Queerbaiting and Queer Subtext in Entertainment Industry

The last decade was represented by remarkable achievements in LGBT fiction. More narratives featuring queer-coded characters appeared, inspiring LGBT teens. However, this progress is not nearly impressive because of such trends as queerbaiting that encourage homophobic attitudes.

How do the members of the global LGBT community find each other? Adults tend to use dating sites , where people of all sexuality meet. Teenagers or those not interested in romantic relationships communicate through sites like Tumblr. Discussions of LGBT-related media, specifically TV-shows, are among the most popular topics there. On such examples as BBC Sherlock and NBC Hannibal, it’s possible to witness two stories of homophobia and LGBT validation respectively.

 Queerbaiting in BBC Sherlock

 BBC Sherlock has conquered the hearts of millions because of its seemingly clever plot and rich character development. It gained especial popularity in LGBT community who reacted to queer-coded characters and we’re sure that the story’s goal was to finally bring them out of the closet.

During the first three seasons, BBC Sherlock was upping its queer-coding techniques. Among the multiple examples, here are the top explicit ones.

  • S1: All Sherlock’s closest people such as his brother Mycroft, Mrs. Hudson, and Angelo, the owner of the restaurant that Sherlock frequents, immediately assume that he and John are a couple. The belief that Sherlock is gay intensified when he himself admits that he doesn’t have a boyfriend while women are “not [his] area”.
  • S2: Irene Adler directly calls John out on being attracted to Sherlock, saying, “Look at us both” to demonstrate their mutual attraction.
  • S3: After John’s wedding, Sherlock starts abusing drugs and is called out on being “heartbroken” by Moriarty.

S4 was the time to make the relationship explicitly romantic as all arcs led there. Instead, Moffat and Gatiss chose to destroy the show by changing its genre abruptly, forgetting about all major arcs and separating John and Sherlock while continuing to throw bits showing their romantic attachment to each other.

This is the direct example of queerbaiting, where the narrative supports the LGBT pairing but ends up being used only to take advantage of LGBT community, gaining their support and money and then dismissing them, encouraging the attacks of those who ridicule such fans.

Queerbaiting and Queer Subtext in Entertainment Industry

NBC Hannibal and Queer Subtext

 NBC Hannibal did the opposite. After creating queer subtext between two protagonists, Will and Hannibal, by making them abandon all principles for each other, the show continued to develop their bond. In S3, the relationship became explicitly romantic, with Hannibal admitting he’s in love with Will, another character textually confirming it, and labeling Will as his “bride”. This way, queer subtext gradually became text, making LGBT fans rejoice.

Queerbaiting Subtext in Entertainment Industry

Queerbaiting is a money-fueled activity that abuses LGBT fans by making them think they’re going to see LGBT representation and then calling them delusional, which happened with Sherlock. The queer subtext, on the other hand, can organically develop into text, as it happened in Hannibal. It’s crucial to know about this trend in the entertainment industry to eliminate it and protect numerous already vulnerable LGBT members.


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