"i know you care for him as much as i do."

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Title: "i know you care for him as much as i do."
Creator: Aja
Date(s): January 8, 2010
Medium: journal post
External Links: "i know you care for him as much as i do."; archive link page 1, archive link page 2; archive link page 3; archive link page 4; archive link page 5; archive link page 6; archive link page 7; archive link page 8; archive link page 9
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"i know you care for him as much as i do." is a 2010 essay by Aja that was posted to her bookshop livejournal account. In it, Aja discusses her disappointment with the growing trend of adding homoerotic subtext to mainstream media without actually including any queer characters. The title is a quote from Sherlock Holmes (2009), in which Mary Morstan acknowledges that Holmes loves Watson as much as she does.

It has 506 comments.

Aja later wrote two follow-up posts about misogyny in slash fandom: The flip side. ("Pickering, why can't a woman be more like a man?") and Fannish spaces, girls, and the culture of silence.

Some Topics Discussed


This rant has been developing for about a year. Specifically, I said I would talk after the holidays about why I stopped watching House and why I don't really feel like watching Merlin. This rant is why.

I just saw Sherlock Holmes for the third time, and holy cow, it was even more intentionally deliberately shamelessly homoerotic the third time than it was the first! and that's great, it's so wonderful and fabulous and it makes me so happy.

Except that it also makes me so very very angry.

you know what I am sick of? What I am really really really sick of?

Homoerotic subtext.

I am sick of seeing Robert Downey Jr. gleefully declaring to talk show audiences that Holmes and Watson are gay, that Holmes is a butch queer, that he and Watson sleep in the same bed. I am sick of seeing Jennifer's Body toy with sexual orientation as a titillating exercise that tries to be sincere but ends in yet more dead lesbians and no affirmation. I am sick of reading news articles about how the tv show Merlin has a huge gay audience, and how the cast/producers/writers are all so happy that the subtext they put into the Merlin/Arthur relationship is being well-received. I am sick of seeing TV Guide covers where House shoots white silly string all over Wilson's face. I am sick of seeing subtextually homoerotic readings of beloved narratives and characters be taken to loving extremes, like Guy Ritchie did in Sherlock Holmes, bless him, like Stephen Fry linking to Jeeves/Wooster romances with a wink and a nod, or like the creators of Hot Fuzz gleefully writing slash about their own main characters, without ever becoming overtly gay.

I am sick of all of it. I loved House with a love surpassing Doris Egan. And then by season 3 I just started to feel like I was being constantly toyed with. YES I KNOW WILSON BOUGHT HOUSE A, WELL, HOUSE. I KNOW THE SHOW'S WRITERS THINK THEY'RE IN LOVE. But somewhere, out there, are audience members who think that relationship is perfectly heteronormative, and i don't want them to have that comfort. I want House and Wilson to make out on-screen.* Hell, even in Boston Legal, when James Spader and William Shatner freaking GOT MARRIED IN THE SERIES FINALE, the whole point was that they were a "straight" couple pretending to be gay for the legal benefits, and the show's tee-heeing to the contrary just reinforced that we can't have gay main characters.

But we can have all the hints that the characters are gay that we want! Look how progressive we are! Look how many gay-friendly words we use: "metrosexual!" "bromance!" "subtext!" And I AM SICK OF IT. I WANT THE REAL DEAL.
eta: and to tack on a comment on a week-old argument: the rant above is the main reason (among many) why I react to disbelief when people say that the Organization for Transformative Works is too politicizing, too mainstream for them to be comfortable with. That argument baffles me. Do these people not understand that fanfiction is political in and of itself? Fanfiction, be it slash, het, gen, or variants thereof, is political because it reframes traditional narratives with progressive ideas. It asks "what if Watson had been a woman?" it asks "what if Beauty and her Beast had been men?" it asks, "Why is Slytherin house historically doomed to be disenfranchised by the rest of wizarding society, and how does that reflect on our own culture?" All those things have political contexts and implications.

I don't want to claim that we *should* write fanfiction because we want to promote a political cause. I don't pretend that we're all on the same political sides: we all know well by now that not all writers of slash support gay rights. And I don't want to imply that diving for slash pearls in a world of vast and glorious subtext is anything to be ashamed of, or that it isn't rewarding as a means unto its own end.

