Thursday, September 13, 2012

Billy the Vampire Slayer: A New Gay Male Vampire Slayer

This is something I’ll watch with interest and suspicion - not least of which because the comics media in general is probably the third worst culprit when it comes to erasing GBLT people (I’d put children’s literature/programming and computer games ahead) and there has been a whole lot of problems in the past (already both DC’s Green Lantern, with extra gay-death and Northstar’s wedding, now with marital problems, look like they’re getting shaky) so I’m disinclined to jump up and down just yet.

Still, I do like the idea of a strong gay male character - especially an action character which is very rare.

I’m just not sure why he’s “Billy the Vampire Slayer” it seems cutesy, and rather silly. Especially since, in the Buffyverse, “Slayer” has a meaning - it’s not just someone who fights vampires, it’s someone with these ancestral ancient powers - which, they’ve made clear, Billy (or any man) will not have.

Which I approve of - I actually would be against Billy having powers that are reserved for women as it would be degendering and happens so many times with gay men (hi Ann McCaffrey and your thrice be damned Green Riders) if you’re going to have gendered abilities then deciding that the gay characters cross them feels more than a little “they aren’t REAL men/women” to me. Though a trans slayer? That would be awesome.

But it does make this quote from Jane Espenson “What if someone in high school is looking up to Buffy as a role model, and we're saying: You can’t be a Slayer”

Well... no. I mean he can call himself the Slayer, but since Slayer has meaning he can’t actually be one. That’s like saying, in JK Rowling’s universe, “anyone can be a wizard - they can’t cast magic but they can wave a stick around and call themselves a wizard!”

It’s my stumbling block - introduce a gay male fighter who kicks arse? Yes, go for it, I’ll be here cheering it on. But why call him a “slayer” - why try to make him a weak imitation of the female slayer? Why does the gay male slayer have to covet or aspire to the female role which none of the straight, male slayers have done? It’s not like there aren’t already plenty of perfectly ordinary human men in the Buffyverse fighting the good fight.

Still, as complaints go, it’s relatively minor and certainly can be written well in a way that redeems it (make Billy’s “slayerdom” above and beyond merely being a fighter) and I’m hoping he grows into the role as a full character, without tropes and stereotype - we can hope, but I’m not getting my hopes too high - my cynicism is well used and too often right. But I hope.