Lesbians in Media and Neon Genesis Evangelion (unrelated)
March 6, 2021 Saturday 1:03 PM
It's been bothering me lately that there's little in the way of lesbian love stories in a lot of the things I've been consuming.
I say this because, like, there's this phenomenon—one which I've been a part of—in which a group of women will consume media with strong homoerotic undertones (or in the case of something like Yuri on Ice or fanfictions or something: overtones lol). And there's theories for this: one of them is that women like gay love stories because it allows them to subsitute one of the male figures for themselves? Or both? Idk something like that—as a result, we get a specific type of "gay" story with women as the target audience, which ends up being a problem largely because of the heteronormativity that leaks through (which in the relationship is the guy or the girl). This is yaoi stuff, versus a thing called "boy love," which I think would better describe something like Yuri on Ice (where the two protagonists' relationship is like pretty much anyone else's relationship and is not really trying to conform to anything in specific). That being said about Yuri on Ice—apparently the viewership is *still* mostly women.
I think that's the case for a lot of sports anime, actually.
Another theory (mine, but I'm sure it's not an original idea) is that a portion of the female-identifying folk out there like this sort of relationship in their media because, for the large part, there's a huge lack of female queer representation. So the only way they can really find that representation would be in media with gay relationships. Yanno?
Because there's still a stigma among lesbian relationship representation, I think. Sometimes I worry I'm a part of it. I've got some internalized homophobia here and there—I think I was always paranoid people would think I was gay, which translated, to me, to "undesirable," by guys. And I think I was afraid they were right, too. I don't really know how to continue this line of thought—I keep wondering, to what extent is it that internalized homophobia, and to what extent is it just my own inability to really relate to the attraction?
I mean, do I really not know how to relate? I guess, the thing is, for the large part, what I look for in a partner is largeness, firmness, etc. I've had surges of infatuation with girls before—I remember my math TA from freshman year was sooo beautiful. And then there was a girl in my spanish class last year who was really beautiful and cute too, and we got along pretty well. Other people too but I've sort of forgotten the details. These differ a little from my normal admiration of pretty girls, in that I did want to kiss them in a way, and touch them, but it also felt very much like a fantasy. Not like the stuff I'm used to feeling with guys, that is.
My unconscious mind doesn't seem to differentiate much the gender spectrum. My dream-self has been in love with many an array of people—the only thing in common being that I find them beautiful. And I feel the sort of things I don't really understand in waking life—sexual attraction? I guess sexual attraction in general is a largely latent feeling for me, mostly I yearn and it's more for the intimacy of a cuddle and not for sexual desire lol. And again, those girls I've had "crushes" on—the sexual desire isn't there, just to touch. I wonder if it's that they're so beautiful that I can't decide if I want to be them or be near them. But is that any different from what I feel for men sometimes? I mean, I guess it depends. There's different types... like, in the case of Melvin or Dan (former Toxic crushes of mine lol... they weren't toxic, it was the nature of my own interest lol). I loved and hated them, in a way that felt extremely intense. It felt like they were the people I wanted to be, but that I'd never be able to reach. Always a few steps ahead of me and I craved their approval, in its own way. It's not that I didn't also like their personalities (that said, I also felt, at least in the case of Melvin—whom I knew better than Dan—that he was very flawed and kind of mean. And yet. And yet I still liked his sense of humor and the way he talked/thought about stuff). But it was actually that like that made me feel desperate—like I wanted to be them, or I wanted them to love me, and I couldn't figure out which. Or I wanted both.
It's not a very healthy dynamic. But it is a really intoxicating feeling. Emotional edging, lol. Except it never ends well, because, inherently, I only feel that intensity for people who are out of my reach. People who ultimately don't care about me and never will.
So is that different? I guess—I don't ever really hate those girls, that I admire, I just want to be them and be near them. Idk, bro, attraction is weird. And it doesn't really have to be differentiated, I guess, between admiration, love, lust, etc. Because it can be a little of all of those things. At least, at this juncture, it doesn't have to be defined.
This isn't what I meant to talk about! I was thinking, lately, of the lack of lesbian representation in media and it made me—I don't know. If it's not there, I want to make it myself. I worry a bit, because I myself am not gay, and it feels a little dangerous to write gay relationships knowing that. I mean, I already am writing a gay relationship, though—and even months ago, maybe more, I sort of started writing a lesbian relationship into one of my stories as well. But I think I got a little cowardly. Why? I guess my point is, I want to write those things. It feels important...
