Friday, January 9, 2015

Recap/Review: Gotham Girls "A Little Night Magic"

Well, it was only a matter of time before Gotham Girls went from "bad" to "somewhat offensive."

Just... it has to be seen to be believed.

Or, you know, read about to be believed.
Welp, no game this time. Instead, we get a bio on this episode's protagonist because she hasn't been seen before and won't be seen until Season 2. Great job, Paul Dini. Yeah. Paul "DCAU" Dini.

Though I can't find any writing credits for individual webisodes, Paul Dini probably wrote this webisode. How do I know? Because Paul Dini's got a thing for this webisode's protagonist and likes to reference her whenever possible.

Including his non-DC works and even his marriage.
Everybody say hi to Zatanna. This is her first appearance in Gotham Girls, and it's sure to be disappointing.
Why stop now, right?
Zatanna, a sorceress superhero who has a job as a stage magician, is walking home from another hard night of bending reality to her whim for the amusement of a crowd who thinks it's all done with smoke and mirrors.

Yes. You read that right. She's walking home in Gotham City. At night. Wearing fishnets. If Frank Miller were writing this, this webisode would get very uncomfortable very quickly. But this is simply a web series. I see no reason why anything ridiculously off-putting and offensive should happen.

...uh oh.

Walking down the street, she is almost immediately held at gunpoint. Instead of forking over the dough, she turns his gun into a snake. Sensibly, he runs away.

Well, that wasn't as bad as it could have been. As long as the rest of this webisode avoids any potentially uncomfortable implications, then....

Zatanna: "Better than pepper spray."

Gotham Girls, you're going to want to stop going there. You are a web cartoon made on the cheap with little-to-no oversight. Trying to tell a story about a woman going home at night in a crime-ridden city is not something you're equipped to do.

Thankfully, her next obstacle is just a truck about to hit her. It's not a villain or a drunk driver. Zatanna's jaywalking. Way to break the law, "crime fighter." Anyway, she magics it around her and yells at the driver who did nothing wrong.

Where do I begin? The empty storage? The solid engine? How wide this thing apparently is?
Zatanna: "People are walking here!"

Unfortunately, she's attracted the attention of a small group of tough looking men.

Tough Guy: "What's yer hurry, hot stuff?"


...please stop going there.

One of them tosses his cigarette into a nearby abandoned building. The men surround her, and she raises her hands and tells them that all she wants is to go home.

Gotham Girls, this is getting rapey. Stop it right this second because this is not the kind of story you can tell without a lot of care and respect towards the women who actually have to walk home in fear of this sort of thing.

For kids...?
Catcalls ensue, and one of them steals her magician's hat. He throws it to one of the other brutes, and they start playing keep away. Before I can point out how disturbing this scene is by pointing out that they've technically started undressing her against her will, she turns them all into toads.

Yadda yadda, she puts out the fire that the lit cigarette caused and goes home to her apartment building. Which is apparently in the bad part of town.

Doorman: "Good heavens, Miss Zatanna! Don'cha know it's dangerous fer a young lady ta walk alone in the city after dark!? It's a wonder you made it home safely!"

She magically pulls a rose from behind his ear.

Zatanna: "I guess I just live right."

And on that hopefully unintentional insult to women who have been assaulted while on their way home, insinuating that they must not "live right," the webisode ends. And if you wanted to know what words she was saying backwards to make spells happen (which you don't), there's some stuff to click on at the end.

Am I reading too much into this? Possibly. This sort of thing is something I've grown a bit sensitive to, considering that my girlfriend's mother worked for quite a while as a therapist at women's shelter.

Could a story about the various obstacles involved in trying to get home in a chaotic environment work? Absolutely.

But Gotham Girls takes the story of a young woman's struggle to get home at night while continually being assaulted by men and says "Sounds like a hoot!"


Whatever next time brings us, at least it'll be less offensive. See you then.

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