you can properly presume about the “mindset” of an author from that depiction.

    But, on the whole, I think this has been as useful and usefully provocative and thought-provoking as the threads here around RaceFail ’09. While I certainly don’t agree with everyone, thanks to those who’ve given me plenty of food for thought.

  226. Craig@231: at the end of four seasons the Cylons still exist

    irrelevant. Did the humans fight them? Try to stop them?

    You’re right in one sense: The Ripley books are a horribly acidic distillation of Highsmith’s, shall we say, rather dim view of human nature.

    DING! DING! DING!

    We have a winner!!!

    People are cruel, petty, routinely deceive themselves and others,

    yeah, I got a sense that that’s how the author viewed people.

    and the line between an ‘ordinary’ person and the blackest of madmen is much thinner than most of us would like to admit.

    Ah, well, that’s what the author thinks. That isn’t fact. That’s the point of it being a worldview. It’s how the person views the world. And I wouldn’t be surprised if the author of Talented Mr. Ripley had a very cynical worldview. That doesn’t mean the author is describing the actual world, it means the author is describing their view of the world.

    But it’s hard to make the case that PH ‘condones’ such behaviour

    I didn’t say the story always reveals what the author condones. I said it reveals the author’s worldview or the way the author thinks the world should be but isn’t. The author of Talented Mr. Ripley has a cynical view of the world and thinks the world shouldn’t be that way.

  227. CC@235:John: Since you’re not conversant with the SG universe

    Point of clarification: “not conversant” is inaccurate. I have seen much of SG:1 (admittedly in somewhat disjointed fashion), a small sampling of SG:A, and also most of the animated series SG:Infinity for whatever that may be worth. [Obviously none of us, possibly excepting Our Host, have seen completed episodes of SG:U as yet.] I have seen episodes in which the body-swap tech is used, specifically including Daniel/Vala episodes that have been mentioned upstream. But I don’t consider myself knowledgeable enough to synthesize — as you have here — a concise summary of the principles which form the philosophical underpinnings of the SG universe. I appreciate that formulation, although I think a slightly more detailed version might be more useful as a springboard for discussion of the issues being raised.

    The topic of mind-body connection is an interesting one; the use of the rape of a woman by a colleague to inspire it is reprehensible.

    Even if one grants the general principle, the conclusion that the events of the SG:U episode will constitute rape is — as yet — subjective, and derives from three distinct sets of assumptions. These are as follows: (1) that the leaked story material will prove accurate as to the form and context of the finished and aired episode, (2) that the events of the episode can be unequivocally construed to meet existing legal definitions of “rape”, and (3), that one ascribes to a moral philosophy grounded in principles that equate body with selfhood.

    As to (1), we have no way to tell this short of viewing the finished episode. As to (2), we’d need both the finished episode and a careful look at the statutes. A valid argument can be made that an incident along the lines we’ve been discussing should be considered rape, but I strongly suspect that current real-world law isn’t sufficiently airtight to make this a certainty. And as to (3), a principled Gnostic — or an adherent to another spiritual code that disassociates selfhood from the body — might well disagree that the question of rape arises in the first place.

    Did none of the horror and hurt expressed in those comments impress you at all?

    Bluntly, no — because all of that emotion is based on pure speculation which may or may not prove to be accurate. It’s the equivalent of Chicken Little running in circles calling out “The sky is falling!”

    What it comes down to is really pretty straightforward: I will not judge the merits of a creative work without reading or viewing the complete work. And I should add that when I say that, I speak as someone who’s reviewed SF and fantasy professionally since 1984. It simply is not fair to evaluate a work based on snippets of material which may or may not accurately reflect the context of the work as a whole, especially when the snippets are of draft material that’s been leaked during the production process and is subject to revision.

    The episode as aired may, once we see it, prove to be just as ham-handed and ill-conceived as folk are predicting. Or it may prove to be wholly different from what’s been leaked. Right now my curiosity is aroused, but I prefer to reserve any moral outrage until we actually know whether it’s warranted or not.

  228. Right now my curiosity is aroused, but I prefer to reserve any moral outrage until we actually know whether it’s warranted or not.

    Or at least save the juiciest bits until then.

  229. CC@238:

    Thanks for the thoughtful and temperate response, and there’s plenty of fair (and debatable) points made. Also, many thanks for the clarification in your last par.

    I’ll address a couple of the questions asked.

    The book Mr. Ripley, which you use as an example of an unpunished evil-doer, makes pretty clear that we aren’t meant to identify with him or think him anything but a very bad person, correct? Doesn’t encourage us to think of him as a hero of any sort?

