Friday, May 16, 2008

It's time to retire the "Disappointed Dyke" trope, please

Why is it that every time you see a lesbian on TV (with admittedly a few exceptions) she's either a super glam lipstick, a donkeyfaced diesel; or what I'll call the "Disappointed Dyke".

What's that you say?

The "Disappointed Dyke" is the storytellers easy cliche of the lesbian who develops an obsession for a particular woman, but hides their lesbianism. Then the character does everything to get close to them, may imitate or otherwise ingratiate herself, and then when she tries to "make her move" she gets rebuffed; maybe gently, but more often with a "get away from me you freak" line. This of course prompts either a total emotional breakdown, and/or a killing rampage.

Well, I've known plenty of lesbians in my time; and often such a scene has played out in their lives (in fact I once sat in a group of a half dozen lesbian couples talking about their first experience, and almost every one of them had a variation of pretty much the same story) up to the point of the rejection... but, amazingly (for how could popular culture lie), not one of them ended up going on a killing rampage afterwards.

I've seen this storyline, I kid you not, 4 times in the last week in various TV shows (most recently watching "Mad Men", the latest "Shark", and an episode of one of the law and orders).

I'm currently watching "The Wire", which has an openly lesbian bi-racial cop as one of its principal characters, and I'm just hoping they don't ruin her character with some stupid crap like that. I'm pretty sure there's no way to work it in, but I can guarandamntee you that a cliche psycho lesbian of some kind will show up (for those of you who have seen all five season, if you can tell me I'm wrong, I'd be thrilled).

I'm slightly less irritated by the other common psycho lesbian cliche; the one who was the lover of another character, and is later rejected, or their lover dies and THEN they go psycho... honestly, I'm not sure which has been done more.

Mrs. Danvers, Hedy Carlson, Roxy and Catherine, Helena Cain, Eve Harrington, Willow (season 6, oh yeah)...

I mean look, you can at least partially justify the "camp" gay portrayal; lord knows there are enough gay men out there who do it just for "queer identity"... and then there's John Waters (that aint an act folks)... but seriously, other than Eileen Wuornos...

And don't even get me started on the lesbian vampire thing. That's so hackneyed, that there are actually double-reverse subversion cliches playing off it. Though yes, vampires are explicitly sexual, and good looking lesbians are always a crowd pleaser... it's just too easy guys.

Ok, yes, I know the cliches are stock storytelling device from all the way back to the Hays code; where the only way they could even hint at lesbianism was by associating it with abberant psychology, and the eventual downfall (and frequently the demise) of the character in question.

... but seriously people, it's 2008. Theres just no excuse for such lazy writing.

Can't writers come up with some better ideas than this? Just maybe once?

This straight man has had enough of the psycho lesbians thank you.