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Author Topic: Thoughts on [2acv17] "War is the H-word"  (Read 2234 times)
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pumpkinpie

Starship Captain
****
« Reply #40 on: 02-29-2012 23:38 »

One thing I don't understand is the list of Bender's most uttered words, 5. Bite 4.My
3.Shiny 2. Daffodil 1. Ass. I thought Bender always said "Bite my shiny METAL ass" So, why was it daffodil instead of metal? And besides, I've only heard Bender say daffodil a few times, and most of them were in this episode. I've certainly never thought of it as his 2nd most uttered word.
Inquisitor Hein
Liquid Emperor
**
« Reply #41 on: 02-29-2012 23:42 »
« Last Edit on: 02-29-2012 23:51 »

Well..that was the joke, surprisingly using be word "daffodil" (which hardly can be counted as Bender's regular vocabulary) instead of the obviously expected second place "metal".


My opionion regarding that episode:
Usually, Futurama works best when making only subtle references to the parodies subject. In WITHW, they stuck really close to "Starship troopers" and "MASH", but yet it worked surpisingly well.
pumpkinpie

Starship Captain
****
« Reply #42 on: 02-29-2012 23:52 »

Well..that was the joke, surprisingly using be word "daffodil" (which hardly can be counted as Bender's regular vocabulary) instead of the obviously expected second place "metal".


Ohhhhh......now I feel stupid
Inquisitor Hein
Liquid Emperor
**
« Reply #43 on: 03-02-2012 19:42 »
« Last Edit on: 03-02-2012 19:58 »

Well..there is one major point of criticism regarding that episode:
I am not the biggest fan of political correctness, and it was -well not ruined, but still spoiled- by the double standard rubbed in the face:

- Official message: A woman can make it against discrimiation.
- REAL, underlying message: When a woman does better than a man, it's because she is better. When she does worse, it's never because she is really worse, but because she is discriminated by the men who fear her superior competition. So, the woman is ALWAYS better.

The REAL annoying thing about that aspect is imhO that the writers expecting the audience to be too dumb to notice.
Gorky

Space Pope
****
« Reply #44 on: 03-02-2012 19:58 »

That's not really the message I take from the episode, Hein--nor do I think it's what the writers really intended, even subliminally. Leela is definitely shown to be the most competent solider, but she's not the only competent soldier (the episode mostly highlights her superiority to Zapp and Fry; Bender, meanwhile, proves himself to be just as courageous and dedicated to the fight as she is).

And it is never implied that the army was discriminating against women because they were better fighters (though Leela proves that, yes, women can hold their own against men; I don't find that message overly politically-correct or anything). The men-only policy is treated by the episode (and rightfully so) as stupid--but only because it is solely based on men oggling the women. The implication there isn't, "Men are worried about being emasculated by ass-kicking ladies"; it's, "Men are wrong for objectifying women, and if guys could just learn to be less pervy, they could easily fight shoulder-to-shoulder with members of the opposite sex."

And I don't find that problematic ideologically; I don't feel like the writers are preaching, or trying to covertly insert an extremely sensitive portrayal of the Plight of Women in the Military into the episode. And besides, Men Are Dumb And Women Are Always Right is a comedy staple of sorts--I agree that that's unfortunate, but it's not like Futurama is the only show to put forth such a message.
Welshy
Crustacean
*
« Reply #45 on: 03-02-2012 21:59 »

I think Futurama is pretty good for a comedy in its portrayal of genders. Leela is often shown to be tough and smart while Fry is dumb and Bender is obnoxious, but they're also not afraid to ridicule Leela and prove her wrong once in a while. Plus they have sensible male characters like Hermes and a ditzy, feminine woman in Amy (unless the plot calls to remind us that she has a PhD in Applied Physics).
Inquisitor Hein
Liquid Emperor
**
« Reply #46 on: 03-02-2012 22:30 »
« Last Edit on: 03-02-2012 22:41 »

but they're also not afraid to ridicule Leela and prove her wrong once in a while. Plus they have sensible male characters like Hermes and a ditzy, feminine woman in Amy (unless the plot calls to remind us that she has a PhD in Applied Physics).

