The Uncanny Valley

Elizabeth Bridges - Writer, Professor, Reviewer

Of Manpain, Misogyny, and The 100 Mess

I honestly thought I wouldn’t have much to write this week, at least not on this topic. I thought I had said all I had to say about The 100 Mess, as Variety TV journalist Maureen Ryan termed it in her bold and refreshing 3/14 article. It’s been written about dozens of times now. However, this past weekend brought us LA’s PaleyFest and Alycia Debnam-Carey’s measured, likely rehearsed, but sympathetic responses to questions about Lexa’s death and what it meant to fans and the LGBT community. I won’t say much about ADC other than this:  I understand that she has to stay poised and remain employable as an up-and-coming young star with a bright future. Alienating a previous showrunner is not a great way to do that, however much The 100’s Jason Rothenberg’s reputation continues to plummet in Hollywood and among fans. Yet, even given those concerns and boundaries on what she could reasonably say, she still did a much better job than Rothenberg himself.

Rothenberg’s “breaking the silence” TV Insider interview came out on Monday and probably did not gain the response he had hoped. Fans anticipated that this could be his chance to address the unprecedented reactions to Lexa’s death and the ensuing mess. When JRoth claimed he had been “listening” and “learning” and “processing” in the past two weeks of complete media silence, he rather transparently borrowed rhetoric from episode writer Javier Grillo-Marxuach – who, in all fairness, appears to have actually learned something from LGBT fan responses since the episode’s airing. But at the same time, Rothenberg showed no actual contrition, and he displayed a complete lack of awareness about what he and his entire team actually did to the LGBT community by blatantly lying and misdirecting us regarding Lexa’s fate. As I stated in my last post (and which later got meme-ified), “This was not only the death of a beloved character, but far greater, this is the death of the best chance of positive media representation that the LGBT community has ever seen in mainstream TV.” Rothenberg made no apologies for the way he chose to construct the episode and the overall arc of Lexa’s character. Indeed, he defended it. Meanwhile, he made only the vaguest nod to the pain so many people have felt. In other words, he pulled a classic Hollywood “sorry not sorry” non-apology.

In so doing, Rothenberg basically hosed any chance of getting out in front of the controversy preceding his appearance at WonderCon in LA this coming weekend, which seemed the apparent objective of his sudden loquaciousness in the press. I’ll sit with my popcorn in anticipation of the questions and responses coming up at WC.

Queerbaiting fans during 3x16 shoot

Queerbaiting fans during 3×16 shoot

But beyond this arrogant and dismissive response to the LGBT community in his recent interview, Rothenberg goes so far as to claim “sensitivity” about the accusation of queerbaiting by his audience. And then, in a move almost too ridiculous believe, he immediately goes on to engage in nothing other than queerbaiting when he teases the appearance of Lexa (as an uploaded consciousness, so arguably not Lexa at all) in the season 3 finale. Anyone who has followed the show even a little bit knows there will be a Lexa / Clarke scene or two in 3×16. JRoth himself invited fans to come watch and, though he wink-nod-tsk-tsk’ed about it on Twitter, allowed them to photograph during filming in downtown Vancouver back in January. This was one of several carefully crafted Lexa-centric “leaks” engineered to keep LGBT fans hanging on for the first half of season 3 long enough to secure a season 4. Adding insult to injury, he actually thanks fans for making the season 4 renewal possible, knowing full well that the very active LGBT audience significantly boosted viewership by advocating for the show and its unprecedented choice to place lead character Clarke in a same-sex pairing. In the same interview where he showed that he fundamentally Does Not Get the harm he has done, he goes on to say, “We love [our fans], we owe them everything, we owe them the fact that we just got a Season 4 to them.” You really call that love?

So he queerbaits Lexa fans yet again with hints about the finale, as though we won’t just get kicked in the teeth with some kind of gut-wrenching, yet beautifully acted final-final – really, this time it’s final, y’all – goodbye scene between virtual Clarke and virtual Lexa in some version of the City of Light, aka a cheap Matrix knock-off. Also, don’t be shocked if it’s some scenario in which Clarke has to destroy the CoL and therefore re-kill Lexa herself.

Excuse me while I go vomit. No really, the very thought of this scenario makes me physically queasy. And I guarantee you I’m not alone, if the experience of dozens of people I’ve talked to is in any way representative.

The most disturbing aspect of all this, at least in terms of Rothenberg’s performance in this interview and others, is his use of stilted language in reference to the fandom. He repeatedly employs rhetoric like “outrage” and “pain over this fictional death,” and most of the articles featuring interviews with him are very sympathetic to the show and also use language like “outcry” and “fury” to describe the fandom reaction. The “fictional death” phraseology mirrors more aggressive, often homophobic comments we’ve seen from some corners of the fandom and from a larger public, many of which boil down to, “calm down, little lady, it’s just a show.” (And if you still think it’s “just” a show or a character, I invite you to visit my friends at LGBT Fans Deserve Better or read my blog post about its impact).

Even at the level of word choice, Rothenberg and his acolytes demonstrate no understanding of what representation means to our community and the world at large. Some of the descriptions of the fandom border on accusations of hysteria, with all the misogyny that connotes. What we see here is a pattern of dismissing the validity of our community’s response, which teeters close to misogynistic gendering of the fandom. He appears to justify feeling “sensitive” about the accusation of queerbaiting, or vulnerable to the threat of a historically bullied community allegedly bullying him.

As he stated on the podcast The Dropship, “I’m a little shaken by the intensity of the negativity.” Shaken, distressed. How sad for him. By focusing on his own Manpain, fan responses are minimized, as though he has no concept why we would react that way. I mean, why would there be any negative response in the LGBT community when a disapproving, religious fanatic father figure murders his would-be daughter 70 seconds of screen time after a love scene with a girlfriend he has objected to repeatedly, and for whom the bullet was intended? I’ve said it before but will say it here again: How would that not trigger vulnerable young people who experience something very like that at home or among their peers or who, God forbid, get bullied or receive death threats online? I’ve personally spoken with a girl who became suicidal and was hospitalized after the episode aired. That’s not due to a “fictional death,” but rather what that death represented, what it showed young people like her about how the media and the world view them.

javitropediscussed

They knew about The Trope.

