One character in the latter seasons, though, is keeping me up at night - and not in a good way. The character of Hailey Upton - a tough young cop who was meritously promoted to detective after a year on an undercover assignment (as opposed to by time on the job and/or conventional experience). She is the newest addition to the team. Unfortunately she's also the most arrogant. The writers seem to have failed to give this decent actress the opportunity to flesh out a character - as I saw one astute fan online put it, she has three dimensions: angry, angrier, and bitchy. And that's about it. Is that what the writers think a strong woman looks like?
What disturbs me about the Upton character is two-fold: I see a fan-base of millennial-age women cheering her as "ass-kicking", tough as nails, some sort of female hero icon; secondly, I see a societal trend toward some forms of abuse being acceptable by virtue of one's gender; like so many societal shifts, it is first illustrated in things like music and TV shows.
|Hailey Upton, played by Tracy Spiridakos.|
But those traits are traits we traditionally think of as feminine. And because traditional forms of
feminine identity are now frowned upon, these traits aren't "cool" enough. That means that in place of things like self-sacrifice, compassion, empathy, self-control . . . young women have put aggression, intolerance (for anything they themselves deem not in keeping with their kick-ass view of things), controlling, self-aggrandizement, and impatience. They see a TV character who screams at men, "puts them in their place" (never mind that, as in the case of Hailey Upton, the men are usually just good men trying to do right in the world), and aggressively pushes her own agenda in peoples' faces, as the ideal woman.
|Upton, no doubt bitching out Rusek (Patrick John Flueger) as usual.|
The writers have not offered the male character so much as the opportunity to say to the little witch: "Look, your rank be damned, you speak to me like that again, this is OVER." No.... he is simply expected to shake his head and take it. Over and over and over. I am angry about it as a fan, because it is so disrespectful to his character - who really would not take this. He's a gentleman - he'd give her the benefit of having a bad day the first time. But after that?
And this is my larger point: Upton continues to perform what amounts to real emotional battering upon Ruzek, week after week. And I guarantee, if we had a male character emotionally bash a female with whom he was sleeping, week after week - there would be a huge fan outcry. He would not be seen as a "strong male". He'd be seen as an abusive jerk. And that is exactly what Hailey Upton is. But in the modern PC up-is-down male-is-female wrong-is-right culture we are in, we can have a character abusing another and make a hero out of the abuser - just as long as the genders are arranged correctly.
|Dawson and Rusek, about to surprise some perps.|