Why I Like Slash

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I am a queer person, and I use the term queer to describe non-heterosexual/non-cisgender people. If you don’t like that term, you may not want to read this article.

There’s a nasty stigma around slash fiction that all the enjoyers and creators of it are crazy fangirls that fetish same-sex relationships between men. But in my experience, that’s only a very tiny minority. Most slash writers are women, yes, and queer women at that. Here is a forum that talks a bit about the phenomenon of transformative fiction, and why generally women and other minorities are drawn to it more than to straight, cisgender, white men. Basically, minorities enjoy expanding past, or even straight up changing, canon because they crave representation, and material they are able to relate to.

But I’m not here to get into a big conversation about demographics and socio-political zeitgeists. I want to talk about why I like gay fanfiction.

To clarify, when I say “gay”, I don’t mean just mean gay male fanfiction. I have almost as many female/female ships as I do male/male. It’s sad that, as many queer women are involved with fan fic, that the amount of femslash pales drastically in comparison to dudeslash and het fic. (More on that at this link.)

First of all, fan fiction is not exclusively smut. Sex scenes do take up a good portion of the medium, but in most cases, smut accompanies real plot lines, usually a buildup of romantic tension between characters. Most fan fiction sets up the scenario where the characters in question finally admit their feelings for each other…which is usually then followed by sex as a form of catharsis for all the romantic and sexual tension that’s built up over time. The sex is usually a celebration of the getting together, not just porn for the sake of porn.

Second of all, I mentioned above that most slash fan fiction is about two (usually white) cisgender males, written by female-aligned persons. My friend Gemma made a YouTube video about that phenomenon, which you can watch here. It’s easy to pass off male/male fan fiction as young straight women using it as masturbatory material, but, I also stated that most slash fiction writers are queer themselves. So why would gay (I’m using that as an umbrella term here) women spend their time writing about the relations between two men? Sexually, aesthetically, and emotionally, what do homosexual relationships between men have to do with us?

Right now, on Fanfiction.net, the dominating fandom in TV is Supernatural, with over 120,000 fan fictions written for it. On Archive of Our Own, the number of fan fictions is over 170,000. Of those AO3 fan fictions, the top three most commonly written about pairings are all gay relationships between two white men, one of which is incestuous. Dean Winchester/Castiel (Destiel) takes up almost 40%, Dean Winchester/Sam Winchester takes up 14%, and Sam Winchester/Gabriel takes up 6%.

The loathsome BBC Sherlock series has 102,021 fan fics (as of this writing) on AO3, and over 50% of them are Johnlock. Again, two white guys. This leaves the next dominant pairing of the fandom, Sherlock/Molly, in the dust with only 6855 (currently) fics to its name.

And the pattern continues. Marvel Cinematic Universe? Steve Rogers/Bucky Barnes, Steve/Tony Stark, and Clint Barton/Phil Coulson. BBC Merlin? Merlin/Arthur. The entire pantheon of Star Trek? Kirk/Spock. All of Star Wars? Kylo Ren/Hux. ALL WHITE GUYS.

But, maybe with the exception of Kylux, pretty much all of the fandoms I just named all feature white men as their main characters. They are the most developed and central to the story. And usually, their connection to each other is the most meaningful, even though both parties may have female love interests in their life:

  • Except for his brother, Dean Winchester’s most important connection is to Castiel. The angel even says himself that he and Dean have a “profound bond”. Even though Dean’s supposed “love of his life” is a woman named Lisa, who is promptly shunted to the side whenever the plot shows up and eventually put on a bus, never to return to the show.
  • Bucky Barnes is Steve’s best friend for life, and when forced to choose between Bucky and his loyalty to the Avengers (not to mention his own personal freedom and safety), Steve picks Bucky without a moment’s hesitation. Even though Steve is maybe? dating Peggy Carter’s niece?
  • And everyone, even non-slashers, sings praises to the deep friendship of Kirk and Spock, the slash pairing that more or less started it all. Even Gene Roddenberry himself wrote into the novelization of Star Trek: The Motion Picture that their connection “had been the touching of two minds which the old poets of Spock’s home planet had proclaimed as superior even to the wild physical love which affected Vulcans every seventh year during pon farr” and called them soulmates. Even though Kirk is the essential “ladies’ man” and Spock is “supposed” to have no feelings.

