Sunday, February 5, 2012

Bisexuality is not a stepping stone between "straight" and "gay."

Content advisory: use of the word "queer" throughout, in a neutral context.

Were The World Mine
is one of my favorite movies.

Firstly, it's a musical. Secondly, it's about one of my favorite plays (retroactively - this movie is what got me into Shakespeare in the first place). Thirdly, it's about an out queerbro who suffers frustrations but finds happiness in the end. I am an out queerbro who suffers frustrations, so it's good for me.

There's just one line that bugs me.

"Firstly, Shakespeare has never been proven to be a homosexual. Bisexual, perhaps."

The context of this quote is as follows: For some reason, all of the students participating in a school performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream have started falling in love with each other. In an all-boys' school. Parents are freaked out about all the homosex and are claiming that the play is somehow responsible because Shakespeare was - to quote the dialogue - queer. The above line is the play director's rebuttal.

Which is not a rebuttal at all.

Bisexual (and pansexual) people are queer, too. We're defined in part by our being attracted to members of the same sex. Just because we also like people of the opposite sex does not mean we somehow lose our queer status. Or our magical queer powers of turning others to our orientation.

Quite the opposite, in fact. Bisexual people in media are often shown encouraging formerly straight characters to explore their queer side.

Without that component to the argument, her "rebuttal" comes across as extremely weak, essentially no more than a matter of semantics, or some nerd's personal pride at making sure that dead, tertiary character's sexual orientations are properly understood. Pointless.

Here's another one:

Earlier today, I read an article listing a few individuals throughout history (all white, natch) who were also gay. One of the names mentioned was Hans Christian Anderson, who while not definitely gay, demonstrated some interest in men based on his correspondences with various men that he new. The article explains this by saying that he was probably "at least bisexual."

In other words, if he wasn't a whole queer, he was at least half queer.

The general theme I'm getting from both of these works is that many people see bi/pansexuality as some sort of "middle ground" between being gay and being straight. Which is not remotely true.

Someone is not "at least" bisexual, because bisexuality is not lesser than homosexuality. Bisexuality, to repeat myself, is a fully fledged sexual orientation in its own right. My own attraction to men and my attraction to women (as well as my attraction to individuals of nonbinary genders) are tied in with each other in such a way as to be inseparable. For example, I have to reconcile my choice of pursuing a woman with my desire to be with a man. My love of men and masculine things causes me to be very attracted to masculine and crossdressing women (without disregarding their womanhood), while my attraction to feminine things is often strongest when attached to a competent, interesting, and strong individual of any sex.

I doubt that this can accurately describe how most bisexual or pansexual people's orientations work, but the point I hope to make is that my sexual orientation is its own beast, different from either gay or straight people. I may be differently queer, but I am not less queer.

We are not "just" bisexual. We are not "at least" bisexual. We are simply bi/pan. Do not talk about us as if we're some kind of transitional form between straight and gay.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Gay men: It's time to stop enabling the abuse.

Gaybros, I am disappoint.

It has come to my attention that some of you are letting straight people walk all over you. This is unacceptable and it needs to stop.

My first complaint is with Teen Wolf creator/director Jeff Davis. Look, I know it's hard being an out gay person in the industry, even harder to convince people to buy a gay character. But do you have to keep making Danny the butt of Stiles' awkward sexual harassment? Why are you doing that? Are you afraid that we're going to forget that he's gay if you don't shoehorn in terrible scenes of him ogling shirtless Derek? And that line "you may bat for the other team, but you still play?" Really? Danny is an amazing character, but stop using his sexuality as a joke. You're insulting and embarrassing us.

(On a less complainy and more requesty note, don't bother writing him in a boyfriend. We all know that Stiles is only straight for Lydia and that he would much rather be boning/getting boned by Danny. Do that.)

My second complaint is directly to the friends of the guy I spoke to the other day, and any guy like him. He tells me that he told you that he would punch you if you so much as hit on him, and you said "fair enough." Where the fuck is your self-esteem, guys? When did it become okay to agree to physical assault just because of your sexual orientation? I'm sure you're probably friends with this guy for any number of reasons - you've been friends for years, he's the only straight guy you can hang out with without feeling threatened, whatever - but seriously, let's see some self-respect. Tell your friend that it was not cool for him to deck you because you got drunk and came on to him. Frankly, people have done much worse things while drunk. If he's really that sensitive about it, then he's not as comfortable with your sexuality as he claims and you should dump his ass. I've never met you, but I've met him, and trust me, it ain't worth it. In fact, that's why I'm not friends with him.

In general:

Don't laugh self-deprecatingly when people tell gay jokes.
Don't let people tell you that your sexuality is offensive.

I don't always succeed at this. I'm pre-everything and transgender, so it's not easy for me to explain to someone that I am a GAY MAN when she (a straight woman) tells me that it's offensive to use the word "gay" to describe same-sex relations. Frankly, self-respect is an everyday battle for me to achieve. But I think that we can all do better. And we owe it to ourselves to do so.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Hay sup

I don't have a lot of Internet access right now. Haven't for close to three months. I get Internets for four to six days out of the month, total, so I don't have a lot of opportunity for blogging. Thank you for your patience.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Teen Wolf Review: Part Nine - Episode 7

Woo-hoo! Another episode of Teen Wolf!

According to the previews, this one is about several top-tier cast members hiding in the school as they are stalked by the Alpha. I can't wait to see how this plays out.

Warning: Spoilers ahead.

The episode opens with Scott and Stiles running into the school and closing the doors behind them. Which is exactly what they did at the end of the last episode, but I guess they needed to throw that lead-in in there since they wasted most of the recap time on stuff from the beginning of the series. Scott tells Stiles to lock the doors, but he doesn't have the key. Scott says to grab something to jam them shut, but Stiles can't find anything - until he looks through the door window and sees the bolt cutters from last episode (which are pretty enormous) laying on the concrete in front of the school.

Against Scott's wishes, Stiles slips back outside. As he's grabbing the bolt cutters, the Alpha (composed of hideously shitty CGI) spots him and starts to give chase. Stiles bolts for the school and makes it inside in the nick of time, putting the bolt cutters' handles into the grips on the door so that both are wedged shut.

Yep, that'll hold him.

The Alpha bangs on the door a few times, then disappears again. Stiles tries to locate xem, but xe's nowhere to be found.

Neither Scott nor Stiles actually think that the bolt cutters are going to last as a barrier, and they start running through the school to find something else. Scott's about to appropriate a desk when Stiles says that the doors aren't going to hold the Alpha out. He then tells Scott what he's figured out: that the Alpha is probably the veterinarian. Scott, being a very wide-eyed, idealistic little werewolf, refuses to believe that it could be the case, despite the fact that the vet disappeared mere seconds before the Alpha appeared. He also refuses to believe that Derek is dead; I would give him props if he had any reasoning at all besides "Nothing that bad could possibly happen to me!"

In lieu of barricading themselves inside the school, Stiles proposes that they make a run for his Jeep and blaze a trail out. Scott tries the windows first, but they're climate-controlled and don't open. He suggests breaking them, but Stiles points out the noise this would make. Scott says they can "run really fast," then realizes they've got bigger problems - the hood of Stiles' jeep is heavily damaged.

And then a car battery comes flying through the window.

Splash screen.

Scott and Stiles stare at the battery. It is, in fact, the battery from Stiles' jeep, which rules it out as an escape vehicle. Recognizing that the Alpha has officially reached "scary smart" status, Stiles is adamantly opposed to Scott looking out the window again - but this time there's nothing there.

With nothing else to do in that classroom, Scott and Stiles go back to the darkened hallways of the school. Scott starts to go in one direction, but Stiles stops him, saying that they need to hide in a room with as few windows as possible. They decide to head for the locker room.

(Or you could, y'know... hide in the halls. Lots of visibility in either direction, zero chance of being spotted from the outside... no?)

Scott suggests that Stiles call his dad and tell him that there's a fire or gas leak at the school. His logic is that once the parking lot fills with police cars the Alpha will take off, but Stiles is concerned that it might just kill all of the police.

They eventually decide to re-try the escape strategy with one small change: they'll find Derek's car keys and take his vehicle. Scott is adamant that they also bring Derek, never mind that this could slow them down enough to guarantee death.

Stiles is just about to open a door when Scott hears a growling noise and stops him. They step back from the door, which has something dark smears on the inside of it. Scott tells Stiles to hide, and he immediately stuffs himself into the nearest locker. Scott isn't happy with the noise this makes, but doesn't see another option and also hides in a locker.

As they watch through the locker slats, the door handle starts turning (hello, Jurassic Park flashback) and someone comes out. It's not the Alpha, though - just the janitor. He tells them to get out of the school, and shoves them into an area, closing the door between them just before he is brutally murdered by the Alpha.

Well, shit.

(Scott tries to save him, as usual, and Stiles injects some sense into the matter, as usual.)

Meanwhile, Allison is pacing around, outside, in the dark. This makes sense once she gets a phone call from Jackson and Lydia, who say that they're coming to pick her up. I have no idea where Allison is or why Scott was supposed to be picking her up; I knew they were going to study at her house, but nothing about any kind of moving-about-in-a-vehicle.

Jackson and Lydia arrive. Jackson is trying to get Allison to accept a ride when Allison gets a text message from Scott.

