My favorite problematic character is Belle from Beauty and the Beast. I always liked her when I was younger because she reads books, and I read books! And I was also drawn to the brunette princesses as a brunette myself. But as an adult, it doesn’t take long to realize that there are a lot of problems with Belle’s characterization. My favorite thing about her, that she’s the nerdy bookworm princess, is actually presented as her flaw. There’s a whole song about how it’s a good thing she’s so pretty because anyone who reads that much is clearly insane. And her beauty is what’s emphasized in the movie, not her imagination, which makes me think it serves to save her from ostracism not just from the townspeople but from the audience. And her relationship with the Beast is frankly horrifying. I’m all about looking past a person’s appearance to see their inner beauty (and I won’t go into how you can only be ugly and succeed if you’re a man in the Disney-verse or this will turn into a 2,000 word article). But the Beast isn’t just unsightly, he’s mean. He yells at Belle when she doesn’t do what he wants. And his big gift to her, the library, is little more than permission to go unsupervised into a room in the castle that isn’t her bedroom or the kitchen. Her love for him is based in fear of him. So while I will always have a soft spot for Belle and for Beauty and the Beast, I realize that the romance of the movie unravels very quickly as soon as you look too closely.
– Laura Jewell, Staff Writer
I wrote about some of my problematic favorite character archetypes in my editor’s letter this month, but I left out one of my most problematic favorite characters: Miroku, who’s also from Inuyasha. Unlike Kouga, who falls firmly into the Clueless Third Wheel category, Miroku is one of the five members of the main group in the story, solidly a Good Guy in the fight against evil – and undeniably a pervert and a groper: he frequently pats or grabs women’s behinds and asks almost any woman he sees to “bear my child.”
It’s always been something that I knew I shouldn’t find so funny – in real life, there’s nothing funny about having your butt grabbed or patted, even by someone you know. And the whole approaching a woman and immediately asking for sex? Also a no-no. Possibly the worst part? The main object of his perverted antics, Sango, ends up marrying him. (This is definitely at least a little problematic – even though they’re my favorite ship in the show.) This may be an example specific to Inuyasha, but countless anime and manga depend on the Lovable Pervert category, especially in shounen series, and maybe that’s not exactly the best thing to put in any series directed at teenage boys.
– Feliza Casano, Editor
Over the last few months, I have become totally obsessed with Teen Wolf. It’s not so much a problem as it is a lifestyle choice, akin to making your bed every day. Like the rest of the fandom, I am deeply in love with Stiles Stilinski, the 147 pounds of pale skin and fragile bones. Much of his draw is the actor Dylan O’Brien, who brings a ridiculous amount of humor and talent to the role. Marathoning the show after it was already into the fifth season, I fell totally in love with lots of characters, particularly Allison Argent and Derek Hale to name a few, but Stiles really became the best problem in Season 3 when O’Brien showed his skill by playing the Nogitsune that possessed Stiles. All in all, he was terrifying in the best way possible.
There really aren’t that many bad things about Stiles, except when it comes down to it, he has a penchant for obsession and rage. We saw through the first few seasons that he’s totally obsessed with Lydia Martin. Though the character grows out of his obsession (and in my opinion, into true love for her as a person instead of a goddess to be worshiped), he’s actually pretty weird about it at first, including his dropping in to check on her at her house after she starts going into fugue states before they’re really actually friends. He also gets obsessed with figuring out problems, which is good for the Scooby Gang nature of the Pack. For example, he figures out that Scott’s a werewolf in the first season after a pile of research and observation. I would also have to say he’s a little obsessed with Scott, and even though I’ve only seen the first episode of Season 5, he’s seeming anxious about everyone moving on from high school. Between the anxiety and obsessive tendencies, the reason he was able to allow in the Nogitsune was his underlying darkness. Based on spoilers and my intense character study, I have a ridiculous theory that Teen Wolf has really been about Stiles’ villain origins story.
– Christina Casano, Assistant Editor
So, for whatever reason a few weeks ago, I started watching the American-British television series Outlander. It’s kind of my secret indulgence as of late. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s been referred to as the anti-Game of Thrones or theGame of Thrones for women, and it’s definitely breaking the mold, especially regarding how nudity and sex are depicted on television. It takes place in post-World War II England and Scotland, but the majority of the show takes place in 18th century Scotland. It centers around Claire Randall who finds herself magically teleported from 19th century Scotland to the highlands during the Jacobite risings after visiting a circle of ancient stones. There she encounters the main antagonist of the story, Jonathan Randall or Black Jack Randall, a British captain, sadist, and ancestor of her husband Frank Randall back in 19th century Scotland. Jamie Fraser, a Scottish soldier and her eventual second husband, ends up saving her from Randall’s clutches just in time. He’s my problematic favorite character right now. Jamie is dashing and stubborn, but always looks out for others when he can. And, as the show progresses, he’s clearly very good in the sheets! He’s problematic for me though partly because of his knack in bed. Sometimes his lines, especially the romantic ones, are a little cheesy and make me roll my eyes. Also, since I’m only halfway through the first season of the show, and I’ve never read the book series by Diana Gabaldon, I’m can’t fully say how I feel about Jamie. But, in the end, I’m just having fun watching the series, even though it has quite a few brutal aspects, which also makes it highly problematic.
– Rine Karr, Staff Writer
Everyone knows I have a mad-stupid crush on Victor Frankenstein. In fact, one of my pet peeves is people referring to The Monster/The Creature as Frankenstein. The Creature is nameless, though you could debate his name being Adam, but Frankenstein is definitely not The Monster. Except that doesn’t mean he’s not a monster. No, what Victor does is pretty monstrous. He decides to try to bring back the dead (okay, pretty noble. Resurrection was a popular trial in the 1700-1800s.) Then he, you know, digs up a bunch of corpses and stitches them together and makes a human. That’s not creepy. And then when it does, indeed, catch the spark of life, Victor… abandons him and pretends it was all a terrible dream and lives in denial. Victor definitely won’t be winning Parent of the Year, but he did this terrific thing and didn’t really consider the consequences or what would happen if his experiment was successful.
Then everyone he loves his basically murdered in revenge. Oops. Victor is problematic because he had the power to right things all along and refused to do so. He’s villainous by inaction, then by choice. He’s really not a good guy, but he has difficult seeing things that way. I love him because he tries so hard to do right and then continually mucks everything up. I feel bad for him. Hopefully, one day, he’ll get it right.
– Meghan Harker, Staff Writer