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POSTINGS

On to other topics

I’ve not yet watched the episode, but apparently, last night’s Warehouse 13 became Exhibit A for why I try very hard to avoid ship-related discussions in that fandom (despite backing one of the major two.) Egad.

Just saw this on Syfy.com’s W13 page.
Holy shit. If this really is endgame, I’m going to cheer.

Just saw this on Syfy.com’s W13 page.

Holy shit. If this really is endgame, I’m going to cheer.

April 2014: My month of fangasms

Ongoing Arrow and Vikings
Da Vinci’s Demons s2
Continuum s3
CATWS
Game of Thrones s4
TDOS DVD release
Warehouse 13’s final season
Orphan Black s2

Plus shit (finally!) going down on SHIELD and Grimm and also my usual amusement with H50 and Criminal Minds.

Almost every day this month is filled with candy and toys for me. I am one happy little fanthing. :)

Is it “queerbaiting” if queer people are doing the baiting?

heroes-get-made:

I’ve seen a lot of talk on my dash about this in the last few days, but I’d genuinely like to get your opinions on it.

Obviously, the catalyst is the most recent episode of “Sherlock,” where quite a few lines and actions could be considered by some as queerbaiting, which is where media makes you think something romantic or sexual might happen between two same-gendered characters (usually attractive white males), but then in the next instant, it is solidified that nothing would ever happen. In other words, the show or movie gives you a big “no homo lol” and moves on.

Now, I strongly dislike that tendency, since I really really want ACTUAL representation in media. But with that said, this problem isn’t as black and white as I think a lot of us would hope. That episode of Sherlock was written by Mark Gatiss, who is openly gay. One of the biggest scenes features Andrew Scott, an openly gay actor. These things may be irrelevant to some, but I, as a queer person, find it difficult to accuse queer people of queerbaiting. If I was in Gatiss’ position, I would inject queerness into my work, too, as much as I could. What if Gatiss was simply taking it as far as he could without getting in trouble with Moffat or the producers or whoever?

I don’t know for sure, but I think it’s worth considering.

Another example would be Bryan Fuller, the creator of the TV version of “Hannibal.” Fuller is also gay, and while the show does not go nearly as far as Sherlock does, there is a clear and obvious attempt at cultivating sexual tension between Hannibal and Will, which Fuller has confirmed, along with Mads Mikkelsen, a straight actor who plays Hannibal Lecter. Is it queerbaiting to dangle this unresolved sexual tension in front of us, knowing that the person behind it is gay?

And moreover, if we, as queer people, buy into it or allow ourselves to like it, are we subject to the accusations of “queer fetishism” that I see flying around? Of course not, right? We can’t fetishize ourselves, can we? But isn’t it the exact same content and a very similar reaction to it? (The intended reaction, I might add, of excitement at the possibility.)

I ask these questions genuinely, without defending what we’ve seen and what’s been produced. Queerbaiting has largely been perpetrated by straight writers and creators. But as opportunities open up for queer voices, I wonder if we shouldn’t think a little deeper about this issue. Is it still queerbaiting—a sort of internalized torch-carrying for the straight forefathers of the medium—or is it a subtle way to bring in queer voices in a time where plotlines featuring queer characters still almost unilaterally focus on their sexual orientations and not on good storytelling?

I think it’s worth discussing. Thoughts?

image

This is an interesting concept.

On the one hand, it’s 2014, high-profile celebs are out, married, and raising kids, and still having healthy careers right along with it. The number of queer characters in mainstream entertainment is steadily rising. Overall public opinion is finally majority queer-positive. 

On the other hand, homophobic audiences still make up a very large portion of potential viewers, and even people who aren’t necessarily anti-gay may still not be interested in watching something with queer protagonists, or so conventional studio wisdom goes. Audiences are conditioned to see straight, white males as default protagonists, and when someone else steps into that role, it can theoretically be seen as “niche” and not something intended for general audiences. So if you’re making something, especially something expensive, that you need to get a broad audience for, you can’t afford to gamble on a non-SWM protagonist. Studios just don’t go there as a business decision.

Some of this conventional wisdom is being proven wrong, as movies and shows with PoC and/or female leads are doing considerably better these days, across all demographics. I think queer protagonists aren’t far behind. But something common to most of the successful properties with non SWM leads is that these other leads just “happen” to be other. There’s very little that defines them as something besides the straight, white male mold. They’re like ethnic Barbies: same mold, different color plastic. They have to put on the SWM costume in order to pass as a believable protagonist, or people start assuming that the story in question is intended only for audiences comprised of those that share the lead’s non-SWM-ness. There are definitely some exceptions cropping up. I think Katniss is recognizably female, for instance, even with the usually SWM action-hero thing, and also without being a tiresome female stereotype. Likewise for many of the prominent female characters in Game of Thrones: they are definitely female, and definitely not just accessories for the male characters. We also have a few PoC leads here and there who are recognizably so and yet still getting broad audiences.

