Star Trek’s first Gay Kiss

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Star Trek: Discovery is boldly going where no other Star Trek series has gone before. Last month the space drama introduced Anthony Rapp’s character, Lt. Stamets, as the first openly gay character in the television history of the franchise. But the show took things a step further this week by featuring a same-sex kiss between Stamets and his partner, Dr Hugh Culber, played by fellow out actor Wilson Cruz.

The franchise has been known for pushing boundaries since it first aired in 1966, and came under fire in the late ’60s for featuring an interracial kiss between the characters Kirk and Uhura.

Despite being known as groundbreaking, the episode still faced homophobic criticism from fans who don’t like seeing a happy gay couple on their TVs. But Cruz had a response for anyone who had a problem with Discovery’s queer representation.

“I’m not here for your comfort,” he wrote in a poignant Facebook post. “That’s not why we are here. We’re here to grow.”

Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu was portrayed as a married gay man by actor John Cho in the film Star Trek: Beyond, but a scene rumored to show a kiss between Sulu and his husband was ultimately cut from the film.

The OA’s Trans Character is great

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Stranger Things might be the big pop culture hit when it comes to mystery shows but it’s not the only Netflix series worth a (binge) watch. The OA follows Prairie Johnson, a young woman who’s returned to her family after disappearing seven years prior.

Looking to reconnect with those she left behind in captivity, Prairie gathers a group of misfits to hatch a plan. One of her compatriots is Buck Vu, a transgender teen who’s been turning to the local drug dealer—another of the cadre—for his testosterone.

 The show doesn’t shy away from positive and negative reactions to Buck’s identity, especially from his family. But he’s a nuanced character, not a token representation for the sake of diversity. He might also be the first Asian-American trans character in a mainstream television series.

Ian Alexander, who plays Buck, is transgender in real life, too—a nice change of pace from Hollywood’s usual approach of casting cis people in trans roles. Raised in a conservative Mormon family, he faced rejection by his parents, who tried to force him into conversion therapy.

“I remember particularly being obsessed with FtM transition videos,” Alexander told Affinity of his earliest inklings about his identity. “I didn’t connect with it personally yet, but I still remember tucking my long hair into a hat and taking a few ’boy’ pictures.”

If he looks familiar, that’s because the high schooler became something of a viral sensation last year, when he clapped back at transphobic UCLA students.

“I was frustrated, but decided to use humor rather than waste my energy on people who clearly don’t understand what they’re against,” he told Buzzfeed at the time.

He answered an open call for a young Asian trans actor that circulated on Tumblr, and the scored the part. Ironically, showrunner Brit Marling says they were told the role was impossible to cast. She told Vulture:

“We’d always written the character as a 14-year-old transgender FTM Asian-American, and when we gave our casting director Avy Kaufman that description, she said, “We might not be able to find this person, so what are you flexible on?” We told her we weren’t flexible, so she finally took to the internet and posted some casting notices on various trans chat rooms and groups, and audition tapes came flooding in.

Ian was among them, he had shot his with his iPhone in his bathroom and uploaded it all without his parents knowing. Out of nowhere, his parents get a phone call that Netflix wants to cast their son! They’re like, “What?”

His tape was brilliant.

He told us, “I’m having a really hard time in school, because I wanted to act but it’s not like the plays that are done in high school have roles that describe a person like me. You can’t imagine what it was like to go online and see a posting for a Netflix show that describes me.”

We got really lucky.

Comparisons to Stranger Things are easy: They’re both Netflix shows about mysterious abductees who fall in with a group of young men. But while Stranger Things’ queer factor is pretty much subtext, The OA puts it out front and centre.

 

Disney delivers another Teen Coming Out & that’s great

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Earlier this week, it was reported that The Disney Channel was about to broadcast its first-ever coming out story using a recurring character in their teen drama series Andi Mack, oneof the network’s top performing shows. Well, the episode premiered this Friday (it was the first episode of the show’s Season 2 premiere) and we have a clip of the coming out scene below — it’s pretty sweet.

The context of the Andi Mack coming out scene

Cyrus is friends with the show’s titular heroine Andi Mack. Andi has a crush on the local cutie Jonah, and Cyrus has been totally supportive of her crush. Supportive, that is, until he sees Jonah and Andi actually kiss in the Season 2 premiere. Afterwards, Cyrus realizes that he’s jealous because heactually has a crush on Jonah too. Uh-oh…

Feeling odd about the entire thing (remember, these kids are teens), Cyrus goes to the local cafe to meet his friend Buffy. That’s where the scene begins….

Why the Andi Mack coming out scene is a big deal

The Disney Channel has been taking several gradual steps over the recent past to introduce gay, age-appropriate content to its young viewers, but this is the first time that they’ve had a majorly visible gay character who isn’t just a one-off.

Almost 94 million households receive The Disney Channel. That’s a lot of viewers who might see Cyrus’ coming out story and realise that having same-sex attractions doesn’t make you weird or any less worthy of your friend’s love.

Cyrus’ coming out story arc is also supposed to develop throughout the entire season, giving viewers multiple chances to see a young gay person navigate his feelings with his friends by his side.

