Wednesday, September 26, 2018

"ARROW" and the Whore-Madonna Dichotomy

laurel-lance



"ARROW" AND THE WHORE-MADONNA DICHOTOMY

I have been engaged in a re-watch of the Season Two episodes of the DC-TV series, "ARROW", along with the bloggers and television critics’ reactions to the Dinah Laurel Lance character during that season. Re-watching the series' second season reminded of the numerous complaints from fans about how badly written Laurel was during that period. . . and how this led many to support a relationship between her ex-boyfriend Oliver Queen aka Green Arrow and other women like his assistant and future wife, Felicity Smoak; or Laurel's younger sister, Sara Lance (Black Canary and future White Canary). Anyone but Laurel.

After watching most of Season Two of "ARROW", I never realized how much society has remained misogynist. Not only does it seem that many men have continued to harbor either sexist or misogynist views, but also many women. Laurel Lance - Earth-1 Laurel Lance - seemed to have been a victim of that misogyny. From many of the reviews I have read about that season's episodes, very few people seemed willing to tolerate the emotional struggles she had endured following Tommy Merlyn’s death in the Season One finale, (1.23) "Sacrifice". These fans and critics were willing to endure the struggles of other characters, but not Laurel's. Barely anyone was willing to tolerate the idea that Laurel was a fleshed out, and at times, ambiguous character. Instead, fans were only willing to accept her as two tropes - the (ex)girlfriend/damsel in distress or the "kick-ass" crime fighter. They were unwilling to see her as someone in-between. Someone who had to grow . . . like the other major characters on this show.

I have also suspected that this hostile attitude toward Laurel truly began when she failed to be thrilled over Oliver's return to Starling City (now Star City) and maintained her anger over his infidelity with her sister, Sara Lance. Oliver Queen was the star of the show - a flawed, yet dedicated vigilante hero whom everyone was expected to put on a pedestal in some form. Laurel's father, Captain Quentin Lance, had also expressed hostility toward Oliver for luring his younger daughter Sara aboard the Queen's Gambit and cheating on Laurel. But as a man and a father, Quentin's hostility was tolerated. Not Laurel's. She was the leading lady of the series. A woman. As far as many fans were concerned, she should have immediately forgiven Oliver for cheating on her and welcomed him back with open arms. As I write this, I cannot help feel truly disgusted by the series' fandom and their misogyny.

This misogynist attitude seemed to have been expressed by other characters on the show - especially from Oliver Queen. I have always suspected that Oliver had possessed a whore/Madonna attitude toward Laurel. It was not surprising to me that he had cheated on her with other women that included her sister Sara and the mother of his son, Samantha Clayton. Aside from her period of addiction during Season Two, Oliver seemed to regard Laurel as this ideal and delicate woman, whom he constantly put on a pedestal throughout most of Season One and early Season Two. But apparently, his ego and self-esteem made it difficult for him to maintain a faithful relationship with his . . . "object of desire"

Oliver’s attitude toward Laurel changed completely during her addiction period in Season Two. I could understand his contemptuous attitude toward her, while she continued to face her addiction. But once Laurel overcame her addiction, Oliver's contempt toward her continued . . . even when she had decided to resume Sara’s activities as the Black Canary, following the latter's death in early Season Three. I never understood his unwillingness to help train Laurel to become a better vigilante. Come to think of it, I found John Diggle’s hostility toward her decision to become the Black Canary equally perplexing. What made both men think she was incapable of becoming an effective vigilante? Was this unwillingness to train Laurel a combination of Oliver’s previous regard for her as a delicate woman and his current contempt that had lingered from her addiction period? It has been quite a while since I saw Season Three of "ARROW", so I do not think I can answer that question.

While I find myself contemplating this topic, my mind had settled on many of the fans’ attitude toward Felicity Smoak. Everyone loved Felicity when she was the cute, brainy Girl Friday for the Green Arrow during the first two-and-a-half seasons. Many had championed the idea of her replacing Laurel as Oliver’s main love interest. But once some of Felicity’s less pleasant traits became more obvious to viewers around Seasons Three and Four, the less popular she became. Yes, I admit there were times when Felicity’s flaws had grated on my nerves. But I also noticed that a good deal of her more pleasant side had continued to exist. It took me a while, but I believe . . . I hope that I have learned to accept the fact that Felicity, like Laurel and many other characters, possessed both good and bad traits.

But for some reason, a good deal of the fans were unable to accept that characters like Laurel and Felicity could possess both positive and negative traits. Or they were just simply unwilling to tolerate their dual natures? But why? What is the reason behind this lack of tolerance toward the ambiguous nature of these two women characters? For years, fans tolerated the dual natures of Oliver and supporting characters like Thea and Moira Queen, John Diggle, Roy Harper, Quentin Lance, etc. What was it about Laurel and Felicity that made them, along with many television critics, toss this tolerance to the wind? Was it the fact that both were love interests of the series’ main character? Was it something about being the leading lady, but not being the actual lead that made many fans and critics unwilling to view them as ambiguous characters?

Ever since early to mid-Season Six of "ARROW" (after the Arrowverse crossover event in November 2017), the hostility toward Felicity seemed to have somewhat abated. Then again, some of Felicity’s less-than-pleasant side has not exactly been on display. By the time Laurel found her groove as the Black Canary in early Season Four, the hostility toward her had more or less ceased to exist. But the fans and the critics did not stop regarding them both as ambiguous and fully fleshed characters. Instead, both of them - in their own ways - were restored on their pedestals. Felicity Smoak Queen still has the chance to be regarded and accepted as the ambiguous character she truly is. For Dinah Laurel Lance, it is too late, thanks to Marc Guggenheim’s decision to kill off her character in late Season Four. What a damn waste.

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