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September 07 2006

Girls kissing girls: ratings grab or part of the story? Joss' characters made the list twice.

Willow and Tara's relationship:

"It was never played for the sensational ratings grab and it was never about the show adding gay characters. It was just the natural progression of the story and Whedon always dealt with it in a very real way. As real as you can get when you are talking about witches living on a hellmouth anyway."

^^Glad they were able to make this distinction--if not this thread would get pretty heated. I think the way their relationship was dealt with was nothing short of perfection. Probably the most "real" in term of how their relationship developed.
...And then there's Fast Lane. Which replaced Firefly, did it not?
Think so. Probably a lesson to be learned there (just one more scene with Inara snogging some gorgeous woman and who knows what might have happened - though didn't 'Fastlane' get cancelled too ? So maybe not).

Also, where's the Brookie love ? Ah, Anna Friel ...

I think the (first) Willow/Tara kiss was beautifully played and clearly not intended as a ratings grab. Putting it in 'The Body', an episode that was so utterly NOT about 'the lesbian kiss', had the aspect of genius and helped make it flow in a really natural way.
And one fine day, this stuff won't even be newsworthy...
Quick--name five examples of boys kissing boys (or men kissing men).
Quick--name five examples of boys kissing boys (or men kissing men).


All five are in The Godfather.
If Ally had sneakily kissed Ling in the hinterlands, it would have been a cunning Ling buss.
"All five are in The Godfather"

Five TV smooches. Smooches that hint at romance more than someone might soon be sleeping with the fishes. ;-)
bloodflowers, sure, make it hard. I give up already.
Never really watched 'Queer as Folk' but there had to be five on there surely ? (though I take the point that for some reason it's not as interesting as girl-girl stuff and somehow I doubt it's because boy-boy kisses are so commonplace on US network TV ;).

And jaynelovesvera have you no shame ? Think of the children. What kind of message are we sending out ? That all puns are created equal, that there are no absolute standards in anything ? ;-).
Queer as Folk, Will & Grace (Eric McCormack and Taye Diggs did a big liplock in the last season), Doctor Who (new season one finale), Generic Soap Opera, Sex and the City and... probably others. My heads not with it at the moment.
Dawson's Creek...umm Will and Grace I think....yeah, that's all I got.
What does it say that 3 out of 5 of those moments were on Fox?
Girl-girl kissing on American TV is often played for pure titillation, especially during the "sweeps" months of November, February, and May. I've always admired the way Joss and the Buffy writers refused to hype or sensationalize Willow's emergence as a lesbian and her subsequent physical affection toward first Tara and then Kennedy. Not only that, but the show, as usual, played against our expectations time and again, most notably by delaying Willow's first lesbian kiss for about a season and a half and then matter-of-factly slipping it in with no advance publicity in an otherwise very dark, very not-about-a-lesbian-kiss episode (The Body).
6 Feet Under is another good show for male smoochies, interracial male smoochies no less :) God bless HBO.
I never even noticed that it was their first kiss on screen, it came so naturally.
And I like the author's questioning of Inara. Was she letting down her guard or was it truely, as I suspect, just another good line she used to relax her client?
Speaking for FOX, surprised Marissa's (Mischa Barton) over publicized lesbian kiss didn't make the list. Can FOX just get it's ass kicked already...pretty please?

ps. I never realized the first tara/willow kiss during the body until I heard the commentary (i think that's where i first heard it).
I did really like how Joss used "The Body" to sidestep the sensationalism of the first kiss--but I thought it was unfortunate that he felt the need to keep the relationship coded for so long. He'd never have a heterosexual couple go a year barely touching each other.
though I take the point that for some reason it's not as interesting as girl-girl stuff

Hey, Saje, speak for yourself :). A guy on guy kiss pretty much floats my boat every time. And if one were Nathan, well, you could watch me die happy.
Rogue Slayer: "And one fine day, this stuff won't even be newsworthy..."

Hey, Joss, why do you write such strong homosexual characters?


Saje: "(though I take the point that for some reason it's not as interesting as girl-girl stuff"

Saje, Saje, Dude! *gently shakes head*
At least we've settled what team you're pitching for.
When I think 'girl-girl ratings grab', The OC's treatment of Marissa's seemingly hour-long gay stint comes to my mind. That was heavily advertised weeks before it happened here, and it was the moment I lost any of the lingering respect I had for that show and the channel it is broadcast on.

It is a lovely article though, due to the acknowledgement of Willow and Tara's honest relationship. Interestingly, I thought it would be Inara and Saffron, not the Councilor. Although, Inara and Saffron didn't actually kiss. So that was a stupid thought anyway.
I thought it was unfortunate that he felt the need to keep the relationship coded for so long


When the Boss first suggested the idea of Willow having a relationship with a woman it was almost vetoed, so he had to keep it minimal for a while so the stupids at Fox wouldn't stop him. And he had to make it a genuine emotional relationship so that he wouldn't be accused of objectifying the queer women. Put those together and you get lots of metaphors ("doing a spell") and long drawn out relationship foreplay.

[ edited by JCapra on 2006-09-08 09:55 ]
Hey, Saje, speak for yourself :)

and

Saje, Saje, Dude! *gently shakes head*

Ah, yeah, sorry guys (and dolls) that dig boy-boy kissing, bit of a sweeping generalisation I made there ;).

