glitter_n_gore: (supernatural pride)
[personal profile] glitter_n_gore
Hi! Happy Bisexuality Week! It’s been a while.

As you may have noticed, I sort of left that Werewolf Pride series hanging. It was meant to end with Ruby and Dorothy from Once Upon a Time as my last post for Pride Month about bisexual werewolves in visual media. No, I’m not picking it up again here. I always meant to, but then the time stretched out and it got awkward and I got busy writing about other things . . . and then there’s the real reason.

I seem to have a mental block when it comes to writing about queer women. Despite or possibly because I am one. I can do it, but it’s agonizingly slow and anxiety-inducing. I’ve also noticed I don’t often like stories about queer women, especially in visual media. There is almost always something about the way the story is told, or the dialog, or the characterization that bothers me. Either I don’t quite see myself in the characters, or I suspect the story is meant for the straight audience members so they can learn a Very Important Lesson about tolerance or something.

Then this happened.

GIF of two women dancing in a crowded 80s club

And then they give it an Emmy.

If you’ve never seen Black Mirror, it’s a futuristic, often nihilistic, sci-fi show about all the ways humans use technology to ruin their lives. It’s set so close to our world that the nightmare scenarios are frighteningly plausible. It’s thought-provoking, creative, and asks a lot of uncomfortable questions about humanity and our relationship to our digital devices.

And then there’s “San Junipero.” I went into this episode completely cold. No idea what to expect. There’s something you should know about what it’s like to watch television as a non-straight person: we almost never expect to see ourselves. When we do, we expect it to be a joke or a fluke or that it will end horribly. Also, we tend to get a disproportionate number of either Sassy Gay Friends who aren’t the focus of the story, or horribly depressing biopics about AIDS. So when Yorkie (Mackenzie Davis) showed up, just as an ordinary young woman who loves women, gangly and awkward and nerdy and trying to get her bearings for the first time, I immediately got this rush of both elation and sheer dread.

A queer girl who reminds me very much of myself was on a sci-fi show not exactly known for feel-good endings. This had to go badly wrong somehow. But then it didn’t. And it kept getting better. Gugu Mbatha-raw plays Kelly, Yorkie’s love interest, a more mature, experienced bisexual woman who has known heartbreak before. They meet, they dance, they fall in love, and just as you start wondering when the futuristic/creepy technological advances are going to come into play, it keeps pulling the focus onto the characters. Every scene peels back layers of complexity and tenderness in these women, showing you how and why they’re there and what finding each other at this precarious stage in their lives could mean for their future.

Sure, this is an outlandish fictional universe that’s somehow set against the neon-pop backdrop of the 1980s. And yeah, the creepy technology does show up and some find the ending a bit off-putting. (I didn’t.) But it has the tone and joyful freefall of a conventional First Love story in any other context. There’s no AIDS crisis. No painful Coming Out speech. No bigots on the scene to make Yorkie and Kelly’s lives miserable. It is a love story set in the near future that just happens to revolve around two women, and it is wonderful.

The fact that Black Mirror as a series is almost always dark and cynical in some way, with every other episode ending with ambiguity at best, is significant. “San Junipero” is the only episode in three seasons that is a bright, shiny hope spot exploding with positivity. They gave that hope spot to a queer love story. That never happens. Guys--GUYS. That NEVER HAPPENS. Seeing this exist period broke my heart in the best possible way. Seeing it acknowledged and praised on a national awards show validated that feeling for the world. I needed this. We all did.

I won’t tell you how this ends. As I said, I went in cold, and if it’s possible for you to do the same, take advantage of that before the spoilers come out. And if you spot someone bursting into tears when Belinda Carlisle’s “Heaven Is a Place On Earth” comes on--now you’ll know why.

Date: 2017-09-20 04:08 am (UTC)
gothrockrulz: (gackt blonde leaning)
From: [personal profile] gothrockrulz
Heard a bit of buzz about this, so glad you've enjoyed it! The happy ending sounds particularly note-worthy (need more of these ASAP). I don't think I can watch Black Mirror right now, but I know if I do decide to try an episode, it'll be this one.

Date: 2017-09-21 04:06 am (UTC)
gothrockrulz: (gackt blonde leaning)
From: [personal profile] gothrockrulz
I've heard as much, which makes it that much more attractive to watch that one without dealing with all of them.

Date: 2017-09-20 06:02 pm (UTC)
star_healer: (Default)
From: [personal profile] star_healer
Thanks for reminding me about this. I loved that episode! Most of the episodes are meant to be disturbing but that one just made me happy.


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