Well..if they were not afraid, they would dare to ridicule Leela as much as Bender an Fry wink They hardly dare to ridicule the female characters as much as the male characters. I remember Groening stating how daring they were to use Amy as a female character for physical comedy. In "I, Roommate" she fell down twice on the banana from Fry's fruit salad tree. These scenes were "daring" in regard of female characters? That's the kind of stuff that happens to the male characters on a much more regular basis, and no one cares...

And I don't find that problematic ideologically; I don't feel like the writers are preaching, or trying to covertly insert an extremely sensitive portrayal of the Plight of Women in the Military into the episode. And besides, Men Are Dumb And Women Are Always Right is a comedy staple of sorts--I agree that that's unfortunate, but it's not like Futurama is the only show to put forth such a message.

Well...the "many comedies do so" is the kind of "But I am not the only one who did it" excuse we all tried in Kindergarten. And learned that the usual answer is "Maybe..but you are the one who got caught". We are talking about Futurama here, and Futurama does it...so other comedies can hardly be used as an excuse. "Futurama was the comedy who got caught", so to speak wink )

About the ideology in WitHW: I think the first premise was: "Whatever men do..the next woman stumbling by will outperform them by far". That was a basic plot device hardly anyone can ignore on WITHW, and scripts often do start with that kind of premise.

To give another example on that kind of basic premise and embedding it in a story:
Does anyone in here really think AWITM started with the idea of dealing with the aspect of being discriminated in a society? AWITM seemed rather like "Let's start with a male bashing episode" (Btw..the only one who got raped were white males -the only group Groening does in fact REALLY dare go against- while Kif got away unharmed), and adding an excuse later. ("Okay...we need a reason why they deserve so. Oh...let's just add a chauvinistic remark, that will qualify as "deserved").
I think anyone in here well remember how unnatural and forced Zapp's, Fry's and Bender's sneering at the Amazonian culture were....as if that was added on last second to give that reason/excuse).
Scrappylive

Professor
*
« Reply #47 on: 03-02-2012 22:35 »

Status quo.
Gorky

Space Pope
****
« Reply #48 on: 03-02-2012 23:54 »

Well..if they were not afraid, they would dare to ridicule Leela as much as Bender an Fry

Leela is supposed to be the straight man. The writers don't want to undermine her authority too much--and it would work the same way if they had chosen, say, Fry as the know-it-all, ass-kicking captain. Leela is occasionally shown to be emotional and petty and impulsive; her friendship with Fry and Bender, when she's not rolling her eyes about it, shows that she actually has a lot in common with these dumb-guy characters (I'm thinking of episodes like "The Route of All Evil" or "Less Than Hero"; Leela kind of spearheads both the beer production and the superhero-becoming, which shows she's in-control to an extent--but, for the most part, she's still just as silly and self-indulgent as Fry and Bender).

Quote
AWITM seemed rather like "Let's start with a male bashing episode" (Btw..the only one who got raped were white males -the only group Groening does in fact REALLY dare go against- while Kif got away unharmed)

I know this is going to seem like a loaded comment, but I really don't mean it as an indictment or criticism of any kind--merely an observation: You are a white male (as is pretty much every Futurama writer); you seem bothered by the fact that your demographic is the only "safe" group to make fun of on this show. (That's an oversimplification, I know. Your problem isn't that your group has been labeled as an Acceptable Target, but that the show exists in a social climate where we divide ethnic/gender/what-have-you groups into Acceptable and Unacceptable Targets: we should either be allowed to make fun of everyone without being accused of narrow-mindedness, or we should not be allowed to make fun of anyone. And, assuming I have your gripe right, there is an extent to which I agree with it. Political correctness can be a bitch.)

