Here we go again. And, I have to say …I’m disappointed.
This #Bechloe teaser trailer that showed up on Universal UK’s Twitter account on Tuesday, one that, needless to say, garnered a big reaction.
— Universal PicturesUK (@universaluk) December 19, 2017
Why it this a problem, you ask? Well, it’s called queerbaiting, and it’s been getting worse.
Queerbaiting is the practice in film or television writing and especially advertising designed to hint at, but then to not actually depict, a potential same-sex romantic relationship between fictional characters.
For all intents and purposes, the LGBTQ+ community is seen as an asset to get money from, and yet the creators (writers, producers, advertisers) won’t actually give the queer character the representation or love story they deserve.
This subject has actually been widely discussed amongst a lot of television and film critiques and the LGBTQ+ community because content could be considered queerbaiting, LGBTQ subtext, and or heterosexism.
Beca and Chloe in the Pitch Perfect movies, for example, have a ton of LGBTQ subtext, the subtle m+oments of flirting, the shower scene, etc. The production company has supported LGBTQ+ characters in the movie itself, and both Anna Kendrick and Brittany Snow have come to support the fans who ship #Bechloe, but also recognize that it won’t happen in the film.
Yet, Pitch Perfect 3 is coming out and there have been so many teaser trailers specifically teasing that you have to watch the movie to find out if #Bechloe becomes a real thing, despite confirmed rumors that it isn’t.
And that is queerbaiting, and sadly this isn’t new.
Supergirl, for example, has been known to tease their fans about #SuperCorp, with subtext and queerbaiting teasers. No one can blame Katie McGrath though, because she has chemistry with just about anyone. But they also bait with the former canon lesbian couple #Sanvers by marketing big moments that weren’t actually on screen. One example was the conversation about kids and a future family, which could have been an amazing opportunity to showcase to the audience that every couple, no matter orientation, do argue about this type of major life decision. Instead, the conversation happened off screen and left viewers disappointed.
Once Upon A Time used #SwanQueen for a few teasers that lesbian shippers held on to in hopes that maybe this pairing might end up together. It was not to be.
Rizzoli and Isles have all but said “yes, we queerbaited” after their last season ended, and even Angie Harmon said in an interview that they agreed to more tension to help with certain scenes and marketing content.
Riverdale included a kiss between Betty and Vernoica, and actors have been seen on social media holding signs that say #Beronica during marketing campaigns – yet the actresses and writers have made it clear they are not end game.
Shadowhunters actually has a gay couple on the show, and markets them in all of their trailers. Similar to Supergirl, the couple never actually gets the time or the love that they touted in the episode teasers. There was even a lead into a major conversation about consent that would have been extremely powerful moment for this couple – yet the producers opted for the straight couple sex scene instead.
It’s these types of fake promotion and marketing tactics that frustrate the LGBTQ+ community.
The LGBTQ+ community deserves good and positive representation. We deserve to see happy endings and couples living their everyday lives.
I’m thankful for shows like Wynonna Earp and One Day At A Time that give us positive representation. Those series showcase that sexuality is not something that should be used for purchasing power only.
Wynonna Earp is really delivering when it comes to their LGBTQ+ characters. Wavely Earp and Nicole Haught aren’t characters who just kiss once for sweeps week or questioning their sexuality for a few episodes. Waverly’s journey was a fully thought out story arc and we saw her falling in love with another woman. Nicole Haught has been a complex and strong female character that others look up to as she knows who she is and who she loves. Emily Andras knows what she is doing when it comes to writing great representation with characters who aren’t defined only by their sexuality.
One Day At A Time delivered big when Elena’s story arc about figuring out her sexuality, and that it is about being true to yourself and not being influenced by things that people want to blame. Penelope, as Elena’s Mom, handled the situation with humor and heart and it was a great way to showcase the coming out story from the family’s point of view.
These are just two examples of plenty of shows who are doing LGBTQ+ representation right.
So here’s my two cents to those in charge who aren’t:
Instead of figuring out ways how you can add LGBTQ+ subtext or make money off of queerbaiting… focus on investing in positive representation for your content. Hire diverse writers who won’t get offended if people see a connection between two non-romantic couples. Hire producers who won’t add to the #buryyourgaystroupe. And make queer holiday movies already, for Christ sake!
Our stories are worth telling. They aren’t supposed to be just a fake promotion to make production companies money.