Rothenberg insists that he wasn’t engaging The Dead Lesbian Trope, but that’s precisely the insidious nature of tropes. Showrunners and movie directors don’t engage them intentionally. They never view themselves as part of an ongoing pattern, but rather as singular auteurs who are telling a story. It’s always about their story and their vision, never about the context. To The Nerdist, he said of the murder of Lexa by Titus and its placement directly after the love scene, “To me, the two events aren’t connected in any way. […] We’re not trying to make any type of connection other than the fact that Titus had other plans.” To me. Other plans. “It’s not the Trope because I say it’s not.” They knew of the trope. It was discussed in the writers’ room. Regardless of what Rothenberg may say about “listening,” or “understanding,” he clearly does not. To fans or to his writing staff.

No one gets to tell the LGBT community how to feel or react. We know a homophobic pattern when we see it, regardless of whatever label he wishes to place on his artistic vision. Auteur theory is old school and based in tired, misogynist notions about the nature of art and the artist. Everybody knows a work lives or dies by audience reception. Artists don’t create in a vacuum, especially not in a popular, collaborative medium like television.

manpain1

Behold, the wages of Manpain are death.

This pattern of males being allowed to feel and act on their emotions, whereas women have to keep their feelings in check or risk the label of hysteria – where have we seen that before? In The 100, of course. Especially this season, but in the previous ones too, again and again we see female characters experience trauma, but who are forced to pick up the pieces, repress their grief, and never act out in any way. In referring to Clarke’s arc for the remainder of the season, Rothenberg stated in Monday’s TV Insider interview, “We begin to see Clarke doing what Clarke does, which is compartmentalizing and finding a way to suck down her pain and be our hero and try and save her people yet again.”

In another interview in Entertainment Weekly, he elaborates: “When these horrible things happen to us, we all have to figure out a way to compartmentalize emotionally and to go on and continue being the heroes of our own lives. Clarke, the hero of our story, needs to figure out a way to do the same now.” Toxic masculinity, meanwhile, out to play in full force.

manpain2

And who’s left to stuff their own pain and pick up the pieces?

While Ambassador Clarke, Chancellor Abby, Raven the genius mechanic, Lexa the Commander, and Octavia the misunderstood outsider all have to stuff their pain and go on living, our male characters this season act out in destructive ways with (thus far) few consequences. Pike and Bellamy slaughter 300 sleeping Trikru soldiers sent to protect them. Pike is angry over attacks by the Ice Nation and xenophobically refuses to see the Grounders as anything other than a monoculture. Bellamy loses his girlfriend and decides he hates all grounders and is therefore on board Pike’s genocide train. Jasper, who also lost his girlfriend, drunkenly wallows episode after episode in his Special Manpain and even causes a conflict to flare up with the Ice Nation thanks to his drunken antics. You know who else lost loved ones to violent and/or unjust death? Raven, Clarke, Abby, Octavia, Lexa, and did I mention Clarke?

And then there’s Titus, enraged by Clarke’s influence over and romantic relationship with Lexa. He gets a gun and just starts shooting willy nilly, murdering Lexa in the process. And who stays calm throughout the entire scene? Lexa, while dying in Clarke’s arms.

TWD - Happy lesbians.

TWD – Happy lesbians.

TWD – Another Dead Lesbian

 

 

 

 

 

By now readers have probably heard of the death of Denise on AMC’s flagship series The Walking Dead. Denise was shot. Also by accident. She was also a lesbian. This is the fourth lesbian / bi woman on US series television to die in the past four weeks. You can find statistics about exactly how many lesbian and bisexual characters have been on network and cable TV series this year on other sites. I’m not a statistical researcher by any stretch, but according to GLAAD, there were 35 les or bi characters on U.S. TV series when they conducted the survey in 2015. Approximately 80 days into 2016, and ten of those characters have been killed. So roughly 1/3 of lesbian and bi women have been liquidated, including a significant number by accidental shooting, by bullet or – I suppose for the sake of novelty on TWD – by arrow.

Posts photo on blo... ::gets shot by accident::

Posts screensh… ::gets shot by accident::

Once again this past Sunday, fans took to Twitter with their response and the result was a series of posts that begin with some innocuous “lesbian” activity and end in ::gets shot by accident::.

I’ll let you ponder the wider social context that would spawn that kind of gallows humor. I guess at some point we have to laugh to keep from crying, and satire has always been one of the most effective forms of resistance and morale-building within oppressed groups.

In the meantime, I guess I’ll be ordering one of those flannel-covered bulletproof vests.

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79 Comments

  1. So spot on, from Jason to how the media frames us as angry fans, to how the show lets the men feel and all the women have to compartmentalize. I wish I can articulate how good this is but I really appreciate you writing this.

  2. I love you! This is freaking fantastic. Kudos for analyzing JRoths words so clearly.

  3. Prof your writeups never cease to amaze me. I can’t believe I never commented until now but I just had to on this one–Twitter’s character limit could not cover the absolute adoration I have for your articles, and I’m so glad that Ms. Mo Ryan of Variety is recognising the amazing quality of these, too. Your social awareness and understanding of such is so refreshing, and the whole Jason Rothenberg disaster was just spot-on and on-point in this article. What I really, really wanted to touch on was when you mentioned that nobody gets to tell the LGBT community how to react. I’ve mentioned this in my TNWU posts too (nowhere NEAR your level of quality) but I’ve seen the audacity of people on social media telling others to “get over it” or “it’s just TV” and it’s disgusting. Why can’t people show some sympathy or kindness? Why can’t they care? Why must they choose to hate rather than show some love, and reach out? It is not that difficult, even if you cannot fully empathise with the situation or the LGBTQ community!