In my own defence when it comes up in conversation with women most of the time they seem more interested in watching (or participating with) other women than watching two men kiss (and, err, so on ;) but (clearly) Other People's Mileage May Vary.
Sage, I think it depends on which women. To be serious, I am tempted to think that in our society, if straight men like something it is more likely to get on TV than something that they have an objection to or something that women or gay men might like...whatever we might be talking about.

That said, I have seen discussions on line of whether women liked male/male smoochies. Many women apparently do. Personally male/female is the only thing that does it for me.
Ashley, Doctor Who was the first one I thought of, too. That one was brilliant.

Don't recall an actual kiss from Dawson's Creek (I've blocked most of that show from my memory) but I do remember that Jack dealing with his sexuality was handled surprisingly well, considering what show we're talking about.

Hey, Saje, speak for yourself :). A guy on guy kiss pretty much floats my boat every time. And if one were Nathan, well, you could watch me die happy.

Cronopio, haven't you seen that clip (I believe at the Serenity premiere) where Nathan kisses Sean Maher?

(Okay, so it wasn't a snog, but Sean's reaction was priceless. People have died happy for less.)
newcj, I think I agree about the TV preferences thing mainly because people tend to make the sort of TV they enjoy and most TV is made by straight men (though i'm not sure that that's the same as saying straight men are in some - more malign - way affecting what's shown on TV).

Also, I guess there's probably going to be inertia among channel heads against programmes which have traditionally drawn a lot of complaints (from whatever sex or sexuality) for what the complainer considers objectionable content (personally, i'm much more of the "if you don't like it switch over/off" persuasion but I guess some people feel they have to appoint themselves moral guardian to the rest of us).

Re: male-male kissing etc. i'd be interested in hearing why some women like it (it seems fairly obvious why gay blokes like it ;). Is it the same as female-female stuff for men in that a) it has a tinge of the forbidden and b) hey, an extra woman ! ;) or is there something else going on ?

(i'm assuming that female-female snogging etc. doesn't do much for gay men but I could be wrong about that too)
I'm a straight man, and pretty much any passionate kissing gets under my skin... two women, two men, a man and a woman, a woman and a Chia pet. I think it's terrible that for two men or women to kiss on television is still considered a big deal... If it's not dealt with honestly, then TV can completely forget about being an artform.

More personally, I have also found that my willingness to kiss another man has never harmed my attractiveness to women... I just don't understand why some men get so freaked out by it. Life's short... try everything. Except maybe leaping from a camel into a pit of cobras... That doesn't even sound potentially fun.

So I will go on record: straight man, likes all kissing.

And hell in art - as in life - I'll take sex over violence any day.
There is nothing more irritating whilst shopping than seeing some couple and their lips going at like hammer and tongs. Want to kiss passionately? Do it at a nightclub or in the privacy of your own room not when people are trying to buy biscuits and milk.

Ban public displays of affection, that's what I say.

And ban the term "public displays of affection" as well. Ghastly phrase, so utterly meaningless and vile.
SAJE: “Re: male-male kissing etc. i'd be interested in hearing why some women like it ...”


Dunno, Saje, my gentle headshake was not coming from a place of personal preference, but from an awareness that for many folks, your statement would not be true. I'm looking forward to a time when nobody cares who's kissing who (and to a time when the objectors get that kissing is just a whole lot better than killing...) I like to see boys kissing boys because I think that's how people will get used to it and get over it.

Boy-on-boy action does nada personally for me, in that sense -- I much prefer the other two combos, and have never had an interest in coupling that so obviously leaves me out. But I know both straight and gay women that like to see men kiss from their own erotic interest -- cannot tell you why.
I think it's pretty clear that the reason there is more girl-girl kissing (and sexuality) on TV than boy-boy kissing is that it is considered less objectionable (and more titillating) to the culture at large (which is to say that the culture at large shares/reflect the hangups and desires of straight male sexuality - which isn't really a shocker... as it were.).
OK my age is showing, but I'm pretty sure the first male-male kiss shown on television was on the Smothers Brothers Show in the late '60s. Although, as I recall it, the network might have cut the scene just before the actual meeting of the lips.

First inter-racial kiss was Star Trek (the first generation), Kirk and Uhura. Under duress.
As an artistic choice, I think that not showing any physical affection between Willow and Tara made it easier for the writers to develop and the audience to appreciate the profundity of their connection. I think it helped keep the focus on their love. As did their first (visible, on screen) kiss in The Body. In a way, not showing them kissing for such a long time risked offending the audience as much as showing them kissing. A big part of the audience was more than ready for a positive portrayal of a lesbian relationship, and some may have been inclined to view reticence on the physical aspect of their relationship as yielding to prejudice. But by leaving the physical element aside for so long, and then showing it a moment when it was so appropriate at the profoundest emotional level, the Muted Animas may have helped replace some prejudice with love.

(Brand new Acker baby's making me all sentimental and stuff.)
I've always viewed Willow and Tara's relationship as going beyond gender boundaries. They were just two people obvioulsy in love. The fact that Joss could inspire a straight female viewer to see beyond gender is amazing. Joss is brilliant and brings such a level of pure heart to his stories that I am constantly humbled and in awe of him.

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