10 Things I Hate About Vala

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The truth of the matter is, I don’t actually hate Vala. I wouldn’t say that I adore her, but I don’t think she’s evil and must be slain. She was certainly entertaining…at first. My problems with Vala stem more from a feasibility standpoint, though since she departed I have had time to think of all the reasons why Vala is NOT a good thing for Stargate (and its fandom) and why she’s not really an example of a female role model. In no particular order:

10. She’s a thief. We’ve known this from the start. Maybe she’s had a rough existence and that’s the reason for the manner in which she chose to live her life. Yeah, that’s right. She chose. The members of SG-1 have gone through their own shit, yet they have managed to avoid blatant thievery for their own selfish gain. (I don’t say they’re innocent, I say they’ve chosen a bit of a higher path to walk…)

9. She’s a liar. We’ve also known this from the start, and the instant she walked through the Stargate at the beginning of S9 she was already lying. She is a deceiver…and it’s been demonstrated that SG-1 already view her this way. Had she not continuously lied to them, they might have actually listened to her in the episode Beachhead. Why would they take time to listen to someone who’s proven herself untrustworthy?

8. She brings out the worst in Daniel. Say you love the banter all you want, do you really enjoy seeing Daniel so miserable? REALLY? Because I don’t. I like Daniel, and I don’t like him to be constantly aggravated. Now that they’ve very firmly established this aggravation, how am I supposed to believe Daniel’s going to be A-OK with Vala at the SGC permanently? Not saying it can’t be done”¦just saying TPTB have to prove it and we all know how good they are at that.

7. She’s got no morals I can relate to. She’s a user. She uses people to get what she wants, and sometimes (probably very often) she uses her body to do it. Not someone I consider a role model. No, she’s closer to being someone I consider a prostitute.

6. She’s “˜fun’ (aka annoying). I admit, this one isn’t really a hate against her so much as me not understanding how people who continually wail for the drama to return to Stargate think that bringing Vala back full-time”¦because she’s fun”¦expect that to ever happen with her around, at least the way they like her. I was bored to tears by the latest episode, which was All About Vala in a more subdued fashion.

5. She’s a scene-stealer. Think about it. Every single episode she’s been in has ultimately revolved around her. Sure, Daniel had a goodly chunk of the first bit of S9, but the episodes were just as much, if not more, about her. I don’t want to watch a show about her. I want to watch a show about Daniel, Teal’c and Sam.

4. She’s bearing the clichéd alien baby. How many actresses become pregnant and they manage to write around it, disguise it? Oh, no. The TPTB thought it would be smashing to let her be pregnant”¦with a baby that’s apparently going to be key in upcoming arcs. See #5.

3. The romance factor. People are free to see Daniel and Vala as their one true pairing all they want. I don’t see what they see (frankly, I find the pairing JUST as offensive as Jack and Sam), but they can enjoy it. What concerns me about it is, once again, TPTB. Look what happened when they hopped right on the Jack and Sam bandwagon. Just like I can’t trust Vala to be anything more than a lying thief, I can’t trust TPTB not to meddle with romance and the mere thought of it makes me shudder.

2. Fargate. Mitchell has fairly well been crowned the king of Stargate. It’s shaping up to be his adventure”¦with those other sad sacks who’ve been on the show for 8-9 years, yawn, who’d find them interesting anymore anyway? Add Vala, who’s got everyone saying things like “˜she’s fresh and real and blah blah’ and I can’t help but worry TPTB are going to be so excited to have “˜fresh, new’ toys to play with, they’ll start ignoring the core of the show even more. The core should be Daniel and Teal’c and Sam,not the new blood. If only because the show started with them, it should end with them and not the newbies.

1. Equal and opposite. Perhaps this ties back to the scene-stealing hate, but it bears repeating. Vala provokes reactions from everyone around her, which means they aren’t being themselves so much as they’re simply players in her game. They lose themselves in reacting to her, and the show then become All About Vala. Example: Crusade was an hour of Vala talking and everyone else just sitting there, reacting to her.

