The Island of Excess Love: Disgusting and Disappointing

the-island-of-excess-loveA while back I told you all about a little strange dystopian novel called Love in the Time of Global Warming, by Francesca Lia Block. I felt it was a breath of fresh air in the dystopian YA world, with its magical realism, perfectly set eerie mood, and a main cast made up of queer characters. I was surprised to find out that there was a sequel, since it didn’t seem like the sort of book that would be part of a series, but I was nevertheless very excited when I finally got my hands on The Island of Excess Love. Unfortunately, my mood soon turned sour as it became apparent that even though the sequel recaptures the mood of the first book, the narrative sends some very troubling rape-apologist and transphobic messages.

Spoilers for both books, as well as discussion of sex, rape, and transphobic ideas, below.

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Sexualized Saturdays: The Curious Case of Transferable Sexuality in iZombie

Usually, when I write these posts, I get the ideas for the topics from something I’ve seen recently, but for some reason nothing I watched over the past couple of weeks has made me think about gender/sexuality representation. So, I had to cast my mind further back, and then I remembered iZombie, the fun, entertaining little show with a different spin on zombie fiction.

izombie-eatingI’m always looking for LGBTQ+ representation, so I was somewhat disappointed at the show’s lack of actual queer characters. However, the show’s premise does lend itself to some interesting opportunities for representation—when zombies eat a person’s brain, they temporarily acquire some of that person’s traits, and apparently, these traits include sexuality. But, since you’re essentially mixing two personalities, things can get complicated (and sometimes lack continuity). There are only three instances in Season 1 when Liv or Lowell eating a brain affects their sexuality, so it’s not the largest sample, but I still think they’re interesting to look at.

Some spoilers for iZombie after the jump.

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Sexualized Saturdays: All I Need to Know I Learned From GTA V

I’ll take “Titles I Never Thought I’d Use” for $500, Alex.

clue (1)I was all ready to chalk Grand Theft Auto V up as a failure in representation. In all fairness, I didn’t expect to ever see a Grand Theft Auto game actually stop taking potshots at the LGBTQ+ community. Since I started playing GTA games with Grand Theft Auto 3, there was always that one character created as a stereotype of a gay male, complete with an effeminate voice, color-coordination, and neckerchief. The game developers over at Rockstar North aren’t all that subtle. 

BernieCrane-ArtworkThat’s Bernie from Grand Theft Auto IV. He is a former soldier who came out sometime after the fictional war he fought in. That’s great, but the way protagonist Niko describes Bernie’s soldier ways compared to today gives the audience a not-so-subliminal message that, because Bernie is gay, he is automatically different.

While it’s not always the case, I don’t know of any cases in real life where someone coming out changes the essence of who they are as a person.

Fast forward to Grand Theft Auto V, which just came out Tuesday, where I have noticed some subtle changes to the GTA universe that hint that Rockstar is moving away from stereotyping LGBTQ+ characters. In one of the first missions, protagonist Franklin gets into a discussion with a bigoted paparazzi member, Beverly, concerning in-game gay rapper Clay “PG” Jackson.

Man, who gives a fuck if he’s gay or not, man? The man is not married. It’s his business. Leave motherfuckers alone… why do you care, man?

I found this to be a drastic change from previous GTA games. Instead of the protagonist staying neutral, like Niko did frequently in cut scenes, Franklin makes a logical statement concerning Jackson. Beverly’s statements, in comparison, seem about as ridiculous as they are. Franklin makes sense. Beverly is a dick.

While this is the only reference to the LGBTQ+ I have run into yet, Rockstar North has been taking steps away from relying solely on stereotypes. In 2009, Rockstar North released Grand Theft Auto: The Ballad of Gay Tony. The focus of the game centered on Gay Tony, a nightclub owner in the fictionalized Liberty City.

6406-gta-gay-tony-prince-artGamers can see the development of Rockstar North’s thought process in The Ballad of Gay Tony. The character still holds traits that could be considered stereotypes. His voice is slightly effeminate and his nickname itself is a label. But the focus on the character analyzes his humanity, not his sexual preference. The fact that Tony is gay doesn’t really matter to the development of the story arc.

Now, I’m only halfway through the game as of Friday morning. The end scene could have a character that uses and abuses every LGBTQ+ stereotype in record time and if so, I will definitely write about that. But I’m finally getting the feeling that Rockstar is realizing that compelling story-telling trumps malicious stereotypes any day, and it’s making me look forward to the potential addition of an LGBTQ+ character in the game’s DLC packs.