Anyway: I am a white female. Leela is the character to whom, on the most basic level, I am most able to relate as a viewer. And I have to say, I don't really dig the way the writers portray her sometimes. She's inexplicably bitchy (the writers' thinking on the matter seems to be, "Smart women who know they are smart have no choice but to be bitches"); she craves male attention and approval (not in a slutty way, but in a more troubling way: she is attracted to rich, powerful assholes who don't appreciate her at all). And, if I want to be an uber-feminist about it, then I do find these traits kind of offensive.

I guess my point here is that the show's not as politically progressive as you seem to think it's trying to be. Leela as a character--what Groening has referred to as the usual hot sci fi babe, albeit with a rather noticeable deformity--is a kind of fan service. She's an object. She's nuanced, to be sure, but she still falls prey to so many cliches of the genre and of television in general. Even if the writers make her (and other female characters) "right" all the time (I agree with you about "Amazon Women in the Mood"--it unfairly demonizes the guys as these horny chauvinist pigs), there are still so many things about her as a character that don't seem all that, you know, politically-correct. They're actually kind of antiquated.

And that bugs me a little bit, if I think about it too hard. However, I don't think that the writers are aware that Leela can be (hastily) deconstructed in such a way--just like I don't think they intend to send the message you say they are in "War is the H-Word."

We can interpret this stuff to death, but at the end of the day I think we're giving the writers too much credit. Futurama is meant as entertainment, not as a political statement. Yes, there are episodes that revolve around political issues, but--as I've said about "Proposition Infinity"--those tend to fail precisely because they're trying too hard to "mean" something. They provide too myopic a view of the given issue, leaving no room for confusion about what the writers' true ideological bent is.

What I'm saying is, when the writers are making a political statement, they let us know (quite heavy-handedly) that that's what they're doing. And I don't see "War is the H-Word" as an episode with an agenda, which is why I think it's a little unfair to deconstruct it in such a way. You're assuming the writers have an opinion on this stuff that they mean to subtly impose on us--but I don't think that's what's happening.
Welshy
Crustacean
*
« Reply #49 on: 03-03-2012 00:12 »

I think we're forgetting that Leela is a major character that has to appear in every episode; thus; she had to join the army in order for the plot to flow smoothly and not constantly cut to boring activities back on Earth. There's probably some political analysis that can be drawn from this, but people are probably reading too deep into it.
Inquisitor Hein
Liquid Emperor
**
« Reply #50 on: 03-03-2012 10:33 »
« Last Edit on: 03-03-2012 10:47 »

I think we're forgetting that Leela is a major character that has to appear in every episode; thus; she had to join the army in order for the plot to flow smoothly and not constantly cut to boring activities back on Earth. There's probably some political analysis that can be drawn from this, but people are probably reading too deep into it.

Well...Leela also could have easily joined without the "whatever a whole group of men does, any woman stumbling by will outperform them by far" plot device. Nope..for me, that was some kind of female-superiority-bullshit the writers willingly involved to gather points with the feminazi PC crybabies considering "female superiority" a "fair representation" (often followed by "Yeah....but I am all equalist". ).

E.g. look at those critic:
http://lipmag.com/arts/television-five-reasons-why-leela-kicks-ass/

The most positive aspect that person gets it's the "superior to the men" aspect written on Leela. The Futurama writers were willingly going for that...

What I'm saying is, when the writers are making a political statement, they let us know (quite heavy-handedly) that that's what they're doing. And I don't see "War is the H-Word" as an episode with an agenda, which is why I think it's a little unfair to deconstruct it in such a way. You're assuming the writers have an opinion on this stuff that they mean to subtly impose on us--but I don't think that's what's happening.

Well...they do not wish to impose a political statement, but rather ideology, and that usually happens in a non-direct way. Of course, they will not have a character stand up and say "And I learned something today, that women are in every way superior to us men". South Park would rather do that, in such an exaggerated way that even the most fanatical feminazi would realize that her own agenda was just used to give her the finger...