Back at the school, Stiles and Scott try to escape through a pair of back doors, but they're blocked by a dumpster, courtesy of the Alpha. Stiles starts to freak out and rattle the door in the hopes of somehow getting it open, but Scott stops him. Stiles insists that he's "not dying at school." Scott tells him that he's not going to die. Stiles is just really fed up with the werewolf mind games, which Scott explains are all an attempt to get to him. so that xe can get him to join xir pack.

Stiles: "Great. The psychotic werewolf is into teamwork. That's beautiful."

Scott stops Stiles suddenly, and looks out a window. There, standing on the roof of a low building, is the Alpha. He sees the two of them and gives chase. Stiles and Scott flee as the Alpha breaks through a window, loping down the school halls as only a werewolf can. Scott and Stiles head for a lower floor of the building.

At the front door, Allison, Jackson, and Lydia have just arrived. Jackson asks what they're doing there as he gets out of the car - apparently Allison didn't actually tell him why she just had him drive to the school. Way to go, Allison.

She shows him the text message that she got from Scott, which simply said "meet me at the school." Okay, that's not cryptic or life-endangering in any way, nope nope nope. Lydia points out that the doors are locked at night, then Allison points out an open door (which is propped open by Stiles' bolt cutters). Jackson, in turn, points out that the school appears to have been broken into, and tells Allison to be careful. The two share a sweet moment about how Nice and Concerned Jackson is being, as opposed to his usual douchebaggy self. Allison says not to worry; she'll be right back.

Lol. No.

Jackson grins to himself, presumably because he's developing an enormous crush on Allison, and Lydia notices with an especially dissatisfied case of duckface. Meanwhile, Allison enters the school - and once she's inside, for seemingly no reason, the doors shut behind her. Dun dun dun.

We meet up with Scott and Stiles again, who are running for their life. They hide behind some lockers to catch their breath. Scott looks back where they were running and sees the Alpha prowling the halls of the school. Xe doesn't see Scott, though, and he ducks away in time to keep it that way.

They make a run in the other direction, and as the Alpha is smashing things, Stiles says that they have to "do something to it." He doesn't care what as long as it has the potential to get them out alive. They run into a room that has a bunch of junk in it and Stiles gets an idea. He grabs his car keys and throws them into the room as far as he can. This gets the Graboid - er, Alpha's attention, and xe charges into the room. Scott and Stiles escape, and Stiles manages to shut the door in the nick of time (though, with the Alpha pounding on it, that should not have been remotely possible). They push a desk in front of it and congratulate each other.

Outside, Jackson is sitting in his car when he notices the damage on Stiles' vehicle.

Jackson: "Do you see that?"
Lydia: "See what?"
Jackson: "The hood on that piece-of-crap Jeep looks... crappier than usual."

He gets out to check it out. Lydia follows, refusing to be left alone in the car. Well, at least someone here has seen some horror movies. They walk over to the Jeep, and when Jackson examines it more closely he finds claw marks on it. This consternates him considerably, and he heads for the school. Lydia, who wants to just get Allison and leave, follows him.

Inside the school, Stiles decides that he wants to get a look at the Alpha, and climbs onto the barricade desk to peek through the window. Scott, being reasonable for once, thinks that it is a bad idea and says as much, but Stiles ignores him and starts taunting the Alpha. Who responds by escaping the room via the ceiling. Way to go, Stiles.

The Alpha bangs in their general direction, but Scott and Stiles just stand there until it pops one of the ceiling tiles out. That is enough for them and they take off running.

Meanwhile, in the halls, Allison is trying to find Scott. Mostly this involves moving around slowly and calling out - the kind of thing that gets you killed in a horror movie. Of course, Allison is too important to get killed, and so the Alpha fails to notice her in the slightest as it stalks the school halls.

She wanders down the hallway for several paces, calling for Scott and failing to find him.

Meanwhile, Jackson and Lydia have just entered the school. Lydia has to go to the bathroom, and they get into an argument that is doing its darnedest to foreshadow a nasty breakup. (All in the name of a Scott/Allison/Jackson love triangle, of course.)

As Jackson is waiting for Lydia to finish in the bathroom, he sees a figure standing in the distance. He calls out for Scott first, and when that fails, Derek - but it is none of these fine upstanding werewolves. Just the Alpha, who gets down on all fours and skulks off, freaking Jackson the fuck out. And then Lydia comes back. She asks Jackson if he found the missing students, but he's too stunned to answer at first, and starts feeling up his neck wounds again before saying no.

Allison's quest to find Scott takes her to the pool, which is deserted. In the middle of her search, her phone starts to ring - a noise which Scott hears. He recognizes the ringtone and decides to follow it.

Back at the pool, Allison has finished telling Jackson that she's made absolutely no progress when she gets a phone call from "Stiles," who is actually Scott. He asks her where she is and tells her to get to the lobby.

They meet there, and Scott asks Allison what she's doing. Confused, she shows him the text message, which of course he did not send because he does not have a phone. He asks her if she drove there, and she explains that she came with Lydia and Jackson, who also arrive on the scene.

Lydia is all set to collect everyone and leave when the Alpha starts banging around in the ceiling again. Scott tells everyone to run and they do so, heading up the stairs with the Alpha in hot pursuit. Or a hot fursuit. Probably both.

They find a suitable classroom to hide in and start to barricade themselves in. Stiles thinks this is a bad idea, but he is completely ignored; meanwhile, the others want to know exactly what they're running from. However, they also get ignored.

As the others pile loads and loads of furniture in front of the door, Stiles continually tries to get their attention, but fails until they've already finished, at which point he congratulates him - then points out the entire wall of windows they've left unguarded.

Allison, meanwhile, wants to know what's going on. Obviously she can't be clued in to the werewolf menace (since she wouldn't believe them), so Stiles tells everyone that the janitor has been murdered. Jackson wants to know who did it, Scott is silently thoughtful, and Lydia thought that the attacks would be over since the mountain lion is dead. They all start questioning Scott, who tells him that he doesn't know what's going on but that if they're not careful they could all end up dead. Allison continues to demand to know who it is (like as if Scott knows for sure?) and under pressure he says that it is Derek. And that said Derek is also stalking around the school and is liable to kill them all.

Jackson wants to call the police, but Stiles refuses. Lydia takes initiative and makes the call, but gets hung up on - apparently someone called earlier to let them know there would be prank calls about a break-in at the high school. Well, snap.

Allison, meanwhile, wants to know why Derek is killing a load of people. Scott cannot think of anything, and asks why everyone expects him to have the answers. They keep pestering him with questions, so he denies knowledge until they give up.

Stiles takes Scott aside for some private conversation. He points out that if Derek is not, in fact, dead, then Scott's accusation is going to get him into serious trouble. Scott realizes this, but being Scott he's more concerned with what Allison will think about him getting so cranky with her. He's also wondering why the Alpha hasn't killed most of them already. Scott suggests that it has something to do with the Alpha getting revenge on the Argents, and perhaps that's the reason why xe called Allison to the school.

They figure out absolutely nothing, and Jackson interrupts them, telling Stiles to call his dad already. Scott tells him to go with it. Stiles refuses to endanger his dad, and Jackson tries to get Stiles' phone so he can make the call himself, but Stiles punches him in the face to stop him. This consternates Lydia and Allison, and Stiles decides to go ahead and call, but he gets his dad's voicemail.

He's in the midst of leaving a message when the Alpha starts banging on the door. Xe is able to knock out the locks, but the massive barricade slows xem down long enough for the others to escape. Stiles says that they should run to the kitchen, where they can get to the stairwell. It will take them to the third floor, but it will put some distance between them and the Alpha. They manage to escape just as xe bursts through the doors and head up the stairs as planned.

They come out into a third floor hallway, which looks startlingly like all the other hallways they've been in. Nobody loiters, though, as our intrepid heroes barricade themselves in the chemistry lab. Scott blocks the door with a chair, then lurches slightly; Stiles holds him up. Allison looks shocked.

Now that they're safe (for the moment), Scott gets back to work on his escape plan. The latest idea is to use the door that leads to the roof, climb off the school via the fire escape, and leave in Jackson's car. But the door is locked and the dead janitor has the key. Scott decides to get it, since he can find the janitor's body by scent. However, the others won't let him go unarmed. He tries to take the floppy pointer stick, but Allison ain't letting that slide.

Fortunately, they have Lydia, who knows how to make a Molotov cocktail. They steal some of the lab chemicals and she mixes up a sweet bomb for Scott. He's about to take off when Lydia confronts him. She explains that he also has a tell for when he's lying, and she knows he's been lying to her the entire time they've been at the school. (How about "the entire duration of their relationship?") But mostly she doesn't want him to go out there and die. He kisses her and leaves anyway.

Armed with a single-use weapon that is liable to set fire to things, Scott stalks the halls of the school. The Alpha doesn't seem particularly interested in attacking him, and he makes it to the ground floor without incident. But now he must cross the intimidating expanse of The Basketball Court. He decides that the best way to do this is to sneak behind the bleachers, failing to contemplate the fact that they are fully open in the middle of the night. After an intense few minutes of skulking, he feels a drop of blood hit his face. He looks up and sees the janitor's body, hanging from the underside of the bleachers. Dun dun dun.

Back in the classroom, Allison is terrified that Scott's out there all by himself. Jackson comforts her. Down on the first floor, Scott climbs up into the bleachers and tries to grab the janitor's key ring, but he can't quite reach. His fingers brush the keys and set them a-jingling, and as he struggles the bleachers start to fold up.

Yes, obvious trap was obvious.

