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Shining A Light on LGBT+ Representation with The Clexa Project

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It’s safe to say the death of Alycia Debnam-Carey’s character Lexa kom Trikru on The 100 changed the media landscape forever. Occurring as it did amidst the dozens of deaths of other queer female characters we have dubbed the Spring Slaughter, her death became both a climax and a turning point in the discussion of the treatment of queer female characters in media. The average household TV watcher may never had heard of Lexa or The 100, but anyone in the tv and film industry would have to be either very ignorant or very sheltered not to have heard of here. ATX and the Writer’s Guild each hosted a panel on the ‘Bury Your Gays’ trope almost exactly one year ago.

Showrunners are now more aware of the trope—which can be summarized as the death, suffering, and all around not-positive treatment of LGBT+ characters—and profess a desire to avoid it. Yet the conversation has mostly centered around how this or that instance defies the trope rather than on constructive ways to avoid the suffering and death of wlw characters. Moreover, the intra-industry conversations that we’re privy to have mostly taken place between non-LGBT+ women, the group most affected by Lexa’s death.

Correcting this trend was the point of ClexaCon, a convention devoted entirely to LGBT+ women in media that took place last year and will happen again in 2018. (I’m so hyped, you guys.) The con sought to allow the marginalized groups themselves to speak on what Lexa’s death and the Spring Slaughter (though not called that at the con) meant to them and how we can better represent ourselves.

Big events such as this are absolutely necessary for bringing to light the core issues and promoting better representation for LGBT+ women. We need panels about how to write wlw novels and create other wlw content for ourselves. We need discussion groups that celebrate our favorite wlw characters and ships. We need art and conversations that make us happy and remind us that not every story told about LGBT+ female characters is exploitative or sad. We need the freedom to retell the story our own way, a happy way, even if it’s not ‘canon’. Small time cons like TGIFemslash foster friendships and the space to celebrate and ‘transgress’ canon with our own creative pieces and ideas. We need all of this, and more.

We also need the space to talk about what Lexa’s death meant to us, how it was harmful, and what can be done differently. Not just for ourselves, though that is important. As a marginalized group, LGBT+ women need to have a voice to speak their own story rather than have ourselves talked about by those who do not face what we’ve had to face. But, we also need to share our stories with the world at large. The system needs to be challenged. Those with power need to hear and understand our concerns. We need to create change.

This, and more, is the goal of a team behind the documentary film known as The Clexa Project.

A group of dedicated activists, they seek to convey the necessity of positive and intersectional queer relationships in media. To better attain this goal, they are in process of creating a film documenting the reactions, thoughts, and stories of those most affected. In short, it gives voice to those whose voice has been silenced, ignored, or under-represented in this process: queer women themselves. Their vision is threefold: celebrate intersectional narratives, challenge degrading stereotypes, and cultivate a culture of humanization.

The documentary film explores and unfolds how the mainstream tv/film industry misrepresents, baits, and erases diverse LGBTQ+ characters, specifically queer women. And they mean all queer women. In keeping with their goal of promoting diverse and intersectional queer representation, the film specifically seeks out the voices of bi, pan, trans, ace and LGBT+ women of color and highlights how these narratives are even less present in our media landscape.

In the wake of Lexa’s death, we cannot afford to elevate one kind of queer female representation over another. Now is the time to fight for the most erased narratives as well as those that are represented, but done in harmful and destructive ways. We will make lasting change when we all succeed and are all given the space to see our stories told and ourselves reflected on screen. Lexa may have been a white lesbian (since we only know of relationships with women), but she has come to represent so much more. She’s a banner both of mourning and of hope and change. She brought attention to the plight of queer female characters, and now stands as a turning point moving forward.

In her shadow, we must create space for all LGBT+ women to rally around her and have their voices heard, their stories told, and their narratives discussed. Alongside discussing the harmful depictions of white wlw characters, we must bring to light how women of color, trans women, and bi, pan, and ace women are often mis- or under-represented in media as well. We must pull everyone up together. The Clexa Project seeks to do just that.

