Why Are You Doing This?

Bit by the Jason bug a little, and got this one out of the library. Animal faces all round, but still the same clinically framed Love vs. Violence drama, clipped sentences and stark visuals in place. Once again, you have to admire the style of the thing. Jason's storytelling is even more beautiful in colour. And once again, what's missing is character, and what's aggravating is Jason's ladies.

I've been trying to read The Second Sex of late (emphasis on the 'try'), which helped nail down Jason's problem. The basic argument of Simone De Beauvoir's classic is that men have defined what being human is throughout history, and everything that is either more or less than human has been projected onto the most convenient 'Other' available -- women. A point very nicely illustrated by Jason's main female character in this book. Geraldine intuitively recognizes the hero's innocence and selflessly helps him out. When asked "why are you doing this?" she responds "isn't this what people do?". No it isn't, it's what they SHOULD do. Geraldine is not a real person, she is an ideal. And one whose main function is to cook the hero's meals and assist him on his quest. She may be perfect, but she is also perfectly submissive. The man is the one who actually does stuff.

The (male) villain is similarly one-dimensional. When asked "why are you doing this?" he doesn't respond, but the follow up gives us our answer: "you've never loved anyone, have you?". Love and violence are two opposing poles, where a lack of one means the other. The hero is the guy in the middle, suffering the assaults of both, and ultimately being destroyed by them. Clever enough, but turning characters into ideas, and then gendering those ideas, strikes me as extremely reductive.

Why are you doing this, Jason? Sort it out. My advice? How about quitting these simplistic fables and dealing with real life.

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