    And why should anyone ever have the audacity to tell someone when to stop grieving? The LGBTQ community may be a minority but labels don’t take away their humanity! They should be treated as so, and who is one ignorant, disgusting, appalling person to tell someone, to dictate to someone, how they should feel or when to stop grieving? It is absolutely so inconsiderate, and I wanted to thank you so much for touching on that point. I had a lot of DM’s from people telling me that they felt stupid for grieving over a fictional character when this all happened in the middle of my uncle’s death–but I always said to them that people grieve in different ways, for different lengths. If you grieve it doesn’t matter who for; it matters that you grieve. I just wish people didn’t feel “stupid” for grieving like that and these plebs who try to dictate how they should feel drive me up the wall with their insensitivity.

    My greatest apologies for ranting on your comments section Prof!! I just wanted to say I’m a huge, huge fan of all your articles and I always look forward to seeing your posts! Thank you for sharing!!

    • EB

      March 24, 2016 at 12:34 am

      Please don’t apologize, Nicola. I love hearing from people. As I was saying – also with a character limit – academic writing of the long form kind, journal articles and such, get torn to shreds by reviewers before they’re published. It’s a different kind of writing, much more meticulous and painstaking, and academia seems to involve a lot of hazing, esp. of younger colleagues. I started this blog (and what little fiction I write) as an antidote to the anxiety I sometimes feel around my scholarship – to make writing feel fun again. The instant feedback, mostly positive, is a new thing for me. And I appreciate each and every nice thing people say on here. Please don’t discount your abilities. Like I said, I enjoy your writing on Talk Nerdy too. I grieved a lot too and still kind of do. It’s a natural response. I won’t be ashamed of it – like “they” would prefer. This is a big deal, for so many reasons, and we can’t stop talking about it. Not until we live in a world like The 100 (only less destruction) where sexuality is truly a non-issue. I too have heard from a lot of people going through some very rough times with this, and I always tell them the same. “It’s okay to feel what you feel. Never let anyone tell you otherwise.” I also send links to online meditation programs sometimes.

      • I know nothing about academia (er, except I’m supposed to be writing a dissertation at the moment, lol) and wow, that sucks. A real eye-opener too. Do you mean like–journal articles or thinkpieces such as these? Either way, wow–that really sucks because I imagine so much work goes into those pieces of writing.

        I think I can say on behalf of pretty much everyone that I’m so bloody glad that you started this blog. Not just because I want to read of your opinion, but because you are always so spot-on and culturally aware; you *know* stuff and whereas I am young, naive and not knowledgeable, I don’t, so to read your stuff is truly inspirational because I feel like I’m learning from it. And to hear that it’s making your writing feel fun again is the biggest bonus in my opinion–that’s really awesome to hear. As for the positive feedback…goodness, I don’t think anybody could leave *negative* feedback on your pieces. They’re always so unique, well laid-out, relevant and topical and on-point. You’re so deserving of all those praises!!

        Thank you Prof for your assurances. I mean as I said I’m young, naive; I’m not an English lit student and nor am i a freelance writer or anything so I think there ARE obviously people even on smaller outlets or bloggers that write extremely better content than me, but I like to write if it offers some people condolences or empathy, or if they feel they emote or they can talk to me. I guess I can only learn how to write better, or more eloquently, but I’m immensely humbled that you like my work on TNWU. I can’t believe you even read it!! And absolutely: INDEED. Oh that’s a really good idea. In my DM’s I’ve mainly been chatting to people and they said it helped a lot but the idea of linking them to those is really cool. I’ll defo take your advice on-board. I hope so too. I ponder if it’ll ever happen; for a society that deems itself to be progressive (and it IS, in so many ways–I wouldn’t wanna be a woman in the 20’s) there’s still such a long way to go. Internalised homophobia and racism is always a problem, and I wonder if we’re ever going to get societies like that. But your messages must be a source of inspiration to many. Thank you Prof!

        • EB

          March 24, 2016 at 2:01 am

          I just meant scholarly articles, those type publications. The blog is a respite from that because most people like yourself are nice.

  4. This is all so spot on.
    Thank you for writing it.

  5. Another excellent text, thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.

    “Excuse me while I go vomit” was exactly what I thought when I read the scenario you described for the finale. I think it’s a very likely scenario and it makes me sick to my stomach to even think about it. I haven’t been as affected by episode 3×07 as many others – mad as hell, yes, but not as devastated as others – but if I can’t stand even the thought of it, I can’t imagine how it would make others feel. It would be even more traumatic than Lexa’s inital death. So, even though it’s probably an unrealistic hope, I really hope they don’t go there.

    Also, thank you for pointing out again that this is not about a fictional death. It’s about real people being affected, young LGBT people who lost all hope that they could ever have a happy ending in their life because the media keeps telling them that they can’t. I had forgotten how important role models are when you are in the process of coming out, mainly because I’m so lucky that I don’t need one anymore. Reading the fan reactions after 3×07 reminded me again. It inspired me to write about it on my German blog and I intend to continue writing about it because this is too important to just let it go.

    • EB

      March 24, 2016 at 9:23 am

      Grüß aus Memphis! Ich gehe im Sommer mit einer Gruppe Studenten nach Dland.

      Wie ist es im Fernsehen in Dland? Gibt es schwullesbitrans-Figuren? Wenn schon überleben sie? Ich kenn mich mit deutschem Fernsehen nicht so gut aus.

      As far as the finale, I will probably just wait for spoilers and decide if I can watch or not. I can’t believe how completely they ruined this show in one scene.

      • Eine Antwort auf Deutsch, wie toll! Wohin in Deutschland geht es denn im Sommer?

        There are LGBT characters on German TV shows, but unfortunately only very few. In my blog, I write about the representation of lesbian and bisexual women in the media, mostly in TV shows and movies, but there are only very few German shows I can write about. I put together a list of characters last October: http://www.rosalieundco.de/2015/10/26/frauenliebende-frauen-in-deutschen-serien-im-oktober-2015/

        One of the characters on that list isn’t on the show she was on anymore, but fortunately, she survived, the writers just had her move to the U.S. There were characters that died, mostly on the show “Hinter Gittern”, but it got better. In fact, I can’t recall a lesbian or bisexual female character that appeared regularly on a German TV show (as opposed to guest roles) dying on-screen since 2008. So we may have fewer characters, but at least by now, most of them get to survive.

