Pop Culture Fix: The Lexa Pledge Hopes To Change Queer TV From The Inside

This is your weekly queer entertainment news round-up, the Autostraddle Pop Culture Fix!


Teevee

+ LGBT Fans Deserve Better, the queer activists behind the revolutionarily successful campaign to stop the Bury Your Gays trope, are teaming up with TV writers and showrunners to instill The Lexa Pledge in writers rooms. The pledge seeks to shine awareness on the dangers of the ubiquitous cliche and to provide accountability for quality queer representation on TV. LGBT Fans Deserve Better joined with the creatives at Saving Hope to make their dream a reality, and are adding TV executives every day. They’ve also raised close to $125,000 dollars for The Trevor Project. I continue to be inspired, humbled, and awed by the women who are making a reality out of what seemed like a pipe dream less than three months ago. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life, and it’s only just begun.

+ Steven Universe‘s “The Answer” (aka The Greatest Television Episode of All Time) is going to be a standalone book! You know Mey and I are already clicking through to pre-order it.

Steven Universe creator Rebecca Sugar has announced a new children’s book that will be based on that episode’s story. Sugar announced the book on her Tumblr, and it will reportedly expand on relationship between two Gems named Ruby and Sapphire who fall in love and fuse together (it’s a metaphor) to form theSteven Universe character known as Garnet. The book, appropriately titled The Answer, will be available in September.

+ You can get suited by Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner on HBO, if you want.

+ The Fosters‘ third season has finally arrived on Netflix and Flavorwire thinks you should watch it (because it’s good, not just because it’s about gay moms).

The fact that they’re a lesbian couple is a given, not an immediate source of drama. But the series is interested in the ways racial and sexual identity shape our personalities … I know this all sounds back-pattingly PC, but it’s handled with humor and grace, and it never feels like the show is trying to teach you a lesson. Lena and Stef go above and beyond with their foster duties (they eventually adopt Callie and Jude), but they’re not saints — they’re harried and stressed out, and sometimes they snap. But their home is a lovely place to spend an hour every week. The show deftly balances teen and adult drama, and despite often-heavy subject matter, The Fosters has a light touch, exuding warmth and love like a big group hug.

+ Santa is delivering a new season of Sense8 .


Movie Situations

+ Kate McKinnon’s got herself a whole other movie lined up after Ghostbusters. She’ll be starring alongside Emma Stone in Women in Business, “which centers on two competitive women who are sent on a business trip to Canada. There, they hire a third woman off Craigslist to act as their intern, which derails their trip.” It’s written by a woman and will be directed by one too!

+ Speaking of which ghosts:

kateghost

+ The Case Against 8 got itself a female director, too!

+ Carol director Todd Haynes is adapting Brian Selznick’s masterpiece, Wonderstruck, for the big screen. It’s a story about two deaf teens, one of whom is named Rose. Her part of the film “will be presented as a silent film in both a nod to movie history and an aesthetic designed to capture her perspective” and will be played by deaf actress Millicent Simmonds. According to Deadline, it will include “an unprecedented number of deaf actors in roles that would normally go to hearing actors.”


Queer People, Out And About

Gillian Anderson talked about the gender pay gap and her bisexuality with Andy Cohen.

Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle managing editor who lives in New York City with her partner, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. She's a member of the Television Critics Association, the Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Heather has written 871 articles for us.

34 Comments

  1. Did anyone else picture all of the writers for like the CW and ABC Family wearing furs, slicing their palms and doing some sort of blood oath in that junked skyscraper when you read ‘The Lexa Oath?” No? Just me?

  2. Some writers are actually listening!! A few signatures have been added to the pledge, including people from Rookie Blue, The Catch, and Orphan Black (one former producer/writer in OB’s case).

    It seems more and more likely that The 100 will be remembered as “that show that killed off a lesbian and handled the fan reaction terribly”. Like an example of what not to do that will be taught to aspiring TV writers and PR people for the TV industry. So much for Rothenberg’s dreams of an epic story about survival, huh? (It would be great if it was also remembered for its racism, though. That would add more much-needed don’t’s to the rookie writer’s handbook.)