But it’s still slow going, and queer folk still have yet to really establish themselves as mainstream at the level women and PoCs have (which is still, to be clear, pretty darn low.) I think we’re therefore still some time off from non-queer audiences being interested in a recognizably queer protagonist, much less something with a same-sex couple as its core romantic story. Obviously, interest in this is already fairly high and growing, and I also think audiences are actually ahead of where studio bosses think they are on this path. But it’s just not a gamble that the bean counters want to take, yet.

All that to say: No, we’re not going to get canon Johnlock, or canon same-sex romance from protagonists in much of anything mainstream just yet. Queer and queer-interested folks are still a large part of potential audiences, however, and when the noise from this corner becomes too loud to ignore, then creators are kind of stuck having to address it somehow. Hence, queerbaiting, which is damned annoying because we know we’re not going to get a payoff from it.

But then, there’s the issue you bring up about whether queer creators are themselves doing this not to throw a bone so we’ll shut up, but as Easter eggs for those in the know. I think you’re probably right that queer writers and showrunners like Gatiss, Fuller, Jack Kenny, Drew Greenberg, etc. have tried to slip in some subtext (or even plain text) in a way that lets us out here know what they’re “really” thinking about, while still paying the obligatory lip service to the suits and non-queer-friendly audiences.

But is that more frustrating than satisfying? Personally, I think so, yes. I think these queer creators are well-intentioned, and likely trying to soothe their own frustrations, but I think it would actually be more useful to cut the subtext entirely, and let people ship as they will without it. What’s happened with Warehouse 13 and Bering/Wells, for instance, is absolutely ridiculous. They’ve basically established that relationship as canon in all but the exact words, and that’s becoming preposterous. I think that’s a show that really could get away with turning that relationship canon, without alienating audiences (especially since they’ve been cancelled and now have nothing to lose in their last few episodes.) 

I’m realistic enough—and have enough experience in the entertainment industry—to know that the queer-protagonist thing simply isn’t going to happen for the near future in mainstream entertainment. We’re at least another 5-10 years off from that. But I don’t think slashbaiting is the way to push the envelope to make that happen. I’d much rather have canon queer characters/romances as well-realized sidekicks and B stories than an endless protagonist tease that’s never, ever going to get paid off.  

And in the meantime, I’m going to write my own damn books with queer protagonists and same-sex romance because fuck subtext. ;) 

crossover fanfic request

carrionlaughing:

A high school teacher friend wants to do a fanfic-inspired creative writing exercise with her English class and is looking for good GEN or (clean) TEEN rated crossover fics to give out as examples. The more well known the two sources in the crossover the better, but they can be any book, movie, comic or TV show. 

Do you have any favourite crossover fics that fit this bill?

Here’s my Primeval/Warehouse 13 one, freshly uploaded to AO3: Warehouse 12

Also, there’s this, though it might not fit the bill: Lord of the Anomalies.

What I’d really like to say

… about that W13 ep would take three dozen paragraphs and time I don’t have, so I’ll leave it at this:

It’s 2013. Intentional same-sex subtext is ridiculously annoying. Make it text, or fuck off. When a show with a pair of lesbian moms can get aired on fucking ABC Family, there’s no damned excuse for intentional slashbait that falls short of being official canon.

(That said: props to Joanne and Jaime for yanking as much text out of that as they could.) 

Post-script

gorgbus:

textualdeviance:

I still think Warehouse 13 needs to be considered a bible for all writers/directors/producers on how to make something brilliant that also happens to pass the Bechdel test with flying colors, AND includes canon queer characters, older women, people of color, etc. It’s one of Syfy’s top-rated shows, too, so boom go the “people won’t watch it” excuses for making stuff into nothing but sausage fests. It’s doable. If you can’t/don’t/won’t, it’s because you’re shitty at your job, not because audiences won’t watch stuff without wall-to-wall straight, white dudes.

great point. the show is not above criticism as it sidelines and typecasts poc, as well as ignores positioning Steve as an actively gay character. that being said, the show still kicks some serious ass and this post is a super important point. long live the warehouse!

Points taken, definitely (though I think the latter issue may be improved upon somewhat as the rest of this season goes on.) 

I also have to give credit to Joanne and Jaime, for pushing ahead with the Bering/Wells thing even if it wasn’t originally intended to be canon (and still isn’t, technically.) Kind of funny, really, how the show’s biggest fan-supported ship turned out to be f/f, and traditional m/f-leads het shippers are finding themselves in the position slashers usually are. 

