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RECAP: Degrassi’s Gaming Club has won a spot at Regionals, but the team fears they stand no chance because of their outdated computers. Hunter decides to start a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for new hardware and succeeds, but he runs into a problem: the Feminist Club believes the game they play promotes misogyny and violence against women.  At an emergency student council meeting Goldi says the game’s sexualized violence can be triggering to sexual assault victims. Hunter says everything can be a trigger, and while he compares things that could be triggers to him based on his outsider status, he also comments on how Goldi’s hijab could trigger him into thinking she’d blow up the school. Later, Yael stops Hunter as he starts destroying computer equipment and tells him to figure out a way to fix things. Hunter tries to apologize, but talks himself into a corner again when he says there aren’t many female gamers because guys are naturally better at video games. The Gaming Club is shut down, and while his friends are still in his corner the only thing that’s on Hunter’s mind is revenge.

dnc106-1aHunter’s plot in #NotAllMen begins to lay the foundation for Degrassi: Next Class’ most critical storyline. This series venturing into hot-button social issues means reactions will be strong, not just from the characters, but from viewers passionately for or against either side of the debate.  #NotAllMen is about more than just tackling GamerGate, or addressing a real-life situation where a Degrassi actor was caught saying racist things during a video game livestream.  This storyline is a fascinating representation of how people with opposing viewpoints interact with each other, in real life and online.

During the student council meeting, both Goldi and Hunter make valid points.  The trashtalk the gaming club engaged in (“hike up your skirt,” etc.), while extremely tame compared to what I’ve heard people say in online multiplayer, is still unnecessary. It’s true that the game’s violence against the female characters could be triggering to female assault victims. However, what Hunter said about how anything could be a trigger for anyone is also true.

The prevalence of social media has given a public voice to everyone with the swipe of a few keys. At what point though do concerns over triggers turn into coddling, or suppressing anything and everything because someone doesn’t like it? When people are outraged over a damn cup, it’s safe to say that if there’s something happening in the world, no matter how insignificant, you can surely find someone who’s offended by it.

dnc106-1bWhat isn’t okay though is while Hunter gives examples of what could be triggers for him, based on his experience as the guy everyone in that meeting has deemed a loser, is making a stereotypical terrorist comment toward Goldi. He apologizes later and I get what he was trying to say, but the fact he didn’t realize a comment like that said with an aggressive tone would be frowned upon (on top of his awful male vs. female gamer comparison) just points again to his lack of social skills.  Goldi is intelligent, well-spoken and knows how to get her point across clearly.  Hunter’s reactions are fueled with anger; he freaks out after someone won’t donate computer hardware, lashes out at the student council meeting and smashes keyboards afterward.  And because the people in his club are seen as losers at Degrassi, Hunter sees someone trying to take away the one thing they’re good at as a personal attack.

If Hunter were able to communicate his thoughts more effectively he would’ve been able to save the club, even with Goldi unwilling to compromise her stance on the game. However, because he comes across as angry and hostile toward an opposing opinion, something a lot of people do when engaging others online, any great points he made get lost in the fact he’s viewed as a nutjob who can’t control his temper.

There’s a tender moment with the Gamer Club in the final scene when Vijay, Baaz and Yael thank Hunter for sticking up for them. The young gamers use gaming terms to describe real-life situations, with every obstacle being referred to as a “battle.” The downside is with Hunter as their leader, someone who lacks general coping skills, the plan of attack for this battle brings the concept of “destroy your enemy” to life.

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RECAP: Zoë’s mom doesn’t want Zoë hanging out with Grace because she doesn’t want people thinking Zoë’s gay.  The news leaves Zoë bummed out and wishing she could talk to her dad. She doesn’t know who he is, but she’s convinced it’s actor David Sutcliffe (Gilmore Girls). Zoë and Grace go to his trailer to find out the truth, and while it turns out he isn’t her father, he does give her advice: live your own life. Zoë feels as if she’s going to be alone because she has no father and she can’t hang out with Grace, but Grace says she’s still there for her and the two kiss.

dnc106-2bThis is kind of a weird plot, but Degrassi goes back to addressing Zoë Rivas from her early days. When she first came to Degrassi, Zoë was alone and just wanted to fit in.  With her mom being homophobic, it paints Zoë into a difficult corner. She feels like she’s going to be unloved by her mom because of her sexuality as Ms. Rivas also wants Zoë to stop hang around Grace, easily the most-important relationship she’s had since coming to Degrassi.

