affable

186 notes

Lost Girl, SyFy US, Homophobia and Hand-on-Armageddon.

American viewers should be insulted, and gay viewers offended, that a harmless and significant scene was mashed and diluted into something useless for their consumption, with the presumption that they’re simply unable to enjoy television like the rest of the world’s grown-ups.

Nowhere else would somebody have put that much effort into removing such a tame display of affection, when the very same episode featured scenes of far more explicit straight sexual encounters and even graphic violence left perfectly intact.  I find this a far more distressing decision than the loss of anything more graphic and vital to Bo and Lauren’s overall arc, because it is at once so needless and so deliberate.

Pop culture is culture, and it does not exist in a vacuum. Every one of us engages with it every day. What SyFy’s edit represents is no less than an attempt to tidy away any hint that there is something real, something worthwhile, something of value in the depiction of a same sex relationship beyond hot Sweeps week sex. 

It is no longer acceptable to be openly fearful or hateful towards lesbians or lesbian characters on television; but it is, apparently, still quite alright to be ashamed of them.

My pop culture is ashamed of me, and SyFy US doesn’t understand what I’m upset about.

www.twitter.com/syfy

 feedback@syfy.com

https://www.facebook.com/lostgirlseries ”

*********

Do you like Lost Girl?

I like Lost Girl. I like it a lot. It’s a gleefully swearwordy and frequently racy bit of urban fantasy, with a joyfully exuberant cast and a rich internal mythology. Sure it has some patchy writing, and endearingly ropey SFX, but it’s also got real heart and has rarely, in two years, put a foot wrong in its treatment of gender, sexuality and orientation.

So it’s the ugliest kind of shame that, through no fault of Lost Girl itself, SyFy US’s treatment of the show has left me such an unhappy bunny. Oh yes - a profoundly unhappy, insulted and offended, bunny, with a keyboard fit to buckle.

You may recall - if you’re as nerdy as my good self - that there was a lot of discussion when SyFy initially picked up the show, about whether or not they would be broadcasting it intact. It’s about a friendly bisexual sex monster and her foul mouthed kleptomaniac sidekick, so editing it down to the usual American PG standard would leave you with part of an opening title sequence followed shortly by the outro music, interrupted by a brief montage of darkly dressed ladies striding around Toronto.

Syfy vowed not to cut bad language for S1, and seem to have stuck to that, but as soon as they started with S2, it became apparent that all was not rosy in the garden. The most obvious symptom was a smattering of woefully overdubbed profanity, but now it seems they’ve gotten confident, and taken to shaving chunks off scenes on a whim. 

I say “whim”, but actually, by absolutely no coincidence, the scene cut is a quite deliberately chosen display of affection between Bo, the bisexual heroine, and Lauren, her enslaved starcrossed sometimes-lover. This is not a massive surprise - I am accustomed, by now, to dealing with the double standard when it comes to explicit or even suggestive scenes between gay characters, but this one, oh man, this one stands out.

Last night’s episode, 2x03, “Scream a Little Dream”, features a scene where The Ash – Lauren’s new owner - stomps in with his lackeys to claim her as his property. Bo pulls a knife to protect Lauren, and there’s a tense standoff before Lauren relents, persuades Bo to lower the weapon, and agrees to go with him. It’s important to stress at this point, there is no gore in this scene, no bad language and no nudity – again, it’s a standoff, and there’s some banter, then it’s over. The problematic cut comes smack bang in the middle of this scene, starting immediately after Bo draws the knife.

In the original version, Lauren tenderly slips her hand down Bo’s shoulder and arm.

“Bo don’t! You’ll just make it worse. Look at me, please! I need you to stay out of this.” 

(http://fuckyeahgirlwithglasses.tumblr.com)

(Cheers to http://fuckyeahgirlwithglasses.tumblr.com)


But in the version SyFy aired, they bluntly cut these lines down to "Bo don’t! I need you to stay out of this." and nixed that little caress, simply cutting back to Lauren with her hand on Bo’s shoulder like a vaguely supportive gym buddy.

That might look like a minor omission, a 30 second exchange cut down to about five. But it’s a really important little moment to illustrate where Bo and Lauren’s relationship stands and the dynamic that exists between them, both to the viewer and to The Ash character, in a way that’s plot significant later in the season. It’s not a big cut, but most of what’s missing is in the unspoken interplay between the two actresses. That absence throws a completely different spin on the whole sequence. As it played out on SyFy US last night, the scene represents Lauren very differently and makes way less sense.