Even a fandom like Buffy The Vampire Slayer, which is dominated by strong female characters, a good amount of which are lesbians/queer, the second most popular relationship tag on AO3 is a non-canon m/m pairing (two white dudes, of course; ones who have little to no significant interaction, I may add). The first and third are het couples, and the very prominent lesbian pairing that is canon comes fourth.

However, there are exceptions to every rule. The Once Upon A Time fandom (I wrote a bit about feminism, or lack thereof, in the show in this post), despite the fervor of the Emma Swan/Captain Hook shippers, currently has more Emma/Regina Mills fics on AO3 than any other pairing. A f/f pairing! And one of them is sort of a WOC! (Lana Parrilla is Latina, but her character isn’t necessarily. I mean, Mills is a pretty white last name.)

But this is not about me trying to convince you to ship what I ship, or even have a deep in-depth conversation about the nuances of fandoms in cases of race, gender, or sexuality. I’m just trying to explain why I like slash.

Kirk and Spock. Dean and Cas. Steve and Bucky. Holmes and Watson. These are indelible bonds that endure the test of time. Kirk loved Spock so much, he threw away his entire career just for the chance to bring him back from the dead. And to quote the greatest movie of all time: death cannot stop true love. All it can do is delay it for a while.

When I ship characters together, it’s not because of how attractive they are or if I think they’d have hot sex scenes together. I see this connection between them, this kindredness in their souls that scream that they are at their strongest together, and that they make each other feel whole and content. And I’m sorry to say, but I usually see that in pop culture between the main man and his “bro” rather than between the two heterosexual love interests. Very seldom do I see the protagonist and their opposite sex partner share that intense yet tender bond (there are the exceptions: Buffy and Angel, Smallville‘s Clark and Lois). Maybe that’s because screenwriters don’t know how to write meaningful romance. Or maybe actors have trouble portraying that deep need. Whatever the cause, for the most part, slash just seems to work better. So until Hollywood dramatically improves its m/f relationships, I’m gonna keep on shipping the gay. ~TRL

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Why Does Everyone Hate Smallville?

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We all know the origin of the Man of Steel: infant refugee from the planet Krypton, sent by his parents in a spaceship to our world. Endowed with superhuman abilities, raised by simple farmers, and eventually became humanity’s champion, fighting for truth, justice, and the American way.

BUT DID YOU EVER STOP TO CONSIDER SUPERMAN GOING THROUGH PUBERTY?????

Smallville is the story of a teenage Clark Kent growing up in rural Kansas, learning to deal with the normal pains of adolescence, along with being a superpowered alien. It’s a new perspective on an old story. You get to see Clark’s journey from young man finding his own identity, to the paragon of goodness we all know.

Not only that, there’s other characters from the mythos you get to meet and watch develop too. In this narrative, Lex Luthor is Clark’s best friend who gradually turns to the dark side and grows into his role as Superman’s greatest enemy. Lois Lane starts out as Clark’s comic foil, but their love and respect for each other grows throughout the story in a very natural and endearing way. There’s even appearances by other famous DC superheroes, like Green Arrow, the Flash, Aquaman, and Zatanna.

Are there obvious reasons why someone wouldn’t like this show? Yes. For one thing: TOO MUCH LANA LANG DRAMA. And I will admit, the first season…and some of the second…are pretty cheesy. Like for instance, (minor spoiler) the first time Clark uses his heat vision is when it’s accidently triggered by some lusty teenage hormones he’s feeling over an attractive substitute teacher. Or the girl who eats kryptonite-laced vegetables while dieting and her metabolism starts going super fast, so she has to suck the fat out of people. Or this one episode in the fifth season when Lana Lang joins a sorority of vampires. OR this one episode when Lana, Chloe, and Lois get possessed by 17th century witches and hexes everyone at a get together Clark was throwing to strip down to their underwear and act like party animals-

What, it was funny, okay?!

