What happened: Ancient homophobic film trope (fade/cut to black) used to cut off the show’s current most central couple, who happen to be two men, as they slip into the bedroom for the first time. They are rare positive representatives for LGBTQA & allied people in the audience. They have deep emotional significance to these people. They have come a long way, worked through a lot of things, to be together, and we have been along for the journey. This is their first time together physically, and the first time at all for one character.
Whatever reason there was for using that”cut to black” tactic on this couple (as opposed to the semi-graphic, half-naked dry-humping scene with a random heterosexual hookup earlier in the episode) was supposed to do/symbolize/say, what it felt like to many people was a slap in the face. A statement that said our sexuality, be it in a loving, mature couple or not, was not worth looking at, or was somehow wrong, so it shouldn’t be seen.
No one I’ve spoken to is saying, “OMG I wanted to see the cute boys with no shirts, putting on some softcore porn for us! You deprived us pervs of all the queer sex! Boo!” But that is the way it’s being treated by anyone who bothers to address our issues at all. The people in charge of making the show have not responded in any way to criticism that this looks like homophobia, pure and simple. We have been called “disappointed,” and dismissed like spoiled children. “Wait and see!” “Trust them!” “What about the actors?” “Don’t be so rude!” “See what happens next!” They say.
Here is how you properly react to people pointing out something you screwed up:
“I’m really sorry if what we did hurt your feelings/made you feel less than. We didn’t mean to portray it that way. It was cut like that because XXX.”
Look how easy that was! Took ten seconds to type. But I type very fast, so I’ll give you 30 seconds-ish. Here’s what we got instead:
“DON’T YOU DARE BE MEAN TO THE PERSON WHO WROTE THE EPISODE!”
See what you did wrong there? You 1. ignored the point, 2. insulted the people trying to point out where you went wrong, and 3. lectured people actually affected by this kind of erasure — or worse — every day about their words/behavior for their expression. It’s also my understanding that you’ve been treating people who have pointed out some of the careless racism on the show in a similar shoddy fashion. You can’t just have queer characters or characters of color on your show and pat yourself on the back for your progressiveness. The responsibility doesn’t end with faces of various shades and dates of the same gender. You have to treat them with the same attention, respect, and depth as your straight, white characters.
When a queer person points out to you that what you have done appears homophobic, or a person of color points out that stuff you’re doing is racist, you don’t ignore them, lecture them, or tell them how they can or can’t act and what they can or can’t say OR how to say it. You say,”We’re very sorry, we hear you, we’ll try to do better. We didn’t know enough about film and TV history to know that these tactics have been used by creators to denigrate minority groups for decades.”
Okay, maybe not the last part (even though it’s true), but you get the gist. You might even want to thank them for telling you, rather than just saying “screw it,” and walking away from your show. You did it in 5 minutes flat for people upset about consent issues. But you ignore the rest of us? That’s made it 1000x worse — people are now offended, hurt, AND enraged. And with fandom piling up, telling us to shut up, calling us names, ridiculing our perfectly valid complaints… you wonder why we get angry, then tired, then just turn off the TV?
I don’t feel very good about your product anymore. Why should I care about this show when you seem to have so little respect for these sections of your audience? When you treat this queer couple, and these characters of color, as tokens you can trot out just to say you did? That’s not the kind of representation I’m interested in, and I’m certainly not interested in your or the rest of the audience’s disrespect or contempt.
There. Simple. Clear. Barely any cursing. Of course, your refusal to address the issue at all for four days has assured us (at least myself and a number of others) that you don’t care, and it is too late for you to fix it. You can’t. It was filmed, it played, your let our cries go unheeded, done.
Of course, I’m only one bisexual, adult human being who has struggled to be accepted all of my life. Who cares what I think? Best of luck to you.