Yet we must never lose sight of those nuggets of goodness. The gems of representation that lie in the piles of misery and bullshit. Gems like Korrasami, WayHaught, Shoot, Hollstein, Sanvers, Cophine, or Kelly and Yorkie. Plus, I’m sure I’m forgetting others (sorry!). Celebrating the good is as necessary as drawing attention to where there’s drastic need for improvement. Highlighting the positive shows that we accept and embrace stories told about us that do well by us. This, again, is something The Clexa Project seeks to do.

Basically, this project is a work of love seeking to draw attention to something that matters a whole hell of a lot. I’m not just saying that because it’s personal. I mean, it is personal. The relationship Clexa and Lexa’s death were a part of what helped me understand my sexuality. Plus, I’m one of the people who were interviewed for the project while I was at ClexaCon (I’m in the trailer!).

So trust me when I saw that this is both personally valuable and necessary culturally. We need projects like this to reach a wide audience. To get our stories out there. To humanize the tragedy and loss so that someone who might not identify as LGBT+ can’t just say, “Oh, it’s just a bunch of pissed off, entitled teenagers on the internet whining about a character dying.” No, this is our life. Our story. And it matters.

Check out the second trailer and revel in it’s sheer awesomeness: (for the first teaser trailer, click here)

No news yet on what’s next, but I’m eagerly awaiting whatever it is. I know some of the other people they’ve interviewed for this. I’ve met and interacted with them. They’re A+ people, as are the creators behind it. After my interview, I sat and talked with them for at least half an hour and could have gone all night. They’re honest, real, and super smart and gifted.

You can check out their website and Twitter page for news and updates. If you have the ability, you can donate to make sure this project moves forward. We need it; it’s going to be amazing, powerful, and a beacon of truth and hope.


Images and Teaser Trailer Courtesy of The Clexa Project

Bi, she/her. Gretchen is a Managing Editor for the Fandomentals. An unabashed nerdy fangirl and aspiring sci/fi and fantasy author, she has opinions about things like media, representation, and ethics in storytelling.

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Watch the Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom Trailer and You’ve Basically Seen the Movie

Bo

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Everyone knows the tendency for trailers to give away the entire plot to a movie. This final trailer for the new Jurassic World not only gives away too much of the plot, it basically gives away the entire plot. As a Reddit user commented this morning, you’ve seen about 3 different movies from these trailers at this point. I suppose that’s not a huge issue. I doubt many people expect huge surprises from this movie.

After the new Jurassic World park failed (shocker, I know), the dinosaurs left there face extinction four years later because of an impending volcanic eruption. Our heroes team up with a totally not shady company to help evacuate the dinosaurs. Surprise, surprise, the company is actually shady and looks like they’re going to use the evacuated dinosaurs for profit. Profit involving selling them, experimenting on them, you know the deal. And if you watch the trailer, you’ll see exactly how the heroes will stop them.

Here’s hoping there’s a twist at the end. Maybe the dinosaurs can actually take over? They kind of deserve it with how stupid humanity acts in these movies. How many times does messing around with dinosaurs have to blow up in their faces before they learn their lesson?

I know we’ve mentioned this problem with previous movie trailers, but this one honestly strikes me as a bit more ridiculous than usual. What exactly have we not seen of this movie now? We’ve seen the threat to the dinosaurs and how they are rescued. We’ve seen the bad guy betrayal. The actual motive, the hero’s plan, probably every cool scene, we’ve seen it all. Maybe people love trailers like this and I’m out of touch? I can’t imagine why. Who wants to go into a movie knowing every cool scene before it happens?

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom arrives in theaters on June 22. You know, if you want to watch the unabridged version of this trailer.


Video and Images Courtesy of Universal Pictures.

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Will Cathy Yan’s Birds of Prey Cure the Testosterone-Poisoned DCEU?

