Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Continued Adventures of Agent Carter: Elite S.H.I.E.L.D. Administrative Assistant

I didn't talk about it here, but recently there's been some angry murmurings about the new star wars cast looking for all the world like a hearty English breakfast of white bread and sausage.

And so the rule of one woman and one PoC per trilogy continues. That's understandable. I don't like it any more than you do, but the law is the law.

And while I'm personally inclined to keep my opinions to myself until we get to see the finished project, even I had to offer an emphatic COME ON.

So with that on my mind, I was a lot less disappointed than I would otherwise have been when this short synopsis of the new ABC show Marvel's Agent Carter fell into my inbox:

It's 1946, and peace has dealt Peggy Carter a serious blow as she finds herself marginalized when the men return home from fighting abroad. Working for the covert SSR (Strategic Scientific Reserve), Peggy must balance doing administrative work and going on secret missions for Howard Stark all while trying to navigate life as a single woman in America, in the wake of losing the love of her life--Steve Rogers.

That sure is a lot of sausage in my clambake.

This is how someone who generally shares a lot of my concerns put it:

Nope. Fuckit. 
I genuinely liked the character of Agent Carter from the Captain America films. It may fall into a strong independent woman hole, but she was competent and had a dry wit that I appreciated. They did a one-shot short about her and I liked that, too. That one-shot dealt with the "It's 1946, get me a coffee, sugartits" kind of mentality, but the bulk of the ~15 minute run time was her sleuthing and beating up some thugs with her crazy secret agent karate.  
 I want to stress this, though... I like Agent Carter.  
Which means I want a show about her. Why is it all about the men around Agent Carter? It doesn't really tell me a single goddamned thing about her... and why is she "doing administrative work" (PC Code: secretary) when the short, which is canon and details her first mission after the war ended, ends with her as the co-head/co-founder of the entire goddamned S.H.I.E.L.D. agency?!

Legit question.

You could make the argument that this is just a realistic depiction and that's what things were like back then, like I did when I first read this. But if that's the route you want to go, you absolutely have to start by seriously questioning the way we think about the role of women in history as it is taught to us.

In fact, women did all sorts of things we think they didn’t do. In the middle ages, they were doctors and sheriffs. In Greece they were… oh, sod it. Listen. Foz Meadows does a better job with allthe linky-links, for those who desire “proof.” Let’s just put it this way: if you think there’s a thing – anything – women didn’t do in the past, you’re wrong.

Also, since we're talking about a show set in the World War 2 era, that's a perfectly legitimate excuse for me to bring up my favorite "but that's just how it was back then" destroyer, the Night Witches.

So no, Agent Carter showrunners. No. I don't like this synopsis even a little bit. You do not have a legit excuse to chain Peggy do her desk and depower her from established canon.

We have always fought.

The story of a military woman of the past does not have to be the story of a secretary-who-wants-more who defines herself by the men in her life and reacts to them instead of acting on her own.

Now again, this is just a very short synopsis of a show that isn't airing yet, so I want to reserve judgement. At the very best, it can still be the TV version of No One Lives Forever, and I wouldn't be even a little bit sad about that. That game also had sexism in a historical context as a theme and dealt with it rather maturely. But first and foremost it was a game about a sixties secret agent doing cool James Bond shit and being awesome, and also she's a woman, with blow darts and cool gadgets and wicked awesome secret agent karate. It wasn't without problems, nothing is, but...

Sorry, I'm... Can we just have a TV show about Cate Archer?

Oh yeah. That's the stuff.

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