And you’d be surprised how many famous people played minor parts in the show. The fat-sucking girl I mentioned above? Amy Adams. Yes, the woman who now plays Lois Lane, ironically. Jonathan Taylor Thomas plays a guy who can clone himself. Lizzy Caplan plays a girl who can morph into whoever she wants, and at first is obsessed with Lana and wants to kill her so she can become her, but then comes back and tries to pass herself off as Lana’s ex-boyfriend Whitney so she can be with Lana (yeah, it’s a gay thing).

Overall, Smallville is an awesome show. Even if you’re not a fan of Superman or comics in general, it’s worth watching. No matter what happens, Smallville will always hold a special place in my heart. ~TRL

The Art Of Writing Female OCs

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Television and film writers, I get it. You wanna have more awesome girls to even up the playing field and level out these awesome guys you’ve got to work with – and that’s great! But there is a way to go about it, and there is a way to NOT go about it. As a woman, and a writer, will you please…just listen to me? Because I’m about to give you all the secrets to creating strong original female characters.

*Note, this is an article focusing on creating female OCs for media based on pre-existing material. Not that it can’t help with purely original works either.

Comics have been dominated by men since forever (even though their female audience is larger than they realize), so naturally, there are a lot of strong male superheroes. Yeah, we’ve got our Wonder Womans and our Black Widows, but let’s be real: when you think of  “superhero”, you probably think of Superman, or Batman (because money is totally a superpower, right?), or Spiderman. I mean, how many of you have actually heard of Ms. Marvel? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

With shows like Arrow and The Flash, stories about boys saving the world, there’s a crying need for a female counterpart. A Bonnie for every Clyde, a Scully for every Mulder. Oliver Queen has Felicity Smoak. Barry Allen has Caitlyn Snow and Iris West. Even Kara Danvers on Supergirl has her sister Alex. All badass secondaries in their own right. But the grandmother of all these awesome OFCs is the intrepid right hand of Smallville‘s Clark Kent – Chloe Sullivan.

Chloe was my idol growing up. She was whip smart, witty, brave, and indomitable. She wasn’t just a love interest or just a sidekick. She was a person, with an identity and a personal life and a mind of her own. Yes, she did have a crush on Clark for a while, but it didn’t define her. Helping Clark and the Justice League was important to her life, but it wasn’t the only aspect of her character. She wasn’t stuck as a prop in the narrative. Chloe was so freaking awesome, she actually was put in DC Comics as a real canon character. That is the way you write new female characters.

So let’s just make a little list of dos and don’ts when writing strong, three dimensional women:

  1. DON’T make a woman just a love interest or helper for the main protagonist.
  2. DO give your female characters a backbone (or have them develop one over the course of the narrative – because character development is always a great tool for a writer to use!).
  3. DON’T presume that a “strong” female character just means a woman who punches people a lot (because let’s be real, without the ass-kicking, Black Widow would just be Ms. Fanservice).
  4. DO give your female characters a storyline of their own! If they don’t have a life of their own, they’re not really a character, they’re just a object in the narrative. There’s an easy test you can use called the Mako Mori test. There’s only three requirements: 1) have a female character, 2) who gets her own story arc, and 3) her story arc doesn’t support that of a man. That’s it, that’s all there is to it. Believe me – it’s not as hard as you think.
  5. DON’T make a woman a damsel in distress. It’s fine if she gets saved sometimes, but it’s great to turn the tables occasionally! Lois Lane saved Superman a few times, you know.
  6. DON’T define a woman by traditional gender roles (romantic interests, mothers, etc.) – be original!
  7. DON’T have “strong” women be romantically interested in jerks or weak guys – because that doesn’t happen in real life. I know men don’t really want to have to try when it comes to getting women and they think they just deserve us because that’s what our society has taught them, but in reality, truly strong women don’t love men who obviously aren’t good enough for them. Instead, have a man truly earn her love – that does not mean automatically receive it just because. Or have the man and the woman be on equal footing from the beginning. When a woman says she’ll never love a man because he’s a jerk, DON’T have her do a 180 by the end of the episode and throw herself at said jerk (lookin’ at you, Supergirl).

