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April 09 2014

(SPOILER) Where's the LGBT in the MCU? Spoilers for Captain America 2 and Turn, Turn, Turn. Brett White asks where is the LGBT representation in the MCU?

I agree with a lot of this. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. could be an excellent vehicle for change in terms of LGBT-representation in the MCU. So far, it hasn't been.

Also, as much credit as I give Joss for creating the Willow/Tara relationship, his works have been lacking in openly LGBT characters since Buffy ended. The only exceptions I can think of are Mag in Dollhouse (who only appeared in 2 episodes) and Billy (Buffy Season 9 comics). Buffy ended over 10 years ago- it's time for a lead LGBT character.

[ edited by libradude on 2014-04-09 23:22 ]
Oh, yeah. Dead Hand could be a(n) LMD. Which means real Hand is still kicking.

[ edited by Nebula1400 on 2014-04-09 23:23 ]
I really doubt Hand is a LMD. So far, the MCU has avoided LMDs completely (aside from an off-hand reference by Tony Stark in The Avengers). If they did utilize one for a plot purpose, I doubt they would waste it on a supporting character like Hand.
He has to consider the source material. Why aren't there more minorities? Source material. Why are all the female superheroes costumed in lingerie? Look at the source material. Some of these characters have massive legacies built upon decades of work, some or much of which was built on societal pressures and ignorance of the importance of depicting characters who weren't white men. Have you guys googled Scarlet Witch's costume in the comics? Impractical, exploitive, AND drafty.

I think that is an opportunity to do that with new characters, like he suggests. But the comics universe (historically) is built on masculinity and power and that, again historically, has not left a ton of room for everyone else. People are being whiny and ugly about a black Human Torch, for gods sake. Believe it or not, some people complained about Marvel making Nick Fury black. And this was years before the MCU. By the time they decided to make a movie, it was already source material. And people still got really ugly and whiny about it.

Modern, original takes on legacy characters (either in comics themselves, like the new Ms. Marvel or Miles Morales) or brand new characters that originate in TV or film, that don't let people say foolish things about "that's now how it was in the comics" are the best way to go.

[ edited by the ninja report on 2014-04-09 23:36 ]

[ edited by the ninja report on 2014-04-09 23:37 ]
the ninja report, NONE of the lead characters in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. come from the comics, so I don't really buy that argument. Joss and the other writers can create new minority characters without having to consult the source material.
Libradude, I agree, which is why I think there were opportunities for diversity in SHIELD. When I say "look at the source material," I'm saying that is one of the reasons why Fox, the MCU, Warner Bros., DC Comics, and Sony keep putting straight males at the center of their franchises. Source material. Clearly, the best way to go in showing LGBT and more minorities is via original characters - like on SHIELD - or reinventing legacy ones like Ms. Marvel as minorities. I was agreeing but also putting in my 2 cents on why studios aren't making female driven or minority driven films.

It looks like Marvel is developing a Captain Marvel and/or Black Widow solo film in the future, though. Things are looking up.
Gotcha, I do give AoS credit for having so many strong female characters on the show already (May, Skye, Simmons, Hand, Lorelei, Camilla Reyes, Maria Hill, Sif, Akela Amador, Raina...).
For a while, I thought it might turn out that May was Skye's mother and the agent who died to protect Skye was her other mother.
Suffice it to say, that hypothesis turned out to be erroneous around the same time it was established that Ward is the one who's into the ladies.
Yeah, I do think there's a bit of a shortage of sexual diversity in the MCU. I hope to see that change, and I'm not sure why Agents of SHIELD has yet to even touch on the subject.
As somsone in the LGBT comm, I'm not sure why it even matters? Shouldn't interesting and fascinating charactesr and storylines - which the show has in spades! - matter far more, irrespective of their sexual preference? I don't feel at all "under-represented" or "shortchanged" simply because one character or another isn't LGBT, because just as such fundamentally does not, or certainly should not, define any one of us, as a person - we are, in other words, so much more than our sexual preference, one way or 'tother - so too is it thus, I feel, for the characters, as people. What matters is who they are and what they do, not their preference or leanings in this respect. If one or another turns out to be, fine, whatever - if not, so be it - but I don't attribute it to any "lack of diversity", and I say this as someone who's LGBT and, also, a Marvel fan.

Story and characterization is the main thing of consequence, and the show obviously has that, so what matters any else? I think that may rather be the picking of nits, or attempting to find fault, mayhaps - looking for something to get het up about, or stir the proverbial pot over - unjustly so?.... Just my take, to be sure.
Maybe it's because the actresses encourage it, but I like the chemistry between Skye and Simmons. I think it'd be cool if they actually went there.
Nichelle Nichols on meeting Martin Luther King, Jr.:

http://dangerousminds.net/comments/dr._martin_luther_king_jr._was_a_trekkie

Please link to source material rather than quoting it wholesale - Simon

[ edited by Simon on 2014-04-10 06:50 ]
Bless your point of view, lyria.
That story is one of my favorites. I heard Nichelle Nichols on StarTalk Radio too, talking about how she was at a convention many years ago and this white supremacist type walked up and told her that because of her performance on Star Trek he stopped associating with white supremacists and turned his life around.

Let no one convince us that television can't change lives.
Media representation is extremely important. Even if you don't think it effects you personally, think about how it effects those LGBT youths (and other minority youths) who feel cast out by society with no one to look up to. Times have changed a lot in the past several years, but prejiduce is still out there. Minorities need heroes to relate to just like everyone else. Just look at how wildly popular Wiccan and Hulkling have been for the Marvel franchise.
Excellent article.

And wow, I really, really want to see Laverne Cox kicking ass on Agents of Shield now. Joss, make it happen. Please.
It'd be nice if they have a character, but to want to force a LBGT character in just for the sake of having one is not right. If it worked for the story, or if it was just a fact about a character that wasn't a big deal, that'd be one thing. They could have done it with May, but they were setting up the story with Ward/Skye that way. Fitz and Simmions are probably being left open to potentially have that path, but they both showed interest in others. Coulson couldn't because of previous stories. That's all the characters and there were all specific reasons in the show why they couldn't be...so what's the big deal? Every show must be forced to include a character that doesn't fit what sotry they are telling at the time?
The big deal is: Angel, Firefly, Dr. Horrible, Serenity, Dollhouse, Cabin in the Woods. Not a single openly LGBT character that I can think of (except for one small one). I'm not saying LGBT characters should be forced into works. However, Joss is clearly an LGBT-ally, so it would be wonderful if his works in the last decade showed that by including a couple strong LGBT characters. Their sexuality doesn't have to be a huge part of the plot, and they don't even have to be 'good guys' for all I care.

[ edited by libradude on 2014-04-10 04:53 ]
Firefly and Serenity are the same thing. And they had Inara, who was clearly depicted as bisexual in a positive light. Dr. Horrible was a 40-odd minute web show based on essentially three characters...and still had an LGBT character as one of the groupies. Dollhouse had dolls going out to same sex, as well as Mags. So, either what you are pointing out is that Angel didn't have one (on at the same time as Buffy, which had the best one on tv at that time, so you can't fault Joss for that I think), Cabin didn't have one (it was a movie, and Marty could have been), or that none of them had a LGBT main character. Either way, there were a lot of moments in those I think.

About the article...I think if Hand lived, she'd still be a very minor character that probably never would have had a personal relationship on the show. I didn't get the impression we should care about her too much in her three episodes.
I'll give you Inara, even though her preferences are addressed more in the context of her job than anything else. The groupie in Dr. Horrible was obsessed with Captain Hammer and was basically there for comic relief. His sexuality was never addressed, and he was barely even a character. As for Dollhouse, Mags was in a total of TWO episodes, and the Dolls were only implied to have same sex relations when they had other people's memories/personalities inside of them. The actual characters themselves = not so much.

[ edited by libradude on 2014-04-10 05:08 ]
Like I said, Dr. Horrible was 40 or so minutes long and on a very small group, focused on a love triangle. There's no place to put in a LGBT character there except how they do it (unless you wanted Moist gay and having monologues about it).

I guess my main point is that not every story needs to have relationships drive the show, and not every story should have to have an LGBT relationship if it doesn't fit the story. So far, none of the main characters could have been set up to fit this mold without drastically changing the planned dynamics.
Which groupie in Dr. Horrible was LGBT?
"not every story needs to have relationships drive the show, and not every story should have to have an LGBT relationship if it doesn't fit the story."

To me, those are kind of opposing ideas. If relationships don't need to drive the storyline, why does it matter if an LGBT character/relationship is relevant to the storyline or not? I'm alright with an LGBT character's sexuality not being tied to the main storyline of a show. I don't think sexuality and relationships necessarily need to be big plot points in any situation.
It shouldn't be about "forcing" a LGBT character into a story. In this day and age you'd think writers would just include them. Simple as that, really.
@Simon: the guy was apparently willing to "do the weird stuff" with Captain Hammer.

Regarding LGBT representation, I can see the point, but on the other hand, I don't know, in real life, many people who claim to be LGBT. Of all the people I meet regularly, one of them is somewhat openly gay, a lot are in heterosexual relationships (but might by bisexual for all I know), and for the rest of them, I have no idea. Why should I know?

