Emma as Regina’s Saviour, the tragic twist leading to the quintessential relationship
As promised, here is the continuation of our friend’s “SwanQueen: the ongoing journey” meta theory which offers answers to (believe it or not, discussions that followed it resulted with more argumentation) some other questions. Now, is this just an idle dissection that besides getting CSers’ nappies in a twist – only serves to make speculations about the narrative of this show more imaginative and more fun than the show itself? Did our friend crack the code of subversive storytelling, or are we all just a horde of ‘mass-delusionals’? Or did we all lose hope because optimism is terrifying and it’s much easier to be pessimistic? Well, read this and decide for yourself.
-your TTMC staff
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I’ve been dragged in for this one. Not kicking and screaming, so much, as *makes sheepish “Hiiiee” Emma-meeting-Regina-face*. I would be the interruption to regular programming. ;)
I’ve been grappling with how I can address this further while both, I guess, honouring my “theory”? Whilst also not getting tooooooo far (further?) into crazy-ville (but the line between sanity and madness is a thin one, so.). It’s prob a bit late for that, at this point, lol.
Before I entered the fandom, I don’t mind telling you, I was in awe of OUaT creators’ genius. After I entered the fandom (and was thrown into a tail spin by the PR), I found it seemed all the intelligent people were criticising the show to the ends of the earth and all the daft ignorant prejudice nasty people were claiming it. It caused me to have doubts about my own perceptions. Getting wrapped up in other people’s perceptions can be a dangerous thing.
One friend is convinced that I have attributed far too much logic and credit to their writing and it’s all just my delusion? Finding sense where there is none. Mind you, she also ff-ed through 3b, so, it’s possible? She might not be seeing all that is there? Lol.
As one beautiful person (who has been hurt and jaded by all this PR and fandom fuckery) kindly said, beautiful human stories with depth are important and even if we don’t get it on this show, with these characters, at least it perhaps can serve to remind us that they are out there (sometimes you just have to look a little harder). And perhaps even some of us can be the ones to go on and tell them :) There should always be a balance of lightness and darkness, right? So I shall leave the mitigating (my) objective hopefulness (as one friend put it) with the possible worst-case-scenario reality of anti-climactic disappointment, to the good folks on this blog (the regulars :)
Some folks are scared to hope. Who can blame them? I too, have felt it. It’s contagious. Because damn. Being made to feel like you’re invisible sure does take its toll. But feeling and being, are not necessarily the same thing. After all ‘perception is nine tenths of reality’ and the risk is always that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. People’s grievances about society in general have been dragged in, polluting perceptions of the onscreen narrative. It’s understandable.
Some folks, quite apart from the onscreen drama, are simply appalled at how this show has handled their queer fanbase. At that, I can make no excuses for them. However I can venture to speculate on how the show runners might justify their conduct. In keeping with (my) theory (because otherwise, this wouldn’t be a break in usual programming ;) I wonder if they were afraid that if they ever even slightly went there they would be opening up the floodgates? Quite apart from the pandemonium that would invariably erupt across the fandom, it would risk illuminating the thing that was meant to stay ‘hidden in plain sight’. For a show aiming to run a number of seasons (and playing ‘the long game’), they perhaps thought that too great a risk to take?
The question has been raised: But, if SQ was “Endgame”, wouldn’t they actually want a few SQ fans LEFT still watching the show, to see it? My guess to that one, they may not believe most people would follow through on their threats to switch off (or that however many it may seem ‘online’ are ‘switching off’, that’s not a true complete representation of the show’s entire viewership. So they weather the ‘online storm’ keeping the big picture in mind?). They might be taking the punt, or taking for granted, anyone who is a true fan of the core characters, Emma, or Regina, or both, are much more likely to be loyal true OUaT fans and however upset/pissed off they may be, they just won’t be able to help themselves. In other words, they appease the GA because they need them for ratings and anyone who is a fan of the faux-ships (or their male counterparts) are more likely to be transient viewers and would leave if they didn’t get their leather clad pirate, or forest man, or Twilight-gen-conditioned ships (which may also simply be seen as promoting the show in general while keeping the true gems hidden: “Happy endings aren’t always what you expect them to be”). And they figure, SQ fans will be happy eventually, so ‘all’s well that ends well’… All, speculation of course.
