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Sexuality (Gay, straight & other) on the show

honeybee1111

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Report this Sep. 29 2009, 7:31 am

Okay, there was a thread with a less than respectful title/poll earlier but the discussing was meandering to someplace interesting.

So, here's a respectful thread to discuss things like gay subtext, slash fiction and how sexuality is portrayed in the relaunch books.

I think everyone agreed that canonically, all the main characters including Malcolm are straight.

Slash fiction is another can of worms, of course. A peculiar, but very significant part of fandom.

The books by Martin and Mangels have gay characters including Trip's brother and a gay Klingon.  For the record, I like this element of the books - even though I'm not gay nor do I write slash. I just think it adds some color and depth to the story.

I also said that I think Silik was portrayed as very effeminate, in order to amp up the creepiness. I feel the same way about Garek on DS9, and with Garek I'll even say that his fixation on Julian in the early season was suggestive.

grigori

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Report this Sep. 29 2009, 7:45 am

....Not sure what I can contribute just yet--the other thread deleted my wonderful summary of gay allegory in all the Trek series hitherto ( 'thought I was pretty thorough, too! ) and how basically till now ST has been a little cowardly on the topic, even metaphorically. Which in this day and age has made it an embarrassingly glaring by omission.

And how to introduce a gay character now would, for that reason, attract more attention than it merits, since--as in real life--gay people are simply there, we don't want the characters there for any different a storyline than we give the heteros.

honeybee1111

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Report this Sep. 29 2009, 8:12 am

I completely agree that a gay character would have a whole slew of baggage that isn't necessary - but now would be inevitable at this point.

I do know that back in the TNG era Whoopi Goldberg changed a line in "The Offspring" from "when a man and woman fall in love" to "when two people fall in love" - so its always been something people behind the scenes wanted to do, including Rodenberry.

That fact that its not there is a bigger deal that it being there probably would have ever been.

RedShirtGuyNumber1001

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Report this Sep. 29 2009, 9:16 am

you know I'm just not that interested in seeing 2 dudes kiss, and I really think hot lesbians only exist in porn.  The only attractive lesbians I have seen are very very rich, and they look like any other career woman.

I just don't think Trek needs to go there, or worse use gay stereotypes that are just completely overused in romantic comedies.

honeybee1111

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Report this Sep. 29 2009, 9:24 am

Quote
gay stereotypes that are just completely overused in romantic comedies.


I agree there. Two things I don't want to see is the a) wise, fey best friend of a female or b) hot girl on girl action played for the sake of male viewers. Both of those things have been done to death and are really uninteresting to me.

DS9 did the latter with the mirror episodes. I also think there was some of that in Rajinn, but JB isn't playing the assault scene for sexiness, which I appreciate.

Serit

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Report this Sep. 29 2009, 9:32 am

There are two ways we can approach Human and alien sexuality in the Trekverse:

from the viewpoint of internal consistency on Earth and the Coalition/Federation from the 22nd to the 25th centuries, i.e., motifs, plot points, and themes which ought to be consistent--more possible in prose fiction written by one person, but less likely to create dramatic conflict and tension (see below), and/or bring those motifs, plot points, and themes in conflict with alien races as metaphors or analogies to what is occurring in Human culture now, which brings us to the second viewpoint;

OR: from the viewpoint of a dramatic television series, which requires conflict and tension, and in which nothing can exist in a vacuum (tres apropos in a science fiction series).

I had proposed in the deleted topic from last year and the one where we'd written about homosexuality recently, that a 'gay' (or bisexual, or transgendered, or other) character cannot exist in a dramatic vacuum. In American television drama, every action must have an equal and opposite reaction, and every character's motif, backstory and/or arc, if we want to view it that way must have something to react against. (Hmm... perhaps that's why Travis never did anything; the character's backstory didn't have a 'continuing' conflict)

IF the executive producers were to introduce a 'gay' character--and I'd rather say "a character who is gay"--they would not do it in a vacuum. It may be seen as a cheap shot by most people (it wasn't handled the same way on "Buffy" regarding Willow's development), but one way to introduce a character who is gay is to give him or her a backstory and a reason for conflict and tension in the series, but walk the fine line not to make their conflict overshadow the purpose of the show. If we discuss ENT purely as a theoretical exercise, then I could point out two scenarios for characters--yes, more than one--who are gay. Starfleet has two hotshot officers who just happen to be gay, or bi, or whatever, and they have had a tempestuous marriage, are divorced, and go their separate ways. While apart, they carve out illustrious careers in their chosen fields within Starfleet--so far, so good.