    I’d say no, but I’d honestly have to admit there are a lot of people who are highly uncomfortable with Highsmith’s work because they think that’s exactly what she does do. Tom Ripley is not to put too fine a point on it a clinical sociopath who is also highly intelligent, cultured and (in later books) a happily married man living a life of utter bourgeois respectability. It’s the ambiguity that creeps people out, and I suspect Highsmith knew exactly what she was doing. She also often said that Ripley was the one character in her work she most identified with, as a woman who didn’t live up to the Donna Reed 50’s idea of what women should be — for her, Tom Ripley was a perverse mirror held up to the very American idea of the self-made man, Horatio Alger with a body count. But she was never willing to let readers have the out of saying ‘I would never do anything like that’ because she believed anyone could, given the right trigger. (An ambiguity Hitchcock fudged rather neatly in his famous adaptation of Highsmith’s first novel, Strangers on a Train, and Anthony Minghella also did with the film version of The Talented Mr Ripley.)

    It’s also a very different rape from the ones presented in BSG, since you compare aspects of that show to SGU. The rapes in BSG were culturally significant in that they exemplified a real and horrific human problem–the treatment of women in wartime, especially women who are seen as belonging to a group or race that is perceived as being less human than the aggressors. It’s something that has value as a consciousness-raising point, and discussion of this subject is an important one to have, considering our past and current involvement in aggression in other countries and on other peoples.

    I don’t actually disagree with you there. But I think its fair comment to say the treatment of Gina and Athena in ‘Pegasus’ drew a really strong reaction from BSG fandom, with passionate reactions across the board. (I also think the debate on all sides was usefully informed by a fandom that doesn’t fall into the cliché of SF fans being adolescent males who aren’t terribly comfortable around real, live women.) I can totally respect and understand women who just wish the show hadn’t gone as far as the scene in the extended cut where it’s inexplicit but clearly implied that Thorne is raping Athena. (Rather than Helo and Tyroll interrupting him just in the nick of time as is strongly implied in the orginal broadcast version! Whew!) IMO, I think the treatment of the issue walked a very fine line between being confrontational and exploitative — and I’m glad to read that Grace Park and Tricia Helfer both felt that they were actively engaged and respected throughout — but totally get those who place the line elsewhere.

  230. “I prefer to reserve any moral outrage until we actually know whether it’s warranted or not. ”

    I think it’s good that we get to head this one off at the pass before the Stargate folks put yet another “Oh John Ringo No” episode in their all ready one too many canon list. The established track record on these subjects is what is killing good will.

  231. Craig: The question of whether the act being discussed constitute rape in the context of the show has already been answered by Joe M; he says that it is. Since body swapping isn’t actually possible, we won’t find laws governing the legal use of a swapped body on the books, but we will find laws concerning other situations that are similar; if a woman’s consciousness is not present, as when she’s comatose, asleep, otherwise unconscious or intoxicated into insensibility, the use of her body for sex is considered rape. That’s as close as we can get, currently, to approximating what’s proposed for this episode; the absence of a woman’s consciousness and, therefore, ability to give consent makes any sexual activity with her body rape.

    As far as judgment of the final product is concerned, I’m not psychic, obviously, and can’t say with any certainty what the episode will contain until it airs. What I CAN be sure of is what the information contained in the casting call, the audition sides and the various statements made in several places by representatives of the show, all of which point to this act taking place and all of which are offensive. No one has denied that any of this will happen, and a number of justifications for its happening have been offered–that the scientist and Rush knew each other previously, for instance, which I guess is meant to reassure us that the scientist isn’t a slut but has no bearing on the impact of the act on Wray, at all.

    What we’re upset about, what we’re protesting, is exactly that information that is circulating, currently. That casting call, the sides, the comments, all came from the SG organization–someone in the organization is responsible for each of them, someone thought, at some point, that their existence and use were good things, regardless of whether the become a part of the final product, in the end. Someone used that language, conceived that plot and then defended it (while distancing from some aspects with some finger pointing and buck passing) and that’s why we’re offended. What’s been seen, so far, has been offensive, and that’s enough to inspire protest–protest against what we’ve seen. It’s doubtful that anyone reversed-burgled the SG offices and left this material on their desks, so this all comes from them, out of the minds of the organization–and, while it’s upsetting, it’s not entirely surprising, considering past episodes of failure in correctly identifying and handling rape in their products on their parts.

    The point of our protesting what we’ve seen, rather than folding our hands and keeping our offended sensibilities to ourselves until the ep airs, is to potentially forestall the use of these elements in the final product. We don’t want to wait and see if the episode will actually be as bad as it has been projected to be and then protest; we want to influence the content of the final product, if possible, before further offense happens. That may be happening; the content may be changing, now that the issues have been brought to the attention of media watchdogs for the offended groups who will be watching closely to see what does air. They wouldn’t have known to be watching, or to express their displeasure to the creators, if those who were offended by the material we’ve had access to, so far, hadn’t started talking about it. And, again, based on past performance, it’s possible that the creators weren’t fully aware of the rape or of the issues raised by the negative tropes they’re resorting to or of their potential impact on viewers until these discussions happened. This is activism, and no one is apologizing for it. The issues involved are important enough to call for it.

