Torchwood and queer stuff: the problem of immortality-AIDS

Spoiler warning: This post contains massive spoilers for the finale of the most recent season of Torchwood. It’s not really worth watching as it’s utter bollocks, but if you are planning on doing so and are spoiler averse, look away now. Also, be careful with clicking links. Some are TV Tropes links. 

Yesterday, I got round to watching the season finale of Torchwood. And I was absolutely flabbergasted by the unfortunate implications.

In a remarkably convoluted bid to fix the world, what needed to happen was for the blood of a mortal to hit the magical plot device on both ends of the earth at exactly the same time. For those in China, this was dead easy, as Captain Jack had veins swimming with the stuff. For those on the other side of the world, it was equally easy as due to some kind of improbably contrived bollocks, Rex had filled himself up with Captain Jack’s blood. Hooray! World saved! Everyone is mortal except Captain Jack. But wait–there’s still seven minutes left of the episode!

And in those seven minutes, Rex, who had been previously mortal, is shown to have become immortal, like Captain Jack. Now, aside from the fact that Rex is one of the most egregious Scrappies that has shat all over my screen in a long time, and I’m a little annoyed that he won’t be killed off any time soon, there is a problem with this plotline.

Rex “caught” immortality off of a blood transfusion. Immortality has always been seen in-show as something of a curse, something unpleasant, something that causes an undue amount of angst and is generally a blessing of suck. When The Doctor found out about Captain Jack’s immortality, he was disgusted by it and wanted nothing more to do with him. Even The Doctor is a little bit grossed out by immortality! Rex himself is absolutely furious about the development–he doesn’t want to be like Captain Jack. Oh, and did I mention that Captain Jack is a bisexual man?

Catching something shown to be terrible off of a blood transfusion from a bisexual man kind of smacks a lot of the AIDS scare in the eighties. At least Rex caught what Chris Morris delightfully calls “the good AIDS“. At least he didn’t catch immortality from bumming. Which, actually, raises an interesting point, and I hope Captain Jack is very safe during sex. Otherwise, who knows how many immortals there are wandering around?

Perhaps I am reading too much into this, as I have been reading rather a lot recently about the “gay plague” propaganda which was used to drive homophobia. The thing is, the latest series of Torchwood has already abundantly demonstrated that it is not the queer-friendly show it once was. I would not be surprised at all if they picked up this unfortunate implication and ran with it; Rex has already shown himself to be homophobic and highly hostile to Jack.

I miss proper Torchwood. I really do. It used to be my weekly fix of queer fun. Now it is homophobia, couched in plausible deniability.

Silliness about gay marriage

 

 

Roger Helmer, the Tory MEP who previously suggested that all men are rapists in a messy attempt at rape apologism is at it again. This time he’s feeling all cross about the government vowing to bring in gay marriage. I mean, I’m less than happy about this blatant attempt at distraction that isn’t sexual liberation at all, but Roger Helmer MEP is cross for thoroughly different, thoroughly unpleasant reasons.

The whole piece is worth a read as it’s lulz-tastic, and one can easily play a drinking game while reading along with the following rules:

  1. Every time Roger Helmer MEP bemoans political correctness–ONE FINGER
  2. Every time Roger Helmer MEP talks about how gross gay people are, couching it in “but of course I don’t think that”–ONE FINGER
  3. Every time Roger Helmer MEP makes a really confusing analogy–ONE FINGER
  4. Every time Roger Helmer MEP makes a veiled reference to the gay agenda–ONE FINGER
  5. Every time Roger Helmer MEP says he is not talking about morals while moralising–ONE FINGER
  6. Every time Roger Helmer MEP bemoans the coalition for not being right wing enough–TWO FINGERS
  7. While reading the entire piece–WATERFALL

There are some particularly egregious parts of the article that warrant further inspection. First, this:

I don’t approach this as a question of morality.  Indeed I take a broadly libertarian approach.

Now, keep this bit in mind as we get to his conclusions. SPOILER WARNING: He doesn’t take a broadly libertarian approach.

