Westboro Baptist Church or the Argent Family

So I’ve just finished watching the first episode of Teen Wolf season 2. It was intriguing for several reasons. But as the narrative in popular discourses suggest, there is a battle enraging throughout the West, and particularly within the United States, about how the LGBTQ community and the non-allied religious groups can/should coexist. What was striking particularly about this episode was the introduction of Gerard, the ostensible Patriarch of the Argent family:

Omega18

This is a photo of Gerard and his son Chris Argent, AKA Allison’s father.

na-phelps

 

And here’s a picture of Fred Phelps, reverend and founder of the Westboro Baptist Church.

Whilst I may be uncovering a tenuous metaphor or allegory between the WBC and the Argent Family, it is an interesting parallel to note. I’m not going to use this as a forum to bash the WBC and Fred Phelps, particularly under the present circumstances regarding his encroaching demise (click on Fred Phelps picture to read the article about his impending death), I will say that if this link is true post episode 201, then the werewolf serves an intriguing purpose. Their narrative world revolves around the binary of normal vs. werewolf, much the same as the WBC has dichotomised normal versus queer; the former being the notion of right and good versus the latter being evil and kill-worthy. Consequently, these binaries leave a lot of room for grey area, which is particularly interesting in regards to the numerous soldiers’ funerals the WBC have protested in front of and in terms of the show, those characters who accept into society the werewolf (see Stiles and Scott’s friendship, which also parallels the friendship and acceptance between Danny and Jackson).

I look forward to unearthing more parallels between LGBT identity and representation through the use of the werewolf on this show.

 

Teen Wolf: Understanding a looney Phenomenon

So my new venture in the world of television is Teen Wolf (2011). It was suggested to me as a potentially addicting and worthy show and that I should catch up on it, considering most of my mediated existence revolves around horror themed texts. Fair enough. I am giving it a shot.

My overall impressions thus far are as follows:

  • Teen Wolf revolves around this:

 Scott Shirtless

  • It also revolves around this:

Derek Hale Shirtless

  • It revolves nothing around this:

Michael J Fox Original Teen Wolf

To sum up my initial reactions and understandings of its immense success bolstered from the original: shirtless men versus a campy notion of 80s werewolves.

Of course, my initial reactions have not been totally superseded. The show still revolves heavily around moments where they can get the main men to take their shirts off. Not to mention that they consistently discuss sexual relations once every, oh, seven minutes, give or take. Now, I’m not saying it’s a bad thing to do either of these things. Where would True Blood (2008) be without its intense sex scenes of all varieties? Or where would American Horror Story: Murder House, Asylum, or Coven (2011, 2012, 2013) be without their blatancy towards confronting our notion of traditional sexualities? What I am saying, however, is that, when you base an entire show around the idea of men taking their shirts off, flaunting teen sex and/or homosexuality, then you have to have some substance. 

Now, I know that I will possibly upset the Teen Wolf fandom here by saying that there is very little substance to this fledgling television series, but I would think that most agree the acting is atrocious, plot elements laughable and character development lamentable. This, however, does not make it worthy of my time or anyone else’s for that matter. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. For me, the charm of this lies in these exact camp features: the so bad that it’s so good nature of the programme. It’s not my favourite thing to watch by any means, but I definitely enjoy this current iteration of the high school werewolf and it’s a far cry from the depiction in The Vampire Diaries (2009).

But, I will say this, the show surprises me and I still have 36 more episodes to go until I’m fully caught up with the current airing schedule. There were moments where I felt that, wait, I didn’t want that character to die even though I really should hate them. Also, I know that you aren’t supposed to like specific characters, but I really, really do like those ones that you are supposed to hate. Ironically, they are the ones who have better back stories and should feature more heavily, rather than peripherally (Here’s looking at you Jackson!). And, sad to say, but I’m becoming, slowly, a questioning devotee to the Sterek (Stiles and Derek) ship-dom.

Sterek

(For your viewing pleasure.)

When I have finished Season 2, I will blog my further reactions and possible craziness about the Sterek shipping. We shall see. I shall see.

Goodnight, Good luck.

P.S. – All of the photos link back to their original sources, from whence I kindly lifted them.

Re-Evaluating, Re-Looking

It is 8 Weeks ago that the series Looking began. Initial reviews were mixed, verging on the negative over the positive. Admittedly, I was lumped in with the ‘negative’ reviews. All I saw were blatant, unbalanced stereotypes and a negative portrayal of gay men and their lives. I would formally like to admit how wrong I was to judge the show off that one episode.

I’m not going to recap everything from the entire series, but there are some stand out moments that are entirely revealing in terms of reception of the show. Recently, I’ve started following the official Facebook page for the show and it’s being highly received by fans. Particularly revealing is the wide-sweeping international audience, especially Latin American viewers. Whilst this is interesting in and of itself, one of the most intriguing reactions to the show is the Twilight-esque groupings emerging in the fandom. What I mean is that, like with the horrendous Twilight where the world was introduced to Team Edward and Team Jacob, there is a new team dynamic: Team Richie or Team Kevin. Ostensibly, this presents a dynamic that highlights issues of race, income distinction and a plethora of binaries to equally divide Richie (Latino, barber, spiritual, arguably poor) and Kevin (white, domineering, rich, homonormative). However, I think the most interesting aspect of the fans’ willingness to rally support for one over the other falls down to a simple act of fidelity.

The show positions Patrick in a wily predicament: to cheat or not to cheat. Granted, Patrick and Richie have their own problems, but there is clear chemistry between Patrick and Kevin. There is a moral dilemma present for both the character and the show’s viewers, but the visible elements (soft lighting, central framing of both Richie and Kevin, obligatory shot-reverse shot) and the aural ones frame the spectator in a light that equals Patrick’s. What this means is that Patrick and the Spectator are one and the same. In spite of the Spectator’s ability to feed answers to Patrick or make his decisions for him, the Spectator is firmly rooted within Patrick’s sensibility and thus, the Spectator must blithely accept the direction of the story through Patrick’s choices. This no doubt emphasises the moral ambiguity presented regarding Patrick’s desire for both Richie and Kevin, but it also problematises the notion of infidelity and the power of lust. Intermeshed within this problematic quandary are the uncertainties of Patrick and Richie’s relationship, particularly in that Kevin and Patrick are more aligned in terms of what their characters represent (white, homonormative, wealthy, etc…) and Richie represents the binary opposite of Patrick.

Returning to the original point, the notion that fans have rallied behind Richie and Kevin highlights how the normally amoral act of cheating has become a point of contestation not just for the fact that it is conceivably wrong, but the act of not cheating represents a social transgression in that Richie and Patrick are united. Social transgression may not be the most accurate definition of Richie and Patrick’s relationship; however, it certainly goes against White America’s archaic same-race relationships. Perusing the comments for many of the posts, this becomes highly apparent as some users talk about how he should ’embrace the latin lover’ or ‘leave the ugly mexican’ (I’ve altered the comments so as to hide the identities of the users). I’m not trying to argue for one or the other, but it is interesting to highlight how these two present a morally ambiguousness within the Spectator’s mode of reference and how that Spectator may or may not respond to both infidelity and/or interracial relationships.