Addendum to House article

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I recently wrote an article on an episode of House. I was feeling unusually positive that day, so I forgot to add a couple of cautionary notes:

  1. I’ve only seen three episodes of the show, and if Cameron just keeps making mistakes instead of learning, I will have to burn the creators of House in the same effigy as Robert C. Cooper and Brad Wright of Stargate embarrassment fame.
  2. I’m a bit concerned by the indications I’ve seen in those three episodes that Cameron may just be your standard Idiot Girl Who Doesn’t Get It. In one episode, she had tried to find out if House was interested in her, and that sort of none-too-professional sexual tension tends to be a hallmark of bad things to come.
  3. Today, I came across this thread, which suggests at least some viewers find Cameron to be pretty consistently clueless. Sigh. Here we go again…?

I have some mixed views on this. If Cameron is destined to make every TV-girly mistake reserved for Our Little Stereotypes, then yeah, we have a serious problem. The argument that a male character could make all the same mistakes is valid, except for the crush she seems to have on House. Unprofessional crushes are, in reality, offered as proof of why women shouldn’t be in certain professions. If you want to draw gender lines, the inability to control emotions is much more typical with men than women – that’s why men are so thunderously well-represented in prison – but women continue to suffer from the stereotype that because we express ourselves in words instead of violence, we can’t hack it in the real world.

And that’s who Cameron is at this point: cute girl who can’t hack it.

The show could redeem itself, though. She could learn. We have Cuddy, at least, as proof that the writers aren’t suggesting possession of a vagina makes one incompetent. Contrast this with Stargate, where Carter started life as a pro with some passion and spark, and gradually degraded into a technobabble robot who served two purposes only: to show of how smart the writers thought they were, that they could Google all that research on coronal mass emissions and stuff, and to show how appealing Jack O’Neill was.
At this point, Cameron could go either way. She could continue to be useless, in which case she will degrade into a total female stereotype, given her girly crush on House. Or, she could learn and grow and follow in Cuddy’s footsteps.

Comments

  1. Glaivester says

    A few thoughts:

    (1) Cameron is stil lvery young. If she is the same age as the actress who portrays her, she is only 26. So she is entitled to make a lot more mistakes than someone who has achieved the rank of major in the army.

    (2) In the first episode, House said that he had deduced that Cameron was a damaged person (that’s why he hired her). She later revealed that she had married a man who died of cancer within a year of the marriage. But House pointed out that, from the type of cancer her late husband had, she knew must have known he was dying of cancer when she married him, indicating (to House) that she was screwed up before.

    In any case, Cameron has a pathological need to fix everything that is wrong and to make the world the nice place she wants it to be. All of her naivete, etc. can be traced back to this fact. In fact, even her crush on House was due to her desire to “fix” him. So it seems to me that her continuous mistakes are more of a particular problem she has rather than a blanket problem for all females. To have her suddenly wise up completely would be as unrealistic as expecting House to suddenly become nice.

    (3) I don’t necessarily think that Cameron expected any different response from House than she got. She was just so angry she had to complain to him to get it out of her system. As for Foreman, I think that what surprised her was that he had never seemed to act like a sphincter opening before. Chase had already shown that he would betray them to get ahead (he ratted out House to Vogler in an earlier episode), and House had disillusioned her several times, but I think that this is the first time when Foreman acted like a jerk.

    In any case, I think that this is all leading up to something. I think at some point, Cameron will be pushed too far and she will find a way to push back. But she can’t just change all at once.

  2. Jennifer Kesler says

    Yes, a lot of male TV writers are far more comfortable dissecting the psychological issues of female characters than male. Pity, because from what I’ve seen so far, Chase is a pretty boy who doesn’t take life and death as seriously as his own ego and sense of entitlement, and it’s absolutely chilling to think he’s a doctor – in fact, I think I’ve been to more than a few of him in real life, and gotten some pretty poor care as a result. His psychological issues would be interesting to visit. Have they been visited?

    I never said Cameron should change “all at once”, so I’m not sure who you believe you’re arguing with on that point.

  3. scarlett says

    From what I’ve seen of Cameron she’s kind of hit and miss, eomtimes strong and brutally honest, sometimes she gets screwed over for thinking ‘like a woman’. I wonder how much of this is just latent niavete and how much is poor character development.

    But I always liked Cameron over Chase, who, as Beta said ,seems more concerned with his ego/professional standing then his patients.

  4. Glaivester says

    I think that Chase has been dissected somewhat. He resents his father for having left him to care for his dying alcoholic mother a few years ago. More recently, his father showed up at the hospital for cancer treatment, never told him he was dying of lung cancer, and later when Chase finds out he has died, he winds up ignoring a patient who dies as a result. He also tells the brother of the dead patient that he was drunk so that he will sue, because the family of the dead woman is in direfinancial straits as a result of her death and he wants to get the hospital to provide for her. He also was willing to rat out House during one of House’s little rule-bending episodes in order to kiss up to Vogler* so he could save his job. So he does seem self-serving, but he also does feel guilty when something goes wrong and has tried to make things right at his own expense.

    Foreman has been less dissected, partly because he is much less open than Chase or Cameron. However, we know that he isn’t very forgiving of personal foibles. He has almost no sympathy for homeless people or criminals, unless he thinks that there is an organic reason for their condition. He is also highly uncomfortable with breaking rules, and probably would not do so if not pressured by House. Basically, he cares about getting patients well, but he is not very imaginative and tends to be rather timid when it comes to taking chances or challenging a conventional diagnosis. He is very “by-the-book.”

    * Vogler was a wealthy man who donated $100 million to the hospital in exchange for a position of leadership. He tried to throw his weight around to get House thrown out, but eventually left after Dr. Cuddy realized that they would all be owned by Vogler if they didn’t throw him out.

  5. Lex says

    I watch House for House, not the three idiots. I find Cameron and Chase to be equally vapid, with both having been portrayed as unable to control their feelings (Cameron towards House, Chase towards Cameron). Foreman is frequently a bit of an arse who has an over-inflated sense of self. The pretty bloke who is House’s friend (what’shisname?) is a mix of moral flexibility and moral outrage that I find sadly spot on realistic for blokes these days. And when it comes to truly realistic yet still likeable, both House and Cuddy hit the mark for me.

    I could easily do without the three stooges entirely – perhaps have random doctors rolling in and out of House’s little world – but Cuddy’s presence shows that there’s a higher power than House, no matter how smart he may be (or thinks he is). After all, House is still doing time in the clinic week after week because Cuddy beat him at his own game way back in the early days. I so respect her for that. And every week I remember how Cuddy grew from a call girl / law student into the capable doctor / manager we see today.

    What do you mean, I’m mixing my fandoms?

  6. scarlett says

    I tend to agree with Lex that three three doctors under House’s authority are kind of superflous, although Cuddy is an excellent illustration of House still having to answer to someone – not to mention of a woman getting to the top, by hook or by crooki

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