  232. Oops–that last comment was in response to John B, not Craig, sorry. I shouldn’t be trying to comment while working.

  233. This is activism, and no one is apologizing for it. The issues involved are important enough to call for it.

    Um… don’t recall demanding anyone STFU or apologise for putting forward a POV I (wholly or in part) disagree with. It would be rather hypocritical of me to do so, since I’ve hardly been mute about the (IMNSHO, naturally) uber-fail on the part of Grey’s Anatomy when it comes to their representation of bisexual/lesbian women. Erica Hahn’s transition from castrating work-obsessed sexless ice queen to castrating ‘my career is my closet’ dyke was seriously underwhelming, because I don’t really find lazy homophobic stereotypes any more impressive than lazy misogynistic ones. But I digress…

  234. CC@246:

    Whew… thanks for clearing that up.I had a “damn, I thought getting sober was supposed to stop the black outs” moment there. :)

  235. CC@245: The question of whether the act being discussed constitute rape in the context of the show has already been answered by Joe M; he says that it is.

    If I read Mr. Mallozzi’s blog correctly, I’m not sure this is strictly accurate. This looks like the relevant excerpt of the blog post to which pg15 linked upstream:

    Multisemi writes: “….2. If someone is “intimate” with my body while I am asleep or otherwise not in conscious control of it and I have not previously given explicit permission for that act, it is rape.”

    Answers: 1. Agree. 2. Also agree.

    This is a clear statement of Mr. Mallozzi’s beliefs about rape in the real world. He does not, however, explicitly connect that statement to either the SG mind-swap technology or “Sabotage”, the episode under discussion here. That being the case, I’d be wary of concluding that he believes that “rape” is descriptive of any act or acts occurring in the episode.

    In itself, that might be read as encouraging — implying either that the leaked materials were/are misleading, or that the story squarely addresses the concerns folk have been raising here and elsewhere. Certainly it indicates that Mr. Mallozzi is (a) aware of those concerns, and (b) in personal agreement, on real-world terms, with the views of those expressing them.

    The question is whether the episode addresses these concerns in a way that will satisfy its would-be critics. And that’s an answer we won’t have till it airs.

  236. John: There is another comment that asks more pointedly about what happens in the ep and his answer that it does constitute rape–I don’t remember which post the comment appears in, and I’m working so I’m unable to research it, right now. It’s more clear on the subject than the one you quoted and is the one I was thinking of.

  237. CC@251: Wading into the comment stream from the post quoted above produces this from Mr. Mallozzi:

    “You do realise if Perry has sex in Camile’s body, yanno, without her explicit permission, it’s rape, right?”

    Answer: I answered this question in today’s mailbag. And – yes.

    You’re right; that appears definitive. Note, though, that the response does not say whether the act described actually occurs in the episode….

  238. John: That was the one I was thinking of, yes. And, no, we don’t know for sure that it does happen, though many indicators, so far, point to it. I very much hope that it doesn’t, of course, and that if it had been going to, previously, they may have changed their minds, or will, before it airs.

  239. Lisa:

    Thanks but, hey, its not as if you killed my cat before burning the house down. That would be cause for serious grudge action. :)

  240. John C. Bunnell: I want to back up a bit and pick up your comments about the old sf and fannish tradition of etherealizing the self and seeing the body as something to transcend. It’s true, it’s of long standing…and I’ve been thinking lately that it’s because it’s so well-established that the pagan and queer (overlapping but by no means identical) emphases on incarnation are so strong. Realizing that “my self is my mind” simply doesn’t help you deal with some of life’s challenges – particularly when you belong to a group subject to physical violence because of what you do to and with your body – makes the need and desire for alternatives much more intense. “My self is my body just as much as my mind” is an affirmation in the face of institutional and social prejudice and violence. Surrendering one’s physical self and accepting a primacy of the ethereal side of life feels, to a lot of us, like a capitulation to the people who’d happily destroy us if they could.

    Since I’ve tried life both ways, I can say that the process of trying to sort through long-standing sense of unease about myself and my self-definitions led to…well, really a complex set of feedback loops between wishing to understand my physical self better, discovering desires within me waiting to come into clearer focus, identifying and living as bi and trans, and finding that I both had to and wanted to emphasize this incarnate self more than I ever had. Making the ethereal self primary simply won’t work with what I’ve got.

    And it’s in this context that, yeah, we end up extra sensitized to things that can be read as rape and abuse of the self in the body.

  241. cericonversion@256: That’s a thoughtful and well-articulated post, not least because it’s framed in the context of your personal experience. I can absolutely see where you’re coming from, and respect the logic that gets you there.

    Where it gets complicated is that I’m just enough of a classical pluralist that I can also see how others might reach different conclusions by starting from different premises along the continuum of spiritual and physical identity. You specifically mention the pagan and queer communities; I’d be awfully curious to hear a Buddhist or other Eastern spiritualist take on what we’ve heard about the Wray/Perry storyline.

  242. I’m an Atlantis only fan never got into SG1, not that its bad but SGA was proper sci fi for me, SGU before this sh#t insulting story line hit the fan DIDN’T grab attention, why the hell would it its just directed at the little fan boys for the boys club only demographic, stuff woman/older people in general an everyone else that doesn’t fit into the required viewing demographic.

