Firefly Fans, Open Your Wallets for Con Man

Firefly stars Alan Tudyk and Nathan Fillion launched an Indigogo crowdfunding campaign. They are raising money for a new web series, Con Man.

They are already over their goal. (Firefly fans are nothing if not enthusiastic!) Give them some money anyway. More money equals more episodes.

Nathan Fillion and Alan Tudyk want to get the Firefly alums together for a web series
Nathan Fillion and Alan Tudyk want to get some Firefly alums together for a web series

Con Man will be about sci fi conventions and the characters in that world. Tudyk is writing and directing. He will also star as an actor playing the pilot of a spaceship. Fillion will star as a ruggedly handsome actor playing a spaceship captain. Also promised are Sean Maher, Gina Torres, James Gunn, Seth Green, Felicia Day, and Amy Acker.

Fillion and Tudyk do this because Firefly was cancelled too soon, too soon. The love lingers on and expresses itself in the con – events so amazing and beautiful they are worthy of a web series.

Go watch their video asking for money and support these crazy guys. Did I mention Gina Torres, Felicia Day and Amy Acker? And for all the tweets Alyson Hannigan gave those two blockheads, I think she deserves a part, too.

Another Dead Lesbian and the Question of Representation

Warning: Last Tango in Halifax spoilers.

My mission on this blog is to mention, support, and promote things I like. I usually don’t mention things I don’t like. Today is an exception. I want to talk about something I don’t like: the kill-the-lesbian trope.

This subject is fresh on my mind because Kate McKenzie was killed off on Last Tango in Halifax in episode 4 of season 3, but I could have written about the topic once a month since the birth of the blog and still have plenty of subject matter.

When I recapped the episode in which Kate died, I did it as a straight report on the story as writer Sally Wainwright wrote it. It’s her story, her creation. She can write it as she wants. (I took to heart a tweet from Shonda Rhimes about fans who think they can tell her how to write her stories.)

I don’t want to tell Sally Wainwright how to write a good story. She knows. She’s written wonderful female characters in Scott & Bailey, in Happy Valley, and in Last Tango in Halifax. I thank her for all of them.

I think this character is part of a larger discussion about media in general and LBGT / woman of color representation in particular.What I do want to explore are the implications of picking this particular character, Kate McKenzie – played by Nina Sosanya – to die. I think this character is part of a larger discussion about media in general and LBGT / woman of color representation in particular.

Kate’s death means that a story about this lesbian couple – one of them a woman of color – is over. There will be no married life struggles, no child raising drama, no representation of two brilliant successful lesbians living a normal life in modern day Britain.

Kate’s death means that a woman of color in a leading role as a lesbian is gone. Her presence in this story, not just as a lesbian but as a woman of color, was significant to many people and to society as a whole. The number 1 search term that brings people to this blog is “Nina Sosanya.” The number 1 post on this blog week after week is about Nina Sosanya. This says to me that she represents something to a majority of people interested in Last Tango.

Kate’s death means that Celia – played by Anne Reid – doesn’t have to grapple with her homophobia, her racism. Kate is gone and with her an important and much needed character arc for Celia.

Kate’s death means that Caroline – played by Sarah Lancashire – will live without love from now on, will grieve for what she’s lost from now on.

Interviews, Quotes, and Comments

Sally Wainwright

Sally Wainwright’s first interview after the episode was with Diva Magazine. When asked why she killed off Kate she said,

It was a really massive decision. And it just felt it wasn’t as… [long pause]. It didn’t give the series as much emotional impact as we normally like to give the audience. I suppose that’s why we made that decision. But I am sad, and I’m really aware that I’ve upset a lot of people.

Later, she was asked why Kate and not John (played by Tony Gardner)? Her answer,

The narrative was that Caroline and Celia had fallen out so badly with Celia not going to the wedding. They weren’t going to speak to each other ever again. Narratively, nothing can ever bring this mother and daughter back together again. And then of course when there’s this huge, massive catastrophe in the family, people do rally round. People do get back together. So it was a narrative decision. It was more about the relationship between Celia and Caroline, and what that gave us.

Celia and Caroline fight regularly and viciously. And make up. That’s been part of their narrative all along. I find it hard to believe that someone had to die for them to make up.

When asked if Caroline would meet another woman, Sally Wainwright answered,

No. And she’s not going to meet another man either.

Nina Sosanya

Nina Sosanya’s first interview after Kate’s death was with Cultbox. When asked for her reaction when she heard about Kate’s death she said,

I was warned before I read the script – which was kind of them – and my honest initial reaction was ‘oh that’s a good idea!’, because the drama is great, but then slowly it dawned on me that I wouldn’t be in it anymore! So that was a bit of a slow burn, but it was off for me because from an outside opinion I could completely see why that’s a great story turn.

But it was quite devastating to have to say goodbye to that relationship, particularly with Sarah, because you build up a working relationship that’s quite unique. It was really sad.

Nina didn’t know at the start of series 3 that she was going to be off the show is how I read that. Assuming she really is off the show. In episode 4 – the funeral episode – she was there as she appeared in Caroline’s grieving visualizations. She may be around for a while in Caroline’s imagination.

