Thoughts on Last Week’s Blog Topic

Bleach Characters (Both Female)

For those that were busy or avoiding the blog on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I talked about the Pervert Character this week.  It was a gamble given what the character is known for and how people respond to it.  A few people in the comments talked to me and I think we agreed that it might be cultural because you see them predominantly in anime and manga.  This I expected and believed beforehand.  Yet, there is a curious thing that I realized throughout the week.

People were saying that these characters are irredeemable and couldn’t be forgiven even if they were peeping toms.  Keep in mind that this wasn’t about rapists, but the anime perverts that peep, grope, jump for kisses, and do other things that TYPICALLY get them BRUTALLY BEATEN!  I think people ignored the results of these actions because there is NEVER a reward.  Again, cultural where there’s an acceptance that it’s fiction and gets more leeway.  Seriously, we really seem to put more standards on our fiction than on our reality.  This isn’t even the main thing that I realized.

I have written posts about serial killers, assassins, thieves, murderers, psychopaths, vigilantes, warriors, badasses, and other types that use violence to solve problems.  Each time I brought up this topic, I got a lot of comments about how they are used and popular examples.  Dexter was brought up as an example where we look at him as a hero and hope for redemption, but he’s still a SERIAL KILLER!  So, I was kind of shocked how the Pervert posts managed to scare off some people and get judged in a way that the violent ones never did.  The sex had everyone uncomfortable and deeming the characters irredeemable.  The violence is accepted because . . . it’s entertaining?  We really are a fucked up people if we can forgive a character who murders his way through a double-decker bus of enemies and scream for the death of one that copped a feel then got that same bus dropped on their head.  People brought up power and consent, but those things are being broken when you kill someone too.  I bet I could set up a series of posts in a few months about a violent character and get more results than this week.

Anyway, this is an observation and I’m sure people will respond by giving me their cultural insight.  Yet, I don’t really think that’s what we should look at.  It should be personal.  Why are you able to accept violent character, but not perverted ones?  Why can you forgive one and not the other when they are both crossing a line?  What about the fact that many of the perverts described are punished for their actions while the violent ones are almost praised for their slaughters?

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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21 Responses to Thoughts on Last Week’s Blog Topic

  1. It’s an interesting observation about who we are as a people in 2019. Murder doesn’t involve consent or any of the other important things, and yet, we’re more accepting of that. It would be interesting to see a double-blind survey about the proper application of the death penalty when these are the only two criminal options. When protected by complete anonymity, how would modern humans answer?

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  2. rsrook says:

    Yes and no. I do think we severely underestimate the kind of trauma that non-sexual violence can inflict on a person, or their loved ones. We are in many cases, a little too quick to gloss over that aspect of violence in fiction.

    However, I think we also more readily identify with the justifications for violence than we do for sexual agression.

    After all, it’s possible to kill someone in self-defense, for the defense of others, but you wouldn’t rape someone as a defensive measure. It’s always an offensive position.

    Additionally, even in real-life sexual assault (everything from groping to violent rape) has significantly higher rates of recidivism than other forms of violence. Statistically speaking, there is much less reason to believe a sexual offender will be redeemed (that doesn’t mean they can’t be).

    When you think about it, there are situations that can make someone violent (like war, blackmail, extreme poverty, PTSD, drug use, mental health crises etc.). If a person is able to get out of those situations, they are much less likely to recommit the offense because the motive is no longer there.

    Whereas with sex offenders, the motive is more often based in the innate desire to commit the offense. The person has to undergo serious internal changes in order to really be rehabilitated.

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    • It is curious how we can justify violence. Sexual aggression only gets seen as ‘positive’ when the hero is seducing a villain or someone for information. The manga I’m reading now has a female assassin whose style is entirely about using her sex appeal to get close to her targets. She’s a good guy in this too. Going back to the violence, I’ve read so many stories where it happens in public and the victims are other people doing their job. Oddly enough, one of the best scenes I’ve seen showing the trauma of a violent action is from the first Austin Powers movie. It was an extra called ‘The Henchman’s Wife’ and shows the henchman/guard’s family learning of his death.

      This is the thing that I worried about this topic. Rape isn’t actually part of the perverted character. That’s they line they don’t cross unless they go full villain. I had a feeling people would jump right to that truly unforgivable act, which turns the conversation to something else in regards to this character. You might want to go this route, but it steps away from what this anime/manga type really does.

      By the way, is killing in self-defense always so cut and dry? If someone like Iron Man, who can make nonlethal armaments, just blasts away bad guys who can’t damage him then is it really self-defense?

