When I mentioned to someone close to me that I was planning this post they tried to persuade me not to write it, but this is my voice. They argued that it wasn’t the intent, not seeming to realise that intent is not the be all and end all. If anything it’s worse because it shows no thought.
I’ve mentioned Bones in another blog post, and I have considered myself a fan (and still will but limited to the first six seasons). There was a leading character who read as Aspie (short for Asperger’s), who wasn’t constantly made out to be a burden, that wasn’t always the butt of the joke, that was actually embraced – differences and all. Aside from that she was a woman who made no secret that she didn’t seek a relationship, didn’t believe in marriage and didn’t want kids (that last one may have been my projection, it may not have been explicitly stated).
This blog will contain spoilers, so if you haven’t watched Bones and plan to, don’t read on! I may be critiquing it, but I would still recommend it, but I would recommend just to stop at the end of season six.
I loved the character, and it’s among the healthiest portrayals of autism, regardless of whether it was actually meant or acknowledged. So lack of intent goes both ways.
The problem I have is that, after six seasons they took a season to completely rewrite a couple of her major character points. After thinking that I had a good, stable, safe role model in a way who was allowed to keep her principles things started changing.
First of all, out of the blue, she decides she wants a baby towards the end of season four. Fair enough, I don’t believe she ever actually came out and explicitly said that she didn’t want kids. The whole thing fizzles out, but later on, 48 episodes later, it happened anyway (the traditional way wink-wink).
Then suddenly she decides that she wants to get married, for her partners’ sake. Shortly after this a killer threatens Booth to break off the engagement without telling her why, otherwise said killer will kill five random people. This upsets Brennan even though she’s off the hook; she only did it to appease Booth because he’s the religious one who wants it and, if he doesn’t, then sacrifice unnecessary, right? Wrong. Apparently this hurts her more than anything had so far in the show… she’s been rejected from an institution that she doesn’t even believe in.
Long story short it all comes out and the wedding is back on. Suddenly, out of nowhere (notice a pattern?) we’re expected to believe that she’s had a picture of her ideal wedding dress since she was a kid despite not believing in marriage and guess what? It’s white! Despite multiple occasional where she ridicules (and rightly so, in my opinion) the tradition of brides wearing white which supposedly represents their virginity.
Some may say that this is just evolution of the character, but I disagree. They’ve changed multiple big aspects of her personality perpetuating a neurotypical christian normative idea of what a person (also read: woman) should be. I got the distinct feeling that all of the above was an attempt to ‘fix’ her. I don’t know whether I’m more offended as a woman who doesn’t believe in marriage (for myself… if two people want it then by all means go for it!) or as an aspie.
What do you think? Do you feel that, if a character hasn’t been explicitly stated to be a certain way that it forgives the idea of ‘evolving’ them out of it? Do you feel this is me desperately clinging to a character who I was so sure was a healthy portrayal of Asperger’s and taking it too personally when she changes? Somewhere in between? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to know your thoughts!
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