Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Wrong About Writer's Intention in Heroes

Many months ago, in the entry titled "Representing Gays in Narrative", I supported a press release that Tim Kring put out. I misinterpreted the press release, thinking that he had taken a smoke & mirrors explanation to the situation (implying that a character may be gay then not resolving the character arc) then not having a resolution to the character's sexual orientation.

In essence, I thought, and still, think they created an ambiguous characterization of the character, Zach (the cheerleader's best friend), even if they intended on him being gay. I enjoy the unclear presentation. Like a wild dog, I defended this position along with Kring not revealing their intention for the character's sexual orientation, my feeling about the implications of stereotypes possibly perpetuated by the characterization of the character and the logical fallacy of his classmates taunting his homosexuality leads to the characterization that he is gay.

Nonetheless, after reading Kring's press release again, I see that he believes that the show had misled the viewers on this front, having betrayed their intentions for the character to be gay. Bryan Fuller confirms their intention (search for "gay" or "Zach" to find the relevant passage).

I prefer the ambiguous interpretation. I think the writers made a mistake of even addressing the issue other than saying "no comment" or "it's material." Frankly, I think that matter is pretty immaterial to the show. Along with a lot of people, I still enjoy the show. Sure, if they pulled off the effect intended with this character, it probably would have rocked. Nonetheless, it didn't.

Sure, the whole thing along with matters like a mostly white, "American" cast with a couple black characters, one Indian character, a couple women (and, at one time, a gay character, apparently), all types of identity politics and cultural criticism issues come up -- and couple that Heroes centers around "mutants" that could potentially become outcasts (this theme only really comes up with the cheerleader's story and minisculy in the politician's story, however. . .which requires insight supplied from outside the show rather than necessarily from archetypes and such. . .especially when there's really not much, if any experience, emphasis on the experience of minorities in a dominant culture. . .except for a couple mutants trying to hide their powers, mainly because they want to or stay popular, not for survival).

So barring that the show has minorities in the cast and centers around mutants (and there's plenty of sources outside of the show that can provide interesting insight), I don't really find the sexual orientation of one character material enough to the show to make that big of a deal out of it.


Vivian said...

I agree with your ending statement. I didn't even know Zach was getting this much attention.

The_Lex said...

I don't know how much attention he is or has gotten. While watching it once, the fiancee mentioned that the fans were speculating about his sexuality. Then someone else posted a link to the "gay fracas," which baited me into my passionate responses. . .and made it a big deal to me at the time. Not necessarily the best time in my life, but I think some of the big deal on this blog comes from my own personality.

I'm kind of interested in hearing how much attention it did get, though.

Redag said...

Just to be clear here: the importance of the de-gayification of Zach is that is was important enough to people to make a big deal out of. The writers planned a thematic mandate in which to reveal Zach's sexuality, providing both a narrative good for the show, and a positive depiction of a gay male role-model (lesbians are too easy, everybody is cool with lesbians now).

When it became clear to the management of the actor who played Zach that the character was gay, they shat a brick because of their career plans for him.

It is great that you and I aren't threatened by the way in which similar reactions censor depictions of gays and other minorities from the media sphere, but we're straight white men, with all the privileges that come with that. Great power, great responsibility, etc., leads to the notion we should also be upset when this sort of thing happens. Or just diversity, or a thousand other reasons to take note of a happening like this and to condemn the actions of the actor in being too small to play a gay dude.

The_Lex said...

But how many people found it important enough?

Redag said...

What's your point?

The_Lex said...

My point is that I'm curious about the size of this controversy and how much actual "noise" it created.