Of course I know that some people find the idea of homosexual behaviour repugnant.  Maybe some homosexuals find the idea of heterosexual behaviour repugnant.  And as a libertarian, I support the right of people to hold those opinions, just as I support the right of individuals to behave as they choose — though it seems that in these politically-correct times, it is no longer acceptable to voice such views.  It is worth adding that these opinions may be intrinsic, and not a matter of choice.  I did not (for example) choose to like ice-cream and to dislike foie gras.  It’s just the way I feel.

I hope you downed your finger for Roger pretending that he isn’t disgusted by gays, here, and another finger for a tortured analogy. Now you’re good and tipsy, have a burble of shocked laughter at Roger seriously trying explain his prejudice with “I was born this way”. He actually does this, and tries to distract us by talking about tasty, tasty foie gras immediately afterwards. What is particularly interesting here is that it is unclear as to whether he is talking about general homosexual behaviour, including going to the shops, eating sandwiches and getting married, or simply limiting it to his disgust about gay sex. If it’s the former, I think that Roger Helmer MEP is a revolting, bigoted dingleberry. If it is the latter, I think that Roger Helmer MEP is a revolting, bigoted dingleberry. I can’t help it. I was born that way.

And also, he’s behaved like a revolting, bigoted dingleberry.

While legislators may occasionally need to define some technical term in the context of a piece of legislation, it is not the business of government to legislate to change the meaning of a common and well-established word, and least of all a word that describes such a key institution in society.  The government doesn’t own the English language: the people do.

Second, yes, marriage is a right, but marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman.

Here, Roger is trying to suggest that in the English language, marriage can only pertain to a solemnised relationship between a man and a woman, which is patently bollocks. How often is the word “marriage” also used to describe the coming together of two ingredients–for example, one could easily describe the music of Gogol Bordello as a marriage of gypsy folk and punk music. Does this mean the two musical styles are now legally married in a way two men or two women cannot be? If that’s true, what are Gogol Bordello doing to ensure full marriage equality?

Everyone should have the right to procreate, but that doesn’t mean that a man can or should get pregnant.  There are certain things that people can and cannot do because of their gender.  It’s a limit placed on us by nature and biology, not by law.

Actually, it’s not.

The next bit gets really silly, so I hope you’re all good and drunk by now. It’s the only way one can read this drivel without throwing things.

Thirdly (and it cannot be stressed too often) marriage is a relationship between three parties: a woman, a man and society.  Society down the ages has recognised marriage, and offered married couples recognition, respect and often financial benefits in terms of taxation and inheritance, because society recognises the importance of the institution.  The expectation is that marriage will generally lead to procreation and children, and that the resultant nuclear family will promote stability in society, replenish the population, and provide the ideal circumstances in which children can be raised and socialised.

A same-sex partnership is a relationship between two parties, not three, and there is no reason why society should treat it in the same way as marriage, because it does not offer the same broad benefits to society as a whole.

Excuse me. I just threw all of my belongings in the direction of the East Midlands. Strangely enough, Roger Helmer MEP has articulated many of the reasons why I am opposed to marriage in general: essentially, that it is a tool for social order and enforcing the “nuclear family”. And apparently those gays are just free-riders because they don’t crap out lots of babies to keep the population going.

To Roger Helmer MEP, marriage is all about popping out kids. He is far from alone in using this ridiculous notion to oppose same sex marriage: a lot of the bigots do. Not one of them has yet been able to offer a satisfactory, consistent explanation as to why, by this line of thinking, marriage should not be denied to an elderly heterosexual couple or an infertile heterosexual couple.

Roger ends his piece with a plaintive whinge that Those Pesky Gays are trying to undermine the meaning of marriage, and that society will automatically descend into anarchy. I wish I shared the opinion in the last clause. I’d be happier about the news myself.

Roger Helmer MEP has once again displayed himself to be a steaming twat, with an inability to form a coherent argument. I find him thoroughly repulsive.

 

 

 

 

 

How to distract an angry population: WEDDINGS!