I am of course fine with having LGBT characters on a show, but I'd rather it be revealed nonchalantly that having it be a political message. I wish they kept Hand for a while and then revealed she was gay, without that subject being of any importance. Like Coulson asking her about her girlfriend or something.
Sometimes it's just better to accept the fact that whedonverse, since Willow & Tara, has been lacking in the LGBT department. And while Avengers are probably not the best place for Marvel to introduce an LGBT character that has at least some relevance to the story, AoS is. And while Victoria Hand was bisexual (I think?), people who are not familiar with the comics wouldn't know that. And it's great that she wasn't defined by her sexuality! It's amazing, actually, but it wasn't mentioned either, so... Can we really count it as representation?
I do hope that they introduce a queer character - or maybe there's one already there (Skye and Simmons just have a lot of chemistry, like everyone else on Agents of Ships lol). But it's only season 1, and the chances for renewal are pretty good, so there's time...
Yeah, I think either Fitz or Simmons might be bisexual, but they made it clear Fitz was attracted to Skye and Simmons to Mike Peterson. I was a bit disappointed when they did.

OTOH, I can't recall any truly bisexual character on any shows I've seen since Torchwood, so that'd be a nice touch.
@Simon: the guy was apparently willing to "do the weird stuff" with Captain Hammer.


I took that to be a telling comment on obsessive fans but I can see the interpretation.
I don't think we're at a point, culturally, where LGBT characters on TV don't have political ramifications. There's a reason why a show like Orange is the New Black has been so influential. Game of Thrones just introduced one openly bisexual man and it was pretty ho hum.

Maybe it's just because I don't really go out of my way to interpret these things, but FitzSimmons seems to be heterosexual. Simmons and Skye don't have anyone else their age and gender to talk to on the Bus so they would gravitate toward one another. I think any of Fitz's comments about Ward, Peterson, Triplett, etc. in terms of their looks or physicality have come from, in my interpretation, envy and insecurity about himself and not from a place of attraction.
It hits me that one could infer some probably unintentional subtext in Captain America 2 that maybe this version of Steve Rogers might turn out to be not entirely heterosexual. Unlikely to happen, but I for one would love to see that. I'm not one to ship, but a pairing of Steve and Sam would be pretty nifty.
My wife ships Coulson and Hawkeye and was very disappointed to find out that he wasn't The Cellist.
People see a lot of subtext where I don't see any. Maybe it's me and my inability to deviate from canon. Sam flirted with Natasha, she flirted back. In the comics, Natasha and Bucky have a long relationship. Steve and Bucky are practically brothers, and so their affection is of family and friendship. Steve really liked Peggy and seemed to be semi-interested in Sharon, and I think his spurning of Natasha's suggested list of women is mostly because he's a guy from the 40s who has no idea how to date modern women.

Anthony Mackie said he played every scene with Natasha as if he was in love with her, and that actually did come across a little when I watched the movie.
I find this article kind of nitpicky since it only focuses on Marvel, but I guess that is probably just due to their mega success. Should more LGBT be included? Yes. But it's certainly not only Marvel that is neglecting that.

[ edited by Cap on 2014-04-10 14:39 ]
Does it really matter?

As a straight white guy it's hard to have the following opinion without it being frowned upon, but bear with me. If you knew me in real life you'd know I'm about as accepting and open minded as a human with opinions can actually be. I don't judge based upon skin colour, gender, sexual preference, choice of cats or dogs, or anything else. I don't care what other people do or how they live their lives, as long as they're happy and not hurting anyone else.

Okay, preferring dogs over cats is a little odd, but I'm getting away from the point...

That point being that had Fitz been openly gay from episode one, or had Skye come on to every girl she had seen since the show began, I wouldn't have cared. Nor do I care that both characters were created as being straight. I just don't care. Sex is an awesome thing and everyone should have it as much as they possibly can, with whoever the hell they like, but that should be a secondary thought to writing a good story. I don't think it helps the cause to constantly be banging on about how the LGBT community should be equally represented in every work of fiction, because doing so gets you nowhere. You don't need to convince me or people like myself. We already don't have a problem with it. And you'll never convince those that don't agree, because people with a closed mind to the subject aren't listening anyway. Making a noise about it only makes it seem like you're forcing the issue, and then what is the point? It has to happen because people see it as normal, rather than because they are told the should.

If next season they bring Hulkling and Wiccan into the storyline, fantastic! But do it because there is a story to tell, and not just because they might show a little guy/guy kissing, because that is no way to write a show.
Does it really matter?


Yes it does.
Quoting that single sentence all on its lonesome kinda removes a little of the intent behind what I was saying there, Simon... ;)
Five Horizons:

But as you mentioned, you are straight. Of course the sexuality of the characters wouldn't matter from that perspective - if Fitz or Skye were LGBT, you already have several other main characters with whom you can identify. LGBT people do not have that luxury.

Separately, I genuinely don't get the argument that including LGBT people in the show is somehow tantamount to asking the writers to not worry about telling a good story.

They're professional writers - should they not be capable of including a diversity of characters, while still telling a good story. No one's asking for a Very Special Episode or even for equal representation - just representation. Period.

It has to happen because people see it as normal, rather than because they are told the should.

Representation in mainstream media is one of the most influential ways to show people that LGBT people are normal. And again, we're not looking for a lecture or a sermon...

And really, what part of the story would have changed if Skye, May or Ward had demonstrated bisexuality? That love triangle can still exist with bisexual people in the mix... Personally, I'd love to see a gay man or trans person since the former is underrepresented in Joss's work and the latter is underrepresented everywhere, but I feel like this demonstrates how easily the issue could be addressed.
Sadly, at this point, I'm not sure I'd want to see how Joss would handle a trans character.
Because if culture doesn't reflect society, then something is clearly wrong.
"Separately, I genuinely don't get the argument that including LGBT people in the show is somehow tantamount to asking the writers to not worry about telling a good story."

That's not what I was saying. The sexuality of the characters shouldn't alter the course or the quality of the story in any way at all. But nor should a writer be expected to consider that by default. If they have a reason to make a character LGBT then go for it. If not, then don't. Clearly when the AoS characters were being thought up, none of the writers thought that there was a reason for any of them to be gay. That's a good enough reason for them all to be straight to me. I mean, this is a show overseen by Joss Whedon. If you can't trust him to write the characters how he sees fit and do it with equality in mind, then who can you trust?

"Representation in mainstream media is one of the most influential ways to show people that LGBT people are normal."

Very true, and I'm all for it! But again, the first thought of a writer should be to create the characters that best service the story they want to tell. Not to tick all the boxes so that everyone in the audience feels represented. It has to be done because that is what people want to happen. You can show all the LGBT characters in the world and it still won't make people change how they feel on the matter. People will never change their opinions by force. Usually quite the opposite. Change comes because people want it to. Television and movies are best left to reflect what is really happening and evolve with it.

"Because if culture doesn't reflect society, then something is clearly wrong."

Thing is though, Simon, society still has groups of people who are entirely heterosexual. It is more than true to say that if Coulson's team existed in real life, every single one of them could very easily be straight. That shouldn't be seen as any less correct than if half the team was gay, or if just one of them was. All variations are accurate. A show should not be expected to have a LGBT character 'just because'. That's not true to life and in my mind it defeats the object of sexuality not being an issue anymore.
"Openly" LGBT characters on "Angel" - while Lorne didn't discuss his private life (he didn't really seem to have one), he certainly "flirted" openly with Angel and other male characters. (I remember "Stop calling me pastries!"). I figured Lorne's patter came from a place of genuine interest, even if he knew there was going to be no follow-through.

For the record, "Game of Thrones" has (or at least had) two gay male characters - Renly Baratheon and Loras Tyrell. Renly is now deceased, but Loras' gayness has been a bit of a plot point so far as marriage negotiations between the grandparents. For those seeking openly LGBT characters on other current shows, may I suggest "Orphan Black," "Defiance" and "Lost Girl." As to characters who could be LGBT, well, there's Deathlok (some gay people marry early, have kids and come out later - there's enormous societal pressure to be heterosexual, so quite a few gay people try to fit the mold, even if they later realize it's not a good fit for them).
Unfortunately, Loras doesn't have much of an arc and you rarely even see him. Oberyn is the only openly LGBT character and he just got introduced so we'll see how often it comes up in conversation among the other characters.

I don't know that there are really societies where everyone is entirely heterosexual. Procreation isn't evidence and is an entirely separate discussion from attraction and preference.

[ edited by the ninja report on 2014-04-10 16:58 ]
They shoulda made Falcon gay.
I’m of two minds about the whole issue. And as a heads up I am a straight “white” male just starting his 30’s. Also I live in South Texas, which is a very heavy Catholic area just to give you nature and nurture and environment as a bit of insight to my thinking. Prefacing my comments, I feel, helps with understanding the words coming from a person and not a anonymous non entity trolling teh interwebs.

Brass tacks. Should diversity matter? Yes and no.

Yes, because, as stated by several others, it allows differing groups of people to come together and have a common ground. Allows for representation.

No, because, as others have voiced, it shouldn’t come at the cost of the story unless that is what the story is about.

Stories shouldn’t be obligated to cater to every minority let alone to every whim and fancy. But at the same time a story does need to reflect the current world status. There has to be a balance, and yet the story has to come first. Because a story has a duty to do.

However, as pointed out, Marvel isn’t exactly super LGBT friendly, let alone even racial friendly. This does have an influence on the MCU as a whole when they’re translating the source material to the screen. So this isn’t exactly the fault of Joss Whedon. This isn’t his sandbox. We have to keep in mind that he is playing with a set of imposed rules and history as well as a rabid and loyal fan base. Also ABC is a very, at least it appears to me to be, conservative family based channel. So again, imposed expectations weigh in on what they are willing to support on screen.