This is turning into a rant, I’m gonna stop myself now.

To provide a cautionary tale of what NOT to do, I’ll bring up the infamous BBC Sherlock. The original Holmes canon doesn’t lend itself very well to strong ladies. It’s essentially the excellent adventures of two “heterosexual” male life partners. The only long running female characters are Mrs. Hudson (sometimes Turner), the voiceless housekeeper, and Watson’s beard wife, who except for the one story where she’s a client, pretty much has no dialogue either. So naturally, there’s a crying need for girl power.

Enter…Molly Hooper. Oh, Molly.

In the very first scene she’s in, it’s made apparent to everyone that she has a gigantic crush on the eponymous detective. Okay, that’s fine. But that’s literally where her characterization begins and ends. Throughout the entirety of the series, Sherlock either ignores her, makes outrageously rude remarks to her, or uses her feelings for him to get her to do things for him. There was a brief respite in the beginning of series 3 where it seemed like there was some growth for Molly’s character in being able to move on from Sherlock, but in the last episode of the show, Molly has hit rock bottom in the pit of patheticness, getting weepy over Sherlock and demanding that he tell her he loves her, even though she knows it’s not true, instead of just realizing that Sherlock is kind of a dick to her and moving on with her life.

I pity any woman who thinks they should have been together. If that’s your idea of romance, don’t be surprised when none of your boyfriends respect you.

So, TLDR, don’t make a Molly Hooper. Make a Chloe Sullivan. ~TRL

How To Speak Fandom

It occurs to me that I’ve used some jargon that someone who doesn’t spend half their life on Tumblr might not understand. So here’s a quick manual to knowing the lingo of fandom and fan fiction.

  • Ship – (can be a verb or noun, depending on the context) derived from the word “relationship”. To ship two people is to believe that they should be in a relationship.
    • I ship Mulder and Scully so much. Mulder/Scully is my ship.
  • Pairing – a synonym for ship.
    • The pairing of the Joker and Harley Quinn is problematic.
  • OTP – “One True Pairing”; two characters you ship so hard, you could never see either party with anyone else.
    • The Doctor and Rose Tyler are the OTP of many fans of Doctor Who.
  • BroTP – two characters you ship, but only in a platonic sense (brotherly love).
    • A lot people think Sherlock Holmes and Molly Hooper should date, but I just see them as good friends. They’re my broTP.
  • NoTP – two characters you are very against being together.
    • Wincest is my noTP, because Dean and Sam are brothers.
  • OT3three characters you ship together (yay polyamory).
    • Kirk/Spock/McCoy is an OT3 for some Star Trek fans.
  • OC – “Original Character”.
    • For my Walking Dead fan fiction, I created an OC who dates Daryl, but then gets turned into a walker.
  • OOC – “Out Of Character”.
    • It was so OOC for Superman to kill Zod in Man Of Steel.
  • Canon – recognized or established by the source material.
    • The Star Wars expanded universe is supposed to be canon, but has some continuity issues with The Force Awakens.
  • Headcanon – a personal theory by a fan, not necessarily canon, but could be supported by the canon.
    • I have a headcanon that Harry Potter is bisexual.
  • Fanon – a fan theory that is accepted by pretty much the entire fandom, even though it’s not actually canon.
    • Will Graham from NBC Hannibal is probably on the autism spectrum, but it’s never really been confirmed by the writers. It’s mostly fanon.
  • Slash – fan fiction that is romantic or sexual in nature and focuses on the relationship between two men. This term arose in the 1970s when many viewers of Star Trek believed Captain Kirk and Spock were actually in love, and began to share their Kirk/Spock (Kirk slash Spock) fan works. The term slash later became a general term for works about men in amorous situations with each other, even though the “/” is now used to denote gay, lesbian, and heterosexual pairings alike.
    • I was reading a fan fiction about Captain America and Bucky Barnes last night. It was very slashy.
  • Femslash – the same as slash, but with female/female pairings instead. The first significant femslash pairing was Xena/Gabrielle from Xena: Warrior Princess.
    • I wish there were more Swan Queen fan fictions to read. Everyone seems focused on Captain Swan and Rumbelle. Femslash is such a small community.
  • RPF – “Real Person Fiction”. Writing about real life people, namely celebrities, and sometimes shipping them with other real people.
    • There is a surprising amount of RPF about the members of One Direction.

