I’m not sure where I first stumbled upon the Are They Gay? web series, but I’m sure glad I did. This series provides a funny, inclusive, and informative analysis of various slash ships that starts and ends with asking the titular question: are these two people gay? It features a wide variety of pairings including mlm and wlw slash ships, and is a great primer to the history and background of certain ships in addition to ultimately offering an answer to that pressing question.
Video games are great. Over the years the medium has flourished into a bountiful crop of entertainment; if you’re looking for a specific story or method of gameplay, it’s sure to be out there somewhere. As the game catalog continues to expand, however, sometimes it gets a little difficult, or appears incredibly daunting, to find that specific something you’re looking for. This is especially true when searching for queer representation through the swathes of games that would just rather not explore this aspect of their audience. Today’s web crush hopes to make this search a little easier on those wanting a little more LGBTQ+ representation in their gaming experience.
There are a great many things about Firefly that are special. The show is a perfect illustration of Joss Whedon’s belief that “good sci-fi can’t be something you like, it has to be something you love1.” Fans of the show continue to love the Firefly universe over a decade after its one-season run was completed. The thing most of us “browncoats” would likely say we love most, though, is the people. The relationships in Firefly feel authentic. They feel grounded despite the fact that much of what we see happens while flying through space.
No matter if it’s the close sibling bond between Simon and River, the surprisingly sweet marriage of Wash and Zoe, the “everyone’s frenemy” that is Jayne, or the socially complex love between Mal and Inara or Kaylee and Simon, the way these people interact with each other is what we keep coming back for. But of all the relationships on Firefly, the one that is arguably the most significant is the friendship between Zoe and Malcolm.
As summer winds down into the cool months of autumn, convention season is also slowing down. There are still some big events left to be sure, but the winter months are often considered a rest period. People will use this time to save some money, focus on school or work, and prepare for the next season of conventions; early year events typically have an outpouring of well-made and creative costumes. However, in this storm of preparing, we must remember that we’re attending these events with other human beings and their desire to have a good time is equally as valid as ours. In the meantime, here are some general tips that will help make sure that you, your friends, and strangers will have the best time possible.
I’m not really into Supernatural any more, and I don’t think I will be again, despite the fact that the series seems like it will go on forever. But when I stumbled upon today’s fanfic rec, I thought the idea seemed just ridiculous enough to give it a chance. I’m glad I did, because The Chuck Writes Story ended up being the type of meta fanfic that is both funny and thought-provoking. (Truly showing that Supernatural’s glory days are behind it, as this fic was written when Season 7 had just come out.)
Remember Chuck Shurley way back in Season 4, when all we knew about him was that he was a so-called author who was writing and publishing the (entirely true) story of the Winchester brothers? In this series, after his book series is canceled, Chuck keeps writing because he’s compelled to as a prophet. However, he doesn’t just let the new stories languish—in a desperate bid for attention, he decides to publish them on the internet as “fanfiction” of his own series. As more people start reading and/or complaining about his new “additions” to canon, Chuck attempts to make friends in fandom, but his lack of understanding of fandom culture only succeeds in alienating the few people who do talk to him.
Trawling through spnkink_meme forced Chuck to acknowledge that by entering fandom, he was taking the characters and—maybe not writing gay incest porn—but certainly he was taking the characters and subverting someone’s intent. Certainly he was subverting the intent of these people on, what was it, samdean_otp, some of whom seemed to believe Sam and Dean were meant for each other. In the sexual sense.
He certainly hadn’t meant them for each other sexually, and he had created them. Was his intent, then, more important than theirs? What about their Supernatural—and there was that question again: was their Supernatural different than his Supernatural?
What was SPN?
As much as I enjoyed watching it, it’s honestly no surprise that Free! ended up being queerbait—this appears to be true with most modern sports anime, as the internet is only too glad to convince me. Honestly, in watching the Iwatobi swim team go through their struggles to be seen as legitimate, it’s all too easy to forget that Iwatobi High is actually a co-ed school. Free!’s main conflict comes from the miscommunication between two of the male leads; however, this leads into a staggering case of gender disparity among the cast; a problem many anime—especially sports anime—has. Sports anime tends to hyperfocus on a group of teammates and their rivals, bringing attention to every little piece of their past, every small piece of drama within the group, and every lingering gaze they may give each other. The few classmates of theirs who are girls are typically relegated to roles of “unnamed, unobtainable crush”, “childhood best friend”, or “team manager”. These characters are sometimes somewhat fleshed out, but typically only in a way that serves to emphasize how close the boys are. This leads to a majority of ships in these fandoms being M/M (since they get a majority of the characterization), and the ladies getting further swept under the rug, sometimes with great, undeserved hatred behind it.
Wading around in the otome game fandom, and just the anime fandom in general, there’s a very real sense of hate and misogyny lingering in the background of almost every series. Especially in the otome game fandom, where it’s typically one female character planted between a bunch of dudes, the heroine is almost always criticized for being too passive, too bitchy, too emotional, too stupid, or just too annoying. Legitimately the list could go on forever. More than that, though, there always seems to be a part of these fandoms that resents the heroine for existing in the first place—for getting in the way of their gay ships (which, really, why are you playing an otome game then?). Following this logic, for a show seemingly exclusively created for a female audience, it would seem only appropriate that the Free! fandom would show this same vitriol for the show’s most prominent female character, Kou Matsuoka. Yet this wasn’t the case. In fact, Kou was one of the most beloved characters on the show, but I wouldn’t say this was due specifically to her being a good character. Rather, I’d fathom it was because she was a self-insert character for a niche audience: the fujoshi.
As a note, I’m speaking only from the core anime; I haven’t read or watched any material outside that.
Living in the internet age is pretty weird. We’ve gone through a paradigm shift from being afraid to meet people from online in real life to having the possibility of meeting many friends and significant others in and outside of cyberspace. It’s been quite the change. With this openness, increasing ubiquity of access, and wider spread of ideas, the internet has sort of developed its own culture. This has happened to the degree that even specific social networks and sites have their own flavor or subculture; people have a mindset about Reddit, Tumblr, etc., and those sites tend to have self-identified traits. Perhaps more than traits, each of these subcultures perpetuate their own style of memes, and each amplifies their frequency of use to a different degree. Even though they existed long before the internet, memes have seemed to really pick up a lot more steam in the past few years. One area really affected by the memetic culture of the internet is advertising. In particular, social media profiles for products have adapted more humorous approaches to gathering support and fan attention. Nerdy properties were quick to jump on the meme bandwagon, and less geeky products were equally as quick to add memes and other genre references to their plans. I want to talk about both a bit more, since not only do they both show the proliferation of nerd sensibilities to the greater public consciousness, but this usage also shows how companies are making an effort to cater to what people want a bit more.