But I believe that fanfiction, all fanfiction, is transgressive, political, subversive, transformative, whether or not any of us want it to be. And I feel every single day that the best way any of us can combat a universe full of problems is to keep writing it.

Comments at the Post

This is amazingly accurate. I can't...BLEGH, I'M SPEECHLESS.

I agree with everything that is said. As I told a friend on Twitter, there's never a gay main character (Captain Jack from Torchwood does not count), and if there IS (Queer as Folk), their entire world revolves around being gay, and that's not quite what being gay is about. It doesn't rule your world, or define the person you are; it's like being straight or bi-sexual, you go on with life as any straight or bi-sexual person would (yes, some things are different, but still).

The subtext does get old, after a while. It gets old scouring the Internet for slash fanfiction, and it gets old getting your hopes up while reading a book thinking, "this is it - this is the author that will break boundaries", and you're disappointed because they've either been a bitch with subtext, or just simply copped out in the end. It's getting old having to accept just subtext, no matter how much you initially love it.
Incidentally, I am also sick of being told "How can there be a problem? Look at how accepted Captain Jack is!". Why should I have to settle for one character on a show I don't even like?
But somewhere, out there, are audience members who think that relationship is perfectly heteronormative, and i don't want them to have that comfort. That's pretty much the point, though. As far as I'm concerned, most of the media relationships like House&Wilson, Arthur&Merlin, etc. aren't written that way to be particularly subversive or groundbreaking, or out of any sort of artistic integrity or faithfulness to the writers' ~vision~. It's simply the shows' writers having their cake and eating it, too - deliberately tapping into the slash fanbase and gay audience they know is there for the prospecting, without having to risk alienating anyone else. They're not out to do their bit for lgbtq rights, or anything. It's fanservice, pure and simple.
[deora mystic]:
how words like "metrosexuality" allows mainstream U.S. culture to become comfortable with alternative sexual behavior without having to actually deal with real gay people and "bromance" - let us not forget the ever-so-hip and safe bromance trend. where it's perfectly okay to have utterly romantic m/m relationships on screen as long as the guys end up with girls. cause it's ~*~bromantic~*~ and portrays the guys as ~sensitive~, just like girls, and aarrrgh i can't tell you how frustrating that is! which makes your rant that much awesomer because it reminds me of how gutted i feel every time i mention the subtext to most people i know and they reply with a, "oh, you silly eccentric person. they're just friends!". :(
Well, of course, the danger there lies at the other extreme, too - where the implication is that a guy can't have a really deep, meaningful, and emotionally satisfying friendship with another guy, because that's so not a guy thing and actually it's all just repressed homosexuality. Which is of course complete tosh, and (IMO) a big reason that on-screen bromances have now become so popular; I remember watching the special features on the Shawshank Redemption 20th(?) anniversary edition, and Morgan Freeman talking about how moved he was every time a guy would come up just to thank him, and to tell him how important it was to them to see Red and Andy's friendship on the screen like that, just because so much of the rest of the world pretends that menfolk neither need or want that sort of relationship in their lives.

So... yeah. I think the increasing presence and acceptance of the bromance in popular media is a good and important thing.

I just wish we lived in a world where it was possible to have both.
Let's face it: no entertainment vehicle is without its "WTF ARE THEY THINKING?" element. (How many TV shows & movies have we said that about, srsly?) No art form is perfect, and every art form is a reflection of culture and society and time. Fanfiction has achieved recognition from the source authors/creators; like it or condemn it, they know its out there and that it's not just the minor scribblings of a few weirdos. Quality of work is subjective, but its legitimacy as a part of our culture's artistic expressions cannot be denied.

All art must evolve. Perhaps more than any other factor, evolution of artistic endeavor is the driving force of the evolution of a culture. If art forms do not keep pace with the outlets a society needs, they die away and others take their place. The tide is rising, and what does not flow with it will either be worn down or swept aside.

Which is a lovely metaphorical way of saying that fanfic is just a reflection of a growing need that autdiences have for certain types of character development, and eventually, television, film and literature creators will have to respond to that despite their fear of conservative backlash. If they don't do it willingly, they won't get the ratings, box office receipts or sales that they need, and the dent in their wallets will force them to accept the growing reality of their audiences' desires.