David Sutcliffe plays himself in this storyline and serves as the voice of reason. “It’s your life not hers,” he tells Zoë. “And you can only ever make yourself happy.” As we saw with Shay in #NotOkay, not everyone is bold enough to go against their parents, but the fact Zoë is willing to be vulnerable and take risks shows she’s still growing.

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RECAP: Jonah asks Frankie to volunteer at a teen addiction center and she agrees. However, Frankie also has Shay begging her to accompany her, Tiny and Lola to The Dot so Shay doesn’t have to sit alone through the torture of watching Tiny and Lola together. At The Dot, Frankie gets impatient and says its silly she’s stuck in Shay’s drama and not helping Jonah. Shay strikes back and says it’s the least Frankie could do after having to sit through Frankie mourning over her breakup with Winston over the past month. When Frankie shows up to volunteer after the event is over, Jonah’s angry with her, and tells her that she’s still miserable because she wants to be. When Frankie goes home she unexpectedly runs into Winston and she ends up spilling her feelings to him. She wishes her life could go back to the way things were last year, and Winston agrees before walking away.

dnc106-3aI didn’t initially like this plot all that much because the Shay/Lola drama seems to cut into the Frankie/Jonah stuff. However, trying to look at it from an alternate angle poses the question, “What if that’s the point?”

My frustration with what’s happening here is parallel to the frustration Frankie’s dealing with in this situation.  In this episode, Frankie is literally torn between trying to support Shay and helping Jonah. From an emotional standpoint she also feels stuck in the middle between who she’s becoming and who everyone wants her to be.

dnc106-3bBoth Shay and Jonah make remarks about how miserable Frankie has been. Shay pointed out Frankie’s been mourning her breakup with Winston for a month, leading into Jonah’s comment about Frankie being addicted to the drama of misery. The situation where Franie chooses to help Shay over Jonah shows that Frankie keeps talking about how she’s not the same, but she’s also not trying to move forward either.

Frankie’s pain is surely real, but Jonah’s angry because Frankie’s afforded the luxury of wallowing in her self pity, while the teens at the addiction center are eager to (and must) change for the better. The conversation with Winston finally presents Frankie with two clear choices: go back to the way things were, or finally move on.

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Posted by Kary

9 Comments

  1. So I think the big point against Goldi and her well intentioned point of view is pretty much why Grace is a better feminist character than Goldi is. Grace, in every plot she’s been the voice of social reason and acceptance, is working from a place of trying to help specific people. Goldi was there last plot (they set up that the bathroom issue was a real issue with real victims even if Goldi was heavy handed in her arguments), but this plot she has no ‘victims being triggered’ to hold up, even in the plot, to say why the Gamer Club needs to disband.

    Grace, every time, has an actual person in mind to help when she’s doing her bit. Usually its Zig and Tiny, because the boys are idiots and need a kick in the pants from reality. She did it in YesMeansYes, she did it again when the boys were teasing Maya about Miles being ‘gay,’ she did it when Zoe was sexually assaulted. But in each instance her actions were designed to help real live people, and not just hypothetical people who might be triggered by animated violence on a computer screen.

    The second issue with Goldi is that we don’t really know why she fights this hard, because she hasn’t been established yet. And the third is she doesn’t know how to compromise. Hunter gave her an apology, and gave her a middle ground. He and his would mind their language and not say any more sexist nonsense. She then insisted he should change to a game that isn’t covered in the league they play in, and found it insulting that removing the female avatars would remove female representation in the game. Meaning that, in the end, she wanted it all and wouldn’t accept anything less.

    Now then, notice how I’m not defending Hunter (except that he did come up with a well thought out compromise), because Hunter pretty much is impossible to defend due to his… slew of issues that come up across this arc. But this is a battle that, overall, could have been avoided if Goldi wasn’t actively seeking out fights.

