Thursday, April 15, 2021

The Witcher (Netflix) and Ableism


1. I've never read any of The Witcher books, and the only video game I played of the series was the third one.
2.  Spoilers and ableism abound.
I liked The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, even with what I thought were a couple of hints of ableism. The world is massive, magic flows, and there still might exist a happily ever after for old, jaded heroes. I put many hours into the video game, so I thought the show would be enjoyable. I wasn't prepared for Yennefer.

Yennefer is the disfigured and disabled daughter of a poor farmer. People around her are cruel to her, and her own stepfather sells her to a witch for a song, not caring what the witch plans to do with her. But then, Yen is taken to a school for possible magic users. 

Yennefer exists in the video games as an able-bodied, non-disfigured sorceress who is quite bitchy. I wasn't even sure the character from the game and the character in the show were the same at first. But, they are. In a world of magic, I suppose no one believes there is a reason to stay in an imperfect body.

I watched on, hoping with a sinking feeling that it would be at least handled well. Yennefer gets a semi-boyfriend and gains a friend among the mages. She learns, even though she seems to possess only slight ability in the realm of magic, she is quite talented. She begins to flourish.

As she steps into her power, she becomes unbearable. She finds herself believing she is too good for the man who likes her (maybe). She sacrifices her friend when she figures out she has true power but her friend does not. Yennefer goes to a mage and gives up her fertility so he can make her appear "normal" and uses her new appearance to help her weasel her way into a better job.

I'm not a fan of "cure" narratives. There are plenty of other backstories to give a character to explain their motivations. But, no matter how much I dislike the idea of a cure being shoved into stories, what I really couldn't stand was how they made Yen insufferable and implied it was her disability/disfigurement causing her personality "issues". I understand past treatment and trauma can inform choices, but I felt it was sloppy writing. She's basically a crip with a chip on her shoulder while no longer being disabled/disfigured.

Ableist tropes all in one magical package of bullsh*t.

No comments:

Post a Comment