    I just want a entertaining sci fi show, what the hell is wrong with that, I don’t want a f##king documentary or ethical/moral dilemma‘s to challenge me or teach me a life lesson or point out how socially inept I am or blinked or what ever, I can read the paper, watch the new or read literature for any of that thanks and do. I’m so pi##ed off, was a year ago when the show got axed an replaced with this crap, an now even more so! that this is shoved down our throats an wont be watching this piece of crap EVER! nuff said.

    Mr Scalzi please can you pass on my utter contempt for TTPB especially Mr Brad Wright (I so appreciate all the condesending an flippant off hand remarks his made about SGA/woman an older fans, oh an especially the whole flip the coin “joke“ concerning the axing of the whole, LAUGH oh did LAUGH!!!! at this man warped SICK sense of humour, OF COURSE who wouldn’t!!!! ) for effectively destroying Stargte for me an canceling a great show an giving us this CRAP an expecting us to be all happy about it, just because its got Stargate in the title. You add this nice new twist to it to an wow what a family show you have!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Appalled ex Stargate fan

  243. CC @ 45:
    The point of our protesting what we’ve seen, rather than folding our hands and keeping our offended sensibilities to ourselves until the ep airs, is to potentially forestall the use of these elements in the final product. We don’t want to wait and see if the episode will actually be as bad as it has been projected to be and then protest; we want to influence the content of the final product, if possible, before further offense happens. That may be happening; the content may be changing, now that the issues have been brought to the attention of media watchdogs for the offended groups who will be watching closely to see what does air… This is activism, and no one is apologizing for it. The issues involved are important enough to call for it.

    Could getting the episode changed (or even scrapped completely, as some are arguing for) not set a slightly worrying precedent, though?

  244. @John C. B.: There is an issue here where the ability to say “who I am has nothing to do with my body” is a privileged position. Who I am has a lot to do with my body, because my body is not masculine (the default cultural understanding of the body.) People try to legislate what I can do with my body – how it looks, what I wear on it, who I use it with, what I use it for. This is why “our bodies, ourselves” is a rallying cry for women’s rights activists. If my body is just a meat puppet I inhabit, who cares if I get raped? Who cares if my husband beats me? Who cares if I have to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term? That’s not me, after all – that’s just my body. Except, that *is* me. My body. Myself.

    This privilege isn’t just a women’s issue – as has been pointed out, it’s also a queer issue. It’s a race issue too. It’s easy for me, a white person, to say “oh the colour of my skin doesn’t matter!” It’s not so easy for a person of colour to say that, because their daily life is affected by their skin colour. So, what, the solution is for us all to leave their bodies so no-one will have to be black, or disabled, or queer, or a women? So we can all be straight white able-bodied (no-bodied) men? Advocating for this kind of mind-body dualism is fundamentally a privileged thing to argue: the world would be so much better/cooler if we were all alike, because underneath it all, everyone’s *just like me!* Everyone’s not just like me, and there is no underneath it all.

  245. I’d just like to point out that when I was watching SGA recently (my parents gave season 1 to me for my birthday), there were several episodes in which the ‘war handwavium’ score spiraled out of control (see Greg London’s warhw.com). The othering was intense.

    And then there are some where it came out significantly negative.

    I wouldn’t want to bet on a sensitive treatment, but if one were actually presented, I wouldn’t be absolutely shocked, merely pleasantly surprised.

  246. I tell you who the makers of this vile show are aiming the show at the idiot fanboy that’s who, this is just one of the so many comments posted on the GW forum there was a debate going on about opinions on SGU an someone gave there concerns an was rudely brushed of an told “only cops an social workers think about rape” an the person then asked if he was male and this is the answer “Yup. But that hardly matters because the stigma for male/male rape is even worse than male/female”. Funny I though rape was rape an as bad what ever the gender didn’t realise that one is better than other kind, so now we have levels of rape as well ( un frigging believable)

    This whole SGU fiasco gets worse by the day, the remarks over there are getting beyond belief an the male owner of the site seems to do nothing to quell it. I have been reading the boards there for a few days now the ones quoted are some off the better ones I’ve seen. I don’t know what MGM or Cooper/Wright or even Sy Fy are thinking about but they want us to believe they will treat the subject matter in a responsible way, I doubt that very much as, I really believe there target audience wouldn’t appreciate that, therefore that would effect the ratings, an that’s the only thing they are interested in at the minute an showing how they are just using shock tactic to draw in this type of I’ll be a lady an a grown up an just politely say “fan”!!!! But that’s not what I’m thinking, an if I wanted to sink to there levels I could find far more choice words! Whereas here I’ve been reading all your comments some I agree with an so I don’t but at least it’s a debate ( some of it has gone right over my head) but its people trying to make informed answers based on life experience or things read etc.. But it’s a debate, its adults sharing a view an I think the word being adult is main perspective here, views to be agreed or disagreed, its not bashing or shouting or abusive an at the end of day not everyone is going to agree but that in essence is what a debate is, in my mind at least. I was going to at least look at the pilot of SGU but this whole business an what I have been reading over there has just totally convinced me that this is not the sort of thing I or my family will want to watch even if it turned out to be all hype an controversy for the sake of controversey say, that to me would still be a telling insight to the mind set of this “creative writers as it where” . It makes you want to shout grow up to these types of people but honestly what good would it do, they either dont care or just dont get it an I dont think they ever will.

