some good posts on BSG

GayProf comments on BSG’s treatment of queer sexuality here. Quotes from the post:

If sexuality was so fluid in this fictional universe, then why were none (o) of the main human characters ever in bed with somebody of the same sex?

Now, it’s true that I’ve never been trapped on a doomed space voyage for years on end; however, I imagine that sexual experimentation probably would help pass the time. Goddess knows that we saw every possible combination of hetero sex on the show.

And that brings us to the “sort of” outing of Mr. Gaeta. How do we know that Gaeta was queer? Well, you would have to have watched the special “webisodes” entitled “Face of the Enemy” for that information. Wait – Are you not part of the 1.4 percent of the viewing public who bothers watching webisodes of their favorite shows? Oh, gee, then you wouldn’t really know he was queer….

This is a pretty half-assed approach to queer liberation. Covert representations of queer characters are better than no representation at all, I suppose. The problem with such “open secrets,” though, is that they reenforce the closet more than they tear it down. To find out about these queer characters’ sexualities, one has to do more sleuthing than Angela Lansbury. Queer sexuality becomes information only for those “in the know.” Keeping that information out of the canonical representations implicitly upholds the notion that queer sexuality is something that needs to be guarded against lest that it scare the horses or offend the general public. Eve Sedgewick reminded us many years ago that closetedness is a performance “by the speech act of silence.” Well, BSG’s silence around queer Gaeta and Hoshi’s sexuality was deafening. Apparently in space, nobody hears you come out.

Comments

  1. Charles RB says

    As I recall, the decision to make Gaeta and Hoishi a couple was made after the mutiny ep was written up.

    Meaning they created a relationship between two characters that _should have come up during the mutiny_ but didn’t, and didn’t go back to add it in. That’s a bit shoddy, really.

  2. Nialla says

    I didn’t watch BSG, but my impression as an “outsider” was the “sort of” outing was because so many kept asking why no one was gay in the show, just as the blog poster posited.

    Putting the outing in a webisode was a lame move. It was done that way so it didn’t subject the general audience to actually seeing a gay character (gasp, horrors!), yet those who complained about not seeing a gay character could be told, “But we did put a gay character into the storyline! Just visit our website.”

  3. Charles RB says

    I doubt they’d be worried about not subjecting the viewing public to homosexuality, they’d already included it in Razor.

  4. Nialla says

    Again, haven’t watched, only followed commentary online, but I was under the impression that homosexuality as portrayed in Razor was of the cliched “crazed lesbian” variety.

    Lesbians are much more acceptable to the target audience (i.e. straight men who often think two women making out means they’ve got double the chance of getting laid), and for the anti-homosexual crowd, it “proves” that homosexuality is a bad thing, because the fallout of a lesbian affair is apparently what made a woman into a sociopath.

    That’s nowhere near having a truly out character being shown in a positive light, which is exactly what TPTB of most shows are afraid of showing because they think the general public will freak out.

  5. Charles RB says

    Homosexuality as portrayed in Razor was a retconned reason to explain why Cain viewed Gina with such contempt and loathing, the writer apparently thinking “cos she was an infiltrator for a genocidal enemy and killed hundreds of people” wouldn’t cut it. Cain’s already becomes a sociopath by this point due to the pressure of the situation (she shot her friend and XO dead before Gina is revealed), and the entire plot & theme of both Razor is based on horrific choices being made in desperate situation, following the Pegasus being a Galactica that went wrong.

    I’d go with TPTB being worried about the public freaking out, except then they wouldn’t have had it on the webisodes either or be including those on the DVD where everyone else can see them. Surely you’d just not have it at all?

  6. The OTHER Maria says

    i suspect that the BRIEF inclusion of queer characters is meant to highlight the futurity of the world, and their rapid and unfortunate demises upon revealing their queerness is because they were necessary to demonstrate how awesomely progressive the show was, and could do that by being out for five minutes then exiting, pursued by a bear. sort of like how some SF shows will have a black secondary character/love interest who is in a lot of the major plot arcs but not actually a participant in them… wait, that’s ALSO BSG.

