labingi: (r2dvd)
Yet Another Post on Sexism in Moffat's Shows

I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that Steven Moffat is the Ben Steed of his generation. For those not up on their BBC TV writers of thirty-plus years ago, Ben Steed was a writer for Blake’s 7 (among other things), now widely remembered in Blake’s 7 fandom as that sexist pig. This is a shame for the late Steed: in many respects he was a good writer, but he allowed his bigotry to distort the virtues of his stories, leaving a sour taste in the mouth of many fans across the decades. Steven Moffat seems committed to an updated version of the same trajectory, and it’s a shame for him too because he, too, is a good writer, but that fact is increasingly being obscured by the sexism* of his shows.

The Lessons of History )
labingi: (r2dvd)
The final day (for me).

The different faces of rebellion we see in B7 are interesting. In another reality, it would have been fascinating to see a more tightly arced series that explored the different approaches to rebellion as exemplified by...

1) Blake--hit them hard, go for Control, etc.
2) Avalon--chip away from the outside, free the provinces
3) Kasabi--guerrilla warfare
4) Anna--undermine the system from within (the most morally dangerous path, but perhaps the closest to actually being effective within the series).

(As I say this, I note that three out of four of these figures are women, which speaks very well of a show from c. 1980.)
labingi: (r2dvd)
Quite light spoilers below for Blake's 7 if anyone cares (light enough I'm not bothering to cut)...

So how might Anna and Avon have met, given as I've argued, that it doesn't make sense that they only met shortly before the embezzlement thing? I once had it in mind to write a fic where they met during college. I'm far from alone in positing they might have met through Del, who might have been a classmate of Avon's. If that's the case, they might have known each other for 10-15 years by the start of the series. That feels plausible to me.

But that being the case, why wouldn't Avon have figured out at least some of the twists and turns in her career/identity? Well, she's brilliant, and from what we see on the screen, I'd guess more brilliant at hiding identities than at seduction. (She kind of sucks at that.) I think it's also possible that Avon dismissed the possibility of her being that formidable. (He didn't cop to Cancer either.)
labingi: (r2dvd)
Reading a lot of the other awesome posts people have been making for this meme, I realize I've been rather lukewarm in my discussion of Anna, spending a lot of time either criticizing the writing or begging for benefit of the doubt.

So here is list of things to like about Anna:

* She's smart. Oh boy, is she ever multi-talented.
* She recognizes that Servalan is a tasteless megalomaniac.
* She wants to overthrow the Federation in favor of a more reformed government. (I see no evidence that this is not true.)
* She's willing to put herself in the line of fire for her cause.
* I guess she's a fairly good orator (though we only hear her speech in the background).
* Her brother clearly loved her, so she must have done something right (given that he presumably knew her all their lives).
* She doesn't bother to pretend to be in love with her husband.
labingi: (r2dvd)
Tori Amos's song, Cars and Guitars is a song I've claimed as an Anna re. Avon, and I'll admit it doesn't read straight out of "Rumours"; it's more based on my fanon, but I like the balance it presents between genuine attachment and a sense of unbridgeable distance. This perhaps best exemplified by the chorus line, "...what if I keep on driving?" This line can be interpreted in two diametrically opposed ways: 1) What if I drive on past you? 2) What if I keep driving along with you? If ever there was a relationship exemplified by this kind of ambiguity, it is Anna's "real feelings" about Avon.
labingi: (r2dvd)
Blake's 7 wrote itself into a corner a bit by introducing Anna as a very important (and very sympathetic) presence in Avon's life about a series/season before we actually meet her. I suspect that for every fan who cares about Avon's personal life and who saw the series unspoiled and in order, this created a more-or-less jarring experience of seeing the Anna they'd created in their minds exploded. I know that happened to me. To this day, I have two totally different visual images of Anna in my head (and somewhat different personalities) and have a hard time reconciling them into one person with one life history, despite 15-odd years of coming to terms with the Anna of "Rumours."

On a narrative level, Anna got shortchanged. She was introduced in a way that was guaranteed to make most fans ultimately disappointed in her/disillusioned by her, because we all prefer our own stories to others'. And when we did see the "real" Anna, we saw her so briefly and under such bad circumstances that we had no chance to replace our own shattered visions with another understanding of a fully developed character. We were just given a lot of complexity and confusion, and some arguably good and some definitely bad behavior, and then it was over. Nuts.

The moral of the story is be very careful when giving a big, dramatic introduction to a figure you're not actually going to have show up for a long time. The move is almost guaranteed to disappoint.
labingi: (r2dvd)
Wherein I defend Paul Darrow's writing skills.