I don’t want to watch a show that’s all about Vala, and my greatest fear is that is precisely what we’ll get. I don’t find Vala a particularly strong character or, for that matter, a great example of a female character.

Comments

  1. says

    Personally I like the fact that she’s a thief and a liar. It’s something new for Stargate and she’s not wishy-washy like some of the other characters that have been brought in for a few episodes.

    Now, I agree that it might not necessarily be good for the fandom because it doesn’t exactly follow the Stargate mold. But that’s what I like. She’s new blood. And maybe she does steal scenes but I think that’s because she’s new, well written and not boring like some of regulars.

    I agree that I don’t want a show all about Vala or one that focuses on Mitchell. But with characters that have been around for eight or nine years, it’s easy for the writers to get lazy and make their creations boring.

    I’m not happy about the alien baby thing but I do like the relationship between Vala and Daniel. And to me, it doesn’t seem as if she really likes him. It’s more like she’s doing it because it bugs him. And we get to see another side of Daniel instead of just the nice translator.

    I think that there’s room for these new characters but their need to be seamlessly integrated into the old cast. Also, the writing for the old cast seems tired, the same old stuff. The writers need to vamp up the old characters to bring them up to snuff with the new blood.

    Just thought I’d add my two sense.

  2. telepresence says

    I don’t really see why Vala has to be a role model, especially given that they don’t particularly try to imply that she doesn’t have the negative qualities you rightly ascribe to her. I just want the character to be well written.

    As far as good or bad for Stargate fandom goes *shrug* The show has been on for 9 seasons, is lurching its way zombielike to the 10th, and is a vastly different show than when it started for reasons that have relatively little to do with Vala (or Mitchell, for that reason).

  3. Jennifer Kesler says

    My bet is that she won’t be well-written in S10, which would render the particulars moot.

    As for the role-model issue – that’s not a concern for me, either. But she needs to fit her function, whatever function that turns out to be. If she’s to join SG-1, for example, she’s got some “damn distasteful things” in her background, and we’d need a definite turn in her loyalty (from self to group), like Teal’c’s leap of blind faith from the life he knew.

    The problem of characters fitting their functions has been a big issue with this writing team, and I see no reason to believe they’ll start getting it right now. Why would they bother? The ratings stay up there, inexplicably.

  4. Jennifer Kesler says

    One thing that turned me off to her greatly was the implication that she uses sex to score business deals off of men. The reason it repulses me is that it suggests a woman having sex with men who are not physically or emotionally attractive to her – sex as a labor, not a joy on any level. That just turns me off completely.

  5. aizjanika says

    I don’t really see why Vala has to be a role model, especially given that they don’t particularly try to imply that she doesn’t have the negative qualities you rightly ascribe to her. I just want the character to be well written.

    I don’t want Vala to be a role model–or any of the characters, really. What I want is for them to stay in character and not act stupid. After all the things that Vala has done–specifically to Daniel–I can’t believe that they’d even let her on the base again. I can’t believe they let her on the base again after Prometheus Unbound–that Daniel said it was okay. And when he did, why was she not immediately taken into custody? That alone made no sense. That they gave in to her blackmail makes no sense for these characters. That they allowed themselves to be repeatedly fooled and foiled by her and still came back for more makes no sense for these characters.

    I don’t want to see more of that and just having her there will be more of that, unless the writers are a lot more clever than I tend to think. Giving her yet another sob story won’t justify her presence for me.

  6. aizjanika says

    Yes, that, too. I loved that Daniel didn’t allow himself to be swayed by that. I think he learned his lesson about that sort of thing long, long ago and I would no longer believe him to be so gullible. I hope the writers never, ever go there.

    I don’t see it as liberating to see Vala using sex in that way either. It makes me sad more than anything else.

  7. Jennifer Kesler says

    Liberating would be if she has sex anytime she feels like it, because she enjoys it. Sex for favors is in the same class as, well, cleaning toilets for favors.