I don’t think it’s so much that anything was “too obvious”, as how much the demands of the new medium age (obligatory web fan “interaction”/PR) dramatically conflict with the old medium (series tv). Very hard to honour a long term vision in an age of instant feedback/interaction and ‘we want it!/tell us! now now now!’ Where, patience and settling in for the long haul is an alien concept. I think I kinda had this fantasy that if I kept quiet about it then everybody else would keep it on the down low too…Surprisingly, it turns out I don’t have a telekinetic connection with the world’s queer/queer-friendly-community, so that didn’t really work out ;)
As for the actresses being in on the plan, hmmm. I dunno. All highly speculative obviously. I will tell you, from merely watching the onscreen portrayals and never having read/watched any interviews, with either actress, I wouldhave bet my bottom dollar that in fact BOTH actresses were ‘in on the plan’ (by nature of the characters, JenMorr’s ‘vibe’ is going to come across as sorta oblivious and well just, subtler). But, after I caught up with the PR machine, I pretty much thought the exact opposite, lol. Especially after Lana’s Paris Con performance *blinks* …I’ve now moved on to pretty much believing they may not have known anything, but yes, Lana played the subtext up to a point—not necessarily as a ‘grand plan’, but as a thing that co-existed. However, the RH “soulmate” storyline I think (as I suggested before) even she was convinced was meant to be for real (I suspect Lana may have got a bit wrapped up in projecting her RL romance and her Paris Conn display was a lot of speculation lacking in insight, before she had any idea where this story was going #No Spoilers, S4). Actors are merely players in the play (which is what Lana basically said in her answer to the SQ question peeps got so upset over). Of course, to speculate even further (cos that’s what ‘fans’ do, right? ;) it is also possible, that all of that proclamation about Robin being Regina’s ‘soulmate’ (“Fairy dust never lies”) was to reinforce the audience perception of REGINA’S general belief of it, to add weight to the story and the risk of Regina’s redemption being undone, only to make the reveal all the more surprising. Ow. Wow. There’s some heavy speculation for ya :) Which, I actually believe is highly possible. How do you talk and sell, while saying as little as possible? How do you preserve the vision, the true hidden gems, while doing ALL this media stuff? If you look at all the PR objectively, as just simply selling the show in a general sense and laying out superficial plot stuff (as opposed to fandom management—that’s just the perception of fanbases), then there’s nothing really surprising, or offensive about it.
Nevertheless, hounding the actors for answers is a really bad idea. And the truth is (as I talked about in an older post here) they may not even know anyway. They don’t need to know! That’s the thing about subtext. The actors don’t have to “play” the subtext, because it’s part of the characterisation. If a good actor is doing their job, it will just naturally come through, because it’s ‘in the writing’ (and direction/editing).
Must remember, the craft of acting and storytelling existed LONG before the celebrity age. It is a drastic dichotomy. We say, ‘but look how lucky they are. Can’t they give a little back to their fans?’ And well, sure. Fair enough. All things being equal in a balanced world, ‘why not?’, indeed. And by necessity of the celebrity age (exacerbated via the internet), they have to do it. But, that doesn’t make it, not still a vile contradiction and offence to the fundamental essence of the craft of acting. It is a very dangerous thing for an actor to step outside their character and judge from an audience’s perspective (which all this PR and fan questions require them to do). That may be a Celebrity’s job, but it is not an Actor’s job. An actor’s job is to empathise with their character and to be a vessel.
More SQ analysis ;-P (aka. the ‘expansion’ of the theory)
tumblr is a weird place, it spends years loving Jennifer Lawrence, naming her our queen. “tumblr personified”. but that love only seems to last a little while. because hey, loving her become too mainstream. being loved by the internet, tumblr especially, is dangerous. because sooner or later it’ll turn on you, and damn does it turn on you.
Once Upon a Meta: Regina/Emma/SwanQueen: the ongoing journey.
I have something ridiculous for the ‘think tank’. Something ridiculously elaborate and long. Something possibly ridiculously delusional. Before I submit that though, this, would be the preamble to the preamble ;-) …(And maybe even a, red flag, for some?)
It represents what I was able to see (re: SwanQueen-S3), from watching OUaT, before entering the fandom (post S3)…
What I saw before all the ugly-minded little shits in this fandom told me I was delusional and to scoot off (or, words to that affect) and go watch some ‘Gay Show’ and leave OUaT to all ‘The Normal People’, for whom it was intended!….Which says a helluva lot about them, given one doesn’t even need to be “Gay” to see it…Just to have insight of the subtleties of the screen medium and appreciation for a transcendent love story. (Oh and an open mind? Which is sorely lacking by all those who consider themselves the “normal intended audience”).
So, in spite of everything (and dear lawrd, is there a lot of everything to despite), I thought I should honour that? To share the (delusional?) insights—for anyone who might be interested—of someone whose perceptions weren’t polluted by external influences of online fandom (or OUaT’s unfortunate PR).
