An unfinished thought piece (Torchwood vid @ bottom):
So I was sitting here thinking about writing a post about the gay window dressing on True Blood between Godric and Eric. I’ve been intrigued by the character precisely because of the homoeroticism in an otherwise hyper-heterosexually saturated program. While the existence of Lafayette certainly argues against reading the show as completely heterosexist, I don’t think we can underestimate how his stereotypical flame-a-licious-ness helps to uphold the overriding depiction of sex and sexuality on the show; moreover, Lafayette’s storyline has been largely devoid of either sex or overt-sexuality for the better part of this season and last season he only had sex for money or drugs. Godric on the other hand, who never identifies but instead is read both visually and through innuendo and fact as a queer figure (in multiple senses of the term) allows for a counter-narrative to both Lafayette’s flamboyance and Eric’s misogyny. The connection between nativism, humanism, and queer identity wrapped in a childlike body that acts as “father, brother, and son” to a hypermasculine vampire who thrives on violence, erotic submission, and manipulation was an interesting one because it humanized Eric while playing off of both gender and “noble savage” stereotypes.
When Godric finally meets the sun, in a scene that is heartwrenching tho expected, I couldn’t help but wonder if his statement about being too different and concern about what punishment awaited from God was as much code as the desires that ground him as a queer figure. If we think of Lafayette’s own racialized “punishment” this season, the issue of hetero bodies vs. queer or queered ones becomes all the more salient b/c his response is to reject those outward signals that marked him as queer in the original season. Eric’s involvement in both storylines further complicates both the sexuality and racial narratives at play in this show, narratives that have been largely absent from fandom.
My attraction to these questions and these relationships as ripe for theory, and also as counterpoints to the Tom Cruise driven heterosexualizing of Lestat and the heterocentric Twilight, meant returning to the source material. Who is/was Godric in the books?
From what I can gleam through secondary sources, Godric in the books is not Eric’s maker. Nor is he someone who has evolved to a point where he “no longer thinks like a vampire.” Instead, Godric is a pedophile. His insatiable appetite for the violation and murder of young boys leads him to commit suicide via the Fellowship of the Sun. Suddenly, the potential for heterosexist messages in the Godric character of the tv series transformed into potential homophobia and heterosexism in the books. What does it mean that the True Blood creators, ppl who chose to use footage of kids at a Klan rally as part of the opening credits every week and who have shied away from showing same sex sex while saturating the show with unending hetero kink, transformed Godric into a god-like figure of latent sexuality and sorrow beyond measure? What does it mean that both Godrics meet the same death and both as atonement for their appetities? Is the lesson of his death different b/c he is no longer a gay pedophile or is it just more palatable b/c his quest to “make amends” is for something that dare not be named? Certainly the show should be applauded for undoing the stereotype of the gay pedophile from the books, but my question remains, did they do much more to reverse the overarching fear of the queer Godric seems to represent?
Somehow, these unfinished thoughts made me return to Ianto and something Gay Prof said about BSG killing its only gay character and making all the lesbian characters psychotic shrews who they also eventually killed. This year has been one of the worst for queer characters on televsion with more networks receiving a failing grade on representing positive images than possibly any other year since the ratings began in 2006. Ianto and Jack’s relationship has been both groundbreaking and profound in its depiction of love through the lifecycle, both normal and ever changing, comfortable and erotic, and most of all beautiful and compelling. Yet, as After Ellen so astutely noted, Ianto’s death seems to serve no purpose except heartbreak for fans and punishment for Jack. So it could be said his death and Jack’s subsequent retreat to the stars, not to mention the utter absence of homo- or bi-sexual desire outside of Ianto and Jack and manipulative Rupesh, is part of the disciplining and punishment of queerness on television.
That depressing thought, meant that I had to move away from my favorite research area for a moment and look at something joyful that celebrates not only queer characters (yes, Ianto, I keep saying queer even tho it isn’t 1950) but also the reality that more people are open and celebratory of our differences than the networks or the news wants you to believe. In this 2008 Comicon panel with Barrowman and David-Lloyd, fan girls and fan boys, straight and gay, and all of the wondrous identities in between, laughed along as the boys delighted with decidedly queer innuendo. The heterosexual castmates and writers/producers were as astute in moving within a queer aethetic and humor as the gay ones, showing us that while the media has largely failed the people making it are becoming more and more clever about pushing the envelopes where they can. (forgive the interrupting titles/captions on this video, I wish it just played through w/out editorializing but its still lovely):
Laughing along with this video (except mb that Mexican comment that I do not understand and worry about), I suddenly forgot how sad this season of scifi/fantasy television has made me through the killing of gay characters or worse, the creation of queer characters that are offensive or predicated on offensive originary texts. And again, I find myself wondering how Torchwood will look without Ianto next season much as I wonder how True Blood will continue to hold my attention for the rest of the season when all it can offer up is a crazed psuedo-God and a series of increasinly racially questionable moments, you know accept for the Jessica storyline which is both compelling and problematic for other reasons.
My first large lecture on the import of Torchwood to queer media is in a few months, so maybe by then I’ll have wrapped all these thoughts together in a pretty little academic bow. (If not, I’ll just rock my heels and hope they miss my teary eyes, after all, it’s not TB so my eyes won’t leak blood.)