Big Mouth

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Netflix’ Big Mouth takes a sharp, surprisingly joyful look at the gross time that is puberty. Also, the comedy casts puberty as a literal hormone monster.

The most common way people describe going through puberty is “awkward.” But as Netflix’s new animated comedy Big Mouth would like to remind you, going through puberty is also downright disgusting.

The series spares no gross detail as it delves into the fraught world of adolescence and all the rages, bodily fluids, and knee-jerk masturbatory instincts it brings. Adding yet another layer of weirdness is that Big Mouthpersonifies puberty by way of opposing “hormone monsters,” with the lecherous Maury (series co-creator Nick Kroll) following meek Andrew (John Mulaney) as he frets his way through his new urges, while curvaceous Connie (Maya Rudolph) tags alongside Jessi (Jessi Klein) to prod her into indulging in vicious mood swings.

The show’s 10 episodes are overall very silly, and often ridiculous just for the sake of it. Maury in particular is a walking, talking id who takes gleeful advantage of Netflix’s lack of censors; there’s no other show I can think of that would cast the role one of its young protagonists’ closest confidants as the horny ghost of Duke Ellington living in his attic. At one point, there’s a bizarre sidebar about Jay, the resident hothead of Andrew and Jessi’s school who’s voiced appropriately by comedy’s resident hothead Jason Mantzoukas, accidentally impregnating a pillow.

But what makes Big Mouth more than the sum of its many, many dick jokes is the fact that beneath its raging hormones and truly gross humor lies an enormously sympathetic heart.

Andrew, for example, is growing almost despite himself, sporting a patchy mustache while furtively masturbating to fantasies of his father’s assistant. But his best friend Nick (also voiced by Kroll) is still firmly stuck in preadolescence, barely as tall as Andrew’s shoulders, lacking the sex drive that’s slowly but surely taking over Andrew’s brain, and confused as to why his own body is taking so long to catch up.

When Andrew’s not caught up in his lustful reveries (not to mention Maury’s encouragement to indulge every last deranged one of them), his friendship with Nick is genuinely touching, and a real portrayal of how hard it can for teens to navigate relationships when they’re growing up at different rates.

If Big Mouth were just a series of jokes about how weird and gross puberty is, it wouldn’t be much more than a decent way to kill some time during a slow weekend. But the show achieves a new, deeper level of comedy by remaining hyper aware of the fact that puberty isn’t just about bodies changing, but about what it means to grow up at all.

Who hates Roseanne?

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The professional boycotters from the Christian hate group One Million Moms has one again risen from its boggy gully to take umbrage with pop culture, and this time they’re simply livid that the 2018 Roseanne reboot will be including a gender fluid character.

According to Fox News, the reboot will feature a new character — Roseanne’s nine-year-old grandson, Mark — who is “gender creative,” “sensitive,” and “effeminate.” The son of Darlene and David “displays qualities of both male and female young child traits.”

The group’s director, Monica Cole, sent out an email (see below), including a call to action to sign their boycott petition, “since the show is promoting gender dysphoria and purposefully confuses children.”

Earlier this year, One Million Moms went after Disney XD for featuring two boys kissing, a campaign that garnered 7,000 signatures. Not quite a million.

Skam

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Skam: the real and risqué norwegian tv show causing teen hysteria. Skam is taking over teenagers’ lives – fans are adding their own subtitles, skipping school, and losing sleep over this Skins-like high school drama that subverts stereotypes

This past week, I received an email from a 24-year-old girl urging me to write about this Norwegian TV series, Skam. I was skeptical. Was this some grassroots PR at work? Was she somehow involved with the show? “No,” Hanne Selboe Karagülle assured me, “I am not involved in the series in any way, just a fan (like everyone else in Scandinavia it seems)!”

Later, I would discover that fans, people like Karagülle, were on a tireless crusade to make this racy teen drama more popular. They’re hard at work tweeting at celebrities and launching petitions for the network on which it aired, NRK, to add English subtitles for international fans. All fighting for a show that doesn’t really need the help. Despite being in Norwegian, it’s drawn viewers from countries around the world who have all pictured themselves locking lips with William, dishing spicy one-liners like Sana, or coming out to friends like Isak. (Warning: spoilers ahead.)

Karagülle told me it centred on high school students and their struggles, dreams, and rakish hookups in Oslo. Each season is told from the POV of one main character. It’s unique in that clips of the show are posted in real time online, as if its characters are real people. So, for example, if a party on the show is happening Saturday at 2am, that’s when the party clip is posted. On Fridays, all the clips published that week are assembled into one episode.

When the show isn’t on air, fans can interact with the characters via fake profiles on Instagram and Facebook. Text messages between characters are also posted online, prompting speculation throughout the week. It’s like you’re living with them, says 20-year-old Grazia Ames, a fan of the show. “I like some photos on Instagram because I like the fact that they make them seem just like another friend or real person out there.”

At the bottom of Karagülle’s email, there was a link to a teaser for season three. Harmless enough, I thought. Wrong. Shirtless teen boys in a locker room spray each other with water bottles. A milk carton narrowly misses one guy’s head, exploding into a milk shower, which soaks Isak’s face. It looked so much like gay porn. What the hell was this show? Some were calling it a less OTT, less pretentious version of UK drama Skins.