When asked about playing Kate as a ghost she said,

Yes, that’s quite an interesting thing to play, because you’re not really playing the character anymore, you playing it as imagined by someone else. So that was a challenge, it was quite good really.

 And would she work with Sally Wainwright again? Yes, definitely!

Lady Parts

A powerful post on Lady Parts deserves a reading. It’s titled Lesbian Lives Matter. Read the entire post, please. Here’s a bit of particular interest.

There is great division in the lesbian fan community right now. Some people are very angry from years of disappointments and have banned the show, much like they did with “The L Word,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Chicago Fire” and countless other shows that let us down. Some do not want to bite the hand that feeds us and are worried that the show might be canceled and Caroline might never get another chance at happiness.

Well, I don’t want the show canceled, but I do want this to be a teaching moment, for Wainwright and everyone who follows her. I want us to scream loud enough, I want them to hear, and I want to finally earn their respect. Lesbian lives matter. Queer lives matter. Stories on television matter. They give voice to those who are struggling to be heard, and they give a face and a familiarity to the Other.

I Want to Have Them Here

A Tumblr blog called “I Want to Have Them Here” posted an piece called In Memory of Kate McKenzie.  They suggest an action that would be an example of what Lady Parts called a teaching moment.

. . . it wouldn’t be right to let this wonderful couple and all that they represent, simply fade away without their significance being recognised therefore we are proposing a highly visible demonstration of our gratitude for the gift that is Kate & Caroline and our appreciation of the two sublime actresses who portrayed them so skilfully and honestly.

We are co-opting the phenomenon of Lovers’ Locks, a symbol of everlasting love. It says a lot about how we would have preferred the script to have gone as well as a warm embodiment of our feelings for the characters and their relationship as lesbians.

The suggestion is to put lover’s locks in a fence near the Red Production offices at in Salford in England. (The address is in the article.) I think this is a quiet, gentle act that could build into news that many writers and producers would notice and think about.

After Ellen

The final quote comes from a piece on After Ellen by Elaine Atwell. Elaine is mad as hell and doesn’t want to take it any more, as are many fans who are fatigued by the kill-the-lesbian trope. Here’s a quote:

. . . writers, producers, and showrunners have no qualms at all about taking our faith and our love and our loyalty and shoving it right back in our faces. Sure, they love us when we offer nothing but praise. They collect the GLAAD awards like Greek gods courting temple sacrifices. They eagerly repeat the stories of how their characters gave real life people the courage to come out. They pat themselves on the back so hard and so often it’s a wonder they’re not all in a constant state of cramp. But when we dare to object, when we express fatigue or frustration with being force-fed the same tired cliches again and again, then the same queer women who formed a vital part of their fan base become a nuisance. When we complain, they call us shrill. And when we try to sneak the characters under our T-shirts and spirit them away to the worlds of Tumblr or fan fiction, places we know we can at least keep them safe, they call us crazy.

Shows with lesbian characters should all be bowing before “After Ellen” and thanking them for all the support, the articles, the recaps, the free publicity, the interviews. When “After Ellen” gets mad, much of the lesbian population gets mad with them. A teachable moment.

What is the kill-the-lesbian Trope?

There’s a wiki called TV Tropes. It has a page called Bury Your Gays. This page, with it’s links to other similar pages, is an education in the frequency with which the trope is used to kill off gay characters. Read and get educated. A quote (emphasis mine):

Please note that sometimes gay characters die in fiction because in fiction sometimes people die (this is particularly true of soldiers at war, where Sitch Sexuality and Anyone Can Die are both common tropes); this isn’t an if-then correlation, and it’s not always meant to “teach us something” or indicative of some prejudice on the part of the creator – particularly if it was written after 1960. The problem isn’t when gay characters are killed off: the problem is when gay characters are killed off far more often than straight characters, or when they’re killed off because they are gay.

Under that are examples from anime, comic books, fan works, film, literature, TV, music, theater, video games, web comics, web original, and western animation. Open and look at all of them. If you’ve heard of this trope before but never really seen it documented, open and look at all the examples. An educational moment.

In the TV section alone, examples come from Chicago Fire, True Blood, Will and Grace, Ally McBeal, The Andromeda Strain, Battlestar Gallactica, Bramwell, Cold Case, Damages, Dark Angel, Dirty Sexy Money, Foyle’s War, Hex, Hollyoaks, Emmerdale, House, Lost, The Sopranos, Supernatural, Veronica Mars, Warehouse 13, Boardwalk Empire, The Tudors, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Hemlock Grove, The Killing, American Horror Story and more and more. Now Last Tango in Halifax can be added to the ever growing list.

The Issue of Representation

Pop culture and representations of society and its multitude of individuals in our media matter. LBGT representation, women’s representation, men’s representation, the representation of the handicapped, the disabled, the old, the representation of people of color, the representation of races, religions, belief systems: it all matters.

Television, film, YouTube, advertising, media of any kind teaches us who we are. Teaches us what our culture believes we are. Teaches us what we can and cannot be.