      I’m unsure about the statistics on sexual offenders vs murderers. From what I’ve read, there are more opportunities and pushes to redeem the latter than the former. In fact, I decided to look up how easy it is to redeem sexual offenders and found articles about how there isn’t much of a system for that. For example, nonprofit organizations that hire former criminals to show that rehabilitation is possible only go for violent, non-sexual criminals. They don’t touch the sexual ones, so there is no sign that such people can be redeemed because no chance is given. It is a harder crime for one to rehabilitate from too. So, the statistics can be seen as skewed since violent criminals have more opportunities while sexual ones are branded and cast out never to be given a second chance. Not saying they all should, but it makes the use of numbers a little difficult here.

      I’m actually going to disagree a bit with the motives of sexual offenders. Some of them do this because they were victims of abuse and it’s a twisted attempt to regain power. Others have genuine psychological issues, which goes for violent criminals as well. You have upbringing to factor in with sexual offenders as well because they might have been raised to believe that they should get whatever they want. When denied, they take. Again, another issue here is that there isn’t much in the way of rehabilitation for these people when compared to non-sexual violent offenders.

      Okay, I’m also seeing how we’ve kind of gotten off the topic as well. It is related, but my thoughts were more on fiction. We can accept and support major acts of violence that heroes commit on villains. This includes giving them a slow death to do a speech or slow walk. Yet, the slightest sexual act of perversion will be met with the same fervor you would think should be reserved for the rather sadistic acts that some heroes commit.

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      • rsrook says:

        In real life we are actually more likely to punish people for acts of violence than sexual assault. More people actually get assault charges for slapping than for groping. And most sex offenders have already committed multiple offenses before they are actually prosecuted. (Because sexual misbehavior is often more difficult to prove than violence, which causes visible damage).

        In fiction, the perverts are also more likely to target their inappropriate behavior towards the in-group (their friends and allies) which generally isn’t the case with fictional violence which is generally direct towards the out group.

        I understand that there are reasons (like psychological or brain damage) that might cause a person to be violent sexually or otherwise, but we as readers/viewers don’t relate to that.

        I think we can all imagine a point at which we ourselves could be pushed into committing an act of violence–this where I was talking about motive. We can put ourselves therefore in the shoes of the character committing violence and use the same justifications for them as we would use for ourselves (whether or not they’re legitimate justifications is a separate question). The point is we can relate to that point of view. And generally, in fiction, in order for the good guy to remain “good” we as readers/viewers have to understand the motive. Villains also commit violence, and we see that as terrible in all its forms.

        The same is not true for sexual agression. Barring some massive brain trauma, it’s unlikely you’re going to flip a switch and start slapping random people on the butt, or spying on people when they are naked. Unless you’re already the kind of person who thinks that stuff is ok, you won’t relate to those characters.

        And on the other hand, most people don’t experience real violence in their lives, so it’s easier to keep it in the realm of cathartic fantasy. Most people (esp women, but this likely applies to men more than we realize) DO have to deal with some level of annoying to dangerous perverse behavior in real life. Almost every woman I know and many men have had someone cross a physical boundary or say something totally creepy. In real life, social conventions often require us to gloss over these moments. In fiction we can gain catharsis by punishing that behavior in ways we can’t irl.

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      • This is where a challenge for readers comes into play. We always say that we need to relate from our experiences, but then that limits our choices. You can’t really relate to someone hinting a dragon, but you get a sense of the emotions through the writing. One might have to leave most of themselves behind to understand a character or person. You are right that not experiencing violence allows it to be more fantasy. Yet, that can be said more many things that we are told to relate to such as drug addiction and rape. This empathy is what bridges the gap between us and characters who are going through something we haven’t.

        I still find it odd that we condemn the perverse and try to understand the violent. Being at work, I can’t do much more than rattle off a quick response. Especially since my break just ended.

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      • rsrook says:

        I gotta be honest, I see more value in questioning the portrayal of violence in media than trying to create sympathetic narratives of people who do stuff like groping.

        Especially when society as a whole doesn’t really do enough to condemn that behavior–it may seem that way from Twitter, but the reality is those few people take on more heat because they become targets which can be reached–the anonymous guy who grabs your girlfriend’s rear end and disappears into the crowd is all too often not reachable. These people don’t get held accountable nearly often enough in real life.

        We SHOULD condemn that behavior as well as violence. In reality excuses are made for stuff like this all the time.

        Gropers DO get sympathy. Think of Brock Turner (who did a lot worse than cop a feel) and who got off easy BECAUSE the judge sympathized with him.