Scott manages to get both the keys and the Molotov cocktail and escape being squashed messily. Back in the classroom, Lydia frets over the potential usability of her bomb; she's worried that Jackson might have given her the wrong ingredient. Jackson insists he didn't, but Lydia isn't so sure.

Scott is now standing in the open basketball court as the Alpha stalks toward him. He taunts the Alpha into coming after him, then throws the cocktail, which fails to ignite. Scott tries to run, but the Alpha grabs his ankles, pulls him back, and pounces on him so that xe can drool dramatically into his face. He lets out an enormous, school-shaking howl.

This howl causes tremendous discomfort to Jackson, who falls to the floor as everyone stares. As he grabs at his neck wounds, Scott (who is no longer pinned) begins to transform painfully. Jackson does not, however, and once Scott is fully wolfed out he's fine again. However, the others are now concerned for his health, and Stiles asks about the stab marks. He insists that it's nothing.

Scott now stalks the empty school, all wolfed out and overdramatic about it. He seems to feel a need to run his claws along every surface within hand distance, which isn't enough to damage them but is plenty enough to make irritating noises. He hears a voice and follows it.

Lydia tells Jackson that his wound has been there for days (because apparently most wounds heal up after a couple - especially deep ones, yo). He snaps, "As if you actually care."

Scott continues to skulk, breathing loud enough that a hunter could probably shoot him blindfolded. Because it's dramatic, I suppose. He stops in front of a door and starts to unlock it.

Stiles asks Jackson and Lydia to stop arguing, and Allison wonders where Scott is.

Before opening the door, Scott flashes back to all the wonderful times he's spent with Allison. His heart rate slows, and he turns loose of the key, causing a click. Allison hears the noise and runs to the door, trying to open it as she yells for Scott, but she fails. Lydia tells her to be quiet - she hears something.

They all listen. A few seconds later, they run to the window and see the sheriff pull in, alarms blazing.

Back in the hall, Scott is panting heavily; he's angled so one cannot see if he's de-wolfed or not. Then he looks up, showing his fully human face.

Later on, Stiles and Scott are talking to the sheriff. Scott maintains his story that the killer is Derek Hale, and Stiles backs him up. However, they've run into a slight snag - the janitor's body has been removed from under the bleachers. (And all the blood cleaned up, apparently, since that corpse would have been pulverized when they closed.) Stiles' dad tells Scott that he believes him anyway, but Scott calls him out on this bullshit. The sheriff insists that they will search the whole school, then gets called by one of his minions and leaves.

Stiles is pretty happy to be alive, but Scott is still concerned. He's fairly sure that the Alpha knew exactly where they were when they were hiding in the chemistry room, and points out that xe didn't kill them. He hypothesizes that this is because the Alpha wants Scott to kill them all - part of the pack-joining rite.

Scott: "And that's not even the worst part."
Stiles: "How in holy hell is that not the worst part?"

Because, Scott explains, when the Alpha forced him to wolf out, he also endowed him with an urge to kill all of them. Dun dun dun.

Scott and Stiles meander over to the ambulance, where the veterinarian has been found. Yay? He says that Scott saved his life and he probably owes him a raise now. Sheriff Stilinsky shoos them both away, but Scott ain't too broken up - he still has to talk to his dear, darling Allison. But she refuses his offers of help, and then tells him that she doesn't think that she can trust him. (Wow, really?) Scott tries to preserve their relationship by talking over the top of her until she shuts up (way to go, Scott), but she breaks up with him. All right, Allison! You show that stinky little liar who's boss.

And end episode.

Well, this episode was... kind of dull. Teenage angst, cheap horror movie tricks, lousy werewolf effects, yadda. I've never been too fond of Derek, but after watching an episode without him I've started to appreciate him a lot more - he adds some much-needed experience and rationality to the ridiculous shenanigans of the main cast. Please, writers, bring him back next episode. I'm begging you.

Allison finally broke up with Scott. I'm sure I'm supposed to feel sorry for him, but he deserved it. He's been lying to her, manipulating her, etc. since the first episode and she deserves better than that. Even if she is a shining example of Whitey McBlanderson.

Also, I really wish they would stop dragging out this Jackson thing. Believe it or not, guys, no1curr that he's having some weird pain and shit for thirty seconds for the fourth time in as many episodes. The thing that's really pressing is: what is actually going on? This entire debacle feels oddly like getting to have sex only once a week, only to be deprived of orgasm every single time - eventually I'm just going to get fed up and find another show to get my jollies from. Like The Gates. Oh, I'll still watch Teen Wolf, but I'll get it from a third-party source so MTV doesn't get paid for it, or something.

(Yeah, I realize that the episodes have already been filmed and I'm not going to change them with ridiculous and ineffectual threats. I was not serious.)

This episode also contains an Easter egg for fans of the original film - the sound that plays in the background of certain scenes is a quieter version of the sound that plays in the opening of the movie. That weird whumpawhumpawhump that transitions into Scott dribbling the ball. Oh, sublime.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Another Guide To Writing Good Slash

Trigger warning: swear words throughout, description of violent M/M sex in the first point.

(Full title: Another Guide To Writing Good Slash, By A Queer Guy With A Uterus.)

If you're looking for tips on slash writing, neo_prodigy's guide is just plain awesome, but I found that in some cases he and I disagree or there was something that I felt he didn't flesh out enough. So here, for your edjoomacation, is some supplementary material and it will be blunt because I am very tired. (It will also contain some things that other writers have said, which I'm posting not because they said them but because I drew the same conclusions from my own experience with slashfic.)

Warning: everything below constitutes my own opinion, unless it is a medical fact. That doesn't mean that there aren't certain things mentioned that should never be done. I will specify.

First, tropes I'm sick of:

"Just to be clear if magic is used to coerce someone into having sex that is rape. If someone is not conscious (and has given no prior consent) then having sex with them is rape. Forced to have sex, be that magically or otherwise, is rape." - Raz, The Problem With Gay Fantasy-Fiction

Also, any sex with possible consequences that the victim is not aware of, such as turning into a vampire/werewolf/alien/puddle of cum/sex god. The only time this gets a pass is if the partner who omitted the information didn't know about it himself.

If you're not attempting to pass violent sex/rape off as something titillating, and are just doing a straight-up rape scene for the sheer horror of it (though Neo_Prodigy has already covered why that is problematic), I'm not talking about you. Otherwise, stop doing this forever. It is non-negotiable.
  • Any amount of to-do about the bottom's "anal virginity." In slash written by women, a man's anal virginity is often some kind of BFD, tantamount to... well, to the way some women feel about their virginity. Not only is this glaringly unrealistic (explained below), but it's connected to something else I hate about a lot of slash - the emphasis on the bottom being completely untainted so that the top can claim him/have the honor of taking his anal cherry, as it were. This is something that never seems to come up in gay erotica that is actually written by gay men.
Which isn't to say that you can't have a story wherein the bottom is a virgin. But you have to do it right. I'm not sure exactly how to explain the difference in dynamic; it is a rite of passage, but it's more like "the first of many good times to come" rather than "the most important sex you will ever have in your life." And at no point should the top ever feel compelled to say "It's all right," or "I'll be gentle," or anything else that makes it sound like an especially skeevy, rape-flavored brand of het sex.

So stop doing it. This is non-negotiable.
  • Any time the above happens and the bottom whines about "saving himself." Again, see this link for truth. Firstly, the likelihood of any man "saving himself" is astronomically low unless he's a Christian (not to say that no non-Christian men do it, but it's rare). Secondly, even if he was saving himself, I guarantee that he would be infinitely more worried about one of the following: (1) are we seriously having gay sex right now, or (2) why the fuck is this man putting his dick in me? Because when a man is being raped, he's not going to be all that worried about escaping with his virginity intact. Stop doing it. This is non-negotiable.
  • "I don't usually date other men/I've never dated a man before, but..." This trope, wherein a gay man turns a straight man gay/bi either through rape or sheer charm, is so fuckin' problematic it ain't even funny. It reinforces the idea that gay men are out to convert straight men, that such a conversion is even possible, and that all young/naive/meek/effeminate/all of the above (because they're almost always written that way) straight men are either waiting to be gay-ified. This is non-negotiable. Knock it the fuck off.
  • Any story where the rape victim falls in love with his rapist. omgwtfbbq. Non-negotiable; stop doing it.
  • Oral sex as foreplay. It isn't. People don't have oral sex and then "real sex." They can have sex many times in a single scene if you like; it's written similarly, but with more emphasis on the "I see you are ready for more sex" writing. I love foreplay, but oral sex ain't it. This is non-negotiable. Stop doing it.
  • A mysterious, good-looking, powerful alpha male to which the beta is inexplicably attracted (because the beta is usually "straight" to begin with) turns out to be a long-practicing and incredibly talented M/M top. Seriously, ladies/any guys who might be listening, just stop conflating personality with sex role. It doesn't work that way. Well, it does sometimes, but not as often as you would have us believe.
  • Any alpha who is so talented that he can please the beta perfectly without being told what he needs to do. Unless he is some kind of god (which is hot, so go forth), he needs to either try stuff, gauge the beta's reaction and go from there, or ask. If "talking about sex" doesn't seem hot to you, turn it into a D/s scenario wherein the beta has to beg for it/force the alpha to do it. (That maneuver is a bit complicated and probably requires its own post to explain.) The whole "noncommunicative sex" thing causes hella unrealistic expectations in any virgin who stumbles upon it without any foreknowledge of how sex is supposed to work. This is non-negotiable. Never do it again.
  • The self-lubricating anus. See link for the truth on this matter, though if you've clicked any of the above truth links you are excused. Basically, an asshole is not a vagina. It doesn't work like a vagina. It doesn't respond to sexual stimulation like a vagina. And it does not self-lubricate. This is why many M/M sex scenes written by men with actual experience involve lube. Stop doing this forever. It is non-negotiable.
  • Anal sex on the first date. Anal virginity may not be a big deal, but anal sex actually is. It's very risky if done improperly, as it can cause lasting injury and/or nasty STI's. That's why you should not have anal sex unless you trust your top implicitly. (Note I didn't say "love.")

