Author Topic: Discussion from PC277: A Hollow Play  (Read 5479 times)

Talia

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on: September 27, 2013, 02:55:57 PM
I found the story okay.  It had some nice imagery and the narration was pretty good.  If it had been about a theme that did it for me and had a protagonist that I liked, I think I would have really enjoyed the writing style.  There was some stuff that didn't do it for me though.  I found the protagonist to be too much of an emotional mess to like.  Her sacrifice seemed pretty minimal compared to destroying a real relationships, but apparently worked because she was so self absorbed that it really was horrible for her.

The LGBT theme, which is something I am all for, was kind of hamfisted.  It seemed... I don't know, too explanatory?  The metaphors were all without even a hint of subtlety.  Maybe it was speed at which it all rolled out and is kind of dumped on your lap that got to me.  More than the kind of hamfisted nature of the LGBT theme, I am just bored to death of LGBT coming of age stories.  I can assume from all the LGBT stories I have read in sci-fi and fantasy that if you are gay you are going to feel like an outsider, have some really awkward unrequited love, maybe get over your childhood crush (or not), maybe find true love in the end (or not), and then apparently drop dead never having reached the relationship maturity of a 16 year old.  Why can't two gay men or women have an adult relationship?  If it has to be about relationship dysfunction, at least give them adult problems, not a crumbly mess of emo feels.  Yes, I know that is a painful and awkward time, but there is a solid half century of life that comes AFTER that time that seemed to be ignored.  I want a gay or trans Indiana Jones or Hon Solo chasing tail, awkwardly running to and getting stuck with former lovers, all the while rocking some high adventure.  Please, no more LGBQ coming of age stories.

These points you mention are typical of many coming of age stories where romance comes into play, LGBT or not. So perhaps it would be fairer to state you're just sick of coming of age stories with a romance angle? :P If such stories are not to your ken, that's fine, different strokes for different folks and all. But they still might get run here from time to time - and specifically avoiding them just because they contain LGBT characters is not going to happen, particularly if the story itself is good.  If you've encountered a slew of them elsewhere, so it goes, but PodCastle obviously has no control over that. :P

As for LGBT characters is in a straight-out adventure without all the drama, PodCastle has run some of them as well. Try this one on for size:
http://podcastle.org/2012/01/24/podcastle-193-fruit-jar-drinkin-cheatin-heart-blues/.  There are a few others as well. So I think it's clear the suggestion that a large quantity of stories with LGBT characters has them as nonfunctioning people incapable of having successful relationships is simply not true of the stories that have run here.

Incidentally this topic or a similar variation comes up each and EVERY time we run any story with a gay character in it, so it's turned into a bit of a sensitive topic (mainly because we don't want to derail the threads too much from the story itself). Thanks for understanding. :)


« Last Edit: October 03, 2013, 12:44:49 PM by Talia »



Rindan

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Reply #1 on: September 29, 2013, 06:12:40 AM
Does it really come up that people are tired of coming of age LGBT stories and want to see an LGBT story of some other flavor?  If it does, I think that kind of makes my point that the trope has been beaten to death.

I actually I do recall PC 193 and recalled being pleasantly surprised that it wasn't a confused emo kid story and explored adult (if slightly screwed up) relationships.  I liked that the it wasn't a just a pronoun change and that it was dealing with adult relationship themes.

If someone really wants to prove that my perceptions are all screwed up, they can go ahead and get a list of the LGBT stories on PodCastle and we can toss them into the "coming of age" category and everything else.  I would be willing to bet that at an absolute minimum, half of them are coming of age stories.  I am not saying that PodCastle or anyone else never does anything different, but it is easily a coin toss for odds each time.  It is time to move on.  You can be gay and have high adventure, complex relationships, and in general not be a ball of one dimensional emotional mush.

I was pretty excited with the start of this story.  I kind of had a queer vibe from the protagonist, there was a trans character, and there was a hint of some sort of crazy mystical cabarete with mystical madness and adventure to follow aaannnnd... nope... just another emo kid story about unrequited love. To each their own, but I could do with more Jack Harkness's in this world and fewer crumbly kids trying to sort through their emotions for the first time.



Talia

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Reply #2 on: September 29, 2013, 05:09:58 PM
Does it really come up that people are tired of coming of age LGBT stories and want to see an LGBT story of some other flavor?  If it does, I think that kind of makes my point that the trope has been beaten to death.