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    1. Goldi bugged me also. Obviously the real point was that Hunter raged out when first confronted. if he had made the offers to compromise in the meeting then he likely would have won, especially since it was right before Nationals so the season was mostly over anyway. (which was why the whole thing was ridiculous. Doubt a school would shut something like that down right before nationals for things that they failed to have issue with all season before.)

      But she complained about the female skins being attacked and said it could be a trigger with no proof anyone was upset because of that. Maya was friends with Zoey, someone who had been raped. Yet I didn’t see Zoey having flashbacks because the school was playing the game. Obviously that doesn’t mean someone else might not, but they were defending victims that seemingly only existed in theory. But then when Hunter mentions taking the female skins off, she attacks him for women having no representation. So basically they were damned if they do and damned if they didn’t.

      And them mentioning the team only having 1 girl, and most teams having fewer. For one the other teams lack of having girls on most of them was not the Degrassi clubs problem and hardly something they should be held responsible for. They had a girl on the team, yes 1 girl… in a team of 4. There were four people on the team and despite by Tristan’s own admission that was more than the other teams, thus proving Degrassi’s club clearly did not share the hangup other teams were implied to have, apparently they were at fault for not having two in a team of 4 instead of 1. Was one of the guys supposed to step down just before nationals so they could have an even 2 of 2. Did any other girls even try out for the team in the first place? It is not a popular extra curricular for girls to begin with. If they had 3 girls and 1 guy would they have been at fault then? Apparently “Equality doesn’t always mean equal” unless you are a team of 4 people then you HAVE TO have 2 of them be girls instead of 1. The whole thing was ridiculous. And yes the real point was probably that Hunter didn’t handle it calmly in the hearing, in which case he could have exposed her ridiculous and unreasonable argument. But he raged whenever challenged.

      But while realistic the whole arguments the feminist made to it was a lot of the reason that many people have the opinion Maya initially had. Because too many modern day feminist instead of worrying about real injustices done to women get hung up fighting over “first world feminist” problems which is why they struggle to be taken seriously.

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    2. I also think Goldi went too far. I’m not a fan of video games myself, but it is true video games are very violent..the thing is it’s not just against women; video games have everything in it from racism to sexism and all in between. I understand she’s just in high school, but these problems like not enough bathrooms (which i have NEVER heard of) for girls to video games are such first world problems, while there are many girls who actually have real issues. Maybe in the future since she comes from a Muslim background she’s passionate for women’s issues but right now I’ve lost respect for her. Episode one she was great, telling that annoying SOB Tristan off.
      I do feel bad for Hunter; his home life is messed up, his older brother is an irresponsible junkie who always gets into trouble and twin sister who pretends nothing’s wrong, along with being introverted he doesn’t know how to take out stress or has no one really to relate to. He’s been forced to partake in sports which he doesn’t like (i can connect with this one) and when he finally gets do do something he does like, it’s been taken away from some 2 girls. Most gaming junkies are guys; but it’s hard to believe there aren’t other geeky girls in the school who likes K-pop and video games, the sex ratio isn’t THAT large, or maybe on TV girls can never be geeks? The club is only 4 people, 1 of which was a girl and 2 brown guys, one of which is gay! Seriously? If they really want equality, then those who enter the club shud be allowed in due to skill and not for gender. It’s reasons like that people don’t respect feminism.
      I also do think Goldi is the real trouble maker here and not Maya. Maya seems like she can’t think for herself. You can’t always agree in what another person does. As another comment here said, u can’t tell a footballer to play something else i wouldn’t be football then wudn’t it..

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  2. Kary, I’d love to see a post about your thoughts on the whole Gamer Club issue. You’re generally very fair and rational and I’d love to read a post about your overall thoughts on the debate. Your insight is always welcomed. In fact it’s one of the reasons I generally return to this blog.