Tropes I love with a deep, burning passion:
  • Muscles. I don't know what it is, but it seems like I cannot get enough muscles in fic. However, a simple nod to so-and-so's "sculptured abs" ain't going to do it. If you want to impress me, you need to dedicate several sentences to describing every character's muscles in detail. Bonus points if you work the descriptions in with the action. Double bonus points if the characters fondle/lick each others' muscles.
Speaking of which, you should totes learn the popular terminology for all these muscles you'll be describing.
  • Body worship in general. I've seen so many sex scenes that go "kiss, kiss, undress, fuck." Bo-ring! Make them undress each other slowly, exploring each others' bodies as they go. Or strip stark naked and stare at each others' gorgeousness and then explore each others' bodies. Or something. What I'm saying is, body worship is hot.
  • Sex that leads to love. And I don't mean the starry-eyed "Our love is magical and destined to last for all time!" kind of love. I mean the "Dude, let us be best buds and sweet, passionate fuckbuddies for the rest of our lives" kind. Guy love. Between two guys. (Sometimes this involves cuddling. Sometimes it just means agreeing not to kill each other. Please tailor the relationship to the personalities of the participants.)
  • Transformations. I realize not every universe is going to have an opportunity for transformations, but I love having transformations in my writporn. Of course, not every guy does, but the slash pool could stand to have at least a few more of these floating around.
  • D/s play. neo_prodigy has already covered how a similar dynamic is (apparently) a natural part of gay sex, but what I'm talking about is fic actually devoted to it. And I don't mean rape. I mean Dom/sub, Master/slave, Mad Scientist/guinea pig, Alien/clueless human whom alien must protect. And the trappings: bondage, pain, etc. Combine with a good power struggle for massive damage.
Tropes that need to be much more prevalent:
  • Trans-inclusive gay sex. (And no, this doesn't mean "het sex but the woman looks like a man.") I'm talking about proper gay sex (referring to the dynamics, not necessarily the sexual acts) that happens to feature guys with trans bodies. Since a lot of slash fic involves using characters that are pre-written, this may seem difficult, but consider this: unless you've seen the dude's junk, or he has actually managed to get someone pregnant, you have no proof that his underwear holds a six-inch meatcock and fully functional testes. Research the possibilities and use them. Hell, you know what would be really awesome? Slash incorporating one of those characters who lives as a man, but the writers claim is really a woman (presence of uterus and estrogen and all that). Who's to say that's not who that person really is? Let xem have M/M sex for a change. There's more to gay porn than cocksucking.
I realize that it's not necessarily easy to find out how to write good gay porn with trans bodies. The No. 1 recommendation for anyone who is interested in the subject would be to get some of Buck Angel's videos and watch them. However, not everyone can afford those videos, and not everyone is in a living situation wherein they would be allowed to possess trans gay porn without raising some eyebrows. If this is the case, I would suggest searching sites like XTube and FreedomTube (good sources of online, free pornography; the downside is that you can't usually access a full video without paying for it), and using some good, old-fashioned search engines You can search for porn, guides to sex with trans male bodies, etc. However, this information isn't very easy to get, so if that fails, try asking a trans male friend (if you have any) what kind of things he likes in sex (assuming your relationship is such that the question would not be awkward/creepy/inappropriate). If he agrees to help, you'll only get his opinion, but it's a start.

If you can't find any resources, feel free to skip out on writing it altogether. I will not mind any lack of trans-inclusive slash that is unrealistic, exploitative, and/or just not hot.
  • Safe sex. This is another thing that is imperative, because a lot of slash readers are virgins who are going to internalize a lot of what they're reading and as a writer you have the responsibility to be damn sure they're internalizing healthy ideas. If you don't know how to make safe sex hot, read up on it. There are stories out there that pull it off. This is non-negotiable. Do it. (Exception: explicitly consensual unprotected sex between two guys who trust each other.)
  • Foreplay. More than a paragraph, please. And I don't just mean "making out," yeesh. I'm talking heavy petting, and lots of it. Shit should be so intense that you can't tell where the foreplay ends and the "sex" begins. This ties in with the "body worship" thing above.
I can't think of anything else at the moment.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Teen Wolf Review: Part Eight - Episode 6

Boy, was it a suspenseful week. MTV's site claimed that last week's episode was going to replay on July 4, so we weren't going to get to see Episode 6 until next week - but they have pulled through, and Episode 6 is now up for your entertainment and my snarking.

Warning: Spoilers ahead.

The episode opens with Scott walking into an underground parking lot. (Why do those things always appear in TV shows? I have never seen one of these in meatlife. I know why artistically - they're closed-in, more secluded than the open-air variety - but they still fall under the header of "urban mysteries I have no familiarity with." But I digress.)

Scott is carrying several bags of something (looks like groceries, but he said his mother does the shopping, so I don't know) and looking for the right car to bring them to. However, he realizes he's on the wrong floor, and goes to look elsewhere. (Holy cow! A multi-floor parking garage? These writers seem to have no idea what small towns actually look like. Srsly.)

Scott makes it to the right parking lot, but he still can't find the car, so he pulls out the keys and pushes the unlock button. He successfully pinpoints the location of the car based on the noise, but before he can get to it, a bottle of something rolls out of one of his bags and under another vehicle. Scott goes to get it, and is surprised when the bottle rolls back, leaking some of its contents (which look strangely like mayonnaise, despite the fact that it is clearly not a mayonnaise jar).

Scott looks up suspiciously, sees nothing, and starts running. (Finally he develops some good sense!) Before long, a loping figure can be seen chasing him through the parking lot.

(I'm sure this scene is meant to be intense, but I'm going to guess that the figure is actually Derek and they're just training. Find out in 10... 9... 8...)

Scott ducks behind a car to catch his breath, but soon he can hear his pursuer getting closer and he takes off again. To confuse whoever is chasing him, he makes a run across the hoods of several cars, causing their alarms to start blaring (because every car ever has a car alarm, frsrs). He runs a while further and then ducks behind yet another car to catch his breath again.

(This being the middle of the night and all, there sure are a lot of cars in this parking lot.)

Scott thinks he's in the clear until his cell phone rings. He tries to turn it off, but too late - TAG! Derek grabs him and slams him into the hood of another car (because property damage is cool while you're training, I guess. Oh, and I was right) and tells him he is now dead.

Cue splash screen.

When the show resumes, Scott is chewing Derek out for scaring him. Evidently Derek prefers the Clouseau style of training, because he gave Scott absolutely no advance warning before launching his pretend attack.

Scott: "You scared the crap out of me!"
(Derek glances at Scott)
Derek: "Not yet."

Derek Hale - still not as badass as Harold Howard. (Who, for those unfamiliar with the film Teen Wolf, can make at least one person wet himself just by growling.)

Scott tries to get Derek to admit that he did at least some things right, but Derek is all about the ways he screwed up. Desperate, Scott admits that he feels terrible about Stiles' dad getting hurt (wait, what? When did this happen?) and insists that he needs Derek to teach him. Derek responds that he's not sure he can teach Scott to control his abilities, since he was bitten rather than born, but that it would expediate things immensely if he could see fit to remove Allison from the picture. (In the "break up" sense, not the "messy murder" sense.)

Scott protests, so Derek destroys his cell phone. Scott gets pissed, which leads to another object lesson: the transformation is driven by anger. (As opposed to more traditional werewolves, who were usually driven by hunger and/or a vindictive urge to slaughter their neighbors' sheeps.) Derek explains that Scott will never be able to get angry enough to transform with Allison in the picture, so the only solution is to cockblock him.

Scott isn't happy, but he says that if it means saving his friends and his own life, he can stay away from Allison until after the next full moon. Hey, does this mean that I won't be subjected to endless scenes of their happy little werewolf dates this episode? If so, I am definitely for this.

Scott, however, doesn't seem to be, because next thing we know, he's getting hot and heavy with Allison in her bedroom. (Well, at least they're doing something exciting for once.) Unfortunately, the Rule of Protagonist Cockblocking kicks in, and their secksy time is interrupted by a knock on the door.

Allison hides Scott in the closet (lolol) and answers the door. It's Kate! Who, inexplicably, has a closer relationship with Allison than her own mother. (I guess women with short, conservative haircuts aren't worth the same amount of screen time.) They talk, and it's explained that Allison has been grounded from seeing Scott, hence the whole "keeping him in her closet" thing. She tries to get rid of Kate by telling her that she's got a history project to do, but this backfires as Kate decides to help her with it. She points Allison in the direction of "La Bete Du Gévaudan."

