Things I learned today: Moff’s Law

A few months ago, I wrote a blog about how totally fucking sexist the portrayal of Irene Adler was in the Stephen Moffatt adaptation of Sherlock. Judging by the comments I received, it was by far the most controversial thing I have ever written, prompting an epic comment thread which I wouldn’t recommend reading, and instead would suggest spending your evening edging bamboo shoots under your toenails.

Much of this thread was people explaining to me–in tones ranging from “furious” to “incandescent”–that I should stop analysing because it was just a show and I should really just relax.

It gives me an ironic sense of glee, then, to have discovered the existence of Moff’s Law, which draws attention to precisely this sort of nonsense:

As comments continue in a feminist [social justice] discussion of pop culture, the probability of someone saying “why do you have to analyze it? it’s just a movie/cartoon/book!” approaches 1.

Well, quite. Rapidly approaching 1. Like, approaching so quickly it looks a bit blue.

When I first saw the name, I assumed it was named after discussions surrounding Stephen Moffatt’s sexist oeuvre: not only have I got shit, but so have others drawing attention to bullshit in most of his other works.

Any similarities are, alas, purely coincidental. But what a beautiful coincidence it is.


Thanks to @stfumisogynists who alerted me to the existence of the law.

4 thoughts on “Things I learned today: Moff’s Law”

  1. Yep, I’ve heard the “stop analyzing it and (just accept it and stop threatening my privilege)” comments before. Some have even said that I seem to be seeking it out (sexism, unequal exploitation, etc.), which always gives me a chuckle. I do not seek this shit out. I avoid it, which is why I don’t even bother with TV and movies anymore. Sometimes I miss them and would love to “relax” and watch a movie. But 9 times out of 10 I am insulted, disappointed, or pissed off…which, oddly enough, I do not find relaxing or the least bit entertaining.

  2. I find it truly depressing that decades after contemporary culture became a valid area for academic study people still want to dismiss it as ‘just a film’. All these ‘just’ films, videos, cartoons etc. drip feed our brains with what’s acceptable and what isn’t on a daily basis. They are the most important things to be analyse because they have so much influence.I agree with sameolsht, that half the time films and TV are boring because they are sooo predictably sexist and exploitative. And as far as Moffat goes, watching his shows is a similar experience to seeing my seven year old in the bath fiddling with himself and shouting ‘Mummy, look how big I can make it!’ Endearing when it’s your own child but probably not worth the BBC license fee.

  3. Whilst I’m all too familiar with the frustrating “stop analysing it” platitude, this approach did not represent the attitude of the majority of your critics on that article. A lot of people (many feminists included) simply disagreed with your analysis. To imply that this was the only counterargument to your views is intellectually dishonest.

  4. “Much of this thread (meaning not all of it, or in other words, this was not the only counterargument, but a prevalent one) was people explaining to me–in tones ranging from “furious” to “incandescent”–that I should stop analysing because it was just a show and I should really just relax.”

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