    Sorry for rambling.

  247. Tui@260:: People try to legislate what I can do with my body

    They do that to masculine bodies, too. Here in Oregon, we’ve recently raised tobacco taxes sharply, there are new beer taxes coming down the pike, and the Food Police are promoting the idea of a tax on “sugary beverages”.

    Which points in the direction, actually, of a minority or special-interest body-group whose members sometimes do articulate a worldview that actively disassociates “self” from “body” — those with size/weight issues, particularly those whose conditions are not related to diet. In many cases, the explicit message one hears from that quarter is to look past the body to the person inside it. I don’t suggest that this is the attitude or belief of all persons-of-size, but I’ve run into it often enough that I’d count it significant.

    Advocating for this kind of mind-body dualism is fundamentally a privileged thing to argue:

    I strongly disagree. It would be inappropriate for a dualist to impose his or her beliefs on others, just as it’s inappropriate for right-wing Christians to legislate theirs. But it would be equally wrong to deny either the dualist or the right-wing Christian the right to believe as he or she chooses within the context of their individual spiritual communities.

    the world would be so much better/cooler if we were all alike, because underneath it all, everyone’s *just like me!* Everyone’s not just like me,

    Indeed not, but belief that self-hood is distinct from body identity is not, in and of itself, necessarily belief that all selves are alike. I’d grant that some spiritual belief systems do equate ascension to pure spirit with a loss of personal identity, but I don’t think they all do, any more than all Christian denominations interpret the concept of Trinity or the Book of Revelation the same way.

    and there is no underneath it all.

    This sounds like an outright rejection of the existence of spiritual identity (essentially, an atheistic or agnostic worldview).

    As a matter of principle, I believe in respect for individuals and individual beliefs. Your identity is yours to choose, and your body is or should be yours to use as you see fit. But respect goes both ways, and in a pluralist culture (as the US professes to be, even if we don’t always live up to the ideal), we must be prepared to accept and respect those whose beliefs and behaviors differ from ours. Community is more than the sum of like-minded individuals; it’s the synthesis of many individually-minded individuals coming together without losing their own identities in the process.

  248. John, excise taxes are not like gay bashing, rape, and the state of your genitals being a matter of public speculation and humor.

  249. Brian Skinn @70 writes:

    […] but it seems to me that the core ethical issue has very little to do with sexual orientation (sure orientation further complexifies it) and more with the simple question of misuse of someone else’s body.

    I found this passage in The Shockwave Rider by John Brunner which seems to cut to the core of the matter. p.228:

    “Yes. There’s an honest man. And finally, he’s figured out what constitutes evil in the modern world.”
    “So what’s your definition?”
    “One that I know you agree with, because we talked about Anti-Trauma Inc. If there is such a phenomenon as absolute evil, it consists in treating another human being as a thing.”
    In a dry voice she said, “I won’t argue.”

    Use of another’s body without consent is precisely that — treating that person as a thing.

    ____
    For all you reference-loving sorts: Del Rey (eighth printing), ISBN 0-345-32431-5, LCC: 74-23861.

  250. “Could getting the episode changed (or even scrapped completely, as some are arguing for) not set a slightly worrying precedent, though?”

    Precedent of what though?
    The precedent of thou shalt not be a dick at the expense of already marginalized and misrepresented groups. Precedent of aiming a little higher than previous incarnations of the same ole shit. Precedent of realizing there is a larger potential audience and paying customers out there if they are less insulting to them.
    Not seeing a down side.

    Unless the precedent one is worried about is the poor put upon status quo being challenged to do what is right.

  251. DoomPuppet@259:
    Could getting the episode changed (or even scrapped completely, as some are arguing for) not set a slightly worrying precedent, though?

    Only if you believe that TV shows are the pure vision of a creator and are never influenced at all by such crass concerns as advertiser goodwill, studio directives, ratings or focus groups.

    Um, no.

    TV is incredibly bottom-line-driven. Tales are legion of creators having their “vision” warped beyond all recognition by the studio’s idea of what would make their show a hit — which usually involve pandering to their idea of what their target demographic wants to see. In SGU’s case, the producers have specifically said that their target demographic — like most sci-fi — is the young male demographic. (I think we can add “young straight white male” based on the lack of persons of color or gay/bi male characters in the main cast.) If the furor has caused them to recognize that there are other significant groups of people watching their shows (women, gay people, disabled people, etc) and these viewers *will* notice and complain in large numbers about offensive or poorly researched portrayals of themselves, then perhaps they’ll make more of an effort to write their female characters or their gay characters as sympathetically as they do their young male characters.