Well, color me impressed. They actually managed to work in another real legend. Although its connection to werewolves is tenuous at best, the Beast of Gévaudan is the tale from whence the "silver bullet" myth originates. (Believe it or not, Universal Studios actually didn't make up this one.) The story goes that an enormous wolf-like creature (one of two, actually) was slaughtering people in the area, and no one was able to kill it until one hunter got creative. He made a silver bullet (only one bullet, because he was a badass), had a priest bless it so that it would be deadly to the beast, and then went and bagged the bastard. Not only was this effective, but it ensured that any silver bullet afterward would work on any similar beast, due to a rule which causes every item of the same kind as the one blessed (in this case, anything made of silver) to take on the blessing in question.

Unfortunately, MTV decided to Joss the concept of silver bullets before declaring the Origin Myth of Silver Bullets to be canon, so Kate sidesteps this fact. Instead, she tries to convince Allison that the recent animal attacks are somehow connected to the Beast of Gévaudan.

Some time after this exchange, Scott leaves Allison's room through her window. (No report on whether secksy time ever took place.) She waves at him and he leaves.

As Scott is walking through the darkness, he hears a growl in the shadows again. Scott thinks it's Derek, and tries to explain what he's doing at Allison's place (had to tell her why he wasn't answering his phone - sure, kid).

When "Derek" doesn't respond, Scott realizes that he's dealing with a moar different werewolf and runs for his car. He makes it just in the nick of time, and the mysterious werewolf skulks around his car for a bit before drawing a spiral in the fog on Scott's windshield.

Somehow, Scott makes it home. As soon as he gets there, he locks himself into his bedroom and closes his window. Confident that his domicile is secure, he turns on the light - and sees Derek sitting on his bed.

Derek asks what happened with the Alpha. Scott says that he didn't say anything, and Derek explains that Scott's werewolf abilities include super werewolf empathy. This jogs Scott's memory, and he says that he felt a lot of anger coming from the alpha. It wasn't directed at anyone that he could tell, but he says it intensified when the werewolf drew the spiral.

The mention of a spiral piques Derek's interest, and Scott notices. But when he asks, Derek refuses to explain. Scott calls him out on it, pointing out that Derek had also buried his sister's remains under a spiral, but Derek just tells him "you don't want to know" and leaves.

(Ooh! I just had an awesome theory. What if it's some kind of death thing? Like a grave marker! There was a spiral over the grave of Derek's sister, and another one over the store where the guy was killed. Drawing a spiral on Scott's windshield could be the Alpha's way of saying "I kill you.")

At school the next day, Scott is trying very hard to avoid both Allison and Jackson. This is difficult, because he doesn't know where they are until he can actually see them (so much for werewolf senses), and he nearly puts himself into a paranoid fit until he finds his classroom. He takes a seat behind Stiles, who is not talking to him at the moment. He tries to ask about Stiles' dad (who must have been the other person hit by a car), but Stiles refuses to talk until Scott says that he's gone to Derek for help. Stiles does not approve of this plan and says as much, then goes back to ignoring Scott - until his curiosity gets the better of him.

Scott explains what's been going on, and that Derek wants him to learn to tap into his anger. Stiles thinks this is probably a bad idea, since people tend to get attacked when that happens, but Scott says it must be done and that Derek is going to try and help him with it. This makes Stiles jelly, and he decides that he's just going to help Scott himself.

At lunch, Allison tells Lydia all about the Beast of Gévaudan. Their conversation indicates that Allison is referring to the first beast, which explains the lack of silver bullets, but then she declares that the man who killed the beast was named Argent. (Hint: no.) She shows Lydia a picture of the Beast and asks her what it looks like. It looks enough like the attacker from the video store that it nearly triggers a flashback, but Allison snaps Lydia out of it. Lydia, still convinced that Jackson was attacked by a mountain lion, tells her "It looks like a big wolf" and leaves.

At another table, Scott is pretending to read (to avoid looking at Allison) while he talks to Stiles. Stiles still doesn't want to help him, but he figures it's the best way to keep himself and his dad from getting into any more trouble.

Stiles: "Plus, I'm a better Yoda than Derek."
Scott: "Yeah, you teach me."
Stiles: "Yeah, I'll be your Yoda."
Scott: "You be my Yoda."
Stiles (in Yoda voice): "Your Yoda, I will be."

Wow, writers. Such eloquent dialogue. Keep up the good work!

Despite this, Stiles says that he still hates Scott and leaves the table. Scott follows him, and Allison sees him walk by and tries to get his attention. He blows her off Spider-Man style by hiding in the boys' restroom. Allison gives up, and Scott frets about having to avoid her.

Next, Scott and Stiles head out to the lacrosse field. Stiles has a brilliant plan to teach Scott to access his anger: he's going to tie Scott's wrists with duct tape and throw lacrosse balls at him as hard as possible. He's even snurched the coach's heart rate monitor and phone so that he can watch Scott's heart rate and see if it's tied to his transformations.

Scott: "Like the Incredible Hulk?"
Stiles: "Kind of like the Incredible Hulk."
Scott (grinning): "Yeah, I'm like the Incredible Hulk."
Stiles: "Will you shut up and put the strap on?"

At least this was funnier than the last attempt at a nerd joke.

Stiles gets Scott tied up and starts throwing balls. In the midst of this, Jackson walks by the field and happens to see what's going on. He thinks it's hilarious until Scott suddenly doubles over. Stiles looks at the heart rate monitor; Scott's pulse has suddenly accelerated by several BPM.

Jackson stares very closely (though he hasn't Derek's skill for the art), but Scott manages to calm down before he can wolf out. He tells Stiles that Derek was right; the transformation is directly linked to anger and he can't be with Allison because she makes him weak. Allrighty then.

Back in the locker room, Scott bemoans the ongoing lack of Allison in his life. Stiles figures that it's not permanent and he'll just have to avoid her until he learns to control his powers. Scott isn't convinced, since the only other werewolf he knows has been doing the Forever Alone schtick pretty much nonstop. Scott says that he would rather be dead than Forever Alone. Stiles tells him that isn't going to happen.

As they leave, Scott comments that it smells terrible in the locker room, like something is rotting and dying. Soon as they're offscreen, Jackson lurches on - and he is not looking good. He lurches to the mirror, rips off his shirt, and takes the bandage off of the wounds on his neck. They appear to be infected, and badly. A bit later, Jackson starts to vomit... werewolf fingers? Nawp, just a fever-induced hallucination. Someone get this poor guy some penicillin already.

In the school hallway, a pair of mopey-looking legs walk up to Allison, who is sitting on the floor. The person attached to the legs asks Allison what she's reading, and she says "stuff for a history project." (Still studying the Beast, I see. Either there is way more reading material on that subject than I am aware of, or Allison is a really slow reader.)

The owner of the legs sits on the floor next to Allison. It's Jackson, still looking sick. He exchanges some pleasantries with Allison until she asks if he wants something, and he says that he wants to talk. He apologizes for being a douche to Allison and Scott. Allison is dubious, so he explains that he's been extra-douchey because he's always been the best lacrosse player and now feels like Scott has stolen his thunder.

Allison: "Haven't you ever heard that there is no I in team?"
Jackson: "Yeah, but there is a 'me'."

That's right, Allison. Take your platitudes and shove them. Actually, Jackson was joking, and says that Allison must really hate him. She says she doesn't. Jackson says he wouldn't blame her if she did, but that he's not really a bad guy and actually likes Allison and Scott quite a bit. He says he wants to get to know them better. Anything for them steroids, eh, Jackson?

Scott's next class is Economics - incidentally, the class that the coach teaches. It's also a class that he shares with Allison, so he can't avoid talking to her. She asks why he's been avoiding her. He tells her he's been busy. She tells him he needs to get his phone fixed (yeah, 'cause he can totes afford that lykeritenao). Then she springs a surprise on him: she's traded partners for something-or-other, and gotten herself teamed up with him so that he can come to her house to study.

Scott, flustered that his attempts at avoiding Allison are being so easily foiled, tries to weasel out by saying that he doesn't want to bring her grade down. She won't have any of it, though, and tells him he's coming to her house at eight-thirty tonight.

The teacher interrupts their conversation, asking Scott to give a summary of the reading they were supposed to do last night. Scott doesn't remember it, and the coach/teacher puts him on the spot, saying that he can't keep Scott on the lacrosse team if he doesn't get good grades and demanding evidence that Scott has learned anything at any point in his life ever. Scott can't respond; he's too focused on trying to stay calm as his heart rate (monitored by Stiles) approaches critical. The teacher continues to berate him, finally telling him that he's going back to the bench, but Scott continues to ignore him and manages to keep himself in the clear. Relieved, he looks back, and we see that Allison has been holding his hand between the desks.

After class, Stiles shares his latest breakthrough with Scott: Allison is the key to keeping him from losing control. (Unless he's shagging her, of course.) Apparently their Purest Hetero Romance is enough to stop Scott from wolfing out or, if he's already wolfed out, flying into a mindless, murderous rage. Scott figures that this is because he loves Allison, which causes him to realize that, in fact, he loves Allison (as opposed to before, when they were just dating 'cause they were both hot). This causes a temporary dip into the Land of Sweet Addle-Paited Happiness, but Stiles drags him back to reality when he points out that Scott can't keep her around all the time. They need another way to control Scott's transformations - and Stiles has an idea. One that is liable to get Scott in trouble and will involve physical pain, which means that it's pretty much perfect. (Um. Yeah. We'll go with "perfect.")

Stiles takes Scott out to the parking lot. He tells Scott to stand still and hold a car key. Scott complies, and Stiles keys a nearby pickup truck, then pins the blame on Scott. (See? Told you it was brilliant.) This results in Scott getting the crap beat out of him by three irate, full-grown men, while Stiles watches his heart rate and encourages him to stay calm.

