I’m starting with Carmen because hers is one of the clearest stories. The imagery in her tale is very telling, and we can use it as a benchmark against the other tales when trying to figure out what they may mean. Here is her bio from the website:
Eugh. I know this girl. She drove me nuts in high school. These are the unbelievably hot girls who would find the biggest, strongest, best-looking complete jerk they could get their hands on, and then endlessly whine about how “men are such pigs”. They would usually aim these complaints at other girlfriends or at guys like me, thus insulting her boyfriend (for being a jerk) herself (for dating him) her friends (for dating men, who are all pigs) and me. (Because evidently I didn’t count as a man, since I wasn’t included in the “pig count”.) Thoughtless and short-sighted.
This is the kind of girl who would flirt with men to drive them crazy, and who would delight if they fought over her. Selfish to the core, she didn’t actually care about the men in question, and was thrilled with the way their violence made her feel valuable. Endlessly shallow, frustrating, and self-destructive, these girls did not do well beyond high school. A few leveled out. A lot had deeply dysfunctional relationships either because they constantly craved attention (which isn’t actually all that healthy to simply want men to PAY ATTENTION to you all the time, whether you are in a relationship with them or not) or because of their terrible taste in men. I was angry at them at seventeen. I feel sorry for them at thirty-seven. Carmen is an ultimately tragic figure.
Her wolf is the classic forester, the supposed hero of the Red Riding hood story. Carmen comes upon his camp, drinks beer with him, fade to black. Because of my knowledge of the tale, I at first assumed she was raped. But after going over it several times in my mind, I’m convinced this is not the case.
Note that Carmen enters the camp and is completely ignored by the forester. He does not leer. He does not offer her any of his beer. He doesn’t do anything to make her feel welcome. He keeps working. But Carmen helps herself. She flirts with him, swiping his hat and putting it on herself. Again, he seems to take this in stride and doesn’t do anything threatening. He’s got an axe. It would have been very, very easy for him to appear threatening. But he never once gave her an unsettling look. Sure, he kept using his axe (on the trees) but he’s a forester and we just walked into his camp. Do you go to a shooting range and cry out, “OH MY GOSH THIS PLACE IS FILLED WITH CRAZED GUNMEN!” The fact that he’s so involved with his work is also notable because she is trying to provoke a reaction out of him.
She then lights the campfire, sits down, and drinks some more of the guy’s beer. (Note that these things can happen in a slightly different order, depending on where you walk. But the picture it paints is still the same.) At last he comes, sits down, and gives her a beer and has one himself. Unlike Ruby’s wolf (we’ll talk about him later) this guy does not seem to be making any effort to persuade Carmen to do anything. He’s not leaning towards her, coming on to her, or even looking at her improperly. They sit together and sip their beer as the camera drifts away and we FADE TO BLACK.
Did they have sex? Well, at grandma’s house, we see a bunch of crazy imagery. Including this:
|Do we really need to call on the Power of Freud for this? You know, sometimes a huge wooden shaft penetrating a bed is just a cigar.|
O-kay, then. I think we can go ahead and say they had sex. The non-rape kind. During the spooky funhouse parade of disturbing imagery, we hear moaning, and it is not frightened or in pain or suffering but, you know, sex sounds. Looking at her bio and her behavior at the campsite, I think it’s very clear that she came on to him. She got a brain full of beer, lost her head, and forgot to stop flirting. This does not excuse the forester for sharing his beer and hooking up with a (in some states) underage girl. I hope I don’t need to list all of his crimes, but I don’t think he’s a rapist or an axe murderer. In fact, his strength and power isn’t what made him dangerous – it’s what attracted her to him. It looks like he’s a lonely simpleton who had a hot young girl throw herself at him.
I would say that Carmen’s “wolf” isn’t so much the forester himself, but the fact that her first sexual experience was a stupid, reckless one-nighter with an older guy, which is not an uncommon outcome for the sort of girl I described above.
Carmen may turn out all right in the long run. If you look at her post-wolf pose in the long walk to the house, she’s holding the back of her neck. She’s not feeling violated or injured. She’s hung over. She’s got a terrible headache and probably a double helping of regret, but she’s not physically hurt.
Maybe she’ll sneer that “men are all pigs”, and then go find the next wolf in her life. But maybe this one bad experience will make her more careful. Maybe now that she’s tried sex and the mystery is gone she’ll calm down, level out, and be more careful. Maybe the craving for male attention will fade now that she sees where it goes. She’s not the introspective sort, but just a spark of it could go a long way to helping her to find meaning in this mistake, and happiness later on.
A video Let's Play series I collaborated on from 2009 to 2017.
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Batman: Arkham City
A look back at one of my favorite games. The gameplay was stellar, but the underlying story was clumsy and oddly constructed.