I know that’s kind of defending the racist uncle because he’s family and “that’s just the way he is”. But that informs what is expected and permitted from the writers.

So yeah, Whedon & Co. are introducing new faces to the Marvel universe, and yeah they could have diversified it a bit more but I think the story they set out to tell depended on a predominantly straight sex orientated story. I think they’re doing okay for all the red tape they probably have to deal with.

Now if this was a straight Whedon venture in his own universe I would wonder where the LGBT rep was at. We’ve got the strong women characters in the forefront and some race and mixed race diversity (my wife and I enjoy seeing more Asian rep on screen as my wife is Asian and our child is mixed). But I’ll point out that Willow wasn’t openly gay in the first few seasons. She even was in a heterosexual relationship with Oz before falling in love with Tara. So maybe someone on the Bus will “make the switch” next season, or maybe they will bring on a new character that is openly gay from the get go. Who knows?

As long as we see more minority rep that would be cooler. And I am talking for a more racial diverse cast too *ahem*. But the story needs to be there. Every character is a supporting character to the story. Story comes first.

Tl:dr I’m probably an asshole.
ABC also airs two Shonda Rhimes shows, which are very diverse in both racial and LGBT make up.

On the flip side, ABC also airs Once Upon a Time, where most of the characters (human or not) are heterosexual and white. Occasionally you get black Lancelot. This doesn't diminish the quality of Jane Espenson's work on the show or my enjoyment of it (at least, what I've seen); it's just my observation that ABC is willing to heavily promote two very popular shows that happen to be very diverse because their creator/showrunner has deemed it to be important and has the clout to tell ABC how things are going to be.
But nor should a writer be expected to consider that by default. If they have a reason to make a character LGBT then go for it. If not, then don't. Clearly when the AoS characters were being thought up, none of the writers thought that there was a reason for any of them to be gay.

Whoa, hold on there, we need a reason to be gay now? And what kinds of reasons would those be other than, ya know, existing? I know, you're going to say you didn't mean it that way. But you're implying that straight should be default, and anything else requires extenuating circumstances.

You're dismissing the importance of representation, but you can because you're a straight white male and television is full of straight white males, nearly always as the lead. That's not the case for everyone else. It does matter to people to see themselves represented.

To steal from Joss: Why should LGBT characters be included? Because we're still asking this question.

Also ABC is a very, at least it appears to me to be, conservative family based channel. So again, imposed expectations weigh in on what they are willing to support on screen.

And yet the channel called ABC Family is so much better at being diverse. Hello, The Fosters.
That's not what I was saying. The sexuality of the characters shouldn't alter the course or the quality of the story in any way at all. But nor should a writer be expected to consider that by default. If they have a reason to make a character LGBT then go for it. If not, then don't. Clearly when the AoS characters were being thought up, none of the writers thought that there was a reason for any of them to be gay. That's a good enough reason for them all to be straight to me.


So what is the reason for each character being straight? If you're saying that a writer needs to explicitly have a reason to make a character LGBT apart from the fact that LGBT people exist, then the same should be true for making a character heterosexual. As I mentioned earlier, stories would work as is even if one of the characters was bisexual.

You can show all the LGBT characters in the world and it still won't make people change how they feel on the matter. People will never change their opinions by force. Usually quite the opposite. Change comes because people want it to. Television and movies are best left to reflect what is really happening and evolve with it.


Behavioral change doesn't just happen. Art can both reflect and propel societal change.

A show should not be expected to have a LGBT character 'just because'. That's not true to life and in my mind it defeats the object of sexuality not being an issue anymore.


I'm going to do my best to word this tastefully, but... Good for you for being a straight man who is accepting of LGBT people. But your experience with sexuality as a straight man does not reflect the reality for LGBT people. Just because you're cool with everything doesn't mean that sexuality and gender issues are no longer issues.

They are still huge issues and will remain that way at least until kids stop killing themselves because of their sexuality. Pretending that sexuality and gender don't matter may seem like the right thing to do from your perspective and I understand that, but what you're actually doing is diminishing the experience and identity of LGBT people.
Comic boks and prime time tV have always ahd the same problem in that white characters are usually Anglo-Saxon or non-remarkable ethnics, unless there is a specific plot reason to name someone Pallucci or Rosenberg or Lindstrom.

Knuckleball: they should be capable.

libradude; That's what I wanted to do with the screenplay idea (which is too far outside my life-long interests for me to be able to write it.) The second lead charcater is dumped by her a same-sex partner over commitment issues and as the story goes on, she has a workplace affair with the opposite-sex lead character. Then ge3ts back with her original aprtner. But the gender (also race) of the persons involved was intended as totally irrelevant to the plot and could be switched around for any reason.
Marvel has a history of trying to be forward thinking in representing class and race issues (sometimes more successfully than others); the X-Men and Black Panther jump to mind, but there are plenty of other examples. The show does in fact offer them a great opportunity to make a statement for the good guys and include some LGBT characters. There are always the risks, as noted above, of shoe-horning someone in for the sake of political correctness and not making an honest/good story, or casting an LGBT character as a villain and facing backlash. But as also noted above, media representation has been HUGE in the civil rights strides we've seen in the last decade here in the U.S.; wasn't a fan of the shows but I'll put the likes of Ellen and Will & Grace on a pedestal for the work they did in normalizing people who are, well, different in some respects but ultimately just as normal as anyone else.
Marvel's Northstar came out as gay in 1992. His sexual orientation was decided as early as 1983, when the Alpha Flight book was started by John Byrne, but Byrne was restricted to hinting at it for almost a decade, most notably by Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter.

Still, Marvel had their first openly gay character in 1992, and he was a main character on a team, not a side-kick, or an occasional guest character, or a hero's family member. That's phenomenal. To put it in perspective, "Philadelphia" was released in '93. "Roseanne"'s "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" aired in '94. "Friends"' "The One with the Lesbian Wedding" aired in '96. Ellen DeGeneres came out in '97. "Will & Grace" debuted in '98.

I think it's reasonable to expect a pioneer of LGBTQ representation, like Marvel, to make the effort to be inclusive in a franchise as wide-reaching (and as populated) as the MCU. To see others imply that doing so must necessarily damage storylines or feel shoe-horned in makes me really sad. As does excusing people for not including LGBTQ characters by pointing to the arcs written by those same people and saying that such characters don't fit in them. IF LGBTQ characters don't fit in ANY of those arcs (of which I'm unconvinced), that isn't an excuse for not writing those characters. They CHOSE to write exclusionary arcs and they could have chosen not to.
god but being inclusive would be so FREAKING easy. like, say, Skye talking about her ex, and when someone asks "what was he like", she's like "SHE was very nice" or whatever - and then everyone just MOVES THE HECK ON. it's just THAT simple. so, to everyone who's saying it's hard, or that writers need some kind of "reason" for making a person queer - that's it.
Always wary of addressing this as "media representing society", because in terms of actual, factual demographics, for a lot of the boxes people would like checked to be representative, a lot of television and movies would either need to drastically change settings, or get even more boringly white and heterosexual than they are. Randomly generate 100 characters for a US set TV series based on demographics, probably fewer than 20 would be at all "B", fewer than 10 would be solidly "L" or "G", and it would be a crapshoot if you even got a "T".

So it is less about people wanting an "is" represented than an "ought" -- certainly the Nichols story and Roddenberry's work was about an "ought", that capable black women could be bridge officers on a space/navy ship, and that all around wouldn't even occur to them to define her downward (or at all) by those facts.

Would probably not be made any easier by the fact that the comic book genre is, being generous, something to which love, sex, and relationships are pretty tangential to the kind of stories that get told. Not that they are never present, but rarely the most important thing happening for the leads, let alone supporting characters. And unless your LGB character is wearing a sign, you need either love/sex/relationship happening or at least talked about to even identify the character.
Romance has almost always been a big part of superhero comic books.
Nevermind. I think I prefer to stay out of this.

[ edited by Trentaferd on 2014-04-10 20:07 ]
Peripheral, IMO. Lead characters have love interests... mostly for the purpose of having someone to rescue on occasion or the keep a secret from. Supporting characters, just a background fact if anything.

So there is either the "she was very nice" throwaway line as suggested above for a supporting character, which nobody being candid about would be satisfied with, or there is a lead character -- which means a new character or changing an existing one, which is never going to be a commercial win, because what is often lost in the "what's wrong with making ____ gay?" reaction is that there is nothing wrong with the character as is and to make the change is to necessarily say the character needed to be repaired/improved.

I am pretty much with "does it matter?" I have always found this one of the startlingly disinteresting things about a person. I remember as an only occasional "Southland" viewer watching Michael Cudlitz' generally badass tough guy cop and when it comes up that he is gay in the episode I saw anyway, it is just him putting it out there for a new partner and then it is just a minor and mostly plot irrelevant thing. If this fits into the genre at all, it is like that.
@hacksaway

"Whoa, hold on there, we need a reason to be gay now? And what kinds of reasons would those be other than, ya know, existing? I know, you're going to say you didn't mean it that way. But you're implying that straight should be default, and anything else requires extenuating circumstances."

No. I'm saying that writers shouldn't have to consider sexuality at all, by default. Only when and where it actually matters.