Scott tries to focus on Allison, but instead something else happens: he starts getting flashes of another person. The person is typing at a computer, then skateboarding, then walking through the school hallway with an enormous collection of keys. This person stops near Allison, who is telling someone over the phone that she'll be meeting with Scott.

Scott snaps out of it just as he is rescued by the chemistry teacher. Teacher isn't happy, but Stiles is, because once again Scott has avoided wolfing out.

Meanwhile, Derek has stopped in at the rest home to visit his uncle. Derek says that he needs his uncle's help, and asks him to give him a sign if he can hear him. (Um, yeah, that'll work.) He tells his uncle that someone has killed his sister (whose name is Laura, BTW), and explains that the werewolf in question is an alpha without a pack (which means he can be taken down, apparently). Derek believes he can take the alpha down, but not until he finds him, and he seems to think that his uncle (who has been a vegetable for over a decade, IIRC) might know something. When his uncle remains unresponsive, he starts yelling, until a nurse catches him. She tells him that that isn't going to work and that if his uncle is ever going to become communicative again, they're just going to have to wait for it to happen. (I like this nurse. She agrees with me.) Also, Uncle has only been a vegetable for six years.

Derek tells the nurse that he doesn't have any more time and leaves. Just as he departs, the camera pans to his uncle's hand. He is raising a finger. Herp derp, I guess clueless ableist dickwads really do know everything about mental patients.

Out in the parking lot (which is open-air, by the way), Derek finds a note on his windshield and reads it. Its contents aren't shown, but whatever was written obviously disturbs him (either that or he hates snow). He gets into his car and drives away.

We now return to Scott and Stiles, who are serving detention with the chemistry teacher. Scott asks for permission to leave early so that he can go to work, but the teacher ignores him. He then proceeds to have a conversation with Stiles, despite this being the one behavior I know of that is universally forbidden in detention. They establish that Stiles isn't really angry at Scott, just jealous, and since Scott has all these sweet superpowers he has to Do Something. The teacher seems to hear the entire conversation (which wouldn't be surprising because he was sitting maybe ten feet away), but he doesn't react, just dismisses them. He watches them leave, and his cheek twitches.

At the animal clinic, the veterinarian is busy working when the door opens. He starts talking to Scott, only to find out that it is in fact Derek. He asks the vet about a dead deer that he found three months ago, which had a spiral marked on its side. The vet says that he wasn't the one who found it, and besides he's never seen anything else like it, but Derek's lie detector goes off and he grabs the vet.

Next thing we know, the clinic is dark and the vet is tied to a chair. Derek starts questioning him, but he denies knowledge of everything. Derek is about to get violent when Scott walks in on them. The vet tells Scott to leave, but Derek punches him out. Scott demands to know what's going on. Derek tells him that the spiral is a symbol for a vendetta (basically, it means that the alpha's going on a rampage of death, which does not explain the spiral over Laura's grave at all) and that he thinks that the vet may be the Alpha. He starts to attack him, but Scott is very attached to the veterinarian; he wolfs out and holds Derek back.

Derek, who was apparently not expecting that, backs off. Scott returns to his human self and tells Derek that if he hits the vet again, he'll see Scott get angry.

(Not spoken: "You won't like me when I'm angry.")

Scott tells Derek to meet him in an hour at the school parking lot, then tends to the vet's wounds while Derek leaves.

Later on, Scott and Stiles come to the school parking lot together. Stiles isn't big on breaking in - he'd rather ignore whatever problem they're dealing with until it goes away on its own - but Scott tells him "just make sure that we can get inside." Shortly after, Derek arrives, with the veterinarian tied up in the backseat of his car. For safekeeping, I expect.

Scott and Stiles break into the school to enact their master plan: having Scott howl into the school microphone to try and get the Alpha's attention. Scott, being a newbie werewolf, lets out one of the hammiest and most hilarous howls I have heard in a long time (seriously, I think it's only a few octaves away from attracting tomcats). Stiles has a similar opinion of it, and tells Scott that he needs to "be a werewolf, not a teen wolf." Or, in other words, be a mayaun. (Links to the DVDA song "Now You're A Man" on YouTube.)

Scott wolfs it up, and this time produces a sound that shakes the entire school and impresses Derek, despite sounding more like a "stay away" than a "come hither" in wolfspeak. (There's a lot of growling in it.) They come back to the parking lot, and Derek chews them out for being so damn loud. It seems to have worked, as a glimpse is shown of a growling, shadowy figure in the distant foreground. But our protagonists have bigger problems: the vet has mysteriously disappeared from the back of Derek's car.

And then the alpha sticks his claws in Derek's back. Derek coughs blood before the alpha throws him away, and Scott and Stiles run inside the school, crouching behind the doors.

Dun dun dun.

And that's the end of the episode. My gosh, I cannot express how relieving it was not to have to watch Scott and Allison date again. Those two are mind-numbingly shallow. I mean it. I cannot handle them.

There was absolutely no Danny in this episode, at least not that I could see, which bums me out muchly. I want to see more of him, and soon.

While I'm making demands, I also want the writers to hurry up with the Jackson story arc because I am seriously not amused to watch him lurching around half-dead for days on end. Seriously.

Oh, and if the writers think I'm fooled by this "new, compassionate" Jackson, they have so got another think coming. I'm guessing he's only after two things: 'roids, and Allison. And he won't stop until he gets them. Or dies slowly of a horrible werewolf infection.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Teen Wolf Review: Part Seven - Episode 5

You're welcome.

When last we left Scott McCall, he was giving the stink-eye to Allison's dad for being too hetero with his daughter, then saving Derek from a painful and horrible death. What adventures will our intrepid hero experience this week?

Warning: Spoilers ahead.

The episode opens with a set of flickering fluorescent lights. The scene is a video store, and a lone employee (or perhaps the owner) is trying to fix the lights. Being the cautious and thoughtful electrician he is, he hasn't bothered to turn off the lights first (possibly because it's night and all the lights are controlled by the same switch).

Outside, Jackson and Lydia have just pulled up to the store, arguing about what movie they're going to rent. Jackson wants to watch Hoosiers, Lydia wants to watch The Notebook. Sweet baby cheeses, could we have a more overt display of heteronormative stereotypes? Just because Lydia is a woman doesn't mean that she's going to want to watch a Romance Movie. No, there's nothing wrong with a woman liking romance, but this characterization is serving to reinforce sexism and heterociscentricity.

(Of course, there's the chance that she doesn't like it that much either and is just watching it to punish Jackson for being such a high-maintenance boyfriend. I wouldn't put it past her.)

Lydia wins the argument (ha ha! Jackson gave in to his nagging girlfriend! So funny!) and Jackson goes into the store. He calls out for help, but now there is no one there. (Ooh, mysterious.) Jackson continues to search the store, and in doing so, finds the employee from earlier - dead and bloody on the floor.

Jackson backs away, and accidentally knocks over the ladder the employee was using to change the lights. The ladder was holding up the fixture, which now falls freely, exacerbating the light problem.

Outside, Lydia is so wrapped up taking photos of herself that she fails to notice that the biggest light source in close proximity is flashing on and off like novelty Christmas lights. I don't buy this at all. It doesn't matter what you're staring at; if things suddenly get dark, you notice. And you know who is shallow enough to ignore something like that? Nobody. Except a disgusting stereotype. Writers, I am ashamed.

Back in the store, Jackson is starting to freak out. He is looking around the store, trying to find the employee's killer before it can sneak up on him, when he sees a flash of a hideous wolf face (seriously, these special effects are kind of bad) with glowing red eyes. He quickly hides behind the nearest shelf (in front of several copies of "Let The Right One In" - I see what you did there, guys), and peers around the corner in time to see a Dramatic Werewolf Blur. (You know, where the indistinct object moves rapidly from one side of the screen to the other.) He seems relieved that it didn't see him, but then it runs between some of the shelves behind them, knocking down DVD's in the process. (Two Werewolf Blurs in one scene. I am impressed.)

He looks back again, just as the werewolf knocks over one of the shelves, creating a domino effect that is heading straight for Jackson. Just as the shelf he's hiding behind starts to fall, he tries to jump away, but he only half makes it - his legs are pinned under the shelf. He tries to pull himself out, but it's no use - and then he hears the ominous breathing of the werewolf.

Fortunately, it turns out that the Alpha has no interest in Jackson, and just scares him a little bit before making a dramatic exit through the front window. This, Lydia notices. Way to go, Lydia.

(But seriously, that's it? Not even a drive-by nomming, xe just bails. This makes me think that there was some extra motivation in killing the video store owner in particular. Werewolf political squabble, maybe.)

Cue splash screen.

When the show resumes, Stiles and his dad are sitting in Dad's police cruiser, eating fast food. While they talk about eating fast food.

Dad: Did I forget the curly fries?
Stiles: You're not supposed to eat fries. Especially the curly ones.
Dad: I'm carrying a lethal weapon. If I want the curly fries, I will have the curly fries.

This brilliant display of comic writing is interrupted by a call from some other polices, reporting a possible murder. This piques both of their attentions, but when they arrive at the video store, Stiles' dad tells him to stay in the car. So he scopes out the scene from his seat, sees Jackson gesticulating about something, and decides to listen in.

