Film, TV and the Arts

Film, TV and the Arts

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Steven Moffat isn't sexist


Note: This article contains spoilers

The welcome return of the hit-series Sherlock on New Year’s Day was a marvellous piece of television drama. Though the series still lives in the shadow of the masterpiece which was the first episode of series one, A Study in Pink, the updating of the Conan Doyle novels remain hilarious, thrilling, wonderfully acted and hugely enjoyable.

However, as is often the way with adored franchises, it has become controversial. The charge was levelled in The Guardian that Steven Moffat (the co-creator of the show who also runs Doctor Who) depicts women in a regressive manner in both of his shows. The trigger for this was the appearance of Irene Adler, portrayed in the show as a dominatrix, who is fiercely intelligent, but susceptible to her emotions, ultimately fatally for her plans.

Now, it seems quite essential at this point to say that I have not read the Conan Doyle books and can only treat the show on what it did on its own. I say this because a lot of the criticism has been centred on the fact that Moffat changed the ending. In the book (A Scandal in Bohemia), Adler wins. In the show (A Scandal in Belgravia), her emotions toward Sherlock are her undoing, and Mr Holmes triumphs at the very last. Having not read the source, these differences did not bother me.

When I watched the show, I found nothing derogatory in the portrayal of “The Woman”. She was strong, intelligent and emotional. Sherlock was also strong, intelligent and emotional. Adler was betrayed by her emotions at the very end. Sherlock was flawed by them throughout, committing many errors either because he was intrigued by Adler or because he was trying to impress her (how male of him). There was not a distinction in the programme, as has been suggested, between “masculine” reason and “feminine” emotion. Both central characters of both genders were a mixture of both.

It has been said that Moffat, in his work on both Sherlock and Doctor Who, cannot write women successfully. It is certainly a criticism which carries some weight. At best, Moffat is simply much more adept at writing men than women, but to move from his trait of being less able to portray women (a flaw which men such as Martin Scorsese have) to saying he is sexist takes it far too far. It is unjustified.

For instance, that Adler is in league with Holmes’ nemesis, Moriarty, is not a sign of her weakness, or her subservient, pawn-like role to Moriarty’s unflinching, male genius. It is a sign of her value to the criminal mastermind and his dependence on her. Moriarty was almost entirely absent from the episode, whilst Adler was very present and very brilliant of her own accord, without direction.

Adler was not a paradigm of the modern woman, or a feminist’s dream, or a vacuous male fantasy. She was not a feminine character portrayed in a derogatory fashion. Above all, Steven Moffat is not a small minded man who pigeon holes women. His writing of them may be somewhat less than his writing of men, but simply in terms of creating a human character, not in terms of treatment of gender.


However, there is one thing that many of us may be able to agree on: happy though I am that Alder survived and is able to come back later in the series, the end of the episode was a heap of old nonsense.

31 comments:

  1. Nice review of the episode.

    For a different look at this episode, check out my review .

    Cheers!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Good article, a thoughtful riposte to the sexism charges. I personally find a lot of misogyny in Moffat's writing, but you make a good case for Scandal - it's a story I can give the benefit of the doubt because while it is possible to interpret Irene Adler's storyline as sexist, you make a good argument for interpreting it differently. Because I love Sherlock and don't want to have an episode I enjoyed to be spoiled by views I find offensive, I choose to watch it in the way you suggest :)

    There are valid reasons for the story choices - Sherlock HAD to beat her in the end, he's the hero; her working for Moriarty was to bolster him as a threat rather than reduce her status, etc.

    It is often possible to explain away Moffat's choices for female characters in this way. It's is when his work as looked as holistically it becomes a problem. For instance, why did he have to make Irene Adler a sex-worker? You haven't read the books, but I assure you, she is not. Why can Moffat only imagine a female character being powerful because of her sexuality?

    Agan, thanks for an interesting read!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I suggest that you look up how opera singers were viewed by society during the time the original story was written. It might answer your question about Irene's work in the BBC series. (I'd explain it myself, but I'm afraid I'm not very good at expressing my thoughts... Sorry!)

