After having a discussion with some people, one question has been plaguing my mind: is RWBY queerbaiting? Usually this would be a cut and dry answer—it’s typically not hard to point out media implying and using queer romantic tension to pull in the views, but not actually acting on it in canon. With the precedent set by the show already, it’s honestly difficult to tell as all couples appear to be equally teased by the creators. In my exploration, however, I believe the complications arise beyond the scope of the show. This is to say that the canon of RWBY may not be queerbaiting, but the meta from the creators definitely is.
“But Rin,” you may say. “How are these things different from each other?” To which I’ll hem and haw because the difference between them is somewhat negligible—each of them is obviously going to have an impact on the other which is why this is so messy in the first place. In the end, though, I think it has to do with what has been shown on the show as opposed to what the creators imply from outside sources. In the case of LGBTQ+ representation, these are two very different things. So in the end, the question of whether or not the show is queerbaiting may be missing the larger issues at hand. I think the more pertinent question is “where are any queer people?” But we’ll start from the jumping-off point of potential queerbaiting.
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.
Nearly two years ago I made a post on Tumblr proposing that snarky young superhero Kate Bishop, a member of the Young Avengers and Clint Barton’s protégé, was a trans woman. Even upon this most social justice-y of websites, the response was a mixed bag, but the most notable opposition was a version of the classic “ermagerd why does everyone have to be queer?!” argument, with a heaping scoop of “I’m not transphobic tho” for some added zest. Now, in this case I had a little tiny crumb of actual contextual evidence that could possibly suggest that Kate is trans, but the really delightful thing about trans headcanons is that nearly any character in any media could be trans, and ain’t nobody gotta prove nothin’.
I feel like I’ve been waiting for Captain America: Civil War to come out for most of my adult life, even though it’s only been two years since Winter Soldier. Needless to say, it barely felt real going into the theater on Thursday night. I had no idea what to expect, no idea how high I should allow my hopes for the writing to be, and no idea whether I’d leave the movie emotionally devastated. (Okay, that’s a lie—I knew it was a question of how emotionally devastated I’d be, not whether it would happen at all.) And with the bad taste of Age of Ultron still in my mouth, I was generally worried for the state of the franchise.
I am happy to report that Captain America: Civil War was almost exactly the big-screen, action/adventure, Stucky-focused hurt/comfort fic I was desperately hoping to see. Spoilers after the jump!
Last week, I purchased the trade paperback collection of the Marceline Gone Adrift comic series. In the vein of previous Adventure Time Presents series like Fionna and Cake and Marceline and the Scream Queens, Gone Adrift is a six-issue story with a finite beginning and end. I missed the first few issues of it when it was coming out, so when I saw it was finally out as a trade I immediately snatched it up. And while part of me enjoyed it, I was left in the long run wondering why I’m still so invested in a relationship that’s constantly hinted at and doesn’t look, at this point, like it will ever be canon.
After several introspective episodes and a relatively limited use of our supporting cast of characters, the gang was finally all here again in this week’s Hannibal—including Will’s dogs! But seriously, there were more supporting characters in this episode than in the last three combined.
Spoilers, and the typical Hannibal trigger warnings for body horror, gore, cannibalism, etc., below the jump.
By now, dear audience, you’re probably a little Otomen-ed out and are wondering when I’m going to stop talking about this series. Fear not; this is the last one (unless something ridiculous happens in the last volume, which I highly doubt)! You made it! Give yourself a pat on the back.
Having tackled the issues of Aya Kanno’s dichotomy concerning gender roles and the confused tone of the series, it’s about time to look at one of the more obvious points of contention: LGBTQ+ representation. It saddens me to say this, too, because starting out I really thought this series was going to be progressive in that sense. However, much like most media here in the States, a lot of the queer plot points are left to subtext and essentially ignored in favor of giving everyone heterosexual relationships. The most offensive example of this blatant refusal to address this issue shows up in discussions of Asuka’s dad, Hiromi. Continue reading →
After two seasons of showcasing nothing but heterosexual relationships, Teen Wolf will be taking a big risk next Monday by showing a gay sex scene between Danny, who’s already been shown as canonically gay, and Ethan, one of the Alpha twins. The two have shown a mutual attraction to each other; whether they are romantically interested like Scott and Allison, or just looking for a quick hookup like Lydia and her many S3 boys, it’s only fair to give their relations the screentime that it deserves. Continue reading →
Oh, Steven Moffat, why do you so often introduce ladies that you claim are bisexual only to never give any hint or evidence in the actual show that they are? River Song is not the first character to be outed outside of her TV show, but is there any evidence in the actual show that River Song is bisexual? And does it matter if there isn’t?
River Song is one of those characters that I find extremely confusing. Don’t get me wrong, she’s extremely interesting, but she’s a time traveler, we meet her out of order, she ends up being Rory and Amy’s daughter, as well as the Doctor’s wife and murderer. Everything with River was very confusing. Add to that a confusing representation of River’s sexuality and suddenly you need some damn strong headache medicine.
Queerbaiting happens when The Powers That Be (TPTB) of a show or other work openly acknowledge that their text could have a queer reading, but don’t ever actually make any of their characters queer. It’s when TPTB try to satisfy the slash-loving part of fandom’s need for shippy content by allowing their characters to engage in long, heated stares, share dialogue that could be read romantically, and be physically affectionate with each other—without alienating their straight audience and pigeonholing their show into a ‘gay and lesbian thing’. It’s the showrunners placing suggestive things into the text and then yelling “No homo!”
This creates a couple of problems.
First, this plays into the assumption on the part of TPTB that fans who want to see real queer relationships on a show are simply fangirls who fetishize gay relationships. They pay lip service to the idea of the ship in question, but don’t take it seriously, because they assume that the people who want it to become canon are just in it to see two hot guys (or girls) make out. This is patently not true. Although gay-fetishizers will always be a part of slash fandom, a large part of the fandom is queer, and we read these characters interactions as queer because we are desperate for shows that represent our own experiences.
Second, whether intentionally or unintentionally, queerbaiting perpetuates the idea that queer relationships are not important and that they’re not worthy of representation. It’s like, “Sure, we’ll give you some suggestive dialogue, but actually spend time telling a story about you in a thoughtful and complex way? No, we can’t be arsed. You don’t matter enough for that.” Continue reading →