In a nutshell, Jackson wants to go home and isn't happy that he has to stay and receive medical treatment. He gets into an argument about it with Stiles' dad, and as he becomes more enraged refers to him as a "minimum-wage rent-a-cop." Yeouch.

From the roof, Derek and Scott are watching the scene. After questioning from Scott, Derek explains that the serial-killer schtick isn't typical behavior for a werewolf, and that they have to figure out why the alpha has gone on a spree. As they leave, some ominous music plays, and a strange, glowing reddish spiral appears on the roof, similar to the wolfsbane spiral that Derek had installed around the remains of his sister. But this one isn't made of rope; Minecraft players may note that it looks more like a redstone circuit.

Back at Derek's house, Scott declares that he needs to go home and do his homework. Derek disagrees; they bicker. Basically, Scott's running out of time. It's only a week until the next full moon, and at that time Derek says the Alpha will try and force Scott to kill again - and if he fails, he will kill Scott instead. Scott is reluctant, but decides to go with it.

First it's time for some Werewolf 101. Derek starts out by explaining to Scott how to force himself to stay in/return to human form. As demonstration, he crushes Scott's hand. This gives Scott a sad, but provides an object lesson: pain induces and preserves humanity. Scott's hand rights itself, 'cause it's an awesome werewolf hand, and Derek heads off to bed.

The next day, Allison is getting ready for school when dear Aunt Kate decides to drop in. She apologizes for her behavior the other night (Allison and Scott's botched study date). Why, I don't know, since Mr. Argent was the one being weird, but anyway. To apologize, she gives Allison her birthday present early. It's a funky old necklace, a family heirloom, with a pendant in the shape of a shield with a barking dog on it. Or possibly a wolf. Probably a wolf. The smith didn't do a very good job.

Kate tells Allison to look up the symbol if she ever wants to know more about her family. They chat and hug, and Allison heads to school.

At school, Allison opens her locker and a bunch of helium-filled balloons come flying out. She crams them back in quickly, reads the birthday card that someone stuck on her locker door, and seems unhappy about it. Scott sees her and asks if it's her birthday. She denies it at first, but then tells him that it is, and explains that she wasn't going to tell anyone. Scott asks her why, and she tells him it's because she's seventeen. He's surprised at first, but realizes that she's older because all of the moving she'd done in the past forced her to repeat a year. Allison is pleased with Scott's insight and understanding and gives him smoochies. He asks her why, and she explains that everyone who's ever learned how old she was has subsequently harassed her with imaginative (and inaccurate) guesses about why she's back a grade, and Scott's the only one to get it right.

Scott is sympathetic, and to save her from going through it again, he proposes that they skip school. Allison is hesitant, but agrees.

In class, the teacher announces that there will be parent-teacher conferences that night and that everyone with lower than a C+ average will be required to attend.

Teacher: "I won't name you, because the shame and self-disgust should be more than enough punishment."

Just then, he notices that Scott is missing. He asks about him, but no one knows where he is. Just then, Jackson enters the class. He looks like he hasn't slept all night, and the teacher tells him that if he needs to leave for any reason, just to let him know.

This is obviously meant to show what a Bad Teacher this guy is. He's giving Jackson Special Treatment! Well, I call bollocks. Judging by his behavior, Jackson was obviously quite traumatized by the attack in the video store, and regardless of how much of a dick he is (which is to say, not very much, since he mostly makes vague threats at Scott), he deserves the time and space he needs to recover.

The teacher then snarks at Stiles for overusing the highlighter marker in his textbook.

Once the teacher is no longer paying attention, Stiles turns to the student next to him and asks if he knows what happened to Jackson. Oh my stars, it's Danny! Danny the invisible gay goalie! Five episodes in we actually get to see his face. And he is not even a white guy! The shock! The horror! The Twofer Token Minority!

(Speaking of token minorities, I haven't seen the black student around in a while. Wonder what she's up to.)

Anyway, Stiles gets so caught up in trying to get his question answered that he blurts out: "Do you find me attractive?" Danny gives him a weird look, and he suddenly realizes what he's just asked in front of the entire science class and falls off his stool. Oh noes, someone might think that Stiles is gay! Whatever shall we do?

(There's only one thing for it: date Danny. That will fix everything, yes it will. Come on, Stiles, I know you dig his adorable face.)

Well, it doesn't really matter. There are more important things to focus on, like Scott and Allison skipping school. Allison is worried that this might be a bad idea, since they could get into trouble (no, really?), but they don't have time to argue, as a police car flashing a siren is pulling in. Scott tells Allison to start the car and get leaving, and she is confused but complies.

I love the way Scott shuts down Allison's hesitation by asking her if she always does what her dad tells her. And by "love" I mean "despise." So, you get her to do what you want by shaming her for doing what someone else wants? Really? What about Allison's autonomy? What about the fact that she may not want to face a confrontation with her dad, and she has the right to choose not to? Once again, Allison is written as nothing more than the site of a power struggle between Scott and Mr. Argent. I probably don't have to say it, but this is sexist.

Meanwhile, Jackson is in the school locker room (in nothing but a towel - hello, Mr. Fanservice) trying to keep it together. It seems that last night's attack has traumatized him a lot. He also has the wounds on his neck from where Derek wolfclawstabbed him, and they seem to be causing a lot of pain.

Then, as he's doing something at his locker, he looks into the shower steam and sees a pair of glowing red eyes. Jackson freaks out, and expects to be attacked again, but it turns out it's just another classmate, and the "eyes" were red lights on his headphones. Jackson relaxes - until the student leaves, and he turns and sees Derek.

Panicking, he tells Derek that he doesn't know where Scott is. But Derek says he's not here for Scott; he's here for Jackson. (Plz to resist the imagination of Scott/Derek/Jackson werewolf threesomes, brain.) He asks Jackson what he saw at the video store, but Jackson - shaking and sweating from nerves - claims that he didn't see anything. Derek tells him to calm down and repeat himself, then uses his super-werewolf-lie-detecting skills to ascertain whether Jackson is lying or not. He then turns Jackson's head to look at the claw marks on his neck and tells him he should get them checked out.

As Derek leaves, a terrified Jackson fights a panic attack.

In school, after the next bell rings, Stiles manages to call Scott on his cell phone. Scott is in Allison's car with her (apparently his idea of playing hooky is a road trip in the vicinity of Beacon Hills?) He tells Scott what's been going on with Jackson, and that he has to "do something about" the things that have been going on. Scott says that he'll do something later, then instructs Allison to make a left turn. She turns sharply, instinctively reaching out and grabbing Scott to keep him from being thrown out of the seat. Afterward, she apologizes.

Allison: "I totally soccer-mom'd you."
Scott: "That's okay; we'll just pick up my masculinity on the way back."

Excuse me? Since when does someone (even a woman) trying to protect you from harm constitute a loss of masculinity? Way to sexism, Scott. Way. To. Sexism.

They pull off deeper into the forest (a la Twilight) and start walking. Allison is apparently sending a text message to someone to create an alibi, and Scott says that if they get caught he'll just say it was all his fault. Allison argues that it was her choice, too (albeit a choice she was coerced into making, which she does not mention). Scott jokes that that's good, because then he can just blame her (way to go, Scott), which leads straight into flirting and eventual het smoochies.

The scene shifts to Lydia's room, where she is lying on her bed, listening to music, and staring at her fingernails. Oh, and she has a stuffed animal, too, in case she wasn't cliché enough. (Not that I'm knocking stuffed animals - I have several of them - but come on.) There's a knock on her door, and her mom tells her that Stiles is here to see her. Lydia is not overly impressed by his arrival. She is also drugged (her mother says she "took something to help with her nerves") and laying in a sexy pose on the bed in skimpy clothes.

Stiles just wants to make sure she's all right (so he says), but Lydia in her drugged state can't help but have him sit on her bed and feel him up. (Remember, sparrows, Lydia's an oversexed whore and don't you ever forget it!) Stiles realizes that she's drugged and ignores her advances (oh, wow, yay, so chivalrous), and when they start talking Lydia lets slip that she saw something the night before. Stiles asks her what she saw, but she insists it was a mountain lion. Then she falls asleep on his leg and gives him a raging boner.

This situation just bothers me. The writers of this show have absolutely no problems with putting its female characters into compromising position after compromising position and relying on the male characters to do the right thing and keep them safe, and that is really getting annoying.

Speaking of which, Scott and Allison are walking through the forest when Allison slips on a log and Scott rescues her. Masculinity re-acquired! Allison has the same thought, then starts to send a text message to Lydia. Scott stops her and tells her that since his cell phone is off, hers has to be too. Never mind that as a woman walking alone in the woods with a man she's only known for a couple of weeks, Allison has every right to keep her cell phone on (and should have told someone where she is, for that matter) - it must not interrupt this Romantic Moment. Allison asks him to just let her send one text message, and like a good manipulator he relents.

Back in Lydia's room, she's awake again. Stiles, feeling awkward, decides to leave, but Lydia tells him to stay. Stiles is all too thrilled to comply - especially when she starts stroking his face - but when she calls him "Jackson" and passes out again, it kills his boner.

Then she gets a text message. Stiles tries to read it for her, but he doesn't know how to operate her phone, and ends up pressing the wrong button. This causes an accidental video recording from the night before to start playing, and in it he sees the werewolf. He bolts.

Kate, meanwhile, has been busy. She's rounded up a couple of Mr. Argent's minions and brought them to Derek's house. One of the minions reminds her that Argent wanted them to wait, but she says that it's fine as long as they don't kill him.