So, it finally happened. The government have announced that gay marriage–forget your silly civil partnerships, we’re talking full marriage marriage!–will soon be written into UK law. It’s a victory for gay rights, there’s no doubt about that, and one that I wasn’t expecting in the foreseeable future. So why does this victory feel so hollow to me?

First is the obvious: I’d like to see marriage abolished entirely and for people to love freely, away from church and state meddling. To me, this victory means that one more group of people are subjected to an oppressive seal of approval on their relationships–I explain these thoughts more fully here.

The part of this that leaves the truly bitter taste in my mouth, though, is that it is clearly nothing more than a political manoeuvre. The timing of it couldn’t be more obvious: it is the day of the opening of the Lib Dem party conference. What we see here is the senior coalition partners finally throwing their underlings a bone, something that makes them feel like they’re doing good. A little sweetener for their cooperation in their incremental dismantling of the welfare state. It’s a mutually beneficial arrangement; the Lib Dems stop feeling so much like sellouts, the Tories move away from their image as the party which introduced Section 28.

It is a shiny distractor for everyone else, too. While we are all busy celebrating the victory for gay rights, and praising our government for finally doing The Right Thing on something, what will be happening? It is the time of year that the redundancies for public sector workers will start to kick in. It is the time when the students return to university, furious and ripe for radicalisation. It is the time of year that with a focus of concerted effort, there might a long shot to save the NHS. And instead, the government are hoping we’ll be cooing over gay marriage and flapping with so much gratitude that we shall not shout. Given the time the consultation is taking place, I wonder what they’re planning in March?

This is not the first time we have been distracted by a big shiny wedding. Back in April, in the midst of all of the Royal Wedding drama, the news slipped out, unnoticed, that the NHS was being cut much more than we thought. Squats were raided, people removed from their homes. People were arrested for crimes they had not committed, on the charge that at some point in the next few days, they might commit a crime. Much of it was lost in the noise, as everyone was too busy gawping at a bride, a groom and a bridesmaid’s bottom. Even those who were less than happy about paying for some aristocrats to throw a party join in with the mass distraction. We dignified it by talking about it. Our voices, when talking about the bigger issues, were drowned out.

The introduction of gay marriage is more important than a pair of toffs getting hitched. It is something big, and it is beautiful. There is now no longer a linguistic difference between a state-approved same-sex relationship and a state-approved heterosexual relationship. In a world where homophobia is still rife, though, and queer folk live at risk from violence, have we really won equality? We have made a baby step in the right direction. But it is being granted equality, rather than liberation. And fuck it, I want liberation. I want to be free from oppression and persecution, free to fuck who ever I like, set up home with whoever I like, without having to ask nicely for the approval from some rich bastards in Westminster in the hope they might grant me it when it suits them.

Of course, providing something that looks like equality is rather savvy for this government. They are courting the “pink pound“, using the provision of an illusion of equality to court voters and donors, and to further feed the wedding-industrial complex. I am not fooled by this. I hope many other people are equally sceptical, and that we do not simply lay down arms in the fight for queer liberation. We’re not liberated here. We’re just consumers, we’re just pawns.

We must not get distracted by this small victory. We must celebrate it by working harder. We must work for true sexual liberation, we must work for true social liberation, and we must liberate ourselves from a government who believe we are stupid.

Update: @helen_bop raises a very good point about the changes to legislation: as there will be no changes to the Gender Recognition Act. In an existing couple one or both partners are trans, they would still have to divorce and remarry; nothing will change for trans people. This is another case wherein the T in LGBT is being woefully ignored. We deserve better than these miserable scraps.

While a chode syphilitically weeps

Brendan O’Neill is a weeping syphilitic chode, and it’s getting to the point where I wonder if he was invented specifically to piss me off.

This time, O’Neill has decided that Topman should be selling misogynistic T-shirts, and that feminists have no sense of humour. To answer the second charge first, here is a joke:

What’s the difference between Brendan O’Neill and a weeping syphilitic chode?

Nothing.

