Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Walking Dead and GBLT Erasure - Two Awful Choices

In the latest episode of The Walking Dead, the survivors finally reached the prison – and all fans breathe a sigh of relief because we have reached the end of People Arguing On a Porch that consumed so much of the second season. And they even let T-Dog speak, I was beginning to wonder if he’d forgotten how.

But people who read The Walking Dead comics will realise already that there are some major changes between what we saw on the TV and what we saw in print –namely, the prisoners.

In the comics there are 4 surviving prisoners – and they actually do survive for some time and there’s even an attempt for them to integrate into the group without Rick feeding them to walkers. But the main change I’m going to talk about is Dexter (a character they removed from the TV show) and Andrew (the man who ran and was fed to the walkers).

In the comics, these 2 are a couple. Andrew is gay or bisexual and Dexter is engaging in prison induced situational male/male relationship. Dexter is a murderer and it’s assumed he will turn to women now he has that option – but neither he nor Andrew last very long in either case.

And I didn’t like them. I didn’t like for a very long time – until issue 67, this was the only GBLT inclusion in the comics. I didn’t like that this sole example of inclusion was so quickly killed off. I didn’t like that it was a prison relationship which is so often based on sexual abuse and rape – and GBLT people are disproportionately targeted. I didn’t like that the relationship didn’t appear to be close to affectionate, healthy or, indeed, have any praise-worthy attributes.

But I also didn’t like that they didn’t appear. I didn’t like that even this paltry and pretty offensive portrayal was erased. I don’t like that The Walking Dead is now into its third season without even a token portrayal and I don’t like that it’s just one of many among our shows.

So, I hear people cry already, I would be unhappy either way, right? Yes, I would. Does this make me unreasonable? I’m sure some are already saying so. But why is this the choice? After 3 seasons, no less, why do I have to choose to be happy about erasure or a portrayal that’s pretty damned offensive and tokenised? I think this is a false dichotomy margainalised people are often presented with – praise the token/offensive portrayal or accept erasure. Actual decent, involved, fully developed, major characters are often too much to ask.

I hope to see at least one decent GBLT character in season 3, since it’s a big hole in the show and in dystopians in general; though perhaps it’s better to say I want a decent GBLT character – I know better than to hope.