I actually I do recall PC 193 and recalled being pleasantly surprised that it wasn't a confused emo kid story and explored adult (if slightly screwed up) relationships.  I liked that the it wasn't a just a pronoun change and that it was dealing with adult relationship themes.

If someone really wants to prove that my perceptions are all screwed up, they can go ahead and get a list of the LGBT stories on PodCastle and we can toss them into the "coming of age" category and everything else.  I would be willing to bet that at an absolute minimum, half of them are coming of age stories.  I am not saying that PodCastle or anyone else never does anything different, but it is easily a coin toss for odds each time.  It is time to move on.  You can be gay and have high adventure, complex relationships, and in general not be a ball of one dimensional emotional mush.

I was pretty excited with the start of this story.  I kind of had a queer vibe from the protagonist, there was a trans character, and there was a hint of some sort of crazy mystical cabarete with mystical madness and adventure to follow aaannnnd... nope... just another emo kid story about unrequited love. To each their own, but I could do with more Jack Harkness's in this world and fewer crumbly kids trying to sort through their emotions for the first time.

I think it would be fairer to sum up your argument with "I don't like emo coming-of-age" stories. Which is reasonable enough, certainly not to everyone's tastes (pleasing everyone, unfortunately, is utterly impossible).  I don't believe you're correct with your suggested tally, but I don't have time to sort through every episode. Instead, I'll suggest that episodes are not chosen because they do or don't have gay characters or because they are or aren't 'coming of age', but if the editors find them a good story or not (obviously everyone's definition of "good" varies. For inclusion at PC, stories must meet the slushers' and/or editor's). If more good (see previous disclaimer) stories about emotional gay youths are being submitted than good stories about adventuring gay adults, that's just kind of how the cookie crumbles, yeah? :)







hautdesert

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Reply #3 on: September 30, 2013, 12:09:29 PM
Does it really come up that people are tired of coming of age LGBT stories and want to see an LGBT story of some other flavor?  If it does, I think that kind of makes my point that the trope has been beaten to death.


So, it's been demonstrated that, for instance, when the people in a room are equally divided between men and women, a person looking at the room will describe it as being filled with mostly women. When there are, say, twenty or thirty percent women, it will consistently be described as populated half and half, equal amounts of men and women.

So, let's say there's a party. And quite a few guests come up to the hosts to say, "Wow, there are an awful lot of women here! Didn't you invite any men?" Would there actually be a problem, there? How likely is it that there are, actually, lots and lots of women and hardly any men?

The thing is, we notice what's not default. Default is invisible. Default, in this case, is straight, of course, and as has already been pointed out, coming of age stories are incredibly common. The ones you're noticing, you're noticing because they've got non-default characters. You're not noticing them so hard because there are so many of them, you're noticing them so hard because they aren't default. The comments aren't proof the numbers are skewed, they're proof that the commenters' perceptions are skewed.

I would also like to point out that "coming of age" happens to people who are straight, and people who are LGBT. The coming of age of an LGBT person is not automatically about their being LGBT, but there's a tendency to see stories about non-default characters as being about their non-defaultness. Because of course, if it's not about that, then why are you not just using the default, right?

Well, not right.

You suggested counting stories--which, you know, you could do yourself if you liked--but I'm wondering, what would actually be an acceptable proportion of coming of age stories featuring LGBT characters, vs coming of age stories featuring straight ones?

It's just something to think about--I don't necessarily want you to give me your math, I'd just like folks to think about what it means to assume every story with an LGBT protagonist is about their being LGBT, and what it means to say there are too many such stories.



Moritz

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Reply #4 on: October 02, 2013, 06:48:14 AM
What bothered me wasn't the percentage of LGBT stories among coming of age stories, which I think was fine, but the percentage of whiny coming of age stories among LGBT stories on podcastle...



Rindan

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Reply #5 on: October 03, 2013, 04:45:51 AM
So, it's been demonstrated that, for instance, when the people in a room are equally divided between men and women, a person looking at the room will describe it as being filled with mostly women. When there are, say, twenty or thirty percent women, it will consistently be described as populated half and half, equal amounts of men and women.

So, let's say there's a party. And quite a few guests come up to the hosts to say, "Wow, there are an awful lot of women here! Didn't you invite any men?" Would there actually be a problem, there? How likely is it that there are, actually, lots and lots of women and hardly any men?