Inside, Derek is working out shirtless (dig the swirly tattoo and 'roid physique), and just to show off how badass he is he does some one-handed pushups. His personal time is interrupted, however, when his workout music stops, and one of the hunters kicks his door open. He's not visible, but Kate insists that he's there somewhere. One of the hunters makes a bad dog joke, and Kate calls him out on it, then decides to show him how to insult Derek properly. This works, and also results in said hunter getting kicked to the wall.

Derek is here, and he wastes no time going Wolverine on their asses. Kate, however, came prepared. When he gets close, she shocks him with some kind of super anti-werewolf cattle prod, and he goes down, writhing on the floor in shirtless agony.

Kate: "Wow. This one grew up in all the right places. I don't know whether to kill it or lick it."

While I have to agree with at least part of that sentiment, this does not succeed at being not creepy. I mean, for once it's a woman in the powerful part of the dynamic, but she's not wasting the chance to flaunt her prejudice and privilege, calling Derek an "it" and implying that she can do whatever she wants with him just because he's a werewolf (or, in other words, less of a real person than she is). I will admit this is realistic - so realistic that it's disturbing. But I wonder if people will draw the necessary parallels between this and similar situations that have gone on in real life. (Hint, guys: this actually happens to trans women.)

Meanwhile, Stiles is in his bedroom trying to get Scott on the phone so he can tell him about the video. When Scott doesn't answer, Stiles gets cheesed off and threatens to kill him. (In a non-serious way, of course, but... yeah. That's always a good way to keep a friendship; death threats.) In the midst of it, his dad comes in and asks if he's going to hear good news at the parent-teacher conference. Stiles says it depends on how his dad defines good news, but of course Dad has Unrealistic Expectations. He leaves, and Stiles continues to not get called by Scott.

This, of course, is because Scott's busy clowning around the forest with Allison. They're walking on some rocks when Scott slips and Allison rescues him. A second or so later, Allison slips and Scott catches her, but not long afterward they both slip, and have to hold each other up. It's actually pretty adorable. They kiss, spend some more time bonding in the woods, kiss some more, etc. Meanwhile, Stiles gives up on finding Scott and deletes the video from Lydia's phone.

Kate, still at Derek's house, watches gleefully as he tries to get up. He can't wolf out, of course - which we would not know if Derek hadn't explained the pain-humanity relationship to Scott earlier. Oh, writers, you are so subtle.

Kate is so sadistic that when Derek tries to crawl onto his couch, she zaps him again, and brags about her 9,000 volt cattle prod (in case you were wondering how much electricity a grown werewolf can take). She then starts talking about Derek's sister, and tells him that the hunters didn't actually kill her. Derek is skeptical, but Kate tells him to use his Super Werewolf Lie-Detecting Power and then takes the opportunity to whisper suggestively (or threateningly - probably both) in his ear. Long story short, she's telling the truth, the Alpha was the one who killed Derek's sister, and she thinks they should team up to go after xem. Except that Derek doesn't know who xe is, so she decides to kill him instead. He sees it coming and escapes just as she shoots the place up with an automatic.

Once he's sure he's safe, he stops, and stares back toward his house, looking confused and angry. The camera gives several well-lit money-shots of his shirtless torso, natch.

Over at the animal clinic, the veterinarian is also trying to call Scott, who is now an hour late for work. He doesn't answer, so the vet hangs up; just then, Stiles' Dad The Sheriff walks in with more photographs. The vet reminds him that he's not an expert, but Sheriff Stilinsky has something more than bite marks: a few frames of video from a surveillance camera near the video store. And they certainly aren't showing a mountain lion. What they do show is the werewolf leaping through the window and reverting to human form. The vet agrees that this is a problem, but says he cannot identify the animal and besides he has to go take care of the sick Doberman.

Back in the woods, Scott and Allison are finally done romping around and are coming back to her car. (I'm assuming Scott used his werewolf powers to find it in the dark, because otherwise I got nothing.) Allison tells Scott that she's had a perfect birthday. They hetbond, but then Allison mentions the parent-teacher conference and Scott realizes that he has to be there.

At school, the science teacher is talking to Jackson's parents about his performance (while, elsewhere, Jackson is getting drunk and trying to hit a target with a lacrosse ball). During the discussion, it comes out that Jackson was adopted, and because of this feels a need to be as perfect as possible so that he can feel like his biological parents are proud of him. Now, I'm not adopted, but I am intimately familiar with feeling the drive to please one's parents to the point where it becomes self-destructive, and I have a lot of sympathy for him.

Lydia's parents, meanwhile, are learning that their daughter is a brilliant student with a lot of potential, while Lydia is at home putting on makeup to hide the signs of the trauma and stress she's been under.

Stiles' dad talks to the coach (hello again, you). They end up discussing Stiles' first name, which has not been revealed so far. And it continues to be unrevealed, but we do learn that he was named for his grandfather and that white American douchebags can't pronounce it. The coach also says that Stiles is brilliant and has an incredible ability for dedication, but his inability to focus (the reason he takes Adderall, no doubt) is causing problems. Stiles, meanwhile, is in his bedroom looking up the Hale house fire and related stuff, implying that perhaps his problem isn't a lack of concentration so much as a tendency to concentrate on things that his teachers do not consider important.

Scott's mom also ends up talking to the science teacher, which she is forced to do without Scott since he's still trying to get there. The teacher explains that Scott hasn't been paying attention, and insinuates that this is because he doesn't have a man guiding him. This sexist bullshit goes un-called out, but Scott's mother asserts that they are better off without his dad (since they are in fact divorced - I can't remember if I mentioned that before). He does later explain that what he meant was that Scott could use a man to help him through puberty, while Scott (still in Allison's car) shows off the neat shade of yellow that his eyes flash in the headlights of oncoming cars.

Allison's teacher - the same nameless, never-before-seen black woman who did Lydia's interview - says that things are going well, but because of her history of moving around, her parents should probably expect some teenage rebellion. Mr. Argent and his wife assure the teacher that they have a very open and trusting relationship with their daughter - and then learn she skipped school without their knowledge. Dun dun dun.

Allison is parking her car at school just as Scott sees his mother walk out of the building, trying to call him. He hides in the car. A while later, Mr. Argent is heard leaving a message on Allison's phone, telling her that if she doesn't call him "the punishment will reach Biblical proportions." I love it when he talks dirty. Scott's mom and Allison's parents meet up, and each learns that the other's child is not answering their phone, and come to the logical conclusion. They start to blame each other for their children's absence, but they're cut off when Scott and Allison get out of Allison's car. Scott's mother walks up and starts questioning him; Allison tries to defend him when her parents show up and prepare to take her home. Before this can happen, though, they hear a scream.

Elsewhere in the parking lot, people are frantically getting into their cars, and Scott goes to investigate. He uses his wolf-o-vision to try to find the source of the distress, but is distracted when he sees a car about to hit Allison. He grabs her and pulls her out of the way in true Edward Cullen style (except without the "throwing her on the ground and possibly causing a concussion" part), then continues to look around. It turns out there's a wild animal running around the parking lot, and in the confusion Stiles' dad does get hit by a car. (He's all right, though.) He pulls out his gun, but before he can shoot, Mr. Argent fires his own gun, and calmly strides over to the now-dead (and badly shooped) mountain lion.

Mr. Argent, Allison, Scott, Rocky, and Janet all exchange some tense glances (well, except for the last two), and the episode ends.

So. Final comments?

Well, this episode had enough hetero creepiness for an entire romance movie. Yeesh. I am sick to the teeth of Allison's "decisions' basically boiling down to "will she do what Scott wants, or what Dad wants?"

I am happy to see Danny at last, and I really, really hope that he (as well as some of the other tertiary characters) gets some more screen time. And smoochies, please. Gay smoochies.

I enjoyed the parent-teacher conference sequence. It was nice to see the Designated Antagonists treated as though they had a little humanity for a change, and to finally learn some things about the characters that I can actually relate to. I can't speak to how accurate Jackson's portrayal is to someone who is actually in that situation (adopted and never knew their biological parents), but at the risk of repeating myself and make it all about my biological-parents-raised self, it felt good to see someone with the same hang-up as me shown (and in a sympathetic light, not a "so that's why you're the best scientist who ever was" context).

I enjoyed the fanservice. No shirtless Scott this time (which is fine by me; he's still a baby werewolf) but Jackson and Derek have enough torsal beauty for six or seven Scotts so it's all cool.

Is Jackson a werewolf, or are the writers trying to make me think he is by throwing in misleading scenes that otherwise don't make any sense? (Not like they would ever do that, nope nope nope.) Time will tell.

I am sick to death of watching Scott and Allison date. They are having the most boring relationship I have ever seen. What have we seen them actually do together? Talk about mindless crap, touch each other lovingly, and kiss. They're not building a relationship on anything useful, like shared interests or compatible personalities - they're building it on their mutual ability to be gorgeous and act romantic toward one another. This is not how real relationships work. I think that someone else also touched on this (just checked - that was me in my last post), but they could have been talking about Bella Swann and Edward Cullen...

...speaking of which, I was not going to compare this show to Twilight, but I have given up now that it is abundantly clear they are ripping it off. No joke. First the protagonists go romping in the forest together, and then Scott saves Allison from getting hit by a car? Why don't you just make your werewolves sparkle in the sunlight and be done with it, MTV? You people suck.

Not that that will stop me from catching the next episode. I am dedicated to Colton Haynes justice.