        • EB

          March 24, 2016 at 12:35 pm

          Danke! Es gibt angeblich eine lesbische Polizistin bei Tatort? Oder Detektiv vielleicht? Ich weiss nicht.

          Ich gehe mit einer Gruppe 23 StudentInnen nach DLand. Wir werden in Saarland und Berlin sein. Geht z.T. um die Geschichte d. I und II Weltkriegs. Einige von denen haben noch kein deutsch gelernt. Andere waren noch nie im Ausland, sind noch nie mit dem Zug gefahren, etc. Soll interessant sein. lol

          • Die Kommissarin im Schweizer Tatort, Liz Ritschard, ist zumindest wohl bisexuell. In einer Folge war sie mir einer Frau im Bett, in einer anderen hat sie eine Frau geküsst, die wohl ihre Freundin zu der Zeit war. Man erfährt über das Privatleben der Ermittler aber generell wenig, so dass das Liebesleben von Liz schon lange kein Thema mehr war.

            Im Saarland war ich selbst noch nicht, aber Berlin wird bestimmt spannend. Da ist es auch kein Problem, wenn die Studierenden kein Deutsch können. Viel Spaß und viel Erfolg!

            • EB

              March 24, 2016 at 1:54 pm

              Ich sehe Tatort nicht sehr oft, aber eine Freundin von mir hat ihre Diss über Lesben-Detektive im Fernsehen sowie Bücher. Alles, was ich weiß, kommt von ihr.

              Im Saarland war ich auch noch nie bis letzten Sommer. Es gibt ein Institut dort (“Europa Akademie”) wo wir anfangen, erforschen die Geschichte der Gegend, dann nach Berlin. Ich habe ein Jahr in Berlin gewohnt, so dort ist mir alles eher vertraut. Soll lustig sein. Oder ein Disaster. Mal sehen. lol

      • “I can’t believe how completely they ruined this show in one scene.” My sentiments exactly.

  6. Thank you for writin this, from the bottom of my heart. It’s hard keeping all these emotions in check, to keep my comments on the polite side of the spectrum during trends. It takes everything I have not to go on a destructive path sometimes, knowing full well that it only hurts our cause. I’m just so tired of society nitpicking the differences between one another. Sometimes I think we, humans, don’t even deserve the place we have on this earth, that an apocalypse is just what we need. A chance to reset and do better, is it so wrong to wish for this? It is what fascinates me in this particular genre.
    But then there are people who get it, who are fighting for that second chance to do better right now and it gives me hope. Hope that maybe someday we will deserve this place on earth as a society. I know who I’ll be standing shoulder to shoulder in this fight.

    • EB

      March 24, 2016 at 9:19 am

      I grew up in a religion that talked about the Rapture (a form of apocalypse) nonstop. I used to hope it would happened so I wouldn’t have to take a test in school. lol. But yes the other day I was thinking an apocalypse would really shake things up. I think this desire for a reset is why these shows and books are so popular right now. People yearn for the chance to reorganize things from scratch. That’s one of the many appeals of this show (and FTWD as well). I just spent a whole semester teaching dystopias and we spent a lot of time talking about why people have latched onto this genre since the mid-20th century. I think it has to do with the invention of nuclear weapons. Like the thought of the end of the world became real all of a sudden.

      About deserving this world we live in – I think that’s the ultimate question on the 100 that gets asked over and over in many ways. It saddens me so much that such a promising show had to F things up in such a dramatic, irrevocable way.

      • haha I used to take more active control in trying to avoid my highschool tests: meditating and focusing on rewinding time. Not the wisest choice perhaps, but somehow the meditating did help me in absorbing some last minute details that were more often than not vital to tests.
        Would have loved to be at those seminars on dystopias, unfortunately I’m stuck in Europe. The cold war must have been a major factor though, the utter destruction witnessed by nuclear weapons at the end of WWII and during those tests is chilling, let alone imagining it on a grander, world wide scale. Humans are scary in that regard when you think about the trails of brutality and devestation.

        You’re right about it being the ultimate question in the 100, too bad really with this turn of events. I haven’t enjoyed watching any show on tv these last weeks. Instead I’m trying to channel it into writing some Elyza Lex fiction..

        • EB

          March 24, 2016 at 12:15 pm

          Yay, Elyza! I have read some Lexark stories but am probably way behind. Feel free to link on here if you like 🙂

          The cold war was my childhood. So many young people don’t understand the impression that left on kids. I had nuclear war nightmares as a kid. We had “fallout drills” at school. It was a real fear. And it still is in other ways, like environmental destruction. I think these survival fantasies give people a feeling of “maybe we can make it.” FTWD definitely does engage in that question of whether we deserve survival. Not as explicitly as the 100 (where Abby actually posed that question verbally at least once) but it’s still in the background of the show.

          • haha sure, will do, I’m a slow writer though and spend more time on how to place it and let it interact with the FTWD series at the moment. Figuring out the characters and stuff.

            I probably will never understand that full impression of the cold war. On a recent school excursion we went to Serbia and visited many archaeological sites along with musea. I’m from the Netherlands myself, so there’s a stark contrast already. But one of the things that was most important to me during that trip, was seeing a plaque on the wall within one of the museums. On it were the different emergency siren tones for different situations. It was really daunting to see most of those tones displayed were all war related. Coupled with the destruction of buildings in mainly Belgrado was really eye opening, especially when a friend told me the upwards bulging of upper floors in buildings was evidence of bombings on the floors below. It’s something I’ll never forget, it was the first time I could probably imagine an inkling of the fear people felt or perhaps still do.
            Environmental destruction, god, that’s another huge topic. We already see some of it in archaeology, but full realisation for me came when I followed courses in Arctic studies. And it wasn’t just the current climate change problems, that forces native people to alter traditions. It’s way more than that, frankly it’s kind of disgusting to see humanities destructive behaviour in the way we take every drop of resource nature has to offer and leave behind the gaping wounds. At some point it’s got to stop. Yet here I am, sitting in my 3 by 4 m room full of products squeezed from nature, typing away on a laptop..

