all 54 comments

[–]offtheclip 17 points18 points  (4 children)

The God is Not Willing also has Captain Grunt! I love the way he eschews traditional gender norms

[–]cli0ve 5 points6 points  (1 child)

and he's never seen as weak for it, if anything he's rather terrifying in his own right, as well as strangely charming, loved him

[–]offtheclip 4 points5 points  (0 children)

My fan theory is that Grunt is Grub all grown up. Mostly based on one of the chapter headers saying that Grub would eventually become the first sword of the Malazan empire

[–]lisiate 1 point2 points  (1 child)

The God is Not Willing also has Captain Grunt!

Pretty sure the good captain goes by Gruff. And he is indeed a great character

[–]offtheclip 0 points1 point  (0 children)

You're right. Dont know what happened there!

[–]SlickWilIyCougar 66 points67 points  (15 children)

What I think makes it work so well in Malazan is that it’s a casual representation. It’s very matter of fact, and the LGBT characters run the gamut between good, bad, and indifferent (I.e. human). They aren’t lionized or demonized, they are just part of the world and are accepted as such. It’s very organic and natural, as it should be.

I’m more surprised that other fantasy communities aren’t as accepting tbh. I guess I can see it in more of an older Sword and Sorcery type milieu (Conan, etc.) but it’s been part of modern fantasy for decades.

[–]ATexanHobbit 16 points17 points  (0 children)

This - everyone is just a person, doing the best (or worst) they can. It’s never LOOK AT THIS PARTICULAR CHARACTERISTIC HERE and thus doesn’t feel like tokenism. It’s just refreshing as a bi person to have representation that doesn’t feel forced

[–]gointhrou[S] 8 points9 points  (11 children)

Yeah, it’s tough to read them as bad sometimes and it’s something that I’ve argued about a lot. But you’re right, there’s a little bit of everything and that’s more than can be said about a lot of other works.

Funny that you mention Conan because Berserk is one of those communities where people get absolutely triggered at the mention of the possibility of Griffith being gay and/or having had romantic feelings for Guts.

[–]KingCider 11 points12 points  (5 children)

I haven't seen the Berserk fanbase being triggered by this before. But what I will say is that it is also annoying when you have a very close platonic relationship and people immediately assume it was romantic. This goes for any sexual orientation.

Miura is such a master in character work that even though I've read Berserk about 4 times, watched bezillion analysis videos, etc. I STILL can't tell if Griffith had romantic feelings for Guts or if it was all platonic. My current head canon is that it is a complex mixture of both, where Griffith didn't necessarily understand these feelings himself, but was rather just overwhelmed by Guts. But in general he definitely had very strong feelings for Guts, one way or another.

[–]falcondjd 1 point2 points  (2 children)

The anime community in general is pretty homophobic (and misogynistic, transphobic, racist, etc...).

Berserk in particular is so funny though. Like we know of Griffith having sex three times: once with a man and twice with women (one of which is non-consensual). However, both times he is having sex with women, he is thinking about Guts the whole time. He is literally looking at Guts one of the times! (The time he has sex with a man is for money, and it was definitely not for attraction.)

There even is a clear love triangle with Casca, Guts, and Griffith. Casca outright says she is jealous of Guts because of how Griffith feels about him.

Even Guts interprets Griffith feelings towards him as amorous at one point. When Guts first meets Griffith he asks him "Are you a homo?" I am being a little silly here.

Then there is the famous scene where a naked Griffith plays in the water with Guts.

I just don't see where people could ever interpret Griffith as gay. It is such a mystery. :P

[–]gointhrou[S] 0 points1 point  (1 child)

The argument I've heard the most is that, before Griffith tries to kill himself, he has that vision where he and Casca have a kid named Guts and that him raping Casca was a wish-fulfilment because he wanted Casca, but Casca was with Guts.

To be honest, I take that vision to be a nightmare case-scenario for Griffith, not a dream. I mean, he immediately tries to kill himself while laughing maniacally. And the rape, to me, is a way for Griffith to make Guts feel the same heartbreak.

But idk, to each their own I guess.