        I think we need more narratives sympathizing with victims of both sexual harassment and violence, rather than the offenders.

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      • I see value in both. To cast aside a character for one trait that can be either explained or held solely for comedy limits what we can do. It means all characters that do anything sexual beyond love get tossed into the category of villain. I see no reason why we can make sympathetic serial killers like Dexter and condemn Master Roshi.

        I think you want 100% accountability from what you describe. That’s impossible even for murder. How many killers have gone free? How many unsolved murders are on the books? That is the violence equivalent of the disappearing groper. They kill and vanish, but again we jump back to reality while we can do more in fiction. You can show how such people might be sympathetic or redeemed, but people really don’t want that. With violence, we don’t really continue pursing after the innocent verdict too. Look at how OJ Simpson and Casey Anthony have moved on even though many still believe they did their crimes.

        Brock Turner got sympathy from one idiot. The judge was recalled and the rapist will be marked for life. Yes, he didn’t go to jail and get the proper justice according to our system. The two of them are still being punished and neither have any sympathy beyond that initial bullshit of the judge. Keep in mind that this also caused the laws to change the definition of rape to be broader, Brock’s mugshot is in textbooks under rape, and it was highlighted on a tv show. Yeah, he didn’t go to jail, but I think he was destroyed. This is also the extreme that I’ve stated goes beyond what the character archetype does.

        We have tons of narratives sympathizing with the victims. Every crime show that tackles rape comes from that perspective. I can’t think of the reverse outside of the comedic use in anime/manga. American comedies that try always make the perverts character unsympathetic and an asshole. Even in anime, they get punished with violence.

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      • rsrook says:

        Spike in Buffy attempted rape and is portrayed sympathetically, Revenge of the Nerds, the main character actually commits rape and it’s played for laughs, 007 is aggressively sexual (often borderline assault) and this is seen as “manly”, countless romcoms depict stalking behavior as romantic, The Big Bang Theory, Family Matters, and Back to the Future (Marty’s dad) all feature characters who engage in stalking and harassing behavior and eventually end up dating the women they harass, there are many, many examples of creepy characters being portrayed sympathetically. Like a lot.

        I disagree with you completely. In fact, I think portraying characters who do creepy things as sympathetic or even harmless is so commonplace you don’t even notice it.

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      • And I think you see what you want. You fit it into you want. Don’t make accusations of what others see or I will jump to conclusions about you too. I know all those examples even though I believe BBT and Family Matters are stretching it. Urkel never hooked up with the one he ‘harassed’. That was his clone who she fell for. He ended up with the girl who pursued him. Leonard never harassed Penny. He was socially awkward and tried to be suave, but failed. He succeeded when he acted like himself. Howard and Raj always failed when they tried too hard. Howard matured when he finally met someone he was introduced to instead of pursued.

        I disagree with you because I think you’re cherry picking. Again, I will mention Dexter who is loved. Hannibal was a series that people want back. John Wick only uses violence and he’s considered awesome. Meanwhile, James Bond is routinely called archaic and his seduction is part of being a cold-hearted spy. The ‘manliness’ in recent years has been exchanged for a visceral brokenness that is made clear. He sees everyone as tools. Women are seduced and men are killed without a second thought. He was never meant to be sympathetic. At this point, I don’t even know what you mean by that term. Your argument comes off as you not wanting any character who uses sex beyond romantic love to be irredeemable. You ignore how often the creepers are punished, which is the premise of an entire crime show. You also touch on comedies a lot, which have always played this for laughs. Just like violence. The genre doesn’t take much seriously.

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      • By the way, I think you have proven my main point. You are a lot more passionate and unforgiving when it comes to sexual characters doing even the slightest wrong. Yet, you’ve rationalized the use of violence. That was what I was getting at here. We can accept killing and find a reason why to remain sympathetic towards the character. Yet, we can’t try to give a perverted character a chance at redemption. Instead, we scream in rage and point out the worst examples to turn things towards the extreme of rape.

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      • rsrook says:

        I actually agree that we may be too easy to forgive violent solutions.

        I’m just not sure I understand why you seem so intent on forgiving perverse behavior?

        And when it comes to minor perverse behavior (which incidentally, I define as behavior which would be harmful, not just having or expressing sexual desire) we often do excuse it, or don’t notice it as a problem in the first place. I think you are not noticing how commonplace a lot of questionable behavior is amongst protagonists because it’s not actually portrayed as bad at all.

        And I’m really confused, do you mean that all sex is perverted? Because we may not be on the same wavelength. A character expressing sexual desire or enjoying consensual sex is not a pervert in my definition. One that transgresses boundaries is.