It might need some work, but it’s a damn sight funnier than the T-shirts in question, and that’s already one joke more than O’Neill’s opinion piece had.

Of the Topman T-shirts in question, one uses dehumanising language, and the other refers to male-on-female intimate partner violence. O’Neill doesn’t even bother talking about the dehumanising T-shirt, despite the fact that use of dehumanising language is pretty fucking dangerous, with real-world implications, and is literally just hate speech. To defend the other T-shirt, O’Neill attempts to wiggle about with semantics:

A young man could just as easily say the words “I’m sorry but I was drunk” to another young man, after an argument or a fight or something.

That could happen. But the whole “joke” of the T-shirt is that it refers to beating women. Without the stereotype it primes, it is no longer a controversial joke, and it simply becomes a checklist. Which is a fairly pointless T-shirt, all things considered. Consider, for example, a T-shirt that is laid out similarly that says “I hate you because… [] You run fast [] You eat a lot of fried chicken [] You always die first in movies”. Would this T-shirt be considered racist? I’d say so, but according to Brendan O’Neill, that T-shirt is fine and dandy.

O’Neill’s article also demonstrates that while a weeping syphilitic chode can write–presumably, with infected pus dripping from chancre to keyboard–a weeping syphilitic chode cannot read. O’Neill denies that there can possibly be any cultural explanation for violence. Now, while the extent to which the media influences violence is equivocal, what is clear is that there is some link. Discussion should focus on what action is acceptable to take, rather than whether the link exists at all. That’s where O’Neill really falls flat. He is so interested in flatly denying any link  he does not discuss this at all. And it’s an issue that warrants discussion–should Topman have pulled those T-shirts?

There are a number of issues which could have been discussed were O’Neill up for talking about Topman T-shirts, rather than working out his issues with feminists in a public domain (in general, he’s not keen on feminists, because they think he’s a prick). O’Neill touches on class, completely wrongly:

That’s because they are driven by the elitist belief that there are some people out there (whisper it: working-class lads) who cannot distinguish right from wrong and therefore must have their eyes and ears protected from poisonous words.

Now, here, O’Neill is wrong on several counts–and he can’t help it, seeing as he is a penis that is wider than it is long, infected with The Great Pox to the extent that he oozes unpleasant fluids. Topman is not a shop for working class people: its goods are far too expensive for that. Furthermore, those T-shirts are indicative of hipster irony, a subculture which once again is not associated with working class people. This analysis is completely off.

Capitalism could legitimately be brought into this discussion: ultimately, these T-shirts were pulled not because of feminist censorship, but because of good old-fashioned brand damage. Topman didn’t want to lose customers, so they decided to pull the T-shirts, as they realised the products were somewhat controversial in the sort of way that could lose them a lot of money. Essentially, it was not the feminists who censored free speech. It was Topman making a decision in their corporate interests.

For what it’s worth, I want people to be free to wear this sort of T-shirt. It is a nice little at-a-glance indicator that the person wearing the T-shirt is an interminable cuntspanner. I would like them to do, as O’Neill suggests, a “blokestrut” wearing such T-shirts. One thing I would change? The name.

I think a “chodeweep” is much more fitting.

 

When ‘shutting down debate’ is nothing of the kind

Following my post about a thoroughly misguided lawsuit against LSE, the comments thread devolved into a display of off-topic nonsense, wherein the issues I highlighted and the questions I wished to highlight were not discussed adequately, in favour of what three commenters felt more comfortable talking about.

I took action, as the thread deviated from relevance. And, of course, I was met with the traditional cry. I was ‘shutting down debate’.

Those who have spent more than five minutes on the internet will be familiar with this charge. Those who have seen it in action will also be well aware that often, when it is employed, it is hardly as a reaction to Stalinist censorship. Indeed, it usually comes when someone becomes sick of banging their head against a wall, or wishes to get away from a troll firing personal attacks, or even when someone expresses the desire to have an on-topic conversation.

