So I’m going to skip straight to the point of this post–I’m just going to discuss basic issues that are bugging me right now, from characters to love interests to fans thinking hating female characters is related to a form of of internalized misogyny.
This post is sponsored by varied reactions of the released trailer for Teen Wolf’s 4th season.
Admittedly, in a very nerdy and childish way, I’m excited about the new season. But there’s a bigger part of me, much louder, much more dominant, and all too difficult to ignore, that is very disappointed with the plot’s unveiling and how the writers are handling their characters. The first one–a main character receiving an abundance of hate (for numerous reasons)–is Malia Tate.
Malia’s introduction was beautiful. Trapped in the body of a coyote due to guilt and an unwillingness to return to society after a life-altering accident when she was just 8-years-old, Malia was a wild thing. Through some crazy teamwork and pep talk, Scott, in all of his True Alpha glory, roared her back to her human form. When we saw Malia for the first time, her eyes were what really convinced me.
She was wide-eyed, surprised, still retaining a dazzling childlike quality from all those years ago. The wildness of her hair was charming, and her nudity wasn’t sexual as it was metaphoric–she was being born again.
During one of my lectures, my art teacher informed us that there is a difference between being naked and being nude. What we thought we saw in ‘Anchors’ was nudity–rebirth. We thought she was born again.
And then ‘Echo House’ happened, and we’re struck with a revelation. Malia says,
You’re right, Stiles. Thank you. Thanks for invading my home, for putting me on the run, for turning me back to human so that I could look at my father everyday and try to figure out how to explain to him that the reason my sister and mother are dead is because I almost ate them on a full moon. Thank you so very much.
It transforms everything we thought we knew about her, about what we thought she would be and what we hoped she would be. In this quote alone, we are given much more information than we can handle. The first being that she speaks perfect English. Malia, who had been living as a coyote for years out in the woods, speaks perfect English.
First parallel I thought of was Frankenstein–how he learned English in a matter of days just by listening to other people speak. Malia lacks any sort of accent or speech impediment that would be expected of her, especially after being thrown back into society. There is no way that she could have remembered or talked that well in the short time it took Stiles to be sent to Eichen House–I don’t think speech therapy works that way. Think of Feral Children. Here’s a handy list.
The second being that she changed against her will. There is nothing genuine about her gratitude–she never wanted her humanity in the first place. Which leads to a third point–she seems very well integrated back into society if she can speak English perfectly and know what sarcasm is enough to utilize it in her speech.
Doesn’t anyone think it’s a little weird for a kid to be lost in the woods for years, away from human contact, and come back mentally and emotionally stable? Her behavior is also overly confident–and no, this isn’t a “You’re putting down an empowering female character!” thing. This is an analysis on her human behavior versus her animal behavior thing. Being away from human contact for so long, she shouldn’t be so well integrated that she can easily make eye contact with someone, or easily approach someone UNLESS her fight-or-flight response is triggered.
And let’s not ignore the biggest “Fuck You!” to logic in Teen Wolf history–the Stalia scene in the asylum.
Do you see why this is problematic now? Malia, who was a wonderful opportunity to introduce a great female character, turned out to be a complete tool–and not in the useful sense. Her character is being written and used in ways that we as fans don’t like. And it’s downright sad.
Since I’m going to focus more on the female characters, I’m not going to touch on Stiles–as fans we know what he’s been through. If you are not (I’d be really surprised otherwise) someone who knows what I mean, I am here to inform you that the fandom consensus deems that Stiles is mentally unprepared for an emotional relationship–he killed innocent people against his will, attempted to kill people most important to him, and succeeded in one–the worst part? He remembers every second of it. So one would think he’d focus on getting better, right? Instead of hooking up with a feral girl from the woods?
Which brings me to my next point–I got really annoyed when I read something that said orgasms could be very healing. And you know what–totally. But here’s a thought: Malia shouldn’t be there for that.
Wouldn’t it be nice if Malia was what we thought she was and was not a romantic interest for Stiles? Wouldn’t it be nice if we saw that slow, realistic development and Peter trying to get her to understand? Wouldn’t it be nice to see how Malia reacts to everything in a very primitive, animalistic way? Terrified, aggressive, submissive, comfortable. It would be great to see her actually integrating back into society, learning how to speak, how to properly react and think rationally. She can survive in the wild, but this isn’t the wild anymore. Wouldn’t that be a great Malia? Feeling completely naked without her Coyote skin.
Susan Strong from Adventure Time is a great example.
So let’s be real here, guys. We don’t hate Malia because she’s a girl with Stiles–we hate Malia because she’s written badly–and I’m not saying my interpretation of what she should have been is way better. What I am saying is that there are so many different avenues, and they decided on this problematic cop-out.
Honestly? They should have just changed how she was introduced to the show, if they wanted to use Malia in this way. Our impression of Malia led to assumptions that led to disappointments. When it comes to a character with a complex origin like Malia, you don’t want to take the easy way out–you want to be real about who the character is. Fast-forwarding her mentality for the sake of being a love interest? Isn’t Malia much more than that?
Apparently not, because that would be awesome. And awesome can’t happen on Teen Wolf if it means romance can’t happen.