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Scheherazade in Blue Jeans
freelance alchemist
Torchwood: Children of Earth question 
17th-Jul-2009 04:46 pm
Boondock/can't believe
So I accidentally got spoiled (thanks, io9, for revealing major plot points before this airs in the US; you're a freakin' peach) for Torchwood: Children of Earth. And I have a question for those of you who've seen it.



Here's the article. And I'll quote the particular section that concerns me:

"At first blush, you'd think it's a bit far-fetched: After all, Torchwood was created by Queer As Folk creator Russell T. Davies — and during its first season, the show featured every one of its regular characters having at least one same-sex encounter, if I remember correctly. But now, with the death of Captain Jack Harkness' boyfriend Ianto Jones during "Children Of Earth," accompanied by comments about queers by the mentally scarred character Clem, queer fans have lashed out."

So my question is this.

My daughter is a 14-year-old Kinsey 5 girl (mostly just bi for David Tennant, really). She's majorly into Doctor Who, but has never seen Torchwood, because I felt it was too adult for her at the time... I'm fine with her seeing much of it now, but.

What is the tone of this? Of Ianto's death? I mean yes, I am sure it's traumatic; character deaths are. But. Is it traumatic in a way that would be specifically scarring to a young mostly-gay teenager? Will this freak her out regarding her orientation?

And yeah, I know the answer is probably "watch it yourself and see"; we'd been saving it to watch with her tomorrow. I may just have to hold off on this and watch it with Adam next week.

But I'd like input from those of you who've seen it.

And please, no spoilers other than those in the io9 article; thanks!

EDIT: The impression that I'm getting is that this is too dark for Elayna... I'll watch it without her first.
Comments 
17th-Jul-2009 08:57 pm (UTC)
It does on some level feel like Ianto's death is a punishment for Jack having the temerity to love him. We saw it and honestly, I just loathed the way the finale played out. The writing was excellent, but at some point the death and destruction was just too much for me.
17th-Jul-2009 09:00 pm (UTC)
Ehhhhhh .. its a tough call. I was definitely rather surprised by the apparent "queer" bashing sprinkled at various points throughout the show, but I didn't get any sense that Ianto dying had anything to do with his being physically involved with Jack, more than it was yet another instance of Jack being more than slightly short-sighted and denser than a box of rocks at times, to the point of getting someone who was endlessly loyal to him killed. I think, in the case of the death anyway, that it was more of a comment on Davies issues with relationships in general, than gay ones in specific.
18th-Jul-2009 02:50 am (UTC)
Hmmm. The only "queer bashing" I recall is by characters we've never met before - not "voice of the show"-type characters - and to me seemed quite realistic for what you'll encounter in mainstream British society. I think it was an attempt by the authors to show what gay folks have to put up with. Just because the *show* embraces homosexuality, doesn't mean that all the people in its world do. (It also shows that "people who you will quite like for other reasons can turn out to be a bit clueless and insensitive about this particular thing", which again is realistic).

Perhaps I'm being dense and not seeing something you saw? (we can take this to email if you want to discuss things that are spoilery: pbristow@livejournal.com).
18th-Jul-2009 05:40 am (UTC)
I pretty much agree which is why I used the word apparent and put queer in quotes. The only reason it surprised me was just because I've never heard anything like that in the show before. But yes, it was actually pretty mild compared to the sorts of conversations that would probably happen in real life.
17th-Jul-2009 09:01 pm (UTC)
uhm. I found the whole thing bleak and traumatic. I'm not sure what to compare it to of a similar bleakness - but it's worse than anything in Doctor Who - I'm not good at figuring out what's age appropriate and what isn't and what will scar and what won't. It's not easy to watch, and certainly not easy seeing the gay character die - and bear in mind, things continue to become more depresssing up to the end of the show.
18th-Jul-2009 02:04 pm (UTC)
Just to be random? Love your icon.
17th-Jul-2009 09:08 pm (UTC)
Personally, the end of episode 5 is far more potentially traumatic than Ianto's death. I didn't get the feeling that Ianto's sexuality had anything to do with his death, save for being beside the person he loved and having the misfortune of not being immortal. This is a scenario that just requires a loving couple to work.

That said, I would definitely watch it for yourself first. This is pretty dark stuff, even for Torchwood. This is a story where the monsters aren't from outer space. It's far more insidious than that. That's why I'm suggesting you watch it first, because it can get really disturbing. You know I like my darkness, but this is dark.