            • EB

              March 24, 2016 at 2:03 pm

              I love the Netherlands, incidentally. Have visited there a good bit with my German family members who live just across the border. Some of them speak Dutch or Platt, which I can semi-understand, but usually not the important bit. lol

              Yes the Cold War was a big deal. And we are absolutely going to have to do something about the environment forthwith. Or it really will be destruction. And please, I live in America, in a “small” house by US standards, and anywhere else it would be considered huge. It’s mindboggling. I hope someday I can afford solar cells to go on the roof or something. The car companies dismantled the light rail systems here when cars and interstates became a thing. It was a big cooperation between General Motors and the US government. So we all have to have cars now. No choice. I use my bike for short trips but we barely have bike lanes (unlike Nederland!!) so it is dangerous. It’s very hard to be environment conscious here because everything is stacked against you. I do what I can in little ways but wish I could do more.

  7. Hi, thank you so much for another importante piece on this matter. You have no idea how inspiring it is to have several articles talking about this now and provinding support to LGBT reaction on these deaths.
    Even though many dont even want acknowledge our pain for this damn trope, I believe the debate is taking part on hollywoods writing rooms already, even if only for a tiny bit.
    It maybe be a little arrogant on my part, but I wish that we can take this momentum and spread this message internationally. The trope exists in every single country and although LGBT representation is weak on USA still, in Brazil (the country I live in) and many others countries is even more lacking.
    And we can see, even on twitter, how these other countries felt these losses too, there are people from Rússia, México, France 🙂
    What is happening right now is groundbreaking and I am so grateful that you keep reporting on it, big thanks for that

    • EB

      March 24, 2016 at 9:15 am

      Yes I mention in at least one of my previous articles how this show and Lexa were not just inspirational to US audiences, but even more – maybe especially – in countries where there’s less representation or (as in Russia & some countries in Africa) where it’s illegal to be LGBT or at least to express it. I have been so happy to see all the fans from all different countries interact online. I also hope that TV writers will think twice from now on about killing their LGBTs (esp women) as a cheap plot device. We’re so much more than that.

  8. Really great article! You have made all the good points and explained the problematic behavior really well!
    Well done! 🙂

  9. You’re really awesome. Thank you so much for writing it <3

  10. Thank you for writing this, I have really enjoyed your articles. I am so glad that you commented on JRoth’s use of language in the latest article. I studied linguistics, more specifically sociolinguistics, at university and am always interested in the lanague that people use. I read his comments in the article and got to the “fictional death” bit and thought OMG he did not just say that! His use of this language was demeaning and belittling and for me it was definitely at the point that he lost all credibility with regards to him having learnt anything from this experience – he just came across as an arrogant fool.

    I too am looking forward to Twitter fest that will doubt ensue from WonderCon. He’s either a brave man or very stupid (I’m going for the latter) .

    And yes you may be right about the bullet proof vest- here in Australai the ABC drama Janet King has just returned to our screens – and surprise Janet King’s lesbian partner was killed by a bullett, not so stray but definitely another case of ‘gets killed by accident’.

    • EB

      March 24, 2016 at 9:11 am

      Yes people don’t realize the impact of word choice. I’m mostly a literature-culture person, but I took a few courses in linguistics and I agree with you. It’s almost tiring sometimes to hear all the word choices and how they can be used as subtle dog whistles or microaggressions to alert people of what they *really* think. Jroth is so transparent it’s incredible.

  11. Dorte Andersen

    March 24, 2016 at 8:36 am

    Eloquent and to the point. It’s been Twenty days since this happened and I still can’t get myself to watch new The 100 episodes. The mere thought makes me nausious and the answer is in your article as well as many other articles on the subject. The feeling of having been used for PR and how my representation was killed as the result of lazy writing irks me to the point where it literally makes me sick to my stomach. How can anyone be so cold and calculating and think a loyal audience would accept this? I’m not a masochist, I don’t find it in any way enjoyable to watch my icon die in the arms of her lover 5 minutes after they finally made love! Yes, it’s a TV-show but it also makes a terrible statement for LGBTQ communities in real life. That’s the point the showrunner is missing. Others seem to have learned or at least showing the will to learn from this mess. As for the cast I fully understand their positilns too, they act for a living and they do it well. They’re also young and at the beginning of their careers so I fully understand their need to stay somewhat neutral in the matter. Badmouthing a current or even a former employer is always a big no-no, within all businesses, because then you get a bad reputation and that’s the end of a budding career. Sigh. Sorry fog being longwinded but this has been on my mind for a while now. Thank you so much for contributing with your article, I think it’s amazing to see how much support “Clexans” get from various people. 💙

    • EB

      March 24, 2016 at 9:09 am

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I think you’ll find more understanding and commiseration in my previous two posts as well. I appreciate that you took the time to read. And I say “Clexbians” sometimes because I think it’s funny.

  12. This is fantastic. Spot on. I was searching for some articles randomly and I’m not regretting clicking on this one!

    I was and still am a fan of Lexa, she inspired me so much. When Jason began tweeting things of Clexa I honestly believed that Lexa wouldn’t die this season.(I just thought that she would die in season 4, in a battlefield or something.) The way he tweeted about Clexa really convinced me that Lexa would stay alive.

    And then 3×07 happened. I was so dissapointed, angry, heartbroken,.. How she died was lazy writing. The fact that when I was reading tweets from Jason right before 3×07 aired made me so happy, because I thought that this episode was the one we were all waiting for , as a Clexa fan, the ‘game-changer’ as Jason said it. Clexa became canon but then BOOM, five seconds later Lexa get shot. I felt really used and I know I’m not the only one. On twitter, tumblr,.. My timeline was full of sad and angry Clexa fans. I talked with some fans who had a hard time about it, it was really effecting their lives. It made me sad that I couldn’t hug them or be there in their real lives, only on tumblr… The fact that Jason stayed silent for so long made me even more angry. And then one article came up where he’s ‘apologizing’. Ahum. Not even close. It’s just so unrespectful that I can’t even watch the 100 anymore. I mean, I really loved the show, I really love the actors in it, but I just can’t watch anymore. Jason screwed up, big time. He could’ve handled it better or stop tweeting so much about Clexa when he knew she was going to die.

