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VISIONS OF MANLINESS PRESENTS: Pilgrim’s (Lack of) Progress: The De-Gaying of Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

[Ladies, gentlemen: We talk a lot about ladies, here at the Tiger Beatdown. We have, by and large, lady contributors. We are run by a lady; that lady’s co-blogger is another lady; every week, the lady who runs the blog has a conversation with a third person, ALSO a lady. As the blog’s very subtitle makes clear, we conduct Lady Business, a charming little phrase that the lady who runs the blog happened to pick because it is also slang for “pussy.” She is a very mature lady, as you know. However! Did you know that there is a whole entire other gender out there — a gender not composed of ladies? Yes! It’s true! This gender is known as “men.” And these “men,” or “dudes” as some call them, experience a variety of things, such as marginalization, and opinions about sports. You know what would be interesting: If the conversation about marginalization, and gender, and such, were not entirely conducted by ladies. Experts inform us it’s often not, and we have just been so far up our own ladybusiness that we don’t publish that part often! Therefore, in the interest of learning more about this mysterious and elusive “second sex,” Tiger Beatdown will be presenting a special series this week on Visions of Manliness. And the manly contributors to this series will, in fact, be actual men! We kick it off, my friends, with a man you ought to know. A man known to us as Garland Grey.]

I love comics. I love the collector mentality of comic book readers, the care taken with the physical object, and the fetishism that care demands. I love the trivia, the ridiculous costumes, the character arcs. Even though I’m scientifically literate, I still love the weird-ass ways comic books try to explain superpowers. I love the fact that I know more about adamantium and vibranium (the material the Black Panther’s suit is made out of) than I do about REAL ELEMENTS.

I love the way that facts are concrete in the comic book universe, but also flexible. I love the religiosity of having a canon that you must follow, but I also love alternate timelines. I’ve had entire arguments about storylines that take place outside Marvel’s Earth-616 (the earth we inhabit). I enjoy the number of creative geniuses that try their hand at shaping the same clay, and the different ways that they re-interpret and re-contextualize characters. Comic book writers will decide to write a comic where they take your favorite superheroes AND TURN THEM INTO ZOMBIES. OMFG Marvel Zombies. Catch the fuckin’ fever.

I could talk about men in spandex all night (and then I might start in on comic books… ZING). But some of you aren’t into comics, so here are 5 things you might not know about your favorite superheroes:

  1. In “The Killing Joke,” The Joker shoots Batgirl in the spine, paralyzing her.
  2. Galactus is not REALLY a villain. He does eat worlds, but he also prevents Abraxas from being unleashed upon our universe. He’s cold and cruel, but he’s a part of the process.
  3. Superman wasn’t originally able to fly. In earlier comics, he had been raised on a planet with a higher level of gravity. He could jump long distances, but not fly.
  4. Magneto has two children: Quicksilver and The Scarlet Witch. In the “House of M” saga, most mutants in the Marvel Universe were de-powered (including Scarlet Witch) and Magneto killed his son.
  5. Northstar from Alpha Flight is gay (and they’ve killed that poor bitch on every universe they could).

You can imagine the fuckin’ squealfest I had when I found out the trailer for Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World had come out.

I’m not as big a graphic novel reader as I should be, but I knew the following things:

  • It was directed by Edgar Wright, the creator of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz.
  • The people in this movie have superpowers.
  • Michael Cera. I would watch this man pick out produce. Just film hours of him thumping cantaloupe and squeezing heirloom tomatoes. I’d be entranced. If Michael Cera Goes to Whole Foods didn’t win any awards, I’d refer to it as an “Oscar snub.”

And I KNOW, all of you 5 cat having, bookstore working at, Renaissance Festival Attending, GRAPHIC NOVEL PEOPLE are complaining about him being cast. Do you know why they didn’t cast an action hero? Action heroes can’t act. Have you seen Schwarzenegger’s early “work?” The best movie he ever made was Twins with Danny Devito. There. I said it. Bring on the hate mail.

I KNOW you find Cera sickly sweet and a little fey. Give him a chance to show you his range. If he doesn’t start doing meatier roles he’s going to come down with a case of the Winona Ryders and be playing a high school student for 10 years.

Anyway, I watched the trailer, and it looks AMAZING. Scott Pilgrim falls in love with a girl named Ramona, but must defeat her 7 evil ex-boyfriends, all of whom have vowed to kill him. When I finished, I had two reactions. My first reaction was that this movie looks like it will follow Joseph Campbell’s “Hero’s Journey,” the model for every successful Hero Myth. The Call To Adventure, Supernatural Aid, The Road of Trials, etcetera. The second reaction was that I was missing something.

So I watched the trailer again, and at 00:36 the 7 exes are spread out in a fan. We have:

1. Smirking Brunette penis.
2. Indie Darling Jason Schwartzman penis.
3. Glam Rocker penis.
4. Chris Evans penis, brother of Gay One Life to Live Heartthrob Scott Evans penis.
5. Blondes Have More Fun penis.
6. Innocuously Handsome penis.
7. Vagina.


I did a little research: her name is Roxy Richter, she is a lesbian, she was Ramona’s college girlfriend, and she’s half-ninja. But at 01:15 Scott’s sister refers to them collectively as “evil ex-boyfriends,” just as Michael Cera does earlier in the trailer. AND when the Los Angeles Times reported on the new trailer, they used the phrase “seven evil ex-boyfriends” in their story.

Ladies and Gentlemen, watch closely to see how a major studio, Universal, de-gays a film.

Warner Brothers did the same thing with Valentine’s Day, their romantic comedy about BLAH BLAH BLAH not LOVE ACTUALLY so I don’t care. Two of the characters, played by McSteamy and the Bradley Cooper, appear as a gay couple. In the trailer, it looks like Cooper is with Julia Roberts’ character.