I decided to give Skam a shot. I was consumed, swallowed up in a vortex of startlingly normal teen drama. I binged two and a half seasons, containing 12 episodes each, in less than two days. I started telling friends about it, following the characters on social media and throwing favs at tweets from fan accounts. As I hooked up to the drip feed that was Skam,

I poked around online. I began to realise just what a phenomenon this show was becoming. The first season aired in September 2015, and at certain points during season two, Skam – which translates to “Shame” – was watched by some 1.3 million viewers. Norway’s population is 5 million people. Over one-fifth of the country was tuning in to watch. Skam came out of nowhere. Shielded from the press, the actors in the show did nothing to drum up publicity. Many of them still have day jobs. (The actress who plays Noora works as a telemarketer.) There were no advertisements for the show. The creators simply relied on social media to rocket launch this TV series to the masses.

Now, Skam is causing teen hysteria. Some kids are reportedly skipping school to watch the show. NRK has been bombarded by tweets from teens saying they can’t sleep because they’re aggressively refreshing the page, awaiting new clips or text messages.

Read on…

Yuri!!! on ICE

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The story of Yuri!!! on ICE revolves around Yuri Katsuki, who carried all of Japan’s hopes on his shoulders to win at the Gran Prix Finale ice skating competition, but suffered a crushing defeat. He returns home to Kyushu and half feels like he wants to retire, and half feels like he wants to continue ice skating.

With those mixed feelings swirling inside him, he confines himself inside his parents house. Suddenly the five-time consecutive world championship ice skater Viktor Nikiforov appears before him, and along with him is Yuri Plisetsky, a young Russian figure skater who is already defeating his seniors. Viktor and both Yuris take up the challenge on an unprecedented Gran Prix series.

Yuri is a young figure skater considering retirement after he plummeted from world championship level to failing to qualify at nationals over the course of a single season. He goes home for the first time in five years in poor physical and emotional condition, reconnecting with his family and trying to reconnect with his love of skating – not realising everything is about to change.

yuri-on-ice-fanservice

We often get sports anime at the start of an athlete’s career. Picking up with elementary school Yuri as he first discovers skates then comes to surpass his friends, or middle school Yuri struggling to balance training for regional competitions with studying for high school entrance exams, or high school Yuri working his way up to his first national championship – any of these would have made for a solid anime. Instead, we meet Yuri when he is 23, at a crossroads and in a state of doubt. To the people of his no-name hometown he is a proud success, but to other skating professionals he is a failure; he is aware of both opinions, and they are equally painful to him. To start an anime with this kind of everyday, relatable complexity is pretty rare, and it is handled expertly.

The storytelling works by gently layering multiple elements, characters and settings to build up a world in which a story happens rather than spoon-feeding information to the audience. Throwaway comments in normal conversations hint at reasons why Yuri might have stayed away for five years, or what he sacrificed by leaving. There is occasional exposition given in voiceover or through SD imagery, but it is quick and lightly handled. As a general rule, the animation is used to convey both character details and set an atmosphere, supporting and elevating the storytelling, which is strong and sophisticated to begin with. The script sets up and subverts expectations, making a fairly slow-paced drama less predictable and even more satisfying to watch.

yuri-katsuki

Despite frequent use of cartoony facial expressions and visual gags, Yuri’s world is one of the most grounded of the season. His world is full of people who feel like people, not archetypes, with full lives which continue outside Yuri’s view. There are female characters of different ages, all with individual personalities, styles and mannerisms, none of whom are sexualised.

yuri-plisetsky

This episode gives a lot of information on story, backstory and characters in this episode, but its focus is tight: Yuri is in a slump and needs to find a way out of it. To add stakes and complications, his idol, exceptional Russian skater Victor, has no idea who he is. His idol’s younger teammate told Yuri in no uncertain terms that he should retire, but Yuri knows that if he retires he will never get another chance to skate on the same ice as Victor. However, his performance has dropped so dramatically he may be forced into retirement anyway simply by failing to qualify for anything. Also, didn’t he love this once? What happened?

Review by Anime Feminist

Oh Tommen…

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…you sweet, sweet summer child. It sure seems to be the year of leaks. Bieber, Troye, now Dean-Charles Chapman. And much like the character he portrays on Game of Thrones, the British actor seems to occasionally have trouble with his sexual energy clouding his judgement.

dean-charles-chapman-naked

The little prince who could. Four times sin a row.

Yesterday a video surfaced that was captured on the video chat site Omegle. It shows the 19-year-old actor having a wank with his cousin (who seems to take more than one close look at Dean) and according to 4chan he confirmed the authenticity of the video on his Instagram account. Take that as you will.

dean-charles-chapman-fap-video

Both the thread and the video are gone by now but let’s all take this as a reminder to use common sense when we sext or get off in front of a webcam. The headache the potential aftermath can cause is rarely worth the few seconds of bliss that orgasm might bring. More importantly though, don’t record people without their consent. Duh.