Love, Victor reviewed

After finishing and reviewing the first season of Heartstopper (TV series), we were looking for another show to watch, and landed on Love, Victor, available on Disney+. This is a very different kind of show than Heartstopper, and I daresay I prefer it. Where Heartstopper is a well-done if formulaic series committed to low stakes, Love, Victor is basically a soap opera that had us constantly yelling at the screen.

Love, Victor is a spinoff of the movie Love, Simon (which I have seen but do not remember). Victor is a closeted gay kid at Simon’s old high school, and he writes Simon hate mail because he thinks Simon must have had it so much easier. Simon responds much more kindly than I would have, and serves as a remote mentor for the first season and a half. The show primarily focuses on Victor and his circle of friends, who are seemingly embroiled in an endless series of love triangles.

I wrote a series of reactions/complaints as we watched Love, Victor over the past two months, and I have attempted to organize them into something coherent. I won’t be going through the whole show episode by episode, but I will include incidental spoilers for all three seasons.

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Is queerness wholesome now?

A couple weeks ago, I was following the Summer Games Fest and other video game presentations. And because I’m so interested in queer media, I asked myself, of all these different presentations, which is the queerest of them all? It’s hardly a question, because the answer is so obviously the Wholesome Games Direct.

The next day, I read a story about proud boys creating a disturbance at a Drag Queen Story Hour, and I thought, of course. Of course the queers would be doing something so wholesome as reading stories to children, and of course the edgy fascists would hate that.

Is this a thing? Is queer wholesomeness a thing?

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Netflix’s algorithmic queerbaiting

Netflix’s algorithm engages in queerbaiting. Whenever we browse movies and TV shows, Netflix has a clear preference for showing promo images with attractive men looking meaningfully into each others’ eyes.

I think many of these shows actually do have some sort of same-sex relationship, but they’re incidental or on the margins. Others, I have a suspicion that they actually don’t have any queer content at all! And then there are some that I thought must be a trick, with hardly any queer content to speak of, but after some research, I think are actually fairly queer. Netflix’s tendency to show the most homoerotic marketing material regardless of actual content sure makes it difficult to distinguish.

I’m very sorry but I’m going to have to show you some homoerotic imagery. Purely for scientific purposes, of course.

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Heartstopper double review

This is a review of both the TV series, and the webcomic.  The reader should be aware that I greatly favor the critical review, so it should come as no shock that that’s what this is.  However, this is a space where we are free to like or dislike things–or both, as the case may be.

Heartstopper (TV series, 1st season)

Heartstopper is a Netflix TV series based on the free online graphic novel (that is to say, webcomic) of the same name. The first season released to critical acclaim, and people have been talking about it as the hot new thing. I recently watched the series with my husband, and we both had the same reaction: The series is sweet and well-done, but extremely cookie-cutter.

Many viewers found the show to be novel and refreshing, but we found it to be very much the opposite. Why is that? It must have something to do with the sort of media we consume. My husband and I both watch a lot of gay movies, and I’ve read a lot of BL webcomics—including the original Heartstopper. Within that space, the high school coming out slash romance genre is extremely common, and Heartstopper is practically a tour of the most well-worn tropes.

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Asexuality in rightwing media

I subscribe to Google alerts on asexuality and aromanticism, mostly as a way of finding the best articles to highlight in The Asexual Agenda linkspam. Recently I found two hostile articles from alt right sources. Such articles are rare; once I compiled statistics on the all the alerts from one month, and found that 2 out of 132 articles were hostile. But I still highlight these articles to showcase conservative anti-ace “tropes”.

Knowing what this is, it’s 100% okay to skip this one. I don’t post this on The Asexual Agenda because it’s too feelsbad for a lot of people.

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Sexual identity and topology

One of the consequences of having a great deal of math and physics education, is that whenever I learn about something, I internally encode it as math, even if nobody else is thinking of it that way. Today I’m going to share one of the more ridiculous examples, the analogy between identity labels and topology.

I’m mainly thinking about sexual identity labels, and especially arguments over boundaries of those labels. I’m thinking of how people claim “everyone is a little bisexual”; or they argue about the validity of bisexual lesbians; or they ask “isn’t demisexuality just normal?”; or they draw sharp distinctions between asexual, gray-asexual, and allosexual.

In all these arguments, there is the essentialist viewpoint, which says that everyone has an underlying sexuality, and each word covers (or should cover) a specific space of sexualities. If your underlying sexuality falls within the domain of the identity label you use, then your label is “correct”, and if it doesn’t, then your label is “incorrect”.

I disagree with the essentialist viewpoint, and I frequently point to prototype theory, family resemblance theory, and Wittgenstein as alternatives. But I also feel that if you’re going to take the essentialist viewpoint, obviously you should take it all the way, and learn about the math that you’re implicitly using. I am not going to “prove” that essentialism is wrong, and if you summarize my essay as “Mathematics disproves essentialism” then so help me, you did not read the fourth paragraph. The goal is to explore the implicit mathematical framework of essentialism, and point out its unaesthetic aspects.

Of course, I don’t recommend actually using this in an argument, since it relies on teaching people math.

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