Tuesday, 31 May 2011

rosiedoes: (Mood: Wall)
Cross-posted from my other journal, because it's an important point to make - apologies if you see it twice, especially as I'm not cutting it. I don't want any part of this overlooked


I started writing this entry during Holby City, which for the non-viewers is a British soap/serial drama set in a hospital near Bristol. While Holby focuses primarily on the surgical wards, the original show from which it is a spin-off, Casualty, focuses on the A&E or emergency room of the same hospital.

The entry was supposed to be, "Yay! 30,000 words!" but what actually happened on Holby made me so angry. Here's an extended version of what I said on Twitter:

Last year, Joe May (one of my favourite actors, and someone I am incredibly fond of - to the point where I co-run a fansite about him) played a character called George Kerwan, on Holby, whose entire four-episode arc was that he would start dating much-loved main character, Maria, then flirt with her friend, male nurse Nicky, and eventually break her heart when he was outed as bisexual, tell her he was just out for some fun, and then disappear. In the space of the last episode, or so, they had his friendly and likeable - if quite cocky - persona changed to being a self-centred, smug prick.

The same actor played male nurse Sam Colloby's unemployed, parasite boyfriend in about 1997 (as Paul) and then cheated on Sam with a woman (I specify male in the cases of Sam and Nicky because of their unisex names and the nature of the storylines - co-incidence?).

When the BBC did a survey on LGBT portrayal in its programmes, last year, I specifically pointed this out. I also made the point that sometimes gay people are Just Gay and their sexuality is incidental, not central to their personality. That just because someone is gay, doesn't make it the only thing they ever talk about or react in accordance with. That it shouldn't be what defined a character.

After the survey, they acknowledged this sort of feedback and said, "Yes, we screwed up. We'll try harder. Awfully sorry."

When they introduced Antoine Malick, and subtly noted that he was gay, we thought they'd listened and created a character in that role. It was awesome. Malick was, admittedly, an Angry Young Black Man stereotype (which isn't really acceptable, either, although he was also portrayed as a great doctor) and his sexuality was nodded to occasionally, but never paraded. He wasn't the kind of lascivious perv we usually see gay men portrayed as when they're not being portrayed as mincing fairies with a fashion kink (although Joe did get to play one of those as Andy Button in Episodes - also a BBC project).

Tonight, they had Rugger Bugger Dan - the gobshite, rich-boy Orthopodiatrician - who is in a relationship with Queen Bitch Chrissie, pushing Malick up against some lockers and kissing him after a half-naked fight - and then running to Chrissie for sex. It's like the worst kind of fanfic. It's embarrassing and unrepresentative of the LGBT community and is using us as scandal fodder. I thought they'd learned, but clearly they haven't and I am really fucking sick of it.

Last week, there were constant jokes about Michael and Sunil being in love/married/a couple. Which was cute in its own way, given that both characters are straight but do act that way. But really, it's gayforlaughs. Which isn't that much better than gayforshock.

Julie and I literally shrieked and bellowed in horror when Dan kissed Malick. The kiss was clumsy, uncomfortable and frankly about as disturbing as the kiss at the end of Enduring Love, when Daniel Craig snogged his terrifying stalker, Rhys Ifans, in order to escape. It was that level of horrific. It wasn't passionate, it wasn't hot; it was an unattractive, middle-aged white bloke mashing his face against that of the moderately indifferent young black badass in front of him. IT WAS HORRENDOUS. It was a sexual harrassment case waiting to happen.

Why, why, why can we not be allowed to be taken seriously on TV or film? Especially with bisexual storylines. Because I guarantee you that Dan will either climb back into the closet and put on a fur coat, or he'll agonise for a bit and then decide that he was gay all along. Sorry, Chrissie. He won't be allowed to accept any feelings he may have harboured over the years and come to the conclusion that he is bisexual. Oh, no.

And let me point out that it was last year - January, if I recall - that they did the Bisexual Getting Outed storyline with Canadian George. That's two storylines on basically the same pretext, in the space of a little over a year. To be perfectly fucking honest, I'm quite surprised they didn't just say, "Hey - why not get Joe May to play a third bisexual manslag in the same universe? Have we had him on Holby Blue, our shit spin-off cop drama, yet?"

I am so, so sick of people sharing my sexuality being marginalised and effectively slandered on television. Apparently, we're such an easy target we're irrisistible.

Fuck you, BBC. I'm making a formal fucking complaint.

---

Edit: And my final lines to the BBC:

That is the point at which my blog entry concludes, more or less, but I really, really would like an answer as to why - even after asking us to complete your survey - you still felt the need to once again fall to stereotypes and misrepresentation of an entire section of the viewing community.

What is WRONG with your writers? How does this even get past the draft stage? Are you so desperate for viewers that you will wilfully insult a chunk of the population and make us look like some kind of joke? Are you really happy to propagate that sort of mean, damaging stereotype? And worse, after acknowledging that your viewers wanted this to change?

Please, do tell me. I'm really eager to hear your excuses. In writing, if you don't mind, so that they may be shared.

---

For those who you who just think, "But it's only Holby City!" That series is one of the BBC's flagship shows. It has millions of viewers of ordinary social awareness and intellect - and probably many whose awareness and understanding of LGBT issues is less developed than those of us reading this. What those people will see when they watch scenes like the ones on Holby City, is an endorsement and confirmation of stereotypes that are simply not true. It encourages people to believe that all bisexuals are indecisive, greedy and promiscuous. That people will just decide to switch sexualities on a whim because they meet someone attractive, and after that point will give no consideration to the lifestyle they lived for the last forty years. That gay people will pursue a sexual interest until they have bullied or persuaded the subject to submit.

These ideas are damaging and hurtful and they are being shared by one of the world's most respected broadcasting institutions.

Giving Graham Norton a talkshow and putting Jack Harkness on BBCObscureSatelliteChannel is not adequate. They're doing more harm than good and it really has to stop.

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