Teen Titans Go! Go and Learn Consent

I am a huge Teen Titans fan. It was one of my first introductions to the superhero genre and what I loved the most was that I didn’t get into the show until I was sixteen, but the plots were dark and complicated enough that I was wholeheartedly invested. For anyone who has seen the monstrosity that is Teen Titans Go! (TTG) however, I don’t think I need to make it clearer that this funny take on the original cartoon is an awful desecration of the original genius.

From L to Right: Robin, Cyborg, Beast Boy, Terra, Raven, Starfire

No,Teen Titans didn’t always take itself seriously, but when it did it handled everything from abusive relationships to racism to family issues. A majority of the time it balanced humor and darker plots. It has been an inspiration for me to write children’s cartoons that can appeal to a wider audience and say something worthwhile.

I don’t care that they brought back the old voice actors for TTG. This new show is a minefield and I wanted nothing to do with it.

Then the creators brought Terra into the show  in the episode “Terra-Ized”. If it wasn’t apparent from my previous post about how much I love Terra, she is my favorite fictional female character. I had to watch that episode. So I gritted my teeth and sat down with one of my friends and continued to grit my teeth and by the end of the episode I’m surprised I still had teeth left to grit.

The basic premise of the show is that the Teen Titans had never met Terra before and Beast Boy brings her back to Titans Tower. He gives her all sorts of access codes and secret information thinking she’s in love with him. She (like in the original series) is spying on the team, which TTG makes obvious and derives most of their humor from the blatancy of her “spying”.

I can forgive TTG! that they ruined all continuity by having no one know who Terra is. I can forgive them for completely ruining a fantastic female character who had deep emotional issues and a legitimate story arc over the course of Season 2 in the original Teen Titans. I can forgive them for making her a character who openly hates the team as opposed to a covert spy and traitor.

What I can’t forgive is that this show perpetuates rape culture by blatantly ignoring consent. Watch this clip of the episode and focus specifically on the pictures Beast Boy has of him and Terra at the end of the clip.

It is not funny when a character who clearly says “no” to another character’s advances is brushed aside as a joke. What’s worse is that this is a major and recurring joke throughout the episode. Terra continuously rebuffs Beast Boy’s advances and the writers rebuff her complaints. She’s just a female character, after all. She doesn’t have autonomy over her own body or anything. No one wants to see the boat rocked by addressing issues of consent. It’s not as if consent is a real issue men and women have to deal with in real life or anything!

It’s a kids show yes, but before anyone tells me I’m over reacting, where do kids learn their behaviors if not from the media they’re exposed to? If no one questions this blatant disregard of Terra’s voice ignoring the woman becomes another piece of ordinary life to be glossed over as natural.

When Terra rejects Beast Boy’s advances, he has no right to continue to pursue her and Cyborg has no right to advise Beast Boy to press after her. It is even worse when Cyborg gets involved because that normalizes the behavior even more. Beast Boy can no longer be viewed as anomaly who acts in a way we are not supposed to approve of. No, his choices are validated by Cyborg’s advice. It is the men of the series conferring over and rejecting a woman’s decision. This suddenly doesn’t sound like a kid’s show, but rather a sexist insertion driving the plot as a running joke.

The episode relied on sexism and misogyny to make children laugh. This is wrong. This is wrong on every level because children won’t see the systems of oppression that make these jokes possible. But we who see them need to speak out because no one else will.

I don’t want young children to be indoctrinated into believing that “no” is a joke to be laughed off. “No” is definitive. It is always taken seriously. And Teen Titans Go! needs to learn about consent.


20 thoughts on “Teen Titans Go! Go and Learn Consent

  1. You are so right! I watched this episode and another one just this morning and I was so overwhelmed by how sexist it was. In the other one I watched Raven takes off her cloak, of course not by choice, and realizes that she’s a badass superhero even without her powers. Though this would be a great time to show how awesome she is and boost female independence the writers of course turn it sexist and have everyone, Beast Boy at a disgusting level, only focuses on her legs. She even gets a statue of her leg done. Raven gained confidence in people obsessing over her legs and making them a sex symbol for BB. As you said this show is a disgrace to the original no matter if they have good funny moments or not the message being sent to kids is not okay.

    • I thought showing some skin was empowering for women? That’s where they were going with the Legs episode. It was also a chance to illustrate the sexual power that women have over many men. Another example of the Fem/Lib influences in television.

      • Showing skin is only empowering to women if the woman chooses to show skin. Unfortunately cartoons and media is told from the male gaze, meaning that female characters “showing skin” is meant to satisfy male heterosexual viewers, not to allow women the chance to love their bodies or make choices for themselves. As for women having sexual power over men, that is a sexist and heteronormative notion itself. As long as sexuality and sexual relations are spoken about in terms of power dynamics and who has the power, we’re still speaking from a male perspective.

  2. I’ll agree that the original Teen Titans was far better than TTG, but these -isms you discuss come from the overwhelming Liberal/Feminist influences in the show. See the Girls Are Better Than Boys episode of TTG and many others if you need proof of that. The guys in this show are portrayed as useful idiots and contribute nothing positive to the plot unless they’re needed for their braun, which in many cases is overshadowed by the abilities of their “superior” female counterparts. Just another tool in feminizing the Nation. Boys=Bad, Girls=Good. PC and Liberal indoctrination is rampant in modern cartoons and other television programs. It’s becoming painfully more obvious as time goes on. The “sexism” you point out in the Terra episode is much worse against males in that Beast Boy’s lack of understanding regarding being turned down is meant to illustrate his oblivious nature and stupidity, not to encourage rape. You see these sort of stereotypes in all sorts of shows today. TTG and The Amazing World of Gumball being a couple great examples. Not saying we should, but if female stereotypes were so readily utilized for cheap “humor” in today’s society, women’s rights advocates would be up in arms. But because guys are an easy target and just tend to take these shots so as not to be considered whining or weak, it is a widely accepted tactic in the US.

