I have just started writing up the other panels from Comic Con. These are the smaller panels, which are much more intimate and there’s the chance for great discussion and often a chance to meet and talk to presenters as well. They often don’t get any coverage by media blogs or websites which is a pity, because they provided me with some of my Con highlights. The Gay Agenda in Horror: Terrifying Subtext
Presented by Prism Comics and moderated by Michael Varrati
Panelists Mark Bessenger (Bite Marks), M.A. Fortin (The Final Girls), Andy Mangels (comics writer, writer of TV show novel tie ins inc Star Trek and Rosewell), Bart Mastronardi (Tales of Poe), Joshua Miller (The Final Girls), and Mark Patton (star of Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2), and Aja Romano (Daily Dot writer).
A wonderful panel that covered an amazing range of topics in an hour – well moderated, a great range of topics all covered with some depth, and everyone got to contribute. The panelists were both fans and creators in the genre which added a great dimension to the discussion. Only one woman on the panel unfortunately (although she was awesome!), but after the panel moderator Michael Varrati has said they would improve that for next year’s panel.
Topics covered include
• What first attracted them to the genre? A common theme was the identification with the outsider, and often relishing seeing the bullied or abused take revenge (eg Carrie, Jason). Plus the appreciation of camp horror.
• We are your serial killers too. A look at the cliché of the psycho gay/lesbian/trans killer, but the fact is that we ARE serial killers! Big shoutout to Jeffrey Dahmer!
• Homophobia is a thing. The challenges of being queer filmmakers/actors in horror. Mark Patton especially was instructive on that. While there was a deliberately written gay subtext in Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2, writer David Chaskin for many years denied this, “blaming” the gay actor for playing the role of Jesse “too gay”. Patton later left acting, after he was up for a gay role on a CBS show and was asked to lie about his own sexuality, something he refused to do as friends around him were dying of AIDS. It was nice to have an out HIV positive panellist – HIV is too rarely included in narratives in pop culture.
• The responsibility of queer creators to put queer characters in their texts. There was across the board agreement on this. Also on their role in mentoring younger people in the industry. More queer creators equals more diverse content!
• Queerbaiting! A cogent argument was made for why Teen Wolf was queerbaiting while Hannibal wasn’t. Basically that Teen Wolf has leveraged fan engagement through shipping (especially Stiles/Derek) outside of the show, while the characters on screen have minimal interaction. Hannibal meanwhile has developed an intense emotional connection between the two main male characters, so that references to them as a couple (or ship) both within and without of the text are more acceptable. Supernatural was listed as an offender, although I think the case there is less clear. Sherlock was also mentioned, and I think the cry of “Fuck Steven Moffat” from one panelist was eloquent enough reasoning there.
• Should there be a queer version of the Bechdel or Mako Mori test? If you don’t know, the Bechdel test (after cartoonist/writer Alison Bechdel) posits as a low feminist bar for evaluating a film or tv show that it feature at least two female characters who talk to each other about something besides a man. The Mako Mori test arose after Pacific Rim, and suggested an adjunct that allows for at least one female character who gets her own narrative arc that is not about supporting a man’s story.
Thanks to Prism Comics for organising!