Archive | Theory RSS feed for this section

Boning and Bones

4 May

I love Bones.  I recently realized that I hadn’t seen EVERY episode, so, like the obsessive fangirl that I am, I decided to re-watch the entire series.  Yes, pathetic.  We know.

As I watched, I noticed a disturbing trend.  I call it the Law of Booth.  The Law of Booth dictates that marriage and family are the be-all and end-all of existence.  It is fucking upsetting, y’all.  Bones, whether the viewer watches it or not, comes down as hard-line, traditional when it comes to love and marriage and baby carriages.  Strong, female choices that do not in some way involve conceding that monogamous reltionships (which lead to marriage) and family is the correct path for everyone do not exist.  They just don’t. I don’t want to say that there isn’t room for alternate sexuality at the Jeffersonian (Angela had a for-serious girlfriend and everything!) but the scope is limited at best.

Let’s start with the basics.  Angela is a free spirited, fun loving artist type.  Initially, she had a relationship in which she only sees the guy for three weeks out of the year.  Booth finds this really fucking bizarre.  The guy also winds up dead.  So much for three week fidelity.  Clearly, not only is it weird, but one of you will end up dead.  Hodgins dates Angela for like three months before he asks her to marry him.  She hasn’t even officially moved in with him!  They had a fight about how she was uncomfortable giving up her apartment a few episodes before this.  She initially rejects him more than once, but he keeps at it.  When he accepts that maybe they could just live together forever and be happy and NOT be married, that’s when she says it is ok.  Wait, lemme get this right… Free-spirited girls who don’t really want to get married will want to get married as soon as you tell them they don’t have to get married?  See, that’s what they are really after, in the end.  A season later, Angela is dating Roxy.  Roxy is also an artist.  Roxy doesn’t want to move in with Angela.  They seem well-suited.  Angela wants to get a dog.  Roxy’s response?  Angela doesn’t think enough about the fucking future and therefore they will never work out.  Angela only wants to live in the moment and therefore she will never work out with the woman who doesn’t even WANT to live with her at the current moment.  That’s logical.  Even the gays, they want to settle down and have a family.  That’s the important thing to do.  That’s what we all should be working towards.  Awesome.  Angela then becomes celibate to make sure she’s getting a real connection out of her relationships.  According to the world of Bones, sexual connection isn’t valid.  Emotional connection is valid.  A pregnancy scare and some other bullshit later, Angela is now married to Hodgins and pregnant.  Big. Fucking. Surprise.  I’m so glad they cleared up all the character contradictions that poses…wait…no…they didn’t.

Moving on.  Bones and Booth.  Bones is a reasonable fucking human being who doesn’t necessarily want marriage or a family.  She’s supposed to be the weird one who doesn’t understand emotion or human interactions.  Booth thinks marriage and family are essential and that sexuality that is not defined by a monogamous relationship is weird.  The audience is clearly supposed to side with Booth.  How do I know?  Because he is ALWAYS proven right and Bones is ALWAYS proven wrong when it comes to these things.  Examples.

1. Sex is best when in the context of a “normal”, monogamous relationship that is devoid of kinks or other deviance.

  • BDSM is strictly forbidden in the world according to Booth.  In one of my favorite and least favorite episodes, Booth and Bones go discover the world of pony play.  What Booth discovers is a bunch of weirdos doing weird stuff because they are confused by what sex is about.  Booth believes sex is better when there is some kind of emotional connection that has to do with love and puppies and rainbows or some shit.  Bones initially disagrees, but acquiesces in the end.
  • Loving more than one person at a time is unreasonable. In another very special episode, Booth and Bones encounter (gasp) polygamists. Booth, of course, thinks what they are doing is wrong. Bones, of course, sees the usefulness and anthropological value. That is, she sees those things until the end of the episode in which she concedes that relationships are for two people with no wiggle room.

These are two extreme cases that stick out, but there are numerous other points of contention that get stuck in through the course of normal plotlines. Bones has sex with an attractive guy while going out on dates with a brainy guy. Booth objects. It blows up in Bones’ face and hilarity ensues. She sees the error of her ways. I could go on endlessly about this point, but I won’t. People get married. So says the Law of Booth, so say we all (apparently.)

2. Everyone must get married.
Booth doesn’t understand Bones’ desire not to get married. All Booth wants in life is to get fucking married ZOMG. He asked his baby-momma to marry him; she said no. He asked Hannah to marry him after dating for about six months, despite the fact that she BEGGED him not to. She didn’t even want to stop dating; she just wanted to NOT be married. Not ok for Booth. All or nothing with that guy. So, he dumps his lovely girlfriend who is perfect for him and throws the very expensive ring he got her in the water as a symbolic gesture. What an idiot. Clearly, marriage is the magical way to get the girl, even if the girl tells you it isn’t. So says the Law of Booth, so say we all (apparently).