Fuck, I wanted to write about Neon Genesis Evangelion. But I don't know how motivated I am to do that right now haha. I was just—having some thoughts about how complicated NGE. Some people complain that the plot is too convoluted and confusing for no reason. And tbh, I kind of agree. It's opaque to the point of detriment. But on the other hand, I think part of me enjoys how out of reach the plot is—makes me feel like I'm one of the pilots, sort of lost and ignorant and young. And also, the ultimate appeal of NGE is not, to me, the ostensible plot. It's more the emotional plot, and the way it slowly veers into depression and despair. I think it's a really interesting exploration of those themes, and it's really not necessary to understand the "lore" to enjoy that aspect of it.
That said, I have always been sort of unsatisfied with some of the NGE worldbuilding. As I said, part of me enjoys the vagueness of it, and another part feels it only detracts frm the story. Like—I wish there had been more development of the city outside of the school and outside of NERV. Tokyo-3 almost feels empty (which, by the way, why call it Tokyo-3, lol? And not, like, New Tokyo? I suppose cuz it's the third iteration...? Idk). The only anchoring point we get is Toji's sister. She was in a building that got crushed during one of the Eva's fights. Which is a good way to sort of explore the consequences of the battles, which, for some reason, a population center is the battle ground for?????? Like????? I understand why, but you'd think for that reason they'd evacuate the city completely...
Anyway, I do think that could've worked in the show's favor... That world of consequences. People getting hurt and dying at the hands of some overclocked 14-year-olds (by contrast, I think Attack on Titan does a really good job of illustrating this sort of stuff, but then again—that is sort of Attack on Titan's central theme, is the impact of war and stuff on populations; whereas in NGE, they are much more interior and concerned with individual complexes). I don't even think including that kind of development would mess much with the voice or the themes of the story; if anything, I can imagine the sort of psychological toll that would take on Shinji. And I can imagine how Asuka would brashly justify it to him, and Rei's own indifference, an echo of Gendo Ikari's voice.
I also think, that in NGE, sometimes the pacing is strange. Lots of people will use the "elevator scene" as an example of that. I don't really care about that, really—I like the slowness of NGE, and the lingering. Rather, I think they speed through some moments without taking enough time to develop them. An example is the Kaworu plotline. It only lasted about an episode or so. As such, we get little time to really.... sit in it and develop real opinions and attachment to the new order of things.
Toji's plotline is a bit different, in that I think an episode or two is, you know, enough... the arc is fine. It struggled more in the follow-up to that plotline... I think sometimes, in NGE's subtlety, it misses the opportunity to capitalize on some of its more emotional moments. It's nice to leave things unsaid, but at a certain point, *something* needs to be expressed, lol. We get a lot of Shinji's own reaction to this and all that, but once again, it's not really anchored in the real world. By which I mean: we pretty much never see Shinji's friends or his school again haha. Idk. Maybe my real disappointment is that ~SPOILER toji doesn't die lol SPOILER DONE~. He should have. Instead, it ends up inconsequential.
Idk. This is all to say: Neon Genesis Evangelion is *far* from a perfect show. But it is still one of my very favorites... sometimes unevenly developed works are still extremely impactful lol. Like Attack on Titan. I also have a lot of problems with AoT's characterization and pacing. But it has such a massive emotional gravity that I can't be too upset. Likewise with NGE.
Voltron was a failure LOL. I'm still mad about that haha, because I love Keith as a character—well, I liked most of them—and they did him dirty.
In terms of more perfect shows... I think Yuri on Ice is kind of an amazing show. Even ignoring the romantic relationship (which, although it is very important, is not really the main plot), the interpersonal developments in that show are really fucking great. Avatar: The Last Airbender is also a close to perfect show (I still have problems with it, of course—the Zuko plotline felt rushed towards the end). So is Over the Garden Wall (I actually have, like, no concrete complaints about this show; I guess I wish it leaned into the terror a little more; the climax of the show felt, in some ways, a little rushed and "easy"). Fleabag (not animated, but still. People complain about the first season, but I really like it... And I like how different it becomes over time; it's been awhile since I've watched it, and I only saw it once, so I can't say much more than that). Disastrous Life of Saiki (there are bad episodes, but overall, it is my comfort anime and I've watched it through, like, 3 or 4 times since November haha—I can mostly give this show breathing room because it doesn't have much of a plot and is instead largely situational and character-driven). I've only seen in once, but I think Bojack Horseman might be a close-to-perfect show... I never want to watch it again though haha. Gravity Falls maybe.
OK I'm gonna go now. I'm already planning the rest of my day lol. I feel good! Bye.