    And I’ll get yelled at if anyone reads this, but the only sort of man I can imagine writing such a thing is someone who assumes women aren’t supposed to enjoy sex – sex is for male pleasure, and the woman gets her satisfaction from the fulfillment of having the baby that comes from it.

  8. Mecha says

    I don’t follow SG-1, so most of this conversation has missed me, but.

    Has it actually been established that she doesn’t enjoy sex at all on the using it for favors front (two benefits are better than one!) or is that just a reading? I mean, not that it’s particularly liberating, but a tool’s a tool’s a tool, even if one of the tools is orgasmically enjyoable in its usage. In my mind it’s a thin line of perception between a seductress (a-la Mata Hari) and a cold hard businesswoman of sex. Or just a person who’s really really emotionally damaged.

    Just wait for her to get deconstructed, she’ll be an abuse victim or something and it will explain all this away in a sympathetic ‘aww’ manner. Then you can REALLY be mad. ;)

    -Mecha

  9. Jennifer Kesler says

    From what I hear, she’s preggers with a magic baby, so I think we can rest assured the deconstruction’s begun good and proper.

    Has it actually been established that she doesn’t enjoy sex at all on the using it for favors front (two benefits are better than one!) or is that just a reading?

    Well, they haven’t come out and said she’s inorgasmic or something, but here’s where I’m getting my conclusion. There’s an ep where the following diagnosis is made on her by one of the lead characters, who she’s trying to seduce:

    “You live a solitary existence, you move from place to place, you never form any lasting relationships, you use sex as a weapon, prevent yourself from forming any real emotional bonds.”

    Earlier in that ep, it’s revealed that one of her former sex-for-favors conquests was a character played by Wallace Shawn, the short, fat, bald guy from The Princess Bride. He is not presented as attractive. It seems he fell for her, and she played him, and that was it.

    It would have been perfectly in character for her to say something along the lines of “I didn’t just use him for favors! He also happens to be spectacular in bed!” And it was a funny ep, so the idea of a short, fat, bald guy being a great lover would have been a cute throwaway.

    But no. As per usual, a sexually aggressive woman has to be psychoanalyzed, because there must be something wrong with her, some reason why she’s doing it (besides enjoyment, which isn’t nice to speak about). A sexually aggressive man requires no explanation – that’s just normal, healthy behavior, acceptable even to fundamentalists. /rolling eyes

  10. Mecha says

    Hrm. Well, not to be crude, but against a person like that sex is a fantastic weapon, and male or female if you’re committed to that path, take it. At least it’s uncompromising (would you rather she use sex as a weapon but be shallow?) I’m sort of afraid the alternative, where she is locked into only having sex with hot guys, reads like a classic ‘media slut’ (sexually aggressive without non-sexual purpose.) Is sexually aggressive with purpose (enjoyment when you can get it, progression of goals when you can’t) any worse than being characterized slutty, conceptually? To me it sorta depends on the writers as to whether either of those areas of character type can come down anything but bad… and on that, I’ll take your word on it in SG-1 that they’re doing aggressive with purpose badly. After all, your previous comments haven’t exactly inspired a huge belief in their skill with women characters. ;)

    And as to the person’s statement… see, that kind of statement is ‘TV Magic’, where a person instantly manages to analyze someone and have it become as if it were the truth. Happens a lot in shows. Someone just busts out a psychoanalysis and suddenly that’s the fact of the matter. (God, Buffy/Angel couldn’t stop doing it.) Is there a principle of sorts that backs that up in screenwriting, other than ‘we’ve only got 44 minutes of show, people, you’ve GOT to tell them what the hell to think!’ Part of me always looks at those and wants to toss them out. Who’s ever right in a spot psychoanalysis? More often you’re using them as emotional weapons to try to hit an argumentative or soft point (and that’s an excellent example of a jab, that paragraph.) Unfortunately, since the writers wrote it, unless they’re aiming for that character to be wrong… it’s probably dead on and she really is dysfunctional.