    Adela@244:
    The established track record on these subjects is what is killing good will.

    Exactly! I think viewers would be a lot more willing to offer these writers the benefit of the doubt if they’d shown the ability to handle these subjects thoughtfully and respectfully in the past, when in fact, as many viewers have observed, their track record on these things is really, really bad.

  252. Beautifully put, Layla. Right on. If the makers of a show decide anything like “hey, wait, that’s a stupid idea after all” or “y’know, I still think there’s a good idea in here but we have a lot more work to do on it than I realized”, that’s a good outcome.

  253. @Layla
    well said, the generalised stereotypes the net works have is out dated an I think far more woman do watch or read science fiction in all forms but because its sometimes deemed a boys club not everybody says I like this type of genre. So this just continues the cycle. Also to be fair I don’t understand why there is always a need for a certain type of demographic because if a show is good what ever the genre an people choose to watch it because they consider it to be entertainment why do they then need to try so hard to get a certain type of viewer, this is in part what has happened to SGA, they were unhappy because the main demographic audience did not fit into there ideal of the desired group hence the pus for SGU an that particular demographic, that I just don’t understand, it had viewers surely that’s all that counts, I understand the concept at trying to expand your audience but not to gain a new at the expense of the old, but I guess I’m looking at it from a very simplistic ideal, I just think if its a “good story” it will attract people come viewers of whatever age, disability/gender/ gay/straight, in my opinion I just don’t see what difference it makes, people are people not statistic or they shouldn’t be an people always see different aspects they like or don’t like irrespective of the difference demographics, i.e. you cant please all the people all the time because at the end of the day we are all individuals but you have a good well thought out story that people can appreciate even if sometimes its not always your thing, you still have there respect an most loyalty.

  254. John C Bunnell # 263:
    >This sounds like an outright rejection of the existence
    > of spiritual identity (essentially, an atheistic or agnostic
    > worldview).

    Agnostics would say they don’t know; an atheist could easily say that a spiritual identity exists (though God doesn’t); an atheist could also say that spiritual identity is implemented in matter.

    So… no?

    But regardless, that’s not what Tui was saying *at all*. Try putting quotes around the ‘underneath it all’ in that post and rereading.

  255. The Underneath It All is like the surface of Jupiter: speculative at best, and in the final analysis not really clearly separable from the part just above.

  256. What if the SGA ep had been written so that Carson had been a gay man, and Cadman was so thrilled that Carson was attracted to ‘her’ while she was in Rodney’s body — that she went ahead and slept with him while in Rodney’s body…

    Oh, what am I saying. The Stargate franchise PTB would never have written such a thing. And that’s why this SGU scenario pisses me off so much — the knowledge that they would never flip the situation around and have the straight man realize what was done to his body while he wasn’t aware/in charge.

  257. I believe it is pointless to talk about getting the episode changed, since we do not have a true picture of what it actually is presently. We can say what we hope it will or won’t be like, but wanting to change it implies that we know the current state, which we don’t.
    Also, keep in mind that none of the episode in question has been shot yet. I don’t even know if they’ve completed casting yet, so the character whose casting call led to this controversy does not yet even have a face.
    We don’t know yet whether rape occurs (or if the writers ever intended it to go that far) , though we do know that the writers recognise that it would be rape if it occurs.
    Maybe the script was actually for the characters in question to stop before it got that far and realise that it would be rape, in which case the issue is that Wray could be said to have been molested while not in control of her body (equivalent to being unconscious). This is not quite as extreme as rape but it’s certainly a significant violation and would need to be dealt with in much the same way. (More qualified people than I have discussed this at length upstream. Needless to say if would be extremely disappointing if the matter of the characters’ wrongdoing is quickly dropped and they move on without properly addressing the ramifications.)

    Of course I don’t know enough about the characters to guess how far they are willing to go with what is essentially an unconscious woman one of them can control. However, given what little is known about the episode, the controversial scenes seem to be a B plot.
    The next episode is currently untitled and we know very little about it, so maybe it’s devoted to the fallout from whatever was done to Wray while she was not in control of her body. Maybe not. I kinda doubt, but that’s just a guess. If it’s not and given that Sabotage is primarily about Sabotage, then I doubt that what happens to Wray while she’s not in control of her body goes as far as rape, on the grounds that there’s not enough time to deal with something of that magnitude properly. Not having any idea of how the situation fits into the rest of the plot of the episode and series, there’s not way to know for certain. We don’t even know if Rush is still alive by the end of the episode :P Well, it’s very unlikely he’d get bumped off, but it’s remotely possible. He’s not the only ‘main character’ after all.
    (episode titles and brief descriptions were looked up at http://www.stargate-sg1-solutions.com/wiki/Stargate_Universe:_Season_One )

  258. Luke@271:that’s not what Tui was saying *at all*. Try putting quotes around the ‘underneath it all’ in that post and rereading.

