The Kaleidoscope

“Bury Tropes, Not Us”

WARNING: This article contains spoilers for The 100, The Vampire Diaries, Sleepy Hollow, and The Walking Dead.

Abbie Jovanovich, Graphic Designer

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Fans worldwide banded together to begin a revolution after popular TV show The 100 killed off a popular gay character.

Lexa listens to a treaty proposal during an episode of the 100. Photo provided by the CW network website.

Lexa listens to a treaty proposal during an episode of the 100. Photo provided by the CW network website.

The uproar began when beloved character Lexa was killed off The 100. Lexa (a canonically lesbian character in power—an unusual stance for an LGBT character) was a strong leader who balanced her duty as a Commander and her feelings for Clarke (the show’s protagonist, a canonically bisexual girl).

The LGBT fan base was closely in-touch with show writer and producer Jason Rothenberg, who had promised ‘Clexa’ (Lexa and Clarke’s combined couple name) a happy ending. He promoted the couple, using #Clexa on twitter posts and Instagram photos to build a fan base and grow his follower count.

LGBT fans were heartbroken to see yet another representation of themselves killed onscreen. “LGBT Fans Deserve Better” was tweeted more than 280,000 times only a few hours after the show finished airing according to an article published by BBC News. Roughly 10,000 tweets were posted requesting for the show to be cancelled.

Fans were shocked to see Lexa be killed, but after a bit of research, it is not as shocking as it seemed.  LGBT characters, until the last five or so years, had only been given to roles that either died after a few episodes, or spent their (still short) time on the show pining over a love interest. Most LGBT deaths are unnecessary and can be avoided. They are added for shock value and “queer baiting” audiences (a producer/cast/writer promises a queer relationship to build a fan base and raise numbers, but kills one or both characters).

There are hundreds upon hundreds of LGBT deaths in the past 40 years. A few include characters on popular TV shows such as Seinfeld (Susan Ross, died from toxic envelope glue), Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Tara, shot by a stray bullet), Supernatural (Lily Baker, hung), Skins (Sophia, jumped to her death and Naomi, dies of cancer), Pretty Little Liars (Maya St. Germain, bludgeoned and Shana Fring, fell after being hit in the head), The Walking Dead (Alisha, shot), Teen Wolf (Emily, slit throat), Orange is the New Black (Tricia, died of a drug overdose), and Scream Queens (Sam, suffocated) all fell to the trope. These are only a few of the deaths from a list created by autostraddle.com.

Twitter user @CZADRICH draws Lexa's war face paint to promote the movement.

Twitter user @CZADRICH draws Lexa’s war face paint to promote the movement.

In four months of 2016 alone, there have been 11 LGBT characters killed, including

Lexa (The 100), Denise (The Walking Dead), and most recently, Nora and Mary Louise (The Vampire Diaries, April 1), Carmilla (Empire, April 6), and Abbie Mill (Sleepy Hollow, April 8).

These shows followed what internet bloggers titled the “Bury Your Gays” trope. As the name suggests, the trope involves killing LGBT characters for shock value, treating an LGBT character as a plot device instead of a real character.

YouTuber SimgmProductions posted a video March 21 that has circled around the people partaking in the revolution. They say she sums up the problem, and even provides a scenario to drive it home: “Imagine little Johnny and his two mothers. They’re watching TV, and they see a straight couple kiss. Johnny turns to his mom and goes, ‘How come you never see two mommies kiss on TV?’, to which the mom has to reply, ‘Oh, no, Johnny, there’s somebody like mommy right there–oh, she’s dead. But still, she was there.’ That’s not right. It shouldn’t be that way. That’s not representation of a real lesbian couple.”

Tumblr user clarkesquad elaborated, “We’re not upset that LGBT characters are dying. We get it, people die. We’re mad they’re all dying… Gay people have a right to exist on TV shows just like straight people do because they’re people too.”

The 100 fan base banded together to bring awareness to the trope and the problems it causes. Every Thursday (the day The 100 airs new episodes) there’s new trend on twitter. Fans vote on a phrase, and within an hour after the show airs the phrase is trending worldwide.  (Previous ones include “LGBT Fans Deserve Better,” “Bury Tropes Not Us,” “One Month Without Lexa,” “Lexa for me,” and “I am Lexa.”)

The ratings for The 100 dropped rapidly. The show generally held ratings from 8.2-8.6. After the episode Lexa died, the ratings fell to 4.3, and have stayed around 4 since.

Since The 100 had sparked such a reaction, and because the show had such a large backing (not only in LGBT people, but straight and cisgender as well), Lexa had become the face of the revolution.

Lexa’s death sparked different reactions. It is called people to action, but it is also damaged some people’s mental health. There were many testimonies from LGBT fans on tumblr and twitter suggesting that fans have been driven to suicidal thoughts after watching the episode.  Suicide rates are statistically higher in LGBT teens, and the onscreen killings are not helping.

Twitter user and cartoonist @MaryneLahaye

They saw Lexa as a representation of themselves, a happy, powerful, woman in charge, and were seriously disturbed and hurt to see her go. It caused many people to think that’s all that was in store for them, death, or a painful, unhappy life, which is what triggered such a large outburst.

There are positives that have come out of this revolution already. The biggest being the donations made to The Trevor Project, a national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQA people. Since Lexa’s death on March 3, more than $100,000 has been donated to The Trevor Project in the name of the revolution.

The message of the revolution is simple: representation and visibility are important. LGBT characters are not tools for shock value or to bring in LGBT audiences. Their concerns are rising that they’re not being represented correctly. The goal is that through the revolution, writers and producers will begin to fairly represent LGBT characters on television.

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5 Comments

5 Responses to ““Bury Tropes, Not Us””

  1. DJ Shiva on April 16th, 2016 10:26 am

    Thanks for the article!

    P.S. Your link to the Trevor Project is not working. It just loops back to this page.

    [Reply]

    Matthew Simonson Reply:

    Thanks for the heads up! We fixed the link. 🙂

    [Reply]

  2. Janet on April 20th, 2016 12:45 am

    Hey the link is still off. This is the one directly to the charity page.

    https://give.thetrevorproject.org/fundraise?fcid=625415

    [Reply]

    Matthew Simonson Reply:

    Thanks for the info! But actually, the link does lead where we want it to go. Since this article is a news spot, we’d like the link to give people the opportunity to learn information about what’s happening in the world, rather than seeking donations (however noble the cause is). But the viewers can definitely click on that link directly from your comment! 🙂

    [Reply]

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