Lipstick Lesbians & Tight Leather Outfits
If Greg Berlanti wants to use his TV shows to promote an over-the-top gay rights agenda (hey, they are HIS shows after all!), cool. I have the choice to NOT watch them if I feel the writing insults our intelligence. But let’s get real, for real. Not all lesbians wear tight leather battlesuits with super-model figures, styled hair, perfect makeup, and are smoking hot. I guess in the Berlanti-verse they are. But doesn’t that insult the Body Positive crowd? In the real world, gay people come in all shapes and sizes. (See Modern Family) On these shows, they only come in size 2. On Arrow, the White Canary was gay (“bi”? she did do Oliver Queen for a while) until they moved her over to Legends of Tomorrow, because one sixth of every Berlanti super hero team MUST be gay. Greg then replaced her with a handsome (gay) black man on Arrow. As a matter of fact, every character in these “dramas” are required to be pretty (yes, I’m talking to you, Stephen Amell!). I guess an agenda is fine as long as it sells soap. Reality be damned!
Repeat: I am not homophobic. I just don’t like stereotypes or forced drama of any kind.
- I don’t like stereotypical portrayals of rednecks, homeboys, macho action heroes, whatever.
- Real people, or at least interesting characters, should be multi-dimensional and not just cartoon characters of a trope.
- Shows should not ram a political or sociological agenda down our throats. They are supposed to be entertaining, with realistic characters and story lines.
- If the show runners insist on pushing an agenda, it should be well done and without a double standard (See the Supergrrrl paragraphs earlier).
- Story arcs and plots should use metaphors and sub text to educate and induce thinking, but not blatant bullying.
It’s Not All Crap … Yet.
- The Flash has not integrated a major supporting character as gay … yet. I give it to the end of the season and pray I am wrong. (I am going to give Greg the benefit of a doubt as Barry’s police captain was gay, but not a main character and only shown in one or two episodes.) The real question will be: when they do ‘out’ or create a main gay character, how stereotypical or dumbed down will the dialogue and situation be?
- On Arrow, Curtis Holt (Mr. Terrific) is portrayed well as a gay character, but that is just a PART of his essence, not his definition. Kudos.
- Modern Family (NOT a Greg Berlanti show) – gay couple (definitely not Body & Personality Perfect) adopt a kid. Part of an ensemble cast that can make fun of the characters’ imperfections & eccentricities.
- Riverdale – the upcoming Archie Comics Berlanti produced series for TV will feature … wait for it … Kevin Keller – “A popular high school student who’s openly gay.”1 (Very likely you will be able to replace the word “openly” for “judgemental, vanilla, and one dimensional”.)
Here are some ideas…
- Why do shows HAVE to be about feminism, empowered women, gays, or race … every episode?
- Why can’t they be just good stories? Witty dialogue? Intriguing twists? Can’t they just be about PEOPLE?
- Or about realistic (even super) people? With real concerns, worries, biases, likes, dislikes, opinions, foibles, pettiness, etc. The characters on Berlanti’s shows are all perfect, politically correct Ken and Barbie dolls.
- I have some good friends (of color) and we constantly make jokes about the “back of the bus”, “separate water fountains”, and “fried chicken & watermelon”. All in good fun. But the WB/CW characters are too politically correct to ever joke among themselves. Real friends can laugh at their differences.
- Is it a millennial thing that these characters are so hyper-sensitive to hurting someone’s feelings that they come off as plastic?
- Look at some of the real conversations inside military units. People bonded by life and death situations every day. Some real dark, but off color, humor there.
- Why are some dramas written so “on-the-nose”? Do the producers or writers think that we are too stupid to digest subtext or a metaphor for AIDS, or color, or LGBTQ?
- Why does every single supporting character in a superhero drama have to have powers? (Flash = Killer Frost, Vibe, Kid Flash, Dr. Alchemy, Jesse Quick; Supergirl = Guardian, J’onn Jonz, etc. Arrow = don’t get me started) Can’t someone just be a good (unpowered) supporting character with a well written personality? Remember back when Xander stole all the good lines on Buffy? Ahhh. The good ole days.
- In an agenda driven, politically correct world, what does this tell our children? “You don’t count unless you wear a costume, have powers, and punch people.”?
- Can we stop being formulaic? Can drama be derived from the anxiety of the criminal situation, enhanced by the unspoken/non-visual, but alluded to, romantic/sexual complications, further complicated by superior foes, and textured by dynamic dialogue? (Nope, let’s just do the formulaic team: (Flash/Arrow/Supergirl all use the same) cop, computer super-hacker, snarky sidekick, main hero, and obligatory gay person. It’s easier to not HAVE to be creative.)
- How about we have some (gay or otherwise) characters be complete human beings and not defined by their sexual orientation, color, or beliefs … or dedicate whole episodes to it?
- Can we stop using the most predictable (and contrived) path to drama? What about using a surprise twist we didn’t see coming? (I apologize to the creatively-challenged and or lazy ass show writers for these tough questions.) Let’s focus on creating the most entertaining and intriguing shows we can, as opposed to the shortest path to a writing paycheck.
- How about some supporting characters who are not Ken and Barbie perfect specimens of beauty, acceptance, and understanding? (By the way, this is why Marvel kicked DC’s ass in the 60s. DC’s heroes were all Caucasian, square jawed, perfect, billionaire playboys with teen ‘wards’ as sidekicks, while Marvel characters, fought, squabbled, paid rent, caught the flu, were wrong about assumptions, and were, in general, realistic human beings.)
To anyone who thinks I am asking too much, I have just three words for you: “West” “Wing” and “Firefly“.
- Wikipedia: Archie Comics co-CEO Jon Goldwater explained that including an openly gay character is a way to keep the world of Archie Comics inclusive and updated. “Archie’s hometown of Riverdale has always been a safe world for everyone. It just makes sense to have an openly gay character in Archie comic books.” Veronica writer Dan Parent concurred, saying “It shows that Riverdale is in the 21st century.” [↩]