After all of the fandom backlash due to the Adam and Shiro situation in Voltron: Legendary Defender Season 7, executive producer Joaquim Dos Santos has shared an open letter as a response. While I appreciate the gesture, the issue of problematic queer representation still stands.
I’m going to keep this as short and to-the-point as possible because frankly, I’m a bit tired of the entire debacle. It is something I have continued to see over the years, and I hope certain show creators leave the queer community be instead of pushing problematic queer representation and expecting applause.
There are a lot of interesting things in the open letter by Joaquim Dos Santos. He knew about the ‘bury-your-gays’ trope. He also didn’t want to queer bait the audience. However, as far as my opinion goes, it seems the overall excitement to do something queer inclusive while staying within certain boundaries got the best of him and those involved.
We were incredibly excited and proud when news broke (post SDCC) of Shiro being revealed as a gay man. The story of how we eventually arrived at getting the green light to confirm Shiro and Adam is a tale that we’ll unfortunately have to tell another day.
That’s the biggest issue I have with the shared apology. The showrunners were excited to have a diverse show, and I get it. But why do certain creatives think doing the bare minimum is justified when there’s always a risk of backlash and potentially hurting the queer fandom?
Why do certain creatives want queer inclusion points when what they eventually offer isn’t doing much to forward the conversation in the times we live in?
It’s not like we already don’t have positive queer representation in kid’s shows. That’s why what Voltron did with Shiro and Adam is a disappointment. The entire thing comes across as lazy writing or worse… trying to be inclusive for the sake of some hype.
Other than Steven Universe, you should take a look at Clarence and The Loud House. These shows have queer characters being intimate with each other, as married couples, etc. Why do creatives expect praise when they aren’t doing anything at that level or even better?
That’s how positive representation should be handled to move the conversation forward or whatever Santos is trying to say.
“we’re riding an ever moving, fine line here and trying to navigate as best as we can while still moving the conversation forward.”
Any queer representation which is open to interpretation isn’t representation at all as far as I’m concerned. Just imagine a young queer kid arguing with others who don’t believe a certain character is queer because it wasn’t clearly shown. Sigh!
That’s what makes me sad about Adam and Shiro in Voltron. Young kids and even grownups (especially from the queer community) should not need to defend or justify unclear representation onscreen to others.
Let’s see what happens in the final season of Voltron on Netflix. Maybe Joaquim Dos Santos and the others learned something?
Feel free to share your thoughts with us.
Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.
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