More importantly, the thought process behind this cut speaks volumes, because it’s nakedly obvious that it was made purely to neuter the sense of intimacy between the two characters. Again, the scene features no graphic violence, nudity or swearing – just a brief expression of physical contact between the two women that suggests they are on closer-than-friendly terms. The scene was certainly not cut to generate ad slot time; there were a million other establishing shots or dialogue free moments that would have made for a more seamless transition, and hardly any work to trim away. This instance required somebody to splice together audio and shuffle around the visuals in an attempt to come away with something coherent; somebody had to sit down and graft the two jagged stumps of show together around this little moment that they wanted gone, for whatever reason. And since that reason is not violence, nudity or convenience, that leaves us with only one option and it’s rhymes with “Lomophobia”. 

I don’t fling around an accusation of homophobia lightly. Not ever and not now. But I’m left without any alternative explanation. Considering how much gore and bare heterosexual ass passed the grade without incident, it can hardly be suggested that a HAND ON AN ARM presents some intolerable visual affront by comparison. For Christ’s sake this is “Put a skirt on those piano legs, Ermintrude!” fuckery and I can’t believe we’re still wading through bullshit like this in 2012.

Only because it was a lesbian character’s hand touching a bisexual character’s arm was it considered unfit for broadcast, and it’s this which boggles my mind and turns my stomach. Somebody at SyFy Towers sat down in the edit suite, watched that episode, thought about it for a while, and then made a deliberate decision to remove a scene that poses no possible issue except in the context of the wider relationship it represents. That relationship is only established and expressed in other episodes - if any other character had done exactly the same thing, reading the exact same lines, it simply wouldn’t have occurred to anybody to cut it. By contrast, the character Kenzi is all kinds of huggy with no issue, creating the fairly preposterous situation where Bo’s friend is permitted to be physically affectionate with her in a way that her lover is not. 

The problem, I’d like to stress, is not the value of the content that has been cut. I will live without twenty odd seconds of looking at Anna Silk’s lovely shoulders or Zoie Palmer’s very very lovely hands. The problem is not even the loss of their really cracking nonverbal performances in this scene. The problem is that SyFy aren’t attempting to cut part of the scene from the episode, so much as they’re attempting to cut part of the relationship from the show. They aren’t trying to fit in more ads or protect their audience or respond & adapt to some previous public outcry. I’m not aware of any substantial complaints about previous sex scenes or lesbian content in the show, and nobody on planet Earth would have fucking noticed if they’d left the shot in. So this isn’t just pandering to arseholes; it’s actively imposing an agenda on the narrative at the expense of the source material. This certainly doesn’t bode well for the future, either - if they can’t handle a hand on an arm, there’s an episode in a few weeks time that’s going to blow their fucking minds right out in a storm of pinky-grey foam and dropped coffee cups.

It’s worth noting that SyFy UK has been showing Lost Girl apparently uncut for some time now without issue. I can tell you upfront, I really wanted to believe that SyFy US was going to redeem itself for the nonsense over Sanctuary some time ago, but evidently that’s not to be. I don’t believe they don’t realise how much of the show’s buzz is down to its refreshing and contemporary depiction of sexuality, and I don’t believe they don’t know how quickly Lauren is becoming a significant benchmark figure in online LGBT pop culture. So I’m left to conclude that SyFy US is simply happy to think of, and treat, its audience like bigots. Other audiences could handle the suggestion of a serious f/f relationship just fine, but not fine red blooded Americans, apparently.

I think that’s bullshit, personally - that’s “Bulljunk”, if you’re reading from the US, by the way - but SyFy seems to take exactly that for granted. They’ve cut some incredibly tame little moments of contact between Bo and Lauren while leaving scenes of explicit violence and much racier stuff with Dyson intact, and the problem seems to be purely the emotional weight of the gesture coming from another woman.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no doubt they’ll make cuts to forthcoming sex scenes too; but for the sake of the plot, they can’t dispense with them entirely. This in itself presents a secondary and equally upsetting problem, albeit not a deliberately intended one. Whether they mean it or not, by stripping Bo and Lauren’s relationship of any nuance or emotional foundation, SyFy is effectively reinforcing that loathsome, tacit rule of television; that lesbian intimacy is only acceptable if it’s cheap, meaningless and confined solely to sex scenes which occur in isolation to the real show. In other words, SyFy is inadvertently suggesting that they’re okay with Bo and Lauren having sex all they like, so long as they aren’t too, you know, gay about it.

