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londovir- by iamsab

Still feeling the wank tonight

(BTW, there's a new challenge on celestial_templ.)

A few disgruntled comments inspired by reading ds9agogo:

Babylon 5 is not some holy temple of gay- I really don’t get the Trek/B5 rivalry surrounding this. If you blink, you miss the whole Susan/Talia thing in filmed canon. And the subtext (which in my humble opinion is comparable to the subtext on Trek, if the popularity of Garak/Bashir is any indication) is exactly that- subtext. Which means it’s open to interpretation. (Except for Londo/G’Kar. Because, you know, theirloveissoobviouslycanon. *g*)



While we on the subject of the gay, I have a confession to make: I’ve never really been all that incensed about the lack of it on either B5 or Trek and, in all honesty, all of these demands for a gay character in Trek or elsewhere grate on my nerves. I explained my reasons for this in short on ds9agogo, but I would like to expand on them a bit.

In my long and checkered career as a fangirl, I have, in some sense or another, developed an emotional connection to a pretty wide range of fictional characters: a Bajoran former terrorist; a middle-aged male surgeon; a man in his thirties who got tomorrow’s newspaper today and his two best friends, one of whom was both black and blind; a insecure but incisively smart middle-aged male vice principal with a passion for classical music; and, at the last, two pouchy aliens with funny hair and tentacles and a lizard-marsupial. On the surface, only a few of these characters have anything in common with me, a 20-something, white, female American who (currently) works in retail. Yet they all spoke to me in some way, whether it was through my aspirations, my desires, my regrets, my values, something I felt I was lacking at a particular point in time, memories of a rocky adolescence, etc. And all of the above characters achieved this connection because they were fleshed out characters with a number of dimensions.

This, I feel, is how it should be with all entertainment media- our attention should be focused on creating whole people to live in the universes we envision. The goal should not be to acquire political approval or to fill some perceived quota. “Hmm, let’s see… since X percent of people in our population are (fill in the blank), X percent of our characters should be (fill in the blank)” This isn’t a paint-by-numbers exercise- you’re (presumably) trying to reach people with your art. Yes, challenge and dissent are legitimate goals as well, but in this, I follow the KISS rule- Keep It Subtle, Stupid. Make people think- don’t bludgeon them to death with whatever ax you’re currently grinding.

As I said, to set out with the intention of creating a gay character is to run the very great risk of creating a character who is only gay and nothing else. In other words, you run the risk of creating a character that is, in fan-speak, “teh suck”- a one-dimensional character with no flaws, no quirks, no nothing beyond the gay. Allow me to show you one way in particular that this might happen without you intending it with a little thought exercise:

Imagine that Londo Mollari is introduced as a gay character- that, for example, he has a brief and passionate love affair with a male Centauri instead of Adira. Assume that every other personal trait is constant and that his story line proceeds as it does in the true canon.

Could you imagine the outcry? And I’m not just talking about right-wing groups. The left would demand JMS’s head for the “blatant homophobia” inherent in making The Gay Character the one who allies with the Shadows. Even though Londo’s choice has absolutely nothing to do with whom he is shagging. Even though Londo evolves and changes and eventually dies doing something profoundly noble.

In this day and age, writing an openly gay character means locking your creativity in an itty-bitty box. Your gay character will constantly labor under the responsibility of “representing.” You can’t allow your gay character to do evil things. You can’t kill your gay character, even if it is appropriate for the plot. You can’t, in short, allow your gay character to be a whole, unique person. And that's why I, personally, object to all this agitation over the absence of gay characters in Trek (or elsewhere).



So, there we are. I’ve said my piece. And I think I’m pretty safe from accusations of homophobia given my recent Londo/G’Kar tentacle pr0n kick. But still…

*puts on her asbestos suit and waits for the wank to begin*

Comments

In this day and age, writing an openly gay character means locking your creativity in an itty-bitty box. Your gay character will constantly labor under the responsibility of “representing.” You can’t allow your gay character to do evil things. You can’t kill your gay character, even if it is appropriate for the plot. You can’t, in short, allow your gay character to be a whole, unique person.

I agree that this has, historically, been a problem. But the only way it's going to change is if we have more gay and bisexual characters of all varieties on TV. That goes for other minorities, as well - the more black, female, disabled, etc. characters there are the less any one of them is expected to act as some kind of representative of the group they happen to belong to. If you have several female characters, it's easier to make it clear that none of them are some abstract Ideal Of Womanhood, and the same goes for non-straight characters.

I agree that introducing a character just to represent a minority is incredibly annoying, mind, and for that reason I hope we can get to a point where characters can be gay or bi and nobody from either side of the fence feels the need to get excited about it. We're probably getting there now - although there were people who screamed 'homophobia!' when Tara was killed on BtVS, there were plenty of others around to point out just why this was nonsense.

I think B5 is actually very good at treating its same-sex relationships well, although since it was made in the early nineties JMS had to be subtle about it.