And I'm not making a statement about real life here. "We" don't need a reason to be gay, straight or anything else. We are what we are. A fictional character though? Everything about them needs a reason to be the way that it is. And only the writer or writers involved need to be worrying about that.

"You're dismissing the importance of representation, but you can because you're a straight white male and television is full of straight white males, nearly always as the lead. That's not the case for everyone else. It does matter to people to see themselves represented."

You're under the impression that I might actually want to be represented. I don't. There could be a carbon copy of me existing on television right now and he still would not represent me. I represent me and I don't need anyone else, real or fictional to do the same.

But I'm not saying that you shouldn't be represented if that's what you want. You are represented. Maybe not enough yet but certainly more than just a few years ago, and by characters that are far more than just about who they sleep with. So many of my favourite shows right now have some seriously kick-ass LGBT characters, Banshee and Orphan Black immediately springing to mind. I'm saying that no show should have to have a character be a certain sexuality just because it's the right thing to do. No show should have to do anything at all just because 'it's the right thing to do'.

"To steal from Joss: Why should LGBT characters be included? Because we're still asking this question."

And yet so few of Joss' shows actually have included LGBT characters in central roles. If Joss, a man who has gone on record as saying that it should happen, is still not actually doing so himself, then maybe that's because he's writing the story first and not letting his personal desires about equality get in the way of what the story needs. Not right. Not wrong. Just what it is. The story.

@Knuckleball

"I'm going to do my best to word this tastefully, but... Good for you for being a straight man who is accepting of LGBT people. But your experience with sexuality as a straight man does not reflect the reality for LGBT people. Just because you're cool with everything doesn't mean that sexuality and gender issues are no longer issues."

Didn't say otherwise. I'm not ignoring the problem. Just disagreeing that the topic at hand is in any way a solution.

"They are still huge issues and will remain that way at least until kids stop killing themselves because of their sexuality. Pretending that sexuality and gender don't matter may seem like the right thing to do from your perspective and I understand that, but what you're actually doing is diminishing the experience and identity of LGBT people."

Again, you aren't getting what I'm saying here. Yes, sexuality and all related issues make no difference to me. Never did. But no, that's not the same as me saying they aren't an issue to the rest of the world. Of course they are. My opinions mean nothing to anyone who isn't me. But I'm not saying I think if we stop talking about it then the problem goes away. I'm saying that the idea that every television show should have LGBT representation is a flawed one, and that even if it happened it would make no difference as no one would change their perspectives anyway. The more you force an issue like this, the more others with the opposing view push back.

As for my way of thinking diminishing the identity of LGBT people, all I can say is that I've had conversations along these lines before, or similar topics, with both straight and gay friends alike. I don't think it's untrue to say that I know as many gay people who would agree with me as those who would not. In fact I have an old college friend who would be arguing my exact point, and he has been out since long before I met him. I don't feel that I'm diminishing anyone with what I'm saying. If that's how you feel about it then I apologise to you directly but I don't think everyone in the LGBT community would necessarily agree with you. In fact I'm certain they would not.

[ edited by Five Horizons on 2014-04-10 19:57 ]
No. I'm saying that writers shouldn't have to consider sexuality at all, by default. Only when and where it actually matters.


Whether writers should or shouldn't consider it, the fact remains that as soon as a character reveals heterosexual desires, they are considering sexuality. It is a conscious choice to make the character straight, not a default setting. And the fact remains that across nine movies and a television series, there hasn't been any significant LGBT characters.

A fictional character though? Everything about them needs a reason to be the way that it is. And only the writer or writers involved need to be worrying about that.


But you're still ignoring the real question this raises: what reason is there that all the characters need to be straight?

You're under the impression that I might actually want to be represented. I don't. There could be a carbon copy of me existing on television right now and he still would not represent me. I represent me and I don't need anyone else, real or fictional to do the same.

But I'm not saying that you shouldn't be represented if that's what you want. You are represented. Maybe not enough yet but certainly more than just a few years ago, and by characters that are far more than just about who they sleep with. So many of my favourite shows right now have some seriously kick-ass LGBT characters, Banshee and Orphan Black immediately springing to mind. I'm saying that no show should have to have a character be a certain sexuality just because it's the right thing to do. No show should have to do anything at all just because 'it's the right thing to do'.


But here's the thing - you don't have the context to know what it's like to not be represented. You, as a straight man, have been represented in practically every form of media you have ever consumed.

And no, no person or television show should be forced to do anything because it's the "right thing to do." That doesn't change the fact that it's right thing to do.

And yet so few of Joss' shows actually have included LGBT characters in central roles. If Joss, a man who has gone on record as saying that it should happen, is still not actually doing so himself, then maybe that's because he's writing the story first and not letting his personal desires about equality get in the way of what the story needs. Not right. Not wrong. Just what it is. The story.


For context, I believe hacksaway paraphrased Joss's original quote regarding "strong female characters" for use in this context.

And I still don't understand how the story is negatively affected by LGBT inclusion, similar to how stories aren't negatively affected when a character is Asian. When you're writing a character and make the decision that the character is LGBT, from a story perspective it's the exact same as deciding that person is heterosexual. Why are we pretending like the writers are going to have to perform a circus act in order to include an LGBT character?

Again, you aren't getting what I'm saying here. Yes, sexuality and all related issues make no difference to me. Never did. But no, that's not the same as me saying they aren't an issue to the rest of the world. Of course they are. My opinions mean nothing to anyone who isn't me. But I'm not saying I think if we stop talking about it then the problem goes away. I'm saying that the idea that every television show should have LGBT representation is a flawed one, and that even if it happened it would make no difference as no one would change their perspectives anyway. The more you force an issue like this, the more others with the opposing view push back.

As for my way of thinking diminishing the identity of LGBT people, all I can say is that I've had conversations along these lines before, or similar topics, with both straight and gay friends alike. I don't think it's untrue to say that I know as many gay people who would agree with me as those who would not. In fact I have an old college friend who would be arguing my exact point, and he has been out since long before I met him. I don't feel that I'm diminishing anyone with what I'm saying. If that's how you feel about it then I apologise to you directly but I don't think everyone in the LGBT community would necessarily agree with you. In fact I'm certain they would not.


I don't think you understand what I'm getting at...

You saying that sexuality isn't important to you is very similar to someone saying that they "don't see race or the colour of someone's skin." Sexual identity, race... these are all important parts of a person's identity and saying that they don't matter to you is diminishing. Saying that it's not important for them to be represented in media is diminishing.

Also important to note is that we're not saying that every television show needs to have LGBT characters (though I wouldn't say no!). This conversation is specific not to AOS, but the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. Nine movies and a TV show, with no representation. AOS gets the most attention A) because this is Whedonesque and B) because of all the MCU properties, it would be the one that could most easily include LGBT characters.
I am not getting this "What does representation?" matter idea at all.

First off kudos to @hacksaway for citing the infamous Joss quote on writing strong female leads. I agree 100% and was going to cite it myself.

If sexuality doesn't matter to the story, then include all facets of sexual beings. A good story can exist between characters regardless of their sexual orientation so why not make it representative of what we see in reality? Do we live in a white hetero male world? The power structure is that but it's not what I see every day working living and even in my own family. I'm sure that's the same for most of you.

So why can't we see everyone on our TV shows just like we live with in real life? The stories are the same == or in fact I'd say may be a hair better because they are more grounded.

Now I know that in certain parts of my own country it does seem that the majority of society is really "white hetero." But dig a little deeper and a different story usually emerges.

I'll give another example. Torchwood was a fun sci fi show where the lead character, Jack Harkness, was pan sexual. IMO, his orienation wasn't important to the story arcs at all. Was it important to Jack's character? Yes. It's who he was.

I really don't know why there hasn't been more diveristy of races or orientation on A of S or in Joss's other shows. THere's no reason the Marvel universe can't just have one of these characters be not White /Hetero. The stories will remain the same, the characters will just be more reflective of what already exists in reality. And the MU will show people that yes, everyone, every single person in this faux verson, can have superpowers. Isn't that cool?
What a passionate discussion. :) My 2 cents:

"And yet so few of Joss' shows actually have included LGBT characters in central roles. If Joss, a man who has gone on record as saying that it should happen, is still not actually doing so himself, then maybe that's because he's writing the story first and not letting his personal desires about equality get in the way of what the story needs. Not right. Not wrong. Just what it is. The story."

@Five Horizons: Actually, the quote you are reacting to is not a Whedon-quote. Hacksaway projected a Whedon -quote about women onto LGBT characters. Meaning, that including strong women should not be the exception and neither should be including LGBT characters. On this show, strong women and asians are represented and this is good. These are things the writers care about. They didn't need to tick these boxes off, because these are issues they are invested in.
And even more should be included on default.
There needs to be a reason for each character to be the way they create them, sure, but there needs to be as much a reason for them to be straight, as for being LGBT.
It would not have been hard to create Fitz/Simmons as LGBT-characters and still have them be attracted to Skye, Triplett and others. The story could still be the same with a little diversity added. Or it could go in a little different direction and still be as good.

Sometimes (like in the Uhura anecdote) the reason to include something just for the sake of representation is reason enough. :)

@KingofCretins: I liked Southland quite a lot and I liked the approach on Cudlitz character. His character was clearly gay from the very first episode, but many people didn't notice.
It was a personal side and made him more layered. Such a subtle thing could mean a lot to many people.
I think changing a character into being gay is often a bad move, because a person doesn't turn gay and there could be some continuity errors. The character should be created as gay in the first place. I for one hope that one of the characters in the future is created as a LGBT-character.

