I recently started watching Torchwood for the first time, and I’m in love with the show. Unfortunately, I’m currently stuck in the second season, and I’m hesitant about continuing. Why, you may ask? Well, because the very next episode involves a mystical pregnancy, and that is one trope I have a hard time suffering through.
Just a few days ago, GLAAD released their 2014 Studio Responsibility Index, an annual survey inaugurated last year to grade major Hollywood studios on their representation of LGBTQ+ characters. Sadly, the results aren’t pretty:
Out of the 102 releases GLAAD counted from the major studios in 2013, 17 of them (16.7%) contained characters or impressions identified as either lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. In most cases, these characters received only minutes – or even seconds – of screen time, and were often offensive portrayals.
Ouch! Those are some low numbers. And the surveyors weren’t content with stopping there—they asked film professionals why this might be happening, but got differing answers from each side of the problem. As their introduction says: “From Hollywood executives, we repeatedly heard ‘We’re not getting scripts with LGBT characters,’ while screenwriters told us, ‘The studios don’t want to make films with LGBT characters.'” Some blame can probably be assigned to both parties, but while Hollywood is entrenched in its struggle over whether or not it’s profitable to produce stories with well-written queer characters, television is far outstripping its silver screen cousin.
Popular media is making teensy tiny strides in queer representation, but it’s still light years behind where it should be. One of the many issues in today’s portrayal of LGBTQ+ people in media is that their stories are often tragic. Queer characters may exist in a universe, but in all likelihood their relationships, if they’re lucky enough to initiate them, will fail, and they themselves may very well die or disappear.
The ubiquity of this trope occurred to me recently when I was listening to Part 2 of Welcome to Night Vale’s 2nd Anniversary episode. As part of the conclusion of the episode, which wrapped up the recent Strexcorp invasion storyline, everyone and everything that wasn’t from Night Vale was ejected from the town. Unfortunately, this included Carlos, Cecil’s boyfriend, who’s now trapped in an alternate dimension. Their relationship has mostly been smooth sailing up to this point, and I can’t fault the WtNV writers for introducing some new conflict into the storyline now that Strex is gone and a mayor has been elected. But still, I was kind of sad because Cecil and Carlos’s problem-free relationship, while somewhat unrealistic for any humans, queer or not, was a safe space of angst-free queer love. I certainly haven’t found anything like that in other media; in other media being queer is apparently the equivalent of using a black cat to break a mirror underneath a ladder on Friday the 13th.
After a long wait, we now know that the next Doctor is Peter Capaldi! Yeah, I wanted a non-white, non-male Doctor too, but Moffat’s said that Capaldi was the only actor he auditioned for the role, so as long as we’ve got Moffat on board I suppose the Doctor will always be white and male. As white male choices go, though, I think Capaldi was a great one. For those of you who don’t know, Capaldi is a 55-year-old actor most known for his role as Malcolm Tucker in the British political satire The Thick of It and its spinoff In the Loop. Like David Tennant, he’s Scottish; unlike Tennant, he’ll get to keep his accent as the Doctor. Capaldi is a huge Doctor Who fan and is delighted to step into the Doctor’s sizable shoes, and I think Capaldi’s going to bring a very different sort of energy to the role. Not gonna lie, I’m a massive fan of his. Let me tell you why.
Lal: “I am gender neuter. Inadequate.”
Data: “That is why you must choose a gender, Lal, to complete your appearance.”
Oh, Star Trek, you are one of those shows that consistently disappoints me. This conversation from Star Trek: The Next Generation perfectly illustrates how our society tends to view gender in a strict gender binary. In the episode “The Offspring”, the robot Data creates his own android progeny named Lal. He decides to create Lal gender neutral, so that Lal can choose what gender to be. It seemed like a great idea, but it quickly turned problematic when Lal declared gender neutrality “inadequate” before promptly choosing a female gender. For people who don’t fit the gender binary, this statement is wildly offensive. The message seems to be if you aren’t male or female then you are… inadequate. How fucked up is that?!
How many of you here are in the Supernatural fandom? Yes, all of you? Then you probably know about NJWank2013: one of Supernatural‘s many chances to gank us all with angry feelings before the season finale. Let’s recap the events: At a Supernatural convention in New Jersey (“Salute to Supernatural 2013”), there was a panel with Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles, otherwise known as Sam and Dean. The first questioner at this panel was a young lady who started her question with “I’ve loved seeing Dean’s character become more comfortable with himself this season. I’m bisexual and I’ve noticed some possible subtext…” She was immediately drowned out by a chorus of booo’s. While a bodyguard confronted her, Jensen said that he couldn’t hear the question, and that he planned to move on. “I meant no disrespect,” said the girl, and that was the end of that story.
Hi, I’m Luce (hi luce!) and I’m an Asian-American. May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in America, so it’s a great time to talk about Asians, stereotypes, and representation. Let’s take a look at where Asian characters stand in today’s mainstream television media after the jump.