Did you see Gotham last Monday? If you have not yet seen “The Hammer or The Anvil,” I must give you fair warning:
In this episode, Barbara (Jim Gordon’s wife) has been kidnapped by The Ogre, a serial killer of young, beautiful women. (Funny how Gotham has a lot of those, but it is a comic book universe.) He puts her in bondage in his big weapons-laden rumpus room and whispers sweet creepy nothings into her ear. In the meantime, Jim Gordon is hot on the Ogre’s trail, and he finally finds them at Barbara’s parents house, where mom and dad are a dead stabby mess. And Barbara tells Jim she wants to be with the Ogre. Oh, and it has been just a few hours since she was kidnapped.
JUST A FEW HOURS?!?! A character going over to the dark side needs setup! Anikin Skywalker slaughtered a village before he went to the dark side. Barbara just got irked with Jim once in a while. And really, a room stuffed with bondage weaponery (including giant axes!) and Barbara can’t grab one and clobber the slime, she just gives him a little girly slap? When he offeres her water that anyone with an I.Q. above the melting point of helium will know is drugged, why does she gulp it down instead of spilling it or saying, “Taste test it for me”?
There is a scene in the first chapter of my novel, Holly’s superpowered origin short story. (Chapter Zero, because that is like Issue Zero for a comic book, get it, get it?) She has a quick flashback, as follows:
Her writing life flashbacked like a dying rock star singing his memoirs in ten seconds. Twenty years ago. Four years old. Holly had screamed at the movie screen, “Punch him, punch him, WHY DON’T YOU PUNCH HIM?!?!” But that dumb movie actress just cringed against the wall while the bad guy beat up the hero and a baseball bat was only six inches away from the actress’s stupid hand! From then on, Holly dedicated her life to writing stories where the girls were brave and smart and STRONG!
The Ogre is lucky it wasn’t Holly. Unlikely he’d kidnap her anyhow: at six foot one, she’d tower over him. And even if she was temporarily de-powered, when she got an opening she would not slap him, she’d belt him over a dozen times in ten seconds. Again for the next ten. She really hates bullies.
I still love Gotham. Fun geek-respecting stories, great characters, and interesting female characters (I will miss Fish. A lot). But cringing female victims have been DONE TO DEATH. If you ever write them, do something interesting with them. Way too soon Stockholm Syndrome is just sloppy.