We’ve called out the Harry Potter series before for using magic and various conditions in the wizarding world as a metaphor for different kinds of oppression in the real world, such as lycanthropy as a metaphor for AIDs and discrimination against non-purebloods as a metaphor for racism. The problem with these metaphors is that readers might not make the connection to the real-world problem, so in order for them to really have impact, there should be examples of the real-world issue too. For instance, the series could have featured more prominent characters of color who experienced racism in the Muggle world in addition to discussions of blood “purity”. Instead we got a cast of all white protagonists, with characters of color getting very little development.
J. K. Rowling makes no secret of her support for social justice causes (just look at her Twitter feed!). In fact, she’s totally fine with headcanoning Hermione as Black and applauded the casting of Noma Dumezweni, a Black woman, as Hermione in the Cursed Child play, and racebending Hermione helps to relieve some issues about her Muggleborn blood status acting as a stand-in for discrimination rather than discussing any real-life discrimination. But real-life discrimination is still not discussed in canon. You would think that maybe Rowling would have listened graciously to some of these criticisms about hiding real-world issues behind metaphors that not everyone is going to get, and would have worked harder to avoid them in her next work. What is that next work? Fantastic Beasts. Did she listen? Nope. Instead the movie gave us a new metaphor to grapple with: obscurials as coded LGBTQ+ children repressed by overzealous religious families, in this case represented by the Second Salemers. And it isn’t pretty.
Spoilers for many aspects of Fantastic Beasts below the jump!
Rin:All right, listen. It’s not that I was trying to avoid watching Yuri!!! On Ice, it’s just that I had things to do. And stuff. However, as an early Christmas present to myself—and at the behest of the increasingly sappy, romantic, gay gifs I was seeing on my Tumblr dash—I finally sat down and watched all ten of the currently aired episodes. Let me tell you: it’s going to be damned hard to write a review that’s not just me screaming in delight for however many paragraphs. Luckily enough, I have Lady Saika here with me to keep me in line. Maybe.
Saika: I don’t know that I’ll be much help there. I binged the first several episodes of the series a few weeks ago, and after the pure and sweet and precious tenth episode (which just aired this week), we knew we couldn’t wait any longer to write about this wonderful series. And we’ll do our best to keep the shrill, excited shrieking to a minimum. Probably.
Rin: No promises. I’ll tell you right now, this article is going to conclude just as it’s starting right now—with a sincere plea to sit down and watch this show. You will absolutely not regret it.
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.
While there are many forms of historical fiction, one of the set-ups that people return to time and time again is that of a more medieval era. Princesses, dragons, references to Arthurian legend; on a surface level, what’s not to like? With the way this era has been romanticized, de-romanticized, and romanticized again, it almost feels natural to be drawn to it, and one of the biggest sources of the romanticization is, of course, knights and the chivalry that comes with them. Knights fighting for their beliefs! Knights, protecting the people they care about! These already make a strong case for me to give a shit about a story about knights, but today’s web crush added one more ingredient to make itself positively irresistible: lady knights who love other lady knights.
I’ve spoken about Life Is Strange a few times on this blog before: the episodic game by Dontnod Entertainment came out January of last year. Focused on the time-travel gifted teen Max Caulfield, the game places both Max and the player in the middle of a mystery surrounding her hometown of Arcadia Bay. As interesting as the story was, and as relatable as the characters were, Life Is Strange had one major problem: killing off the main wlw ship. Okay, so technically Max didn’t have to sacrifice her best friend/girlfriend Chloe Price—the option to “save Arcadia Bay” forcing Max to accept Chloe’s inevitable death as she gets murdered—but upon choosing to stay with Chloe instead, the girls sacrifice everyone in Arcadia Bay for their love. I don’t think I’ve met anyone that didn’t agree this was a super shitty way to end Life Is Strange’s story, and an especially shitty way to handle one of the few positive wlw relationships that I can think of in a recent non-indie game. But today, have I got a solution for you!
If you read this week’s Trailer Tuesdays, this post shouldn’t come as a surprise, but for those of you who didn’t (and have no interest on clicking on that link), I’ll give a proper introduction. Gifs from the film Doukyuusei have been following me around for so long that I finally decided to give in and watch it, despite my trepidations about the yaoi/BL genre. And, well, it looked cute, so I figured I may as well give it a shot. Upon doing so, not only was I charmed by the love story between the two protagonists, I was so charmed that I actually looked up Doukyuusei’s after stories—Sotsugyousei and Occupation to Beloved–and devoured those just as quickly. However, while all of these stories are a sweet little taste of gay romance, none of them manage to completely leave the unfortunate yaoi tropes behind.
Story of Seasons, the most recent localized release of the Harvest Moon series as envisioned by Marvelous Entertainment, is a game that hooked me in for a long while. I wouldn’t exactly call this game and the other games in the series progressive, and I certainly don’t purchase it for any other reason than fun farming times. Yet, for a series that seems to try its best to stay away from anything too, perhaps, “controversial”, I find it interesting that in SoS they reintroduced a character type that could be seen as stereotypical and offensive, at least from my Western perspective. While the characters of Animal Parade’s Julius and SoS’s Marian present a potential conversation about non-binary gender identity and how they interact with the small, rural farming town they’re a part of, this is something that is never exactly discussed. Certainly, this can be seen as a positive thing–that no one treats them any differently because of how they choose to express themselves. In some ways, that’s probably even true, but much of the conflict here is simply untranslatable to mass marketable Western audiences, and in this case, that may be okay.
Speaking as someone who admittedly doesn’t know all the nuances of gender identity and LGBTQ+ life in Japan, there will be some things I mess up on. As such, take my analysis with a grain of salt. If you, yourself, have more experience with these topics, please feel free to chime in!