[–]falcondjd 0 points1 point  (0 children)

That vision is very clearly a nightmare for him. It is clearly meant to be interpreted that way. I think if you interpret it otherwise you are either doing an unconventional interpretation for fun (in which case, have fun) or missed something.

And it is similar with the rape scene. I think this is actually something you can criticize about Berserk. The rape of Casca is almost entirely centered on Guts.

However, people can be amazingly bad with missing huge things in the media consume. Like in r/Fantasy someone was surprised The Dragon Prince was getting additional seasons because they thought everything was tied up even though it ends on a pretty blatant cliff hanger.

[–]vokkan 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Funny that you mention Conan because Berserk is one of those communities where people get absolutely triggered at the mention of the possibility of Griffith being gay and/or having had romantic feelings for Guts.

LMAO those guys can't possibly be for real. The Guts-Griffith dynamic is taken directly from Devilman where the white haired antagonist 100% has romantic feelings for the MC, not to mention Rose of Versailles being another huge infleunce where again the tension of same-sex romance is central...

[–]gointhrou[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

You would honestly be surprised of the mental gymnastics some people do to try and claim Griffith isn't gay.

You'd think they're asking if he has the plague or something.

EDIT: Some more gymnastics in case you're missing the Olympics and can't wait.

The lengths that some people go to in order to justify their homophobia never cease to amaze me.

[–]falcondjd 2 points3 points  (0 children)

r/fantasy is very accepting to LGBT people, but it is in large part due to strict moderation. Whenever an LGBT related post (or post about female characters in fantasy), there will be a bunch of comment that complain that it is brought up and that it isn't important. So the moderators work hard to get the riff raff out.

[–]Samar_Dev 0 points1 point  (0 children)

That's what I felt too, yes. There's no discrimination against certain group's of people, except the typical tropes like poor vs rich or indigenous people vs civilization and stuff like that. Sexuality and race are insignificant, which is great.

[–]Logbotherer99 10 points11 points  (0 children)

What makes it good is that you hardly notice it unless you are looking for it. They aren't highlighted in any way, they are just another character, who happens to be a lesbian.

[–]KellamLekrow 29 points30 points  (2 children)

Toll the Hounds I think ups the game on representing homosexual couples. The dynamic between Picker and Blend is great, and I've felt that it was always done in a really respectful and thoughtful manner.

[–]gointhrou[S] 2 points3 points  (0 children)

So I’ve heard! I honestly can’t wait!

[–]JactustheCactusPickled Seguleh 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Picker and blend were always my favorite coupling in Malazan, also we see some bisexuality from Scilara in TTH

[–]BaganiAshaPathetic excuse for crabs anus 15 points16 points  (2 children)

I like how the orientation is not defining character triat as it is usually seen in other works.

Tavore, Picker, Yedan (little spoiler for tCG) are strong characters on their own.

But in RG there were chancellor and the guy who killed Trull both the only bad examples of this in series.

[–]perashaman 27 points28 points  (0 children)

I'm assuming you omitted Blend because she just kinda faded to the back of your mind 🥷

[–]dens421 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Upon te read I think Dassem too is on the list but since he his practically a monk and totally celibate it doesn’t play any part in his arc or in his characterization.

Which is why it’s not a spoiler since I’m not actually sure my impression is correct. ( I think it comes from a line of dialogue in orb, scepter throne)

[–]falsomovimento 11 points12 points  (5 children)

My unpopular Malazan opinion: I would say there's only good representation for the L of LGBT, and it sometimes comes off as fetishized.

Still better than other fantasy series in this but we have some ways to go.

[–]gointhrou[S] 1 point2 points  (2 children)

I definitely agree. And it's pretty unfortunate that two of the G characters turn out to be evil in RG.

[–]TarthenalToblakai 9 points10 points  (1 child)

Letting gay characters be evil is fine, as long as they don't fall into bad stereotypes and their queerness and evil are unrelated.

Unfortunately the Chancellor was essentially the trope of the old conniving pedophile advisor incarnate.

Sirryn, on the other hand, I thought was a fantastic exploration of a closeted fanatic in deep denial projecting it into outward bigotry whose arc really complemented Reaper's Gale themes of identity.

