Thursday, 11 October 2012

Glad To Be Gay?

Have a look down the end of the sofa.  What would make you trade in your pretty, delicate girlfriend for a big hairy man?  What would turn you off the strong arms of your husband and onto the weedy limbs of a girlie?

I'm asking because apparently, Maria has turned Marcus heterosexual.  This is a bit surprising for those of us who've watched Corrie over the years, because it's difficult enough for us to work out why men go for her.  Yes, she's pretty, but once she's told you the difference between L'Oreal's Coral Surprise and L'Oreal's Coral Smash for the eighteenth time, you realise that celibacy is a not unattractive option.

Sexuality is a continuum.  I'm a gay man, but if Mrs Peel from The Avengers or Holly Goodhead from Moonraker knocked on my door, I'd have to have quite a long thought before I said no.  Their awesomeness is beyond gender.

The current storyline asks us to put Maria in the same category as these titans of phenomenalness, and she just doesn't cut it.  It is sadly undercutting what could be an interesting storyline.

Weirdly, if it was the other way round, none of us would be blinking an eyelid.  If, say, Steve MacDonald suddenly took up with Sean, we'd find it hard to believe, but we'd accept it.  We're conditioned to understand that homosexuals can repress it for years.  Even though Sean is, fundamentally, a horrible person, we can see that a repressed gay man might still fall for him.  As a culture we see "coming out" as the end of the line.


The Marcus/Maria storyline hints that it's not the end of the line, which becomes confusing for us as an audience.  We like binaries; we like simple yes/no answers.  Tracy Barlow's evil: yes.  Kirk is thick: yes.  Mary could beat Jessica Ennis in the 800m: no.  Characters in nice simple boxes where they don't move from.  It's true of all soap operas - it's a necessary part of a show that churns out so many hours of drama.  Certain characters are always needed - the matriach, the bitch, the stud.  Marcus is "gay", and now he isn't, and we don't know what to do with him.  It's confused by the producers and the actors stating he's not bisexual (like Sonny, who was, like most tv bisexuals, a duplicitous scumbag).  How can Marcus be gay, and with a woman?  It doesn't seem right.  It doesn't fit the boxes.

There's a political element to all this too.  At a time when there are rallies against gay marriage in this country, and homophobic attacks continue, and many countries inflict horrific punishments on homosexuals, the idea of a gay man turning straight carries with it a political strength out of proportion to the storyline.  Remember, in the 80s, there was a widely held belief that you could "promote" homosexuality; that it was some kind of club you could convert people to.  Gay rights campaigners have fought to underline that homosexuality isn't a choice.  A storyline in which Marcus passes up Fish Lips Aidan in favour of Luscious Lips Maria plays right into conservative hands - "see?  It just takes the right girl!"

Coronation Street is one of the gayest programmes on television - even if you strike out Sean and Marcus and Sophie, you still have Norris, and Mary, and Julie, and Gloria, camping it up beyond all boundaries.  Corrie was created by a gay man, is produced by a gay man, is written by gay men; we can trust that they understand the politics.  And it's undeniable that this sort of thing happens.  Russell T Davies's excellent Bob & Rose dealt with just such an issue.  The lesbian comic Jackie Clunes is now married to a man; the composer of Glad to be Gay, Tom Robinson, has a wife and kids.  Things change.

It's an interesting storyline, an interesting question.  I'm curious.  My partner Dave is horrified by it; he sees it as a nasty right-wing plot.  Of course, he also hates Maria, because she is going out with Chris the builder in real life, so there's a certain amount of bitterness.  How it develops is the question.  Personally, so long as Aidan and his weird mouth are out of the picture, I think I'd be happy.

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20 comments:

Mrs Barton said...

Don't appreciate the 'Weedy limbs of a girlie' comment. Casual misogyny- bad times :(

Anonymous said...

That was a good blog, Scott.

I still believe the "confusion" they're both feeling isn't physical or sexual. I think their emotional attachment to each other led to something that likely wouldn't have happened if they hadn't just gone through that tortuous cancer scare.

And as for Aiden .... I'm so glad someone else noticed his weird mouth/lips!! Like you could stick him to a wall and he'd stay!

~JB in Canada

Anonymous said...

Aiden creeps me out too, but then, so did Sean...why is he still on the show anyway? I really think there is a contest between the writers to see who can come up with the most moronic storyline and see how far they can push it before they start losing viewers. It's pretty bad when the highlight of the last few episodes is Dreary and Rita following Ken and then him getting the gears.

Will someone PLEASE kill off Tracy? Hmm??? She HAS to pay for her crime one way or another. Maybe someone can stalk her and driver her insane for a change and she ends up in the psychiatric hospital...locked up for life!!

Anonymous said...

I very much doubt marcus could stay faithful to Maria for long. The veracity of the old habits, old attractions will not vanish because of the love of a good woman. If its an emotional attachment because of the cancer and the chance to a daddy to Liam, then lots of gay men have deep meaningful friendships with women without the urge to have sex with them.

Anonymous said...