Everybody knows that Paul Darrow wrote "A Terrible Novel," but I'll confess with some small embarrassment that his conception of the backstory for Avon, Anna, and Del influenced me quite a lot. Some of the particulars are very purple, but I like the basic conception that the three of them were acquainted since they were kids.

B7 spoilers )
labingi: (r2dvd)
I've signed up to take part in the "Women Fandom Loves to Hate" challenge (see [livejournal.com profile] womenlovefest), and I decided to pick Anna Grant, perhaps most consistently hated female character in Blake's 7. The Fest starts tomorrow, but as I'm going to be on vacation, I'm going to start posting today.

Anna item 1: My Anna essay on hermit.org. I wrote this a few years ago and am not sure I still feel 100% the same way, but I think I'm still on a similar page about her.

My basic contention about Anna is that her backstory is clearly very, very complicated. In "Rumours," she is holding down no less than four identities--on the strength of maybe 10 (15 tops) minutes of screen time. This is obviously not enough to get a clear sense of who she "really" is, what she wants, or why she's doing what she's doing. So at a minimum, she deserves some suspended judgment.
labingi: (r2dvd)
Fandoms: Blake's 7, Doctor Who
Title: "Sacrifice"
Characters: Avon, Ten, Orac, Slave
Rating: PG for traces of angst
Summary: A quiet moment on Scorpio is interrupted by an annoying visitor.
A/N: This is my [livejournal.com profile] help_japan story, won by [livejournal.com profile] kerravonsen, who gave me the prompt: Avon and Ten having an argument in which each is partially right. My wonderful beta reader, [personal profile] vilakins observed that I might not be entirely on prompt; I'll let readers be the judge. Many thanks for the excellent beta! I'm a little embarrassed that the arc of this story is identical to my Avon/Cally story, but Avon's life just lends itself!

"Sacrifice"

With four hours remaining until Scorpio arrived at Xenon Base, Avon reclined in his seat and ruminated.

He ought to have known better. The ambush, inevitably, came the moment he let his guard down. The clank of a hatch, a maintenance door growling open, and out stumbled a character with a manner reminiscent of Vila, and like Vila, rather too inept to be believable.Read more... )
labingi: (r2dvd)
I had an all-around good Thanksgiving. (Happy evening of Thanksgiving, all.) Good food and good company all concluded by around 3 p.m. Having successful negotiated the social adventures of the day, I got to lift the weight from my shoulders and bum around in the fannish labyrinth of my mind for several hours. Now, that's a holiday.

And having a day off, I'm going to do a fannish roundup:

Old shows I have been revisiting:

Babylon 5, season 5 )

Blake's 7, series 4 )

And then, the new:

Doctor Who: The Waters of Mars - light spoilers )
labingi: (Default)
I have been reliving the Blake love with R, who is new to the show and just the sort to appreciate it on that fannish level. Very fun. It gets to me reminiscing.

B7 really is awesome. It really is one of the best, cardboard sets and golf ball planets, Dayna's pink pants, and Jarvik notwithstanding. (And it has much higher production values than the movie I'm making, which is scaring me slightly.)

And I find myself returning to an observation I first made in a public forum, oh, it must be eleven years ago, and which I quickly learned to shut up about, but which I have never really stopped believing: Blake and Avon are not very slashable. Oh, they are soul mates (or whatever), but plausibly getting them into bed is very difficult. I stand by my perception that Avon is flaming het and Blake is flaming A. And even were that not the case, neither is going to be vulnerable to the other in the way they'd have to if they were going to have sex. Yes, there is such a thing as invulnerable sex: Servalan knows it well, but Blake and Avon, I think, don't. It requires a callousness or a playfulness toward other people that Blake does not have. And it requires a willingness to be exposed and awkward (even just physically) that neither of them has. Furthermore, conjecture what you will about the "real" attitudes toward homosexuality in the Federation we don't quite get to see on 1970s TV, the Federation is a highly gendered, somewhat sexist social space, which means male homosexuality is fraught with power politics, which is another reason neither Avon nor Blake would go there with each other. They have enough power politicking to do without further complications.

I have said it's hard to slash them, but it's not impossible. I have read in my life one story that does it entirely plausibly: [livejournal.com profile] blakefancier's "Save for Twilight". In this beautiful, sad tale, she very wisely and realistically strips away all the factors that keep them apart: they have no social status to lose, no power to lose, no future. What they do have is a lot of physical hardship and a lot of need for physical comfort and no one else to turn to. And that's the recipe. If you like B/A, go read it now.

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