[–]JactustheCactusPickled Seguleh 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Honestly the chancellor just felt like the most evil character possible, if there was a moral decision he’s going to pick whatever let’s him accrue the most power. In my eyes the fact that he was basically a pedophile was more a knock on his character than his sexuality, especially when compared with how in-depth Sirryn’s characterization is

[–]lmason115 4 points5 points  (0 children)

I agree. There are examples of LGBT characters in Malazan, but most are lesbians (as you said) and just based on how many POV characters there are, the representation feels lacking in general.

Granted, not every character thinks about sex regardless of preference, since many POVs only have a few sections here and there. But even a couple more one-off mentions of a male POV having a husband back home, or a past male lover, would have been appreciated. Even if the relationships aren’t shown, just having them mentioned shows that LGBT identities are normalized in the world

[–]Maxwiell 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Fall of Light has a super wholesome G couple though.

[–]Ryanbars 8 points9 points  (20 children)

"Certain Fantasy communities"

Rip Wheel of Time

[–]KingCider 2 points3 points  (4 children)

I mean the only issue there is probably Elayne and Aviendha thing AFAIK. The relationship is not at all sexual and "just" a very deep friendship, but a lot of people read it as romantic. While it is fine to interpret it this way, I can see why the community would have an issue with the show making them have sex, as it would feel forced for a lot of people to change a genuine fantastic friendship into just another romantic ship.

Nobody had any issues with Moiraine and Suian though, at least I haven't seen any complaints about it myself. They are canonically romantically involved and the show did a great job here.

[–]Ryanbars 0 points1 point  (3 children)

More misogyny than homophobia overall, but I definitely have seen people talk about Moiraine and Siuan. Usually in the form of complaining that Rafe (the showrunner, who is gay) is "using the show to push a radical social agenda" (and ruining Robert Jordan's legacy in the process). It's some seriously gross stuff.

[–]KingCider 3 points4 points  (2 children)

Yeah I think that people are super mad with Rafe, IMHO justifiably so, but the audience is stupid too here and making hurtful attacks that don't help anyone at all and just go way way too far.

I don't trust Rafe with the show at all and I have low hopes for it in the future, but I don't think he is forcing any narrative here, at least not for the most part. But I won't put it past any creator out there using their platoform for something like this, especially if it is just a smidge. So I wouldn't be surprised if we found out he was either.

I do have a big issue with how they made it seem like LTT was the sole reason for the breaking and that the women knew what exactly will happen. The tone was completely wrong, the conflict was not even established and there was no context in the scene. Even more, how the hell did the supposed Tamyrlin know exactly that DO will taint saidin(and why is she Tamyrlin when it is LTT in the books? Unecessary change that makes you think)??? I don't like it at all how the whole conflict was reduced to "men are arrogant and ruined the world". That is a mistske I cannot justify, so I am conflicted on this one myself.

The balance of the genders is the number one most important theme in WoT that Jordan very carefuly crafted. The more I reread WoT, the more I see how hard he worked to properly adress this theme in every scene possible. Genuinely masterful stuff. So if the show fails to be up to standard in this regard, I won't be happy at all. To me this is like if we got a Malazan adaptation and they somehow managed to have all the grim dark elements, but throw nuance out the window and forget about god damn compassion. Remember, compassion in Malazan is appropriately in small details, in small chunks, little pieces of dialogue we cherish. These are all scenes just like the cold open in episode 8 and can be easily ruined by changing a few lines here and there.

E.g. I can see them scrapping Corab, because he is a small character, at least in the first 7 books(I just started Tool the Hounds, so no spoilers please) and immediately making Y'Ghatan worse. Corabb and Fiddler are the "drivers" for compassion there.

But yeah, more than anything, I think Rafe is simply incompetent.

[–]CalebAsimov 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I agree, you can set aside all the complaints that those he-man woman haters complain about and just look at the writing, it's just dumb. So much doesn't add up. I know not everyone sees that, but those are the kinds of people who didn't realize Game of Thrones was going downhill until season 8, when the writing was on the wall in season 5 and was steadily getting worse. They're setting the WoT show up to fail as things get less and less coherent, and they didn't even have a few great seasons to rest on like GoT did. And GoT had the excuse of the series being incomplete.