    • There is no liberal or feminist influence in this show and definitely not in mainstream media, let alone cartoons. I have not seen Girls are Better than Boys, but from how you explain it (the men are portrayed as idiots and the women are talented and superior) that is not feminist or liberal. Feminism would be where male and female characters are treated equally and attention is not drawn to the differences between the sexes. The tactic you discuss (where women are superior) writers–and many people in casual conversation-use as a way to justify their sexism. But putting women up on a pedestal, and especially a pedestal where men are degraded, is still sexism. When you idolize a gender, the people who belong to that gender lose their rights as people. Idolizing someone means you have a distorted view of them and that they cannot make mistakes and when they do make mistakes because they are in fact human, you can justify hatred of them for not living up to your expectations.

      The comment you made about boys=bad and girls=good I agree with. However, what this stereotype does negatively affects all sexes. Boys=bad does not mean that boys are demonized, rather that they are the rebels, the cool ones who can break the rules through their masculine commitment to violence. Girls=good creates the unfortunate trope where a female character is either an angel or a monster (see for example nearly any Disney movie).

      Speaking as a women’s rights advocate, we are up in arms because once you start to see the casual sexism in day to day conversation that pervades the media the only option you have is to fight back and take a stand. Thank you for your comments.

      • You’re right, there are none of those influences in any of these shows… Liberalism is not the major influence on popular media. All of my points are moot. The patriarchy is alive and well. Blah, blah, blah. I will say I’ve heard people purport that feminism is about equality among the genders, but by in large that is not how it is enacted or perceived (thanks to many who consider themselves to be feminists (particularly radical feminists)). Forget feminism and masculinism. I’m for humanism. Just some final points… I don’t know how much television you watch, but to say that there isn’t a pretty overwhelming left-leaning influence in broadcast media (particularly indoctrinating children’s programming/cartoons and news stations), you haven’t watched enough (which is a good thing, but it doesn’t change the fact that this is the case). I realize most people cannot see beyond the scope of their own experience(s) to be truly objective, and some people just don’t want to question that which they believe to be true. Hence our current PC culture and inability to have any constructive conversations geared towards rooting out these issues because of hyper sensitivity and stubbornness. We’d be good to have this discussion, but I get the feeling we aren’t going to find much common ground, and I have too much work to do to take this any further. I suggest you continue researching on your own and seek sources outside of just those that reinforce your ideology. I do. Variety is key in being a good information consumer So, thank you for your comments, but I must away to reality.

      • wow you really beleive that the feminist writers of this show aren’t influencing their charecters to portray thier beliefs? how can u think that after seeing so mamy times the “superiority” of raven compared to the leader robin? the wroter of this article is complety brainwashed if she honeslty thinks that beast boy bein manipulated by terra equals propagating the myrh that is “rape culture”. no one agrees with feminist because they want to turn the finger at the male for being a terriboe person regardless of how damaging the female is to the male. that show is completely oversaturated with feminist propaganda. the OP decided to take a horrible monster like terra of the ttg and paint her in the light of the “victim”. she purposly made beast boy think she cared about him and when beast boy shows actuall feeling for her she manipulated him. how is terra the victim?

      • No matter what Terra does or does not do to Beast Boy (or any character of any gender), if she rejects someone’s advances, that rejection needs to be taken seriously. Anything else perpetuates rape culture.

  3. Now that the feminists are focusing on real issues. liking mining children’s cartoons for content they can perceive as offensive the patriarchy or whatever is going to be fucked!

    Feminism is so much easier when you abandon that “postie social change in the real world” thing, it was just getting in the way!

    • We learn about the world through the media we consume, especially as children and young adults. It is not a matter of perceiving something to be offensive. It is a matter of noticing that rape culture pervades every aspect of our lives and drawing people’s attention to it. Positive social change in the real world occurs through understand and recognizing micro-aggressions then acting to stop their perpetuation. Creating a feminist and safe space in media is a real issue that affects the real world and combats Patriarchy.

  4. Captain’s log; Stardate 2133: I have begun my journey into the brain-dead feminists webpage. They appear to be angry over a cartoon. Extremely intriguing actually, that they find a cartoon to somehow be male-pig propaganda that portrays women as objects. I assume these creatures known as the “feminists” probably believe the same brainwash that men cannot be raped too. It appears these are the type of women (if we can call them that) that we see on the news report suing every male coworker at their office for saying “Hi” in a “sexual” way or for firing them because they did something wrong which they think is discrimination.

    I will continue to monitor these foul creatures. If luck holds true, they will attack my comment with rage and slander against me. Especially if I say these words: “I AM A MAN AND FEMINISTS ARE HORRIBLE PEOPLE!!!!”

    *End Transmission*

  5. These characters are psychopaths, they attack innocent people, they con the elderly, they attack one another with no justification, they turn on people who trust them like Batman.. Asking someone out more then once is one of the less horrible things that these characters have done.

  6. Honestly, the reoccurring joke with the reboot of the character Robin promotes sexual harassment… Robin continuously harasses Starfire, touches her when she’s made it know she doesn’t want him, corners her with his obscure advances, and has gone to the point of manipulation/lying to her in order to kind of force a romantic relationship. He also is just incredibly pushy and he makes me incredibly uncomfortable…

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