How do I know Cooper and McSteamy are a couple, without having seen the movie? Because Warner Brothers made sure I, as a gay man, was aware that these two hot guys were going to be playing gay characters. They got the information out there in a very quiet way, and then de-gayed the trailer. The Weinstein Company did the same thing with A Single Man. The movie revolves around a gay man facing the horror of losing his lover. Would you understand that from the trailer? Absolutely not. You would have to conclude the movie was an Ice Storm-ish, Revolutionary Road-y movie about Colin Firth and Julianne Moore being trapped in a tortured romance.

This is a gay movie, about a gay man, mourning another gay man, directed by the gay fashion designer Tom Ford. Tom Ford, who once released a cologne designed to smell like “a man’s crotch.” (I could not make this up. I don’t have good enough writers.) This is one gay-ass movie. What POSSIBLE demographic was this being de-gayed for? People who will go see what Eddie Izzard referred to as a “Room With A View With A Staircase And A Pond type movie” but won’t feel they’ve been misled when it is a completely different movie than what the trailer suggested? Rednecks whose copy of Steel Magnolias got eaten by the VCR?

[Ed. Note: The trailer embedded above is available on YouTube, and, duh, embeddable. That is why it is here. In the embedded trailer, you will see shots of men kissing, and in bed with, men. If you look for “‘A Single Man’ official trailer,” however, you will find this video, which has embedding disabled, apparently meant to promote the movie as a potential Academy Award winner. It intersperses critical praise with some of the shots from the trailer above, and some new ones. You will note that certain shots from the trailer we’ve embedded — and we won’t say which ones they are! — are, well. Missing. Pay attention, people, this is important.]

Roxy Richter is in the trailer. She’s in the league of evil exes. Why isn’t she mentioned in promotional materials?

Movie studios should be commended for making movies with gay characters. If you don’t think gay characters can offer a light to gay kids, you have never seen the film Mannequin with Meshach Taylor as the gay fashion designer Hollywood. Sure, he’s flighty and flamboyant and gay as a rainbow made of unicorns, but he’s also able to transcend his jealousy and frustration when he’s no longer the center of attention, and he’s willing to put himself at risk for his friends.

But by reducing the amount of publicity for LGBT characters while simultaneously trying to court the gay dollar they are sending the message that gay characters are something they are ashamed of. I sometimes wonder if Fox would have DARED take X-Men 3 away from Bryan Singer and give it to Brett Ratner if Singer wasn’t a gay director. Seriously, imagine them trying to pull that shit with Michael Bay. He would EAT THEIR HEARTS out of their chests.

We gay comic book fans don’t hope for much. A few explosions, a little eye candy, some acknowledgment that the director is working with a story larger than himself – and complicated, interesting gay characters. That can’t happen if our superheros are always forced to use the service entrance.

[Garland Grey grew up a gay intellectual in the South; this experience has given him a high tolerance for the absurd. He writes about culture, politics, and media at]


  1. Annaham wrote:

    This is a fantastic post, Garland! And for someone who claims to be so into graphic novels, I have (GASP) not yet read Scott Pilgrim (which I am working upon remedying, thanks in large part to your post).

    And OH GOD, I agree *so hard* about the de-gayification thing, and also think it plays into a larger narrative of queer characters (and other characters who don’t fit the Straight White Able-Bodied Middle-Class Cis mold) mattering mostly to the straight main characters in mainstream entertainment–when queer characters aren’t funny, shade-throwing sidekicks to the Nice Straight Folks (or when they cease to be these things) they are quietly made invisible. Of course, there are exceptions, but just as a general trend: ICK.

    Tuesday, April 6, 2010 at 9:42 pm | Permalink
  2. Rachel wrote:

    In the comic books, Ramona very clearly calls them her “evil exes” and Scott makes the assumption that they’re her evil ex-boyfriends. Which he later realizes is his mistake. It isn’t a necessarily _pivotal_ part of the series, but it’s certainly a misunderstanding that Bryan O’Malley was deliberately putting in there.

    Thus, I’m not sure what’s going on in the trailers, but I’d caution against jumping to the conclusion that the producers were degaying it. Maybe they were trying not to reveal that Ramona dated a girl, since it’s part of the storyline that Scott doesn’t immediately get that Ramona’s bi? Even though the trailer show Scott fighting the ex-girlfriend? I dunno.

    I’m more interested to see what they do with Scott’s super gay, super awesome best friend/roommate. I want him to still be super awesome and super gay.

    Tuesday, April 6, 2010 at 10:17 pm | Permalink
  3. Sady wrote:

    @Rachel: I dunno. I think the argument stands. Especially given the (illustrated! With YouTube clips) history Grey’s given us of studios doing the exact same thing with several movies.

    What’s particularly nauseating about the “Valentine’s Day” example (and, yeah: I saw and reviewed the film, YIIIIKES) is that, although they were apparently telling gay audiences there was a gay relationship, Cooper is set up IN THE FILM as Roberts’ love interest and Dane and Cooper are only on screen together for about five seconds. So they told gay audiences it was a gay story, presumed-straight audiences it was a straight story, and were too fucking squeamish about The Gay but too eager to be Really Super Progressive to do either. GROSS.

    Tuesday, April 6, 2010 at 10:29 pm | Permalink
  4. Squeem wrote:

    @Sady: I’m still not sure. Ramona refers to them as “evil exes” in the trailer, which is how she’s always referred to them in the graphic novels since she knows they’re not all guys.

    I really hope they don’t de-gay it! Although yeah, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they did.

