labingi: (rakka)
Wherein I complain about silliness

I was reading through IMDb reviews of the movie, Troy, last night (I don't know why). Most of them are quite reasonable in evaluating the film, but I saw a couple of recurrent comments I found button-punching.

Most reviews, of course, made no mention of Patroclus because he's not really a character in the movie, but those reviews that did had a tendency to fault the "inaccuracy" of not presenting Achilles and Patroclus as lovers as God has clearly proclaimed they were. (One review even said something to the effect that the movie had "turned their relationship into a friendship." Words fail...)

I will observe to these reviewers that their assumption that Achilles and Patroclus obviously, factually (in the world of the poem) were lovers is a very good illustration of why the movie erased Patroclus in the first place. Because when any two men who actually care about each other are automatically, obviously "gay," that's a good motivation for a mainstream, big budget movie in a still homophobic society not to ever show two men caring about each other.

But leaving aside Hollywood's homophobia, there's no textual evidence in the Iliad that they were lovers. There's so little evidence that people have been fighting about whether or not to read their relationship that way for over 2000 years. Now, could they have been lovers? Sure. And in my fanon, they are. But your fanon is not canon, and, no, the fact that Athenian Greece and Sparta had a flourishing homosexual culture does not mean that Homeric Greece several hundred years previously did. And even if it did, one might expect that it would take the form of most homosexual practices in highly gendered, patriarchal societies, and favor relationships between older men and boys. Could two hot-blooded, adventurous young men who love each other still have been having sex? Sure. But to say they factually, necessarily were is unwarranted and somewhat culturally damaging (see erasure of Patroclus above).

Peeve 2: A handful of reviews made snide remarks about the blondness of Achilles: "How many blonde [sic] Greeks do you know?" and so on, the subtext being that this is an example of frivolous Hollywood racism. Now, Hollywood has a long and proud tradition of being frivolously racist, but Achilles traditionally is blond. A chief reason our reviewers don't know many blond Greeks is that Greece was invaded by Persians--hundreds of years after Homer's time. In the time of the Iliad, much of the Greek population (from their own descriptions) more nearly resembled what we think of as northern or western Europeans today. So yeah, Achilles was blond, and this is neither racist nor historically/literarily implausible. /rant
labingi: (Default)
Gungrave as an Asexual-Positive Text

The anime, Gungrave, offers a refreshingly balanced view of sex. While acknowledging sex as important, it is a rare example of a text that does not exaggerate the importance of sex within a healthy society. (Mind you, Gungrave in no way presents a healthy society, but its narrative stance does show healthy attitudes toward sex.) In addition to modeling balanced attitudes toward sex as an aspect of human society, the anime provides a strong asexual role model in the character of Brandon.

Spoilers Follow )
labingi: (Default)
"Boston Partnership: A Defense of Primary Friendship"

"The only thing lacking in Izzy's life was a romantic relationship, but even that wasn't enough to spoil the sense of peace that had settled over her. So many of her friends were single that it didn't seem odd for her to be that way as well. They filled up the holes in each other's lives and managed to pretend, most of the time, that they didn't need anything else."

--Charles de Lint, Memory and Dream. New York: Tot, 1994. p. 334.


Our dominant cultural narrative pretty much thinks friendship is unimportant. The de Lint passage I've quoted, in fact, comes from a novel that is notable in emphasizing friendship over romance. Even so, it gives us lines like this, just like 90% of the songs on the favorite radio station of the teenage girl I mentor. Just like one of this season's Doctor Who episodes, in which the Doctor protests, in the age-old words, that he and River are "just friends."

So convinced is our society that one's greatest loves (aside from one's children) must be based on sexual attraction that the movie, Troy, all but erased the second most important character in the Iliad because if Patroclus looked like the love of Achilles's life, it must mean they were sexually in love (and would, thus, frighten the audience with their "gayness"). So convinced are we of this that even the spectacularly toned down scenes of affection between Frodo and Sam in the Mordor segment of the Return of the King movie earned jibes of "faggots" from certain moviegoers in a Serbian theater, according to a friend of mine. My point is not that these relationships necessarily preclude sex, but rather that our society immediately assumes that if two people are deeply loving, they must love sexually (either overtly or unconsciously) because "true love" is "sexual love" by definition.Read more... )


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