Dammit, that's as far a I can go without the spoilers. Just, trust me on this.

(And while I see the anger on the "queer" comment, I took it to be used as "odd" instead of a slur.)
17th-Jul-2009 09:11 pm (UTC)
+1 on all of this. There's a bit of familial homophobia in the very beginning of CoE, but it's mild. Other than that, 100% agree with Terri on this one.

I would also go so far as to recommend that you watch this first with Adam and then do a second run with Miss E.
17th-Jul-2009 09:19 pm (UTC)
'k. io9 made it seem like he was killed for the temerity of being queer, and if they push that being a punishment for loving someone of the same gender... I'm aware that that happens in Real Life, but I don't think Elayna is ready to see a dramatic portrayal of it, y'know?

I'll watch it first.
17th-Jul-2009 09:39 pm (UTC)
It's not because he's queer, although he and Jack have Problems, Ianto seems to be having problems with accepting that side of himself, and it gets mentioned in a teasing/mildly offensive way a few times. The death has nothing to do with any of this, though. It's just fandom hyperreaction against the FACT a gay character was killed, when this tends to happen a lot in TVs and movies nowadays.

I concur with Terri on events in Ep. 5 being much more potentially disturbing (for, again, entirely non-gay reasons). I still have not been able to shake it completely from my mind.
18th-Jul-2009 04:10 am (UTC)
People are reading a lot of crap into it.

I believe with all my heart that TW would not stoop to such a thing as punishing a character for being gay.

It *is* really dark, but - really - how to say this without being spoilery?? - the reason for the invasion would, I think, disturb Elayna a whole lot more than anything else. If we were talking about my (ex) stepdaughter I probably wouldn't want her to watch it.
19th-Jul-2009 11:13 pm (UTC)
I didn't get that from it at all - that he died because he was gay. It was, however, VERY traumatic to me and I am hetero!
17th-Jul-2009 09:20 pm (UTC)
I definitely agree with this on all counts. I thought it was all amazingly well done, but whoa dark.
17th-Jul-2009 09:29 pm (UTC)
Thirded. I think there's a lot of free-floating anger over what happened to Ianto, and there's a point to it.
However, overall? This is VERY adult, in themes, not necessarily in content. The best comparison I can make in terms of broadcast TV is to that first episode of VERONICA MARS. But it's also violent, and dealing with deaths in a very visceral way.

Watch First, please.
17th-Jul-2009 09:35 pm (UTC)
Another "I agree completely" comment. I think it's going much too far to say that Ianto was punished for being gay - let's not forget that the first of the Torchwood characters to be killed was the most blatantly heterosexual of the team!!!
17th-Jul-2009 09:40 pm (UTC)
Suzie?
17th-Jul-2009 09:45 pm (UTC)
Er, yes.

I guess I should have specified the regulars.

(Buut how much do we knoa bout Suzy anyway?
17th-Jul-2009 09:47 pm (UTC)
Not that it's any indication on Torchwood, but she was sleeping with Owen for a while. (The "replace me completely" line in They Keep Killing Suzie.)
17th-Jul-2009 09:27 pm (UTC)
Watch it first. Not just for Ianto's death--which could be read as punishment for the relationship, but could as easily be read as Jack's gung-ho attitude and failure to remember others' mortality--but for the other bleak, bleak stuff.
17th-Jul-2009 10:03 pm (UTC)
...and when you watch it, bring tissues. And something to cuddle.
17th-Jul-2009 10:46 pm (UTC)
I'll confess, I fear io9 was justified in running a spoilery article in this situation. The arc had run in its primary territory, on terrestrial television, and a large, visible chunk of its American fandom had already had access to it. This seems like a situation where covering the fallout effectively required addressing the catalyst directly. (I've read a few articles which have tried to keep things vague for the American audience, but the data wasn't useful without the context.)

I'll not be watching it; this sounds too bleak for me, even at grown-adult state.
17th-Jul-2009 10:55 pm (UTC)
Logically, I have to say that it's pretty well done, even if I don't agree with it (I think killing that many main characters in such a short time frame is just stupid).

When I thought twice about it, I didn't feel like they were killing Ianto because he was queer. But I had to think about it to come to that conclusion. When I first saw it, my gut instinct was, "Jesus effing christ of course you're killing Ianto, a decent, loving, queer relationship on TV, I should have EXPECTED this," and Gwen, of course, in her happy hetero relationship and having a baby gets to go on with her life and be fine. That was my gut reaction, mind, and maybe unfair, but it was how I felt before rationality set in.