The fact I should feel compelled to explain and justify why I would write such a thing seems sad, but things being such as they are, is it any wonder?
It has taken a considerable degree of resilience and a good dose of stepping back and taking another look, because this fandom tends to get one to the point of wanting to rip one’s own heart out—Regina-style and bury it in the fucking ground!
The idea of submitting my ridiculous “optimistic” delusional analysis/theorising, here, seems bizarrely incongruous—in a corner of the fandom, so overwhelmingly negative it makes me feel more “delusional” than the anti-SQ brigade at times. And that has given me many second thoughts (not to mention made me question whether it would even be welcome!)…But I guess, I appreciate (constructive) contrasts? rather than group-think. And the critical thinking with a social conscience (here on this blog) that holds them to a higher standard…Should it come to pass that any optimism for this show, for more discerning viewers (or, anyone not happy to abide by the sexist/heterosexist norm), is tragically misplaced. (Not to mention the respect I have for the unenviable task of attempting to mitigate the ignorance and toxicity of this fandom. All that windmill fighting you do :)…plus, you are after all, “mirroring” the sentiments of others and things being as they are, that makes for a dark reflection.)
I didn’t want to get into the politics. I just wanted to do a story/character analysis, lol, but it seems unavoidably necessary— a dark cloud hanging over my analysis as it were. So… Sigh. Let’s see, if I can present some sort of logical (and hopefully not too controversial) argument. (I’ve got the flue and a crushing headache, so let’s see if I can think through the haze…that’s not to illicit sympathy, just to apologise in advance for any incomprehensible rambling? )
I’ve given a lot of thought to all your intelligent discussion and have doubts of my own wisdom, but I feel some resistance to certain assumptions that are the basis for much of the criticisms (not just here!) directed at the show. Hence, can’t help playing devil’s advocate (Including your thoughtful response to my earlier- 2nd? post here, where I posed that hypothesis. A while back, I know). I don’t take these sensitive topics lightly and I am uncertain as to my own take. But, on considering all things (and going back and forth because I’m not arrogant enough to not have self doubt—I wish I was!), something keeps popping out at me. So much is judged through the prism of fandom (and media PR). And from that perspective—given what a disturbing beast this fandom is—I’m not sure anything other than a negative view of the show is likely to be had. It’s unfortunate. But, who is responsible? Them (the show creators)?
We assume the mindboggling, seemingly character assassinating ships, are pandering to the masses. We assume they have been poorly structured. We assume they are for real and SQ was just a queerbaiting invention intended only for fanon shipping. But, what if all those assumptions are wrong? That, changes the complexity of things considerably, does it not?
The problem with the “Queerbaiting” charge is the inbuilt assumptions and cynicism leave no room for the possibility that anything might actually mean something.
I’m just asking folks to consider this:
Subtle subversive storytelling (for) the mainstream masses. Hypothetically speaking, if it were what they were doing, playing the long game, the outward signs look the same. For all its positive aspects, this is the problem with online fandom—all the people who would be a fan of what they are doing, turn on them, because they’re not in on the plan (and they’re rushing to judgement). Depicting a long term invested love story between two characters who both happen to be women; and presenting two Lesbians, is not necessarily going to look the same.
Now it might not be what the creators of OUaT are doing. I can’t be absolutely certain, obviously—I’m not in on the plan! But, the point is, if it was it would look exactly the same. That’s the dilemma. It’s not a movie. Beginning. Middle. End. Done. Open to be judged. It’s an ongoing (mainstream) tv series and we’re still on the journey. At what point do you make a final judgment? When you’ve seen part of the evidence, or do you hold off judgement until all the evidence is in?
It’s hard for people, being immersed in the world of fandom and all the rival fans (and the inevitable horridness that comes with the combination of ignorant nasty people en masse and the dehumanising web medium) inciting you and making you desperate to be acknowledged by official sources to validate your view (and existence in this fandom). Add to that, perceptions of other shows and general pop culture (who are guilty of setting the negative precedent), polluting the waters.
But the show creators are not the keepers of the zoo. Not only is it not their job to ‘manage the fandom’, but I’d suggest such a thing would be impossible. The idea of a lovely harmonious fandom is, a nice one, but perhaps these days—when every dog and his man are on ze web (there’s a reason it’s called the ‘web’ yunno ;), when dealing with an entity which is not fringe, it’s a concept a bit like ‘utopia’. In reality, an inevitable clusterfuck.
