Monday, May 02, 2016

Pledge to Do Better

Granted, this video is jokey. That tends to happen when you get a bunch of funny a bunch of professionally funny lesbian ladies together. But the sentiment behind the humor, that there are literally a zillion other things to do with lesbian characters rather than kill them, is of course spot on.

Also spot on is the new Lexa Pledge, which was created by writers and producers of the Canadian series “Saving Hope” in support of the thriving LGBT Fans Deserve Better campaign. And what is says, in seven rather succinct points, that it strives to provide better, more representative, non-stereotypical portrayals of LGBTQ characters. And it also promises to not kill off LGBTQ characters “solely to further the plot of a straight one.” I’ve said it before, but not every show that kills an LGBT character is irredeemably bad. Characters die all the time on TV. Hell, two more queer female characters died last week. But the overall effect of this mass of killings is a cultural narrative that tells an already underrepresented group its life story is overwhelmingly tragic. And that is bad.

The pledge has collected more than a dozen signatures so far from producers and writers on shows like “Saving Hope” and “Rookie Blue” and “The Catch.” But what it really is is provide further confirmation that LGBT Fans Deserve Better is a real and powerful campaign that is helping to change the way the entertainment industry respects its LGBT characters and fans.

I’d also like to address the predictable knee-jerk reaction by some in Hollywood to the campaign. When faced with criticism, your first instinct shouldn’t be to throw up your hands and say, “Fine, I’m taking my toys and going home.” Yet there are some who counter reasonable concern about the Bury Your Gays trope with the claim that people will be too afraid to write LGBT characters at all now. The answer to poor representation is not less representation. When we say we’re sick of the Dead Lesbian Syndrome, the response shouldn’t be to say well then we’ll just stop writing lesbian characters. The point, you seem to be missing it.

The point is to write realistic, representative and non-reductive LGBT characters. Which, really, should be the point of writing any character. Why write a whole character simply to prove a tired point? Unless you’re writing a modern version of “Aesop’s Fables,” the goal of character development should be a fully realized person with agency – not matter the person’s gender, race, sexual orientation, whathaveyou. You need a way to give your straight white (usually male) lead more motivation. Buy him a poster with a kitten hanging from a tree limb that says, “Hang In There!” It’s not less original as it is to kill off the woman or minority or gay character.

The funny thing about the whole LGBT Fans Deserve Better campaign is that, in the end, what we’re really asking for is better TV, period. If producer and writers start treating LGBT characters with more respect and representation, it will actually make their shows better. Because who starts writing a TV shows and says, you know what, I’d really love to write a character that is stereotypical, hackneyed and falls into a predictable trope that is harmful to a vulnerable community of people who look to it for hope of a better future? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

p.s. I did hear about The Catch killing off a gay lady. But since I have not watched I will reserve judgment on it for the time being.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

I call BS on The Catch. They just killed a lesbian off. Signing something like that when you already did the thing you say you won't is poor form at the least.

Anonymous said...

As I understand it, the episode of The Catch was already shot and done when The 100's "Thirteen" aired. In my opinion it is okay to realize that you are part of harmful "trend", apologize and sign the pledge stating that you will try to do better.
Can we please try and not get out the pitchforks just yet?

Kaz said...

I think The Catch is pretty boring and formalistic. I did watch the eps of the 2 women falling into bed together. It too was formalistic. One woman a bisexual hired killer, and the other trying to buy the team time by suducing the killer. All in all just the same old stuff. But atleast the writers have now pledged to write queer characters with more depth and have better stories. So, maybe a win. But I doubt that The Catch will get any better.

If the writers and producers really want to make real change to LGBTQ representation, they should write more LEAD (who won't be killed off) characters that are queer. It's tiring to see us only get to be the secondary character or the extra on set. Neither of these type of characters get much respect and that is why they are disposable. The secondary characters includes not just gays, but women and POC.

Joe Schmoe said...

Of course, you can do what I have done: stop watching mainstream tv. The ratings for CNN/MSNBC/CNBS (sic)/Fox news shows are plummeting as people realize they spew a deluded fantasy not in our interest. Y'all need to see the same in our fiction PROGRAMMING. .....

Joe Schmoe said...

Of course, you can do what I have done: stop watching mainstream tv. The ratings for CNN/MSNBC/CNBS (sic)/Fox news shows are plummeting as people realize they spew a deluded fantasy not in our interest. Y'all need to see the same in our fiction PROGRAMMING. .....

Joe Schmoe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe Schmoe said...

Oh, when Hellywood sees the persistent pernicious decline in revenue. .. only then coupled with your protestations will we see change....

Joe Schmoe said...

Sorry gals, me phone likes my comments so much, it posts twice....

Anonymous said...

I agree with the principle of this pledge, but I would care a whole lot more if this wasn't called the "Lexa Pledge". Lexa doesn't represent all queer viewers, it certainly doesn't represent me or anyone I know. I'm honestly a bit annoyed that this one character is being used as an icon representative of queer fans and that so many Clexa shippers only really care about pushing this movement because their favorite white lesbian character died.

Lily Mikesell said...

The Lexa Pledge as well as the lgbt fans deserve better info campaign came about through the hard work of that particular fandom. After countless articles were written about it and lots of money raised for the Trevor Project it kind of makes sense to have that character be the "name" as it has become so recognizable.

But in the end, who cares what the name is isn't what's important is the goals we share?

Thanks Dorothy for your wit and insight on the issue as usual, and for your continuing coverage!

Anonymous said...

Besides that the Pledge is not officially named "The Lexa Pledge", it's just been nicknamed that for reasons mentioned above bt Lily Mikesell and on top of the fact that Lexa's death is what triggered the sudden mass-outrage. The straw that broke the camel's back for many people, and introduced a whole new generation to the concept.

Regarding The Catch, Sherry White released a statement http://lgbtfansdeservebetter.com/blog/2016/04/30/statement-sherry-white/

Anonymous said...

Before people start dragging The Catch, the reason they signed it is BECAUSE they themselves fell into the trope and realized it when all was already filmed, and they addressed the death afterwards in this context and talked about it openly. In fact, it was a similar storyline that inspired Saving Hope to craft the pledge. THEY were writing a story about a lesbian who died and were discussing it in the writers room when the whole Lexa controversy exploded and decided to educate themselves and read on everything that was being put out by the community, the articles, etc. and based on that changed the storyline and decided to pen the Pledge with the LGBT fans deserve better folks. It's people like them, who realize their mistakes and try to learn and do better that should be commended.

Anonymous said...

Some of you anons are wastes of skin. Just because your old & bitchy at the world doesnt mean everyone is. Its not actually called the Lexa Pledge, Lexa sparked it but it isnt actually about her specifically, if some of you would get over yourselves about how because you hated Lexa therefore you dont care keep enjoying tropey LGBT characters on TV. People are trying to get some change happening but again because you didnt come up with the idea you arent on board.