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.
The newest season of RWBY was, in my opinion, one of the better seasons: the animation was beautiful and the characters continued to grow in impactful ways. There were unsurprisingly a few missteps, but one of these missteps almost ruined the entire season for me—and while it didn’t, it certainly took me out of a couple episodes. Before this season, RWBY didn’t offer too much in the ways of characters with physical disabilities, but the characters they did show were pretty badass. Torchwick’s right hand woman, Neo, managed to be intimidating, skilled, and infuriating (in a good, villain-y way) all without use of her voice, and Cinder’s companion, Mercury, used his prosthetic legs as naturally and dangerously as any trained warrior would. Their disabilities didn’t define either one or hold either of them back, it was just a part of who they were. Which is why I was disappointed and frustrated that in RWBY Season 4, the characters now learning how to live with their new physical disabilities weren’t given the same sort of narrative support—a problem most heinously shown through the character Yang.
Also, calling Yang’s power a “temper tantrum” was like, really shitty, too. Taiyang’s definitely not getting any “dad of the year” awards any time soon. (via Reddit)
I finally had a chance to sit down and watch Season 4 of RWBY—something I was really looking forward to after how much I enjoyed the previous season. With everything seemingly in ruins, Season 3 left me wondering how Team RWBY and their friends would be left to pick up the pieces and Season 4 did not disappoint. Though not as action-packed as the season before it, Season 4 finally took some time to give both the main characters and the side characters some much needed development. However, some of these developments left me feeling a little confused and questioning why the writers took that path (and not in a good way). And while RWBY’s world continues to improve in terms of diversity, at times it felt like a mirror of the name of one of the season’s episodes: one step forward, two steps back.
Out of the three available seasons, some of you will be pleased to know that after watching the third season (finally), I can safely say that Season 2 of RWBY was the worst one. I had a few complaints about the overabundance of exposition without being given a reason to care about it, and character development that seemed to go backwards instead of forwards. Season 3 may still not have been a perfect season, but its narrowed scope allowed me to actually care about the dangers befalling Beacon Academy and the students in attendance.
While Season 1 of RWBYheld all the untapped interest for me that a show could possibly have, Season 2 faced the problem of me already knowing a lot of the things that happened in it—for worse or… mostly worse. While many of the pacing problems from the first season seem to have been worked out, the second season faces the typical problem of many intermediary parts of other stories. There was too much to set up in not enough time, and not enough reasons to really care about everything that was happening. Yet despite itself, Season 2 still managed to introduce some important aspects to the Remnant’s universe and some really cool villains, in addition to some (very) small moves towards more diversity.
In my corner of the internet, it’s difficult to avoid mentions of RWBY. The webshow just finished up its third season, and understandably fans were exploding with all the feelings that usually come with an intense finale. However, something about this time actually prompted me to go check out what all the fuss was about—something big happened, and despite not being in the fandom, I wanted to know. So, being the rational person I am, I skipped right to the last two episodes of Season 3, spoiling everything for myself and saying “fuck it” to character arcs. Yet it was thanks to that impulsiveness that I finally decided to sit down and watch the show in its entirety. While I know that people love the characters, the general consensus in the parts of fandom that I see is that the show itself isn’t written very well. So, going into the episodes proper, I wasn’t exactly expecting much. And what did I get? Something charmingly imperfect, and better than I was led to believe.
In the past month, two well-known figures in the gaming industry have departed for apparently a similar reason, causing a noticeable disturbance in the force. At the end of July, the producer of the quirky indie game Fez, Phil Fish, halted production on the anticipated sequel, packed his bags, and left. Just like that. More recently (as in last week) one of Bioware’s senior writers, Jennifer Helper, left her position to pursue freelance work. While of course there are many differing aspects to the reasons why they left, I think it’s safe to assume that both occurrences, while not the reason in particular, share one unfortunate similarity: they were both being harassed by fans.
It’s really a double edged sword when an audience realizes how much power they have over content providers. The same audience that can let developers know when and where a game-breaking glitch occurs can also be the audience that tells the developers that their children should have been aborted and that the world would be much better if they killed themselves. But what causes such a disparity? What is it that allows people to think that this kind of negative activity is allowed? I think the problem is two-fold: anonymity and entitlement.