Unfortunately, that kind of evolution takes time. We may not see it in our lifetimes, although I certainly hope that's not the case. It depends on how long it takes the muttering of multitudes to drown out the narrow-minded shouting of the few.
Finally, someone has voiced exactly my problem with slashing. Attributing any and all interpersonal connections, affectionate or antagonistic, to sexual desire is reductive, juvenile, and frankly, tedious. Of course, this happens just as much with heterosexual character relationships. I don't want to sound like I'm picking on homoerotic innuendo in particular. I just wish platonic relationships were occasionally accepted as such. Anyway, what we need is more gay characters, not more gay stories about straight characters.
[twig tea]:
The thing too, about slashing, is that it in a way ENCOURAGES the standard homophobia, similar to the way you described above about the subtext problem. Because when someone turns, for example, Kirk and Spock's relationship into a sexual one, it undermines their friendship. It is saying, in a way, that two men can't have a platonic but deep, emotional love and connection. It undermine's a man's relationship with another man, which is already so difficult for people to accept, because it 'makes men gay' to have affection for one another (the whole thing makes me want to scream). And of course there's the other side of it, which you talked about, where there are all these GAY CHARACTERS AAAAGH that never get any because people are too coward to actually let them get some action. And so we get Dumbledore named as gay by the creator AFTER he's dead in canon. We get all this subtext and joking and twittering, but never any in-show admitting. And so people write stories fixing this imbalance, giving characters happy endings. But in doing so we erase the importance of male/male friendships, and how they can be deep and abiding and affectionate without being gay. And it seems unfair that we have to make that choice because these creators are too gutless to do it themselves. Sometimes slashers give them other deep abiding male/male friendships to make it okay, which I always appreciate, but. Basically I hate the whole situation too, is what I'm saying.
when someone turns, for example, Kirk and Spock's relationship into a sexual one, it undermines their friendship

If I never have to hear about the fucking sacred friendships of straight people and how they're so inherently superior to my own relationships that adding a romantic or sexual element "undermines" them again, it will be too soon.

And just for extra fun, the hard-and-bright line the people who make statements like this frequently draw between romantic love and friendship makes assexual people invisible, too, by claiming that any relationship that's not marked by sexual attraction is platonic.

I would rather listen to a thousand "ew, you're making them gaaaay" openly homophobic fanbrats that one more piece of "you're undermining their friendship" garbage. At least the fanbrats are honest in their heterosexism.
I'm really really glad you said this, because it just brought sharply home the level of discomfort and anxiety I've always had, that fandom has always *made* me feel, about wanting characters I love to "gay it up." I had a discussion about House and Nobuta on this LJ once and a bunch of Nobuta fans were commenting to tell me how important and beautiful the main three-person friendship of that show was, and I was nearly in tears at some parts of the discussion, because I felt like I was being told that it was wrong to want Shuji and Akira to have a relationship, because I would be destroying that precious fragile delicate friendship they all have.

And right up through this moment that discussion has always been a little bitter to me, because I've always just internalized that wrongness. I remember protesting feebly that I wasn't doing anything wrong, but by that point I didn't believe it.

I think it's that fandom has such a free and easy attitude towards sexual relationships, and the default is always "slash" around here; so we take this attitude that slash automatically means sex, and sexualization automatically equates to cheapening a relationship.

I cannot tell you the number of times that argument got bandied about during the days when the Draco Trilogy was still being written. People were always, *always* trotting out the "slash would cheapen what they have" argument; and at the time my arguments for why slash *wouldn't* cheapen what they had were all emotional/character-related. No one's ever just sat down and gone "why should making the relationship homosexual be cheap?" Nobody was accusing the much shallower Draco/Ginny relationship in that fic of being cheap, even though it most certainly was; and ultimately, the way slash actually was eventually handled in V was cheap. Slash fans were given a handwave and a cheap substitute for what we actually wanted, and even though I would never have said so then, that never felt honest or right to me, the way that part of that story was written.

I think we forget that slashing two characters nearly always begins with realizing that they could be gay, and the inherent result of that moment, for slashers at least, is to have their view of the characters expanded. I think we are so hung up on sexual expression as something that's wrong or inherently cheap/sleazy/bad/subversive (and there are so many problematic ways in which that idea manifests itself in fandom) that that initial expansion of ideas and understanding just becomes lost as we get immersed in a fan culture where being subversive is part of the *point.*
...there is no reason that men cannot have the same kind of deep emotional connections that women develop. Gender roles have become so confused over the last several generations that no one seems to remember that it was perfectly acceptable for men to form those kinds of attachments with other men. Holmesian purists staunchly maintain that Holmes and Watson's relationship was precisely that: a close emotional connection, a deep and abiding friendship, and that imbuing their relationship with sexual overtones is a revisionist reading of Doyle's intended narrative based upon our own current sexual fascinations.