Well..I am drifting a bit away. They will not make such a statement in a direct, but a rather indiect way:

- WITHW: As stated before: A single woman stumbling by will outperform any group of men. That is one plot device. No matter what other story elements are involved: That basic plot device will remain.
- BBA: They will of course not say that only women are capable leaders,
but all incompetent characters are male, the only competent, strong-willed, character is female (and the only female, again resulting in "Any random female is better then all the men") . Also -though I am just a hobby cartoonist, I still have enough experience in page/scene layouts- the symbolism of that episode is over obvious to me. When Leela gives orders, she does so from an elevated point of view, assigning them work below her own dignity, looking down on the others.  On the high gravitiy world. the men are down on their knees, hardly able to look up at the upright standing Leela. Such kind of scenes are no coincidence....
Oh yeah...and it was also no coincidence that Branigan's incompetence and firing him from the DOOP was done by a female, judging male leadership in general as inferior.
- "Raging Bender": Again, Leela was the only female student in the martial arts class, and of course better than the two best men together (when she is successfull: That's because she was better). But when she did not become a champion, it was not her own fault...no, it was of course because she was discriminated by the men (because a woman can by no natural means do worse in any subject than a man).

To cut a long story short:
There are many episodes of Futurama when they represent women as the superior ones, in the most misandric way (half of them written by Lewis Morton, who messed up good ideas by outliving his fetish in his scripts), and imHO, there are just too many details, too many suspicious aspects that this could be labeled as mere "coincidence".

They got better regarding that aspect in season 6 (though I still shake my head in disbelieve that they managed to trick parts of the audience into believing "Neutopia" did in fact lash out a both directions), but in early Futurama, they too often willingly went for "female superiority" plot devices, to play it safe on the PC front.
Gorky

Space Pope
****
« Reply #51 on: 03-03-2012 14:07 »

Well...Leela also could have easily joined without the "whatever a whole group of men does, any woman stumbling by will outperform them by far" plot device.

I don't think of that as a plot device, though. Leela had already established herself as a competent ass-kicker prior to "War is the H-Word"; it's not like she was just any woman "stumbling" across this situation. She has a preexisting set of character traits that would be conducive to joining--and succeeding in--the military. The writers weren't inventing a whole new set of characteristics for Leela, but were instead highlighting and/or taking advantage of those traits she already had been shown to possess.

This may just be a minor point, but you make it sound like the writers are endowing Leela with all these heretofore unheard-of abilities, when that's not what's really happening. We can argue about the extent to which Leela's preexisting traits (the sense of authority and competence she exudes, her ability to kick ass) are playing to PC conceptions of how a woman ought to be portrayed on television--but still.

My point here is that nothing that happens in "War is the H-Word" seems designed to make us think that all women are superior to all men. Like I said before, Leela is shown to be better than certain soldiers (Fry and Zapp), but is on equal footing with others (Bender...and I guess that emu farming guy). It's true that she's not shown to be worse than any other soldiers, but I think that's because the episode doesn't spend a lot of time on the whole woman-rock-and-men-suck aspect of the story. Leela's cross-dressing is clearly a vehicle for the writers to make Zapp look like an idiot and obliquely hit on a "male" soldier. I still contend that they're not trying to make any grand statement about gender relations, but are instead showing Zapp to be a buffoon because that's when he's at his funniest.

And just as further proof that Matt Groening shows are not afraid to show otherwise strong female characters as weak: For some reason, I am reminded of an episode of the Simpsons ("The Secret War of Lisa Simpson"--which is excellent, by the way) where Lisa follows Bart to this hardcore military academy and, at first, fails miserably. She's smart, yes, but she's not able to keep up with the guys much when it comes to all the boot camp-y things they're asked to do. She's basically ostracized (and, though you'd think this would come off as a men-always-discriminate-against-women thing, it really doesn't). So, she enlists Bart's help, and eventually she kicks some major ass. I think that episode works really well, and doesn't send--intentionally or not--a message that's particularly politically-correct. It's totally a character-driven story--same as "War is the H-Word."

