Recently, I saw the film 22 Jump Street and was very annoyed by all the, for lack of a better word, homoerotic (“why not heteroerotic?”) tension between some of the male characters. I was totally hoping for Channing Tatum’s character to get together with Zuke, the blond frat guy. The characters had total chemistry and whoever wrote that script clearly intended for there to be something more-than-friendship going on. Of course, to reinforce the heterosexuality of Tatum’s character, towards the end of the film he grabs and kisses a random girl (consent? nope) and then strides off to be manly and heroic.
This is something I’ve come to notice more and more in media. My cousin is a huge Supernatural fan, and she 100% worships Dean and Castiel. However, no matter how painfully clear the show writers make it to all of us that those two characters are in love, they’re never going to get together. This happens all over the place in movies and TV shows. It’s called queerbaiting. People in the media, usually in television or films, infuse "homoerotic" tension between two characters to attract more liberal and queer viewers. Except, this "homoerotic"suspense never amounts to anything. Instead, it is just a enticing decoy or "bait" to increase viewings while still keeping conservative fans happy. Queerbaiting also attempts to make the audience feel like they're getting adequate representation without actually providing any promised genuine depictions of these relationships. Tumblr user snuggydeamon made an excellent slideshow that explains queerbaiting and gives examples of it.
So, I’m really pissed off. I will no longer be supporting media that contributes to the erasure of LGBTQIAP+ characters, having learned of this very intentional phenomenon. I suggest that you, dear reader, abstain as well. They’re never going to give us the representation that we want, need or deserve. Don’t spend your time writing fan fiction that will never come to anything- write original stories and put your works with canon queer couples out there. Or if writing isn’t your thing, draw pictures that show someone different than the norm, or tell others about why this is a problem. Nothing will change if we don’t make it.
photos via Tumblr and Google Images