Pretty Little Liars
The Goodbye Look

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Jacob Clifton: A+ | Grade It Now!
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Hard Vs. Mean

LOTS TO UNPACK

Now, first of all, it reads like a mission statement: You are now allowed to think of them as a couple. And the way it is shot is so beautiful and romantic that I guess I can buy in. You heard it here first: Aria and Ezra were awesome in this episode. (Shh, I know. I'll get to you in a second.)

But the whole thing about statutory is the idea of authority being misused, this idea of compulsion. In the UK, actually, "age of consent" has been the kind of hotly debated issue that gay marriage is here: It's the way of controlling who gets to do what, by applying different criteria to different sexualities as a way of protecting kids while also acknowledging that different situations are different: That being a teenager is pretty much a drive-by shooting for everybody, but especially complex when issues of nonstandard sexual identity enter the ring. It's also used to imply that gay people are worthless, out of an archaic sense that equates sexual maturity and decision-making to, like, the right to choose self-destructive behavior like tobacco or drinking.

Of course, in our country the deal with statutory is a little different, because we're so concerned with protecting everybody that we often don't trust them to make their own decisions. It's a party line, this "authority is always at issue" thing, and I don't really have a problem with it except as a symptom of a larger issue, which is that rules of thumb or trite sayings tend to override our common sense. You can look at a situation like this, knowing all the details, and still somehow that desire to follow the rule of thumb will tell you that something hinky is going on.

And definitely something hinky is going on, but it's not a power thing. It's the opposite of a power thing. The problem with Ezra isn't that he's a predator, it's that he's settling for a high school student. Lots of grossness there, but he's not a rapist. And I have enough faith in people to assume that we're still capable of letting situational concerns override those oversimplified "X Always Means Y" things we were taught as kids. Don't fuck your teachers, that's good advice. Make decisions for other people, that's terrible advice.

So that is the first thing: Sometimes we get so excited about feminism that we fuck it up completely and it turns into the opposite. We get so intent on describing someone as a victim -- the moral ecstasy of our own outrage -- that we completely overrule any decisions or thought processes that might be occurring in their heads, which is completely dehumanizing. At some point, you let the person fuck up. At some point, in order to let the story continue telling itself to you, you have to just take what the show is telling you at face value, instead of interpreting it in terms of what you wish the story was about.

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Pretty Little Liars

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