Quote
fanatical feminazi

This reminds me: What are we to make of the feministas in "Into the Wild Green Yonder"? Surely the show is mocking them to a certain extent. Hell, Leela's mistake of keeping the muck leech alive is what leads to all the trouble in the first place, and we are undoubtedly meant to find Frida a shrill and annoying feminist stereotype. (I'm not pointing this out because such a portrayal offends me--just to show that the writers aren't afraid of showing women to be, well, kind of dumb.)

Quote
- "Raging Bender": Again, Leela was the only female student in the martial arts class, and of course better than the two best men together (when she is successfull: That's because she was better). But when she did not become a champion, it was not her own fault...no, it was of course because she was discriminated by the men (because a woman can by no natural means do worse in any subject than a man).

I direct the same argument towards this as I did towards your complaints about "War is the H-Word." Leela is a good fighter; this is engrained in her character. "Raging Bender" isn't about, say, Amy's crushed martial arts dreams, because that would be unbelievable and worthy of an eye-roll. The whole discrimination plot works there because Leela genuinely is a good fighter. Again, the writers aren't manufacturing these traits for the purpose of this episode just to make a point about gender relations or whatever. That part of the story emerges organically because of the type of individual Leela is.
Welshy
Crustacean
*
« Reply #52 on: 03-03-2012 18:59 »

"Amy`s crushed martial arts dreams" made me LOL laff  ^^

In "A Leela of her Own" Leela sucks at something without male discrimination. And yeah, Jackie was good at blurnsball, but she wasn`t shown to be better than all of the male players, and that just shows that women are treated as different individuals in the show. Also, at the end of Overclockwise Fry slaps Leela in a way that is treated the same as Leela slapping Fry, not as horrible domestic abuse. So I think that shows that Futurama doesn`t avoid showing flaws in women or showing the same gender dynamics as every other comedy.
Inquisitor Hein
Liquid Emperor
**
« Reply #53 on: 03-03-2012 19:11 »
« Last Edit on: 03-04-2012 11:41 »



This may just be a minor point, but you make it sound like the writers are endowing Leela with all these heretofore unheard-of abilities, when that's not what's really happening.


Well, from the pilot on in season 1, Leela was given any needed ability at random, delivering a solution to problems right off the bat.
- Martial Art skills on a pro level as soon as the necessity did arise.
- Piloting skills of a professional pilot: Here you go.
- Skills of a weapon expert/professional soldier: Sure.
- Captaining skills and only competent leader: Of course.
- Only non-coward of the main trio: Yep.
- Smartest one without being hindered by senility: Sure.
Etc, etc, etc, etc...

To cut a long story short: Leela was given all the positive character traits, all competent abilities, while the other two male characters were given all the bad character traits and incompetence. Once again I referd to that linked critic by that femina..erm...nist:
She considered Leela's butt kicker role explicetly shown positive in regards to the losers that the male characters were. She did not refer to something positive/cool Leela did on her own, but rather in regard to the inferior males. And that's nearly the only way Leela's butt-kicker role used to work.

She had her character traits before WITAW, but -once again- she could not do well on her own. She could only do good in comparison to the male soldier. (And it was no coincidence that the comparison group was 100% male she outperformed).


And just as further proof that Matt Groening shows are not afraid to show otherwise strong female characters as weak: For some reason, I am reminded of an episode of the Simpsons ("The Secret War of Lisa Simpson"--which is excellent, by the way) where Lisa follows Bart to this hardcore military academy and, at first, fails miserably. She's smart, yes, but she's not able to keep up with the guys much when it comes to all the boot camp-y things they're asked to do. She's basically ostracized (and, though you'd think this would come off as a men-always-discriminate-against-women thing, it really doesn't). So, she enlists Bart's help, and eventually she kicks some major ass. I think that episode works really well, and doesn't send--intentionally or not--a message that's particularly politically-correct. It's totally a character-driven story--same as "War is the H-Word."


