What is wrong with ‘The Handmaids tale’? Or how feminist literature got outsmarted by a bunch of damned dirty apes.

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Before Hulu can get the ball rolling on their own classic, speculative sci-fi and market their own book to telly series for those after a bit more than blood and tits I thought I’d put forward my own thoughts on where their story goes wrong. No I haven’t seen the show, yes I am going off the book so yes chances are this may be full of spoilers but no it shouldn’t affect anything major in ……………….

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For those who don’t know the ‘tale’, the story follows young woman ‘Offred’ living in a dark twisted version of the United States; where women are viewed as property of the men. Now I’m not a huge fan of the novel for various reasons but the main one I shall explain here and before anyone worries that I’m some he-man woman hater bashing this book for its feminist view you’ll be glad to know that he-man ‘Mary Sue’ Logan made the same mistake in Old Man Logan.

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For those who didn’t know, that book is also set in a dark twisted version of the future United States, though thankfully in that one Logan is not kept for breeding purposes. Instead in that one the villains of the Marvel Universe have gotten together and taken over with Red Skull at the top and brain damaged, “cousin loving”, Hulk at the bottom. One of the last heroes left breathing is James “I’m the best at what I do bub” Howlett unwilling to pop a claw or raise a fist, trying to eek out a living for him, his wife and his son. For much of the tale of his road trip across America with, now blind, Hawkeye the question is why; until half way through when the story is laid out for us. It seems to take out the entire X-brand it just took one c-list Spidy villain; Mysterio.

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Using his powers of illusions and the like he was able to make Wolverine believe the mansion was under attack. Logan then jumped to the defence of the young students and thus slaughtered everyone and everything within range. Yup the worlds most powerful telepaths, beings able to shoot enough raw energy to punch through mountains, former Avengers all taken out by someone who isn’t even trying to fight said people but thinks he’s fighting completely different people with completely different powers. That’s like remembering Storm can call down the lightning, ride on wind currents but is afraid of enclosed spaces and trying to use that tactic to take out The Hulk. Likewise we also flash back to Offred’s life before the regime change and how women’s rights and freedoms were chipped away with only a single parade in protest as they were stripped of land, money, jobs and eventually their own names all in modern day United States of America.

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The thing is if you don’t tell us a story of how all went to hell in a hand basket we can’t pick holes in it. Look at ‘Planet of the Apes’ before Serkis, before Caesar and thankfully before Burton; the original told of how apes came to be on top with about one or two lines and a very wobbly sense of how far off they were. In ‘1984’ Winston Smith doesn’t know what year it is, how or when the party came to power or if he was even there to see it; only holding on to the belief that he once saw an aeroplane as a child. While Offred is old enough to remember and have grown up in what we would call normality.

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Just like Old Man Logan took a pair of scissors to our willing suspenders of disbelief by asking us to accept that Wolverine took out the entire X-mansion without even realising it ‘Handmaids Tale’ asks us to accept a modern day America that would go along with fifty percent of it’s population being stripped of title and possession and that’s not counting what they do to Jews, African Americans and homosexuals. Heck at least Old Man Logan leaves the fate of the rest of the world ambiguous giving the impression that help isn’t coming from outside because there is no outside left; at least anyone who cares. Whilst 1984 pretty much states that it’s exactly the same out there as it is in here with its two other super powers joining in on the musical chairs version of world war three to keep the citizenry suppressed. Meanwhile ‘Handmaid’s’ asks us to accept a world that not only let this happen without a word but is content to send over smiling tourists in short shorts and carrying cameras to a country which affords women no rights and murders “deviants” by the boat load. I mean when was the last time you booked a flight to North Korea and some would argue that one of the first things dictators will do in this day and age is start to close borders not advertise in Thomas Cook.

Now I get the story is supposed to be speculative, that you’re supposed to pay more attention to the morale and the message than the story but if that’s the case then you shouldn’t lead us by the nose down a path of stupid and slightly unbelievable decisions to a place we can’t see ourselves going. The more vague you make it the more we can fill in the gaps or at least concentrate on the story to hand.

But what do I know, I’m a sci-fi fan so I’m out of my depth once books stop dealing in meaningless nonsense like spaceships and talking squids and start trying to mean something.

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