Western Animation Superman The Animated Series Discussion

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07:48:11 PM Apr 17th 2014
09:04:44 AM Nov 10th 2010
edited by JBK405
Tableau, let's discuss this here before we get into an edit-war.

1): "This is a kid's show so there are not going to be many deaths of main cast characters, doesn't matter if it's hinted at them being gay or not." Characters have already died in this series (I point to Detective Bowman earlier in the series, and Dan Turpin later in this very episode). Deaths are not common, but they do occur.

2) "Maggie's sexual origentatin was never hinted at until she was hurt and in the hospital" Yes, that is why I specifically pointed to it as an inversion as well, since this lead to a reveal of her sexuality (As much as they could reveal it) when this trope is normally used to get rid of gay characters.

3) "But you could say every gay charactrer that doesn't die is a subverstion" No, it is specifically said on the Subversion page that just not happening is not a subversion, but an aversion. A subversion is when a trope is set up to happen, using the foundation of the trope to make you think it is coming, and then something else happens instead. Maggie is attacked. She suffers a grievous wound. Her attackers are called murderers. The show is implying, rather blatantly, that she has just been killed (Hence, setting up the trope) and then it doesn't happen and she survives (Thus subverting the trope, since it said "Look, it's happening, only it's not happening.")

The trope does not just refer to shows where lots of characters die, it does not only pertain to flamboyantly gay characters, it refers to deaths of gay characters and, in this case, a woman who is canonically gay, even if it did not come up in the show, is set up to die and then doesn't. It is a textbook example of the subversions/inversions.
09:49:54 AM Nov 10th 2010
edited by Tableau
Detective Bowman was turned out to be an irredeemable villain (hence free game) and Dan Turpin was more the exception than the rule.

I guess I thought of this trope as being intentionally done while Maggie almost being killed and it being revealed that she was gay came off as two unrelated things. But you're right, aversion fits. I guess I should have read more carefully. Though to me the application of the trope seems like more of a coinciental combination of circumstances than a solid example. Calling it subverstion though seems too general.
09:54:33 AM Nov 10th 2010
edited by MrDeath
Not necessarily "free game". Human villains are almost always exempt from death in American cartoons, so he still counts toward the show's averting Never Say "Die".

And a subversion doesn't necessarily require the writers' conscious decision to play with that exact trope. It just means, as stated, that a trope is set up in a way you'd expect it to play out, then it isn't.

Even if the writers didn't intend specifically, "Let's pretend to kill the gay character since they expect us to do that," that's how the trope plays out in the show: A character who is gay in the comics—and given the DCAU's general tendency to have Shown Their Work is likely gay here too—appears with every indication to have died except, as it happens, the most vital one. That set of facts alone makes it qualify. It'd be an aversion if Maggie was never put in a potentially fatal situation.
10:07:10 AM Nov 10th 2010
edited by JBK405
Also, something I should have put in my original argument, the low death count in this show supports the subversion of Bury Your Gays. The trope page explains that the trope specifically does not apply to shows where Anyone Can Die because in those shows anyone can die. In situations with large body counts it doesn't matter if they are gay or straight, they are just people dying and just as many straight characters die, the fact that they are gay is irrelevant (A "we're all equal in death" sort of thing). The trope refers to when more characters die who are gay than are straight, or even only gay characters die, and that's what the lead in to Apokolips....Now! seems to be giving, since up until then there had been no on-screen deaths among the good guys (All deaths were either villains, off-screen, etc.) and it looks like the very first, possibly only, hero to be killed on the show is its one gay character...and then she survives.

You're completely right that I doubt the writers were intentionally going for this, they were almost certainly not thinking "Let's make them think we killed the gay chick and then trick them," but that is still the end result.

P.S. I just feel the need to point out that I am extremely happy they decided on the subversion, since Maggie is actually one of my all-time favorite characters (She gets a starring role in Gotham Central, which was one of the first series I read after 52, which lead me into the DCU in general) and I like her and Turpin's role on the show, which shows that there really is a Metropolis Police Department, and it's not just Superman flying around stopping every single crime.
12:51:53 PM Nov 10th 2010
edited by Tableau
I meant that the death rate for villains is a lot higher in these sorts of shows than the hero's main cast. They may spare the the villains sometimes but not always, that's what the Disney Villain Death (among others) is for. Not to say Bowman's death wasn't unusual (Family Unfriendly and all that) but being a villain, his chances were significantly slimmer than the main cast.