Well..about Lisa: Okay, she faced big difficulties, needed some talking to, and managed to succeed. That plot would have been considered a smashing success for a male character (who would have left to fail normally),  but with a female, is's considered showing her as weak. (When she is not shown in every way superior to the males).


This reminds me: What are we to make of the feministas in "Into the Wild Green Yonder"? Surely the show is mocking them to a certain extent. Hell, Leela's mistake of keeping the muck leech alive is what leads to all the trouble in the first place, and we are undoubtedly meant to find Frida a shrill and annoying feminist stereotype. (I'm not pointing this out because such a portrayal offends me--just to show that the writers aren't afraid of showing women to be, well, kind of dumb.)


Yep..to a certain extent. They were far less ridiculed than the male characters on regular base. They were well meaning, just not radical enough, that was the message ("Stop making your point so inefficiently). Besides: Did one of the feministas apologize for her doing? No, it was the men who humbly had to apologize for being attacked, kidnapped, locked into the Gogo Cage as punishment for (well..whatever...being a man is enough, it seems), seeing the error of their way by forcing those poor women to do so and humbly accepting female leadership and following them.
The court was rather ridiculed: Kidnapping normally requires some serious punishment...but: Hey, they kidnapped just men, so it's okay. Any form of punishment for that CANNOT be based on any form of justice, but must be a form of anti-female discrimination (how can a man dare to walk around freely when a woman does not agree with him? Was this supposed to be the message?).

To cut a long story short:
In my eyes, Leela is too many times neither a butt-kicker nor a strong woman, but just a PC owed token. For a real fighter, she should be able, she MUST be able to do cool stuff without a males-to-be-shown-inferior-comparison-group. Also, a pro-female-double-standard and "only the woman may do so" are unworthy hiding places for a warrior, and Leela is granted that shelter a bit too often.

Im am pretty sure you will see that differently (which is your opinion I do not have any right to deny you...nor any means, come to think of it;) ), but for me, the above is my opinion regarding Leela. (Not to get anything wrong: I would really LOVE to see the writers finally making her work as a credible, non-PC owed warrior , which she is unfortunately too often not. Or, as I would like to put it in the following phrase "Leela cannot really fight...she can only do political correctness").
Inquisitor Hein
Liquid Emperor
**
« Reply #54 on: 08-04-2012 20:41 »
« Last Edit on: 08-04-2012 20:42 »

"Raging Bender" isn't about, say, Amy's crushed martial arts dreams, because that would be unbelievable and worthy of an eye-roll.

Little Threat Necromancy:

Had to grin when I remembered the above post:
After "Butterjunk Effect" (Taking into consideration that EVERYONE seemed to have taken the Nectar, which cannot be credited as an unfair advantage for Leela and Amy), they have by now raised Amy at least to a vice-martial-arts champion level tongue

So it seems no deliberately exaggerated predicition/example is that ridiculous that a writer somewhere in this world will not pick it up big grin
Mr Snrub

Urban Legend
***
« Reply #55 on: 08-04-2012 23:34 »

Could've been worse, they could've said 'girl power' at the end.

Something that you didn't mention about Wild Green Yonder that annoyed me is the trial verdict itself. All of the men voted to convict the feministas, while all the women voted to acquit. How fucking childish is that? I probably would've forgiven it if it was funny (see Amazon Women in the Mood) but it was moronic. Sticking up for your gender>Law now? ugh.

Although I sorta disagree with your WitHW stance. Yes, Leela beats the guys on the circuit, but as Gorky said, she's already an established athlete. And when they are out on the field, fighting the balls, she isn't a leader, or even superior, to her male teammates. She's taken out by the balls like the rest of them, and needed Bender to save her.
SolidSnake

Professor
*
« Reply #56 on: 08-25-2013 19:05 »

This, along with Crustacean, Xmas Story Anthology of Interest and Problem with Popplers was a classic episode.

It started out very Futurama-ey, played out hilariously, and even ended on a high note.

It's really great, I can't find much to say about it other than what I posted above.

9/10
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