Why The Star Trek Reboots Annoy Me

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Don’t get me wrong, the 21st century Star Trek movies have some good things going for them. I love Simon Pegg as Scotty, and Karl Urban as Bones is just so on point (seriously, if they’d given him blue contacts, I would’ve sworn it was DeForest Kelley).

But the problem for me is that James Kirk and Uhura are completely wrong.

I’ve always loved Chris Pine, and Zoe Saldana is a kickass actress. But they don’t much convey everything I love about Shatner’s Kirk and Nichols’s Uhura. Pine!Kirk is not actually Kirk. He’s the Kirk stereotype.

Everyone gets Kirk wrong. People always see Kirk as this machismo, arrogant, gun-slinger womanizer, but that’s selling his character really short. James Tiberius Kirk is so kind and caring, and actually pretty brilliant. He loves classic literature and can recite Shakespeare and poetry by heart. His crew adores him because he shows them respect and is a good captain. And yes, fine, he is a lady-killer. But it’s not like Kirk’s just lookin’ to get laid. He’s a romantic, and he really does care about the women he woos. Or, alternatively, he uses his sex appeal against villainous ladies to disarm and defeat them. If this were a woman charming men like this, we would call her a femme fatale. It’s the same thing for Kirk. I kinda dig it. It’s resourceful, and subversive.

But truly, Kirk respects women. In the episode “Charlie X”, Kirk tries to explain to a young man how to show women courtesy (and not to go around slapping their asses). There’s a scene in “Tomorrow is Yesterday”, where a fighter pilot from 1960s Earth gets accidentally beamed onto the Enterprise. As Kirk is showing him around the ship, a female crew member passes by. The pilot says to Kirk, awed, “A woman?” Kirk gently corrects him: “A crewman.” Gene Roddenberry wanted to paint a future where people of all types are equal, so it wouldn’t exactly do for the main hero to be a misogynist, would it? I’ll grant you, it’s not perfect feminism, but it was the ’60s, after all.

And unfortunately, the reboots portray Kirk as the Han Solo type that he is exactly not. (This is a Tumblr post that perfectly illustrates my point.)

And Uhura. Darling sweet Uhura. I think it was the writers’ misguided attempt at feminism to have Zoe Saldana play Uhura as tough, emotionally distant, and alpha female, but honestly, Uhura from the original series was gentle and serene. She sang pretty songs for her crewmates on her off-duty hours. And she was still totally awesome. I think it’s great that Uhura plays a more active role in the reboots instead of just sitting at the comm station relaying transmissions, but filmmakers need to learn that writing strong female characters doesn’t necessarily mean making them more like men. Not every feminist icon has to be Buffy. Saldana!Uhura is basically just a not-green version of Gamora from Guardians Of The Galaxy.

Plus…why the fuck is Uhura with Spock when she and Scotty are already together in the original series?

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LOOK AT THEM! THEY ARE ADORABLE AS HELL! I AM SO ANGRY ABOUT THIS!!!!!!!

