Apparently LGBT TV fans are up in arms over characters sharing their sexual orientation getting killed off now and then on various dramas. They are, it seems, keeping score.
I knew our culture’s fracturing was tilting us toward this social Armageddon, but I had hoped we would regain sanity before it reached this point.
I first noticed that many LGBT fans embrace the view that Gay Lives Matter (more) on TV dramas when “The Walking Dead” killed off one of its two lesbian characters, Dr. Denise Cloyd (Merritt Wever) with an arrow through the eye (from behind…TWD doesn’t fool around) and articles about the “problem” started popping up. Protests and fan freak-outs over the demise of fictional characters are nothing new, of course, but I didn’t realize that it wasn’t enough to have diversity in casting and individual characters on TV, and that groups with calculators were measuring happiness, success, heroism, villainy, life, death, good luck, bad luck and skin rashes by EEOC categories as well. This is neither compassionate, democratic, American nor healthy.
One TV show’s LGBT aficionados are in revolt over the death of a gay character. “The 100″ killed off Lexa, an openly gay major character, and her similarly gay fans are enraged and offended. They were unable to sleep, they said. Some threatened to harm themselves; the writer of the deadly episode published a list of self-help hotlines. During the episode following Lexa’s death, the show’s fans created the topic #LGBT Fans Deserve Better on Twitter, which has since become an international LGBT phenomenon. Later, fans tweeted with Bury Tropes Not Us, opposing the alleged “trend” of TV shows creating gay characters only to kill them off later. Autostraddle, a lesbian and bisexual website, compiled a list of 150 lesbian and bisexual characters in TV roles who have been killed, going back to 1976.
The ironic aspect of this—I will call it nonsense because it is nonsense, though it is also dangerous nonsense—nonsense is that the shows under fire are the same ones progressives have saluted for having diverse characters to begin with. Then, because those color-blind, gender-blind, age-blind, disability-blind, ethnicity-blind writers treat the diverse characters like they do any other characters—that is, they kill them when it advances the plot, creates buzz, or just because they feel like it, being gods in this make-believe universe, the shows are boycotted and derided for bigotry.You can bet that the much acclaimed and over-rated trans actress on Netflix’s Orange Is The New Black has a job for the life of the series, because getting rid of her would be considered proof-positive of anti-trans hatred.
You have to feel sorry for “The Walking Dead,” which ended its latest season by leaving its audience in doubt regarding which character just got his or her brains beat out with a baseball bat, splattering blood on the camera lens. No matter whom the victim turns out to be, it will have offended some “tribe” and opened itself to accusations of bias. The possible victims include a black heterosexual woman, a mixed-race woman, a possibly gay adult white male, an Asian-American adult male, a white pregnant female (and her baby/fetus/ inhuman set of parasitic cells, depending on your point of view), a white juvenile male, and the show’s hero, an idiot. No matter who it is, some group will have evidence of antipathy, hate and bias by the writers, just as Black Lives Matters and its allies like Al Sharpton and the Congressional Black Caucus take the position that any time a black perp or suspect is killed by police, it is per se evidence of racism.
The current culture, poisoned by intentional promotion of group identification and tribalism, now encourages every man, woman and child to pick a team, and furiously assert that any misfortune that befalls another member of that team is presumptively suspicious. It is now retrograde and naive to admire individuals, real or imaginary, because of their character, their deeds, and their admirable talents and qualities. What matters is whether they “look like us,” we are told. People who look like us, talk like us, come from where we did, believe in the same god, have the same maladies, belong to the same party, have sex with the same gender as us, should matter more to us, even when they aren’t real.
Formerly or still mistreated minorities are leading the way in this cultural shift. Tribalism and group identification is a normal phase of any out-group’s legitimate defensive strategy until the group is accepted and trusted by the larger culture. Now, however, led by the permanent minority spoils philosophy that has the United States by the throat, that final acceptance and assimilation that obliterates the need for tribalism no longer is encouraged or even considered desirable. A powerful, and powerfully irresponsible, group of cultural leaders and opinion-makers wants to see the United States population sliced into smaller and smaller fiercely loyal tribal categories, and there will be dire consequences if every company, club, organization, union, government agency, cabinet, university, prison, Broadway cast and film and TV casualty list doesn’t hit the exact percentage of each tribe on the nose—which is an impossible task. It is meant to be, so our tribes will be at perpetual war.
Man oh man, am I out of step! Back when Jimmy Smits’ character on “NYPD Blue” died of heart failure, I was deeply moved and also felt that the character was ennobled by his courageous handling of inevitable death. I didn’t realize that I was supposed to feel less emotion because he was a Hispanic-American and I wasn’t. I definitely didn’t realize that the writers killing an ethnic minority lead in a hit TV show was really a demonstration of racial animus.
In the case of “The 100,” the show’s creator felt the need to apologize, even though the reason the gay character was killed was that the actress who played her was committed to another project. Of course, that’s not the point to the tribal-minded. The objective is to use the fictional controversy to intimidate all non-tribe members in real life, saying “Don’t mess with us.”
National leaders and groups that are exploiting tribal warfare are risking the integrity connective tissue that holds our nation together. This latest phenomenon shows how quickly these bonds are fraying, and we ignore its implications at our collective peril.
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