    Tuesday, April 6, 2010 at 10:41 pm | Permalink
  5. Sady wrote:

    @Squeem: The argument isn’t that the MOVIE will be de-gayed, via not containing Roxie. That is clearly untrue. The argument is that the trailer HAS ALREADY de-gayed Ramona; by using “evil exes” (which reads as “ex-boyfriends,” in a straight-dominated society) and “evil ex-boyfriends” interchangeably, without context to indicate that one set of words is inaccurate, and by not making Ramona’s relationship to Roxie more or less clear. The plot of the movie then gets picked up as “evil ex-boyfriends” by press outlets, who assume “exes” equates to the “boyfriends” if we’re talking about a girl. It thereby gets repped as a movie without queer characters in the press. It thereby avoids “offending” moviegoers who would turn away from a movie if they knew it had queer characters, but it is ALSO repped as a movie with queer representation in it TO QUEER FOLKS, and that is how it gets both sets of dollars: money from homophobes, money from queer folks, although the latter set aren’t assumed to matter enough to be pandered to by the trailer, in the same way that homophobes are. The marketing for the movie is thus de-gayed while profiting off queer people. That’s what Grey is saying. I know people get defensive about their comic book movies, but read the post more closely, and look at the multiple other examples of the very same phenomenon included in the post, before you rush to defend Scott Pilgrim’s honor, please.

    Tuesday, April 6, 2010 at 11:34 pm | Permalink
  6. GarlandGrey wrote:

    @Squeem: This is a big budget summer blockbuster superhero movie, from a hot director. I’m sure Universal isn’t going to let LGBT characters gum up the works. I mean, can you imagine? The main character is fighting a Lesbian for a Bisexual girl? And he’s living with a Gay man? That might offend delicate sensibilities. People might decide not to go.

    Best to get the butts in the seats without mentioning the 3 queer characters.

    Tuesday, April 6, 2010 at 11:44 pm | Permalink
  7. Raemon wrote:

    I get the argument… but I’m not sure how you’d cut the trailer together in such a way that the ex-girlfriend is prominently displayed. You can cut out the line where Scott says “ex-boyfriends?”, but the delivery of the line is pretty damn funny and I think also pretty key to the trailer.

    You could include the scene where (presumably, not having read the comics here) Scott goes “wait what? You have an ex-girlfriend? Bwuh?” But that puts an emphasis on one single ex that is, quite frankly, not warranted in the space of a minute long trailer.

    There’s a lot of things wrong with the world, but on the list of things that the human race needs to fix, this trailer rates so low I can’t imagine worrying about it. Especially because the things wrong with the trailer have way less to do with the trailer and more to do with social expectations. If we didn’t automatically assume exes = boyfriends, there’d be nothing wrong with it at all. Each ex is given roughly equal weight in the trailer.

    When all is said and done… I’m not even sure why it is a better thing to advertise gayness so that the homophobes know not to go see the movie, when you could instead be tricking them into going and exposing them 20+ minutes of queer characters instead of the 5 seconds you’d be able to squeeze into the trailer.

    Tuesday, April 6, 2010 at 11:57 pm | Permalink
  8. Sady wrote:

    @Raemon: Did you seriously just use the “why focus on pop culture when there are so many Real Problems Out There” argument? In the comments section? OF TIGER BEATDOWN?????

    Welcome to the blog, friend. We do posts about Liz Lemon here. For the record: If I do a post or publish a post about something, that means that in the comment section, we consider it a Subject Worthy of Discussion. Those dissatisfied can register, and do their magical alternate-universe Tiger Beatdown posts there. Or, you know, send in their own pitches!

    One of the reasons we’ve steered away from coverage of comics in the past, for the record, is the embarrassingly gushy, pure-fan-no-critic attitude so many folks take toward the subject, which I find prohibits intelligent or non-embarrassing analysis. I find it interesting that, in a post with three examples of the “de-gaying” phenomenon, folks are jumping up the post’s butt to defend a precious graphic novel series and its film adaptation, rather than discussing the much-demonstrated phenomenon under discussion. The moral of the story is, gay people are fine and good, but don’t let them get in the way of my precious GRAPHIC NOVEL APPRECIATION???!?! Jesus, what’s next? Is no-one allowed to have unflattering opinions about anime, or Dr. Who, or whatever? Just let me know now, so that I can de-nerd Tiger Beatdown’s focus entirely and avoid the fucking defensiveness right now. If you want your material taken seriously, fucking act like it can hold up to serious consideration.

    Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 1:11 am | Permalink
  9. Sady wrote:

    Also fun: Have you noticed that two of the boyfriends are Asian dudes? (Actually, I know you noticed this, Garland, because we were having a conversation in editing about how in the comics those dudes are reportedly twins, and whether we can’t tell whether they are the same actor or twin actors, because there was at the time — still is! — no information about the characters and actor/s on IMDB.)And the rest would appear, to my eye anyway, to be white people? Okay. So.

    Can you tell me the common factor that the exes with speaking parts and close-ups lasting longer than a fraction of a second and IMDB listings for their characters share, in this trailer? BECAUSE I NOTICED ONE. I DID.

    Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 12:08 am | Permalink
  10. charley wrote:

    yeah, there are definitely some weird things going on in the trailer, but like rachel and squeem said, throughout the comics, every time scott says “evil ex-boyfriends”, ramona is quick to correct him, “evil exes,” until he fights roxy, where, you know, he kind of gets it. he’s also an immature little kid about it, responding with the popular “awesome” response to lesbians, but that’s pretty much the point of the scott pilgrim character. he’s a douchebag. anyway!

    I agree, though, that they’re certainly doing some straight white “polishing” in the trailer, but I’m not so sure it’s quite as intentional as it might seem. the only character to say “evil exes” instead of “evil ex-boyfriends” is ramona, and they couldn’t exactly have three clips of her saying that phrase instead of other characters. also, matthew patel is not white, and he has a few lines in the trailer I think. but the japanese twins and knives chau and wallace not being present, and roxy not being very clearly shown as one of the evil exes, all kind of messed up. but at least the movie should be good! I hope!

    as long as they don’t forget to emphasize that scott is a douchebag because he’s the main character.

    Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 12:32 am | Permalink
  11. GarlandGrey wrote:

    A lot of comments seem to be about intention, so let me lay it out. Scott says “7 evil ex-boyfriends” – there is a shot of the 7 evil exes, then at the end the phrase is repeated. It is the bit of comedy they use to close the trailer.