The thing is, we notice what's not default. Default is invisible. Default, in this case, is straight, of course, and as has already been pointed out, coming of age stories are incredibly common. The ones you're noticing, you're noticing because they've got non-default characters. You're not noticing them so hard because there are so many of them, you're noticing them so hard because they aren't default. The comments aren't proof the numbers are skewed, they're proof that the commenters' perceptions are skewed.

You seem to be not understanding my complaint.  It isn't too many coming of age stories that are LGBT stories.  It is that too many LGBT stories are coming of age stories.  The default that annoys me is that if it is an LGBT story, it has a vastly disproportionate chance of being a coming of age story.  Are you claiming that that in my head 'default' LGBT is a bad ass knight figure, Indiana Jones figure, or basically anything vaguely heroic, so I only notice coming of age LGBT stories but have blanked out all the heroic LGBT stories because I consider heroic LGBT stories to be default?  Really?

You are damn right I noticed LGBT stories.  I like LGBT stories.  I want LGBT stories.  It is personally important to me that this world have LGBT stories.  It annoys me that a huge proportion of them are coming of age story.  I understand why people do it.  A coming of age story is almost universally about feeling like you don't fit in and trying to come to grips with who you are.  It is a pretty natural LGBT theme for obvious reasons, but it is like if a wildly disproportionate number of the stories with women as the protagonist were about motherhood.  Sure, it is a natural theme, but women can be more than mothers, and LGBT folks can be more than struggling outcast trying to understand their jumbled and messy feelings for the first time.

Quote
You suggested counting stories--which, you know, you could do yourself if you liked--but I'm wondering, what would actually be an acceptable proportion of coming of age stories featuring LGBT characters, vs coming of age stories featuring straight ones?

It's just something to think about--I don't necessarily want you to give me your math, I'd just like folks to think about what it means to assume every story with an LGBT protagonist is about their being LGBT, and what it means to say there are too many such stories.

Again, you seem to wildly misunderstand my complaint.  It isn't the proportion of LGBT stories that are coming of age stories vs the number of non-LGBT coming of age stories.  The complaint is the proportion of LGBT stories that are coming of age stories vs the number of LGBT stories that are about anything other than coming of age.  I want more stories where the protagonist is gay and isn't a quivering pile of feels trying to figure themselves out for the first time in their life.

How about you do some math?  Name 2 LGBT story with with a trickster archetype or is rocking a heroic heroes quest archetype that Pod Castle has done.  Just two.  I can actually name one Pod Castle did.  Apparently psychicly sensing my discontent, the episode after this actually had a gay man that wasn't coming of age, and I really appreciated it.  If you stretch the definition, maybe you can slip the story about the moonshining lesbian in there, but if there are more, they have been blasted from my mind.  Hell, I think this is a problem across all genera fiction.  Outside of using lesbians and bisexual women as glorified jerk off toys for men, genera fiction is a blasted wasteland devoid of LGBT protagonist.  On occasion, you might get the occasional sidekick who is LGBT, but an actual protagonist in a heroic role?  Ha.  And you can simply forget about anyone who is trans being a heroic protagonist or even sidekick.
« Last Edit: October 03, 2013, 04:51:09 AM by Rindan »



lowky

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Reply #6 on: October 03, 2013, 02:02:03 PM
I would imagine that coming of age stories be they straight or LGBT tend to be done because the emotional state of the protaganist creates drama and depth of character.  Not saying it's always a path to good writing, in fact it is probably more of a crutch, but still it is a tool that can add to the drama and depth of character.  Same reason that people watch romantic comedies etc.  it creates something to build a story off of.



DKT

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Reply #7 on: October 03, 2013, 02:07:47 PM
How about you do some math?  Name 2 LGBT story with with a trickster archetype or is rocking a heroic heroes quest archetype that Pod Castle has done.  Just two.  I can actually name one Pod Castle did.  Apparently psychicly sensing my discontent, the episode after this actually had a gay man that wasn't coming of age, and I really appreciated it.  If you stretch the definition, maybe you can slip the story about the moonshining lesbian in there, but if there are more, they have been blasted from my mind.  Hell, I think this is a problem across all genera fiction.  Outside of using lesbians and bisexual women as glorified jerk off toys for men, genera fiction is a blasted wasteland devoid of LGBT protagonist.  On occasion, you might get the occasional sidekick who is LGBT, but an actual protagonist in a heroic role?  Ha.  And you can simply forget about anyone who is trans being a heroic protagonist or even sidekick.