    Warning: Long Rock Ahead!

    I think I see what you’re getting at, but I’m not sure that reading holds up under careful examination. Strictly speaking, you’re right to note that what Tui’s post most explicitly rejects is the concept of dualism — but I read it to go much farther.

    We’ve been pointed at Gnosticism as an example of a pure dualist belief system, though it might be more accurate to describe it as spirit-centric — since a key premise of Gnosticism is that the self can exist entirely in the absence of physical form. Many more familiar theologies take a middle ground, holding that while spirit and body are severable, either is normally incomplete without the other (at least till the last trump sounds or perfect enlightenment is achieved, with the latter step sometimes taking a great many lifetimes in a great many physical forms).

    But what Tui describes is the premise that body and mind are not merely dependent, but inseparable — that the body isn’t a costume the self can put on and remove (as the Slitheen in Doctor Who wear human skins), but that mind and body are literally interwoven, like the threads in a rug or blanket. By this logic there is no “underneath”, no “inner self”; one can’t unweave the component strands without destroying the fabric.

    Note that I use “mind” in that formulation, not “spirit”. The one (“mind”) is at least nominally susceptible to scientific study and quantification. The other (“spirit”) is by most definitions supernatural, or at least paranormal, and resists attempts at objective measurement. To put it another way, it’s hard to see how a self incapable of surviving the death or destruction of the body it occupies can properly be described as a “spirit” rather than a “mind” or “consciousness”.

    And yet….

    As I noted some way upstream, SF is riddled with stories about selves that escape the physical in one way or another — not just by evolving into energy beings, but by being downloaded into computers, uploaded into robots, copied into clones, or transplanted into all manner of receptacles. If Tui’s “there is no underneath” is right, all these things are entirely, irrevocably impossible . . . but on the other hand, if anybody ever makes any one of these mechanisms work, to any degree, then the idea that “self” and “body” are inextricable will be permanently refuted.

    Also: since the Ancient mind-exchange tech does in fact work in the Stargate universe, it’s necessarily true that for individuals in that universe, self and identity are separable from physical bodies. We can therefore conclude that Tui’s model is provably not accurate in the SG-universe; for Daniel, Vala, Perry, and Wray, there clearly is an underneath. Which has implications for worldbuilding, storytelling, and character development….

  259. John Bunnell, I confess I have no idea what your point is anymore. I’ve completely lost the thread.

    So I’m going to do what I do when confused, which is back up.

    As I see it, here’s what’s at issue. The SGU production people have put out a casting call with description of plot elements. Some of us find things to dislike in that description, and specifically find that they embody common harmful stereotypes about both life with major disabilities and lesbian life. We aren’t claiming to know everything about what they intend to do with the story, but we can look at the history of related incidents in the various SG series, and at the history of related bits in TV and other pop culture, and at the provided descriptions, and nonetheless reach some pretty solid judgments about these elements.

    In the real world, we find that people with major impairments, like quadraplegic, aren’t actually all sexless helpless beings. Disabled people have sexualities and sex lives too. While lots of us would certainly not object to a chance to shed our problems, we find that life has its satisfactions and delights anyhow, and dropping into a borrowed body wouldn’t actually be as wonderful a release or consummation as you might think. Furthermore, lesbian sexuality gets exploited six ways from Sunday, and my lesbian friends have what seems to me an entirely legitimate complaint about having lesbian characters find special fulfillment in the right magical moment with a guy. To turn it around, how many straight guys would figure it obvious that there’d be something blessed and illuminating in just the right magical moment with a gay guy? Lesbian sexuality is just as real as straight guys’ sexuality – it’s not something lesbians make do with until the proverbial holy healing cock comes along, it’s actually what they are when it comes to love and bonding as well as sex.

    Some of us are directly affected by this kind of thing in pop culture in that we’re in one or more of the groups whose desires are being misrepresented and misunderstood yet again, and some of us aren’t in one or more of those groups ourselves but are simply in favor of pop culture getting coolness and drama built on better foundations. SG-style tech offers up a lot of neat possibilities that don’t require passing along worn-out cliches, and we like our coolness! So we’re speaking up in hopes of explaining the problem and letting two different target audiences know what’s up: the show’s creators and other pop culture creators, in hopes that they can improve their foundations, and our fellow fans of genre coolness, in hopes that they can understand and join us in smiling at the good (and rewarding it with our attention and dollars) and frowning at the bad (and not rewarding it with either).

    So that’s what’s up, as I see it. Other stuff is side trips.

    Now as far as broader context goes, I just want to note that the identification of self with body does have some long-standing prior art. “And the World became flesh and dwelt among us”, just for instance. I used “incarnate” in my earlier comments deliberately, because to say that the self is fully manifested in and identified with the body is not to say that there’s no such thing as a soul, or that if there is, it’s also mortal. I’m not a materialist. It’s just that I think that as long as the body lasts, there is no self apart from it.