    Let’s put aside for a second that how SEXIST it is to give a group of men and women a male designation – a little akin to the shock I felt when I learned that in some languages, a group of 1000 women and 1 man will be given a masculine ending. They are purposely hiding the queer themes. They are running a business, and they are counting on the fact that the general public won’t take the time to do any research into the story. But I am not in the business of making them money. It is in MY best interest to start a discussion about these issues, because things like this have an effect on my life. Pretending like gay people don’t exist matters to me. I live and work in a state with NO housing or employment protections for queer tax payers.

    Not because superhero movies are sometimes made by homophobic dickholes, but because the dominant culture still refuses to acknowledge queer people as part of the natural order of life.

    You may think the world has bigger problems, but this IS my world.

    Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 1:32 am | Permalink
  12. Margaret wrote:

    I don’t necessarily think there’s anything wrong with sharing pertinent information about a series you’re familiar with in response to a post on the subject. With the exception of Mr. More Important Pants, no one has been rude or dismissive of Gray’s point in general, they have just disputed it, in specific, in reference to Scott Pilgrim. And, as it happens, I think they have a point. The exes/ex-boyfriend confusion comes directly from the novel, and if the studio truly wanted to de-gay the trailer, they could have left Roxy out altogether, rather than giving her multiple long shots. That’s my opinion as both a reasonably smart feminist and enjoyer of Scott Pilgrim.

    In light of that, I don’t think it’s fair to simply label this view “Scott Pilgrim obsessives ugggg” and shove us aside with some nasty stereotypes about geek culture. I got here because I read and enjoy your blog and care about feminism, not because I have a google alert set up for “Scott Pilgrim,” you know. Give us a little credit, Sady.

    That said, I think Garland’s point about the movie industry in general is really spot on. With a Single Man, the straight-washing of the publicity material is particularly egregious. Likewise, the tokenism of Valentine’s Day is appalling, especially in light of the underground marketing campaign promising a gay story line. I can’t imagine how awful it must be to have your sexual identity turned into a cheap twist ending, or covered up with a bait-and-switch. Tnat’s really shitty.

    And, in addition, for some inside-baseball Scott Pilgrim criticism– I am really interested to see from @Charley’s post that another Scott Pilgrim reader thought that Wallace was Asian. From the drawings, I always did too. But then they cast Kieran Culkin? And because of the b+w drawings from the book, and lack of an ethnic signifying name, I can’t say for sure that it’s white-washing… but it feels like that a little.

    Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 1:40 am | Permalink
  13. charley wrote:

    I wasn’t saying that garland’s point doesn’t matter because SPECIFICS, I was just saying that the particular point of the “exes” versus “ex-boyfriends” confusion IS addressed within the comics. they certainly could have shown some of that joke, though– I mean, what’s not trailery about scott’s “the fourth ex-boyfriend is a girl?” line?

    and, even though none of that up there was really directed at me, sorry if I added to the star warsy superfan “not in MY america!!” tone in the comments.

    Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 3:09 am | Permalink
  14. Sady wrote:

    @charley: Yeah, it totally wasn’t. Thanks for engaging!

    Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 10:40 am | Permalink
  15. Niall wrote:

    And the rest would appear, to my eye anyway, to be white people?

    The evil ex at 0.38 with the “consider our fight begun!” line is Matthew Patel, the first evil ex, played by Satya Bhabha.

    Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 4:00 am | Permalink
  16. Sady wrote:

    @Niall: Thanks! I read him wrong, apparently. He looked like a white Goth dude to me!

    Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 10:25 am | Permalink
  17. Hannah wrote:

    I think that IF THIS TRAILER’S SO AWESOME, WHERE THE HECK IS WALLACE???? is almost more important than the “evil exes” thing. Wallace is in basically every important scene in the book. I don’t even know who’s playing him in the movie. I DON’T EVEN KNOW!!!

    He’s gay, and here to stay, folks, and if the movie cuts him out, so help me god…I may not be a fan of it!

    Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 9:00 am | Permalink
  18. Sophie wrote:

    Actually, the thing that struck me most about the trailer was the strange lack of Wallace Wells, Scott’s awesome gay roommate, who Scott sponged off of for a while even to the point of sharing his bed because all they had was one mattress in a studio apartment. Everyone thought this was a little odd except for Scott. Some of the better zingers in the series are delivered by Wallace. The whole “Seven ex-boyfriends” thing in relation to Roxy didn’t seem that strange to me simply because that was how it was in the series. For whatever reason, Ramona always said from the beginning “seven ex-boyfriends” as opposed to “seven ex’s” or whatever, though I think she corrected herself when Roxy came in. I attribute this to the fact that Bryan Lee O’Malley probably didn’t plan the whole series out when he started and didn’t know he was going to have Ramona have a bisexual past. I will say, on further inspection, though, that they started planning the movie after they knew that Roxy was going to be a part of the story line, so it would have behooved them to say “ex’s” as opposed to “ex-boyfriend’s”. I’m also not quite sure who wanted Scott to be an action star–in the series he is presented as an affable man child and I am of the opinion that because of this, Cera is an ideal choice. I also would recommend that you read the series because it is quite funny and inventive. It plays on tropes of Japanese manga, hipster culture, as well as video games. I don’t have a huge knowledge of super hero comics, so I don’t know how much of that influanced Scott Pilgrim, though I wouldn’t be surprised at all if it did.

    Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 9:01 am | Permalink
  19. Z wrote:

    Guys, while I am ALSO a comic nerd and while I can also say the whole thing about how the exes v. boyfriends thing being consistent and waiting to see and blah blah I think this is some serious derailing.

    Because all that aside? Garland makes a good point and brings up two other movies (and there are easily dozens more that could work) to support his thesis. Even if the Scott Pilgrim stuff is different, that does not take away from the fact that characters are de-gayed and that this is WRONG. So, let’s focus on that!