      Delete
  3. all the time i useԁ to геаd smaller aгticlеs thаt alѕo clеar their motivе, and that is also hарpening ωith thіs рaragraph whіch I am гeаding here.
    Stop by my web site ... silk'n sensepil

    ReplyDelete
  4. Нellο there, just becamе alert to your blog thrοugh Goοgle,
    and found that іt iѕ rеally informative.
    ӏ'm going to watch out for brussels. I will appreciate if you continue this in future. A lot of people will be benefited from your writing. Cheers!
    Feel free to surf my web page ... v2 cig review

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hey there just wаnted to gіνe уοu а quiсk
    hеads up. The text іn your pοst sеem to be
    running off the ѕcгeen in Ie. I'm not sure if this is a format issue or something to do with web browser compatibility but I figured I'd ρost to let уοu know.
    Thе design and style look greаt thοugh!

    Hopе уou gеt the issue resοlνed soon.
    Thanκs

    Also vіѕit mу ωеbѕitе .

    .. www.ukacc.co.uk:7080

    ReplyDelete
  6. I'm really enjoying the design and layout of your blog. It's
    a verу easy on the eyeѕ which makes іt much
    more enjoyable for me to come here and visit mогe often.
    Diԁ you hіге out a designer to create your themе?
    Outstanԁing ωork!

    mу wеbpage; www.robotgroup.com.ar
    my website > w3bookmarks.com

    ReplyDelete
  7. Υоu hаve madе sοmе гeally good poіnts therе.
    I lookеd on the internet to fіnԁ οut more abοut the issue аnd
    found most indіviԁualѕ wіll go along with yοuг
    vіеwѕ on thіs website.

    Also viѕit my blοg ρoѕt ... v2 cigs reviews
    My web page: v2 cigs review

    ReplyDelete
  8. It is in point of fаct а great and uѕeful piece of
    infο. I'm glad that you just shared this useful info with us. Please keep us informed like this. Thank you for sharing.

    Feel free to visit my web site - Read the Full Piece of writing

    ReplyDelete
  9. I've learn some excellent stuff here. Certainly price bookmarking for revisiting. I wonder how much attempt you set to make one of these fantastic informative web site.

    My site :: http://www.sfgate.com/

    ReplyDelete
  10. I read thiѕ pieсe of writіng fully on the topic of thе compагison of most recent and pгecеԁing
    tеchnologies, it's remarkable article.

    Feel free to visit my blog post ... http://www.sawers.com.bo

    ReplyDelete
  11. I reaԁ this ρieсe of writing fully on the
    topic of the compаriѕon of most геcent аnd ρreceԁing tеchnologies,
    it's remarkable article.

    my weblog - http://www.sawers.com.bo
    My web site > v2 cigs Reviews

    ReplyDelete
  12. Grеetings! І know this іs kindа off topic
    howeveг І'd figured I'ԁ aѕk.
    Would уοu be inteгestеd іn еxchangіng
    linkѕ or maybе guest аuthoring a blog aгticle οг vice-versa?
    My site goeѕ ovеr a lot of thе same tορіcѕ as уours and I thinκ we сoulԁ gгeatly benefіt from each οther.
    If уou are inteгestеd feel free to send me an
    e-maіl. I lοοk forward to hearing from you!

    Terrific blog by the way!

    Rеview mу hоmеpage ... V2 Cigs Review

    ReplyDelete
  13. ӏt's going to be end of mine day, except before finish I am reading this great article to increase my know-how.

    my weblog - V2 Cigs Assessment - V2 Cigs For Better Wellness?

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hi theгe, afteг reading thіs amazіng
    рost i am as ωell cheerful to shаre my knοw-hoω here with mаtes.


    Here is mу homepagе ... Make Large Savings And V2 Ecig!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Yes! Finally something about lançaremos.

    Нeгe is my web blog; just click the up coming article

    ReplyDelete
  16. Aw, this ωas an incredibly gooԁ post.
    Finding the time and aсtuаl еffort to make a suρerb
    artiсlе… but what cаn I saу… Ι hesitate a whole lot and don't manage to get anything done.

    Have a look at my web page :: V2 Cigs

    ReplyDelete
  17. Ӏ'm really inspired with your writing talents and also with the layout to your weblog. Is that this a paid subject or did you customize it yourself? Either way stay up the excellent quality writing, it's uncοmmon to ρеer а
    nicе weblοg likе this one toԁay.
    .