    • It’s been like 3 years and I’m still so heartbroken about Wells. Why did we get shit characters like mass-murderer white boy supreme Finn instead???
      And couldn’t they have imagined a better storyline for Anya than to kill her off?

  3. The Lexa Pledge is quite an achievement!

    The description of Wonderstruck reminds me of Rinko Kikuchi’s scenes in Babel, which were really well done. Of course I don’t think that film had deaf actors in it.

  4. – They’re replacing Capheus’ actor with another man in “Sense8”.
    – Hopefully Sun will also help them with accounting instead of just kickboxing. She’s a business woman as well, you know.

    • Ugh I’m so worried about that Capheus situations. Speculations go from “Lana Wachowschi was super racist to him, he defended himself and it escalated” to “he was being transphobic/homophobic” and “he refused to do a group sex scene”…

      • Both Jaime and Brian J Smith seem happy that he was recast if that helps the situation. The racism thing doesn’t wash with me because Freema has nothing but good things to say about the Wachowski’s and she’s Black.

        • IDK what the situation is but Jamie has said multiple times that transphobia has nothing to do with him leaving. As for the the racism, the Wachowski’s have a history of saying and doing extremely problematic shit regardless of the diversity in their projects. It’s one of the reasons a lot of people have been reluctant to give Sense8 a chance in the first place. This came up in the comments on this very website when Autostraddle first reviewed the show last year.

  5. You know sometimes actresses leave their jobs. It makes their character nearly impossible to give a decent way out. I would like to know from the Autostraddle writers and editors when is it ok to kill a lesbian? More likely when is it as acceptable as killing off a male heterosexual character?

    We want to be treated equally but can we be treated equally if lesbian characters are never killed off in a respectful way. Just basically sent away to make things easier.

    • This has already been covered by Autostraddle in their previous article about this subject. But to answer your question anyway, male heterosexual characters make up the majority of television characters. You could kill off 20 of them in 2 months and I doubt anybody would notice because they are more than fairly represented on television. By comparison lesbian and bi female characters(LGBT characters in general) make up a very small fraction of tv characters. I believe less than 2% but you can go back and read the article for exact statistics. When you kill off so many of an already marginalized group with little representation as it is people tend to notice their deaths. Especially when you kill off like 12 in the first 3 months of 2016.

      So, it will be just as acceptable to kill off lesbian/bi characters as it is straight men when there’s actually as large a portion of them represented on television. “We want to be treated equally…” But…. we aren’t. You can’t kill off more than half of the little representation we do have and then act like that’s not an issue that doesn’t deserve a conversation. Just saying. Because believe me if tv writers killed off more than half of their straight male characters we would NEVER hear the end of it. They would scream misandry until their lungs gave out.

    • Also like Lexa could have gone in exile? Or quit as Commander to become a general somewhere else? Like there’s a lot of things we could have done to reduce or take out her character that don’t involve her death.

        • That is an insult to fanfiction.

          No joke, I have in fact read GOT fics better than what Rothenberg is doing at this point with the 100.
          But to be completely honest tho the best fics were from people followed ASoIaF more than the Game of Thrones tv show.
          After all tits and violence only go so far before they wear kinda smooth after awhile, give me psychological complexity, ice demons and their zombie minions vs dragons any time.

    • it’s not just about queer characters dying, either. it’s about the events and circumstances surrounding their deaths. sure, lesbians die just like other mortal beings, but there is more than just a pattern of death — there is a pattern of death that immediately follows a moment of queer joy.

      the ideology that gets perpetuated there is that queer people cannot be happy. that if we find happiness within/as a result of our queerness, we will be punished/face consequences for doing so.

      it’s a trope that stems from the mid-20th century, beginning with obscenity codes that restricted the kind of content that could be shown on theatrical stages, and leading into the Motion Picture Production Code, which stated that “sin” (which included queerness alongside crimes like murder and rape) could only be depicted on screen if it was being condemned. so, you could indicate that a character was queer, but they had to suffer for it, less you be accused of supporting deviant behavior.