    One area that I think this is especially relevant in is the world of bio-pics where LGBT people have that part of their identity erased. Trans women become drag queens, bi people become magically straight, and lesbians and gays get involved in long term relationships with no kissing.

    Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 10:16 am | Permalink
  20. Sady wrote:

    @Margaret: Let’s be clear; I’m not a comics person. But I have close friends who are comics people, I read some Neil Gaiman in high school and some X-Men comics as a kid, I lived for 6 years with a guy who was passionately into graphic novels, and I have known people who work in the comic book industry, writing and drawing comics. I don’t disrespect comics, even if they are not my preferred mode of entertainment. I know smart, charming, cultured, literate, fun-to-be-with people who either make or enjoy them.

    However, no-one who has ever written critically about sci-fi and/or comics will be willing to tell you that online fan communities DON’T get massively defensive about these things. It’s an established phenomenon. It’s a thing. There are a lot of passionate people on the Internet, and they’re passionate about this one thing, and they seek out media related to this thing, and then they go buck-wild if that media is uncomplimentary. It’s not even specifically a “nerd” thing, unless you think of Taylor Swift fans as “nerds,” because they do the exact same thing.

    But, after looking through the comments this morning, I can announce that I will only be publishing comments that have something to say about the phenomenon of de-gaying, and will delete or refuse to publish any and all comments that amount to, “but what you don’t understand is, I really like Scott Pilgrim!” We know, honey. We know you like him. So talk about the post.

    Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 10:35 am | Permalink
  21. Nomie wrote:

    God, the A Single Man stuff bothered the shit out of me when I heard about it. I mean, TOM FORD, people! I know things are not that much better than the ’60s in a lot of ways but the marketing campaign didn’t have to emphasize that by re-closeting its lead character, did it?

    Awesome post, Garland Grey!

    Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 10:50 am | Permalink
  22. Samantha b. wrote:

    You know, I can’t think of any major Hollywood movie that has a lesbian presented, as you know, a lesbian, rather than a bisexual woman whose bisexuality is offered up as a titillating feature for heterosexual male characters. Am I missing something? Probably the Aileen Wournos movie does not count, given it certainly was never intended to work as a blockbuster and almost certainly was lower budget. But it *is*, of course, a film where gayness is not erased!

    Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 11:01 am | Permalink
  23. Sady wrote:

    @Samantha: Ha, yeah. And the title of the movie is “Monster,” and it’s my understanding that it downplays the (frequently reported by advocates at the time, but downplayed by the people close to the case and the media because the “FIRST FEMALE SERIAL KILLER” angle was more interesting) idea that Wuornos killed dudes in self-defense, as for example after they’d raped her or when they were threatening to rape her. So I’m guessing “Monster” doesn’t exactly qualify as Positive Ladies’ Lady Representation.

    Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 11:24 am | Permalink
  24. Scott wrote:

    I think the point Garland is making is a valid one, and there are a lot of things to hate about the Scott Pilgrim books (They are positively Apatovian at times: Slacker dude refuses to grow up / take responsibility? Check. Dates an underage girl because “it’s just simple?” Check.)

    And not bringing Wallace into the movie would be a huge “de-gaying” action for sure. But in the first two books, everyone says “ex-boyfriends” including Ramona and the first 2 exes.

    The scene from the trailer on the bus is actually at the end of the first book and it’s set on a train. Ramona says “Um. I guess you have to fight my– Seven?– Evil ex-boyfriends” “Seven evil ex-boyfriends?” “Six or seven” “You dated seven evil dudes?” “Not all at once!”

    So if anything, the movie has smoothed this over by changing her dialog to _remove_ the boyfriend moniker when Ramona says it. It makes the other characters seem like jerks for assuming the wrong thing instead of making it seem like she’s actively lying to us.

    As always, I appreciate the thought-provoking writing you folks are doing here. I’ve learned a lot from this website, and now I’ve got another thing to be watchful for when I’m evaluating my entertainment choices. Thanks!

    Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 11:16 am | Permalink
  25. Andrea wrote:

    Yes, Valentines Day made me super angry for many reasons (I dragged to see it against my will!), but mostly because the football guy coming out was a huge! shocking! plot! point!, and you don’t even see him with his boyfriend until the very very end of the movie, and they don’t kiss or anything.

    The Runaways trailer could be another example of de-gaying in Hollywood. In fact, the whole movie downplays Jett’s sexuality and portrays their “romantic” scenes as some sort of drug and alcohol fueled Cherie and Joan make-out sesh.

    But, re: the twins in the Scott Pilgrim movie, they’re played by Japanese twins, Shota Keita Saitou.

    Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 11:24 am | Permalink
  26. JMS wrote:

    Sady, are you accepting Wuornos’s claim (which she made and recanted more than once) that all seven of the killings for which she admitted responsibility were done in self-defense? Or are you saying that the movie about Wuornos should have explored that claim in more detail?

    Because I’m 100% with you on the second point, but on the first point, not so much. I think she probably did kill Richard Mallory in self-defense, but not the other victims—the whole “stealing their cars” business doesn’t seem consistent with self-defense, and her 1992 confession seems like the most coherent by far.

    Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 12:50 pm | Permalink
  27. Sady wrote:

    @JMS: I’m saying that I think Wuornos is a more complicated figure — years of marginalization, poverty, and severe trauma, living in a high-risk environment where one of the high risks was being entirely unable to trust law enforcement should something terrible happen to her, blatantly discouraged from reporting violent crimes against her to law enforcement by the fact that she would certainly be re-victimized if she did so, very probably emotionally and psychically damaged and living with (one would imagine) extremely severe PTSD due to her multiple experiences of violent sexual assault and abuse — than a movie which calls her a “Monster” in the title can probably get across, and that as a person who was at one point invested in learning about the Wuornos case, which was really badly handled even by her own lawyers not to mention the media, I found the marketing and even the idea of that movie (hey, everybody, Charlize Theron is pretty! But look at how convincing she is as an evil ugly lesbian, though) really distasteful as a result.

    Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 1:13 pm | Permalink
  28. Z wrote:

    “…and they donā€™t kiss or anything”

    That is one of my BIGGEST issues with Modern Family. You have a gay couple. With a baby. A baby! I don’t think America will be shocked if they actually show each other affection. And the part of America that will be shocked? Was already peeved about the gay couple with e baby! thing.

    Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 12:53 pm | Permalink
  29. Sady wrote:

    @Z: Yep! “Modern Family” is really complicated, for some reason: I know some relatively sheltered Midwestern folks who are, like, Learning To Deal With The Gay because look at how funny and cute those dudes on the sitcom are! But they’re basically eunuchs; their relationship is so blatantly de-sexualized that they might as well be platonic roommates who for some reason decided to adopt a baby together. Like, in the “Valentine’s Day” episode which aired when I was staying with my family SO I SAW IT DON’T JUDGE the jokes about all of the other couples, and even some of the kids, were about romantic or sexual desire. And the jokes with the gay couple were about… them helping one of the little kids to ask a girl out, and the redheaded dude’s job. I’m not asking that they bone on screen, because it is a lightweight sitcom, but could we not even show them going out on a DATE? Or kissing each other not-on-the-cheek? Or SOMETHING?

    Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 1:17 pm | Permalink
  30. Farore wrote:

    I loved the post, really interesting stuff! But! Sady! I am assuming you wrote that intro bit at the top, yes? I would just like to point out that it is a little painful to see gender equated with sex, and to see something that reads as though ‘lady’ and ‘dude’ are the only genders šŸ™ Please do not forget about us none-of-the-aboves!

    Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 1:21 pm | Permalink
  31. Sady wrote:

    @Farore: Point well taken, my friend! And obvs eliminating genderqueer folks from the picture is UN. COOL. But we’re trying to get some dudes who experience and express their gender in a lot of different ways, for this week, so. Thanks for pointing out the issue, and I hope the series works for you?

    Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 1:30 pm | Permalink
  32. Z wrote:

    @Sady YES! Like, at this point? I would settle for them hugging. Touching each other in some way. At all. Ever. Like you said, it’s lightweight, I’m not expecting making out or anything (especially when the other couples don’t) but acknowledging that they have a sexual relationship would be nice.

    I can’t help but wonder if this is why a lot of gay characters are gay teens. That way they can do the angst, but not the sexual stuff because “so few people are out when they’re young”.

    Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 1:24 pm | Permalink
  33. dave glasser wrote:

    I feel a little torn about this. I’ve been reading the graphic novels recently and have read 3 of the 6. Up to this point all of the exes have been male and I had assumed they all were. I assume that had I reached the point where her ex-girlfriend shows up before seeing this post, it would have been a jarring experience for me, and a good opportunity for me to examine my own internalized heterocentrist assumptions. I can only guess that this was part of O’Malley’s artistic intent.

    Assuming that the film doesn’t entirely strip out the ex-girlfriend (which seems accurate based on the trailer), it seems reasonable to guess that a similar moment is intended in the film. So if it’s made completely unignorable in the trailer that “yes one of the exes is female”, it strips anyone seeing the trailer of the ability to come to that point un-spoiled. Sure, she is shown in the trailer, but it’s all fast-moving action sequences, and plus the exes mostly have other folks fighting with them.

    Now you might say “the fact that people can be queer shouldn’t be an exciting plot twist that needs to be kept a surprise”, and I do agree with that to some degree. But if the film is built in such a way that the existence of Roxy will be a surprise to many viewers, is it really so horrible to keep it out of the preview?

    (That said I’m pretty skeptical of how likely it is that they’ll manage to shove the entire slightly complex plot of the series (including all seven exes!) into a single standard-length movie in the first.)

    Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 3:23 pm | Permalink
  34. Margaret wrote:

    @Sady Not pertinent to the main topic, so no obligation to post it– I’m just being lazy and commenting instead of emailing. I didn’t mean to imply that uber defensive nitpicky-ness is NOT a verified net phenomenon– it definitely is. Verily, it is so, I have seen it. I just meant to say I doubt it’s what people commenting on your blog before it’s been reposted anywhere are going to do. We may be Scott Pilgrim fans, but we’re also Sady Doyle fans, so try not to paint us with a broad, dismissive brush.

    And I would be totally interested in reading your feminist critique of Doctor Who– I even promise to comment-check any psycho fans who try to step.

    Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 3:25 pm | Permalink
  35. Margaret wrote:

    Oh shit. Thought these were being filtered and the above would have to get approved before going through.

    SORRY! Really did not mean to drag the comment thread back to an unproductive place, right when it’s picked up momentum. PLEASE IGNORE ME. Promise next time I’ll email.

    Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 3:26 pm | Permalink
  36. Sady wrote:

    @Margaret: Haha, that’s OK. Your comment, and charley’s, actually were engaging with the issue. Some folks, whose comments you’re not seeing: Not so much. I swear, your 400-word essay about how much you identify with the character of Scott Pilgrim HAS A PLACE — and, very likely, a place on the Internet — but it is not in the comment section for this post, as it turns out.

    Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 3:34 pm | Permalink
  37. Jessie wrote:

    I read the graphic novels, too! I am generally in agreement with the commenters here who are saying that the trailer is pretty okay? Because in the comics, when Roxie shows up a couple volumes in, it’s kind of meant to be a delightful surprise (Oh! Ramona isn’t exclusively hetero, neat!) so the trailer is pretty consistent with all that.

    The thing about Ramona is she doesn’t like to talk about her past, she is cagey about answering questions. I kind of read it as her not wanting her bi-ness to get fetishized by the dude she is dating, which I get.