Dan

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Are men canceled? The jury is still out. But it may be that their once assured grip on all things comics has finally slipped. And one can look no further than what has happened at Warner Bros. and DC with the DC cinematic universe. The dark and gloomy film nerd pandering schlock of Zach Snyder seems to have finally run out of steam after the failure of Justice League, and not even the outdated comic geek quips of Joss Whedon couldn’t save them. Finally taking cues from the success of Patty Jenkins and Wonder Woman, DC has added, of all things, women to their creative teams. First, Ava DuVernay was placed in charge of Jack Kirby’s New Gods, then Batgirl replaced Whedon with Christine Hodson. Now, Deadline has announced that Cathy Yan will be directing the upcoming Harley Quinn vehicle Birds of Prey. Not only will she be the second female director in the DCEU (Birds of Prey will precede New Gods) but will be the first Asian woman to direct a superhero movie.

Yan is a relative newcomer to the film world, but she’s not unaccomplished.  Born in China and raised in Hong Kong and the US, Yan has studied at Princeton and NYU, where she got an MFA from the prestigious Tisch School of the Arts. Before getting into film-making, she wrote for the Wall Street Journal. She wrote and directed multiple shorts before making her debut with Dead Pigs, which received rave reviews at Sundance.

Birds of Prey, which will use Christine Hodson’s script, has been a long-awaited addition to the DC canon. Long tied closely to writer Gail Simone, who made her name writing for it in 2003, Birds of Prey has stood out as a mostly-female team of heroes operating adjacent to the hyper-masculine Batman family of books. Its membership has revolved around Oracle (Barbara Gordon), who finally found her footing post-Killing Joke as a hyper-competent hacker and information broker, and Black Canary, who gets a break from Oliver Queen by acting as Oracle’s main operative. Other major members include former “mafia princess”  Huntress and the time-displaced Blackhawk, who acts as the team’s pilot. Many of the biggest female heroes in the DCU have passed through the ranks of the Birds of Prey, including Big Barda, Vixen, and Katana (her katana traps the souls of its victims.)

Margot Robbie’s production company LuckyChap is co-producing the film as a feature for Margot’s Harley Quinn. While Harley herself has never been a member of the Birds, her girlfriend Poison Ivy has (albeit as a ploy), and the team acts as a foil to Quinn and Ivy’s Gotham City Sirens as women in the Bat-universe.

This won’t be the first foray onto the screen for the Birds of Prey. It comes after a short-lived WB series starring Dina Meyer, and a disappointing (as always) attempt by Arrow to base an episode on the series. The film adaptation will be produced by Robbie, Sue Kroll, and Brian Unkeles and their respective production companies. Robbie was instrumental in Yan’s selection, as she was firm in her conviction that woman should direct the film. Other Quinn-centric films in the pipeline include an Ayer-free sequel to Suicide Squad, some unfortunate “rom-com” called Harley vs. The Joker, and Gotham City Sirens. Birds of Prey will enter production this year, as soon as Robbie finishes work on Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.


Image via DC Comics

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Simon Pegg Confirms Star Trek Sequel, Downplays Tarantino Involvement

Bo

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News recently made the rounds about Quentin Tarantino possibly directing the next Star Trek film, to obviously mixed reactions. Fan reaction grew even more hesitant at the possibility of the film being rated R. Don’t get me wrong, Tarantino has made some terrific movies over the years. Star Trek, though? Let’s just say he may not be the right guy for the job. His style is pretty far from what draws fans to this franchise.

Simon Pegg, who stars as Montgomery Scott in 2009’s Star Trek and its two sequels, has said the chances of Tarantino directing the next Star Trek are unlikely.

“I don’t think Quentin is going to direct it, because he’s got his California movie [Once Upon a Time in Hollywood] to do and then I think [he’s] only doing one more film after that.

In the same article, he also confirms there will be another Star Trek sequel, though he feels continuing after the tragic death of co-star Anton Yelchin will be tough. Yelchin starred alongside Pegg as Pavel Chekov.

So what do you think? Were you excited about the possibilities of a Tarantino Star Trek? Or are you massively relieved? Whatever the case, it looks like there will be a fourth film coming.


Image courtesy of Paramount and CBS

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