Otherwise known as the Bury Your Gays Trope, heavily featuring the CW show “The 100” and Sally Green’s Half Life Series which reached its end 31st March 2016. If you don’t like spoilers, for your own safety, exit this web page.
If you are following the CW show “The 100” then you would’ve witnessed the controversial death of Lexa in the episode “13”, even though I don’t watch the show myself, even I was deeply dismayed by the implications of her death, so soon after she and Clarke reconciled, one of the most shocking facts was that it happened in the space of 1 minute 10 seconds and ended due to a “stray bullet”.
Lexa’s death follows worryingly close to the trope of on-screen lesbians dying; especially if they have experienced an epiphany or moment of happiness. Lexa’s death, while being beautifully portrayed by Alycia Debnam Carey hurt many in the LGBTQA+ community, especially as Clexa was seen as a beacon of positive representation that was forcibly take away. Which suggests that a woman in a relationship with another woman is going to end badly, and it could also make room for a hetero love interest! The Kill The Gay Trope is heteronormative, especially when the writers and creator’s had promoted the relationship and championed it as two LGBT women in places of power and then chose to obliterate it.
Even though the writer released an overdue apology to the show’s fan base, it leaves most of us wondering which direction the show runners are going to take next, the blog post is worth a read:
“The thinking behind having the ultimate tragedy follow the ultimate joy was to heighten the drama and underscore the universal fragility of life. But the end result became something else entirely — the perpetuation of the disturbing “Bury Your Gays” trope. Our aggressive promotion of the episode, and of this relationship, only fuelled a feeling of betrayal.”
Well, he got that right.
Lexa’s controversial death lead to an outcry from the fandom, and lead to fandoms fearing what happens to their OTP’s and Ships, particularly the same sex ones. We should not have to live in fear about what happens to our favourite characters just because of their sexuality, even though the creators assure us that their sexuality has nothing to do with their fate, I call bullshit. Instead of claiming that you didn’t view their sexuality at their identity, maybe jus do kill those characters off without a logical reason?
Which leads me to my next rant on Sally Green’s last book in the Half Life Trilogy: “Half Lost”, well after reading it, Nathan wasn’t the only one who was half lost.
As well as Gaybaiting the reader’s who put their time and money into this series, Green left us with an unsatisfying ending. Our beautiful angel, Gabriel was killed from, you guessed it, a stray bullet. Almost immediately after they finally came together, and were the “soulmates” the author always believed and convinced us they would be, while ripping that ideal world from under our feet.
Like Rothenburg, Green also felt the need to publish why she made certain decisions in a long ass Tumblr post. Which can be read here: http://sallygreenhalfbad.tumblr.com/post/142124742984/half-bad-trilogy-what-its-all-about
The author began the series in a pleasing way, with a well-rounded POC who suffers from PTSD and mental illnesses; verging into amazing scenarios in which representation was well overdue, but she didn’t fulfil her promise. She claimed not to see “sexual orientation” or “race” but she was dismissive of it rather than lacking in labels. She also lamented in writing a world where she gave women more power, but suppressing them in order to present how society is “f*****d up”, as well as killing off nearly all of them for no apparent reason, such as Van who was an extremely powerful witch, there was no logical way that she could’ve died.
On one hand we can understand that she wanted a more realistic approach about how war can affect someone, and the effects of Nature vs. Nurture, but if you are keeping it realistic, don’t force your protagonist to not lament and enjoy his part in saving society and force him to turn into a tree for his guilt, and don’t force him to befriend his abuser? Because there is a difference between forgiving them and befriending them, this also makes for a highly unrealistic ending in her “realist” world.
Green also comments that “Gab was an angel, he showed that you didn’t need to be fucked up”, then why kill the reason that Nathan didn’t need to be fucked up, and by doing so, promptly fucking him up? Even though she claimed that Nathan wasn’t suicidal, he was just more at peace with the earth, his ending still had drastic effects on readers who may be struggling with similar difficulties and seeing this strong character succumb to the pain does not bode a hopeful ending for the readers, even if this isn’t what she was aiming for, as she wanted to produce a “war story”
Another problem is the fact that Green wanted the series to end up as a tragedy, it could’ve been but without killing off nearly all of your non-hetero characters! Even though she claims to understand;
“that having no positive endings for non-heterosexual characters in fiction is a problem. I admit I wasn’t aware of this at the time I wrote HALF LOST. I was aware of the too many unrealistic happy endings problem, but of course, these stories don’t have bi or gay protagonists. “
She also goes on to state that the whole series was always going to be a tragedy from the epitaphs from Hamlet, Wilfred Owen and in the last book Solzhenitsyn, yes because we are going to look deeply into those tags and realise that this series will be a tragedy from the off, or maybe we did and hoped she would not take it in that direction.
All that needs to be said is that an author has the role for the audience to be culturally aware, even though she wasn’t aware of the Bury Your Gay Trope she should have done her homework, even though it is obvious she wanted to break the mould and write a different YA story, she didn’t appreciate the wider cultural context and the impact her ending would’ve had on her audience, like Lexa’s death in The 100.
Even though she intended her book to be read differently, all I saw was that if you are LGBTQA+, you don’t get a happy ending, she mislead the audience who may have thought that they were reading a different YA novel with actual representation and a hopeful ending, but it turned out to be another tragic gay romance.
To conclude, if an author or a creator failed in the duty to be culturally aware, and feel the need to kill off a character who they know had a big impact on their audience, then expect there to be consequences. The reason audiences may feel this way id because of the lack of ideal representation in previous years, and now that it is finally in the open, killing off these characters is the worst thing to do, especially since the representation is already fragile.
Anyway, I would love to hear your thoughts so please leave a comment.