Not directed to anyone here in particular:
And this is only one of many characteristics a person has. A character is more than his/her sexuality and I would like to see a lot of the characteristics, but also this one, because it is something a lot of people still struggle with.

I liked the Doctor Who approach of including a lot of LGBT-characters in minor roles and many sexually ambiguous characters.

So, have a nice rest of the day. ;)
I wouldn't mind a LGBT character/relationship on the show, but I also don't think the show is under any obligation to create that - any more than it's obligated to implement any of the other "fixes" people have suggested for the series. The show works for you or it doesn't - but you don't own it and it doesn't have to conform to your every desire. There are an infinite number of ways to slice and dice the demographics of the population. Not every group is going to be represented and there's no crime in that.

Personally, I don't watch TV shows to identify with a character. That's "me" - let's see what the writers do to "me". Hey, "I" wouldn't do or say that! What's wrong with "me"? OMG, I'm dead! I think that's an unhealthy way to interact with a show. I watch to meet interesting characters who are nothing like me. I'm not written for television - it'd be a very boring show. So we meet, we become good friends and then the writers kill my friends or the series ends and I'm depressed, which... behold the mental health in that. I think there's a point in there somewhere though.
BringItOn5x5, as others have said above, this is a conversation about the entire MCU- not just AoS. That's 9 films, 1 tv show, one-shots, comic tie-ins, etc. without a single openly LGBT character. No one is saying the writers of AoS are obligated to be more inclusive- only pointing out that the show would be an ideal place to do it.
@BringItOn5x5: Identifying with a character often isn't that in your face. Not many people watch a show and try to watch somebody just like themselves, but identifying is needed to a certain degree. You identify with a situation, a decision, a characteristic and because of that you can relate or accept them as realistic.
If you cannot relate to a character, the character isn't making sense for you.
Ninja Rep-Fox employs one of the world's awesomest actors who is openly gay in it's corner of the MCU (No ones cares about the character's sexuality.) Too many times 'gay' characters are introduced just to provoke ratings. I'd hate to see the creative team resort to "this is where the guys make out..RATINGS GOLD!" (people can tune into the internet if they need to see that action) It's not the 'gay' that is the problem, but I get uncomfortable with 'how gay.' (The Mexican [a movie] has a gay character...you get drawn into his story, and care about his dilemas and progress but it's done in a non-graphic way. AoS could carry the same type of example-in a job where you have to perform your duties.)

As a parent, I'd rather have more 'sexless' examples. AoS already have characters lying, stealing, and killing...(once you add 'sexing' in-you pretty much have real life-not its escape.)
@BarryC - I can't think of any recent examples wherein gay characters were introduced to boost ratings. The only time that jumps to mind would've been The OC several years ago.
"It's not the 'gay' that is the problem, but I get uncomfortable with 'how gay.'"

BarryC, so basically you don't want LGBT characters who have any type of on screen relationship or display of their sexuality. I promise your kids' eyes won't burn out by seeing "guys make out" on TV.
@BarryC: Sexual orientation and sexual actions are quite different things. Having gay characters doesn't mean that they show them having any more sex than the straight characters. A family oriented show like this would do it in a non graphic way like your "the mexican" example. Nobody in this discussion asks for gay sex scenes. It is about showing a variety of orientations that are as graphic or non-graphic as the straight one. :)

I do not assume nor imply that you or anybody here has a similar mindset, but this reminds me of a nationwide discussion (including an online petition) we had in Germany. Some parents were afraid of LGBT representation in schoolbooks and math word problems and argued that they do not want their children to be taught what a dildo or anal sex is.
They were confusing representing sexual orientation with sexual actions.

[ edited by roadi on 2014-04-10 23:11 ]
@libradude: I'd say people are pointing it out with a great deal of insistence.

@roadi: I just don't agree - I don't think it's necessary at all to identify with a character to accept them as realistic, make sense of them or more importantly, enjoy being around them and the story being told through them. There's laundry list of fictional characters I have little to nothing in common with - race, gender, yes, sexual preference, and more fundamental differences who I've enjoyed spending time with.
There is an even balance of men and women on Coulson's team, and several different races (with the addition of Triplett.) None of the characters had to be different races, their race doesn't impact on the story at all.

If you can do this for race and gender, there's absolutely no reason you can't do it for sexuality.
Pity the artist, who can never reasonably meet the expectations of those who clamor for "their" cause.

There is a paucity of LGBT characters, need more! Not enough racial diversity, need more! Damn, there are no characters who are disabled / physically challenged - need more! Is the male/female ratio right? Let me check the script ... Hey, how come there's no senior citizen SHIELD agents? That's ageist, we'll need to cast someone with an AARP card who knows kung fu. Why is there no one with special learning needs? Or ADHD - those viewers need someone to relate to dammit! Not sure there's enough action for the male demo - can we have some more explosions? Not sure there's enough superheroes for the fanboys - can we thrown in some capes? Along with more/less scenes with Skye/Ward/May/Fitz/Coulson. And tie it to the movie cuz people think that's cool. No, they don't, they find it annoying and imposing - we'll get back to you after the research comes in.

I'm being broadly sarcastic but I find the whole "Not enough 'fill in the blank' on TV" arguments creatively patronizing. Its agenda trumping art - and while this thread is LGBT oriented my belief on this is across the spectrum.

In a perfect world the artist owes you NOTHING. They throw their creations into the world and they're embraced or dismissed, not reviewed for who is or is not included / offended and sent back for adjustments

I have no issue with more LGBT/Racial/Religious/Ethnic/Political diversity. I take exception when the implication to the artist is they're somehow "doing it wrong" and need to change their art to please any particular lobby.

Anyway - that's my 2 sense
@TallMichaelJ, again, this isn't just about Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. It's about the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. That includes 7+ years, 9 films, 5 short films, and 1 TV show to date with no openly LGBT characters in sight. Your point about it not being possible to please every minority is valid, but that doesn't mean we as fans should stop pushing for further representation and inclusion in all fronts of the media. It's rather rude to paint us as whiney, ungrateful viewers for encouraging diversity.
While you have to include the fact that it is set in prison for context, what about All Hail the King?

*edit* And therefore by extension retroactively IM2 and 3?

[ edited by MobileHQ on 2014-04-11 01:15 ]
I definitely have an agenda now after reading this thread.

See, I want my sons (one white, one not) to see and experience the world in all of it's glorious diversity. I want culture to reflect ALL the possibilities. I want them to know that it is okay to be LGBT and those relationships are just like their parents. I want them to see themselves in culture because I know that my love is NOT enough to overcome the effects of bigotry. Yes I have an agenda. It's an agenda where orientation, race, disability and gender of characters does not impact how a story is valued by an audience. Thus asking for diversity is no big deal. That's my agenda.

Now I'm ready to go find Joss, Jed and Maurissa and demand diversity. Somehow, I think that they are open to the criticism.
@Knuckleball-"GLEE" nuff said?
@libradude-same. I like the premise of a happy-sing-along (representative) show-but I don't have them watch ANY show with much make-out time. "Brooklyn 99" had a great scene where Andre Brougher's character came out 'gay.' The cast learned about the dangers of generalrization. The thing about AoS is we are supposed to be saving the world-we don't really have time to sleep around. (Yes, I had/have issues with May and Ward's relationship. At the time, I wondered why it was even being brought up-but apparently I'm an idiot who knows nothing about where the show is headed.)
@FIVE HORIZONS-Even if Joss has stated it should be Topic #1, he still has to find someone TO PAY for his project! Unless he has some huge backend that will pay off soon (make your own joke.) Even after the paper (work) is done-he (and anyone) could be fired...you really do have to choose your battles. His work at Marvel is getting him credibility (with 'suits' and audiences). It's about getting some real reason to care about costumed people with powers...or SHIELD. it's a little early to say he's not doing enough to make the world better..
hann23-no one is very open to 'demanding criticism'-but the creative team is always up for a good idea. If the show is about 'saving the world' how, exactly, does sexual orientation play into it? Marvel has gay characters-start a petition to get them onscreen.
I agree that demanding is never wise. My mama bear came out. My apologies.

But I don't understand why any one asking for representation in something they like is labeled as having some kind of bad cause that will infringe upon the storytelling. How is having all kinds of folks and/or encouraging writers to use all kinds of folks in storytelling stifling?
@TallMichaelJ I know you're being sarcastic, but if we're going by AARP eligibility, I believe Bill Paxton and Clark Gregg would both qualify. Also, Mike Peterson did lose a leg...

Does anyone think the show would be any good if the cast was six Brett Daltons? Sorry, but that would be awful. Diversity enhances a show. Why assume having a gay character would harm the show in any way?
@BarryCIt's not the 'gay' that is the problem, but I get uncomfortable with 'how gay.'

I assume you had just as much of a problem with Ward/May sleeping together or Ward/Skye kissing? The idea that they can have gay characters as long as they don't show them "making out" is deeply offensive. When you say things like that, sorry, but no, it clearly is 'the gay' that you have a problem with.

And if you don't mind your kids watching "stealing and killing" then I'm sure they won't be any more morally corrupted than they already are by those perverted gays who *gasp* may show affection towards one another.

If the show is about 'saving the world' how, exactly, does sexual orientation play into it?