    GLBT people and disabled people both get some “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” messages about our bodies. A lot of people figure that we’re just this way because we’re damaged, and fixing some physical flaw would make us whole, which is to say, straight. Meanwhile, lesbians in particular are used as props for other people’s sexual fantasies. Lesbian figures perform in a lot of porn for straight guys in contexts that suggest (or just flat-out show) that they’re “really” there for the guy’s gaze and that they “really” are only the way they are until the magical healing cock sets them straight. Against this it’s necessary to assert that our bodies are not essentially just props, and not things to be adjusted to suit others’ whims. We do not seek to dispense with them, because they are us and we are them. Etherealization only serves an agenda of pushing bodies into conforming roles, by encouraging us not to take our incarnations seriously.

  260. Ceri@276: I confess I have no idea what your point is anymore. I’ve completely lost the thread.

    There’s a certain natural topic drift that creeps into long comment-streams, and I’ve had a couple of different points in different parts of the conversation. Before I attempt to synthesize, let me request a clarification of my own. In the overall thread, I see posts from “CC”, “Ceri”, and “cericonversion” — am I right, on rereading, to discern that all three of those are you? And if so, may I encourage you to stick to a single handle to avoid confusion?

    Now, then. Put simply, my points are these:

    (1): It’s unfair and inappropriate to judge the content of an artistic work without first viewing that work in its entirety.

    Since making that point, I’ve seen the argument advanced that (paraphrased) “well, it’s okay because we’re enlightening the writers in advance so they won’t say something stupid”.

    I disagree. To attempt to squelch speech because one disagrees with the content of that speech — or worse, what one thinks that content may be — is still to attempt to squelch speech. And I find that offensive.

    (2): The characterization of “rape” applied to a specific incident of sexual contact possibly portrayed in the disputed episode is based on assumptions regarding the nature of identity that may not be valid in the SG:U universe.

    Yes, we have Joe Mallozzi’s direct comment that says otherwise. However, that’s why the discussion about body vs. mind/spirit is significant. In the real world, if Tui’s correct that “there is no underneath”, then Joe Mallozzi’s conclusion is dead right. But in the SG universe, it’s been shown conclusively that there is an “underneath” — that identity is NOT fused to physical existence. And that has profound implications both for legal definitions of personhood (as contemplated in criminal statutes) and for the spiritual and moral beliefs of characters confronting the nature of their own identities.

    Does that make the (hypothetical) sexual incident morally defensible? Not necessarily. There is still plenty of room to question the situation, whether or not “rape” is specifically the right word to describe it. What the right word may be must, again, wait for better context than we have now.

    (3): Just as it’s disrespectful to denigrate or brush off a class of people based on their perspectives toward sexual identity, it’s equally disrespectful to denigrate or brush off a class of people based on their perspectives toward spiritual identity.

    This is why I responded to Tui’s post in the way I did. We may not have Buddhists or Gnostics or other spiritual dualists actually “in the room”, but if we as a community are to genuinely respect diversity (as the SF community often loudly professes), we need to respect it in all its permutations — and therefore, we ought to avoid statements that appear to denigrate or devalue concepts of spiritual identity that differ from our own.

  261. CC is someone else; I have cericonversion when I’m logged in at WordPress and Ceri B. when not. I do apologize for the confusion.

    “(1): It’s unfair and inappropriate to judge the content of an artistic work without first viewing that work in its entirety.” But we’re not judging the artistry of the work. This is a key point. We’re judging specific elements, for which they have issued a casting call. Presumably, for instance, there’s a B plot in the storyline (unless there’s an A plot and this is the B plot), about which we know nothing. Nor are we assaying anything about the cinematography, set design, music, acting, or a great deal else.

    But we don’t have to, for this purpose. This isn’t really about the art. It’s about one particular set of concerns in the craft, to which the show’s makers were committed enough to put out commercial solitications. If they’re at the stage of going to look for people to sign contracts with, it’s fair to talk about for the rest of us.

    Nor are all of us characterizing the situation described in the casting calls as rape. I’m not. I’m not saying that those who are are wrong – I’m conflicted about it. But certainly I don’t feel confident enough in my judgment of such things to pin it down that far. I’m comfortable right now saying that what they’re calling for panders to and reinforces harmful stereotypes, and letting that do it for now.

    Who objecting to the use of cliches about disabled people and lesbians is being disrespectful of others’ spirituality? For all the talk of incarnation and everything else, let’s not lose sight of the fact that what we’ve got here are some easy dramatic thrills that aren’t much different in their level of quality from gimp jokes and Maxim cartoons about suddenly willing dykes.

  262. Layla@268 Yes. Thank you. That’s pretty much what I was saying upthread.

    John@277 Yes. I agree with all of your points, which I stated upthread.

    Greg@195, please see the above posts to see what I was saying. You misconstrued most of my comments and mis-attributed (word?) my motives the entire thread. If you read those, you’ll understand exactly what I meant. If you still don’t, well, I can’t help. Thank you.

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