Monday, 29 August 2011

Extra Torchwood rant

The Daily Mail ran a story over the weekend complaining about the gay sex scenes in Torchwood. No, don't worry, I'm not a Mail reader, but occasionally I pick up a newspaper of someone else's table and have a flick through. There've already been a few complaints about Jack's gay pick up in an earlier episode - scenes that were cut heavily for the UK, which is a strange about face - and now, the episode 'Immortal Sins,' which was about Jack's affair with a man named Angelo in the 20s, has caused 'outrage.'

"Hundreds complain over 'pointless' Torchwood sex scenes" yells the headline. OK, let's put some perspective on that. Hundreds complain, out of an average audience of 3.4 million.  So, it's hardly a majority of viewers. Still, two things from the article really piss me off. One is the idea that science fiction shouldn't involve sex scenes. "It's sci-fi, not sex-fi!" It seems we sci-fi fans can't win. If we're not being mocked for being sexless geeks, we're being told that our genre of choice can't look at sexuality or romance. Regardless of the complaints, the scenes were not pointless. They illustrated the relationship between Jack and Angelo, which was the crux of the entire episode, and, as we have had hinted already and will no doubt have explained this week, will have consequences for the Miracle Day story as a whole. It's on after the watershed, so any young sci-fi fans of a delicate age and disposition shouldn't be watching Torchwood anyway. It's not like it's ever been shy about sex since it started, five years ago. (Although I do agree that a watershed means nothing when any kid can click 'Yes, I am over 16' on iPlayer at any time of the day).

The second thing that angers me is that the complaints stem, not from the fact that it was a sex scene, but that is was a gay scene. I haven't heard of anyone complaining about the straight sex between Vera and Rex earlier in the run. Clearly, to some people, gay sex is offensive. Fine - that's your view. You don't have to watch it. This is a series notorious for its broad view of sexuality. Surely people can realise by now that there might be some men kissing in it, or a brief flash of willy. (Hardly the 'explicit' scenes the article infers). "Some questioned the needs for sex scenes, gay or straight," it says, the only suggestion in the press that perhaps some people can accept that gay scenes have the same validity as straight ones.

I know, I should hardly be surprised that the Mail is running a homophobic article. I'm surprised they didn't pick up on the fact that Angelo was an illegal immigrant. But honestly. Complain that the scene went on too long, or that the dialogue was terrible, or that it was all a bit rubbish, really, when you get down to it. It wasn't a terribly good sex scene - but that is irrelevent. It could have a work of true, beautiful art, and the bigots would still be complaining, and hatesheets like the Mail would grant them exposure.

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