      the trope is furthered in this instance (as in many others) because lexa’s death was so senseless and, for lack of a better word, random. a woman who has defeated multiple opponents in hand-to-hand combat, who has lead troops into war and come out triumphant, is killed by a stray bullet by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. yes, this happens in real life, but this is not real life: this is a completely controlled piece of fiction that a room full of people constructed. they made a conscious decision to kill this character, immediately after achieving a moment of queer bliss, take a stray bullet to the gut and die. no honor, no triumph, no sacrifice for a greater cause.

      if lexa and clarke had consummated their relationship, had exchanged mutual ‘i love you’s, and then, after they were in an established romantic & sexual relationship for a while, one of them died in battle, then maybe we’d be having a different conversation. but that’s not what happened, and it’s, unfortunately, what has happened so many times before.

      • YAAASS all THAT right THERE, pretty much my what I’ve been wanting to express from the beginning of the Lexa event. But more eloquent, coherent and less weird relationship with violence and “good death” concepts root in the debris of my own real life trauma derailing the whole thing.

        You even incorporated the Hays Code! Without getting confusingly verbose, too background info-ry, or what.

        Much win, go you.
        My captialisation snobbery has even been switched off.

    • In an absolute utopia, I think we would all want our faves (esp. women loving women) to lead long and happy lives onscreen, but realistically we all recognize that people die and TV characters, no matter how impactful or awesome, are still characters.

      That said, I don’t think any of us who are sick of the Bury Your Gays trope are calling for a complete end to lesbian character deaths, we’re just asking that shows recognize how disproportionately lesbian/wlw characters are killed off, and that they begin to treat these deaths with the same respect afforded to non-marginalized characters.

      We don’t want to see wlw being killed explicitly because of their same-sex attraction or relationship. We don’t want their deaths being written directly after their only moment of peace or happiness. We don’t want them dying to further the plot of their cis-het white male counterparts. We don’t want them randomly receiving the gruesome death canonically meant for their cis-het white male counterparts. We don’t want the few characters made to reflect our lives to be unceremoniously killed off because they matter less to the writing staff.

      I absolutely expected Commander Lexa to die this season, but I wasn’t even mad going into it because I just assumed that an entire team of writers would give her the badass, heroic, heartfelt death she deserved. I was wrong this time, and I’m really hoping the Lexa pledge will make a difference for our representation.

  6. ‘Dipped into the Lady pot’?! Seriously?! Anderson handled it well though. On another note, I am devastated that I have to wait till December to watch season 2 of Sense8! I guess I’ll just watch that hot loft scene a million more times.

  7. Add another lesbian character to the win column. DC Anna Ram played by Jing Lusi survived to the end of Scott and Bailey last night. She wasn’t raped, attacked in any way, has a girlfriend and is pretty good at her cop job. Kudos to Suranne Jones and the rest of the production team for doing the right thing. Oh and she said “I’m a lesbian Chinese woman” which was awesome as well.

  8. Yay! More Sense8!

    But: If someone can please edit Sense8, so it’s mostly the women and less fighting, and then please do the same thing with Game of Thrones (I know, the resulting show will be 5 minutes long and mostly consist of “where are my dragons”), and send those files my way please, I would be eternally grateful.

  9. New interview with the Person of Interest showrunners: http://io9.gizmodo.com/person-of-interest-s-final-villains-are-mark-zuckerberg-1773486096
    They go into AI research, social media and how it can be abused, and how that relates to what happens on the show. It’s a fascinating read.

    The interviewer also asked them about the Bury Your Gays trope, which was… unfortunate. Sure, it’s a hot topic and their show has LGBT characters, so it was a given that it would come up eventually. But what’s the point of asking the people who work on a show to basically spoil the ending? They answered with some vague platitudes, because what else could they do? Amy Acker was similarly put on the spot at a con and people got worried and angry when she gave a professional non-answer. I understand and share the concerns about Shaw and Root’s fate, and I can’t fault anyone who will wait to know if they survive before deciding to finish (or start) POI, but I don’t think it’s reasonable to demand to know how their story ends.

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