3. BABIES. BABIES EVERYWHERE.
Bitches gotta breed, yo. Angela be all kinda pregnant up in this bitch, not to mention that she wants like 12 million babies. Fine. Angela likes kids. So, sure…Why not? Bones, however, starts off not wanting babies. She is very clear about her baby beliefs, but Booth thinks Bones not wanting babies is unnatural. HORRIFIC GASP. Bones has to take care of a baby for a case and decides she does want a baby, after all. It couldn’t be that a sane, reasonable, woman would just genuinely not like and/or want kids. Really, that woman had to just spend some time with a baby so she could fully grasp her motherly potential. While Bones didn’t wind up having a kid, she was close, and with Booth’s sperm. Emily Deschanel, who plays Bones, is actually pregnant right now, so we’ll see how this all plays out. My guess? Babies. Even women who have made obviously life choice to not have kids wind up with kids. Camille winds up adopting her dead ex-boyfriend’s high-school aged daughter blah blah blah plot. She adopts her because even powerful, sexual, confident women aren’t really women without kids. So says the law of Booth, so say we all (apparently).

So, I’ll rephrase my statement form the start of this post: I want to love Bones.  It has science and murder and Angel.  I love those things.  I thought it had empowered females making choices for themselves.  Apparently, on that front, I was wrong.  It seems these women have their paths laid out for them, whether it fits with who they are, as people, or not.  So says the Law of Booth, so say we all (apparently).

Your Tweets: The New Object d’Art

2 Dec

Recently, a friend sent an article asking if social media is bad for NYC to an email list shared by some of my close friends.  While I know everyone has their own opinions of various social-media outlets, here’s a quick rundown of my views, based mostly on a great deal of cultural and media research.

It is anecdotally true that there is a cultural shift that involves documentation as part of the social experience.  Whether this is long-term or even vastly wide-spread has yet to be studied on a large enough scale to warrant a yea or nay from the world of social science.  Being someone who reads (a lot) of theory about these things, I assume that this cultural shift is similar to the theoretical shift seen post-WII in culture, society and media.  Ok, so, post-modernism starts at the end of WW-I and people are very taking notice by the 1950, at the very latest.  The term post-modern had certainly been used in literary and cultural criticism by that point.  Add to the the widespread use of the television, and you’ve got a media-based cultural revolution.  This gives rise to everything from needing our President to be cute (thanks for sweating a lot on TV, Nixon) to pop-art.  The fragmentation allowed to each individual through their separation from group gathering is very indicative of every type of media in this period.  Everyone is obsessed with the same figures, yet everyone is isolated from a group.  Images and media are seen as less “authentic” (in the way Benjamin used the term authentic) due to their consistent reproducibility.  Cultural critics worry we’ve lost originality in the age of post-modernity.

Two things then happen.  First, the Internet, then 9/11.  Much in the way that the majority of vast cultural changes can be linked with basic events in world history (often military/war related), such is the case here.  The ability for people to connect immediately, to give information instananeously is seen as neccesarry by our culture in a post-9/11 climate.  The technology available to us allows us to shift from isolated media images that require separation to isolated media images that require “virtual” community.  Part of the beauty of social media is the interconnectivity of information sharing.  Hitchcock said he liked to put one thing in his movies that he would call “ice box talk.”  It was the piece of information that everyone would discuss as curious or incongruous after having seen the film.  Hitchcock wanted people to be so puzzled by it that they would still be thinking about it, hours later, as they gazed into the icebox hours after their film-viewing experience was over.  It would prompt thought, discussion and drive people a little bit crazy.  This is the same concept as discussing a “must-see” TV show moment around an office-place water-cooler, a commonplace referrence made during the late-80s and through the 90s.  Now, we don’t have to have a physical place to locate in order to share our cultural obsessions; we can tweet them with a hashtag and share with thousands of others the very instant we watch Vertigo and can’t figure out how Madeleine was in the fucking window of the hotel if she hadn’t checked in (damn, you Hitchcock — icebox talk strikes again!)  This culture and type of media has also grown to include ourselves as part of the media, itself.

That’s fucking fascinating, y’all! We are the cultural objects being studied at the same time as we are the ones studying.  We need to know things as they happen, but we need to analyze them, as well.  I think as this trend continues and/or we get historical and societal distance from it, we will very much see 9/11 and twitter as interconnected and integral parts of our growth and change as a larger cultural group.

So, are New Yorkers (and the rest of the world) navel-gazing a little bit more than they had in the past?  Yes and no.  Just as much as people wanted to be part of the avant-garde set who saw the latest show the second it came and knew the next big artist before she made it big, so do they want to be a part of this creation, as well.  The self-importance isn’t new; the way the information is gathered and disseminated is.