They may appear to be kinda crap at PR (totally crap?), but again, if they were playing the long game, what they say in the media would be restrained and highly selective. Which brings me back around to how I saw things from what they’ve given us onscreen (speaking as someone who did not enter the fandom until post S3). No matter what they say, or don’t say, in media, at Cons, on twitter, on the street, in the men’s room…What they have done onscreen between Emma and Regina has had far greater significance than anything that has occurred between either with any (present time) love interest (unless, like the CSers, you count a make-out session as certain twu wuv). They are the core characters with the core relationship (on solo journeys interwoven) since day one. The “queerbaiting” criteria suggests after “gay panic” sets in, they not only introduce hetero LI’s, but retract any meaningful interaction (between the queer-ship). They haven’t. Quite the contrary. (obviously S1 had the most interaction by quantity, but that was foundation building and a different stage in the relationship). Also, selling/teasing the ‘queer-ship’ in the media: Lord knows they never did that! (Ironically, to the point, people were convinced the actresses didn’t get along!). There’s two ways of looking at the LI’s: Either they are an offense to the idea the leading ladies are Lesbian because said LI’s are Male; or, it’s all part of the journey on a mainstream show subverting preconceived ideas (everyone’s preconceived ideas). Again, depicting a long term invested love story between two characters who both happen to be women; and presenting two Lesbians, is not necessarily going to look the same.
Wow. Yunno, when you commit to articulating certain vague ideas/ponderings/theories in written form for others to read, it becomes all too apparent how against the grain I’m going and how ridiculous (and irritating?) they must seem to so many. It’s all about giving the benefit of the doubt, when I feel so much is still indeterminable. Because I love these individual original character creations…So, why wouldn’t I? Obviously, when the show proves the cynical/pessimistic approach to be the wise one after all, no one is going to be more disappointed than me! Lol… Until then, I sorta like that instead of being sucked into the deep dark soul-destroying vortex that is this fandom, I can still see the beauty and the possibility that things might not be quite as they seem.
Soooo, that out of the way, my character/story analysis thingy will be with you for your consideration forthwith :) (oh, and the pre-written preamble, before writing this. I could not be bothered grappling over whether it’s still relevant :-D…so, uh hum. yuh. :-P)
I would just say, to anyone who has absolutely no appetite for sticking with the show, or giving the writers the benefit of the doubt (or spending longer than a few brief moments reading something! lol)—this will probably not be your cup of tea.
TT: DID SOMEONE SAY PROM?! BECAUSE HERE IS YOUR QUEEN ENGLISH AND YOU BETTER BE READY (Miu: jitgkrehgiuruidgsdgsureueiieugles ITS HAPPENING MY HANDS ARE MOVING BY THEMSELVES YOU BETTER BE READY ENGLISH(???) )
Didnt you watch spy movies? If your cammufage isnt perfect the mission wont be accomplished.
As some of us have become understandably cynical after a whip-lash inducing PR fest that seems intent on bringing critical minds back into the fold while simultaneously telling them to ‘relax and enjoy the Hook-Hood show’, as cast and creators bombard us with hot and cold, rude and kind (subtext, dismissal, ignoring, sweaters – keepwatching, nohate?) there remains a need to have some sense of our own agency as viewers. Hegemony is a flawed theory if there is no resilience among the oppressed? Either way, there still are some of those who manage to steer clear from all the PR/cast/fandom dramarama, of all the blame-placing and feelings of betrayal, hurt and deception. Some of them just watch the show and interpret it in their own way. Because there is no such thing as ‘misinterpretation’ in a show that is solely left to our own interpretation – so whatever we all see, feel and want… is individual, and just as valid. Listen to your audience. Someone (we think it was the drunk guy passed out in a hammock in our meta-backyard ;) said that once.
What follows is someone else’s perspective. Resilience, Agency and Audience Interpretation—might be the title. Or, ‘Subtext does still matter and don’t throw the dirty human out with the dirty bathwater’? Let’s call it that.
Ok. So apparently I am NOT “an intelligent viewer”. Because I have a parallel universe interpretation, of…well, everything?
It is not easy being a lone alien. The more I studied the show, the further I found myself drifting in my alien pod from Planet Fandom (I feel like Henry, circa S1—you think I’m crazy?!). And the more I hesitate sharing my ‘delusional version’. I didn’t get my own tumblr because the more I learned about the fandom, the harder it became to maintain a clear perspective of the onscreen drama and I realised, without a doubt, if I became more inserted in the fandom, I would NOT be able to come up with what I have. Because everything about the media/PR/fandom is deceptive and contradicts everything I have been able to garner from watching the show (closely). And it is only in refusing to let those distractions blind me that I have been able to see the love story hidden in plain sight (along with in no small part, my appreciation for the genre—because that is the key).