So then I assume then that there should be no straight relationships on AoS or any reference to the characters being straight in orientation? I mean, if sexual orientation has nothing to do with saving the world, right? And yet here we are with Ward/May having already entered into a sexual relationship, Ward/Skye possibly about to enter into another, and Coulson's cellist love interest about to appear. Hmmm.
Just a point to the prior discussion of "why couldn't Skye say 'she was nice'" talk/why did they all have to default to straight. I don't think there was a default:

-Coulson was established straight.
-Ward and Skye were meant to have the feelings for each other, and we may see why with the end game with Ward. Maybe that 'brings him back'?
-Part of May's key storyline was the secret relationship with Ward, which fleshed out both characters more, provided May with some of her best material post "break up" (until the last episode gave her even more), and probably will come back into play with the final episodes.
-Fitz/Simmons are the only two left. One of them could have been LGBT, yes, but it seems they had other storylines in mind with them (Simmons with Tripplett, which had to have been planed out since they knew the trajectory of the season due to the movie; Fitz with unrequited Skye and potentially Simmons down the line).


Ideally, throughout the MCU, there would have been some LGBT characters, but who says there hasn't been? Part of the argument here is that it doesn't have to be the defining trait of a character. As others said, "All Hail The King" put some of that in, but people are disregarding it. Who says Hawkeye, Black Widow, Falcon, or War Machine isn't LGBT? None of them have expressly said either way. There could be a future "Dumbledore's gay, that's just how he is, it didn't need to be said" moment that will make all of this discussion moot.
Tumnus, don't you think it's a little convenient that you have multiple examples of straight characters entering into straight relationships but these hypothetical, possibly-gay characters just might be gay but we won't know because they'll never be in a relationship and it'll never be said? Can you not understand why some people may see that as a double standard or find it a little unsatisfying?

Being gay doesn't have to be the defining thing about a gay character's story. BUT if you have numerous straight characters who's sexual orientation is made perfectly clear and who are free to enter into romantic and/or sexual relationships then it becomes more than a little peculiar if you have no gay characters doing the same. Sexuality and a need for intimacy and companionship are pretty significant things about an adult person's life and believe it or not, that's just as true for gay people as it is for straight people. If a story completely neglects to explore that with it's, again, hypothetical gay characters, because it'll never be made clear what their sexual orientation even is, then that's a problem.
Tumnus-Bully for you!

Vampmogs-the issue with 'expressing affection' is that it is unprofessional. The job(s) I've had, even delivering packages of various descriptions, all frowned upon 'affection.' Given that SHIELD is already on shaky moral ground-they should make sure they keep their "personnal stuff" at home.

TallMichaelJ-Samuel L. Jackson also qualifies as AARP. (But I wouldn't say that within earshot!)
There have been a LOT of AARP-eligable characters in the MCU, good guys & bad: Director Fury, General Ross, Obadiah Stane, Dr. Selvig, Dr. Streiten, Colonel Phillips, Dr. Erskine, Odin & Frigga (if they were human, obvs), Trevor Slattery, Ivan Vanko, Peggy... There are probably more.
@BarryC Vampmogs-the issue with 'expressing affection' is that it is unprofessional. The job(s) I've had, even delivering packages of various descriptions, all frowned upon 'affection.' Given that SHIELD is already on shaky moral ground-they should make sure they keep their "personnal stuff" at home.

You didn't really answer my question. I can assume then that you felt it was inappropriate for the writers to include Ward/Skye kissing last episode? Or that they made a mistake having the Ward/May relationship? And that Coulson's cellist girlfriend should not be making an appearance? Or would this only apply to gay characters?

[ edited by vampmogs on 2014-04-11 03:24 ]
@BarryC - Considering how deeply Glee's ratings have plummeted since its debut, I'd say any notions of homosexuality being a ratings booster would have to be deeply flawed. And, not for nothing, although I don't watch the show I don't ever recall the marketing treating the homosexual relationships any differently than the heterosexual relationships.
vampmogs-I already stated what misgivings I had about most of those. I gave up long ago trying to see where Coulson should be heading. There are good examples and bad on television right now about how to handle any character-type you can imagine. SHIELD has a tiger by the tail already just 'saving the world.' IF one thinks our happy gang should be finding commonality through diversity-how much contrast CAN be drawn?

@hann23-"How is having all kinds of folks and/or encouraging writers to use all kinds of folks in storytelling stifling?"
You just said it....'encouraging.' There is already a complicated command structure that manufactures a professional script-once you start asking, "Have we ticked all the boxes?" you dillute the product with the formula TallMichaelJ provided.

@Knuckleball-That's the thing-it's not IN the marketing! (There are a host of reasons why Glee jumped the shark, but it's gone to great lengths to find 'The Edge...' and I don't think it's been to their advantage.)
@BarryC -

OK, but this is how this entire line of conversation began...

Too many times 'gay' characters are introduced just to provoke ratings. I'd hate to see the creative team resort to "this is where the guys make out..RATINGS GOLD!"


If you're going to introduce gay characters as a means of boosting ratings, you would need to modify the marketing to do so. So if Glee is not marketing its gay characters any differently to court ratings, I'd say my point still stands: LGBT characters are not a ratings boon and I can't think of any shows that try to leverage them for ratings.

(As for the quality of the show, I'd say the biggest problem for Glee is that the writing is across the board awful. I'd hope people of Jed and Maurissa's talent would be able to do better by their audience when writing their characters, LGBT characters included.)
Modern Family? (The New Normal tried.) Glee has given notice-you either watch the show or not. (Most marketing relies on social media anyway these days.)

The question remains "How can one represent a sexual orientation in a professional setting-and to what extent?"
@libradude - my apologies if you thought I was being rude, it was not my intent

My thoughts on this have little to do with the LGBT issue as much as they have to do with people's expectations of what a creative person "owes" them, or society.

My take is different, if I don't like what I perceive as an agenda or subtext then I don't watch. That's it. I find entertainment that I like. In a way I liken it to the criticism of AoS in those early weeks. Most of the complaints revolved around a premise that it wasn't the show THEY wanted. What I found interesting was that those same people would chime in every week about how much they hated the show, because in my view ... I'd be gone. See ya. Best of luck, if others like it, good for them. 'Cause it ain't my place to tell Jed n' Mo how to write their show

We live in an age where people get their news pre-slanted in the direction they prefer, their music filtered to a specific niche should they desire, their coffee available in 1500 personalized options. This catered life has led us to where we demand athletes be role models for "our" children, and that our entertainment promote the world view we embrace, and we're deeply offended if it doesn't

In my lifetime there has never been more ethnic/sexual/political diversity available on network tv / cable tv or in the movies. Celebrate those choices those creators have made. When you find those talents that strike a chord, give them your support/money/fan letters. That said, to insist that others need to adhere to those same artistic choices because you want them to, or for some fuzzy "greater good" is a creative dead end and politically a little scary (IMHO)

BTW - while I am not an AARP member I do regularly receive their offers in the mail :)
I'm not sure if I want to get into this thread, but I feel obligated to say this: as someone who was raised Catholic (and I still am, even though I don't agree with everything the church says) and grew up watching Buffy, I was always able to identify with Willow because of her shy personality, and I looked up to her because she was able to overcome that shyness. When Joss made Willow gay, it helped me realize that gay couples are just as normal as straight couples, when it comes down to it they are both two people in love. That is why I think there should be LBGT couples represented in media.
BarryC - The question remains "How can one represent a sexual orientation in a professional setting-and to what extent?"

The same way they have since the show began. Look, it's pretty obvious the writers don't share your opinions on what the characters should/should not be doing in a "professional setting." They've already had characters sleep with each other, kiss each other and express interest in one another. And with Amy Acker's upcoming appearance it's clear they plan to explore this further in the future. It has never been a 'sexless' show and I doubt it ever will be. To be frank, this idea that they can’t explore other sexual orientations because the characters are meant to be “professionals” on the job is just, well, a really lame attempt at justifying why LGBT characters shouldn't appear. The writers have already crossed that line so I have little patience acting like it would be any harder to cross that line with a LGBT character. It's pretty simple; if you can show it with a straight character than you can show it with a gay character.

Not to mention that what you're saying is just impractical. This idea that the characters should "leave it at home" as if this is just a 9-5 job doesn't make sense when that plane practically is their home.

But I admit to not understanding your concept of morality in the first place. I'll never understand why it's appropriate to have kids watching things like, as you say, "killing and stealing", but you have moral objections to them watching people show love and intimacy. And if what you're saying is true and you apply this rule across the board regardless of sexual orientation, if you allowed your kids to continue watching after May/Ward sex and the Ward/Skye kiss then there should be really no reason why a m/m kiss or a f/f kiss should be a deal breaker for you. If what you're saying is true.

[ edited by vampmogs on 2014-04-11 05:20 ]
I've always known about my coworkers significant others within a few months at the outside, and I don't live on a plane with them. Even if there weren't romantic entanglements actually happening between team members, they don't exist in a vacuum, and I would find it strange indeed if we never heard anything of their private lives.
Modern Family? (The New Normal tried.) Glee has given notice-you either watch the show or not. (Most marketing relies on social media anyway these days.)


At this point, I feel like you're just listing shows that feature LGBT characters and pretending that they are used to boost ratings beyond what they would be without LGBT characters.

The only time I can recall the LGBT characters being treated differently in Modern Family was in the second season, in an episode that featured the gay parents' on screen kiss. Which was, in fact, a direct response to criticism of the show's first season wherein, when featured side-by-side with heterosexual couples kissing, the gay couple would hug. (The criticism and the show's tasteful response to it is a great example of why it's important for people to call out stuff like this when they see it.)