Four or five years later, Jon Archer is picking the "best of the best" for his staff, and he's faced with a problem: he can get the "best" with a conflict, or he can play it safe, select the second-best choice, and run the risk of not having the resources of a top officer. The Klingon incident in Iowa removes the issue and makes the decision for him. Archer tells Tucker who he (A) has picked for Armoury Officer, and Tucker's just gonna have to deal with it, because it's his ex, Reed. Well, that gives a whole new meaning to the 'power distribution' arguments between the two until "Silent Enemy"! What happens when other personnel learn that Reed and Tucker were once married and now aren't? What happens if one starts dating--never mind that--what happens when all these alien chicks start throwing themselves at Tucker: will Reed get jealous? Will he let Trip 'tough it out'? Realize, also, with this (marriage/divorce) backstory, I think Reed would have a completely different personality, and it would manifest differently onscreen.

...wow... "Shuttlepod One could have been a totally different episode!


I've started to wonder why Enterprise didn't have a squad of MACO commandos aboard from the very start, under the command and control of LtCmdr Reed, before "The Expanse/Anomaly", especially after the Vulcans warned Starfleet how agressive the Klingons were. Seems illogical not to have a ground asault force, just in case.

On the other hand, what if Major Hayes was Reed's ex-spouse? Now there is an underlying, personal reason for the animosity between the two men--who abandoned who? Who lost patience first? Also, does/did Hayes know about Reed's spying for Starfleet Intelligence? Did he support Reed's decision to spy in the first place? Did he support Reed's decision to leave when he )R( did? (implied in Reed's and Harris' conversations in "Affliction/Divergance," that Reed left but Harris wanted him to stay) Think about an episode like "The Communicator," where Hayes and the MACOs would go planetside to rescue Archer and Reed. Tucker argued with T'Pol to rescue the officers--besides getting their equipment and medical data back; how does going in to 'rescue' one's ex change the personal dynamic between them, particularly since Reed is supposed to be Hayes' commanding officer?


In the scenarios I created above, the characters are complex, three-dimensional personalities with pasts, issues, and relationships--they are no longer token "gay" characters. And no, most Trek fans wouldn't want to watch "daytime dramas" unfold, but the essence of good scriptwriting to is convey emotions and thoughts concisely, in few lines of dialogue.


And no, I am NOT 'picking' on LtCmdr Reed, or singling him out--I think TPTB had many avenues to pursue with his character and totally mismanaged all of them. In fact, you could substitute Reed, Tucker, or Hayes with Mayweather, but the nature of those conflicts would disappear because the command dynamics would be different. Regarding "The Communicator," I'd think that someone who had been in Starfleet Intelligence would know how to keep track of all of his/her equipment and not lose something as obvious as a communicator. Ick--never mind, "TC" and "A/D" both drive me nuts, but they don't factor in here.

I pretty much stopped watching dramatic television in 2006 or 2007; I watch the "cable documentary" channels, and repeats of any and all Trek and Stargate: Atlantis when they're on. ...Rodney's growing on me... like an annoying fungus!

Targallian

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Report this Sep. 29 2009, 10:04 am

I think I agree with what grigori has said about getting more attention that it merits. Here's why:

What was ground breaking about the original series was showing minorities in positions that are equal to whites. This was the first time such a thing had been done on network television. If Trek had introduced a gay character 15 years ago, it would have been equally as ground breaking. But it didn't, and that ground has already been covered by a multitude of shows, including Buffy, Will & Grace and Sex and the City. To add a gay character now would really be too little too late.

I say let the stories determine whether a gay character should be featured. At this point, making a character gay just for the sake of having a gay character would just be jumping on the band wagon and a rather shallow gesture. I personally believe this to be the case with the gay characters in the ENT novels. Making those characters gay had no impact upon the story that all. If it's not meaningful to a story that makes an impact, don't both with it.  Don't cheapen the message just because a few people want to see it.

honeybee1111

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Report this Sep. 29 2009, 11:27 am

Quote
It never occurred to me that Garak might be gay. Didn't see his relationship with Julian as "suggestive" in any way.


If it is there, it is very subtle. Subtle enough that Julian, who was very naive in the first seasons, certainly never noticed. I ¿just think it could be construed that way, but I wouldn't say its definitely there.

Another can of worms is the real criticism that villains are often played as closeted or bi because it adds to the creepy or kind, which some people find offensive. Think Mirror Kira on DS9.


On another note, soaps have a terrible time with gay characters because if most of the characters are straight, the have to write new characters for the gay character to pair off with. Since Trek shows are not inherently about romance - romance is usually a B plot - and have other plotlines going on, you could have a gay character where their sexuality isn't a big deal or even a factor.

Cherry_On_Top

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Report this Sep. 29 2009, 12:28 pm

Quote (Targallian @ Sep. 29 2009, 10:04 am)
I think I agree with what grigori has said about getting more attention that it merits. Here's why:

What was ground breaking about the original series was showing minorities in positions that are equal to whites. This was the first time such a thing had been done on network television. If Trek had introduced a gay character 15 years ago, it would have been equally as ground breaking. But it didn't, and that ground has already been covered by a multitude of shows, including Buffy, Will & Grace and Sex and the City. To add a gay character now would really be too little too late.