"it looks like the very first, possibly only, hero to be killed on the show is its one gay character...and then she survives." But that's the thing, discounting the All There in the Manual context, we don't know she's gay, not until the danger has passed and we know she's going to be okay. For it to be a real subversion I think the fact that she was gay should have already been known hence making you think at first the trope is being played out when Turpin reacts like she's dead. For the subversion to work the viewer has to a) have read the comics and known Maggie was gay and/or b) know (either from the creators or someone else) that this version of Maggie is also gay. Both these are influence from outside the show itself. For it to fit the trope you have to be a very specific kind of viewer and I think that seems overly narrow and too outside the text of the story itself.
01:28:59 PM Nov 10th 2010
edited by JBK405
Ah, but Bury Your Gays doesn't require that their sexuality be explicitly confirmed, or even heavily implied. It can remain subext, or even no text, with the only way of knowing they are gay coming from comments by the creators. Some shows never get involved with the sexuality of their characters in any way, or keep it hidden for some reason, while still writing what the producers consider to be a gay character. An example I can point to is Alicia Vega on Stargate Atlantis; the scenes that initially hinted she was gay were cut out of her introductory episode, so there were never even any small hints to imply her sexuality, but all the writers still regard her as the first canon homosexual character in the Stargate universe, and her death in her second appearance still counted as Bury Your Gays.

Maggie, even if they never put in even the small hints they did, was always written as a gay character, and they did put in a few vague indicators to lead the way. Tropes are created by the writers of the show, by what does or doesn't happen, not by what viewers take away from the show. The subversion explanation does refer to the viewers expectations tricking themselves, but that is because the writers themselves are performing an action. Even if we don't get it, it was still done.
02:05:29 PM Nov 10th 2010
edited by Tableau
"Ah, but Bury Your Gays doesn't require that their sexuality be explicitly confirmed" That's not what the definition on the page says. It seems that gays have to have a higher death count than straight characters or that they are killed because of their "gay ways" or something like that. Her almost being killed had everything to do with her being a police officer and nothing to do with her being gay (which was never hinted at or shown previously on the show). The fact that Turpin is killed later seems to make it more Bury Your Police Officers than Bury Your Gays.

"Tropes are created by the writers of the show, by what does or doesn't happen, not by what viewers take away from the show." I can accept that for a trope played straight but I think the audience needs to be in on it (or that there needs to at least some kind of text from the story to support it) for it to be a subversion.

I just think it's too much of a stretch.
06:46:34 PM Nov 10th 2010
edited by JBK405
First off, let me explain why my above post is suddenly so much shorter, I felt the need to remove my links at the end because...well, because I feel like an idiot for putting those links in. They add nothing to my argument, it looks condescending ("Oh, and here's some other stuff you don't know") and it was just bad debating and bad writing. I'm sorry, I don't know what I was thinking, and I hope it won't happen again.

Anyway, you're right the trope refers to character being killed because of their gay ways, but it doesn't say that their gay ways are the immediate cause of their death, but that that was why the writers decided to kill them. To get them out of the story, to "teach us a lesson," to appease the censors, etc. The actual cause of death could be any and everything, not necessarily actually related to being gay; the page picture for the trope was a vengeance murder for past superhero rivalries, she was not targeted because she was gay anymore than Maggie Sawyer was targeted by Intergang for being gay (For those wondering "WTF?" the Watchmen comic goes into a bit more detail on what happened in the interim and gave more details on hero deaths than we saw in the five-minute opening montage). The trope refers to the way gay characters "happen" to die instead of straight ones, it doesn't necessarily have to be as a direct result of their gayness (They can be shot in a holdup, they don't need to cath AIDS or be murdered by a jilted lover).

Regarding the technicalities of subversion, I've again got to point out that the trope definition says it's all about set up and payoff. The example the page itself gives is about cars going through plates of glass in a car chase; even if you turned to your buddy and said "That's such a clich, there is no way the car will actually go through that plate of glass" and you are correct, it is still a subversion because they set up that trope, even if you didn't fall for it. Here, even if the audience didn't know it, the writers still set up the trope, and then swerved aside.

As a "For example," take that car chase example again. Show the film to a culture that has not been previously exposed to Hollywood cinema, so they would have no expectation of a car driving through a plate of glass, they don't even think about it, and when the movie shows the car driving towards the glass nobody makes any connection at all. It is still a subversion, even though nobody in the audience got it, because the writers got it and were setting it up and then said "No, we won't do it."

