10 Reasons Why Queerbaiting Is Wrong

Supernatural / Amazon.com.
Supernatural / Amazon.com.
[Side note: For those who are unfamiliar with queerbaiting, the term refers to subtext between gay or bisexual characters in TV shows, books, or movies (but primarily TV shows) that never follows through after the “tease.” For further information on the topic read Sadie Gennis’ recent online TV Guide article Supernatural Has A Queerbaiting Problem That Needs to Stop” in addition to other articles about how Supernatural is guilty of queerbaiting].

1. It makes a mockery of bisexual and gay people’s sexuality.

It is one thing to have a sense of humor and be able to take a joke. It is another to make fun of something that isn’t joke. Whether opponents of the LGBTQ (G and B for the point of this article) community know it, sexuality is a serious issue. It is a “real” living breathing thing people struggle with.

2. It enables teasing.

Nobody likes a tease. It doesn’t even have to be in a romantic context to be unattractive. The point is: teasing is no fun. You might even ask yourself what the point is of arguing over a TV show anyway; TV shows are a form of art, and the main goal of art is to provoke discussion. Television writers, producers, directors, and network and/or studio executives realize that. But TV shows start to matter when you realize how invested the viewers are. They’re made in such a way to make the viewers care; to keep them watching week after week.

3. Queerbaiting hinders any progress made in the name of equal rights for gays and bisexuals.

Obviously there is a difference between a hate crime and Queerbaiting. But that doesn’t change the fact that until bisexuals and gays are treated seriously, they will never feel as equal as straight people.

4. Straight people would have a fit if their sexuality was being mocked.

And they should. It would be just as wrong to force a straight person to be gay or bisexual just as some people try to convert gays and bisexuals to becoming straight. However some straight people need to realize that “respect” works both ways.

5. If the situation involved a male and a female, the sexual tension would have been consummated eventually (even if it was prolonged).

Going back to the Supernatural example, the only reason why it is such a big deal is because the romantic pairing in question (Dean and Castiel) is with two males. What doesn’t usually happen between to males on screen, typically always happens between a male and a female. It really shouldn’t be a big deal to have a male/male pairing; no one is saying that the whole world has to be bisexual or gay. And whoever does believe that needs to get over him or herself.

6. Queerbaiting could also be viewed as exploitative.

And it should be. As Sadie Gennis speculates, the producers of Supernatural want to “gain support of the LGBTQ community and profit off their viewership.” And while this is of course just one writer’s opinion, it does not take a genius to realize that scenes after scenes of Destiel subtext is there for a reason. The exploitative approach to gain viewers is wrong; as it stands, there is already enough sensational-based manipulation in pop culture. The world does not need more of it.

7. Just because we live in a predominantly heterosexual, male-dominated, and patriarchal society, doesn’t mean this defines everyone.

People sometimes refer to the common knowledge statistic that ten percent of the population isn’t exactly straight. Let’s use the United States as an example. The population is around 300,000,000 (I realize it’s bigger than that but I’m rounding for the sake of argument and math). Ten percent of 300,000,000 is 30,000,000. That figure is only a slice of the original number but it isn’t a meager minority either. And even if the ten percent statistic is not entirely accurate, the same analysis still exists. There are more diverse people out there than people are aware of.

8. Subtext really does exist.

It comes up in creative writing classes a lot, as subtext is important for character development and character dynamics. Does everything someone says have a hidden meaning? Of course not. But that doesn’t change the fact that people do not always say what they mean and often send mixed messages, which ties back to the male/female heteronormativity issue. Subtext is out there. Even people who only see things in “black or white” should understand that because you get varying shades of gray when you mix the two colors together. Life is never as simple as people would like it to be.

9. It’s proof that people aren’t as openminded as they claim to be.

It isn’t a leap to think that even the most rigid people would like to think of themselves as capable of having flexible thoughts. But the United States still has a long way to go when it comes to tolerating bisexuals and gays. That’s part of the reason why there are so many closeted guys on Grindr, OK Cupid, and other dating apps. It’s not exactly a mystery. So while one could argue that it’s okay for a television show not to have a include a gay or bisexual character, this does not excuse the fact that subtexts still exist.

10. Queerbaiting grounds television shows in abstract terms.

Sure, a television show can make jokes that have a bisexual or gay subtext (as in Supernatural’s case) or even mention bisexual or gay issues in a general sense, but this certainly doesn’t facilitate a clear storyline. Viewers deserve the real thing; nobody likes a fake. TC mark

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Chris Bedell's previous publishing credits include essays on Thought Catalog, short stories on Crab Fat Literary Magazine, Short-story.me, Quail Bell Magazine, Pidgeonholes Magazine, Abbreviate Journal, creative nonfiction personal essays on Inklette Magazine, Sprout Magazine, and Entropy Magazine. Read more articles from Chris on Thought Catalog.
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