Monday, February 18, 2008

Torchwood Whiplash

Sly B and I have been having an ongoing discussion about the representations of race on Torchwood. I've been thinking about that issue a lot lately, and formulating a post on the subject for a few weeks. Today, I encountered two items on the show, and figured now was a good a time as any to get my thoughts out.

The first item, from where I stole the image above, was a really nice essay on Feminist SF - The Blog, which I read and enjoy occasionally. I think that Shannan Palma makes some great points that are similar to things that Sly B and I have been tossing back and forth as we enjoy the show. In a nutshell, why are the women of color (3 - 1 lead and 2 guests) on the show either evil aliens or sad and lonely singles? Click on the link to read her post, because she outlines this much better than I would have done.

The second item was a pretty homophobic and poorly done guest review on the latest episode of my favorite podcast, Slice of SciFi. It was really disappointing. Briefly, the reviewer, Just Terry, who I don't know anything about except he thinks he's really funny, said that he likes Torchwood but thinks there is too much gay stuff on it. He doesn't mind gay people, but wonders why we have to be hit over the head with it. If you want to hear it, don't say I didn't warn you -- it's linked at the beginning of this paragraph. Listen to the entire episode so your time isn't all the way wasted -- it's generally an outstanding show.

As anyone who reads this blog knows, I LOVE Torchwood. I think that it's got a queer vibe that The L Word tries and fails weekly to capture, and has great writing. It's outstanding SciFi, but also just a fun geeky soap opera. I have high hopes, like Shannan Palma, that the creators of the show will give Tosh something interesting to tackle so she doesn't have to continue playing the techie Asian who never gets laid, and is always on call and always willing to self-sacrifice for the job. The show is too good not to hope that it gets better.


Sly B said...

Ugh. I am so fed up with people complaining about marginalized groups getting a tiny bit more face time in the world. I am absolutely fed up with being slammed over the head with gratuitous heterosexuality every which way I look. I'm so sick of seeing movies and tv shows about straight, white people. Then there's Torchwood (which I agree, has a long way to go before it deals with race the right way). Torchwood is so queer in all the right ways. I'd like to think that if a person were to live for several centuries (and travel to different universes), they would get over the myth of heterosexuality as the normal way of being. (Terry most likely has either already kissed a guy, or really wanted to get with a guy...we all know that.) The other thing that irks me about Torchwood, though, is that we need to see more leadership and major stories from the women characters. Right now it is a bastion of machismo. Why didn't Tosh go bat shit crazy when her out-of-time lover had to leave like Owen did? Cuz women need to get shit done, and don't have the luxury of going crazy. I bought a bumper sticker for EssBee that says "Harkness/Harper 2008" The first thing we both thought was - why would Owen automatically be the running mate? Gwen is way more together, intelligent, witty, tolerant, name it (yep, she's even as slutty as Owen). Then yesterday I saw a bumper sticker that said "Potter/Weasley 2008" Gag! Who would even vote for Harry Potter over Hermione Granger, much less Ron?! It's the penis that's getting them on stickers. It's the coninuation of social "norms" and the reluctance to break away from them. And it's comments like those from Terry that work to keep the status quo going and white, wealthy, christian, straight men in power and the heroes in most published sci-fi/fantasy novels and overall movies and tv shows alike. Yeah, I'm sick of it. Can ya tell?

Dani in NC said...

I don't think there is much hope of Tosh ending up in a healthy relationship any time soon. Russell Davies said in an episode of Torchwood Declassified that they know they have a good story if it involves Tosh crying.