Carter and Cameron: the multiple personality twins

As much as I love House, I have this creepy feeling of déjà vu whenever I see Cameron: she’s very clearly everything many Stargate fans felt Sam Carter became.

She has no leadership skills. She crushes on her boss, sometimes in a sugary teenage way, sometimes as a stalker (a dichotomy I’ve never seen a sane, stable person exhibit). She’s so repressed and uncertain who she is that when a drug-using HIV patient tells her how freeing his death sentence has been, she uses the ecstasy from his stash and screws a colleague just to see if he’s right. Turns out he’s wrong, and partying doesn’t solve her woes. And yet she’s incapable of lying.

While some of these traits are female stereotypes and irritate me for that reason, what really bugs me is the inconsistency – and this was the case with Sam, too. I can’t figure out who these women are, because each week, they become whatever the writer needs them to be. While House, Foreman and Chase all have hallmark traits to which the writers are faithful, Cameron is a stalker, a sugary idealist, an atheist, someone who can’t lie, someone who breaks rules to out rule-breakers, and someone who isn’t above manipulating people half to death. No one is all of those things. Not in one year, anyway. And it’s not like these things have progressed naturally, so we’re seeing a slow growth of the character – that could’ve been fascinating. No, Cameron bounces around like a subatomic particle with no respect for the laws of character physics.

I’m not arguing that it sends a meta-message of “We hate women – Signed, the Writers”. But it does suggest that while while the writers make the effort to bend plot around the male characters’ personalities, Cameron is an afterthought they’ll twist into pretzel shapes if it’ll service the plot. Or the perceived desires of the demographic of the moment, or whatever it is women characters are expected to service.

Comments

  1. Mecha says

    I see this sort of behavior in a lot of places, for male and female chars. Comedys get it the most, but Buffy had a real bad habit of it in general too, for a pseudo-drama as it was (especially in the main character. Today, she’s a slut! Today, she’s a prom queen hopeful! Today she’s the craftiest person on the block!) Clearly, they don’t teach this sort of storywriting in school. ;)

    I think there is a type of real person who would do all of those things, in _some_ circumstances, and they’re people without a capability for true self analysis. Someone who is brought up/inflicted with a moral system/societal outlook and adheres to it when they consciously care, and don’t necessarily the rest of the time because they don’t think about it, or conform to the logical consequences of their positions. I do know people like this, and they can be good people, and smart people, and they can also be incredibly blind and angry and bad people, in what almost seems to be a random way, simply because they just… don’t think about it. Children and teenagers can do this with ease, as well as heavily religious people and people without the capability to connect to others. In Carter’s case, this likely doesn’t wash because, as is said other places, she was deconstructed from ‘solid’ to ‘wha?’ In Cameron’s place… mebbe, mebbe not? I dunno. A thought. Maybe she is just the ‘opinionated but substance-lacking woman who speaks her mind/plot device of the week’ to them.

    -Mecha

  2. Glaivester says

    On the pother hand, in the very first episode, House more or less tells her that he hired her because she is wrong in the head, and he wants to explore that. So from the beginning we were told that this is a twisted character.

  3. Jennifer Kesler says

    I\’ve known my share of \”damaged\” people (as Cameron is actually described). Not even manic-depression or a personality disorder could account for the many faces of Cameron.

    House is damaged, but consistent, relatable, understandable – for me, he\’s generally even predictable. Cameron behaves like him one week, like Wilson the next, etc. Sometimes she switches in mid-episode. It\’s like all her scenes were originally written for one of the guys, then they remembered at the last minute she was supposed to have a part, so they took a bit from each guy and gave it to her.

  4. scarlett says

    I live with someone who is bipolar, and after a while, you get some idea of what to expect on a day-to-day basis, and in the long term, the greater picture. Even in a mental ilness like bipolar or schisophrenia (yes, I know I’ve spelt it wrong) where trademarks are lack of consistancy and reason you get a kind of ‘regularity’ which I don’t see in Cameron.
    She does kinda remind me of early days Carter, before her inconsitancy and crushing on her boss just got too irritating.

  5. Jennifer Kesler says

    It’s not, on its own. The same could be argued of some of the other traits as well. But to find the whole group of traits I listed in one person? That’s what I find implausible.

  6. says

    But she has to have some sort of beliefs on religion. What is about being an atheist that makes the whole group of traits as a whole more implausible after that one was added than before?

  7. Jennifer Kesler says

    I think I have no idea what you’re getting at here. What beliefs on religion do you mean? It sounds like you’re leading up to a point, and I’m not following you, so perhaps you should just make the point and then maybe I’ll understand.

  8. says

    Try “Cameron is a stalker, a sugary idealist, a woman, someone who can’t lie, someone who breaks rules to out rule-breakers, and someone who isn’t above manipulating people half to death. No one is all of those things.” I really don’t see what’s so hard to grasp about my complaint.

  9. Jennifer Kesler says

    I don’t get the comparison between “atheist” and “woman”, as you’ve replaced it in the above statement. I didn’t choose to be a woman, but I most certainly chose to be an atheist.

    Neither I nor any of the atheists I know are sugary idealists, stalkers, hypocrites, nor extreme manipulators. But let’s look at this from other angles. None of the stalkers I’ve known have been idealists, incapable of lying, or atheists. So again, I’m only guessing that you think I’m somehow slighting atheists, and maybe the reason I was slow to figure out your point is that I’m an atheist, and I do not find remotely offensive or unfair the observation that most atheists are not idealists, stalkers, hypocrites or manipulators.

    Or maybe you inferred something from the order: atheist coming right before “someone who can’t lie”. The order was pretty random; no implication intended.

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