    Although there’s some dialogue in the comic where Scott is all like YOU DATED A GIRL GUH BLUH and Ramona is all, It was a phase, geez! And it made me sad.

    I also agree with the commenters who wanted to see more Wallace Wells in the trailer, he is really important and his gayness is a much-emphasized part of the story.

    But generally, I am not sold on the trailer being an erasure of LGBT-ness? I think it’s trying to high-concept worldbuild most of all, and part of the deal with the hipstery indierock videogame youthculture world Scott Pilgrim takes place in is that it tries really hard to be post-gay. Arguably unsuccessfully. And it reflects in the trailer. But it might be worth pointing out.

    Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 4:02 pm | Permalink
  38. Jess wrote:

    OH GOD you are speaking to my shriveled little queer heart. Can we talk about Fried Green Tomatoes? Lesbians got wind that it was lesbian, but the whole goddamn movie was de-gayed. And the trailer! This happens all the time! I think it’s a corollary to the “It’s okay to be gay as long as you die or suffer” movie tradition. Somehow torturing the gay or only faintly alluding to the gay became associated with serious moviemaking. Gay movies aren’t good movies! And they aren’t moneymaking movies! Also, poke my eye out!

    Meanwhile, Kissing Jessica Stein (one of my most-hated movies of all time) is pitched as a pro-gay movie, but it is the biggest boner-killer (so to speak) I have ever seen. Those of you who have seen it know what I’m talking about. BAIT AND SWITCH. BAIT. AND SWITCH. THIS IS NOT THE LESBIAN ROM-COM I WAS PROMISED. YES I AM STILL ANGRY.

    I haven’t read the comment section — I have feelings! Feelings about gay! — so apologies if this has already come up.

    Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 4:35 pm | Permalink
  39. Erin wrote:

    “And I would be totally interested in reading your feminist critique of Doctor Who”

    That would be a fun read!

    Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 4:42 pm | Permalink
  40. Brimstone wrote:

    I wonder if the new Dr Who will try to remove some of the more overtly gay elements of Davis’ run? Or does everyone love Captain Jack too much for that to happen?

    And count me in the ‘the exes/ex-boyfriends confusion is part of the characters and comes directly from the graphic novel’ camp. And yeah Wallace better be in it

    Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 9:35 pm | Permalink
  41. GarlandGrey wrote:

    @Andrea My least favorite example of that phenomenon (this real person was a little bit queer but YOU GUYS it wasn’t that big a part of their lives) happens in Iris, the film they made about Iris Murdoch. They reduced her love affairs with women to a single look from a woman in a bar. Blech.

    Re Modern Family: The no-kissing thing is pretty weird to watch, especially since it breaks up the flow of a relationship, to never touch the other person. It sometimes feels like I’m watching a show about two roommates raising a baby.

    Then I remember it is no longer the 80’s and My Two Dads has been off the air for a while.

    Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 10:36 pm | Permalink
  42. Margaret wrote:

    @Jess That’s so interesting, because I always thought Kissing Jessica Stein was a great queer-friendly love story– mostly because I didn’t buy Jessica as gay when she wouldn’t come out to her mom. And, even if she ended up with a dude, Helen ended up happy with a woman, and it sort of tears down the whole idea of lesbians super close roommates. And, at the end, Jessica clearly identifies as bi– she doesn’t dismiss her relationship with Helen as a phase. But, I do have friends who haaaate it, because they get invested in the first relationship and then were like WFT at the end.

    I agree with all the people who wish there was more Wallace Wells in the trailer– that’s actually a strong argument that the story has been degayed for the trailer. He’s my favorite part of the comics and it’s kind of ridiculous that Stacy Pilgrim gets the money line, when she’s in the movie for two seconds, and he doesn’t show up at all, when he has about a BILLIONTY FIVE more lines. Which is seriously uncool choice! From both an LBGT perspective and a loyal to the story perspective.

    Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 11:15 pm | Permalink
  43. R wrote:

    The point about the de-gaying (I felt it was more like gay-baiting) of Valentine’s Day, I get. The whole point about A Single Man, I get, too, I’d even add that when confronted about this, Tom Ford has specifically danced around the subject with tropes like “I am not defined by being gay” or “I don’t see gay anymore” etc.

    But the Scott Pilgrim trailer? I mean, she says evil-exes, he says evil ex-boyfriends, and we get a flash of all the exes and there’s a girl. Now, from that point on, every new actor/character introduced until Scott is shown talking to someone who I presume is his sister (I can’t remember that scene in the books) is presented as one of the violent exes. The girl, who co-starred with Michael Cera in Arrested Development as Egg Ann, gets almost as much screen time as Chris Evans and the same as Satya Bhabha, they get more lines than Brandon Routh (of Superman fame) and Jason Schwartzman (of hipster fame) put together.

    So, other than cashing in on the hot dude (Chris Evans), I do not think this trailer is de-gayed. I can’t be sure why the Japanese twins were cut out or reduced to a faceless fist and a kick, but I’m guessing because their role in the movie is smaller than in the books. Which yes, shows how the white characters get more screen time (except Satya Bhabha, but one doesn’t make up for another).

    Re: Wallace Wells. I love Wallace as much as the next reader, I too, think it’s awesome that he walks around the house in underwear because it’s hot, kid. But after like, the first third of the story, he kicks Scott out of their place, and Scott moves in with Ramona. After that he makes brief cameos. Much more relevant characters Stephen Stills and Kim Pine are also absent from the trailer, so again, I stress, I don’t see the de-gaying in this.

    Thursday, April 8, 2010 at 2:38 am | Permalink
  44. Leaving aside the argument about the “surprise” of the exes so as not to spoil the movie in the trailer (mind you, this seems a weak argument, in that most trailers I have seen in the past three years have featured major plot points), the de-gaying by virtue of disappearing the gay room-mate is unacceptable.