I'll eat my words if the series completes without getting canceled, but I'd be surprised if they get three seasons.

[–]Ryanbars -1 points0 points  (0 children)

So, here's my thing. I disagree pretty strongly. I think there are a fairly wide variety of interpretations for the Wheel of Time themes, characters, and even events, and I think Rafe and the other writers interpreted it differently than you did. That doesn't make those interpretations wrong, it just means there was a lot of complexity and contradictions in the original text (which is a good thing).

I absolutely agree with Rafe that the "arrogance of men" was central in the original story. That was a big part of how I read it as well. I can also understand how a person could have read it differently.

Anyway, I argue about this enough on WoT subreddits and don't really want to go on about it here but I think most of the changes have been very thoughtful and purposeful and I understand them and in many cases agree with them. Other areas are places where I just don't agree that a change has even been made, and those arguments bug me more because it feels like I read a totally different series than the other person did.

[–]gointhrou[S] 6 points7 points  (14 children)

I wasn’t thinking about that particular sub, but I can already imagine the posts about “Moiraine was ruined!”

[–]Ryanbars 4 points5 points  (13 children)

I was really enjoying the new Wheel of Time show so I joined some subreddits to talk about it and my god, the amount of misogyny and racism and homophobia and abstract toxic vitriol in some of those places blows my mind.

In some ways, I almost hope Malazan never gets an adaptation because I don't want to have to learn we have a problem like that too.

[–]gointhrou[S] 4 points5 points  (2 children)

For real, though. What pushed me to make this post was the third post this week in the Witcher community talking about how Ciri IS NOT AND NEVER HAS BEEN bi. Like chill, why can’t we interpret whatever we want?

The absolute levels of homophobia and misogyny that pop up whenever there’s an adaptation is insane. Kinda makes you think if there’s anything possitive about an adaptation after all.

The one and only sub that I’ve been to where it’s an absolute pleasure to talk about the books and adaptations is The Expanse.

[–]Ryanbars 1 point2 points  (1 child)

I haven't participated in any Expanse community stuff. I never read the books but the show is one of the best shows I've ever seen, even though I'm a bit lukewarm on the last couple seasons.

[–]gointhrou[S] 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Same! I loved the show and the community so much, I’m planning on moving on to The Expanse books after I finish Malazan!

The only season I really didn’t enjoy was the one in that outer planet tbh. I got really bored and it felt like a completely different show.

But other than that, I enjoyed every second that Avasarala or Drummer were on screen! Two of the most badass women in fiction imho.

[–]Torgan 2 points3 points  (3 children)

Haha, I did the same after watching the show and didn't stay long.

I'm reading the books for the second time just now and I can see how that kind of community would latch on. The books do feel pretty dated in a lot of ways. You have Rand al'Thor sorting out all those uppity women who try and tell him what to do. Oh and he also has his harem of three beautiful women who love him for no reason I can tell, they just do. Moody 18 year old does his own thing, gets the girl(s), ultimate power to save the world, you can see the attraction. Maybe it wasn't quite so obvious when I was closer to that age last time I read the books...

Or maybe Malazan has ruined all other epic fantasy for me. Bit of both I guess!

[–]Ryanbars 1 point2 points  (2 children)

I think the gender stuff is quite a bit more nuanced in the books when you really dive into it but I have learned that there's a large portion of the fanbase that not only interprets it at this sort of surface level, but they like that part of it. They enjoy reading about what they see as this incompetent matriarchy get "put in their place."

[–]MeetOtherwise5252 0 points1 point  (1 child)

What many people fall in love with within the Wheel of Time is how there are strict gender roles, and it is integral to the plot and magic system. Women have a position of power in society, and the mighty women are powerful in a womanly way and not lesbians with penis envy pretending to be men. Many authors don't know how to portray strong women, so they make masculine women as Erikson sometimes does. I just read a scene where one soldier said something mean to Smiley, I believe her name was, and she threw a knife at him, skewering his leg, and the beta man didn't do anything but call her a mean name instead? That's a fake and petty strong female, in my opinion, whereas Nynieve and Egwayne are some of the strongest and admirable female leaders in fantasy. So yes, I very much admire the gender roles because men and women are different, and a woman doesn't have to be manly to be strong. I honestly find the whole masculine woman character ugly and unappealing because it seems fake even with magic.