Overall, I think most SFF shows these days are doing diversity much better than their mainstream counterparts. There are still fails now and then, both in the stuff I mentioned in the previous post (SPN, DW, Merlin) and in other stuff (why, if Grimm has a gay showrunner, has it had no gay characters? Weird.) But there’s also been some great progress. Honestly, I think that’s why it’s so jarring when stuff like SPN does fail to be inclusive. It’s just not that common anymore for a genre show to be all white dudes, all the time. We’ve definitely made some great steps forward. 

And speaking of steps forward, I do have to put in a plug for a couple of shows about to have their U.S. debuts on Syfy next month: Sinbad and Primeval: New World. The former has a black lead and other prominent PoC characters, and for once is a fantasy set outside of Europe. And the latter has both PoC characters and a canon bisexual (not to mention one of the most realistic women characters I’ve seen in years in Dylan Weir.) Many of Syfy’s other recent shows have been good, too—Defiance, Continuum, etc. (My issues with Lost Girl are a different post, sadly.) 

I think the conventional marketing wisdom is still a factor. Cable shows do still make only a fraction of the ratings of their network counterparts, and goodness knows the biggest ratings of all are still going to trashy reality dreck, instead of quality scripted stuff. Sadly, many women, queer folk and people of color are still blithely watching stuff that marginalizes or even denigrates them, and straight, white dudes are still considered a target demo, even if they don’t make up the majority of viewers and haven’t for a generation. But we are making progress, and I think there are fewer and fewer excuses to be had now for not being inclusive. The target 18-35 demo takes diversity as a given, not a controversy, so there’s no point in trying to pussyfoot around their delicate sensibilities anymore. The people who did care about such things are aging out of marketing sweet spots, so catering to prejudice just isn’t important anymore. 

Now if only the folks with the purse strings would realize that. ;)

Post-script

I still think Warehouse 13 needs to be considered a bible for all writers/directors/producers on how to make something brilliant that also happens to pass the Bechdel test with flying colors, AND includes canon queer characters, older women, people of color, etc. It’s one of Syfy’s top-rated shows, too, so boom go the “people won’t watch it” excuses for making stuff into nothing but sausage fests. It’s doable. If you can’t/don’t/won’t, it’s because you’re shitty at your job, not because audiences won’t watch stuff without wall-to-wall straight, white dudes.

EXCLUSIVE: Jaime Murray and Joanne Kelly talk "Warehouse 13," Bering and Wells, and Nerdsbians | AfterEllen.com


bitcaw:

If I didn’t know any better, I’d assume this was a fanfic of an interview rather than AN ACTUAL THING THAT HAPPENED.

Love it.

To anyone opposed to women in combat, might I remind you of a few names:
Capt. Kara “Starbuck” Thrace
Capt. Louanne “Kat” Katraine
Lt. Margaret “Racetrack” Edmonson
Ens. Diana “Hardball” Seelix
Brienne of Tarth
Arya Stark
Agent Myka Bering 
Agent Natasha Romanoff
Abby Maitland
Cmdr. Susan Ivanova
Aeryn Sun
Corp. Zoe Washburne
Col. Samantha Carter
Dep. Jo Lupo
PC Gwen Cooper
Agent Olivia Dunham
…and that’s just the humans.  

To anyone opposed to women in combat, might I remind you of a few names:

  • Capt. Kara “Starbuck” Thrace
  • Capt. Louanne “Kat” Katraine
  • Lt. Margaret “Racetrack” Edmonson
  • Ens. Diana “Hardball” Seelix
  • Brienne of Tarth
  • Arya Stark
  • Agent Myka Bering 
  • Agent Natasha Romanoff
  • Abby Maitland
  • Cmdr. Susan Ivanova
  • Aeryn Sun
  • Corp. Zoe Washburne
  • Col. Samantha Carter
  • Dep. Jo Lupo
  • PC Gwen Cooper
  • Agent Olivia Dunham

…and that’s just the humans.  


About Me

Texty

Writer of dorky fantasy novels.

Singer of classical stuffs.

Shameless fanthing.

Queer/Genderqueer. Feminist. Progressive. Gen X. Northwest snob. Journalist and media-deconstruction nerd. Happily married and an adoptive parent of a most excellent little boy. Endless pontificator on topics both sublime and ridiculous. Expect both breathless pop-culture squee and wordy rageflails about social justice.

My "home" fandom is Primeval, but these days I'm most heavily into Vikings, Game of Thrones and Arrow. Check my fandoms masterlist to see the other stuff I usually post about. If it has a kickass chick, a charming rogue, and/or an adorkable nerd in it, I probably like it.

I'm an incurable OT3 shipper, particularly of the alpha male/beta male/alpha female flavor, but I ship some pairs, too (het, slash and femslash.) See my ship list for details.

I don't have much time to make fanworks these days, but I have a few fics up on AO3 and some vids on YouTube (under Talea100.)

Fun fact: I had crushes on both C-3P0 and Data.







Favorite Quote


No matter where you go, there you are.

-Confucious, by way of Buckaroo Banzai


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