Whether it was deliberate or not, the writers set up the trope exactly: They took the one gay character and gave her a mortal wound and had the straight character weep over her corpse, implying that she, the one gay character, is dead before any of the straight characters, and then swerve to the side and say "No, it's not that."
07:39:18 PM Nov 10th 2010
edited by Tableau
But there was never any indication she was gay. That's my hang up.

Using your car chase analogy, the audience knows they are watching a car chase where action happens and shit gets wrecked, whether the audience knows of the usual tropes or not. Say you're watching a car just speeding along down a highway and it passes a gas truck that is pulled over. He passes the truck without incident but then the camera pulls away to reveal that the car is in a high-speed chase and being shot at by cops. Now we know we're in a car chase and the standard tropes will apply. The fact that that truck didn't blow up in the beginning was not a subversion of the trope because we had no idea we were in a situation to expect that trope. There was no anticipation.

The fact that Maggie didn't get killed off when she was seriously wounded is no surprise to the audience because a) the hero's friends don't die unless it's a very special occasion and b) we did not know she was a member of a minority that has a tendency to get killed off often in fiction.

If she had died, then I'd be all for putting the trope on the page (hell if they had even hinted at her sexual orientation before the episode I'd maybe consider a subversion) but she didn't and lots of other characters came just as close to dying (or in Turpin's case, did die) making her situation far from unique. She was part of the main cast and a police officer to boot, you'd be crazy to think that they weren't going to play the terribly wounded card somewhere down the line.
09:03:12 PM Nov 10th 2010
It seems to me that we're at an impasse, neither of us is going to convince the other. If I'm understanding you correctly your beef is that, since there was never any indication that Maggie was gay, the trope was never really set up. Nothing made the viewer think that the show was going to bury their gays, because even when she was in mortal danger we had no reason to think "Gay person in danger," and part of the essence of subverting a trope is putting elements in the show to make us think that it is coming up.

My point is that, even if the viewer didn't get it, it was still there since she was always written as a gay character and, even if it was only an noticeable to fans of the comics or people who had heard in advance, it was still a legitimate set-up.

Have I gotten our opposing viewpoints correct? If so, how do we move on from here? I don't agree wit you, but your argument has legitimate points so I can't just ignore you and re-add the info, and I'd like to think my arguments hold up the same way, even if they haven't convinced you, so we can't just let the matter drop.

Outside arbitration, maybe?

Also, I don't think you raised any objections to the trope as an inversion after we first got started, or did I miss that? If so, what are your arguments there, since (If you have not already decided that it does fit as an inversion) maybe we can make some headway with that issue.
10:18:36 AM Nov 17th 2010
Well, it's been a week Tableau, I'm gonna re-add the trope soon if this keeps lingering here.
10:29:46 AM Nov 17th 2010
Alright alright. It's getting close to finals here. Inversion maybe (since out of the two cop characters Turpin was the one to die) but I'm still dead set against subversion.
10:37:08 AM Nov 17th 2010
Ah, finals, good memories...no, scratch that, horrible memories, but they're there.
12:45:49 PM Aug 10th 2010
edited by
I didn't see anything in that link about a darker original idea for Little Girl Lost. Oh wait, there it is. I need to learn how to read.
08:55:55 PM Jul 6th 2010
This example:

Justice League also reveals that, though it is not yet apparent, Brainiac has infected and begun to control Lex Luthor in order to survive.

I say this should go on the Justice League page, and not here, because:

(a) It's a plot development that occurred in Justice League, even if it was claimed retroactively to have been around a while.

(b) Remembering that the point of these examples is to illustrate the trope...
"Superman The Animated Series has an example of Brainiac being a Puppeteer Parasite."
"Great! Which episode do I watch to see that?"
"Um, actually... you can't. None of the episodes show what's going on, or even mention it happening."
"So how is that an example again?"
10:13:25 AM Jul 7th 2010
Many points on this page call forward (and backwards) to events in other series. Th introduction mentions how many plot points are picked up in Justice League, and how it was spawned off from Batman: The Animated Series. As separate works within a single larger continuity, it makes perfect sense to include examples like this, which pay off in a later series but which spring from here.
08:06:59 PM Jul 7th 2010
It's entirely reasonable for the introduction to mention links to other series, but the examples should stick to the work at hand.

Also, I argue with the description "pay off in a later series but which spring from here". That implies that the writers of STAS planted hints that this was going on, which culminated in the reveal in JLU. As far as I'm aware, that's not the case: the reveal was something the JLU writers invented completely themselves, and it wasn't the intention of the STAS writers.
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