        Dexter is only sympathetic because he is portrayed as harming only “bad” people. That in and of itself can be questionable, but it’s the punishment of people who hurt innocents that makes Dexter at all redeemable. If he were killing innocent people I’m not sure he would be that sympathetic. Are you suggesting that people who grope only grope people who deserve it? I don’t think so. Surely you can see the difference in what makes one more sympathetic over the other?

        Hannibal is fascinating, but so is the main character in Lolita. I don’t think either are meant to be seen as sympathetic OR redeemable. Neither of those are redemption stories.

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      • I don’t understand why you think it should be unforgivable across the board. Characters need to grow and evolve. This behavior is something they can fix over the course of the story, but only if given the chance. I don’t see why we can’t explore the possibility of redemption here since we do it for violent characters.

        Again, you assume I don’t notice. Yet, I made 4 posts about it. One of my key points was that there has to be a punishment after the behavior for it to work as comedy or to prevent it from being accepted by the other characters. I stuck to my topic about how this character can work and it’s use in anime/manga while you kept pulling for the darker, heavier stuff.

        My comment about sex is that you came off as against any use of sex or desire that isn’t part of a romantic love scene. To be honest, sex and rape are acts that I’ve said in other comments are not part of this archetype. These are the peeping Toms, anime gropers that get punished, and horndogs that never get a woman. As I’ve said, they are punished when the boundaries are crossed. For comedy in anime/manga, they usually don’t learn until the overall plot gets serious and dark.

        I use Dexter because he works outside the law without repercussions. He is a beloved hero even though he is a murderer. The writers made him human in spite of this. Him going after bad guys isn’t the point. I simply argue that groping characters can still have a sympathetic side if they have more than that as their character. You seem to only fixate on that part though in your comments.

        Yet the audiences redeem Hannibal by loving him as a character. I’ve met many who think he is a hero too. I do think there is supposed to be some level of sympathy for them too. A writer needs to garner some for a connection or the character fails. You need people to become invested in their plights and root for them to grow.

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      • rsrook says:

        This is going to appear in the wrong order because apparently I can’t reply to myself on mobile.

        It occurs to me that we are mixing up cultures–the violence or punishment against pervs is really more prevalent in Japanese culture (and the pervs are more aggressive, i.e. groping).

        Usually in American media lower levels of perverse behaviour really just get an eyeroll, at most.

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      • Going to be hard to do long responses since I’m on my phone at work. I think it’s changing in America. You get more than an eye roll now. Even the perception of perverse behavior gets plastered online and causes destruction. Court of public opinion is a lot stronger than before.

        It’s interesting that Japanese culture has more aggressive punishments. Maybe because they are more restrained in terms of sex when it comes to culture. I haven’t really looked into it. Then again, you have underwear in vending machines there too.

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      • rsrook says:

        There’s a difference between what we see in fiction and real life. In Japanese culture there is also a lot more pressure not to make a scene. So when people do get groped, they feel more pressure not to respond (and it is a problem–I have friends teaching English in Japan and they have female-only subway cars because groping is such an issue on public transit). I would think that would certainly contribute to a lot of repressed anger towards gropers amongst women esp., so the out-sized responses in fiction would make sense as catharsis.

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  3. rsrook says:

    And yes, what Urkel was doing with Laura was harassment. It’s played for laughs so it’s natural to interpret it as harmless, but if someone were behaving like that in real life, it would be viewed as harassment by the person consistently saying no and asking to be left alone. The fact that you put hat ‘harassment’ in quotes kind of proves my point that you don’t really see harassment for what it is when it is in fact, portrayed sympathetically.

    Which is another problem with these narratives–when the perv is portrayed so sympathetically the damage their behavior would actually cause if done in real life is downplayed for the sake of the plot, making it seem much more harmless than it actually is.

    Also Urkel and Laura get engaged in the series finale. She dates the clone, but she ultimately chooses Steve.

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    • And yet it wasn’t real life. Comedy always exaggerated such things to make them absurd. If you take it too seriously then it’s going to be taken the wrong way. I think you miss this entirely and would rather tear things apart. Do I realize it would be harassment in real life? Yes, I can see how. I also know that he would have been stopped quickly since her father was a cop. Urkel’s actions were overt and exaggerated for comedy and the reactions to him were minimized to keep it that way. Otherwise, he’d be arrested or shot before the end of season one.

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  4. rsrook says:

    I don’t think this conversation will end in any kind of consensus. I will thank you again for taking the time to respond but I think we should probably call it quits.

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