Saturday, March 12, 2016

Damn it ... now you've made her blog!

Okay. Hi! My name is Jay.
Well, it’s not, but it is the name I chose for this little adventure of creating an online persona, so for all intents and purposes, call me Jay.

To give you just a hint of backstory: I am well over 30 years old. I am married (as in a woman married to another woman) and I am a writer and a book editor. So why am I here writing this when it is obvious that I should have better things to do? 
I am writing this, because I cannot believe how mad, no downright furious I am about the way a certain showrunner (I am looking at you, Jason Rothenberg) treats his audience and the lack of response from the media that praises itself to be “playing for my team”.

To be blunt: I wrote to last week, because I was irritated by the interview with Jason Rothenberg that had nothing to do with journalism as I understand it and the lack of coverage on the current outrage over (and it’s going to be all spoilers from here on) the untimely death of Commander Lexa on “The 100”. I didn't get an answer, but suddenly there was a podcast telling me how there was no queer baiting and how fans might want to calm down and focus on Clarke instead. In a response to that I not so kindly told them that I don’t understand. When did this website that once was my only source when it comes to queer representation in the media become a website that looks a lot like the latest tabloid? When did it change from having a perspective and giving actual critical input to “10 ideas on what to buy your girlfriend for Christmas”? When did it start to rely so heavily on the benevolence of the networks that it stopped being a critical voice that is heard and therefore has showrunners actually want to give an interview? There are people of all ages out there who are fed up with the way they are represented in the media and all AE has to say is “Hey, it’s not that bad. Get over it”?

Let me clarify a few things before I go on with my rant: I am usually a very vocal advocate of artistic freedom. I do believe that someone who creates art (an in my book writing a TV show falls into that category) shouldn’t be subject to the likes or dislikes of his/her audience. In Jason Rothenberg’s mind killing Lexa was a way to combine his story arcs and write the character off (we’ve all heard about Alycia Debnam-Carey staring on “Fear the Walking Dead”, scheduling problems, blablabla). 
The death scene as such (and I am not talking about the circumstances of the death itself) was beautiful acting and it made me weep. As in sit in front of my TV and cry like an idiot for ten minutes and everyone who knows me will tell you that I don’t do that. I don’t cry. I don’t cry at weddings, I hardly cry at funerals. But this … it got to me.

So, again, why am I writing this? I am writing this, because in this day and age even an artist knows that nothing exists in a social vacuum anymore. Actually it never did. When Goethe wrote “The Sorrows of Young Werther” people commited suicide after reading it. I don’t think Goethe expected this outcome and he didn’t have the internet to get a feel for his audience, but today the situation is somewhat different.
I am writing this, because I felt and still feel betrayed. I am an adult with loads of experience when it comes to TV (my wife would probably say way too much experience). I watched Tara die on “Buffy” and even if in my book it was the only damn thing that could explain why Willow went all Darth Vader on people (yes, you can fight me on this) and therefore I understood why Joss Whedon did it, it was a punch in the gut, because Tara was Willows fucking everything (sorry, Kennedy, but you only were second best). 
Willow and Tara were the first lesbian couple I had seen on TV. I live in Europe and when I realized I was gay there was almost nothing to watch when it comes to gay representation in TV shows or movies. Hell, I wish there had been when I was a teenager, because it could have giving me answers to some really important questions like “What is wrong with me that everyone wants a boyfriend and I do not?” It was only the beginning of the internet (yes, I am that old) and as soon as I had the means to I watched everything that had even a hint of “gay” in it. It usually ended in tragedy.

Why am I telling you this? Someone put it this way: “When we see happiness we react to it with fear”. It comes from experience. When they introduced Lexa in season 2 of “The 100” I was sure she wouldn’t survive the end of the season. I was sure. But she did and her last appearance at Mount Weather ended in a way that made me want to applaud the writers, because, hell, half of the viewers loved her and the other half hated her guts. The reaction was enormous. It was brilliant.
When they announced Alycia Debnam-Carey would be back for season 3 I was overjoyed, because I had never seen a character like hers. Young, badass, fierce, but still with a beautiful and soft side … and don’t forget the gay part. Even if she had never kissed Clarke she’d still be one of my favorite characters on TV ever, because she was fearless, flawed and three-dimensional. But even before season 3 started I was sure they would kill her. I was sure, because that’s what always happens.

But this time something was different. In this case the writers and explicitly Jason Rothenberg told me to trust them. They told me that they knew how I felt, they were aware of my fear and they would not let me down. So season 3 started and there was Lexa and there was Clark and their story arc was so damn good (Don’t get me started on the rest of the show in season 3, because: What the hell is it with Bellamy and Pike? It doesn’t make sense.).
There were spoilers in form of photos and videos that people took when the cast shot the finale. Yeah, I saw them. I like spoilers. Sue me. It’s like eating a whole box of chocolates even though you know you really shouldn’t. I saw the spoilers and there was Lexa. In the finale … I started to believe that maybe this time they would actually not let me down. There was so much beauty in the scenes between Clarke and Lexa that I honestly thought I was watching fanfiction coming to life.

But the second I relaxed, the second after the love scene they killed her. Just like that. Boom. Out! … 
Damn you and your inevitable betrayal, Rothenberg!

