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If they brought in Red, who is pretty much the embodiment of sexuality and being comfortable with one’s sexuality for the show, and whose own identity strugges have been addressed (…)
Maybe a reason, why they didn’t quite know what to do with this character anymore. Although there is still the matter of falling in love again, after all, and very traumatic, Red killed her first love – I can see some character story material in this, the struggle to trust herself when in love. Despite that in some ways Red is one of the emotionally most grown-up characters on the show, besides Charming, though her Ruby side is another matter. That Red is someone who seemed to handle some things better in the first aftermath of the Dark Curse broken in Storybrook made sense, she already knows something about handling duality, different personas. It’s in my view the biggest mistake of this show so far, that they rushed all the adventure stories, instead of taking a moment longer to dwell on how the characters with two identities/memory sets deal with their different personas. IMO they unnecessarily sacrificed season 2 the moment they knew they had the rights for Peter Pan and Neverland, and rushed to play with one of their most favorite toys (and subsequently they didn’t develop the potential of Neverland either). Something they can’t undo, chance missed, and in this case there is no second chance, now even less after they moved the story on with a jump of a year.
They should create a show for Red and let Jane Espenson take the captain’s seat on it. Just saying. And now better take a deep breath before I think even more about how they missed chances… (or should find time to write fanfiction)
Anyway. Interesting, that you see Red as embodiment of sexuality. I agree, but at the same time it is somewhat of a cliche to think of the person who has a bit of an animalistic side to her as the one who is that.
The fairy tale of Little Red Riding Hood is understood as a cautionary tale, warning to girls and adolescent women, the wolf seen as sexual predator. As kid I already loved Little Red, because it had a wolf in it (I am a born dog and wolf fan), and because I identified in some ways with Red (getting distracted, being a merry dreamer, strolling or roaming the woods was something I could relate to). But as much I hated the fairy tale for the story and that the wolf was made the bad guy in it. So I retold it when I was barely in primary school, and with a happy ending for the wolf. In my version Red and the wolf fall in love, and they leave the village together to live happily ever after in a place, where people accept the wolf as he is (psychologists might have fun with my childhood fantasies, I turned most of the bad guys into misunderstood beings, who then got a happy ending in my book)
Vampires and werewolfs have a particular erotic nature but are deemed unable of true love, and they are often not limited in their desires to one gender but more or less bisexual. They are the seductive condemned beast or supernatural creature, charming, sensual, but deadly, eventually tortured souls but evil doers. The lesbian vampire is a frequently used trope in exploitation films, but as well it has been used to explore same gender love like in the 1871 novella Carmilla. Female werewolfs are lesser known, the wild, raw nature more depicted as something male, masculine. It probably goes less well along with the image of the nurturing mother wolf, which can be found in mythology, like in the story of Romulus and Remus. On the other hand Valkyries have sometimes been brought in connection with wolfs, riding them.
In Platon’s Symposium Sokrates discusses love, eros, and distinguishes the vulgar eros, the more or less animalistic form, physical attraction for physical pleasures, and the devine eros, transcending the physical existence for a love of paramount beauty. The latter is also known as platonic love, although sometimes misunderstood as a love without any physical attraction, which is not quite right, it can start with physical attraction but then goes beyond physical desires. Our ideas of “pure” true love have something to do with this differentiation, it made its way into Christian philosophy, was expressed in the Minnesang in the High Middle Ages and echoes in our modern understanding or concept of love.
The supernatural seductive beasts stand in for the animalistic side of eros – it is not much of a wonder that in the Victorian Era with its strange mix of rigid morality, prudery, and romanticism and mysticism some of the best known gothic novels were produced.
A good but lesser known novel with a female werewolf is the 1896 novel The Were-Wolf by Clemence Housman (writer, illustrator and suffragette). The werewolf, White Fell is a complex strong female character, someone should make movie of it. It ends though tragically, of course, for the wolf – but also for her main antagonist. Highly recommend reading it, it’s public domain and can be found here It reads a bit like a fairy tale. (And maybe shouldn’t tell of it, because, when you read it, you will see, it can inspire ideas for a connection of Red and Elsa, friendship or romance, so should write a fanfiction)
It was a brilliant idea to make Red the wolf, and a friendly wolf, but I am not sure if A&E knew, what they were doing, or maybe they did, or some people around them did. Female sexuality (in the sense of activity) is still depicted more as something more passive, discrete and low-key. If women are shown as more active it is often more as variation of the femme fatale trope, aggressive, masculine, enticing but destructive for whoever is their “prey” and themselves. Or they are serving in some way, and sometimes do both. Women are more objects of desire and less the ones desiring, and if the latter seldom in any good way.
Ruby is more of the classical kind of approach, free minded but too free minded while somewhat insecure, in fiction a stereotypical future victim of assault, the single, young woman of lesser social status, struggling to make a living by waiting on towns people and passing through strangers in some diner. These young women don’t dress properly for a decent community, skirts too short, pants too tight, clothes colorful (and often red or redish pink, or blue jeans), makeup and hair flashy, cheap and proletarian.
Red as the wolf is a predator, Ruby is prey.
As the wolf Red became a predator, but they kept characteristics of Little Red Riding Hood for Red as well. She is a friendly, helpful, open-minded (or naive) person, cheerful, adventurous, dreamy. Though her predator side is something she struggles at first with, and how much of a predator and danger she is made more than clear when they made her kill her first love. There is the destructive beast, and her mother is shown later as a bit more on that side of the spectrum. But when Red turns into a wolf to help Charming escape, or just in recent episode to help to rescue Emma, we see a positive side of the beast, the usefulness and advantage of her wolf skills in some situations.
It is ambivalent to work with cliches, on the other hand sometimes it’s exactly the right thing to do but maybe in a playful manner. When Joss Whedon created Buffy he did that, the blonde petite became the powerful hero, the stereotype prey turned deadly successful hunter. As it is a stereotype to make the female warrior a queer character it would be cliche to make the (were-) wolf one, but certainly Red was on my list of candidates since season 1.