    What gets me is the sway a small number of hateful bigots have over the entire entertainment industry, even though that same industry is posited as waaaaaaay liberal and progressive. It’s unacceptable and, frankly, evil, that homophobia is allowed to severely curtail the portrayal of loving same sex relationships, or not-so-loving, as the case may be. The Robin Williams Nathan Lane La Cage aux Folles remake The Birdcage has a gay couple as its main characters, and yet you see hardly any affection between them at all (I don’t remember if there was any kissing, but the fact that I don’t remember it is telling). It’s not just the trailers – gay couples are not allowed to get Teh Gay all over movies, because while Hollywood wants their dollars, they don’t respect them.

    I want to see more loving same sex couples, more gay friends, and less stereotyping (though stereotyped is better than invisible, it’s been thirty years since the ’80s, people!).

    Thursday, April 8, 2010 at 8:40 am | Permalink
  45. Farore wrote:

    @Sady: Oh, I have been enjoying it very much!

    Thursday, April 8, 2010 at 12:54 pm | Permalink
  46. debbie wrote:

    I have never heard of the graphic novels or the movie until today. And I enjoyed this post. I will probably go see this movie when it comes to a theatre near me.

    On a different, but still nerdy note – I also enjoyed that they are riding on a TTC bus (Toronto Transit Commission) and Michael Cera is from Brampton, a suburb of Toronto. I’m guessing the movie is not set in Toronto, but we are always a stand in for big US cities.

    Thursday, April 8, 2010 at 10:28 pm | Permalink
  47. Jess wrote:

    @Margaret – I think it was because it came out during a big break-up for me, and I was so extremely pumped to see a lesbian rom-com in the theater. I didn’t really buy the Jessica actress as a lesbian, or even as bi, and yet… I guess I just really, really wanted to believe that there was a happy ending for gays out there. And then rug! Yanked! Ow!

    Friday, April 9, 2010 at 12:22 am | Permalink
  48. Will wrote:

    Anyone notice that if, indeed, all of her “exes” have super powers, then she is the source? It seems a funny possibility that she meets this guy, sleeps with him, and then he gains super powers as well! OMG! a woman that is super hot, sleeps with you, and then you gain super powers!

    Friday, April 9, 2010 at 12:43 am | Permalink
  49. Lauren wrote:

    That would mean that she has a *drumrole please* SUPER VAGINA!

    Friday, April 9, 2010 at 2:02 am | Permalink
  50. GarlandGrey wrote:

    @Lauren I call NOT IT for being the one to make that cape.

    Friday, April 9, 2010 at 3:49 am | Permalink
  51. Raemon wrote:

    >>>>>Welcome to the blog, friend. We do posts about Liz Lemon here. For the record: If I do a post or publish a post about something, that means that in the comment section, we consider it a Subject Worthy of Discussion.

    @Sady: I didn’t mean to imply it wasn’t worth talking about, period, but that I’d think the course of talking about it should more likely produce a “huh, yeah, look at that” rather than a “OMG Serious Problemā„¢!” I very much enjoy the Liz Lemon posts, both the sections of them that veer towards seriousness and the sections that veer towards sheer silliness.

    I do think it is bad that gay people don’t get good exposure in both advertisements and in the movies/shows/games that those advertisements advertise. It certainly warrants a Serious Problemā„¢ blog post (not that you need my approval or anything :P). But I do not think Scott Pilgrim is the best flagship trailer for that particular type of blogpost.

    If we’re looking for ways to change Hollywood that maximize the power of the Gay (i.e. Basic Fairness for people in general) Agenda, I think it’s better to get more traditional advertisements (the kind that show happy families drinking Coke or whatever) that just happen to show happy families with gay people in the. For movies/shows that feature positively-presented-but-not-central-to-the-plot gay people, it seems to me that warning homophobes about them in advance is counterproductive.

    Friday, April 9, 2010 at 5:41 pm | Permalink
  52. Raemon wrote:

    Addenda: probably also worth noting that I agree with Attack_Laurel that in shows/movies that do feature gay characters, we could use more equality in what gay vs straight characters get to do onscreen.

    Friday, April 9, 2010 at 5:45 pm | Permalink
  53. Jessie wrote:

    @Debbie : It IS actually set in Toronto, no kidding. Toronto landmarks are Important and Featured.

    Sunday, April 11, 2010 at 10:45 am | Permalink
  54. Michael H. wrote:

    Half the time in the trailer there, they call them “evil exes” instead of “evil ex-boyfriends”. It seems like only people being introduced to the concept use the gendered version. And, the ex-girlfriend is clearly in there a few times.

    Seems like no foul to me. Perhaps a bit of “oh, haha, that’s what you meant?”, but that’s in the movie itself and they’re not trying to hide it.

    Sunday, April 11, 2010 at 10:05 pm | Permalink
  55. Jennifer wrote:

    This thread reminds me of the “race bending” (aka whitewashing) discussions surrounding the movie version of Avatar: The last Airbender that’s about to come out. It’s tough to say that there was explicit racism, but the decision to cast white actors did not happen in a vacuum and discussing the cultural assumptions that led to it is important. Blaming M. Night Shyamalan is besides the point because no one person is responsible for creating the environment in which white, heterosexual, cis-gendered people are the assumed “average.” Maybe he really did cast the best characters for the part, and maybe the Scott Pilgrim trailer makes more sense this way (I believe the 2nd more than the first), but it’s important to have the discussion and challenge bad decisions made in the name of marketing. Do we know if in this exact case we can say this happened, can we ever say that? No, but we can agree it happens. And that a winking nod towards gay consumers places their importance below those who would like to ignore their existence.

    Sunday, April 18, 2010 at 1:24 pm | Permalink
  56. Lynn wrote:

    So the *international* trailer is now out:

    In fairness, it does have a full minute more to show clips, but I notice that his gay roomie has magically reappeared, PoCs get speaking time, and Ramona is shown correcting the ‘evil exes’ bit.

    Saturday, June 19, 2010 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

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