Rindan, I can tell you're very upset, but I think you're taking it out on the wrong people. We're not responsible for the problems in general fiction. We're responsible for the stuff we run at PodCastle. And we've run quite a few stories that feature GLBT characters at protagonists that aren't coming of age tales, where they are the protagonists. You mentioned two yourself (Nor the Moonlight and Fruit Jar Drinkin' Heart Cheating Blues). But you want more? Here's some off the top of my head:

The Interior of Mr. Bumblethorn's Coat, by Willow Fagan
Who in Mortal Chains, by Claire Humphrey
Lavanya and Deepika, by Shveta Thakrar
And the Blood of Dead Gods Shall Mark the Score, by Gary Kloster
Ours is the Prettiest, by Nalo Hopkinson

That's just off the top of my head - there are plenty more. Maybe those don't all fall into the specific archetypes you're asking for, but they're not whiny GLBT coming of age stories. There is, of course, another reason these stories might feel more prominent - because coming of age stories in general are a big part of fantasy fiction and its tropes.

If people don't like GLBT coming of age stories, I don't know what to tell you, other than there will be a new story next week. And this time out, the next week was a GLBT story that wasn't a coming of age tale and guess what? Some commenters still whined about it.

If you want to help, seek out the fantasy stories you want to see, and write in and tell us so we're aware of them. Because we run about 75% of what we run from what is submitted into our inbox, the rest we solicit.


DKT

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Reply #8 on: October 03, 2013, 02:16:20 PM
What bothered me wasn't the percentage of LGBT stories among coming of age stories, which I think was fine, but the percentage of whiny coming of age stories among LGBT stories on podcastle...

Moritz, how would you differentiate whiny from introspective? We get complaints whenever a character is not completely confident in their actions, as well as the actions of their past. And as much as we like confident characters, we like introspective characters too.


Fenrix

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Reply #9 on: October 03, 2013, 03:45:44 PM
More:

The Bear in the Cable Knit Sweater

PC107, Giant Episode: The Behold of the Eye (Best of PodCastle 2010, all because of Fuzzy)

PC235: Recognizing Gabe: Un Cuento de Hadas

All cat stories start with this statement: “My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”


DKT

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Reply #10 on: October 03, 2013, 04:13:16 PM
I'd guess Recognizing Gabe - and maybe even Behold of the Eye - qualify as a Coming of Age, but yeah. There are plenty more. Thanks, Fenrix  :)


Fenrix

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Reply #11 on: October 03, 2013, 10:09:53 PM
I'd guess Recognizing Gabe - and maybe even Behold of the Eye - qualify as a Coming of Age, but yeah. There are plenty more. Thanks, Fenrix  :)

Behold of the Eye is a coming of age story, but Fuzzy is epic.

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flintknapper

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Reply #12 on: October 05, 2013, 04:01:37 PM
wow to see the dicussion this piece has created blows me away. I guess I do not see it with the same passion many do. A coming of age story is a coming of age story. It is one of those fundemental story types for speculative fiction. Yeah it is probably over done, but it is also really popular as a trope.

I guess it doesnt matter to me as much whether the charaters are glbt.  Ultimately the characters need to be relatable in some way. However, just because I am a straight white male doesnt mean i cannot relate to other ethnicities, genders, or sexual orientations.  Nor do I need all my characters to be confident. they can be rash, introspective, shy, etc... or even a strange combination the lot. It is on the writer to make us care.

I do not see glbt as a genre or subgenre. Gay characters should be treated like any other character. My only issue in an author's choosing of specific race, gender, or sexual orientation is if they use that choice to simply reinforce cultural stereotypes. However, the author did not do that here. Moreover, I think Escapeartists as a whole does a good job of making sure not to run those stories. They pick stories that stand on their own. The fact that some of these stories include GLBT characters is irrelevant.... now I am probably getting off topic so I will stop there. Good discussion though!



Moritz

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Reply #13 on: October 06, 2013, 11:59:43 AM
What bothered me wasn't the percentage of LGBT stories among coming of age stories, which I think was fine, but the percentage of whiny coming of age stories among LGBT stories on podcastle...

Moritz, how would you differentiate whiny from introspective? We get complaints whenever a character is not completely confident in their actions, as well as the actions of their past. And as much as we like confident characters, we like introspective characters too.

it's entirely subjective, but when I comment on a mood of a story and my personal associations with the mood, it's bound to be subjective. I don't really see a point in making a differentiation at this point.