    When you said the eye-rolling paragraph, I mentally tried to think of male deconstructions to relationships… and I sorta ran into the entirety of the societal concept that ‘men don’t attach’. A lot of media just accepts that as truth (and thereby avoids judging it negatively, becuase it’s how guys are. Except in movies where you warm up the heart of a cold .) Which is a big difference to how they treat women.

    Part of me wonders, though, that if there were a woman who didn’t have any sexual hangups and was able to have sex with any person she wanted… whether that person could ever be written as to feel real. *beat* Firefly comes to mind there (Inara) but I think a prolonged focus on most peoples’ sexual habits, male or female, will reveal psychological issues underlying it. But who bothers focusing on male sexual issues except comedically? Might make the guys in the audience uncomfortable. *cough*

    -Mecha

  11. sbg says

    I guess I should clarify – I don’t think Vala is supposed to be a role model. What concerns me, and maybe this is convoluted, but it happens. Say a family is watching Stargate. Mom and Dad love Vala – they think she and everything she does is ‘fun’ and a hoot. 7-8 year old daughter sees this, and if Mom and Dad like Vala so much, Vala must be someone to emulate…therefore, she becomes a role model of sorts, whether intentioned as such or not.

    I know it’s not that black and white, but a child’s brain rarely is. Because women start out as girls, and it’s here where the foundation should be laid. If I had a daughter, I wouldn’t want her to think it’s okay to be like Vala simply because she is written well.

  12. Mecha says

    Aheh. Okay, so I can’t actually see your comment above without looking at the RSS feed. But by using the RSS feed…

    God, yes, nobody should see this woman as a role model. I can see that concern 100%. And in that sense, especially if they’re not making it clear enough that what she does isn’t normal/healthy… yeah. Walking the line between endorsement of bad acts and just having a character who isn’t cut and dry nice is a close one. Especially if the bad character is supposed to have a humorous component (which would reinforce the like reflex.)

    I don’t think I can really engage the topic too much more without seeing the show in question, so I’ll let this huge thread trail off here. ^^;

    This last part did make me wonder about a specific character (Miss Parker from Pretender) and how others would percieve her. I always liked her as a character, she’s shown as sexually aggressive, and sensitive (she always had a soft spot when it came to her mother and father, in different ways), and very dedicated to her work. Only problem is that she ostensably works for the ‘bad guys’, although you get a lot of sympathy for both sides in that show. (Can you tell I like the show? *cough*) I do wonder if others see her as positive, though.

    -Mecha

  13. Jennifer Kesler says

    I just have an aversion to the idea that women will suffer through bad sex to get what they want. It strikes me as a male fantasy, because – hello? – how often do you see men suffering through bad sex to get something they want? That only happens in comedy movies or “edgy” indies.

    The idea that women would endure bad sex just seems like… well, something men expect women to do. All too often in real life, too.

    That’s my objection, based on how it strikes me.

  14. Mecha says

    That is an incredibly good point and I can’t think of a counterexample. Ugh. Inequality rears its head again. That joke you said she could have made probably would have been made if the genders were reversed. And I can see how it links to a lot of other expectations about male/female sex and how women aren’t supposed to enjoy it, like you imply. Consider me briefly illuminated. ;)

    -Mecha

  15. Jennifer Kesler says

    A lot of these things aren’t going to strike every viewer the same way. I didn’t disagree with any of your points, actually. It was just that in this case, that’s what I felt I was seeing.

  16. sbg says

    For the record, I still don’t like Vala and I still don’t like her on the show. ;) They’ve toned her down…but I find her an unbelieveable addition to the crew. Nothing they’ve done has convinced me she should be there, and that her slate should be wiped clean.

  17. Chiff says

    I’ve been watching through SG1 and a couple of episodes into series 9 I gave up and swapped to Atlantis because Vala is SO FUCKING ANNOYING AND STEALING THE SHOW FROM EVERYONE ELSE!!!!!!!!!

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