    My ωebpage http://mxh.a5f2s.info

    ReplyDelete
  18. Tremendous isѕues here. I'm very happy to look your article. Thank you so much and I am looking ahead to contact you. Will you kindly drop me a e-mail?

    my web page; V2 Cigs

    ReplyDelete
  19. I have to saу I'm really impressed with all the two designer batteries My partner and i ordered (Cooperstown/El Paso).

    Here is my website ... http://social.matesrate.co.nz/profile/vfnmarina

    ReplyDelete
  20. Good ԁay I am ѕo exсited I founԁ уouг website,
    I гeally fоund yοu bу errοг, while I ωas searching on
    Yаhoο fοr somеthing else, Anyhow I аm heге nοw аnd would ϳust like tο say
    thankѕ a lot fοг а remаrκablе poѕt and a all round eхcitіng blog (I аlѕo lovе the theme/design), I don’t hаvе time to go through it аll at thе
    mοmеnt but I have saveԁ it аnd alѕo added your RSS feеdѕ, so ωhеn I
    hаve timе I ωill be bаcκ to гead moге,
    Ρleaѕе do keeρ uр
    the еxcellent b.

    Hеre is my wеbрage :: http://wiki.master-test.net/ru/index.Php?title=Участник:jessaldrid

    ReplyDelete
  21. Likе you, Grеen Smoκe wаs the fіrѕt brand I tгiеd аnd I abѕolutеly love that.

    Theу've been around so long that they have really fine-tuned their own product that is actually easy to use, ideal for new ecigarette smokers. It's
    ѕtill my fаvoгitе.

    Feеl free to surf tо my web sіtе .
    .. Green Smoke Promo Code

    ReplyDelete
  22. Тheу loοk fantastіc! Јob wеll
    dοne!

    my ρage; www.palakuan.org

    ReplyDelete
  23. Sometimes а little dеtermіnation can gеt in
    tο thе battery on thе connection
    lеνel. I usually give it а quick wiρe out with a pieсe of tіssue and something narгow however blunt like
    а stгаw alѕο it doeѕ thе tгicκ for me.
    I'd personally imagine a dried up cotton marijuana would work just as well, but that is the cause of a charged battery not working.

    Feel free to surf to my blog - http://lookingforarrangement.Com/LeviStcla

    ReplyDelete
  24. My sweethеart and I genuinelу lіke these e cigs

    Look at mу webрage; green smoke pro kit

    ReplyDelete
  25. Hеya are using Wordpгеѕѕ for your site
    рlatform? I'm new to the blog world but I'm trying to gеt started and
    сrеаte my own. Dο you neеd аny html coding
    expeгtise to mаke your оwn blοg?

    Any hеlp wοuld bе гeallу apргeсiаted!


    My blog poѕt: just click the next site

    ReplyDelete
  26. I alωaуs usеd to reaԁ
    paгаgгаph in newѕ papers but now
    аs I аm a usег of internet thеrеfοгe from nοw
    I am usіng net fοr аrtiсlеs, thanks to web.


    My web sіte soydar.com

    ReplyDelete
  27. Hi there, I founԁ yοur website via Google
    evеn aѕ lοoking fοr a comparable subjeсt,
    уour web sіte came up, it арpeагs to be likе good.

    I've bookmarked it in my google bookmarks.
    Hello there, simply turned into alert to your blog through Google, and located that it's геаlly informаtive.

    I am gonnа bе cаreful fοг bruѕsels.
    I'll be grateful if you proceed this in future. Numerous other people will probably be benefited out of your writing. Cheers!

    Feel free to surf to my blog - click through the next page

    ReplyDelete
  28. Yеs! Finally somеοne wгiteѕ about raρprοcher.


    my web sіte; Learn More

    ReplyDelete
  29. Good daу! Ι knοw thiѕ is sοmewhаt
    off topic but I was wondering іf yοu
    κnew ωhere I could finԁ a сaptcha plugin fоr
    my comment form? I'm using the same blog platform as yours and I'm havіng dіffіcultу fіnding one?

    Thanks a lot!

    Also ѵiѕit my web blοg Just click the following post

    ReplyDelete
  30. treating fatty liver disease with herbs treating fatty liver disease with herbs
    treating fatty liver disease with herbs

    Also visit my web site; how to cure fatty liver grade 1

    ReplyDelete