Friday, January 14, 2011

Subtext Special

Although it's really late, I want to wish everybody a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. May the jolly holiday spirit last us all year long until we get another Christmas and meet another new year. 

So, I've just read a marvelous post today by another blogger, and I was inspired to write this post. It reminds me how I first fell in love with the internet, with fan fictions and fandom in general. In turn, I owe it my improvement in English and my love for analyzing. But let's start at the very beginning.

Subtext: "is content of a book, play, musical work, film, video game or television series which is not announced explicitly by the characters (or author) but is implicit or becomes something understood by the observer of the work as the production unfolds" (Wikipedia). In my own words, subtext is something that you see implicitly behind the presentation of a story. It's a little bit different from the term 'shipping' in fandom, as shippers "variously assert that the relationship does exist, will exist, or simply that they would like it to exist" (Wikipedia), while with subtext, you only read between the lines. If anyone is familiar with Sailor Moon, a subtext would be to see Haruka and Michiru's feelings for each other, while a shipper would probably ship Mamoru with Amy (I personally would like to see Mamoru and Amy as siblings, not lovers... but that's only me. Hahah). Of course as subtexts are usually about character pairings, the results are usually popular shippings - be it a heterosexual or a homosexual way.

It'll be no surprise to anyone who know me that Xena is my ultimate object for subtext analyzing. It's actually a kind if pioneer for subtext and fan fictions, and I'm lucky that I was just at the right age to be in the middle of it all. Xena was on air for the first time 16 years ago (OMG! Has it really been that long ago???), and that was BEFORE Ellen came out. Mind you, even in the States homosexuality was still much of a taboo back then. The relationship between Xena and Gabrielle actually developed unintentionally, but as the story evolved and the fans picked it up, it became undeniable. One of the things that made me thankful for the production team was that even though they gave them the frustrating on-off storyline (for every episode where X&G's relationship strengthen, an episode with a male suitor would follow), they were consistent with the relationship between the characters and even finally let it flow freely during the final season.

I have to admit that I haven't watched that many TV series, but even I can tell that Xena's subtext content is one of the most brilliantly subtle and yet obvious enough for even a casual viewer to pick up. That might be the reason why there was a cyber battle between the subtexters and the non-subtexters. The subtexts in Xena's series is so obvious so that by a few pointers, anyone should be able to see it (the fan videos 'Subtext for Dummies' are still in youtube if you search for them). Therefore, many subtexters assumed that the non-subtexters who wouldn't accept it must be ignorants - they simply chose not to see it because it made them uncomfortable. I can't defend either group because not all non-subtexters are bigots. There were really people who, hard as they tried, couldn't see what the fuss was all about. I myself didn't want to admit that they were lovers, back then, because of my own bigotry, but even then I accepted their relationship as 'romantic friendship'. More than friends but not lovers. That was how 'obvious' the clues were.

That was one of the things that made Xena an epic. It gathered fan bases from a very diverse audiences without fail - thanks to the subtlety of its subtexts. A conventional religious man has the same chance of loving the show with a liberal gay woman. Maybe that's why the show could last for a whole six season without being cancelled with the accusation of being 'too gay' a la Ellen. Even nowadays there are TV series that still use subtexts as a shield to maintain the mainstream rating and popularity. I'm looking at you, Rizzoli and Isles. I have to say, nonetheless, that I actually like subtexts. It leaves a lot to imagination and perception so you wouldn't be confirmed, but wouldn't be denied either, no matter what your perception is. Plus the fact that most shows with subtexts are able to focus better on the storyline without worrying much about building a relationship and breaking it up. 

Well, today I found a post that broke down the subtext I didn't see before in Glee. When I first read it, I thought it was just a Faberry shipper making a point to her favorite pairing. But after I finished the whole article, I realized that could very well be a subtext - one without a pairing, but with a storyline on its own. It's a new kind of subtext and it's very inspiring to me. Here's the post:

It was broken down matter-of-factly and analyzed logically that I couldn't argue on most points. I think the show would be much more interesting if Quinn was really a lesbian (or even a bisexual) in denial. First of all, it'd give a touch of humor to her all-serious character, that she actually bullies Rachel for no other reason than because she likes her. #2, an unrequited love story is always interesting, especially like in Quinn's case that she can't even tell anybody about her crush (because she has to keep her popularity, that is). #3, it would make much more sense to have that bullying/obsessing plot offered to Quinn, since it would be consistent with the first season, than having Kavrosky (did I write his name right?) kissing Kurt. #4, that'd explain the friends/foes relationship between Quinn and Rachel. #5, it's more unique and deeper than the boring girl cheated on boyfriend and got pregnant, then girl got dumped and found new boyfriend-storyline now, especially since we've seen as far as Quinn's family condition. It'll give the character a new depth while being consistent and connected with the previous stories. 

I wrote in my Glee confession before that I don't like Faberry pairing because I have a serious crush on Rachel. But should the plot change this way, I might have a crush on Quinn instead - cause I can relate to her much better that way. So whaddaya think, Gleeks?? Ryan Murphy???    


Li Xi Da said...

Langsung ditulis og piye? But as you said, the show has too many gay characters. Enough with Kurt and Kafrosky, it's annoying enough seeing internalized homophobia there.

Ryou said...

...and not enough lesbians. But the matter is, with Kafrosky it's not interesting enough, we only see lots of aggression on his part and yes, his internalized homophobia. With Quinn it'll have a new depth, because she often can't help but say yes to anything Rachel asks even though she appears to always bullies her, and she was always troubled seeing Rachel having a boyfriend. PLUS we know/can guess what caused the internalized homophobia in her, so we could sympathize with her.