    The only thing that makes me happy about the ending of 3×07 is that we are stepping up and we’re fighting and gaining attention from media, something I was waiting for that should’ve happened way sooner.I know some are negative but I really hope we are finally taking a step closer towards better representation of LGBT on screen.

    Thank you for writing this. Sorry for my English, it’s not my first language, I live in Europe! Anyway, this was something I felt I had to write about, after reading this good one. Again, thank you! Greetings from Belgium

    • EB

      March 24, 2016 at 9:07 am

      My heart goes out to the people of Belgium and Benelux right now. I’m sorry you guys have been touched by the scourge of terror.

      I’m glad you found my post. If you want to read more about the reaction, my two previous posts talk about it as well.

      And your English is great. No one is a perfect speaker of any language, even their own. Thanks for reading!

      • Thank you for that. It’s been scary that something so close has happened in Belgium. But we’re standing strong, we are not giving up.

        I just discovered your other posts, so I’m going to read them as well!

  13. I am so glad we have intelligent people like you who know how to express their thoughts eloquently among us. Thank you for kind of being our voice.

    • EB

      March 24, 2016 at 9:48 am

      Thank you, Arne. I appreciate all the kind thoughts people have expressed about my writing. Each one means so much to me, and I’m glad I have been able to connect with so many great people through this blog. 🙂

  14. Did anyone else who read the TV Insider interview ask themselves if The CW/Jason Rothenberg doesn’t have advisors when it comes to communication with the media and/or fans? Because giving this interview made matters worse. It’s like watching a very slow moving train wreck.
    The interviewer didn’t ask anything of substance. Not. A. Thing.
    Had it been me I would have told Rothenberg to either give a short statement saying that he is sorry and be done with it for the rest of the season or I would have told him to get somebody to interview him (preferably a woman) who actually knows what he/she’s doing meaning that he would have to deal with some actual questions. But this? This wasn’t even an interview and I couldn’t decide if I was supposed to laugh or get really mad about it.
    Hell, even guy who told ADC about the Trevor Project last weekend thought it was weird: https://twitter.com/benbatemanmedia/status/712038883345764353. I know he tries to make a name for himself, but he handled talking to ADC with so much care and grace I give him the credit to think that he would have handled the interview with Rothenberg differently.
    … 3 weeks and I am still not over this. Who would have thought?

    Elizabeth, I read in one of your comments that you’ll be in Germany this summer? Where will you go?

    • EB

      March 24, 2016 at 12:11 pm

      My understanding is that he, in fact, knew about the Trope but insisted that’s not what they were doing. Even though that’s exactly what they did.

      I’ll be in Saarland and Berlin with a group of 23 students, some of whom don’t speak any German and/or have never been outside the US yet. I may be busy. lol

      And I’m still not over it either. I still feel some heartache every time I look at pictures of them. Any pictures.

      • He definitely knew about the trope. He said so, Javi did, too. He just insists that it’s not a trope if you don’t “consciously” use it. So it’s basically “Yeah, it’s a trope, but then again it’s not, because I didn’t mean it the scene like that”. Well, how can you argue with someone who’s mind works like that … It’s infuriating.
        I know what you mean about the pictures, but I still can’t make myself not look at them. It’s weirdly masochistic. 😉

        Listen, if you need help organizing anything that can only be dealt with from Germany let me know. I live in North Rhine-Westphalia, so I am not close to Saarland, but I’ll be in Berlin in the middle of June and I have friends there. If you need help with anything I’d be happy to be of service.

  15. Brilliant article, again. Point out exactly what still happens about T100 mess. Still queerbaiting, still tropes, still homophobia, still misogyny . No apologies. They want to be progressive and different, but they don’t. They pretend care about us. They uses us. They disqualify our feelings, our pain with “its only character’s death”. Sadly T100 and JR will be remembering with that (huge) negative mark. Thank you again. Thank you to express what we think and feeling. We deserve better! (sorry for poor english).

  16. I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for the lengthy and well thought out piece you wrote. Briefly there I had lost my hope of anyone getting what we are struggling with, thankfully I was proven wrong by you as well as a couple other writers. It may not seem like much to you (and the other writers) but it makes me feel less alone, more hopeful for the kids growing up now, that maybe they will be spared from watching themselves die over and over again.

    At some point you really begin to believe that only the people in your own little bubble see and understand your pain. In my country there is a saying that roughly comes down to: shared pain is half pain. Thank you for halving my pain. Being acknowledged feels better than I thought it would. Your writing means more to people than you might think it would.

    Also I’m a caffeine high that combined with being Dutch could mean my rambling might not make any sense, I’ll apologize advance. Thanks again, keep writing I love reading your work.

    • EB

      March 24, 2016 at 12:08 pm

      No way – I feel like Dutch and Scandinavians speak better English than us.

      And ok because I am a super nerd, I need to know “shared pain is half pain” in Dutch. And thank you so much for reading. I have family in Germany right at the Dutch border so I have been to the Netherlands a good bit. Yay, Nederland!

      I thought things are more progressive there for the LGBT community – is that not true?

      • Things here are way better, my family is very open and nobody that came out in my ‘high school’ was actually bullied for being gay (ok maybe one guy but rest was quite accepted), still there is much to improve despite that all.

        I have been doing some reflecting in the last weeks and so many things clicked for me. How come I was terrified of coming out to my parents while I knew 100% certain they would accept it? Because every single thing on TV (yes, most shows here are American) that I saw showed me differently. Rationally I knew I’d be ok, emotionally I was terrified because what if they did kick me out? I hadn’t seen anything else so there was a risk. These weeks I realised that maybe despite being incredibly stubborn and loved that I had internalized these messages that they keep repeating.

        What I didn’t covey properly is that despite being more accepted I still feel like an outsider and different most of the time. Be it because with every new person I risk getting hurt for who I am or them assuring me they are ok with who I am. Now I know I’m privileged compared to others who live in other countries but still being an ‘outsider’ to an in group and being reminded of it every day is hard.

        Anyhow: ‘Gedeelde smart is halve smart’ EB and yes people like you make me feel part of the in group a little more each day.