When used like this, it is a red herring. Usually, it’s a very effective red herring; it rings with implications of totalitarianism. The target becomes The Party, or Norsefire. It’s like invoking Godwin’s Law without having to mention Nazis at all. When the howl of ‘you’re shutting down debate’ goes up, what is usually meant is ‘let me say whatever I want, you big smelly Hitler! I want to look like I’m winning’.

The thing is, sometimes ‘shutting down debate’ is the only way that a debate can actually happen. It’s pretty hard to discuss, say, the perfect burrito, when someone keeps cropping up and shouting that we should be talking about quesadillas instead. Quesadillas are great. But we’re talking about burritos here. It’s also not possible to have the burrito conversation if someone is loudly calling everyone a cunt for liking burritos.

Far from shutting down debate, silencing Captain Quesadilla is sometimes the only way the conversation can be had. The aim is not to develop a burrito-based echo chamber, but, rather, to discuss a focused topic. If a passionate, yet polite, row breaks out over the merits of refried versus black beans, it’s relevant.

Before writing this post, I googled the term ‘shutting down debate’, to see if anyone had written a piece like this. Maybe they have. I didn’t make it past the first two pages, where I saw charges of shutting down debate levelled at gay people, Jews, black people and the nebulous, miscellaneous ‘left’. It made me wonder, why is this phrase so ubiquitous?

I’m not saying that all instances of the phrase ‘you’re shutting down debate’ are used so that somebody can continue shitting all over the world with prejudice, as it’s not true in many instances; only those of hate speech.

In the remaining instances, it is usually a reaction to being told to focus. We all have our pet causes and things which interest us, things we feel more comfortable discussing. These things are not always relevant. And we do not need to opine at every given instance, when our opinions are irrelevant. For example, I don’t typically spend family meals articulating the merits of anarcho-syndicalism, as it’s not relevant to my mum’s holiday photos. My mum is not shutting down debate. She’s showing me her holiday snaps.

There are times, of course, when debate is shut down. It does not usually look like someone closing a comment thread on a blogpost, nor does it look like moderating out off-topic comments, nor a block on Twitter.

Shutting down debate looks like Trafigura’s super-injunction which prevented discussion even in Parliament. Shutting down debate looks like the Prime Minister’s desire to regulate social networking. Shutting down debate looks like the attempt to ban Nick Griffin from Question Time; he’s welcome to his silly, wrong opinions.

Griffin on Question Time is a prime example: the episode was dedicated to immigration, so it was all right that he was perpetually farting on about immigration. Had the topic changed to, say, recycling, though, and he still kept banging on about immigration, he’d be off topic. I’d hope he’d be told to shut the fuck up. And he’d likely howl about shutting down debate when nothing of the kind had happened.

Fear not the charges of shutting down debate. Often one is ensuring the debate can happen at all.

Suing LSE for discrimination against men is silly and wrong

I am sure many of you will have seen the press about a man suing LSE as he believes their Masters course in Gender Studies discriminates against men because the taught materials do not focus enough on men’s issues. Unsurprisingly, I think this case is completely silly.

There are a number of issues that make this case thoroughly ridiculous. The notion that a man is complaining about a woman-heavy focus in a gender studies course has been covered well elsewhere, and I do not have much to add to this issue. Another very noteworthy point is that it is hard to see how this is actually “discrimination”. LSE point out that as men and women had equal access to both the course and the key readings, no direct gender discrimination took place. This point is expanded here.

Many have already covered the important points, so I would like to add something from my own perspective. Basically, I wonder, what the fuck did Tom Martin expect from a Masters degree? From everything he has said on the matter, it would appear that what he wants is for a course to spoon-feed him information, for every lecture and seminar to provide a constant drip of knowledge with absolutely no independent study. The source of his complaint appears to be that the reading list did not consist of articles and theory that he wanted to read.

Well, Tom Martin, here’s some big news: that’s not how Masters degrees work. They’re hard work, because you’re supposed to read around the issues. The taught components of Masters degrees–lectures, seminars, reading lists–are a suggestion: a possible starting point. Everything else is entirely up to the student. In my Masters, I ended up conducting my research project and dissertation on a topic we had not been taught at all, nor had it been in any of the reading lists. But am I suing UCL for discrimination against the Implicit Association Test? Of course not. That would just be silly.

