Netflix Series: WAVE MAKERS: https://www.netflix.com/title/81655481
In recent times, sparked by the discriminatory election brochures distributed by students at National Taiwan University, numerous victims of sexual discrimination have come forward in both the political and social spheres. This wave of events has generated various positions, including criticism, introspection, shifting blame, and making excuses. These phenomena resonate with the sharp lines portrayed in the political drama WAVE MAKERS, mirroring the personal experiences of Wang Jing, who plays a character subjected to sexual exploitation by a political party worker. These events are almost reenacted in reality, creating a poignant and ironically accurate portrayal.
Gender consciousness and related themes are currently at the forefront of public discourse. Gender politics has long been a common theme in Taiwanese film, television, and literature, with content creators portraying these issues in a profound manner. From Jack Yao's haunting portrayal of a sinister teacher in the Taiwanese drama DETENTION to Ruby Lin's character confronting harassment in THE ARC OF LIFE, and the meticulous deconstruction of the intricate structure of victim regulation and pressure in WAVE MAKERS. These works not only authentically present the good and evil of Taiwanese political culture but also serve as a clear mirror, revealing the various monsters that exist within power dynamics.
These monsters and evils are universal, transcending borders and time. In 2021, Australia was rocked by scandalous sexual assault cases involving parliament members, and Prime Minister Morrison's ineffective response. Even before that, in response to the #MeToo movement in the West, the Australian Human Rights Commission conducted a national investigation into workplace sexual harassment, funded by the government. However, one must question whether these efforts truly address the problem. Similarly, within the narratives of WAVE MAKERS and other film and television works, we see the portrayal of institutions such as the "Gender Equality Committee." However, in an environment that normalizes or downplays behaviours that exert excessive power and cross boundaries, these channels often serve as mechanical gears, prioritizing the preservation of the system at the expense of sweeping issues under the rug and merely replacing parts. This further compounds the harm inflicted on victims, causing them a secondary injury.
In reality, the submission of countless gender equality applications that disappear without a trace and the public testimonies that are painstakingly shared are heartbreaking. Meanwhile, in film and television works, these stories provide an opportunity for reflection and even imitation for many people, but they are a double-edged sword. While there are nuanced portrayals that deeply move and shock us, there are also gender-stereotyped portrayals that carry a threatening undertone. In many popular narratives, these depictions serve the larger storyline. The question arises: do these stereotypical romantic plotlines that omit the element of "consent" implicitly condone, especially, male transgressions against women?