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  3. At first, I thought little of Ms. Rivas’s homophobic remarks, but after it was revealed that she lied about Zoe’s parentage, I was intrigued. I have a theory that Mrs. Rivas is closeted, herself. It would appear that she had aspirations to be an actor, but perhaps was afraid of what would happen to her career if she was ever out. So she’s stayed in the closet all these years and pushed Zoe so hard with her acting because she was living vicariously through her. The fact that Zoe has never even *met* her dad and doesn’t know who he is makes me assume that he wasn’t in the picture to begin with. I think that Ms. Rivas hasn’t told Zoe about her dad is because he was a sperm donor, and telling her daughter that would mean needing to come out. Saying that Zoe was the product of a heterosexual fling with another actor allows her to stay in the closet, because she never thought Zoe would ever try to track him down. The fact that she’s very religious also makes me think that she either came from a family where religion prevailed, or that she later turned to God so ardently because she was trying to “pray the gay away”, so to speak. The fact that Zoe’s interaction with Grace seemed to trigger such discomfort makes me think that it reminded her of what she’s been hiding. I don’t think that many straight parents would think much of their daughter and her friend teasing each other, but when you’re gay and closeted, I think you kind of become hypersensitive to those kinds of interactions. You can read between the lines better, because those interactions carry a different meaning to you.

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    1. Not sure that is where they went with it but it could be. I did think that nothing Grace was doing really screamed that she had a crush on her… especially after the events a couple episodes later. So maybe you are right, would be interesting. I am sure that Zoey’s dad will be brought up again. Despite the fact that in real life most people with parents they never met, be it an absentee one or adopted kids most often don’t seek out their parents since they never knew them. But in TV it almost always leads to a payoff due to the nature of the beast. So it could mean more than it seems.

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  4. Great review running down all the thought-provoking issues and stories from this episode. Addressing the comments, wow, I like the sperm donor idea! I don’t think Goldi was wrong to raise the issue of misogyny or lack of female representation being intrinsic to the game being played. The specific concern about triggering might go too far without a “real victim” but I know from my own life as a gay man that media representation is an issue in and of its own. If I don’t see people like me in TV, in the movies, online, it does make me feel alienated, even though I’m not a “real victim.” Goldi did offer her own compromise to play another game, but you just don’t see it as a compromise. There’s no reason the gamer club had to compete nationally to be a valuable intramural club experience.

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    1. The issue with Goldi’s offer of a different game is, in essence, “I get that you’re a football team, but football is very violent and potentially triggering to other students, have you thought about maybe playing chess instead?” To a MOBA gamer, a party or sports game might as well be as different from planet. And, beyond that, it doesn’t matter how good a national football team is at chess, the super bowl WILL NEVER BE CHESS.

      The real female representation on the gamer team was Yael, which Goldi and Tristan ignored because Tristan doesn’t care about gaming, and Goldi just wanted to attack the club. Other than the trash talk argument, the entire attack on the gamer club was ill thought out. Although if Hunter wanted to be petty, he could have attacked Intramurals for being used to cyberbully HIM before they even got to this plot. Completely undermining the idea of why they were doing Intramural sports in the first place if there’s no desire to make Hunter a better team player when you can bully him instead.

      Hunter is a bad person, with a load of issues that need addressing and a lot of therapy in his future, that doesn’t mean Goldi was in any way right. Unless you feel represented by a purple lobsterman, video game avatars are not going to represent anyone, which is the overall flaw in this episode.

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  5. I just was talking to my brother, who plays League of Legends, which is, I’m sure at least in part, what the game here is based on. And I asked him if it was misogynistic, and his answer was, without hesitation, “Yeah, but all those games are.” Unfortunately this is a problem with the gaming industry, and not currently subject to the whims of its players. Goldi seems like an intelligent, thoughtful person, from the little we know of her so far, but she’s also a bit of a crusader. If she had done some research before making her case, she could have come up with a better compromise or would have had a better understanding of the territory.

    That said, Hunter is a character who has consistently never done himself any favors, and that only continues here. I actually really like the inclusion of his character on the show, because he’s an albeit more extreme version of a lot of guys I’ve known. While he occasionally reaches Kevin (http://bit.ly/1ZIB4cp) levels of animosity, most of it is pretty true to life. He’s a really, really angry kid and I don’t think he even understands why he’s so angry. I’ll speak to this on later episode reviews, but I think it’s interesting to equally come at this from his perspective as much as anyone else’s. But this episode is particularly interesting in his clear inability to express himself the way he would like. He knows he’s said the wrong things, but even in his attempts to apologize or right his wrongs, he only says things that make it worse.

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