One thing I don’t like about Alias is that it asks us to assume when all else fails – or even before – Sydney can always use her sex appeal to flirt her way out of a situation. The only exception is when she’s dealing with men who know who she is and are tasked with stopping her.
In the planning missions where Sydney is tasked with flirting with some guy to steal something from him, there’s a chunk of dialog absolutely required for me to take this seriously:
Boss: “…and then you’ll use your feminine wiles to get that thing from him.”
Sydney: “And you’re sure he’s into women? Is he faithful to anybody? Does he have a specific type?”
Because, seriously, no matter how hot you are: if you’re going to risk your life based on your ability to appeal to a man, are you not going to ask a few questions? There are men who only lust after men. Men who have an almost fetishistic fixation on certain hair colors, looks, races, sizes. Men who are in love with someone and therefore avoid attractive women who seem to be hitting on them because they know the best way to avoid becoming unfaithful is to avoid temptation. Men who are obsessed with something – their work, for example – and find cute girls flirting with them an annoyance. It’s not going to matter how cute you are if the man you’re supposed to distract with your sex appeal just isn’t interested (or is studiously disinterested).
Nor does Sydney ever attempt to ply her charms on a man who turns out to be completely unimpressed. Nor does Sydney ever flirt with a woman who’s into women to get her way. This leads me to three disturbing observations:
- There’s not a single queer person in the whole run of the series. There may be one or two people I’ve forgotten about whom it’s hinted they might be queer, but there isn’t one character, however incidental, who is explicitly queer. In real life, there’s no way you could live in L.A. and travel all over the world for five years and never run into so much as an openly gay coffee shop barista. This is such a glaring omission, I can’t help but wonder if it’s deliberate.
- In the world of Alias, all men are attracted to a woman who encapsulates the media’s current beauty standard. This is the sort of subtle message that creates and perpetuates the myth that there is one single look that captivates absolutely everyone.
- In Alias, all men are stupid. Because if you’re an average guy who’s got a valuable item with you and you know powerful people would steal it if they could, and your first thought when a really cute girl flirts with you is, “She wants me” and not “I bet she’s trying to steal the Microchip of Raspberry Flavored Doom that I have in my attache case”, there is something wrong with your brain.