A solution to Martin’s problem is simple, and what is generally expected of a Master’s question. If Martin believes that there is some sort of systemic bias against men, or that the gender studies literature is lacking in its discussion of men’s issues, he should write his dissertation about it. Essentially, that’s what academia is all about: one reads, one identifies gaps in the literature, one researches, one plugs the gap. The dissertation Martin didn’t write could have been really interesting. It could have been worthwhile. It could have been brilliant.

Having checked out Tom Martin’s Twitter feed, @sexismbusters, an interesting picture emerges. Martin does not seem to be engaging in debate: rather, if someone tweets at him with a point with which he disagrees, he will generally respond with the cerebral argument of “if you hate equality, go to Yemen”, or requests to donate to his legal fund. There is no actual discussion of points–valid points, which should be addressed. Likewise, Martin wrote an article in the Guardian’s CIF, which he claims to show that there is systemic male bias, particularly in LSE’s Gender Studies course.

Unfortunately, the piece has all the intellectual rigor of a toasted tea cake. Martin falls prey to accidentally turning his whole argument fallacious by declaring texts “never” discuss misandry–which can be neatly popped by just one academic article about misandry (of which, of course, there are loads). Martin also makes repeated unreferenced assertions about things “the research” allegedly shows. When a reference finally appears, it is to a video on Youtube uploaded by a user called TheHappyMisogynist. The video appears to be based on a single academic paper, which Martin himself was clearly unable to critically appraise: he claims the paper shows that women are more likely to be violent against men in an intimate partner situation. What is actually shows is that this is the case in a certain type of violence among a certain population group, assessed by self report, is more commonly initiated by women.

With an ability to construct an argument like that, Martin probably should be suing LSE. Their teaching of academic skills appears to be deeply flawed if a few “if you like it so much, why don’t you go and live there” tweets and a very shonky, short article are all one of their former students is capable of doing.

It is hardly surprising, then, that rather than take the intellectual route and write a simply blinding, groundbreaking dissertation on gender dynamics in gender studies courses, Tom Martin has decided to hide behind the skirts of litigation. I don’t think there’s much else he can do.

Polyamory: the solution to literally everything!

Warning: This post will contain spoilers for True Blood up to the end of season 4, the most recent episode of Doctor Who, Battlestar Galactica and Caprica.  The spoilers do not pertain to anything crucial to the content of the shows, but some people are incredibly spoiler-averse. Also, most of the links in this piece will lead to TV Tropes, so here’s a courtesy warning that if you click any links, you might lose an afternoon.

Sometimes, I shout at the TV. Scratch that. When I am watching TV, I am usually shouting at it at some point. Often it’s at characters waving around an idiot ball or a plot hole I could drive a bus through (and I’m terrible at driving) or a particularly egregious lack of research which leads to ridiculously bad made up science and nothing making a tiny ounce of goddamn sense.

I do not suffer fools gladly. Despite this, a lot of my shouting tends to be loudly offering solutions to a problem.

This week, I watched two TV shows which made me think. The first was Doctor Who, which featured two copies of Amy, one who, due to some magic timey-wimey that I tend to forgive Doctor Who for, happened to be forty years older. At one point, it looked like older Amy would be travelling with our regular characters, and Amy’s husband Rory was struggling to come to terms with having two wives. The choice was rendered moot by said timey-wimey magic. The second was the season 4 finale of True Blood, which saw the love triangle between Sookie, Eric and Bill come to a head. Throughout the season, there had been an exploration of the idea that Sookie was in love with both Eric and Bill, and both Eric and Bill were in love with Sookie. There was even a dream sequence in which the three worked out ways to make this relationship work. Unfortunately, this plot was not resolved in this way. Instead, Sookie decided, rather boringly, to choose neither of the buff, hunky vampires.