Also, everyone knows Spock and Jim belong together. They are literally soulmates. “This simple feeling” doesn’t mean friendship, sports fans. Their love is so powerful, it literally created the concept of shipping at a time when shipping wasn’t even a thing. It’s 2017 and Spock hasn’t been allowed to kiss Jim Kirk onscreen yet and both I and William Shatner think this is a disgrace. See, this is the kind of bullshit that happens when you put a man like Jar Jar Abrams in charge. He doesn’t even LIKE Star Trek; he said it himself!!! *raging*

Uhura being with Spock was the most out-of-left-field romance I’ve ever seen in a movie. There’s literally no development. I think they have like, one conversation before macking in the turbolift. All we know about their relationship is that he was a professor at Starfleet Academy and she was his star pupil. Then all of a sudden…they’re in love? Because…heteronormativity, I guess?

A LOT of Uhura’s motivation for Star Trek (2009) and Star Trek Into Darkness (2013) stemmed from her romantic involvement with Spock. This is the exact opposite of writing a strong female character. When 95% of her actions revolve around a man, especially a romantic attachment, that’s not good. That’s just enforcing the idea that a woman is only an object in a man’s life, and not an actual person. (To be fair, Star Trek Beyond does wayyyyyy better in this respect. Thank you, Simon Pegg.)

You wanna show an interracial couple? PLEASE, GOD, DO IT. But for the love of Surak, respect the goddamn canon. Like I said, Scotty and Uhura were already together, why didn’t you just do that? To block me from shipping Spirk? Too bad, motherfucker, how bout I do anyway?

If the reboots weren’t reboots, if they were totally original, I wouldn’t have that much problem with them. But they’re based on content that I’ve recently come to know and love, and it annoys me.

And one more thing, why they got Benedict Cumberbatch’s lily white ass playin’ Khan when Ricardo Montalbán was from Mexico? Helloooooo? ~TRL

A Comparison Of Unfortunate Events

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**Spoiler free!**

As a child, I was a huge reader and re-reader, especially of one book serial by “Lemony Snicket” (Daniel Handler) called A Series Of Unfortunate Events. I think I have may read the whole series through even more times than I did Harry Potter. I also rewatched the 2004 film version starring Jim Carrey many times (to be fair, I didn’t own that big a collection of DVDs and VHS tapes back then and Netflix didn’t yet exist).

And speaking of Netflix, I was very excited when an actual series with the entire story, all 13 books, was announced to be aired online. I waited in anticipation for months. So when the series was posted about three weeks ago, I devoured the first eight episodes like the Lachrymose leeches did poor Ike Anwhistle (too soon?). So I thought I’d write a post comparing the 2004 Nickelodeon movie to the 2017 Netflix series.

The direction for both adaptions is somewhat Burton-esque (Helena Bonham Carter even made a brief, faceless cameo as the Baudelaires’ mother in the film). The movie is reminiscent of Edward Scissorhands in style (especially costume); the series more like Big Fish. The movie definitely took its own path, plotwise, but seeing as it was adapting a 13 short novel series (well, the first three books) into a 110 minute movie, it was really good, and earnest. Plus some of the original scenes that weren’t pulled straight from the book (like Klaus’s “this is not home” monologue) are really well written. Meanwhile, the Netflix series is pretty true to the books (except for Violet’s pink dress from “The Bad Beginning” – Violet canonically hates pink), and is a real treat for someone who’s read them over and over like I have. We actually get to delve deeper into the mythos of the secret society V.F.D. in a way the film couldn’t do, although I have to admit, part of what made the books so enticing was all the mystery and suspense behind it. The series just gives it all away up front. We even get to see Lemony Snicket’s face, whereas in the movie, all we got was a voiceover and unrevealing shots of Jude Law. I’m not saying you have to have read the books to understand or enjoy the Netflix series, but it’s clear that it was designed for fans of the source material. One thing I thought was interesting was that the series borrowed the spyglass from the movie, even though it was never in the books.

