Saturday, April 9, 2011

Succubi and the Attraction of Pokemon and Opposite Sex People

We've all seen it happen before. Some work of fiction in which a plot device involves some supernatural (or otherwise fictional) creature has some ability to charm those of the opposite gender and bend them to their will.

I think that's pretty boring (if not dismissive) way to use it.

So I was watching an episode of Pokemon Black and White a few weeks ago in which Ash was trying to capture a particular monster by the name of Snivy (its a grass type pokemon modeled after a snake and ivy, hence Snivy). Ash was having a hard time catching it because it kept using the move Attract. For those not familiar Attract is a move that when used against pokemon of the opposite gender said target has about a 50% of being so love struck they are unable to do anything each turn. Which is is not good considering that the Snivy he was trying to catch was female and the majority of the pokemon on his team (Tepig, Oshawatt, and of course Pikachu) are male. In the end he was only able to catch it because the last of his four pokemon (Pidove) turned out to be female. Other than his Pikachu (whom he's been travelling with for years) he seemed to not know the gender of any of pokemon. We'll get back to that in a bit.

Do you recall the season 2 episode of Charmed, "She's a Man, Baby, a Man!"? That episode starts off when sudden murders of men who have been mysteriously drained of their testosterone. Also all of these men were linked by way of all of them having used the same dating service. Once they learn that they are dealing with a succubus the sisters cast a spell in hopes of finding a way to defeat it. The spell ends up turning Prue, the oldest sister, into a man. Now that she was in the body of a man (Which despite her keeping all the same knowledge, memory, feelings, and experience Prue suddenly starts performing pretty much every negative behavior associated with men. Yeah only the negative stuff, but that's another story for another day.) Prue was suddenly susceptible to the draw of the succubus. After being captured by the demon and on the brink of the same fate as its other victims she is able to fight off the influence by reminding herself that she is a woman. You see what I'm about to get at?

And let's not forget the season seven episode of Buffy, "Him". In this episode a boy at Sunnydale High draws the attention of Dawn. Over time he also attracts the affections of Buffy, Anya, and....Willow. The influence (which later turned out to be his letter jacket being enchanted with a love charm) had roped them all in. Even though despite itself I could not help but laugh at particular scene in which Buffy, Willow, and Anya are arguing:
Buffy: Willow, you're a gay woman... and *he* isn't.
Willow: This isn't about his physical presence, it's about his heart.
Anya: His physical presence has a penis.
Willow: I can work around it.
I see the heteronormativity at work but there's still the fact that they were talking about one who clearly does not identify as a woman. Its as if we are supposed to believe that Williow being gay is going against some "natural" heterosexual imperative and the love spell is bringing out her "true" sexuality. Yeah right. (Also a nod to the season two episode "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered" where Xander casts a love spell that attracts every woman in town except the one he was trying to attract.)

A few questions. First how does being female seem to always protect one from the charms of a female? Second is it really so that suddenly appearing as a male makes one unable to resist the charms of a female? Well if you limit attraction to the realm of heterosexuality those things could hold true. Third are we to believe that heterosexuality is such a deep part of us that a simple spell can override one's homosexuality? Come on we all know that when it comes to attraction heterosexuality is not the only sexuality at work.

And that's my point. We are talking about fictional creatures here but even they are somehow bound to societal forces that limit what they could do. It just seems to me that if a demon were to take on a particular gendered form enhanced by supernatural power it would not result in people of the opposite of that gendered form falling head over heels but rather would result in anyone that is attracted to that particular gendered form to fall head over heels. But even that's probably not ideal either if someone else were to examine it.

18 comments:

Sparky said...

Excellent point - I've watched all those programmes (well, except Pokemon), those episodes and been very "hmmm" about them. I've seen it in numerous books with incubi and succubi as well - mystical all powerful sexual attraction - that apparently turns everyone straight and only ever happens in a place where there are no GBL people EVER.

And we do know better, or should do. I mean, Buffy has an openly lesbian character. While Charmed is 99% straight it HAS nodded (and it's set in San Francisco for crying out loud!) towards GBL people - and still we have this automatic blanket heterosexuality

Danny said...