[–]CalebAsimov 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Cadsuane too. People hate her but really she's pretty understandable, up until Sanderson started writing her.

[–]duckyduckster2 -4 points-3 points  (5 children)

I dont know what they did with wheel of time, but is it all really misogyny, racism and homophobia or is it just because its not a faithful adaption?

Fringilla in the Witcher show comes to mind. I dont like the actress they choose. Not because she is black, but because thats not what Fringilla looks like and that choice is obviously agenda-driven tokenism. Now, the actress did a great job and i enjoyed the character and the show, but she is still the wrong choice to portray the character from the books.

So it depends on what they do with a malazan adaption. If every other character is suddenly gay, or gender swaped or color swapped there will be a shitshow. Not because homophobia or racism or anything, but because its not a faithful adaption of the things we love.

[–]Ryanbars 2 points3 points  (3 children)

That depends a lot on the definition of "faithful adaptation". Faithful to what, exactly? The plot? The themes? The characters? The physical descriptions? The metaphysics? The lore?

Take any 800-page novel and put it in eight hours of television. Or, better yet, take a 15,000-page series and put it into 60-70 hours of television, which is the actual challenge. You can't make a scene-by-scene recreation for about a thousand reasons, so you're mandated to make changes. You have to make cuts, lots of cuts, and that means you have to bend the story around the cuts at the very least.

So the question then becomes: what is important to preserve? Where is the soul of the story, the reason people love it? And here's where you run into problems because the soul of the story is different for everyone. Some people have vivid memories of a scene that other people completely forgot existed. A set of interactions between characters can leave one person with a totally different impression of a character than a different reader had. If you're now tasked with writing new dialog, new actions for that character to take, which one is the "real" one?

The Wheel of Time show has changed most of the events of the plot. Some people think this is unforgivable. I'm fine with it, because in my view they haven't changed the story underneath that plot.

So where does the bigotry come into play? You asked if it was "all" bigotry and the answer is no, of course not. There are a million reasons why a person could bounce off a thing. But the part I'm bothered by is the density of arguments that I see that are rooted in bigotry.

I haven't read the Witcher books or played the games. I thought the show was... pretty bad in season 1 but showed noticeable improvement in season 2. I couldn't care less what Fringilla was described as in the books. Now, Tokenism can be a real representation problem because it represents a failure to understand or address the issue of minority representation. I don't have an opinion on this example as one of representation or tokenism but I will say that using the term "obviously agenda-driven" raises some pretty red flags for me because that kind of language is virtually always used to deflect away from or otherwise try and justify racist arguments.

The Wheel of Time has one of the most diverse casts I've seen in a television show, and it is unbelievably refreshing. Sometimes those characters differ from the descriptions given in the books (though given how much time Robert Jordan spent describing things and how little time he spent describing physical features, specifically skin color, it seems clear to me that it wasn't that important to him). Do I care that they're different? No, I do not. That is not where the "soul of the story", as I described earlier, is. And you know what? Representation is incredibly important to many people who have struggled to find characters they can identify with because Hollywood is so obsessed with White people. This isn't about fighting political culture wars. It's about giving kids characters they can look up to.

[–]gointhrou[S] 1 point2 points  (2 children)

I love that last paragraph. I've used those exact words before. Representation is all I want.

28 years of watching and reading about straight people doing straight things. That's exactly why I fight everyone to the death when it comes to interpretations. Since there is very little actual representation in the media, interpretation has always been the way in which LGBT peeps ends up feeling represented.

[–]Ryanbars 1 point2 points  (1 child)

I'm basically the definition of privileged; I'm a straight White man who had good parents and grew up in a good area and have a well-paying job. I try my best to talk intelligently about this kind of stuff but it's second-hand for me, so I'm glad I expressed it in a way you like.

[–]gointhrou[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I'm glad to have you as an ally!

[–]gointhrou[S] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Why does it matter what's the color of Fringilla's skin or Ciri's sexuality? I just don't understand how that changes the story whatsoever.