Let me admit to you that I watched the ending of the episode four times that day (and yes, I cried every fucking time). I somehow had the irrational hope that I might have missed something. Maybe she was still breathing when Titus carried her out? Nope, she wasn’t. But what about the finale spoilers? That’s when it hit me. They were going to kill her again. By destroying the damn City of Light. After she saves Clarke. Kill the same lesbian character twice in one season of one TV show … well, that certainly is new. And that’s when I got angry.

I got even more angry when the writers started to say that they hadn’t expected the amount of outrage that came their way. And I was ready to smash something The Hulk style when I heard Jason Rothenberg talk on “The Dropship”. He had to kill off the character, because Alycia was only available up until episode 7 (yeah, and for the finale, but who is counting?).

Dear Jason, there were about 49 different possibilities to get the story of the show to exactly where it is now and only one includes the death of The Commander. You could have banned her from the lands and dug the damn AI out of her for all I care. The fact that an actor isn’t available does not mean you have to kill the character. The fact that you keep saying that tells me something about your abilities as a writer.

Another fact is that LGTB people usually are (or at least I am) so desperate for a good LGTB character that we’d rather accept he/she is out there visiting a distant cousin at the north pole for … whatever reasons … and for an unspecified amount of time (or eternity for that matter) than to have to see him/her dead on the fucking carpet. How do you not get that? People have told you like a million times.

Which brings me to the man himself. I have thought about unfollowing Jason Rothenberg on Twitter for countless times during season 2 and 3. I am not an avid Twitter user. I mainly use my account to get news and Jason’s twitter posts always came across as a little narcissistic which usually annoys the hell out me. The things that he retweeted usually were interesting though so I stuck with him. I found out that he wrote a pilot (“Body Politic”) in 2009 and I found it on Youtube. Well, to make it short: It’s “The West Wing”, only for teenagers and boring. It even has the walking and talking Aaron Sorkin is known for. I was disappointed. Then I remembered that “The 100” is based on a book series. Hell, it is basically fanfiction. You take preexisting characters, change them and invent stories for them. It’s not that hard. I can do it. I actually did. When I had some sort of writer’s block while working on my own story I started to write a Clexa fanfiction. It felt kind of weird, because as I already stated I am well over 30 and I'd never written (or read for that matter) fanfiction before, but it was a great way of getting something out there and receiving instant feedback. The instant feedback in the last week being people telling me how much they have cried over “Thirteen”, how devastated they are and could I please write something fluffy for them?

This should be a time of reflection. Jason Rothenberg may think of himself as the progressive shooting star of TV, but he really is not. Even the cause of death was a rip-off (there are tumblr posts comparing Lexa’s and Tara’s death. It is the same damn thing!). I remember reading somewhere that it was Kim Shumway who came up with the Clexa storyline and not Jason. I remember Jason saying he wanted to make Alycia a regular, but was too late. So he basically only understood the magnitude of the character when people started to shove their excitement in his face. It was too late then, but he started to bait them nevertheless … So in the end I guess I take it back, he never got the magnitude. This could have been a change in direction when it comes to queer representation, only he blew it.

To say it again. It was Rothenberg's decision to kill Lexa. His alone. Under normal circumstances I wouldn’t have protested (well, I would have, but home alone on my couch), but he did use the LGTB community to promote his show. He PROMISED them to do right by them, only he didn’t. And now, while other writers of the show are still out there talking to people and taking the heat, he stays silent. You have never stayed silent, Jason. Maybe that is your problem. But now, when it is time to be a man (whatever the hell that means), stand up and tell people that you messed up, not the way you did by talking about schedules and whatever other excuses you came up with, but stand up and say that you messed up (Period!), you stay silent. Wow!

Will I keep watching? No. I will watch the finale, because I am masochistic enough to want every damn piece of Lexa I can get, but that’s it. I love(d) the show. I would have cheered at the news of a season 4 three episodes ago, but now I cannot watch it knowing what could have been and knowing that Jason Rothenberg still doesn't understand and/or doesn't care why people are mad. 
I have a tendency to hold a grudge. My wife thinks it’s one of my lesser qualities. It takes a while for me to get to the point where I start to hold a grudge though, because I also tend to give people way too much credit. Usually I wait until they’ve hurt me a million times until I am done with them. But when I am done with them, I am for good. So Jason, let me quote another episode from “Buffy” (look it up, maybe you can use another rip-off for season 4):
“Bored now.”

To all the people out there who are virtually screaming their anger into the world: Keep on doing what you’re doing! Don’t send threats or hate, but keep on trending things on Twitter. Keep on writing posts about it. Keep on donating money to the Trevor Project. Keep on creating art, new characters and fanfiction.
Do not keep silent, because this is the day on which we have to put our foot down and tell the world that we’ve had enough. Hell, I’ve had enough!
I am writing this (even if nobody reads it), because in 10 years I want to be able to say “I was one of them. I did not keep quiet. And we changed things.”

P.S. For all of you who still wonder why the gay girl is ranting about a TV show: Google it. There are countless posts and articles on why this is not just about the death of a fictional character and what “Bury Your Gays” means.