Problem I have with this whole line of logic is this: why is it completely out of the realm of possibility for men's friendships to develop aspects of physical attraction based on their emotional bond?

The whole joke of the movie 'When Harry met Sally', that men and women can't ever just be friends because eventually they will become sexually attracted to one another, is practically a cultural standard. Likewise, it is completely unsurprising, even damn near expected, that when young women go to college they will invariably engage in sapphic experimentation with their friends. Half of the straight soft-core porn you find on premium movie channels has female friends screwing each other at least as much as they are screwing the guys. And in case no one noticed, the only reason Will and Grace never slept together was that Will didn't want to. Grace had been all for the idea since college and her sexual attraction to Will was no secret. She simply refrained from acting on it, which is not the same as it not being there.

Sexual attraction is based on emotional connections as often as it is based on physically appealing attributes. If it wasn't, then over three-quarters of the human population would never get any action, straight or gay, because we aren't anywhere close to physically perfect. My own sexual encounters have almost universally been the result of an emotional connection with the other person, and I'm nowhere near resembling the women that we culturally fantasize about.

So why are emotional connections between men supposed to be immune from the development of physical/sexual impulses? It's a double-standard that makes absolutely no sense. Yes, men can have friendships with other men that are meaningful on an emotional/psychological level that never evolve into sexual attraction. But there's nothing that says it can't happen, either, which is part of the point Aja was making.
Well - we also do get to write the stories we want to write, you know? And I for one was very, very tired of writing stories where I didn't get to write ladies (and was the recipient of hatemail for it when I did write things that included the ladies)!

Which is not to say that I couldn't write stories about ladies with ladies. Because I can and shall... (and have, and keep trying to get that one published.)

But end result, we do (and I did) write the stories we get the ideas for. You'd be a lot more disappointed in me if I didn't, because the stories would be bad!

There's also this to consider - stuff like Cassandra Clare's, with its crazy popularity and its much-loved main heterosexual main pairing, gets to a lot more people who will then also love the secondary gay pairing. Which has more widespread effect, and paves the way for a world where it won't matter just like the front and centre gay couple books, which reach a smaller audience, do. Both are needful for a brighter future! And even the secondary characters do take fighting for.... Excising the ladies is what makes me very very wary of all the bromance love - Judd Apatow, Sherlock Holmes - going around. I mean! Irene Adler, the criminal with good intentions Sherlock could never catch, seemed like a good choice for his love interest to me if they decided he had to have one. (And why that was decided, I too find problematic!)

But that Irene the Love Interest was changed so that she was in the power of one guy (Moriarty) and that her motives were based on another guy (Holmes) and that the last we see of her, the woman Holmes couldn't catch in the books is handcuffed... Well, it made me sad. Women, pushed to the margins too much, is my final conclusion! Which everyone knew already.
I'm in the minority that mostly slashes characters in shows I don't watch and books I don't read and/or shows/books I've only slightly/somewhat read or watched. Which is probably why even though I identify as a slasher, I don't change fandoms very often. And I just relate to characters/ships differently. I'd REALLY hate watching a show ~for~ the slash. I mean, I watched X-Files partly for the Mulder/Scully, but there was a real serious chance it'd happen, even though it never really did while I watched it, but that didn't matter 'cause I wasn't really played with in a negative way. The sort of subtlety/teasing was just... I dunno, their unique quality, not a quality of the *relationship*, I guess. Same with the tease around Buffy/Spike, which I loved to watch and the series taunted us B/S shippers with (ooh, Buffy will ~never~ love him, he's a ~vampire~). It's a seriously slashy relationship-- both of them, in a way-- but what makes it different is that it was never inherently hopeless, and the producers didn't even want to really push that point 'cause so many people were Mulder/Scully shippers or Buffy/Spike shippers and the show authentically could and sort of did go there, so. It was different, even if in the end, things didn't work out that way. With slash, there's no hope. I refuse to just be taunted pointlessly. It's not fun at all. The *only* way I can enjoy slashiness is on a very shallow level, while consciously accepting the characters' heterosexuality.
I totally know what you mean about being frustrated about mainstream characters. Glee is a show I love but poor Kurt is such a stereotype. Enjoyable character, but a stereotype...