But really, episode 5 is really, really a lot more disturbing from a rational standpoint. Frankly, I think Torchwood and RTD are a lot more enamored of their darkness than their fanbase is.
17th-Jul-2009 11:36 pm (UTC)
Ianto's sister and brother-in-law give him some ribbing for being gay, but it's the usual familial stuff and it's obvious they're ok with it really, British humour you know.

Clem is the one to call him queer.. but Clem is a child stuck in a man's body and his attitudes are stuck in 1965...and it's blindingly obvious that it's not meant to be ok and he gets slappe down about his attitude sharpish.

As for Ianto's death...meh actually I don't see it as being punishment for being gay..[and as an aside, Ianto isn't kinda...he's in love with Jack, but doesn't fancy other men].

It's a tragic death, and would have been regardless of gender. If anything, it's fairly gay positive because it transcends gender. [if that makes sense].

I still think RTD is a bastard for doing it though!!

Leaving the question of gender though.. yes it's dark, and deeply creepy in subtle ways..and doesn't exactly show humanity in the best of lights. Depending on how Ms Kid is about government conspiracies and people in high places doing creepy-nasty stuff while smiling at the camera... It's not really a children's program, not unless they are already cynical.
17th-Jul-2009 11:45 pm (UTC)
I think this sums it up best. The fact that Clem gets pulled up short after the remark salvaged it for me. The family stuff is, well, family. They'd've been ribbing him just as hard over a girl, was my impression, because Ianto's kept himself somewhat private and that's the family's way of emphasising "hey, you're still one of us and we still know you." The horrible things in this run don't have a thing to do with sexuality; it's tangential.
18th-Jul-2009 01:15 am (UTC)
I was looking at oldmotherchaos' LJ and noticed this.

CoE was very dark, and very political too. I don't think CoE was anymore anti-gay than say, Queer as Folk. I just think RTD doesn't shy away from showing people's reactions.

I thought Ianto's death was handled very well, although I also think RTD is a bastard for killing off all those good characters.

I'm just hoping there will be a Victorian Torchwood at some point.
18th-Jul-2009 04:04 am (UTC)
No, I don't think that Ianto's death will freak Elayna out because of his being gay. It's upsetting and raw and very much..I think it works, as far as it fitting within the definition of their relationship.

(Check out the symbol of the scratch on Ianto's cheek however.)
18th-Jul-2009 04:18 am (UTC)
Morgan cried her eyes out, but a lot of that was because Ianto was her favorite.

As for the "bashing," it was Ianto's brother-in-law and didn't seem malicious to me at all. It's like anything else, people are going to take what they want from a situation.

edit: I discount Clem's comment as malicious strictly because he's mentally unstable/childlike.

Edited at 2009-07-18 04:21 am (UTC)
18th-Jul-2009 05:19 am (UTC)
18th-Jul-2009 04:06 pm (UTC)
As tragic as Ianto's death is, it was also heroic. I don't believe it had anything to do with any particular person he chose to love. He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. I would analyze it further than that, but I don't want to give too much more away.

Ianto's death is actually one of the "less dark" aspects of CoE. Now, let me say I think this is excellent..it is probably the best that Torchwood will ever achieve in it's lifetime, and probably the best work Russel T Davies will ever achieve in HIS lifetime, but it is DARK. Not gratuitously so, but it really examines a part of the human condition in a way that many will find disturbing and numbing. My wife, as much as she really enjoyed it, was in tears by the end, and said to me "I don't think I could ever watch that again in my life"

18th-Jul-2009 07:24 pm (UTC)
I wouldn't expect Ianto's death to be particularly traumatic from a sexuality perspective.
However, the entire story is deeply disturbing, and I expect more so from the perspective of someone who may easily see themselves as one of (or near to being one of) the subjects of the story. So, definitely, you should watch first. Preferably with tissues and a suitable cuddle-source.

I'm still debating if I want to rewatch it. I expect that I will, in the course of showing it to other people. But it's extremely dark, in a no, stories on these sorts of themes shouldn't be comfortable way.
20th-Jul-2009 02:20 am (UTC)
Ianto's death was not related to him being gay. Therefore, it would not be considered traumatic for a bi teenager. His death has... love.
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