ZE Presents New Opportunities for Trans* Representation

CW LogoAs the fall television season begins once more, I find myself mostly excited for a drama whose release date currently isn’t known. What I do know, however, is that it’s going to be tackling an important issue. The CW, known for shows like 90210, America’s Next Top Model, and fan favorite Supernatural, is currently in the process of creating an hour-long drama with the title of ZE. From what I’ve gathered so far, it’s about a young transgender teenager growing up in one of the more stereotypically closed-minded states, Texas. In the words of The Hollywood Reporter:

Written by playwrightmusician Kyle Jarrow, ZE revolves around a Texas teenager who announces that [he] is transgendered and will be living life as a boy.

Problematic misgendering and insensitivity of The Hollywood Reporter aside, I have high hopes for this drama. While it may not be true that ZE is the first show to house a Glee Uniquetrans* character, it will be the first to star one. From Elementary’s Ms. Hudson to Glee’s Unique, positive portrayals of transgendered and non-binary adults and teens alike are becoming more and more prevalent in media. Hell, even choosing to name the drama ‘Ze’, a non-gendered pronoun used by some members of the trans* community, expresses the idea that the topic of transgender issues are important. From choosing executive producer Michael London—who has films like Milk and The Family Stone under his belt—and scriptwriter Kyle Jarrow, it seems clear that the CW wants to make a series that stresses the importance of the issue, remains relatable to teens in the same situation, and has the finesse of a major motion picture.

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Sexualized Saturdays: Transgender People in Comics

One of my first articles with Lady Geek Girl and Friends focused on the announcement that Alan Scott, the first Green Lantern, would be gay in the New 52 comic series.

At the time, I thought it was a ploy by DC Comics to make money off the LGBTQ+ community. It’s a thought that I still have to an extent. While Alan Scott has been a strong character, I felt that the reveal that Scott is gay, when in the main universe he has a wife, was wrong. I felt it would’ve been better to have a new Green Lantern come out from the beginning, so all the pieces on that Green Lantern would be consistent. It’s a general problem I have with New 52.

I also hoped that there would be a wave of new characters living more diverse lifestyles, especially transgender characters.

And, yes, I am aware of SheZow, but I’m discussing comic books right now. SheZow will be tackled once I can find more episodes of the show.

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No Voice: Where Do the Disabled Fit in the Pecking Order?

For the last two weeks, I’ve been especially frustrated at the current state of the news media and its effects on domestic policies.

doma-s6-c30Don’t get me wrong; I work in journalism. I don’t go a day without becoming disgusted at something I see on 24-hour news, read in a newspaper, or view online. But the last two weeks have driven me over the edge and has made me feel like disability issues will either never get focused on or are so far down the list that I’ll need a backhoe to dig them out.

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Sexualized Saturdays: LGBTQ Characters in Children’s Television

My best friend has an eight-year-old nephew, named for the purposes of this article as Jimmy, that I have helped raise since his birth. The nephew was kind of the baby everyone in the neighborhood helped raise. So it came as a shock to me when, while watching Spongebob Squarepants, the nephew said that Spongebob was “so gay.”

I didn’t raise him like that.

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Sexualized Saturdays: Gay Characters in Children’s Cartoons

I’m doing a lot of Netflix watching right now, and I came to an interesting revelation while watching and researching Gargoyles.

Lexington is gay.lexington

That’s not a guess. That’s the word of show creator Greg Weisman. In various interviews, Weisman admitted that, as the character was further developed, Lexington’s sexual orientation was realized.

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Sexualized Saturdays: Using sex as a “fix” in fanfiction

I don’t frequent fanfiction websites much. I create original universes in my stories, and I’m bothered when people create scenarios with characters I write that make no sense. However, it’s amazing when fanfiction writers are able to break down scenarios that existed in the current universe but weren’t tackled by the original authors.

An example of this is one fanfiction I read today that floored me. The story discussed George Weasley’s pain coming from losing Fred in such a way. It went into the depth of his pain, and included Angela Johnson helping George deal, complete with a romantic relationship. I loved the story. It tackled emotion that readers knew was already there, but went into bigger detail before going back to the original JK Rowling-created universe.

However, more often than not, fanfiction writers decide to “fix” characters, often creating original characters that use sex and romantic relationships to “fix” what if plaguing the character. And I can’t stand this.

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Sexualized Saturdays: When Gay Guys Play It Straight

Hollywood has a wonderful history of starting off as being an exclusive club for straight, handsome white guys, and there are a ton of straight guys who have played gay guys and will continue to play gay guys.

Now, I do understand that statistically, there are more straight actors then gay actors. When you want to cast a character, you have to cast the best actor you find. If that character is gay and the best actor is straight, so be it.

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