I'm not so sure about that 80% thing though. I really doubt that the average American watching House is thinking that Wilson should totally hit that. People tend to accept what they're shown and not question it.

Slashing does tend to make me angry sometimes because it's like what you said, a lot of slashers are just dying to read gay subtext in any little fucking thing like it's a prize.
This right here is exactly why I was thrilled when Buffy had sex with another woman in the Season 8 comics. And why I love the way Willow's relationship with Tara develops in season 4 of the TV show. Because both of those took women who had seemed heterosexual, they'd both had intense sexual and romantic relationships with men, relationships that had been important to viewers and to the story. And to have Willow come out as gay and Buffy be ambiguous and flexible about her sexuality is powerful because, like you said, it forces people to grapple with the idea that someone they liked and assumed was 100% heterosexual was actually not. Those portrayals (and the way sexuality is handled in Buffy) are problematic in lots of ways, of course, but you're right. It is a powerful message to "turn" characters gay without signposting or writing a book/movie/TV show that is About Gay Characters or All About Being Gay (not that those stories aren't worthwhile too, but you know what I mean). And they problem of compulsory/assumed heterosexuality is not going to go away if we are constantly told by our entertainment media "people are either one way or another, they stay the same forever, and it is always obvious when someone is gay".
I agree with so much of this, and am so tired of and offended by the nature of gay subtext in media narratives. It's not just that the people behind these narratives are unwilling to depict real gay relationships (though I think that's probably the most offensive piece); it's that these relationships are hinted at solely for the benefit and titillation of straight men and women. It's like they're saying to gay men and women, no, we're not going to represent you fairly or even visibly -- but we are going to exploit you!

Related to that, I do want to pick at your claim that fanfiction is inherently progressive and subversive. In many instances I think this is the case, but I also think it's very possible to write conservative and even oppressive fanfiction -- because obviously stories can manifest problematic social values and reinforce the status quo just as often as they can subvert them. Beyond the obvious examples of racist and sexist fanfic, I'd argue that a lot of slash in particular helps to reinforce homophobia, inasmuch as it's sexually objectifying a minority group (gay men) for consumption by a majority group ((mostly) straight women). Obviously some stories objectify more than others, but I'd argue that even admitting the existence of nuanced fic, there's still a whole lot of it that works along these lines, and that's bad inasmuch as it conveys the message that it is okay for you, the privileged viewer, to use the body of someone less privileged than yourself for your own pleasure. And sure, some people come away from slash with a richer and more sympathetic understanding of gay issues -- but some certainly do not.