I'd almost agree with The New Normal, except that it was an LGBT-focused show from the outset. Obviously its goal would be to attain decent ratings in order to stay on the air, but the LGBT focus is in the DNA of the show - not something the writers/producers introduced in an attempt to boost ratings.

The question remains "How can one represent a sexual orientation in a professional setting-and to what extent?


How is that a question that remains? Heterosexuality has been represented quite consistently throughout MCU and Agents of SHIELD, in particular. Other sexual orientations would be represented the same way and to the same extent.

I work in a professional setting and I know plenty about the personal lives of my colleagues. I have met their significant others and, in fact, know some of them quite well. And I don't even live with these people 24/7.
I do find it interesting how the audience reacts to the long form installment stories over the one and done stories.

With standalone films or novels you rarely have fans debate whether the author should have been more inclusive, should ship a certain relationship, should give a character this merit or that punishment. But it's rampant in television shows, current book series, and movie franchises.

It's as if we the viewers know the full story and know what's better for the story than the writers themselves do.

It reminds me of the scene in When Harry Met Sally and they're at the diner, no not that part. Sally is ordering a meal from the menu, it's already predetermined by the chef how to make that meal, but Sally has all these addendums to the meal that more or less make the meal something altogether different. Harry has some remark about how the chef will finally see how good his cooking is or something.

With stand alone stories that are complete when given to us, or even serials that have run their course before we've even got to them, we have no choice but to experience the story. And I feel that with these predetermined stories all told before we've had a chance for input our agendas and fancies into them we get to experience the art in it's purest and truest way.

Sure we can always say at the end of a movie or a book, "I would have done it differently." But it's not our story. We just watch it unfurl and get to experience a near singular vision.

With television and other franchises it's a different beast wherein the audience feels entitled to partake in the direction of the story. It's actually built into it's nature with test audiences and marketing demographics and this and that. Several shows embrace it other shows hunker down and ignore the fans.

I'm not saying one way is better than the other, well maybe I am, but really what I'm saying is that it's all very interesting.

But with a franchise this big with a bunch of movies and a tie in show running it's a beast of both. The movies are all shot before we get to view them but the show is on going. Granted the MCU is ongoing as well maybe we will see a fairer representation for all demographics.

I will tack on that just because we haven't seen this or that demographic represented doesn't equate that they're definitely being exclusive. Give them time.
I suppose some feel that purposefully diversifying a story is checking off boxes, I just think it's cool and enhances the story.
I agree hann23. Also, for writers interested in exploring humanity - our personal struggles, triumphs, friendships, relationships, family etc, and actually wanting to write about that authentically, one would think a diverse group of human beings should be a given. But apparently gay people shouldn't be "forced" into a story unless there's a very good reason for them being there, because just existing and being human beings isn't suffice enough - unless you're straight, of course.
I have friends (and family) who are gay and who are bi. Kind of weird when I don't see that reflected on TV.

Just finished reading an trade of Gotham Central. Maggie Sawyer (originally from Superman) and Renee Montoya are both lesbians, and aren't a couple. In the issue, Renee is in a relationship. That's not shoehorned in, it's part of who the characters are.
hann23-When you get to the monied corporate hallways-a lot of executives see it as just that. (And therefore, will only hire writers who fulfill whatever need they perceive.)

As a parting thought-have you noticed that there are no BLACK people on The Bus? Mike Peterson has his backstory, and all the emotional attach,ment WITHOUT being an Agent of SHIELD. that is, I think, the drawback of the show is that the characters don't interact with The World as a Whole .(If the show shifted focus to the world outside the bus, it would be better, IMHO. "6 people in a plane for 2 years" is 4 seasons of Big Brother.) Is our issue that there are no LGBTQ on the show-or that there are no LGBTQ Agents on The Bus?
@Barry C-I sure noticed no black people on the bus. This was one of my problems with Buffy (which is still my favorite show). It upset me that there was little to no racial diversity on Buffy, especially considering Joss' view on social issues. I found myself saying "what about me?". When Gunn came along, I was even more disappointed, because the only black person on the show was basically a stereotype, although he evolved to become much than that. I guess my point is, I can still enjoy things without the diversity I would like to see. I also imagine that the networks have influence there.

[ edited by Jelly on 2014-04-11 17:52 ]
@BarryC - Many people have noted a lack of racial diversity in Joss's TV work, particularly in the Buffyverse.

That said, although there are no black people on the bus, there are still black people represented in the show. Agent Triplett and Mike Peterson would be the big ones. Plus, they all answer to Nick Fury.

Is our issue that there are no LGBTQ on the show-or that there are no LGBTQ Agents on The Bus?


As has been stated several times in this thread, the issue is that there are no LGBT characters across nine movies and one television show all set within the same universe. Agents of SHIELD has been noted in particular because it seems to be the most nimble in terms of introducing characters who are not restricted by character history in the comics.
One important thing would be a major proerty, feature film with "name" stars, or reasonably prominent network show, in which one or more GLBTQ characetyrs were prominently featured, and with a normal level of sexuality in their own lives, but their presence in the cast is in no sense "about that." (Kinda-sorta where I was going with my screenplay idea, but I can't write in drmatic format and I can't write police proceduraLs.)
And Nick Fury started off as a white guy, so change can happen. People would just have to deal with it!

I took a look at the cast list for CW's The Flash, and only two of the cast members are white males. Detective West and Iris West were white in the comics, but are now portrayed by black actors. I think this is a very positive change, and lends an extra bit of depth to the show because the characters are incredibly important to the story and the diversity has added a subtle commentary on family, love, and friendships.
the ninja report : Okay, now Barry's a detective instead of a lab examiner?

And recall the Kingpin was originally white. And that Blade was always black, a fatc not grasped by some critics at the time.

Personally, I'm thinking various producers and directors got excited over Duncan's (RIP) and Jackson's respective on-screen personae and were just looking for a part to put 'em in.
In the case of SLJ Ultimate Fury was created in his image. It would have been silly for anyone else to play him.
Everyone deserves to feel represented in the media they watch, especially if that media is as awesome as what Marvel's doing.

But Marvel isn't under any obligation to be progressive or more inclusive in its works. From a business standpoint, Marvel could probably ignore the LBGT community completely and not feel the repercussions financially.

That said, I don't think the LBGT community has anything to worry about. Marvel, in the comics it publishes, is a very progressive company, especially with its Ultimates line, which originated Samuel L. Fury, Miles Morales, and an Ultimates team without a single white guy.

All this conversation, however, will be pointless if the company doesn't continue to make good movies, because after a few years of flops, no one will care.
DaddyCatALSO, he's still a forensic lab examiner but he works for Central City Police.

Interesting you bring up Kingpin. My only experience with that character came from the Spider-Man animated series and I was never sure that he was white. In fact, when Michael Clark Duncan played him and people said "but Kingpin is white!" I was confused because it was never clear to me that was the case. He didn't have the same skin tone as Peter Parker, who was most assuredly white.

[ edited by the ninja report on 2014-04-11 23:25 ]
the ninja report, one of Spidey's animated shows, the MTV one from 2003, actually had Michael Clarke Duncan reprise the role of Kingpin and that version was also black. But in the comics I think he's always been white.
@Knucklball-"The Industry" has made significant changes since Buffy aired. As said here, "Just ONE black person" was enough-but now it's not. We get dramatic contrast from characters portrayed by black actors. Yes, we will find latitude in the portrayal of gay characters-not just one. You see how the significant dramatic purposes don't fit into a bus of any size? (Even Modern Family uses just not the one gay couple-they also intro'd 'the passel of gay friends.')

@Jelly-The movie role of Nick Fury was contracted when they used SLJ's image for the retcon. It was fair to SLJ-and Marvel did their part by considering other persons and ultimately decided SLJ was the way to go. (How much the cost of breaking the contract played into it is unknown.)

Re:Kingpin- The retcon was due to MCD's immense talent and size. I'm not sure, but the character MAY have started as a black person but was retconned due to state of publishing in those days. (Marvel didn't have (any?) black heroes at the time-so maybe having a black supervillian was too much.)
the ninja report, BarryC : Re Kingpin: the only thing I really know MCD from is The Green Mile but yes, he was impressive (RIP.)
I've never read any tell-all books so I don't know the behind-the-scenes stuff, but I did read the Kingpin's first appearance in the 60s, and he, and all the gangsters he lorded it over, were white. Actually, that was early enough that the only prominent black good guys were probably Gabe Jones and the Black Panther, and off-hand I don't recall any black villains around back then!
Ultimate Fury was more of a reimagining than a retcon. Original Fury still exists in the 626.
Thanks for the clarification, Jelly.
DaddyCat-Yes, that is how he appears in print. He may have been intended otherwise. (One would have to scour 'Daredevil' film to be sure....and I'm not doing that.) There was some 'kid-gloving' on race issues then. Which is how its pertinent to LGBTQ issues today. [Before Simon slaps us for being off-topic.]

[ edited by BarryC on 2014-04-12 21:02 ]
@Knucklball-"The Industry" has made significant changes since Buffy aired. As said here, "Just ONE black person" was enough-but now it's not. We get dramatic contrast from characters portrayed by black actors. Yes, we will find latitude in the portrayal of gay characters-not just one. You see how the significant dramatic purposes don't fit into a bus of any size? (Even Modern Family uses just not the one gay couple-they also intro'd 'the passel of gay friends.')