Both of these plotlines had something in common: polyamory was explored as a genuine solution to the issues at hand. In Doctor Who, Rory took the idea that he would have two copies of the same wife in his stride, and seemed fairly comfortable with the situation. It was only temporal paradoxes that forced him to make the choice. In True Blood, Sookie’s dream sequence displayed how happy she would be with the idea, and in a later scene in the finale, both Eric and Bill seemed fairly comfortable with feeding from Sookie at the same time.

Of course, mainstream TV is never going to actually propose that polyamory can be a good solution for these plotlines, despite the fact that it is. Being poly is, sadly, still a marginalised way of being, so it is still largely invisible in the mass media.

I can think of one TV programme I have watched in which poly characters are represented. In Caprica, Sister Clarice lives in a group marriage with several husbands and wives, in a house full of children from various combinations of the family. She sleeps in a large bed with some of her spouses. It seems idyllic, until it turns out they’re all crazy religious terrorists.

What we have is TV representing largely heteronormative relationships, and almost exclusively monogamous relationships. Tropes abound from this: characters having to “choose” which potential suitor they want, characters breaking up and making up to allow various permutations of the cast to hook up, cheating lover drama, and the nightmarish love triangle scenario. Drama springs from allowing shows to remain monotonously uniform in their portrayal of the default option of monogamy.

And here’s the thing: I’d rather do without all that drama. I do without that drama in my day to day life, and frankly, I’m sick of seeing all this “you must choose between him or me” bollocks on TV, when it’s perfectly easily resolved by applying poly principles and working out some easy way for everyone to be happy and loved up. I don’t want to see Buffy moping over whether she should choose the sensible, good bloke or the rakish bad boy. I want to see her killing monsters. I don’t want to see some sort of horrible quadrangle sexual musical chairs eclipsing all the cool blowing up robots in space.

For an example of how much better things would be if polyamory was actually visible on TV, I will rewrite part of the third season of Battlestar Galactica, in which two married couples, Lee and Dee, and Starbuck and Sam spent much of the season taking up vital screen time with their affairs.

SCENE: Officer’s quarters

LEE: Dee, I love you very much, but right now I am suffering from some serious unresolved sexual tension with Starbuck. You know that we’ve sort of been flirting for a while, but we never got down to it because she was engaged to my dead brother.

DEE: I feel a little bit upset by this, because I love you very much.

LEE: And I love you very much, Dee. Love doesn’t divide, it multiplies.

STARBUCK: Damn right. I’m madly in love with my husband Sam, but I am also subject to this attraction with Lee. I think I’ve noticed Sam checking you out, Dee, because you’re very beautiful. By the way, even though I’m passionate about Lee, I have to say it’s nice how happy he is with you.

DEE: Thank you. Sam, is this true?

SAM: Yes. I am dull and uncharismatic, but I am also hot. I think your attraction to me is probably physical.

STARBUCK: I love you, honey.

SAM: Blah blah meh, I am so dull and uncharismatic, but I love you.

LEE: Let’s not forget that I’m a really annoying character.

DEE: Oh no! DRADIS says we have incoming Cylon raiders in half an hour!

STARBUCK: Are you psychically connected to DRADIS or something?

DEE: Yes. That doesn’t matter. In about half an hour, we’re going to have a huge epic space-battle.

LEE & STARBUCK: AWESOME!

SAM: Half an hour, you say? Time for a quick orgy!

END SCENE, CHARACTERS NAKED AND RUTTING

And that would have completely improved season three if all of the characters had just been honest rather than having an interminable few months of whinging about their marriages.

Of course, I do not expect to see any positive portrayals of poly relationships on my television in the near future. Consider how long it took for anything close to positive portrayals of queer people and relationships to appear: this 50-minute video showcases just some of the homophobic jokes that popped up in Friends over its run. For the time being, any poly relationship is doomed to fail: the mainstream media lags behind society, and society is only just beginning to learn of the possibility of loving and fucking more than one person.

For now, we’re stuck with monogamous TV, and all the rubbish tropes it brings with it.