If you’re white, straight and male you’ve probably never stopped to think about diversity in genre entertainment; but if you don’t fit into that very specific box it can be a very important subject indeed. Peter MacKenzie examines representation and depiction of alternative cultures in geek entertainment, highlighting when it goes right and explaining why it’s a problem when it goes wrong…
Many moons ago, a certain science fiction magazine ran a piece in which they asked “Isn’t it about time you gave Crime Traveller another chance?” and when you turned the page you were greeted with the word “NO” in Arial 3000 point across a double page spread.
You have no idea how difficult it was not to submit something similar for this column…
“Is Wonder Woman queer?”
Wonder Woman writer Greg Rucka has recently said in an interview that she has “obviously” had relationships with women. He also gave the most articulate reasoning yet why many of us feel that shoehorning in LGBTQ+ characters isn’t always the best intention, feeling that it’s basically bad writing.
The thing is, Diana Prince is an Amazonian. She lived in a purely female society. What the hell do you think they got up to on the long dark winter nights? Scrabble? Angry Birds? Bullet deflecting tournaments?
It surely doesn’t need to be said that they found relief in each other’s arms.
The worst part was waiting for the backlash. You know, from the people who screamed apoplectically when JJ showed us a black stormtrooper, or when it was suggested that Poe might have more than platonic feelings for Finn, or when female Ghostbusters decided to exist.
But the backlash didn’t happen. Not that I saw anyway.
I suppose I was a bit naïve. The answer is sadly obvious. Maybe I was guilty of hoping for a little more from my fellow man. But, no, it’s as contemptible and hypocritical as expected.
You see, just as Brass Eye would have it, there are – apparently – “good” gays and “bad” gays.
Good gays are sexy, young ladies who make love to other women while waiting for the right man to tie them down – figuratively and probably literally. The sort that the Daily Mail have countdowns to legality on.
Bad gays, on the other hand, are the men who love and have sex with other men, who put body parts in other body parts, who cause hurricanes and earthquakes and floods. They cause undue stress on simple, decent bakeries and B&Bs. They have the gall to want equal rights and to shamelessly flaunt their existence by walking down the road.
You can’t masturbate to that!
Yes, the notion of Poe and Finn sharing a perfect love is disgusting and an abomination to the same God you haven’t worshipped since you married your cousin. However, Gal Gadot and Melissa Benoist going at it in a harem full of satin pillows and chiffon is just extraordinarily tasteful and no harm to anyone except countless socks across the land.
I can’t be the only one who finds this frustratingly hypocritical, surely?
You’d think this might help the fight against discrimination but in reality, it only adds to the difficulty.
As long as we continue to pander to this rose-tinted view of “homosexuality-lite”, then the bigots will continue to point out how accepting they are of all these “alternative” lifestyles and isn’t that enough?
Well, frankly, no.
It was while I was in a discussion about the upcoming Star Trek: Discovery series that I realised this. Apparently, now former showrunner Bryan Fuller announced an eclectic range of characters including, wait for it… a gay character.
Of course, after many previous announcements that have promised a gay character in television Star Trek since Voyager premiered, forgive me if I take this with a cellar full of salt.
But the discussion turned to what sort of character we could expect. After laughing off ideas about gay Klingons and Gorn, we just came to the inevitable conclusion that any gay main character will be female. Take a minute to think about it. Male gay characters in mainstream genre media are actually few and far between since Captain Jack took his last bow.
I admit even I struggled to think of any LGBT+ male main characters, certainly not in the current crop of TV shows… although I’ll not spoiler season three of Gotham for you.
Without Google, I could literally count the number of gay men in genre television on one hand…
Obviously, there’s one or two from Game of Thrones and American Horror Story along with Aaron and Eric from The Walking Dead, Joey Gutierrez from Agents of SHIELD and Curtis Holt on Arrow although, frankly, it’s pushing it to call them main characters
And Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat has undone Russell T Davies’ (and his own – remember, he created Captain Jack!) good work by not having a gay male character in the show since he took over back in 2010. Having said that, latest spin-off Class has already introduced a gay pairing, but that kind of ruins my point so we’ll say no more about that here.
It’s disappointing that we apparently still live in a world where we have to tread on eggshells when it comes to “equality”. I had actually thought we were beyond that, but it certainly seems to me that, while all are almost equal, some are almost more equal than others…