Archive for the ‘Smallville’ Category

Women Who Date Monsters

August 6, 2009

I’ve been putting off watching the rest of season eight of Smallville for awhile because it got kind of boring, and believe me, my standards when it comes to Smallville are pretty low, I’m mostly in it for the hot guys and the homoerotic over under tones. Plus my dad is a big fan of classic comics, so I enjoy them for that reason too, WHATEVER I don’t have to justify myself to you!

A hundred years ago a friend of theboozetube, Erika noted a central feature of the show Buffy the Vampire Slayer (she was talking about the musical, but it applies more generally as well) which is “stuff that should be figurative is literal.” Smallville works the same way. In fact, in the season finale, Tess Mercer committed a grammar atrocity I didn’t realize could exist: “figuratively” abuse. I think we’re all familiar with “literally” abuse. You know, “When I got a C+ I literally died.” Um, no dude, you “figuratively” died. Anyhow, Tess was all, “You have to slay the proverbial beast, Clark!” But Doomsday is, literally, a kryptonian beast! Tess could have said literally.

But all of that is beside the point. The point is, our dear Chloe is an abusive relationship, take a gander at the extremely romantic creepy dialogue.

Davis aka human host of Clark’s seasonal kryptonian rival Doomsday: I tried looking at photos of you, I tried holding strands of your hair, none of it works! This thing inside me… it starts to claw its way out as soon as you leave! Chloe, I can’t be away from you now…. By accepting your help I’ve put you right in their crosshairs; what about when the cops find you?”
Chloe: Then we leave. We load up the car and never look back.
Davis: You’ve done more for me in a few weeks than anyone’s done in my entire life. I can’t ask you to run away with me.
Chloe:Then it’s a good thing you’re not the one asking.
Davis: You wouldn’t be able to say goodbye to anyone, not even Clark, can you do that? Can you honestly tell me that I am the most important person in your life?
Chloe: Davis. I would do anything for you.

Oh my. Davis is smooth. Not only is he effectively cutting Chloe off from everyone who cares about her, he’s arranging for her to think it’s her idea. As viewers we, like Chloe, are meant to understand that Davis and Doomsday may inhabit the same body, but they are not the same. Davis is a sweet, good EMT, Doomsday is the killer who abducted Chloe from her own wedding.

I was prepared to be really annoyed with this plot, because obviously I don’t think it’s women’s job to tame men’s rapist/killer natures. And like, if you’re dating someone and one side of them is sweet and loving but they have another side that is a killer/rapist DUMP THEM. People are not divided into sweet and human with a voluntarily repressed dark side.

Smallville seems to agree! Oliver and Clark both identify early on that it’s not only Doomsday that’s obsessed with Chloe: it’s Davis as well. In fact, Chloe and Clark do succeed into splitting Davis’s Kryptonian side from his human side, and after the split, when Chloe reconciles with her husband, Jimmy Olsen, Davis, as a full human being, with no remnant of Doomsday, kills Jimmy in a fit of jealous rage.

You cannot remove the abuser from the person you love. The abuser is not an excisable growth. Of course people can change, but not easily, instantly, or painlessly.

That was something I thought Buffy did very well, actually, with Spike and Angel, two vampires who were given back their souls. In neither case was Buffy like, “Oh yay me, monster’s gone, happy love times are ON!” Both had to work to earn her trust and both had to make painful changes to their personalities that took, in the case of Angel, several seasons. I have further thoughts on undead personalities that will save for a future post. (Specifically, I’d like to look at the first evil’s Buffy incarnation and why Angelus is so different from Angel when all the other vampires are so much like their person was.)

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