  17. I love this post! I especially love the title. Those straight men and their manpain. UGH! I thought the same thing when Maya died and Jasper has been infuriatingly sad for episodes! Clarke better mourn Lexa or there will be another revolt!

  18. Wonderful, wonderful read. The level of manipulation and betrayal unleashed by these creators on the fans of this show is an affront to the entire LGBT+ community. And the fact that these people and this network continue to hide behind a 22 year old girl (and that she had to be the first to speak of it publicly) is pathetic and incredibly disrespectful to both us and ADC. This whole situation has made it clear to me that the CW network and Jason Rothenberg and his team of sad clowns do not care about me or my community.

    • EB

      March 24, 2016 at 1:50 pm

      Unfortunately I believe what I’ve shared here is just the tip of the iceberg. There are other, more insidious ways that the fandom has been played, but nothing that can be completely proved. Just very very good “inadmissible” type evidence. It’s actually way worse than it looks. And the CW is behind Jroth on all this. They only care inasmuch as it doesn’t cost them anything.

  19. voltairesmistress

    March 24, 2016 at 3:15 pm

    Dear Professor EB,
    Your writing and insight both depress and inspire me, and convince me to think harder thoughts than I might wish. Gutted by Clexa’s demise, I am still watching Season 3 of The 100. Why? Because I am so interested in its world building and flawed heroes, its ruminations on morality, its exploration of the legacies of violence on survivors. So many compelling woman to woman relationships, growth of characters, complexity. Did the show runner fuck up? Yes. Is he contrite or does he understand? No. Have you elucidated his failings beyond doubt? Yes! Would you please consider applying your brilliant critiques to the remainder of the season? We would all be the richer for it. And if not, thank you for this wonderful blog. You have a long term fan in me.

    • EB

      March 28, 2016 at 3:51 pm

      Thanks Caspar (auch deutsch nehm ich an? so viele deutsche hier lol!) – I may watch certain upcoming episodes and comment on them. We’ll see. I am speaking with a colleague about maybe writing a joint post about the treatment of racial / ethnic minorities on the show, to be addressed when Lincoln gets killed, which it looks like will happen in the next 2-3 episodes. But I won’t stop talking about the issue of representation in a general way. It’s too big of a topic, and this is too big of an opportunity, for us to drop it. This is a real watershed moment in TV / the entertainment industry.

  20. When i read the headline i already knew this would be a great read and sure enough you did write another outstanding article on the whole JR/CW++ disaster.
    The analytics of the language and wording he used is excellent and keeps unraveling the extend on what they have been and still are doing! As many above commented the sheer amount of disrespect and ignorance towards the LGBT community is obnoxious.
    That’s why it’s so inspiring what you do! Keep at it please and thank you very much for your voice. Love your insightful articles, really do.

    PS: Dass du ausserdem fliessend deutsch sprichst, wie toll ist das denn?! Dir ist schon klar, dass wenn du das Saarland mit 23 Studenten besuchst, du bzw. ihr fast in der Überzahl seid? j/k of course. Das Saarland ist klein, aber wunderschön. Das wird bestimmt lustig. Erstbesucher in Euroland, Zugfahren und so … wünsche dir viel Spaß! VG aus DE.
    It s really international 🙂 meeting blog – something great, isn’t it?

    • EB

      March 28, 2016 at 3:46 pm

      Danke und ja – Saarland ist ein etwas anderes Reiseziel. Es geht darum, dass wir dort ein passendes Gastgeber-Institut fanden, und wir können von dort aus andere Orte in der Gegend besuchen, usw. Und Berlin weil es halt Berlin ist. Und ja es ist hier echt international. Leider kann ich nur Deutsch kohärent genug zum schreiben. Andere Sprachen nur genug um peinlich sprechen zu können.

      I will keep with the writing as the topics present themselves. Thanks for the kind words.

  21. Wow, yes. Just yes. I want to print this article and frame it. I don’t know if you saw but apparently JRoth isn’t the only writer who’s done more than shady things regarding false promises and baiting the fans. Shawna Benson went into the LChat forum (a safe space for lesbian women to talk about media) and anonymously commented, trying to reassure the fans that Lexa wouldn’t die when she was already dead in the scripts. Details: http://wedeservedbetter.com/post/141388433803/your-friendly-neighborhood-lurker
    Anyway, great article, loved your analysis of JRoth’s terrible interview, can’t wait for Wondercon. <3

    • EB

      March 28, 2016 at 3:40 pm

      Yes this is a whole other issue. Look up Dany Roth’s article from Blastr that came out Sunday 3/27. It deals with the issue of infiltration by Shawna B, et al. Dany interviewed me in preparing the article. It turned out well, and I was happy I could contribute.

  22. JRoth has upped his manpain in his open letter- “While I now understand why this criticism came our way, it leaves me heartbroken.”

    I can’t even.

    https://medium.com/@jrothenberg/the-life-and-death-of-lexa-e461224be1db#.s7klhkdal

    • What’s even worse is that other websites quote it as the big apology we’ve all been waiting for. This is how TVLine starts:
      “Knowing everything I know now, Lexa’s death would have played out differently.”
      Those seven words, part of a blog post written by The 100 showrunner Jason Rothenberg on Thursday, should provide some comfort to fans still grieving the March 3 death of Alycia Debnam Carey’s Lexa.

      They’re basically telling us to shut up now.
      Wow, I never thought I could get even more angry about this.

      • The problem is, it TOTALLY contradicts the interview he JUST gave 3 days ago, where he said he wouldn’t change anything. It sounds like a letter straight from a PR textbook to pacify people- especially ahead of WonderCon.

        • And I don’t think that by “Lexa’s death would play out differently” he means that he would change the fact that she dies. He probably would have changed the timing and the way she died. He still doesn’t get that telling people that their favourite character is “safe” and then killing said character is a fucked up thing to do (sorry for the language). And he didn’t realize how much Lexa meant to the community?! Really?!

    • EB

      March 28, 2016 at 3:39 pm

      Nothing in this letter or his responses over the weekend in any way contradict anything I’ve written here. He’s just making it worse.