  7. Robin says

    I think the outing and killing of a couple of secondary characters wouldn’t sting so much if they’d had any positive depictions of homosexuality in the rest of the series, but they didn’t. This leads the audience to believe that the writers are saying “gays are evil and must die horribly”. I know that the writers don’t actually feel that way, but it’s hard not to make that interpretation given the material they’ve presented. I mean, there wasn’t even a gay couple (of either gender) among the background artists, as far as I can tell, let alone any other speaking role or a cast regular.

  8. Pandora says

    It didn’t occur to me until a few episodes after Gaeta and Zarek get shot for treason that we never saw any reaction from Hoshi. It’s an even more glaring omission given that in the webisodes, Hoshi was the one who insisted on continuing to search for Gaeta. So not only do the gay characters get closeted and killed, but their partners aren’t allowed to mourn them onscreen.

  9. Charles RB says

    Re OTHER Maria: Would you believe Razor writer Michael Taylor DID intend that? Specific quote being “part of the point about Cain’s and Gina’s relationship is that the fact that they had a same-sex relationship was no big deal… we did not want to make much about the idea of Cain being “gay,” if indeed she is gay, or if indeed Colonial society makes much of the distinction between hetero- and homosexual preferences. I tend to think that in this respect, at least, they’re a bit more enlightened than we are.” (Quote from http://en.battlestarwiki.org/wiki/Razor/Official_Statements )

    Re Robin: I have to concede to you here, since you’re right (though I’d argue Hoishi’s a positive example, going out to save Gaeta).

  10. The OTHER Maria says

    LOLLERSKATES. Then what serious narrative fail — you don’t demonstrate how okay you are with having marginalized subjects in your spacefleet by having them stay safely contained in a series you’re semi-retconning into the overarching narrative of the show.

  11. Charles RB says

    Re Pandora – yeah, that’s too big an oversight; IIRC the webisodes were done after the mutiny, but surely they could’ve done something after/filmed a bit later and slotted in? It’s not like they didn’t have the space, considering stuff they _did_ find room for.

    (Bad enough it took them until _the penultimate ep_ to mention “oh yeah, we put the mutineers in the brig”…)

  12. Dan says

    Sorry to be off-topic, but what’s the deal with invoking “Godess” instead of God? Doesn’t that denote what should be an all-encompassing, genderless being as intrinsically male, unless otherwise noted?

    Not that I especially care, I’m a Godless (and Godess-less) atheist, but it seemed odd for a feminist to use a gendered suffix, especially on a supposedly ineffable spirit.

    As for the BSG issue, it sounds kinda like what happened with Dumbledore. Sure he can be gay, as long as there’s no suggestion of it in the actual course of the story! If you’re going to have a queer character, have a freakin’ queer character. You don’t earn tolerance points for half-assing it.

  13. The OTHER Maria says

    Hi Dan —

    Well, actually, the parts you’re referring to are from GayProf’s website, not from me. He refers to the Goddess because his site’s got a WonderWoman theme.

    However, I’m not sure why you think feminists wouldn’t have a gendered deity, if that was part of their faith’s belief system. I mean, the feminist Catholics I know believe in God as a Father. They just don’t believe he made women intrinsically inferior. The feminist pagans I know because in a Goddess and a God who’s her consort, and talk a lot about the erotic potential in that. My understanding is that feminism impacts their approach to the sacred, not that it dictates their interpretation of its form.

    Back on topic:
    I’m torn on Dumbledore, since JK has said that tons of stuff that would’ve been in the books, like Dean Thomas’ backstory. I WANT to believe he was gay before slash about him being gay took off, but I know that’s unlikely.

  14. Charles RB says

    Dean had a backstory?

    “I WANT to believe he was gay before slash about him being gay took off”

    I get the impression Blaise Zabini only turned up in later books cos fanfic writers (who needed extra Slytherins) leapt on the name. If so, I’m still amused that she made Zabini a black English guy, something _no_ fanfic had done, causing a number of fans to literally freak out. One I saw complained “no way does a black guy have that surname!”, ignoring:

    * There are black Italians.
    * Italians do move to the UK.
    * People can marry into families from a different ethnic, religious or background but keep that families’ surname.
    * He’s a fucking wizard, and a Purebloood one – the Purebloods like to marry other Purebloods and don’t appear to care about ethnicity. Much like the Royal Family, Pureblood families could originate from half the Earth.
    * Narcissa is a FAR less likely name and no one complains about that one.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.