Again, there's good fic and bad fic, and there are thoughtful readers and readers who are less thoughtful; but to claim that fic is inherently good, inherently progressive, is, I think, kind of naive.
[ omnipresentdmat]:
Honestly, I've stopped watching television and movies for the larger part because I'm sick of seeing straight, white main character after straight, white main character. I understand that the majority of Americans are both of these things, but I think that's giving people too little credit. It's like the people making these works don't think their audience can take a character that is apparently so intrinsically different from them. The only shows with gay main characters have to be specifically targeted at and written for gay audiences, and I find that the same is usually true for race as well. It's a problem that most people who are part of that mainstream tend to want to ignore; when I pointed it out to my brother, he accused me of being 'racist against white people'(and he thought he was HILARIOUS when he said that because we're both white--HE SAW NOTHING WRONG ABOUT IT WHATSOEVER) and 'hating straight people'(and he thought THAT was hilarious because he still thinks I'm straight). I didn't say that no one should be these things. I'd just like to see people in the hero role who aren't the heteronormative. I just can't stand it any more, I really can't. It pisses me off so much every time that I turn on the television or go to a theater that I've largely given up on both entirely. I don't know what I'm trying to say. I just know that I have this building anger over the whole thing that I don't know how to direct and I don't know how to name, but it's there and it's getting worse rather than better as more and more of the people in charge realize that so much of their audience likes being teased like that without really seeing the bigger issue behind it at all.
This post really rubs me the wrong way. I mean, I agree with everything you say about subtext as a way of paying lip service to queer fans without actually having queer characters, but you lose me when you claim that slash is a solution. I mean, seriously, slash fandom has this amazing way of looking at any pair of white guys and deciding that they're in love... I mean, so, basically all male-male relationships have to read as homoerotic? "Bromance" isn't a socially acceptable term for a gay relationship, it's a joking and, yeah, homophobic term for a friendship that only looks gay because people with rigid standards of masculinity don't know how to interpret it. What do you say about the message slash sends, that all same-sex relationships can be read as gay? I'd love to live in a world where queer characters are entirely common and unremarkable but I don't understand how the claim that basically everyone is queer helps anyone. I mean, yeah, your H/D stories are obviously written more in good faith than some frat dude going "lol those characters look gay, bro" but aren't you pretty much doing the same thing? You can go on all you want about normalizing queerness to fans but the fact remains that slash is easy. Wouldn't the actual subversive act be to deheteronormativize something that isn't, you know, filled with titillating/humorous subtext? This all sounds more like a justification of your porn tastes than anything; you seem to be saying that it's offensive for shows to deviate from heteronormative roles without delivering tasty gayness for you (you really think Boston Legal was "tee-heeing" rather than critiquing expectations about straight men? really? or that anyone other than a slasher would interpret that House TV guide cover as sexual?). You clearly see what's wrong with the MSM's portrayal of queer people... maybe it's time for some reflection on what your own writing says.
Writing slash which deliberately subverts/reworks existing heteronormative tropes and writing original fiction which refuses to utilize those tropes to begin with is not some sort of either/or divide. One begets the other; they are part of the same impulse and not in opposition. Of course I can have both of those points of view. I find it very difficult to believe that you can't understand that, but then I don't give the benefit of the doubt to people who are being aggressive and rude to me.
Stumbled across this. 1. Subtext is a blessing and a curse. The wink-wink nature of it means that it offers an audience a thread to hang onto while dangling from a cliff. The cliff, of course, being the fact that film/tv producers in particular are so damned concerned about what "Middle America" will accept. 2. Then again: microcosm/macrocosm. We've got a society where the vast majority of citizens support marriage equality, but an incredibly vocal and hateful minority are driving the discussion. Yes, this influences the risks mass-media entertainment will take. It's depressing. 3. Gender roles are fluid, gender isn't. Even qenderqueer individuals are pretty concrete about the fact that "*this* is how *I* identify." Sexuality and the expression of sexuality seem to relate similarly. How one identifies is how one identifies. I may identify as bisexual (and if one more person tells me bisexuality doesn't exist, I'm going to scream,) even if my primary sexual expression is heterosexual. Someone may 100% identify as gay/straight/ace and yet find that their expression may vary. Demi-Grey A seems to be the asexual version of being bi: Nobody believes it exists, everybody conflates sexuality with romantic inclination, and erasure abounds. 4. Regarding scientific and philosophical theories of sexuality: Bugger off. You'll notice that nobody feels the need to come up with scientific or philosophical reasons to explain heterosexuality or cisgenderedness. But everybody has one about homo/bi/ace and trans/genderqueer. Just: NO. 5. Canon: so what. Author Intent does not mean a damn thing. Word of God doesn't mean a damn thing. It's nice and all, that the creators may or may not read their own texts in such and such a way, but that has zero impact on what happens to it once it's released into the wild. Canon support for how someone chooses to interpret a story/character doesn't mean squat. Let us look at the Bible, for example: People routinely pick and choose what portions of the Bible they refer to, based on how they see the world and then select passages to support how they interpret the text. Mostly, that sucks, because they're being hateful bigots the vast majority of the time. 6. Fandom is an incredibly rich exercise in imagination and personal expression. People who may otherwise never empathize with a character who is part of group X, Y, or Z may learn to do so through fanworks, which then translates to the real world. Fandom works focused on trans issues have been very informative, as has the presence of trans persons in fandom. Nobody owes me an explanation, but in telling stories, I've learned to be much more inclusive when discussing other issues of human rights. Good stories are an incredibly effective medium for change in the human heart. We can walk in the shoes of another person, on another world and identify with them no matter how different they are to ourselves. It be spectacularly wonderful if mainstream storytelling gave itself credit for that. They can exist and be successful without cloaking the meaning of a story in a heteronormative uniform. XMFC is particularly amazing and vexing, for this. Avengers has now joined it. BBC Sherlock is bizarre in that word of God is relentlessly heteronormative and yet the product is very clearly (as all iterations of Holmes/Watson are) rich in homo-romantic/erotic subtext. The next step is text. It has to be, or what is the point?