  23. So in love with how well you articulated everything the majority of us are feeling about these issues. I cannot even begin to thank you for helping voice our concerns and the consequences of their irresponsibility. From the bottom of my (albeit, broken) heart, thank you. Forever grateful to you and everyone else speaking out about our community needing better representation and deserving better. 🙂

    • EB

      March 28, 2016 at 3:39 pm

      Thank you so much. That is literally the only reason I have written any of these posts. I wanted to make people understand how important this issue is – not only to LGBT people but to our world in general if we want to live by the value of compassion – and I wanted everyone who experienced Lexa the way I did to know that they’re not alone. She tapped into some really deep stuff for all of us.

  24. So, in regards to what is said about the way we react to our favourite characters dying, I get so frustrated with this. Even my mom (whom I get along with very well) says to me “It’s just a show. It’s just a fictional character.”, making me feel like an idiot for it and I am very much done with that.
    Back in 2013 I got so hyped that Skins was coming back for 3 special episodes and oh boy, even more when my favourite ship appeared in the trailer. I counted down the months to the special episode. On the night of the premiere, I was glued to the screen. It made me cringe a bit the way their storyline was going but I thought they wouldn’t bring back one of the most famous ship from the show to just ruin it. And do I wish I was wrong. When it was revealed Naomi had cancer in the first half of the special episode, I spent the following week wishing to any gods that they wouldn’t kill her. And even though that, as with Lexa, I saw it coming, when the dreadful night came I cried like a baby for the whole episode and when it ended, cried non-stop for half an hour, followed by some binge-smoking and catatonicly lying in bed. My mother and brother looked genuinely worried at first but when I told them what happened they were totally dismissive which only made me feel worse. At that time I didn’t even know about the Bury Your Gays trope.
    From that day on, I got badly triggered by anything Skins Fire and only recently have I gotten a little over it. It’s still hard sometimes.
    With The 100, I knew damn well the probability of Lexa dying since Jamie Britain(who wrote Skins Fire) scarred this trope into my soul. And yet, I and everyone got dissapointed and we’re still told that it’s just fiction. People get affected on a psychological level by this. Show writers have to own up to the reaction they cause. When a Pokemon episode caused epilepsy all over Japan, the team didn’t claim it was their artistic right to make a showlight on their anime. I know it’s farfetched, but as someone with mental issues who has suffered enough with LGBTQ plotlines, I think writers should be more responsible when they cause a wave of trauma and breakdowns on their fans. Write responsibly. Don’t dismiss our feelings towards what you gave us. Stop killing the characters that represent us. We already have homophobic family members and peers in real life to make us feel worthless.
    These past few weeks I’ve been fighting really hard to not have a breakdown over this character I loved so much… Why do we have to endure this?
    It’s a long rant, but I had to take this off my chest.

    • EB

      March 28, 2016 at 3:37 pm

      People really don’t understand how powerful stories are. Stories, seeing our reality reflected back to us, is a deep human need. This response to Lexa (and other characters that marked advances in representation, only to get dashed) is completely natural and normal. People who dismiss it as “just a show” lack a level of human understanding. Our entire religions are based on stories that people have elevated to “Truth,” but they’re still stories. And they are powerful. You’re definitely not alone.

  25. Great article thank you! Very direct and informative in the way this subject needs to be talked about. Thank you again!

  26. Another great read. A positive thing to note; the 100 fallout continues to generate media attention. There has been no fewer than 20 articles written about it, and the Trevor Project has raised over $62K and counting in Lexa’s honor . Another factor can be summed up this way; one iconic teenage fictional lesbian had to die so that countless young, vulnerable real lesbians might live.

    JRoth apparently posted an apology today. Of course, it was posted on the eve of his upcoming appearance at WonderCon. It’ll be interesting to see how he deals with angry fans there. Also, more needs to be said about the sadistic Shawna Benson, who lurked on a pro-Clexa lesbian forum, back in August of last year, and reassured worried 100 viewers that Lexa was going to be okay when she already knew the plan was to kill Lexa. When I read about that yesterday, that was my “go vomit” moment.

    • EB

      March 28, 2016 at 3:33 pm

      And now it’s at $85,000 last I checked? I think we’re going to hit 100K and I’m so happy that at least we have this one tangible outcome, no thanks to JRoth. We did this ourselves.

  27. Thank you for this.

  28. Dorte Andersen

    March 24, 2016 at 8:31 pm

    In total agreement!

  29. As Enligsh is not my first language I apologize for any mistakes: Thank you so much for writing this! It’s a really good article and has me nodding my head along as I read. The LGBT-community is tired of this trope and we deserve better. My heart hurts for all the young girls seeing all these role models leave our screens yet again. For anyone in despair, just remember that in real life we do live lives filled with love, happiness and success and we do get our happy endings. I can promise you that. Hoping that will start being the case on-screen as much as off-screen soon. Again, thank you so much for writing about this.

    • EB

      March 28, 2016 at 3:32 pm

      Indeed we do get happy endings. I’m marrying the love of my life this summer and could not be happier about it. Thanks for reading. And no apologies necessary about English. I’m so happy that the fandom is so international.

  30. Thank you for taking your time and energy to research, and write about this. In world where so many dismiss us as angry teenagers, having a few that actually make an effort to understand is really important and matters a lot.

    • EB

      March 28, 2016 at 3:30 pm

      Honey, I was an angry teenager. That’s why it’s easy for me to identify with y’all. I want your voices to be heard and your perspective to be understood, because it’s my perspective too. I am personally affected by this trope. We all are. And it has to stop.

  31. Thank you for writing this.

  32. You are most welcome. Read the Dany Roth article and noticed your involvement too, another good one. Topics will continue to present themselves, i m sure of it. As long as there are voices out there like yours, Mo Ryan, Dany Roth, Heather Hogan,….. there s hope for change.
    Wenn man die Sprache eines Anderen spricht, egal auf welchem Niveau, kann es eigentlich nie peinlich sein. In diesem Sinne: have fun in Saarland & Berlin.

  33. Eloquently written and hugely informative. Thanks for writing this.

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