2012-11-08, 11:13 PM (ISO 8601)
Bugbear in the Playground
Re: Fanservice, Opinions?
Like it less and less as I get older and more seasoned in my feminist commitments. Outside of the very occasional fanservice where either the character is trying to subvert some established characteristic or the show is trying to subvert the point of fanservice, I'm not a fan.
Basically, my feminism and my enjoyment of genre television and movies go hand in hand with one another, because they ultimately lead me to like the same things. I like strong characters with well-rounded personalities, and I like to see them in dramatic situations. Fanservice undermines that enjoyment, because it's all about taking that strong person with personality and background characteristics I enjoy, and actively encourages me to reduce that character down to a nice bobbing rack or glistening pecs. "Objectification" is a sometimes misused word, but here it is perfectly correct to describe what fanservice does: it takes a person and encourages me to see it the way I might show off a prize horse or cow or car, looking only at the qualities of the most superficial aspects of it.
There are a few times when it works in spite of itself, but mostly when there is some form of subversion going on. For example, Deep Space 9 had a character named Kira Nerys, who was a deeply moral and passionate woman first and foremost. But every so often, they showed an episode in the mirror universe of Star Trek, which was kind of a Bizarro World version of Trek where everyone's personalities were different. In that universe, Kira Nerys was rotten to the core, but she was also highly superficially charming. In that context, she gave the actor who played Kira (Nana Visitor) the chance to stretch her acting legs, and as a result took a toned-down straightforward character and turned her into the most ridiculously sexy femme fatale ever, just by changing how she walked and tightening her outfit a bit. Was it fanservice? More from how Visitor played it than from an actual cut of her outfit. Did it work? Heck yeah. But the fanservice was entirely in service of showing a contrast between our Kira and Mirror Kira and, incidentally, just how crazy good an actress Visitor could be.