The acting in the movie is clearly superior. The child acting from the Netflix series tends to fall flat sometimes, like participants in a middle school play. Neil Patrick Harris’s Olaf is clearly a replication of Carrey’s portrayal, spliced with Barney Stinson and Doctor Horrible (maybe some Dougie Houser on the side). What I’m saying is, NPH is playing NPH playing Jim Carrey. I was delighted at the diversity in the series, however (Sir and Charles confirmed as a gay couple, finally!); it was a pleasant change from the pasty white complexion of the movie (even Cedric the Entertainer was white). I was so excited when I realized that Mr. Poe was being played by the same actor who played Mr. Trick from Buffy The Vampire Slayer. The actors playing Uncle Monty and Aunt Josephine from both adaptations, respectively, differ from their counterparts yet are delightful to watch in both cases. I found it amusing that Catherine O’Hara, who played Justice Strauss in the 2004 movie, played Dr. Orwell, the optometrist/hypnotist, in the Netflix series. But I have to say, I think the best actor in the entire series is Patrick Warburton. I’d only ever seen PW in frat bro roles like Puddy on Seinfeld or Jeff Bingham from Rules Of Engagement. But it seems like Warburton was the only (adult) actor in the series who was playing it straight the whole time. I have to admit, I always did envision Lemony Snicket with a British accent (like Jude Law’s portrayal), but Warburton’s ironic deadpan really sold me on his performance. Oh, and the genderless henchperson. I love he/she/them too.

There’s many great things to love about both the movie and the series. I thoroughly enjoy both adaptations and would highly recommend either one. The score to the movie by Thomas Newman is one of my all time favorites. And the Netflix series, since there are two fifty minute episodes for each book, explain a lot of things that the movie – and the book series itself – didn’t address. Like, why did the employees of the Lucky Smells Lumbermill stay there when all the pay they received for their work was coupons and gum? Or how did Count Olaf, a man who is clearly an enemy of the Baudelaire parents, end up with custody of their children?

However, if ever another version of A Series of Unfortunate Events is made, can we have an actually scary Olaf? He terrified me as a child, and I’m sorry, but Neil Patrick Harris is not scary. ~TRL

Why All The Villains Are Gay

More than likely, you’ve watched a TV show or movie where the protagonist and their same sex opponent have…weird sexual chemistry. Maybe the villain gets up in the main guy’s personal space; maybe they make lewd innuendoes; maybe they tell the hero they were meant to be together or something. Sounds romantic, almost, in a really twisted way.

I’ve been thinking about this lately, about why a lot of villains are Ambiguously Gay, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not a matter of homophobia (necessarily). Let me explain. On my blog post about Hannigram, I talked a bit about enemyslash, and why I thought Bryan Fuller chose to inject his series with an overdose of homoerotic subtext (if it can even be called subtext anymore). I mentioned that it was Hannibal’s intention to seduce Will to the dark side. Emphasis on the word seduce. In a similar fashion, Passion Of The Nerd covered the lesbian subtext between Buffy Summers and Faith Lehane in Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Faith represents Buffy’s shadow self, Slayer power left unchecked. If Faith is symbolic of temptation to act out of selfish wants instead of duty and the desire to do good, it would make sense, then, that Faith would be…tempting.

Often times in film and television, the main character’s archnemesis reflects them, is their dark half, like Iago in Shakespeare’s Othello. A classic archetype for this equation is Professor Moriarty from Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes adventures. Both Holmes and Moriarty are geniuses, but whereas Holmes uses his wits to defeat crime and do good, Moriarty employs his in committing the crimes. Which is why BBC Sherlock, a slow burn gay romance between the famous consulting detective and his army doctor life mate, has produced one of the most overtly homosexual Moriartys in Holmes canon history (thank you, Moffat and Gatiss).

Usually, the dark mirror half can recognize themself in the light mirror half, and wants to combine their forces to be even stronger. Thus, the villain must seduce the protagonist to the dark side. To better mirror the two characters, they’re often made the same gender (since, you know, men and women can’t be equals, right?), so when you produce Doctor Evilman trying to coax Goodguy Heromale to the dark side, ho yay is bound to follow.

Course, I could be completely wrong and it could all be a plot for the viewing public to associate queerness with being evil, but I like to think positively, you know? ~TRL