Welcome to Feather Dusters at 400 Yards, my blog about the British television series The Avengers. There’s a lot of cool stuff to explore in this groundbreaking series that spanned the entire decade of the 1960s: the characters, the performances, scene and episode analysis, technical aspects of the production, and more. Plus there are pages for Avengers fanfiction, music videos, and fan art! Links to audio versions of my blogs and fanfic are available on the podcasts page. So click on a tag or a category or something in the navigation menu, or just keep scrolling, and explore along with me.
I’ve blogged about Steed’s healthy masculinity and how he nurtures his partners and other people in ways that are traditionally gendered as feminine in our culture. Today I came across this wonderful op-ed about teaching men to get rid of toxic masculinity and thought I’d share, with a little taster printed below.
Ruth Whippman writes in the New York Times:
As long as the threat of emasculation is a baseline terror for men, encouraging them to act more like women still instinctively feels like a form of humiliation.
Which is exactly why we need to try, because until female norms and standards are seen as every bit as valuable and aspirational as those of men, we will never achieve equality. Promoting qualities such as deference, humility, cooperation and listening skills will benefit not only women but also businesses, politics and even men themselves, freeing them from the constant and exhausting expectation to perform a grandstanding masculinity, even when they feel insecure or unsure.
ADHD culture is pulling the pin on a live grenade and then getting distracted by a different thought and forgetting to throw the grenade until your friends remind you that it would be a good idea to get rid of it right about now.
Steed: Oh, look at this….
Steed: Verrrry interesting, this….
Purdey: Steed! Throw the grenade!
Steed: Eh? Oh. Yeah.
[Image description: six screencaps from The New Avengers episode, “K is for Kill”. Steed holds a grenade in the top two caps, and he examines it closely. Purdey and a French soldier look at Steed intently. Purdey is speaking. Steed looks towards Purdey, then back at the grenade. Steed throws the grenade.]
I know I haven’t been posting very much lately, because life is like that sometimes. But I do have several things in the hopper and hope to be able to post something soon.
Thanks for your patience!
It’s official: the new 007 will be black and female.
Lashana Lynch has been announced as the actor who will play the iconic role in Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s script for the next film.
Hey, Avengers forum dudes! How ya like them apples, eh?
[Image description: photo in color of Lashana Lynch, a black woman with short hair in small dark coils. She is wearing a pale blue seersucker dress and stands in front of a backdrop of a tree trunk and foliage during the day.]
(Thanks to celluloidbroomcloset.tumblr.com for the tip.)
Fellow tumblr celluloidbroomcloset wrote this brilliant analysis dealing with the characters of Cathy Gale from The Avengers and Pussy Galore from the Bond film Goldfinger, both of whom were played by Honor Blackman.
⊗ Content note for rape mention
Cathy Gale and James Bond
(reposted here with permission)
OK, I’ve been thinking about this, and here’s one of my issues with the transition from Honor Blackman playing Cathy Gale to playing P*ssy Galore (asterix included because Tumblr might decide to flag it).
I think most of us can agree that the way Goldfinger (book and film) treats Galore is all kinds of problematic. But there’s an added issue with the way that things went down in terms of Blackman’s contemporary star persona.
Blackman got the role largely because of her performance as Cathy Gale in The Avengers. Cathy, superficially, seems perfect for the Bond franchise: the cool blonde judoka in black leather. But she’s also not good for the Bond franchise at all: she’s independent, intelligent, ridiculously competent, and really does not take any kind of male bullshit. She’s paired with a male character who, for the most part, respects that about her; who, when she pins him, early in their relationship, finds her physical and psychological strength not something to be overcome but something to be loved and respected. Whether or not we accept the idea that they eventually have a romantic and sexual relationship, there’s no doubt that Cathy retains her autonomy and that this is something that Steed supports and does not find threatening.
Cathy Gale, then, cannot be a part of the Bond franchise in 1964. Bond’s sexual politics do not allow for a woman to reject him on any terms. When Blackman takes her Gale persona and transmogrifies into the character of Galore, she’s largely playing Cathy but not – Galore is also a physically capable, psychologically strong female character who demands autonomy and is largely unimpressed by male posturing. While this is something that Steed actually likes about Cathy, that’s something that Bond cannot stand. She has to be dominated; that physical and sexual autonomy has to be made subservient to his desires, otherwise her very existence questions his masculinity.
Unlike Cathy, Galore is typed as a lesbian. (In the book, she’s explicitly lesbian, but even James Bond can’t get away with that in 1964.) So, she presents a double threat, a woman who not only doesn’t want James Bond but doesn’t want men, full stop. Again, Bond’s world view cannot allow for that. He will dominate her and control her desire, even if that means coercing her or raping her outright (which, yes, is what he does). That’s the only way he can bring her existence into line with his own view of masculinity and femininity.
In casting Blackman in the part, the Bond franchise is doing more than just bringing a Bond character to heel; it is trying to reconcile the existence of Cathy Gale with a conservative, patriarchal world. Cathy cannot exist in the same world with James Bond, but she can be transposed, commodified, and dominated as Galore. Cathy Gale is capable of breaking James Bond’s neck; Galore is not. Cathy Gale wouldn’t even permit him to look at her; Galore must, by the nature of the narrative and the franchise.
Cathy Gale is actually a really good cook, and on the rare occasions when she cooks for Steed he heartily approves of whatever it is she makes, and he’s not just being polite. Cathy’s issue is that she gets busy and forgets to eat, and then when she remembers her brain is too on overdrive to fix anything elaborate, so she doesn’t cook very often.
Emma Peel is more or less useless in the kitchen. She can make tea and coffee and a few other very simple things, but otherwise she’d burn water if left unsupervised, because when she tries to cook she also tries to multitask, and cooking + multitasking = disaster for Emma. So if there’s any cooking to be done, Steed usually takes care of that, and he tries to coach her a little sometimes, with mixed success. But Emma knows where all the best delis are, and she gets really good stuff from them.
In an article in The Baffler, Kate Wagner, creator of McMansion Hell, takes on the problematic nature of the “Let People Enjoy Things” meme and the culture it represents.
There are unlimited problems with the “Let People Enjoy Things” (henceforth abbreviated to LPET) approach to art and culture, first and foremost among them the fact that franchises in question (GoT and Marvel Comics) are multi-billion-dollar corporate entities engineered to entertain in the same way Doritos are made so that you can’t eat just one. These are some of the most profitable media empires in history, and they will plainly not be harmed by a Twitter user posting about why they personally don’t like them.
The subtext LPET image is a fourfold confession: 1) “I do not want to feel judged for my consumption choices”; 2) “I want to silence people who disagree with me about this particular piece of media by making them feel like they are cheerless or judgmental”; 3) “I recognize an aspect of this piece of media that is worthy of criticism, and I am defensive of this;” and (4) “I do not want to think critically about the things I consume, and if I absorb any criticism about the things I consume it will magically ruin my enjoyment of them.” We’ll break these down.
To read the whole article, click here.