While this is certainly not Syfy’s intention, this is the message they’re reinforcing regardless. For all intents and purposes, the end effect is the same.

Syfy bought this show because it has a unique flavour and established an international audience on its own word of mouth. It has that flavour and that audience, in part, because it doesn’t act like a prudish backwater moron about sex, gender and orientation. American viewers should be insulted, and gay viewers offended, that a harmless and significant scene was mashed and diluted into something useless for their consumption, with the presumption that they’re simply unable to enjoy television like the rest of the world’s grown-ups.

Nowhere else would somebody have put that much effort into removing such a tame display of affection, when the very same episode featured scenes of far more explicit straight sexual encounters and even graphic violence left perfectly intact. I find this a far more distressing decision than the loss of anything more graphic and vital to Bo and Lauren’s overall arc, because it is at once so needless and so deliberate.

Pop culture is culture, and it does not exist in a vacuum. Every one of us engages with it every day. What SyFy’s edit represents is no less than an attempt to tidy away any hint that there is something real, something worthwhile, something of value in the depiction of a same sex relationship beyond hot Sweeps week sex. 

It is no longer acceptable to be openly fearful or hateful towards lesbians or lesbian characters on television; but it is, apparently, still quite alright to be ashamed of them.

My pop culture is ashamed of me, and SyFy US doesn’t understand what I’m upset about.

www.twitter.com/syfy

 feedback@syfy.com

https://www.facebook.com/lostgirlseries

Filed under anna silk bo dennis doccubus dorothy snarker homophobia lauren lewis lgbt lost girl lostgirl showcase syfy zoie palmer dr hotpants bo and lauren

  1. calliopesmuse reblogged this from juvjuvychan and added:
    Wait until they have to take out about 3 minutes of Doccubus sex for 3x02!!!! It totally sucks being a lesbian in...
  2. juvjuvychan reblogged this from dangercupcakemurdericing
  3. jellyfishdirigible reblogged this from wolvensnothere and added:
    ffs
  4. tiberiusmulder reblogged this from the-goddamazon
  5. missdotti reblogged this from madgastronomer
  6. renvsner reblogged this from meddiv
  7. madgastronomer reblogged this from winneganfake and added:
    They did WHAT to my SHOW?! Oh, FUCK YOU SYFY.
  8. winneganfake reblogged this from wolvensnothere
  9. radioactive-nerd reblogged this from dame-c
  10. listlessdiasporakid reblogged this from the-goddamazon
  11. wolvensnothere reblogged this from the-goddamazon and added:
    I hereby Rescind any and all goodwill and potential hope i’d had toward The Siffy for their decision to step up and play...
  12. imoverthinkingitagain reblogged this from speakerwiggin
  13. meandrous reblogged this from baronessmoriarty
  14. gypsydangerismyhomegirl reblogged this from the-goddamazon
  15. niamhermind reblogged this from the-goddamazon and added:
    I’m shocked they weren’t editing a lot more scenes out but arm touching went?
  16. inthesilverymoonlight reblogged this from amyelizabeth
  17. meddiv reblogged this from alwaysfaithfulterriblelizard
  18. amyelizabeth reblogged this from the-goddamazon
  19. speakerwiggin reblogged this from dreaminpng
  20. xxtorchxx reblogged this from eshusplayground
  21. dreaminpng reblogged this from knitmeapony
  22. kinneys reblogged this from alwaysfaithfulterriblelizard
  23. gryphye reblogged this from the-goddamazon and added:
    blarg.. I guess it’s okay when Captain Jack Harness does it but not teh gurls? There’s a reason why British TV is...
  24. dangercupcakemurdericing reblogged this from eshusplayground and added:
    Oh, not that, I meant scifi fucking with Lost Girl. I don’t have much faith in ABC doing anything but insipid het love...
  25. words-kill-words-heal reblogged this from the-goddamazon
  26. burningcarousel reblogged this from the-goddamazon
  27. eshusplayground reblogged this from dangercupcakemurdericing and added:
    They didn’t make it canon. It’s just one of the things I’d worry about if they did make it canon.