Taking the route of killing off yet another gay character teaches us that gay people are expendable and not worth keeping around. It’s a plot device that needs to be examined by every creative person who writes for TV, film or any other medium. It matters how LGBT characters are handled in the media. Representation matters.

Why Are We So Attached to Kate?

Update: 8/20/2015: Why do we mourn so angrily when our favorite characters are killed off? Here’s a fascinating article at The Mary Sue called The Psychology of Fandom: Why We Get Attached to Fictional Characters that explains what’s happening in our brains and thoughts when a favorite character departs suddenly.

[Note: This post was syndicated on BlogHer.com in a slightly different version: Another Dead Lesbian TV Character and the Question of Representation.]

Watch a clip from Jane

Jane, a 57 minute documentary from Sundance Doc Club, is about the young Jane Fonda. You can watch it in full at docclub.com, but here’s a clip to let you know more about what you’ll be seeing.

The doc shows Jane Fonda rehearsing for a starring role in a Broadway play. When the play opens to harsh critical notices, her reaction is shown.

Sometimes I’m amazed that anyone survives the devastations of youth to reach the wisdom of age. Or maybe it’s the blows we take as young people that lead to the wisdom of age. Either way, Jane Fonda has endured many a hard knock to become the woman she is today. Her journey reminds us that it’s worth the effort to keep on going, to keep on keeping on.

Docclub has numerous documentaries on a variety of topics, all of which can be streamed if you join and pay a monthly fee.

Watch This: Teachers

TV Land announced some new original half-hour comedies. I’m not a big fan of half-hour comedies, although I do love to watch TV Land’s Hot in Cleveland.

Among the new shows is one called Teachers which stars a whole improv group of women – The Katydids. The Katydids are Caitlin Barlow, Katy Colloton, Cate Freedman, Kate Lambert, Katie O’Brien and Katie Thomas. These funny women also wrote and starred in the web series hit that the TV series is based on. In addition to writing for and starring in Teachers, they will also serve as executive producers.

With so many women at the top levels of Teachers, I’m going to give it a chance to convert me.

Check out the trailer or watch the teachers in action in the web series to see if you think you’ll be a fan. Here’s the trailer.

I don’t have any information about when the series will begin airing on TV Land.

Aquadettes: A Short Documentary

Aquadettes – On Life, Death and Synchronized Swimming is a short documentary about a group of elders on a synchronized swimming team in California. One particular swimmer, 76-year-old Margo Bauer, is featured. Margo has MS and is helped with her condition both by the swimming and by medical marijuana.

The women on this swim team are my kind of women. Recently I’ve joined a YMCA and have been following my doctors orders to get up off my lazy ass (she didn’t word it quite like that) and get more exercise. So the aquatics exercise program at the Y is now part of my weekly schedule and I’m loving it. Plus, I’m feeling stronger, better and less plagued with aches and pains.

This is the complete film. I hope you enjoy it.

The film is by Drea Cooper & Zackary Canepari and is part of the California is a Place series of  documentaries about California. You can read more about Drea Cooper and Zackary Canepari and their documentary series in this article at “Filmmaker.”

Indigo Tongues: Short Films Interview Women in Media

Indigo Tongues is a video interview series that showcases the voices of dynamic women from Africa and the diaspora. In the original releases, the films feature women in media. I hope you’ll take the time to watch all the films available so far in the series.

The films are produced by Iyàlódè Productions. It is a company that is committed to developing, promoting, exhibiting, producing and distributing films and art by and about minority and under-represented groups.

Nigerian American actress Adepero Oduye is one of the interviewees. She appeared in 12 Years a Slave, Steel Magnolias, Pariah and many other films.

This is her interview:

You can see all the interviews at Indigo Tongues. The other short films available at this time feature:

  • Leonie Forbes, described as Jamaica’s First Lady of Theater and Film
  • Filmmaker Mariette Monpierre, the first woman to shoot a feature length film on the island of Guadeloupe
  • Award winning Kenyan Filmmaker Wanuri Kahiu
  • Funmi Iyanda, Nigeria’s foremost TV Host

Watch This: Eliza Dushku Kicks Butt

Here’s a short film making the rounds right now. It’s called The Gable 5 and is apparently part of a larger plot and series about something I cannot discern. However, Eliza Dushku runs around in a tank top and kicks butt for the entire film, which is really all you need to know.

Watch This: Teaser for S3 of Blue

The WIGS series includes many wonderful films. One of the best is Blue starring Julia Stiles. Catch up on the first two seasons of Blue and the other WIGS series, if you haven’t seen them. You’ll be hooked quickly.

Season 3 of Blue will be released March 28. Some back story if this teaser is news to you: Julia Stiles plays a prostitute / office worker. She has a teen aged son played by Uriah Shelton. Blue is smart, guarded, and full of secrets. Secrets have a way of trying to come out, don’t they? That and trying to hide her secret life from her son make for a lot of tension in Blue’s life.

Julia Stiles is absolutely fantastic in this series.

Learn more about WIGS in this post.