It's almost impressive how consistently you manage to avoid actually addressing the points raised in response to your arguments, but lets try again...

If you want to argue that there is not enough racial diversity on the show and on The Bus in particular, I think that's a perfectly valid but different argument. It doesn't change the fact that, at the very least, there is SOME racial diversity in the show (May, Peterson, Triplett, Sitwell, Raina all jump to mind) and meanwhile there is NO sexual diversity in the show and the nine movies with which it shares a universe.

It also doesn't change the fact that, after more than 100 comments, no one has been able to make a compelling argument as to how sexual diversity would negatively affect the story.
I don't think it would negatively impact the story. I long for the day when having a gay character is such a non issue that we don't even discuss it. I think someone mentioned Brooklyn 99, and I think it's a great example. It's a part of the character but not critical to the story.
@Jelly, I think you mean 616 and original Nick Fury is still around there really in name only, they've mostly replaced with akwardly shoehorned in SLJ Nick Fury, I'm actually expecting old Nick Fury to die in the upcoming Original Sin event.

In terms of the Kingpin stuff people are forgetting one important thing, while yes the Kingpin was and still is White in 616 that's never been the most important part of his character, what is more important and why MCD was a fantastic pick for Kingpin was his body size/shape, Kingpin has always been drawn as a huge person, I just went back and flipped through Daredevil: Born Again and he seems to be about a head taller than Matt in their fight.

Also I hate the whole oh when they created the Ultimate Universe they made him Sam Jackson fact people always bring up when it was actually them changing him from how he originally showed up in the Ultimate Universe, he showed up in like 5 issues in a look much closer to the 616 Nick Fury(most notably in UXM) but then he showed up in Ultimates as Sam Jackson and that was that.
Yes, I did mean the 616, you're right. Isn't the new Nick Fury "Nick Fury Jr.?" aka Marcus Johnson? It sure does seem like a silly way to try to draw in fans of the movies, however.

Oh, and I had no ideas his looked changed after a little while in the Ultimate Universe, thanks for the history lesson, that's very interesting!

[ edited by Jelly on 2014-04-13 00:34 ]
Jelly-I brought up Brooklyn 99-an immature comedy for mature adults. AoS is a mature action drama, with a large immature audience. Aos runs against NCIS, which strictly has an adult audience. There's no way AoS can handle the breadth of issues NCIS does....but it can do what AoS does better than NCIS does what it does.

@Knuckleball-You're probably misunderstanding me. There are likely ways you can 'express sexual diversity' in the show, it just doesn't necessarily HAVE to be Bus People in particular, or Agents in general. People are people. One should have the Agents encounter people as they are-and reserve themselves through professionalism. (That is both negative and positive.)

Remember, when we first saw Skye meeting with Mike Peterson-they weren't discussing black issues. (No disrespect to Ms. Bennet-who, apparently, shares African descent, but is usually not recognized as a 'black girl.')

The Avengers grossed 'super well' at the box office-yet there is not 1 second of romance in it, gay,straight, or otherwise. Mayhaps the question is: How will including sexual diversity enhance the product? (That probably sounds more sarcastic than I mean it. honestly, say you are a writer, how does a scene including 'sexual diversity' play? "Hello, I'm gay." -'You don't have to announce, I'm cool with it.' "I knew you'd be cool with it, that's why I announced." Ok, my sarcasm valve is turned off-but it's leaking.)
(No disrespect to Ms. Bennet-who, apparently, shares African descent, but is usually not recognized as a 'black girl.)

I wouldn't think so, since she's half Chinese...
Tony & Pepper's relationship is both shown & referenced in Avengers; it's featured for several minutes, in fact, in two vastly different parts of the movie. Thor's concern for Jane is addressed. Phil's cellist is discussed more than once.
We're in Season 1. Perhaps a gay/lesbian bus character will be added later. "Angel" ended with (apart from Angel himself) an entirely different array of regulars than it had when it started.

Btw, and off-topic, but does anyone besides me think that Bill Paxton and Joss Whedon share a resemblance?
@Knuckleball-You're probably misunderstanding me. There are likely ways you can 'express sexual diversity' in the show, it just doesn't necessarily HAVE to be Bus People in particular, or Agents in general. People are people. One should have the Agents encounter people as they are-and reserve themselves through professionalism. (That is both negative and positive.)

Remember, when we first saw Skye meeting with Mike Peterson-they weren't discussing black issues. (No disrespect to Ms. Bennet-who, apparently, shares African descent, but is usually not recognized as a 'black girl.')

The Avengers grossed 'super well' at the box office-yet there is not 1 second of romance in it, gay,straight, or otherwise.


Again, I don't think anyone is saying it does have to be people on the Bus. And, in fact, no one is saying it has to be anyone on the show. It could be anywhere in the MCU, it has just been noted that the show is particularly capable given that it has the broadest stable of characters.

I'm also not sure how the conversation between Skye and Peterson is at all relevant. Maybe if we wanted LGBT characters to have a roundtable discussion on Queer Theory...

As others have pointed out, The Avengers features many instances of heterosexual romance. And the other MCU movies feature many more.

Mayhaps the question is: How will including sexual diversity enhance the product?


It enhances the product the same way that women and people of colour enhance the product.

(That probably sounds more sarcastic than I mean it. honestly, say you are a writer, how does a scene including 'sexual diversity' play? "Hello, I'm gay." -'You don't have to announce, I'm cool with it.' "I knew you'd be cool with it, that's why I announced." Ok, my sarcasm valve is turned off-but it's leaking.)


It plays the EXACT same way any other romantic scene would play, except instead of a woman and a man, it's two men or two women. Whether you like it or not, Agents of SHIELD is a show that concerns itself with the sexual lives of its characters. Every single main character has had demonstrated heterosexual romantic interests. Even when we meet guest characters, they've been demonstrated to be heterosexual. You are not watching a sexless show.
PLEASE NOTE HANDLE CHANGE.
At times, I don't know WHAT kind of show I'm watching-so the question of, 'Is it inclusive of "Q" society?' is of secondary consideration. Look at this thread, it's gone from LGBT to LGBTQ which indicates we don't have 1 issue-we have 5 (FIVE) distinct groups...the show's structure simply can't handle that. (And that's what this convo is about..making a successful TV programme. i don't think we can fit a better structure anytime soon.) We've already seen that "makeout time" is NOT NECESSARILY ratings gold...it can actually be the opposite. (Of course, I have a list of MCU Chars who are LGBTQ-but won't divulge until the end of Phase 3.)
Whether or not we are using LGBT or LGBTQ terminology is completely irrelevant. The people in this thread are not requesting that the MCU include a lesbian character AND a gay character AND a bisexual character, etc. In order to address the lack of sexual diversity, you would only need to include, for example, a "B" from the LGBTQ.

And if the show's structure is able to handle six heterosexual regular characters, it should have no problem handling one non-heterosexual character. In fact, it would have no problem handling six non-heterosexual characters. The sexuality of the characters is not a factor that would impact the structure of the show.
We will have to disagree there. I think the structure of the show would be better if we had 6 "professional" chars interacting with the world as we know it-full of crazies of every stripe.
Sexuality is a factor in the show and its structure. Period. That is what the writers have decided. If you disagree with that decision, that's fine. But it's an entirely separate argument.

The argument at hand is that, given that the show (and the larger MCU) demonstrates the sexuality of its characters very frequently, there should be some diversity in their sexuality.
Seen Captain America:The Winter Soldier? That alone should satisfy.
(If I disagree with the creative team on the structure of the show, it's probably not fine.)
Is your argument that there should be no romantic plot lines at all? Because that really doesn't address diversity on the show. There could still be gay agents who aren't having romantic story lines, in your scenario.
SEE ABOVE. My point is that The Agents should be more involved with 'regular people' to the point where there is no time for romance on The Bus. (How do our agents interact with each element of LGBTQ Rather than which element ARE the Agents?) It's pricier to make that show-but it is also RICHER!
I've seen Winter Soldier multiple times... It doesn't support your argument. They demonstrate the sexuality of several of the characters throughout the film. In fact, the filmmakers have even said they directed Anthony Mackie to play his scenes as though he were in love with Romanoff.

Also, there's an important distinction here... Even if TWS hadn't demonstrated any sexuality at all, it's a two hour film. One of the arguments at hand here is that AoS is better equipped to include sexual diversity because it has the freedom to explore its characters' personal lives with greater depth.

Again - if your argument is that there should be no romance at all on AoS, you are certainly free to make that argument. But it has no bearing on the discussion at hand.

We are discussing a show that includes a SIGNIFICANT amount of romance and sexuality in its plotlines*, but has no diversity in that romance and sexuality.

*And personally, I think demonstrating multiple facets of characters is what makes a show more rich.
see it more. If it were a regular show-I would agree. AoS should find more significant territory than a tax-payer-funded F-shack with no discernible soup kitchen. (The show opened to 14M viewers-now it draws 5M...Notice how the pilot is the story of Mike Peterson told through the device of AoS?))
AoS should find more significant territory than a tax-payer-funded F-shack with no discernible soup kitchen

Keep it civil and constructive. Your comments have been toeing the line for both lately.
JUST a bit of levity trying to simplify the issue the general audience has with the program. I'll cut that out in the future-even if civility is NOT a personnal aspiration.

[ edited by USERNAME on 2014-04-28 21:57 ]
You can post elsewhere, in that case.

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