I say let the stories determine whether a gay character should be featured. At this point, making a character gay just for the sake of having a gay character would just be jumping on the band wagon and a rather shallow gesture. I personally believe this to be the case with the gay characters in the ENT novels. Making those characters gay had no impact upon the story that all. If it's not meaningful to a story that makes an impact, don't both with it. ¿Don't cheapen the message just because a few people want to see it.

all excellent points.

Targallian

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Report this Sep. 29 2009, 12:59 pm

Thanks, COT.

As far as the Garak things go, I always saw it as more of a con job. He was going out of his way to be nice to Bashir to win his confidence. That's what spies do. I think they were trying to show that Garak had alterior motives, but I never percieved them as sexual in any way.

roser5838

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Report this Sep. 29 2009, 1:02 pm

Quote (Targallian @ Sep. 29 2009, 10:04 am)
I think I agree with what grigori has said about getting more attention that it merits. Here's why:

What was ground breaking about the original series was showing minorities in positions that are equal to whites. This was the first time such a thing had been done on network television. If Trek had introduced a gay character 15 years ago, it would have been equally as ground breaking. But it didn't, and that ground has already been covered by a multitude of shows, including Buffy, Will & Grace and Sex and the City. To add a gay character now would really be too little too late.

I say let the stories determine whether a gay character should be featured. At this point, making a character gay just for the sake of having a gay character would just be jumping on the band wagon and a rather shallow gesture. I personally believe this to be the case with the gay characters in the ENT novels. Making those characters gay had no impact upon the story that all. If it's not meaningful to a story that makes an impact, don't both with it. ?Don't cheapen the message just because a few people want to see it.

I agree with Tar and Grigori.

and add:
Isn't part of Trek to make the viewers look at everyone equally? ¿We see all kinds of Terrans and aliens working and playing together in Trek. ¿It is never brought to anyone's attention that Archer is a white American man, Mayweather is a black man or Hoshi is an Asian woman (or Chekhov is Russian or Reed is British) - except when a character is discussing home or family. ¿It is not supposed to be a big deal, right?

I am not sure why someone's sexuality is a big deal. ¿If a character is gay or straight, why do I need to know? ¿

Whether one of my friends is gay or straight (male or female) doesn't matter to me. ¿I don't want to hear about the sexual exploits. ¿I like to hear about their relationship and how they feel, what is going on in their lives.

I don't know. I am not gay, so maybe I do not understand why it is important to have a gay character.

I am going to keep reading this thread to see if someone convinces me otherwise.

grigori

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Report this Sep. 29 2009, 1:05 pm

Quote (RedShirtGuyNumber1001 @ Sep. 29 2009, 9:16 am)
you know I'm just not that interested in seeing 2 dudes kiss, and I really think hot lesbians only exist in porn. ¿The only attractive lesbians I have seen are very very rich, and they look like any other career woman.

I just don't think Trek needs to go there, or worse use gay stereotypes that are just completely overused in romantic comedies.

Why would they HAVE to "go" THERE?

We don't exactly see hetero couples tearing up the sheets, either. And we sure don't see EVERY character in a romantic relationship at all.

grigori

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Report this Sep. 29 2009, 1:10 pm

Quote (honeybee1111 @ Sep. 29 2009, 11:27 am)
Since Trek shows are not inherently about romance - romance is usually a B plot - and have other plotlines going on, you could have a gay character where their sexuality isn't a big deal or even a factor.

Just background info. Other characters mention exes.

..It has occurred to me that when & if Trek ever does introduce "the now-cliched spectre of the existence of homosexuals" that some writer is gonna do SOMEthing to try to re-write a past episode of Trek & make it look like it was there all along!

whyaduck

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Report this Sep. 29 2009, 1:14 pm

They didn't really cover any romantic relationships between the secondary characters, so unless they were going to all of a sudden make any of Archer/Trip/T'Pol/Malcolm/Hoshi/Travis/Phlox gay, there would be no reason to have a story that focuses on any characters' sexual preferences (this, of course, is hypothetical as there are no more chances on Enterprise to add gay characters).

I suppose two male or two female characters could be holding hands during a movie or in the mess hall, but they didn't show hetero couples doing that, so it would stick out as being sort of gratuitous.

Targallian

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Report this Sep. 29 2009, 1:18 pm

Quote (whyaduck @ Sep. 29 2009, 12:14 pm)
I suppose two male or two female characters could be holding hands during a movie or in the mess hall, but they didn't show hetero couples doing that, so it would stick out as being sort of gratuitous.

I agree.

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