I completely disagree with you, about this playing into conservative politics "just takes the right girl". I think you have it completely wrong. What I see going on here is that two people have become very good friends and truly love each other. The cancer scare and subsequent clean bill of health was a huge relief; after much fear and stress, people reach out to each other to relieve some of that fear and stress. It is believeable that this "mistake" happened, and the characters now need to work through what's happened. I don't believe Marcus or Maria are stupid people. They are processing this and trying to deal with it as best they can.

I do agree with Mrs. Barton. I think alot of your views in this article are negative and demeaning to not just women; you seem to have the view that it's very black and white how things "should" be, and even though it's a soap, that's not how soaps go, let alone how people work through all relationships whether they are romantic, sexual, friendship, or even familial.

Although I wouldn't choose this kind of a storyline for Corrie, I find I am interested and want to see how the actors develop it.

I like Maria. I've never once heard her compare cosmetics or clothing or shoes or...

Anonymous said...

Great post Scott. Intelligent, well balanced and argued. Ignore the moaning minnies.

Anonymous said...

I think if the writers were actually treating this as a serious "Marcus is realizing he's actually into both men and women" it might work, but they aren't and it's going to end badly for all concerned.

Stephen said...

Fish lips! Brilliant!

Anonymous said...

Get off yourr soap box! This story is not, I'll repeat for those who seem to be a little slow, NOT about Marcus "turning" straight. This also isn't a political debate, it's a soap about characters and their emotions. Given the number of gay folks associated with the creation and production of this show, your misogyny is far more offensive than any notion of some "right-wing" subliminal message. Get over yourself and try to remember this is the 21st Century.

Roy's Baked Beans said...

Oh my god, drama queen! They've had one snog and a few wistful glances and now you've got him throwing out his sequined undies and getting out the pipe and slippers.

'Marcus is gay and now he isn't....... Who said they've turned him straight?
'How can Marcus be gay and with a woman?.......I've thought all along its more of a case of developing some sort of feelings for an individual rather than a whole gender.
Maria may not be your idea of a Bond girl but obviously Marcus doesn't share your opinion. To each their own regardless of which way you swing!

Anonymous said...

Since "the kiss", it strikes me that Maria has been trying to make Marcus jealous.

Flaming Nora said...

Fantastic article. As a feminist, as editor of this website, as a woman, as a Corrie fan, if I thought for a moment this article was even in the slightest bit misoygnist, i would remove it. It's staying with my full support.

Humpty Dumpty said...

It seems to me that this blog is saying it *does* happen and cites well-known people who have followed that route, but that it's not a believable outcome for Marcus and Maria. We've seen that Maria had a thing for Marcus, and he has been looking at her wistfully but perhaps it's been too subtle. In a soap where we're used to pantomime story lines, this developing relationship between two gentle people feels very different. It's similar in some ways to Roy/Haley where an unconventional relationship has worked because of the characters' deep love for each other. And, of course, in that set-up there has always been brilliant acting.If Marcus and Maria do take things further, the relationship will eventually fail because of Maria's need for a traditional family life.

Anonymous said...

Totally agree with FN. There isn't anything about this very good post that I took to be even slightly misogynistic. It just seems to be acknowledging the complicated nature of the situation and saying that we should maybe give the storyline a chance to develop. Seems pretty reasonable.

Rachel said...

so long as Aidan and his weird mouth are out of the picture, I think I'd be happy

Me too!

I think the story is about someone falling for the wrong person. The sexuality aspect is just one element of it, but I don't think they're making Marcus straight or bi.

Clinkers (David) said...

Great blog and love the comments about Aidan. Simpering at best.

I do someone whoe experienced the same issues as Marcus/Maria. He fell in love with a woman and although they both know he is gay, they settled down together, bought a house and, ten years later, are still loved up! It can happen.

Tvor said...

Omygod I'm so glad you metioned Aiden's mouth, it's been driving me nuts and is the main thing that puts me off his character. I know it's not fair, it's not his fault but oh yes, I'm with you on this. It really gives Aiden an element of creep for me.

I don't think it's about turning homosexual though. Marcus loves Maria on a bff basis, and feels very close to her. I think it all got confused when there was the possibility that she could have cancer and of course we know she's had a crush on him for awhile. The added attraction of a read made family topped it up. I am finding this very interesting.

ChiaGwen said...

Finally the lips are out of the closet!..... and the mustache seems too high up off the lip adding even more to the strangeness - add bad acting to that mix and oh, it's all too much.
Has there been an interview with Charlie Condu about this storyline? In his own life he has two biological children with a female friend and they raise them together along with Charlie's partner - so there must be some love there, though maybe not sexual as I think they were created using IVF. Maybe that's the direction this story will take, Maria and Marcus will have a baby together but realize they belong with other people, however will co-parent the child?

Mrs Barton said...

Just to clarify, the purely objectifying comparison of Maria to Bond girl/cartoon sex object in a catsuit and assessing her worth in this way felt to me highly misogyinst. Objectification of women in general and assessing women's worth based soley on 'sexiness' is one of this big issues women need to overcome to achieve equality in this country. I understand not everyone would have seen it this way but to me it stuck out.
The article is however, well reasoned and written, and I love the discussion!

Anonymous said...

I completely agree, Mrs. Barton. Men AND women are so used to seeing women as sex objects they don't even notice when and how it happens. It's NOT innocuous. It leads to the shooting of a girl for wanting an education.

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