Hey there Sparky.

Yeah I'm a fan of fictional work just like anyone else but goodness this just goes too far. I know supernatural forces are usually capable of some off the wall stuff (hence it being supernatural) but damn.

womanistmusings said...

I just wanted you to know that I thought that this was extremely thought provoking.

Danny said...

Thanks for stopping by Renee.

Sparky said...

See that's what kinda bugs me - supernatural forces are capable of so much magic and whimsy - we can have vampires and weres, succubi, gods, daemons and spirits - but any of them being anything but straight? Nooooo, that's just too much.

Danny said...

Yeah apparently its too much for them Sparky.

We are expected to believe that one of the effects of love charms is that it makes the person so irresistible that it turns gay people straight. I've thought about writing a short story on this (in which some love charm, sex demon, or something comes around and its effects actually abide by an individuals actual orientation rather than somehow changing it) but I'm working on something else right now.

Azzandra said...

That is why I love "Lost Girl". Bo's succubus powers work on both men AND women. In fact, I think the only time they were somewhat-less effective was against a gay man. (He was all like, "Wait, I'm gay! Why the hell do I find her attractive?!")

Cassie said...

As I recall, when Willow says she can work around it, she means she thinks she can turn him into a woman. That has its own share of creepy, but it's not "fixing" her same-sex attraction.

treefinger said...

I think with the Buffy episode, Joss Whedon saw the problem with the fact that it's always succubi/incubi attracting the "opposite" sex, and decided to try and reason it as their power working on only people of the opposite physical sex, regardless of that person's orientation. Obviously that led to the unfortunate implications about Willow's sexuality. But if you think about it succubi and incubi that only attract people who are attracted to their gender is an absurd concept anyway. You could have a dominant female falling for a dominant incubus who isn't her type just because of his magic, or a trans person falling for a sex they're not attracted to if their combination of sex characteristics (chromosones, hormones, presentation) "confused" the magic. Both of these things are problematic too- they erase the sexual preferences of the target according to the author's opinion on what is "innate" to sexual attraction and what can be compromized by the incubus/succubus and their magic. Should we say that our sexual orientation to a particular gender (or combination thereof) is more important to whether one of these creatures could charm us, or less fluid, than our physical preferences and what specific practices we like to do in bed, for instance?

The only way you could have a succubus/incubus that makes total sense in my opinion would be to have the magic work on anybody regardless of gender, sexual preference (or lack of), other preferences, personality or anything else. Then you could explain that the magic simply works on everybody rather than inevitably privileging some sexualities as more "innate" than others.

Danny said...

"Lost Girl" eh? I may have to look that up...

Danny said...

Sup Cassie?

You know you may have a point.

One could argue that the guy with the letter jacket cast a spell on it to attract all women. By virtue of Willow being a woman she got caught up in it. One thing I've wondered is how did the jacket only affect the four of them instead of going nuclear like Xander's love spell back in season 2.

Danny said...

A good bit to think about there treefinger. Thanks for dropping by.

Cassie said...

You know, I hadn't noticed that only the four of them seemed affected. That is a little weird.
Clearly not quite the same as the Xander situation, since it only got to them when they saw him wearing it, but they can't have been the only people to see him in it.
There might have been another girl at the school who was acting odd...I can't recall. Either way though, it seems like a suspiciously small ammount of fuss for a spell that made Dawn attack another student and lie down on the train tracks for him.

DrMcCoy said...

As a rare counterexample, take Sarah Monette's "The Bone Key", a collection of short stories of vaguely Lovecraftian influences. The stories themselves are so-so, IMHO, but one does feature the gay main character falling for an incubus.

Danny said...

Hey there DrMcCoy (are you a doctor or a magician?).

Another book to check out. I have so many things on my "To Read List" its not even funny.

Danny said...

I know right?

Donja said...

this was an interesting read :D.Funy thing: I was toying with an idea for a story where the assumption "woman=immune to Siren influence" backfires. Guess I'm on to something :)

Danny said...

Sounds interesting Donja. I hope you go for it and it turns out well.

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